What I Would Do Differently If Josie & Edie Were Puppies Again
No matter how much research you do before getting a puppy, I don’t think you can ever truly be prepared for that little bundle of joy to bounce into your life. Josie was the first dog that I ever had on my own as an adult and she was the first sighthound I ever had too and it didn’t matter how forums I read, there was no preparing me for what life with her was going to be like. Looking back there are so many things I wish we would have done differently with both of the dogs so I thought it would be interesting to share some of those things with you today.
focused on recall from day 1 with Josie
After reading forum after forum of absolute horror stories about sighthounds being killed or just running off as soon as they were off lead I was convinced that Josie would never be able to come off the lead and that was it. But the more we walked her and saw how desperate she was to run we knew there was no way we could never let her run free and slowly we started letting her off lead. My only dog experience before this point was with a little Westie who always just stuck by my feet so I had no idea what it was like to train a sighthound recall and everyone knows this is tricky with this breed. I was not prepared for how speedy Josie was and her interest in absolutely anything and everything which made recall so tricky and it’s still something that we’re constantly working on now and she’s 2 and a half. If I could go back I would have spent so much time before she was allowed to go out on walks in the garden getting all of the basics down and then moved onto a long line once she was allowed on walks. Although I don’t know this for sure I truly believe if we’d done this we maybe wouldn’t have struggled so much with Josie’s recall for so long.
INVESTED IN QUALITY FOOD for Josie
The world of dog food is difficult to navigate when you’re a beginner. We started Josie off on a hypo-allergenic food which she was fine with, but as she grew she started to get ridiculously fussy with her food and wouldn’t eat. And whilst the food we were feeding her wasn’t terrible it wasn’t the best nor do I think it was the most appetising for her which is probably why she turned her nose up at it more and more. We started trying raw and then home-cooked food when she was around ten months old and we noticed a huge difference instantly. Not only were her bowel movements much better but it improved her temperament so much too which we weren't expecting. As soon as I saw the difference in her I knew that I could no longer feed her just a standard kibble as it wasn’t working well for her at all. Now we feed either raw or a home-cooked style of food and that suits both Josie and Edie perfectly. There’s no more hyperactivity issues or dodgy tummies unless they’ve eaten something they shouldn’t and I feel a lot better knowing exactly what I’m feeding them. Especially, Edie, she struggles terribly with a chicken allergy and cutting that out from both of the dog's diet has made a huge difference to both of their lives as Josie used to get sore ears and it turned out the chicken was the cause of that. Feeding them the way we do certainly does cost a little more but the amount I was spending on different high-end kibble brands and then trips to the vets when Edie was still incredibly poorly was so much that it’s now a non-negotiable in our budget.
PRACTICED LEAD WALKING MORE with Edie
After seeing the mistakes that we made with Josie and her recall we made sure we worked on Edie’s recall from day one when we rehomed her and subsequently she has brilliant recall and is always off lead when it’s appropriate for her to be. However, because we focused on her recall so much it did mean that we didn’t focus on lead walking as much as we perhaps should have and for such a petite hound she is terrible at pulling. It’s something we’ve worked on a lot this year after seeing how she has rubbed her neck completely bald and we have started to see a lot of improvement now. She will still pull when she’s excited if we're with people we know or she’s seen something like a squirrel but now we can enjoy a walk rather than a drag and it means the fur on her neck has grown back. There are a couple of things that helped us with Edie’s pulling and that was using a harness with a front clip so we could attach a double-ended lead to the front and the back and doing that instantly stopped her being able to pull. Something else we do is as soon as she starts to pull is we turn and walk the way and whilst it does make walks longer it certainly helps but it’s not as effective as the harness method.
LEFT edie alone more
Working from home gives me the luxury of being at home all day with both of the dogs which I adore, I can’t even begin to explain how lucky I feel to be able to spend all day with them even if they are terrible assistants and make absolutely no effort with the conversation. However, being at home so much with them has meant Edie developed pretty bad separation anxiety from me as I was always around and I wish I had made so much more of a point of leaving her. It was something that I was so proactive with when Josie was a puppy and now she’s so happy to be left up to 6 hours if we ever had to be out for that long. In general, we’re never gone for more than 2-3 hours and if it’s going to be any longer my dad and sister are more than happy to have them. I recently wrote a post all about how we’re trying to tackle Edie’s separation anxiety and whilst we have made great progress it’s something that I so wish I could go back and change as it’s been distressing for everyone involved and it’s heartbreaking to see your dog so upset and knowing you're the cause of it.
set up an Instagram account
I can’t deny, I had a little bit of a bad attitude towards people who set up Instagram accounts for their pets as I didn’t understand it but I couldn’t have been more wrong about the dog community on Instagram. In particular, the sighthound community which I feel so thankful to be part of every single day as it’s something that has bought so much joy to my life and I always look forward to sharing little snippets of Josie and Edie's day to day life. I’ve learned an incredible amount about the breed and been able to take on other people’s wisdom for Josie and Edie rather than trawling those awful forums that I'm pretty sure exist to scare sighthound owners. I so wish I created an account for Josie as soon as we got her as not only would it have been a lovely little diary of her growing up. But following other hounds would have put my mind at ease about so many things as they certainly are strange little dogs and the sighthound community, in general, are incredibly kind and supportive.