Just these two | Welcoming a second dog

One of the questions I get asked a lot is about welcoming Fred to the family and making the process as smooth as possible. Naturally, every situation is unique. Not only because some families get a puppy, while others choose to adopt an older dog, but because every dog has a mind of his own. The way he sees you, his family, the house he lives in, the garden he made his own, and even the area you regularly walk around is very much his unique perception. It will always differ from some other dog’s view and most definitely – the way you believe he is thinking…

Fortunately, most cocker spaniels are pretty good when it comes to bonding with another dog provided they don’t have issues such as territorial aggression, food guarding, extreme anxiety, fear or depression. Male dogs that have been previously mated may also react to the new pup as an unwelcomed guest, especially when the little one hits the puberty. There are also dogs who simply love being the only pet and will never ever agree sharing you with anyone else.

When choosing a new puppy, try to find the one who is similar to your first dog in personality and behaviour. Of course, it would be very difficult to tell by looking at a 5-week old pup, but pretty easy – by meeting his parents and having a good chat with a breeder.

After you’ve made the decision, found the pup and started counting days before he comes to live with you, use the time wisely and get prepared.

First of all, make plans for the dog number one. His life will need to remain as normal as possible regardless of the new arrival. He will need his walks, so ideally there should be two people around – one to stay with the pup, the other one – take the older dog out. I had to do it on my own, which was not always straight forward.

On most days the boys were in the garden and house in the morning, but at lunch I would put Fred to bed and take Cooper out for a long walk. Luckily for us, Fred was a star from the beginning and didn’t mind being on his own at all. Most of the time he would snuggle in his favourite bed and happily nap until Coop was back, washed, dried and ready to play with him.

When Fred was finally allowed to go out, I had to take them together because Fred simply refused to go anywhere without Coop and Coop hated being on his own. The three of us would have a walk that was sufficient and safe for Fred and then me and Coop would pop out again for some quality time, just the two of us. Eventually, Fred’s walk time increased and we no longer had to worry about splitting them apart.

Beside the walks, we always made sure that Cooper had plenty of attention, special time and hugs. He’s also he first one to get the food, treats and grooming. I also ensured that he was not disturbed when having naps by putting his own bed in a “safe place”, setting him a comfy spot on the sofa and, of course, allowing him to continue sleeping next to me at night.

Secondly, the feeding time. Planning meal schedule was pretty easy. Fred arrived with his own, so I slowly shifted his and Coop’s meal times until they met in the middle. Both ate three times a day – Fred started with three full meals and Coop had a snack at lunch and two full meals at breakfast and dinner.

From day one we separated the pups by having a puppy playpen in the kitchen. This way Fred could eat his food without worrying about Cooper flying over in a manner of hungry hawk and Coop had a chance to enjoy his meals and not having a chubby little boy investigating his menu.

Upon arrival Fred also got his own puppy bed and had a puppy proofed room in case one of the dogs needed a break from the other. At night Fred slept in his own bed while Cooper could find peace in mine.

Fred also had his puppy area in the garden for the toilet. We bought an outdoor playpen to create a space big enough for the pup to walk around yet small enough for me to manage him. This allowed me to house train him quicker without distraction and also gave Coop some peace when popping out for his wee breaks. The outdoor playpen also served me well if I needed to keep Fred in a safe spot whilst dealing with Cooper, garden or cleaning leaves or mess.

cooper-fred-perfectcockerspaniel.jpg

Indoors we also added a few free-standing room dividers and puppy gates. Originally those were meant for Fred (both the safety and for teaching him to be on his own), but they worked brilliantly well for both dogs. I was relieved to discover the free standing option because I really, really did not want to drill into walls and doorways. The Trixie barrier was a very smart and sturdy option, though I would not leave the pup unsupervised with it because most will definitely chew the wood frame. For the puppy-safe options we invested into freestanding iron gates that looked smart and were definitely puppy-proofed.

