20th July 2019

Wow, it’s been another 6 months since I last wrote a blog.


There’s been less exiting changes in the last six months but still, change is inevitable.



Tsar has started agility classes and we are now training twice a week with two different teachers, we still mantrail when we can and he loves it as well as doing advanced pet behave weekly.

I’m really starting to feel like we have a working bond now. I’m not going to lie or sugar coat it, I was overly cautious when he first came home and, naturally, I didn’t think I’d ever have the sort of relationship with him as I do with Laufey. It’s not the same, not even close, but we have clicked more in the past few months and we have come on in leaps and bounds, I’m considering taking him to a demo tomorrow and he was off his long line in public tonight and got checking in a shared walk as opposed to feeling like I was just tagging along and he was in a world of his own. I still don’t trust him with cyclists or joggers and his recall from other dogs is poor but baby steps. I joined Absolute Dogs Training Academy when they opened their doors in March which has definitely helped and gone a long way to giving me my training mojo back.



We’ve been back and forth with acupuncture for Laufey which definitely helps him but is clearly not a fix. I’m putting him back on CBD oil and looking to put him on green lipped mussel powder. His devils’ claw is almost all gone and I’ll evaluate our position on that once it’s gone.

He’s done amazing with finding my keys and enjoys playing that as a game on the park. He is also mantrailing occasionally and doing tricks. We’ve not started the Fenzi Team titles because I lost my training mojo; we’ve been playing a few of the aD TA games but when we already have an amazing relationship and play most of the focus / relationship games already it’s harder to find the motivation with them. We’re on the up and I’m hoping that as we keep going I might get around to the Team titles eventually.

January 1st 2019

I’m not one for New Year resolutions and all that crap but it’s been 6 months since I’ve written anything.

Balthasar is much less of a little puppy, he completed the pet behave course three times through PTD; once with each of Dawn’s trainees who are all friends of mine. We completed the intro to tricks course, intro to mantrailing and he’s joined a bigger tricks class. I clipped him into a German trim and I’m thinking of starting agility with him soon.

Laufey has been signed off from his physio and we are where we are. He’s done a hoopers workshop (great fun, something I definitely want to continue but really looking for somewhere closer to home). He did a workshop called find my keys so I’m introducing him to scentwork and I want to try the Fenzi Team titles with him.

But maybe our biggest, most unexpected piece of news is that the three dogs are happily hanging out together in one room freely! I did not think we would get to this point within 2018, nor did I think it would be anywhere near the beginning of 2019 but MiMi is doing really really with him and I am immensely pleased with their progress.

So whilst I don’t do new years resolutions or big changes or whatever. I do have a word for this year. The word is Priority. As in, pick your priorities and and be mindful about them. I want to make mindful training a priority and actually work to track our progress. I hope that in doing so, I might actually achieve that Fenzi Team 1 this year and I might just be brave enough to introduce Tsar to agility!

9th June 2018

Highlight of this week was today’s visit to Beacon Fell. We were supposed to be going to Wigan agility competition but it was cancelled last minute as the show ground had drainage channel issues. I’m absolutely gutted as Laufey was supposed to be seeing his physio at the show and it was going to be a good opportunity to see how Balthasar did with the atmosphere.

Mum had planned to clean all the carpets downstairs so said we’d still have to be out for the day so I packed us up and took us to Beacon Fell. I was rather apprehensive and considered a few different spots because it can be really busy and I don’t like it as much but we struck gold and it was empty. We had a good wander round and Tsar met a few dogs and people. An old couple said they’re daughter had a poodle about the same size – until I said he was 17 weeks, and a lady talking to her partner said they were “labradoodles I think” which I couldn’t help but correct… They’re the strangest and smallest labradoodles I’ve ever seen… We also saw some horses and then when we got back to the car we chilled for an hour (yay for settling in the car training!). I then did a couple minutes each with them just practising a few tricks and he has an amazing heel coming along. I wouldn’t say it’s competition style because I don’t think I can teach that sort of finesse without some training myself but it was some brilliant focus. Best of all – no sick! The tablets are working and we’re going all over which is making him enjoy the car more which is a relief.

He’s also been coming to Laufey’s trick class with me to chill which hasn’t been as successful as he shouts about the unfairness of not being able to join in so he ended up in the back room but he shut up faster this week so I’m taking that as a positive. Tomorrow he could do with a bath again and I might try shaving him and see if anything comes off, more for practise than actual need.





June 3rd 2018

Well it’s been an interesting week. Tsar was sick on the way to Preston on Tuesday and actually I think on pretty much every trip I took earlier in the week.

