We are finally back home! Puppy was super brave during the long journey, including an uneventful, overnight stay in a chalet and another night at a hotel (including lift travels!). I have been extremely lucky as neither Yarpen nor Falka seem to suffer from any sort of discomfort when in the car. In fact, they both go to sleep pretty much straight away… During our first days together Falka didn’t enjoy being put in the back of the car, but we quickly resolved it. I took her to the car several times and just sat in the open trunk with her offlead outside the car, initially feeding her treats for just looking at it, then slowly raising the criteria, until she would put her front paws up in the car (so I can lift her bum, no jumping in or out for a while!). I always reward her for getting in the car with a few spilled treats which she needs to chase (inside the car). Also, I was taking her with me pretty much everywhere I went. I spent quite a lot of time in the car and of course, I prefer to have my dogs with me! Also, it is a wide accepted practice to keep dogs crated in cars during sports seminars and competitions (with proper ventilation of course!!), so it is crucial for me to get her used to this mobile doghouse!
There is a growing list of things I want to write about, but time is still tight, so for today I will concentrate on my observations on the flat versus garden upbringing. In Poland, we were extremely lucky to have a nearly 1ha of secure garden for our disposition. The door to our quarters was mostly opened during the day, so she had free access to garden. Now we are in Scotland and while we do have a garden, it is a British-sized garden (meaning extremely small, for those who have not tried to get a house with a decent garden before!). Also, we are in SCOTLAND. That doesn’t really require more explanation, but just to be very precise, our temperatures seldom go over 20 Celsius even in the summer, and last December it rained for 23 days. Straight. So, we have moved pretty much indoors. And… my perfectly toilet trained puppy managed to pee in the house 3 times in one day! What is even better, she went out of her way to pee on the carpet upstairs, when floors downstairs are carpet-less and easy to clean. I could think she did it to spite us, but of course, simple logic indicates that she was looking for some rough surface under her paws (as that’s what she was used to) and without being able to go outside, she chose the next best thing. Now we have installed a baby gate at the bottom of stairs, and (touch wood!), no accidents since. She has actually asked twice to go outside by standing at the door.
Having a large garden can be a huge help. It’s easy to set up all the training equipment, there is enough space to play for everyone, both dogs and people can run in a straight line (if they can keep it straight that is)… I am extremely grateful that Falka was able to enjoy this during the crucial development from a ball of fluff to a much more co-ordinated puppy. I believe that pups need to be able to run at full speed. However, there are also some less pleasant consequences of the pup having a free access to the garden. For example, Falka is now a scavenger. In a garden of that size there is always something interesting to nibble on. From acorns, walnuts, rotten apples, to delicacies like cat poop. I never had an issue like this with Yarpen, as he simply didn’t get a chance to acquire a taste for it, being a pup brought up solely in a flat and initially walked on lead only. Some other objects in the garden, while non-edible, can also cause problems. A pup can discover that chasing birds is quite fun or develop a taste for little gardening. I was lucky with Falka as she is very human-oriented and I am still more valuable to her than those extra-curricular activities (we’ll see for how long….), but I was worried she would already learn that life can be fun – without me. Some of these activities can be as annoying as fence-running – a nasty habit that Yarpen picked up during the last weeks. Falka luckily didn’t participate.
Garden can also affect US in a negative way. Having such large space at hand, it is easy to become complacent and slack off on walks. While Falka is of course too young to be walked any serious distances multiple times a day, Yarpen does have his exercise regime that we need to keep up.
Life is now going to slowly fall into place and I am already looking forward to learning more about Falka!