About a week before Fred’s arrival I visited him to have plenty of cuddle time and have his scent all over my jumper, which I then passed to Coop for a thorough inspection.

On the day we brought Fred in his puppy carrier and let Cooper come over and sniff him properly before Fred was allowed on the floor. I know many people arrange for the dog number one to find the pup in a garden, but Fred was not vaccinated properly yet, and the February-induced weather outside really was frighteful, so I chose not to risk it.

For the next few days I was making sure Fred was settling in nicely, yet allowed Cooper to play by his own rules without forcing him into any joined puppy activities (unless he wanted to do so himself). In the beginning Coop found co-living arrangement a little challenging, but slowly realised that the pup is actually pretty fun to have around.

I made sure that I was always around when the two were playing and bonding because Fred was extremely small yet feisty while Coop could get carried away and start jumping about in a manner of an unrestrained hippo.

The boys had plenty of toys, too. Of course, Fred always thought that Coop’s selection was the best and worth stealing whenever possible, so in early days I’d let Coop pick a toy and retire with it to the safe spot, or play with it (and me) in the garden.

It was also extremely important not to force our understanding of dogs hierarchy onto the pups and let them figure it out on their own terms (but under careful supervision!). Many dogs take up to 6 months before they really get used to each other and another 6 months before they truly bond. In our case Fred slowly made his way into Cooper’s bed (and heart) and the two started napping next to each other and playing together within a few of weeks, though it really did take a few months for them to become best friends.

Right now they have their own language that allows them to wake me up in the morning (Coop usually sends Fred to sit on my face), get biscuits out of us or have an extra fun run around the garden (absolute madness but they love it so much!) Fred also looks after Coop in a car (Coop is a bit nervous when it comes to travelling) and Coop lets Fred play with most of his toys.

The secret communication between the two also worked wonders when I started training Fred. Coop could not help joining the sessions, so I ended up training them both at once. It helped Fred to pick things faster and Coop clearly loved being a special boy who already knew every trick! Just remember that the pup is like a toddler who is learning a language – it may take a while to learn the good stuff, but any bad words (or habits your first dog has!) will be picked up in no time!

I would absolutely lie if I said that every day was a happy day! Not at all. There were days when I was absolutely exhausted or upset and there were days when I was really worried for my pups because one thing or the other didn’t seem right. Fred became my new baby, so now I have two. I love them with all my heart and cannot imagine my life without the boys. Seeing two cocker spaniels happy and playing with each other is one of the most heart warming things in the world. They really are worth pretty much everything.

cooper-fred-summer-2018-perfectcockerspaniel

Photo credit: all photographs are taken by me

For the love of spaniels | Celebrating national dog day

Lets celebrate National Dog Day and our love of spaniels – shall we?  Most of the time my love of dogs channels into anything and everything my boys could enjoy, wear or use, but today I am making an exception.

Today is all about beautiful treats for the spaniels parents who are just as mad about their pups as I am. And don’t worry, there will be no nasty cheap t-shirts and mugs that hurt the eye. Instead I found a few beautiful things that you can enjoy for years to come.

Look at this beautiful sofa sculpture! Isn’t this little guy scrumptious?! Perfect for a chair, sofa or even a shelf. Absolutely adore this spaniel!

cocker spaniel sofa cushion sculpture

Another way to celebrate your cocker spaniel is to have a customised hand made felt sculpture. This will be personalised and based on a portrait of your cocker spaniel. If the sculpture is not something you fancy, you can get a sweet custom-made brooch instead.

customised-spaniel-felt-dog-sculpture-perfectcockerspaniel

Now, lets get something for the happy place, the sofa. The place where both you and your cockers can cuddle and relax. This cushion is definitely a conversation starter and can suit many homes, from rustic cottages and country houses to artsy flats and modern apartments.

