Saturday, January 10, 2015

Being Gertie Rae's Human

Gertie Rae - March 2014

Yes, I'm one of those people that talks too much about her dog. Yes, I'm one of those dog owners that has created a Facebook page for their dog. While you're at it, click on over to Gertie's Facebook page Gertie Rae the Cavachon - yes, I post as if she is posting. 

Gertie is almost 17 months old and weighs 15 pounds. The last year has been an adventure. I've learned a lot over the last year, so I decided to share my list of tips for someone thinking of getting a puppy or maybe just bought/rescued a dog.

My tips are based off my experience over the last year as a first time dog owner. A week after bringing Gertie Rae home, I wrote a little about why I decided to get a dog in my post That Annoying Person That Talks About Their Dog

JM and I are still together, and we are Gertie Rae's humans. Neither of us have children, so Gertie Rae is pretty much our pride and joy. She has both of us wrapped around her paw. 

Shortly after bringing Gertie Rae home, I found the Cavachon Forum on Facebook. Cavachon owners from all over the World share their stories and photos of their dogs. I've learned a lot from the group. Some of the tips that I'll share came from folks on that forum.

Finding and Selecting a Breeder
First thing to do is decide answer these questions based on your beliefs.
  1. What do you consider a puppy mill?
  2. Do you want to see the puppy and it's environment before purchasing?
  3. How do you feel about a puppy being flown to you?
  4. Do you care how many times a dog has been used for breeding? 
Once you know how you feel about the above eliminating breeders and selecting one will be fairly easy. The Cavachon Forum is a great place to find recommendations for breeders.

I stumbled upon the Cavachon Cove after I brought Gertie Rae home. By far one of the best resources.

Bells for Potty & Poop

Potty Training
Consistency is the key to potty training.

We bell trained Gertie Rae. You can order bells, but we just bought some from the craft department and put them on a cord. Hang the bells on the door frame instead of the door; otherwise, the door will get scratched up and the bells will ring each time you open and close the door.

We took Gertie Rae out every 30 to 45 minutes when we first got her and gradually extended the time. Within a week or so she was able to go two to three hours before going out.

At night we crated her, so we go up in the middle of the night to take her out.

For the bells, we would ring the bell with her paw and say 'potty and poop' - a year plus later she still rings the bells and she knows the difference between potty and poop.

Crate Training
We very much support crate training. We knew that Gertie would need to be boarded and we would stay places that she would need to be in a crate. Knowing all of that we started out right away with crate training her. I feel pretty strongly that because we crate trained her that has made it easy on her with boarding and staying places where she needs to be crated.

Doggy Daycare ... BEST THING EVER!!!
Gertie started going to doggy daycare as soon as she had all her shots. We did it, so she would get used to other dogs and get plenty of exercise. She average two or three days a week. The staff were she goes is awesome.

She loves going. When we get there, she runs for the gate to get in with the other dogs. I feel the other thing doggy daycare did was help keep her from getting separation anxiety.

Selecting Dog Food
Early on, I read somewhere that when they are puppies that you should give them different flavors (chicken, fish, beef etc) to help prevent allergies. We feed Gertie Fromms dog food. She likes all the flavors we've given her.

Unlike most people, we put the food out and let Gertie eat it when she wants. She's weird, some days she eats the next she doesn't.

Getting Gertie is one of the best decisions I've ever made. She makes us laugh. She loves to snuggle. She is a lapdog. She is the boss.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

That Annoying Person That Talks About Their Dog 24/7

My Cavachon - Gertie Rae - at 10 weeks.

A little over six years ago, I started getting the itch to get a dog. I had researched different breeds, and decided on going to look at a dog. I changed my mind because the breeder wanted to meet me with the dog instead of me going to see the dog and its environment. To me that was a red flag. Around the same time I was thinking of getting a dog, I met CG. We ended up living together, getting married, and getting divorced.

While I was going through the divorce, I started to research dogs again. A few friends kept sharing - via Facebook - dogs that needed their 'forever home.' That led me to start following three different animal shelters and a few breed rescues. I had talked to my friend, Jennifer, about her Cavapoo. That led me to start following a few Cavapoo breeders.

After my divorce, I met and fell in love with JM. I'll share our story another time. Since we would be going to Little Rock for his brother's wedding, I asked if we could stop by one of the breeders and look at dogs. I looked at four dogs - two Cavapoos and two Cavachons. We both fell in love with the puppies. I thought about it for a few days and decided to go back and look at two of the puppies - knowing that I would end up purchasing one of them. 

On Saturday,  Nov. 9, 2013, I ended up taking the sweetest little Cavachon home with me. Her name is Gertie Rae. She was born on Aug. 27, 2013. It has been a very interesting first week.

Oh, did I mention that I haven't had a pet as an adult? I didn't even really have my own pet as a child. Well in kindergarten, I had a kitten - Muffin - that ran away within a few days of me having her. We had a family dog - Mandy - she was a poodle. My mom totally took care of Mandy.

My hope is that someone will be researching Cavachons and come across my blog. I did a lot of research before getting a puppy, so I hope someone can use the information I share.

Best Tips From Friends and the Internet
  • Crate train the puppy
  • Don't give the puppy free rein of the house - Gertie currently only has access to the kitchen, dining room and part of the living room.
  • Bell training for potty training - I think it's going to work
  • Remember it is a puppy and it takes time to train the puppy
  • Put a sheet, blanket or tablecloth over the crate at bedtime. The puppy will learn that means it is time to sleep.
  • Pet and rub the puppy's belly when it's in the crate - get it used to the idea that it will also get love in the crate.
  • Treats are earned

My Tips
  • If purchasing a puppy, inquire about whether or not the vet has examined the dog for inguinal hernia. I took Gertie to the vet the Monday after I got her. Needless to say she has a inguinal hernia. It may correct on its own, but she might need surgery.
  • Put the crate near the door you are going to use for going outside to potty.
  • Forget potty pads - Gertie just wants to chew on them. I think I'll try them when she gets a little older.
  • Go to Costco or Sam's Club and stock up on paper towels and Clorox wipes - you will be cleaning up pee and poo a lot.

More to come ...