Monday we had an early morning trip to Lytham Hall for a wander as my friend lives there and Balthasar did really well settling in her flat whilst we waited for her to get ready. By the time we were leaving at lunch, I’d left the dogs in the car for half an hour as it was significantly cooler in the car than out and it was getting very busy.

He’s doing well in trick class and Chantel (Dawn’s “minion” and she’s now taking Tsar’s class) was kind enough to offer for us to stay for the following pet behave class (it was their last week) and he was very brave even when a dog started barking and it was echo-y. I then ended up chatting to Chantel for ages after class and helping her tidy up – he was really good and was slightly less scared of Hector (her Black Russian Terrier) by the end of it. Unfortunately, he did have an accident in the building but that’s because I didn’t tidy up and get him outside fast enough.

Thursday we went to the vets and he weighed in at 9.7kg. He was a little unsure of the scales to begin with but soon got over it when he realised that feet on the scale made the monkey feed him. He also had a DHP vaccine – I don’t do para-influenza, kennel cough or lepto but do want to cover against parvo in particular. He was fine with that and wasn’t bothered about the vet looking him over but he did have a bark at the husky in the waiting room as we were leaving.

Friday, he came to Laufey’s trick class with us as we were again practising for the demo. We were supposed to be outside but the weather chose that moment to finally deliver the promised rain so we were relegated to our usual echo-y venue. Tsar wasn’t impressed and was barking rather a lot so we ended up putting him in the other room to try and calm him down (not hugely successful) and, predictably, after class I ended up talking to Chantel for ages again with both dogs in the car. We had sick again on the way to class even though I’d given him his very first dose of motion sickness meds (over the counter, not prescription). BUT on the way home, no sick. I suspect the sick on the way there was because we didn’t leave it quite long enough for the meds to kick in as they need at least two hours and I think it was slightly less than that. Lesson learnt.


So then Saturday I gave him another tablet as soon as we got up. Laufey had his hydrotherapy session at 10am and Tsar was coming with because I’d booked him in at the associated groomer to have his feet shaved at 12pm. (I am home grooming him but one foot took me for ever so I thought having a pro show me again would be useful, time will tell). There wasn’t sick on the way to hydro (YAY!!) and he was really good in hydro again, settled really well and just laid there whilst Laufey had his session and I chatted away.

Laufey for his part is getting more confident in the water and was less resistant this week but is still displaying mixed signals and there is talk of potential back pain. We’re at our first – and possibly only – agility competition of the year next weekend and his physiotherapist is going to be there and get to see him which is a big part of why we’re still going. For Tsar’s grooming session, the groomer’s three dogs were in the grooming room so he was a bit unsure of them when they were barking at him and he had a bark back but was very good on the table and she’d done the other three feet in less than 10 minutes and we were out of there.

We stopped off by the zoo for a short leg stretch on the way home and there was still no sick (it’s amazing!) so after I’d had some lunch I decided he could come with me to collect hay for the rabbits. Before I got him and knew he was car sick, I envisioned taking pupper on as many errands as possible to teach him the car is great but doesn’t always end in amazing fun walks – something that was a bit scuppered with all that sick. He made it the hour round trip there and back without being sick either and is very happy to be in the car. He settles better than Laufey and is more relaxed about chilling in his crate too. Whereas Laufey is noisy in his crate in the car and prefers to ride shotgun and if we’re chilling in the car would like to be on my knee. Moral of the story; always crate train your puppy!

So today we were invited to a poodle meet in Lytham. We gave it a go and lasted a while but it was just too hot. He did bark at the dogs when we first arrived and was a bit of a baby if anyone ran at him a little too quickly later on but he always came back to me for reassurance as opposed to running off and he gained so much confidence from the experience that I’m glad we went. The barking started when I took him out with a friend’s doberman who was a bit too barky because it was far busier than we’d anticipated it would be and I’m now trying to train it out of him which is slow going. On the poodle walk, we stopped for a drink and I’d left their water in the car so mum headed back for it as we carried on but when she caught back up with us and they’d had some it was very clear that Tsar was reaching his limit for being out in the middle of such a warm day so we left early, stopped in Lytham on the way back for mum to go to the greengrocer and whilst we were chilling in the shading (loving capturing Tsar’s calmness, it’s going soooo well!) a couple of ladies came up to enquire… not about the cute 16 week old puppy lying calmly at my feet but to ask if Laufey was a Brussels Griffon! It did rather tickle me.