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And here is something for the table… A perfect salt and pepper set, though I’d probably just keep them on a shelf like two miniature sculptures.

golden cocker spaniel salt and pepper set

Last, but not least… A spaniel that will always hold the door for you like a real gent, which cockers are known to be.

cora-design-spaniel-door-stop

Photo source: Cooper & Fred photographed by me, Cocker spaniel sofa sculpture photographed by Studioteque Photography David Filipponi © 2018 and MW Photography Marta Watroba © 2018

Brasilia sofa dog bed that looks like coffee sacks by Hunter

We Love | Dog bed for the coffee lovers

I realise that my love of coffee can be seeing as an obsession sometimes. I honestly cannot function unless I have my morning drink, and my brain goes mellow every time I smell the familiar intoxicating scent.

Naturally, a dog bed that looks as if it was made of coffee sacks had my name written all over it. I first saw it months ago. Back then the style did not quite suit our house, so I saved the photo for my wish list and eventually forgot about it completely.

But the bed found me – it called my name again and this time I could no longer resist the call. I told myself that the boys needed a new large bed anyway, which makes a good enough reason. Beside the design I also loved the idea of easy cleaning and natural antibacterial protection thanks to the colloidal silver solution.

As I am typing this, our new Brasilia dog bed is on its way. I hope the boys love it as much as I do.

Fred. Chocolate and tan cocker spaniel puppy. 4 months old. www.perfectcockerspaniel.com

Oh, boy… it’s been a while

Finally, oh, finally, I am reunited with my journal. My every intention was to keep going no matter what, but since Fred’s arrival most plants were either forgotten or postponed until further notice. It really was a challenging time raising him and making sure Cooper is happy, too.

But somehow I did it. We went through the snow storms, rain falls, upset tummies, tears (mine, not his!), teething (his, not mine!), seasons of insects and heatwaves, logistics of feeding and walking two dogs, training lessons and hours of utter bliss also known as puppy cuddles. Whenever I felt totally rubbish, my darling husband would say “you’ve done it so many times and you can do it again” and somehow his faith in my skills kept me going… No matter how many sleepless weeks it took, and no matter how many times I cried because I was so very tired, frustrated or plainly scared, I got my boys to the point when we can happily live every day as it comes.

To be fair, Fred has been a wonderful puppy. In fact, he reminds me of Oscar a lot and it is yet another trait that makes him rather special. I love the boy with all my heart. He is just lovely, absolutely lovely. Always happy, always smiling and, how should I put it, “self-sufficient”… From day one he not only proved to be incredibly intelligent and resourceful, but also very calm. Provided that he was done with the toilet, had his food and playtime, Fred really does enjoy his personal moments and space and looks utterly adorable wondering off to yet another undisclosed location (usually his favourite sofa, my bed or the corner of a chair) with a chew.

He also turned out to be a real kamikaze! From his first days Fred showed real interest in climbing stairs, jumping on and off everything regardless of height, squeezing into every corner and hunting every bug and fly he came across. The levels of puppy proofing went beyond imaginable! We blocked the stairs, door ways, put up puppy fences around the garden to somehow stop the little adventurer pulling down the twigs of the bushes (he still figured it out, though)

Basically, life has been a mad circus… and flew by before I had a chance to take a breath and memorise it.

Then it became better and easier, more fun and less stressful. These days we get up at 6 for breakfast and toilet (mainly led by Cooper who would never ever miss his breakfast), have a little nap (again, according to Cooper’s schedule – Coop is napping, Fred is chewing and I am supervising) and go for a walk an hour later. Once back, the boys enjoy their morning biscuits and have a good old run around the garden until they collapse, happy and satisfied. Comes afternoon, they have training lessons, more naps and a wonderful walk in the countryside.

And I finally get time to work on my most special project, exercise and maintain the house the way it deserves.

