The Puppy Diaries – The Third Month
This is the third instalment of our puppy diary, featuring Murdock the lurcher puppy, with candid insights and practical tips on welcoming a dog into your home.
How big will he get?
Murdock has changed so much since we brought him home at the end of June. He seems to be growing bigger every time we look at him at the moment and we still aren’t completely sure how big he will get. His mum, Pie is a large greyhound-sized lurcher and his dad is a pedigree whippet, so we think he will be somewhere between the two. Some of the other pups from his litter – like his sister, Mouse - are smaller and more whippety, whereas others - like his brother Tigger, pictured in last month’s blog - are slightly bigger, so we think he is going to be medium-sized, which means that we will have to wait a while to find out exactly how big is he going to be because medium-sized dogs generally tend to keep on growing until they are around 18 months old, reaching their optimal weight at about 2 years old.
Good eating habits
As Murdock grows, we have gradually been increasing the size of his meals and letting out his collar as his neck gets bigger. He always seems very keen to see what we are eating and it is essential to reinforce good behaviour and set boundaries around food at this age, to avoid problems further down the line. We don’t share our food with him and discourage him from begging. He has jumped up and pinched things from the table a couple of times so it is also important – especially with children – to ensure that food isn’t left unattended at the dinner table or lying around where he can reach it. You can’t expect a young dog to be able to control their impulses and so we don’t leave any food where it might be too tempting for him to resist.
2nd September – Our last Puppy Training Class
On the 2nd of September we had our last puppy training class from the course of six. The sessions have been really good fun and Murdock has definitely taken on board all of the things we taught him. The things I found particularly useful were teaching him self-control with food and walking on a loose lead and I have noticed quite an increase in his confidence in general. Now I need to keep up the training at home and spend at least ten minutes a day working with him as part of a training routine. In the last puppy diary blog post I mentioned that I want to train him to be left alone and I still haven’t spent enough time working on this yet. If I don’t address it now, then it could lead to serious problems in the future, including separation anxiety.
I’m going to miss the puppy classes but the group also offers puppy socialisation and behaviour classes so I may go back for some one-off sessions in future. I may also participate in one of their fun activity classes – such as dog agility - with Murdock once he is fully grown.
12th September – Confident Walking
We have been taking Murdock for lots of walks in the local area to build his confidence off the lead. We are lucky enough to live quite close to the coast so he has had lots of experience of walking on marshland, pebble beaches, sandy beaches, moorland and forests. If he is on open ground he likes doing ‘zoomies’ racing around in circles and is very funny to watch.
We also took him for a day out to the Devon Railway Centre where he rode on some miniature trains with us and walked around the exhibits which was really good for building his confidence and experience in different situations.
It is important to make sure that you don’t over walk your dog when they are still developing. Emma at the dog training class recommended a ratio of 5 minutes walking per month of age. So for Murdock who is almost 5 months, this would be 25 minutes per day. Once he is fully grown he can walk for much longer.
At home, Murdock is getting on better with the cats. They have both learned that it is better to stand their ground if he comes towards them, rather than risking the likelihood of being chased if they turn and run away. I think they will all become friends at some point once Murdock is a little older and calms down a little.
Coming up next, we are hoping to meet up with some of Murdock’s siblings for a group walk later in October, although the government are rapidly changing the rules on how many people can meet up so this may not be possible for a while.
My training goals for next month are to work on leaving Murdock – starting with leaving the room and building it up gradually until he is comfortable with being left home alone.
I’d also like to work on preventing him from jumping up quite so much. At the moment he jumps up as soon as we come through the door, so I am going to do some work on discouraging this behaviour as not everyone likes a dog jumping up on and he tends to jump all over everybody that comes to visit. He also jumps every time I come through the door even if I’ve just popped outside to get something from the car. It’s nice to feel wanted but it can get a bit much!
Want to read more about Murdock and his progress? You can find all of our puppy diaries here. Got any tips for leaving your dog - or preventing them from jumping up? Let us know in the comments section below. We’re going to be doing a blog post about jumping up next time so if this is something you need help with too, come back to the blog soon to find out more!