After the dogs slept their afternoon off, I did a bit of training with Tsar. I’m starting the beginnings of rear end awareness so trying to get his front feet on a platform which is proving amusing as he mostly sits looking at me as I’m also sort-of following the Puppy Culture idea of manding for attention. I’m also working on impulse control with him (so Susan Garrett’s It’s Yer Choice which is the same as AbsoluteDogs “mouse game”) which is going much better as he gets the idea so we’re working to extend the calm. It’s bleeding very nicely into his stay behaviour which, for the first time, I’m trying to not cue as a separate behaviour to the position.

Overall, a very successful week.


(I also feel it worth mentioning that MiMi is still improving with Tsar but we’ve not done as much as we should this week as it’s just been too damn hot!)




May 26th 2018

Today has been rather busy and very hot!

This morning I took Balthasar with me to return a harness for MiMi and swap it for some treats (it didn’t fit her). I forgot a chew for him in the car and he was very car sick. So, puke number one. It meant I forewent nipping to wickes so that’s going to have to wait for tomorrow.

This afternoon, we had a PTD rehearsal for dog fest, it’s about half an hour down the motorway. Tsar was coming with so as Mum could have a break and MiMi could go where she liked. On the way we had puke number two. I had planned for us to come home after the rehearsal and then Tsar would stay home whilst Laufey went for his hydrotherapy session but to make it on time we went straight to hydro and, you guessed it, puke number three.

I’m really annoyed that I forgot a chewie first thing because I think that was our issue. He goes to Preston for his puppy class and hasn’t been sick so I think it was just stacking up on him.

Laufey’s hydro session was good, our physio has recommended it so we’ve got a session this week and next and then we’re meant to be seeing the physio again. I do hope we get to the bottom of it!!

May 19th 2018

How did the poodle find mud?

We went on a big walk today. Not particularly far – Laufey and I would usually do it in around 20 minutes to half an hour – but we were out at least an hour and a half. This is mostly because we took my mum to forage with us so there was a lot of stopping and waiting for her (which is amazing as we now have loads of wild plant life drying in the garden for the rabbits and some branches for the rats). It had the dual purpose of taking Laufey for a good romp and letting Balthasar socialise organically.

What I generally find at our local park is that actually, the dogs are not good for socialising with – they’re boisterous and overfriendly or not really friendly at all and the owners have no control. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great dogs and some even better owners but open spaces are usually host to the sort of people who leave them to it and after our first beach incident I want some good experiences.

Well the puppy found the only bit of mud going and I’ve no idea how because he followed Laufey who isn’t muddy, he met a couple dogs, saw a dog we didn’t meet (they were heading to a car park and I wasn’t about to let them follow) and we discovered that it’s actually really damn warm this weekend. I had planned for us to be out longer but mum’s forage bag was full and the dogs were a bit too hot so we called it quits and headed back home.

Tsar is still car sick, he’s okay if he’s got a chew but once that’s gone all bets are off. I’m currently trying to work out either -what’s going to last longer than a tripe stick OR -what else can we do to combat the car sickness? He starts classes on Tuesday and there’s quite a drive away. He was supposed to start this week but we had to miss it for Laufey’s physio appointment

24th April 2018

Wow, two posts in nearly as many days, what’s going on.

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks with highs and lows, but I’m not going to lie for a while there it was mostly lows. A lack of sleep combined with worrying about going back to work and feeling rather imprisoned in my room has really taken its toll but I think we’re starting to come out of the other side now.

I’ve discovered that I can leave Balthasar quite happily if Laufey is in my room with him – obviously not in the crate. Originally the plan was to leave MiMi in the living room, Laufey in the back room and Tsar upstairs in my room. This was to give them all their own space so that if something upset MiMi she couldn’t redirect onto Laufey whilst letting Laufey have his usual spot on the chair whilst I was out. Laufey doesn’t particularly care if he’s on his chair or on our bed so napping on the bed it is. Tsar meanwhile is in a XXL crate. I know a lot of the advice is not to give them more room than they need because they’ll pee in it and what have you but, he’s going to be in it for a couple hours whilst I’m at work and whilst I fully expect that eventually he’ll sleep for that entire time like the other two, for now I doubt that’s going to happen. He has Laufey’s raised bed in there and a small bowl of water along with some toys and chews and he gets his breakfast and lunch in there from a kong. The bed is there mostly so that if he does have an accident in the crate, he doesn’t have to lie in it which I’m sure will be a relief for him at the time and a relief when I get home to it! As I don’t have many other options at the minute, he’s also going to have a litter tray in a puppy pen attached to the crate with a pad hidden under some astro-turf which he is currently using in the garden very successfully. Whilst he’s doing well holding it during my “test leavings” eg when I ran a couple of errands this morning, I don’t want him to pee in his crate if I can possibly help it so I figure this is my best option until I have a complete picture from my new job.