It would be misleading to say that the moments of madness and puppy days are gone. Of course, Fred still requires plenty of attention and most definitely – entertainment and training. Soon I will be hand striping him, too. Still, I am pleased with what we have achieved so far. And I am grateful for this little guy. He is LOVE.

fred-perfectcockerspaniel-8months-old-fluffy-cocker-pup

What to do if dog stung by bee, wasp, first aid help tips, advice / how to remove tick from dog / haemolytic anaemia, lyme disease / slugs and snails dangerous for dogs / first published on Perfect cocker spaniel blog / dog advice / photo by Dominic Alberts from Pixabay

The bugging issue

Hot days followed by showers bring out a lot of creepy crawlies. Be prepared – cockers are explorers and can get stung during their adventures. Here is a quick first aid guide to refer to.

Wasp string dogs, first aid help, what to do / published on Perfect cocker spaniel blog / Image by jmarti20 from Pixabay (C)

Wasps sting several times & can cause nasty allergic reaction. Try to keep your spaniel away from them (use “come” or “leave” cues). Should the worst happen apply ice to sooth, follow with solution of vinegar + water . You can use original Benadryl / Piriton but ONLY AFTER CONSULTING A VET.

Bee sting dogs, first aid help, what to do / published on Perfect cocker spaniel blog / Image by Michael Siebert from Pixabay (C)

Bees leave a stinger which must never be pulled out but rather “scraped” out with a credit card or similar object. Apply ice, follow with solution of baking soda + water. Prevent the dog from scratching or liking it. If the bite becomes irritated, take the pup to the vet.

Mosquito stings, bites in dogs, first aid advice, help / published on Perfect cocker spaniel blog / Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay

Mosquitos are not as offensive but can cause irritation in hairless spots or if the cocker is shaved thus his skin is easier to reach. Too many bites can cause redness and even raised temperature. Mosquitos are known to spread heartworm – make sure your spaniel is protected by monthly preventatives.

Slugs and snails dangerous for dogs, first aid advice, help / published on Perfect cocker spaniel blog / Image by Capri23Auto from Pixabay

Slugs & snails carry lungworm that can be fatal. Use preventative treatments to reduce risk. Set traps in your garden to catch the unwanted visitors. Never leave water bowl or toys in the garden. Do not let your dog drink from public bowls.

Ticks dangerous for dogs, how to remove, haemolytic anaemia, babesia virus, lyme disease symptoms, first aid advice, help / published on Perfect cocker spaniel blog / Image by Meli1970 from Pixabay

Ticks are the worst bugs as some carry Babesia parasites that cause haemolytic anaemia. Make sure to remove the tick with his head still attached using a special tick removing stick and twisting it anti clockwise. Follow with antiseptic solution. Never squeeze or pull the bug! Never apply oil on tick either. Save the tick in a small jar for up to a month. There may be a red spot or pimple on the location of the bite – if it becomes irritated or enlarged, take your dog to the vet immediately. If your cocker looks unwell, quiet, uninterested in food, run to the vet. Symptoms may take up to 3 weeks to appear.

Photo source: images by Dominic Albertsjmarti20Michael SiebertMyriam ZillesCapri23auto,  Meli1670 from Pixabay

Avocado toxic or not for dogs and why, avocado in dog diet safety concerns / First published on Perfect cocker spaniel blog / Image by sandid from Pixabay

Q&A | Avocado: yes or no?

I receive so many questions about avocado in dog’s diet, so I thought I’d share it here since yesterday was a #nationalavocadoday.

Lately avocado was said to be safe for dogs. However before you go head think of the following…

… avocado contains persin, a toxic substance found in the skin, right under the skin, in the stone and the bark of avocado;
… the LIGHT green flesh of the fruit is low in persin, however it is difficult to ensure that the light green won’t be mixed with the DARK green flesh found under the skin of the fruit, thus increasing the risk of poisoning;
… if a dog has avocado he’s likely to have upset stomach or vomiting;
… in addition the stone can not only be more toxic if crushed by a dog, but also get stuck in the throat or digestive tract, which can be fatal;
…high fat content of avocado can increase risk of pancreatitis.

Personally, I would not risk it. I also do not believe that something that was once deemed very toxic for pooched was suddenly given a green light. It feels more like a trend, not something supported by research.

Photo source: image by sandid from Pixabay