I’ll admit, I’ve not been teaching him as much as I really hoped I would whilst I’ve been off with him. I had hoped for us to spend a lot more time sat in public learning to settle and watch things but the crate very quickly became my priority so whilst he’s been out, he’s not seen as much as I had wanted. I’m sure it won’t be an issue for long though as once we work out a proper routine things will get into a flow. I’d also wanted him to meet a few more of our friends and their dogs by this point too as most of the things he’s seen are strangers who he’s not allowed to play with.

A lot of the reasoning for that has been his travel sickness. Whilst I’ve not been avoiding the car as such (the crate was obviously priority) after the poop-and-sick incident when we took Laufey for his x-rays I have been rather reluctant to take him out again. I don’t think the pooping was related to the travelling, he just hadn’t pooped before we had to leave and there wasn’t much for it but hope as we had to get there, I remember Laufey being a really bad poopy traveler and I don’t really want a repeat. I think out evening meal is going to become a car sort of affair but I really need to rearrange my setup slightly to get Laufey’s other crate in there for Tsar at the minute as he’s not big enough for his long term spot and I don’t want him in a fabric crate. I’m hoping he grows out of the travel sickness so don’t really want to force him into the car too much and make him associate the car with feeling sick and so not like it even if it no longer makes him feel sick. Baby steps, we’ll get there.

What we have been learning, along with our sit and touch, is lying on his side (both sides) to help with grooming underneath him and just because I like it as a trick. I’m also trying for paw and shake but he’s not particularly footsie so that’s significantly slower going whereas Laufey practically taught himself. For now, I’m avoiding spins as he’s started to play with his tail and whilst it’s adorable, this was how Laufey’s spinning behaviour started and now he will spin constantly when he’s too overexcited and it’s annoying when Laufey does it so I imagine it’ll be worse with a larger dog. I really need to start teaching him a wait too but probably not today

22nd April 2018

I’m not as good as updates as I used to be and I started this post 10 days ago but never finished it, so here it is, revised for new developments and being rather brutally honest…

It’s been hell. I’m not really a fan of this young puppy bit at the best of times but this is awful. I expected hard, I’m no stranger to doing something difficult but I’ve felt completely out of my depth over this. I knew MiMi wouldn’t like him and I thought I was prepared for that but then mum didn’t want to rearrange the house for access the way I’d planned and it’s meant a careful juggling of dogs and lots of text messages to make sure we can get Balthasar outside when he needs to go. It’s hard – we’ve had quite a few accidents.

We’ve had a 1-2-1 session with Dawn which confirmed a lot of what I suspected we should do and helped put a plan in place for introducing Tsar and MiMi. It’s not an overnight fix but she’s doing well and didn’t bite me when she saw him in a close call incident this morning so there’s a lot of progress. The plan is basically LAT training through a baby gate, building up to there being no visual barrier at all over the baby gate ever – when we’re not actively training there is at the minute.

Our other big hurdle is that I start my new job on Friday and so they’re going to be on their own. MiMi and Laufey have no issues with this but it’s going to be a long day for Tsar. Originally, I had planned to do a phased return to work and do half days for a couple of weeks but then I got offered a new job with a new company with a package I couldn’t say no to and the plan just isn’t possible anymore. I’m still going to be coming home and lunch and he’s going to have his crate with a puppy pen attached and a toilet area. I’ve a camera set up to keep an eye on him and we’re just going to have to try it and see. We’re building up crate time and he’s generally okay being in there for around 6 hours – with kongs and toilet breaks – and we’re building on me not being in the room. It’s not ideal and I wouldn’t recommend it but at this point I have no alternative.

Beyond the pressing, the food situation has been a challenge. Tsar is nowhere near as food motivated as Laufey and his breeder’s puppy assessment had already let me in on that so when he didn’t really eat the Sunday he came home I was fine with that but by Monday evening I wanted him to eat something and ended up giving him a chicken wing (not new to him, he had them with his breeder) and some of Laufey’s beef chunks. He was quite happy to eat that so he got the beef again on Tuesday as I didn’t have anything else in defrosted for him and he wasn’t eating dry food or the Natural Instinct puppy food. This then meant we had really bad poop and then he seemed to not be pooping enough and when he did it was very bad poop. I don’t know if it was travelling, the new home or just one of those things but he certainly spent a few days scaring me. Regardless, whatever it was has settled and he’s now on an 80/10/10 complete mince – ease of kong stuffing – and getting dry food and home made treats for training. Which basically amounts to 2 raw meals and a kibble meal plus a few extra treats. This will probably change slightly to three slightly smaller raw meals when I’m going to work so that I can stuff and freeze kongs for him to then have throughout the day. Whilst I don’t count it as part of their daily allowance, I do offer some veg too but so far he’d rather play with it than eat it. I don’t think it’s doing him much harm as he put on 700g in his first week home – accurate on our vet’s scales but more on that later.

Training wise, we have a verbal cue to touch and I’ve introduced a verbal on sit as well as luring downs and stands. His sit is good and something he does naturally but a sphinx down is harder for him and he’s popping his hip – something I’m probably going to allow but it won’t be going with my sphinx cue as a relaxed hip pop down is another cue – you can tell we belong to a trick group! He’s also doing pretty well learning to recall when I whistle but seeing as that is mostly age and not down to proper training yet I won’t count that for quite a while.

But enough about the monster for now, Laufey has vet news. I noticed back in October that he just wasn’t quite right at agility and was measuring. I tried rest and we didn’t really do much over winter and he was seeing a canine massage therapist. It seemed to help and when we started raising the jump level again at agility he seemed to be doing okay. Then he wasn’t. The measuring was back and very very occasionally his back right leg slides out ever so slightly from his nice square sit. After talking to our agility trainer about their diagnostics on one of their dogs, I decided to speak to my vet about seriously investigating it. It’s still very slight and only really noticeable in his jumping and leg moving but I’m not going to take chances. He had x-rays last week and they came back clear. Very good it’s not a skeletal issue (we didn’t think it was anyway) but still left me with what to do next. The vets gave me three options

  • very strict crate rest and wait and see
  • referral to a physiotherapist to see if they can help him
  • referral to a specialist at Liverpool for them to investigate as they see fit

I don’t want to go the rest option, we tried it over winter and it’s clearly not a long term fix so that left me with Liverpool or physio. I had a few days to think about it and have decided that we’re going to go and see the physio and see what she says when she examines him. If she can’t help or we try it and it doesn’t work, we’ll go to Liverpool. His appointment is for the evening of the 15th May – the first evening appointment available as I’ve made it before I start work. At least I’ll soon have some sort of insight into what’s going on; I hope.

9th April 2018

Yesterday a certain little someone made the long journey home. What a loooong journey it was, especially when Balthasar is experiencing motion sickness and vomited and drooled almost the entire way home. Unfortunately, this also applies to a dog pram (MiMi’s for long journeys because she tires earlier and is heavy) and a puppy sling and he vomited on the street this morning as I was walking up the road.

He’s not particularly foody which will take some getting used to compared to Laufey but is better about eating than MiMi, he just gets distracted from food easily but I’m hoping that improves as he settles more and realises he needs to eat more to grow.

MiMi isn’t very impressed with a new addition, better than I expected but still not happy, especially when she wants to investigate him but has scared him with her barking so he wants to move away which she then doesn’t particularly like and she can’t cope seeing him behind a barrier and not being able to get to him. By contract, Laufey doesn’t really have an opinion of him, no issue with him but not bothered about playing with him either which is fine by me.

He’s had a very busy day, met a few friends and even met a couple of dogs – Teddy and Cooper of Preston Trick Dogs – and we didn’t find them too bad and even thought about playing with them so we’re doing well on that front. I trust Dawn implicitly and Teddy and Cooper make fantastic dogs to do intros with so I figured it was better to see some calm dogs as soon as possible with having MiMi about too. He also had a cuddle consult at the vets which I’m so thankful our vets do, they go in, they have some cuddles, they get weighed and they come home again. Nothing invasive or scary and it really helped Laufey love the vets. We’re now having a. Nap to process our day and I’m tempted to join him!!

March 25th 2018

Confession time, I’ve not been taking Laufey out enough.

Sure, I can make excuses, he’s been on rest all winter as he’s had an injury combined with the awful weather which he hates and we’ve just not wanted to go out. But his fitness has suffered.

So, as I’m forcing spring in (and today I could actually believe it was spring!) I have a pact with a friend that every Sunday we’ll take our dogs out somewhere interesting. Somewhere different. This week, we took a drive out to Longridge fell and had a walk up there, just me, her and our dogs.

We’ll only be able to get a couple in before Balthasar comes home and honestly I’m not sure what we’ll do then as he’s going to be too big to carry when he’s tired and I don’t know how long he’ll fit in a bag. We’ll have to wait and see. For now, we had brilliant scenery and amazing company and that’s the important bit.

My fitbit says I did 9k, I wonder how far Laufey did