Vader's Tail – The Diary of a DHK Puppy in Training by Tracey Berridge, founder and chief executive of charity Dogs Helping Kids.
Entry Two, Monday, August 11, 2014
VADER, our rescue puppy and DHK Puppy in training, has now been living with us for just over two weeks, but if I am honest it seems like two years! The two major things we have had to work on is house-training, followed closely by being nice to our black cat Pagan.
Teaching a puppy to be clean in the house takes patience, determination and being consistent. During the day he was let out every hour, with loads of yummy treats each time he performed. During the night we were up every two or three hours in the first week and then we started going longer in the second, with Vader sleeping next to our bed, so we knew when he needed to go out.
My husband has been such a huge help during the night, despite loving his sleep and pillow, and Vader has been 100% house clean and we are very proud of him. Vader had never met a cat before, so when Vader first met Pagan he started barking excitedly and doing "loop the loop" on the lead. Six stair-gates, a lot of primula cheese and huge amounts of patience later, in about a week Vader was able to be next to Pagan.
Finally, he went to sniff his bottom – polite in doggy language, but not so polite in cat language. Pagan gets an A+ for his patience and help in this matter, and I have no doubt in my mind that they will become great friends.
It is imperative that all DHK puppies start basic dog training as soon as possible. So without further ado Vader attended weekly puppy training at Puppy Gurus, North Devon's Puppy Consultancy (www.puppy gurus.co.uk).
Puppy classes are a great way to train a puppy with loads of distractions and a great way of meeting new doggy friends. Vader has so far learnt sit-down-stand, the start of heelwork and recall, stay, wait and watch me (focus on owner); they all need perfecting outside over the coming months. Next, Vader started weekly socialisation sessions with Canine Essentials (www.canineessentials. net) to teach him how to play and interact correctly with adult dogs outside. His first two sessions were really good fun and he now loves going each week.
As a dog owner and an owner of a new School Dog, I feel it is vital that a young puppy experiences as many different environments and visits as many different places as possible. Vader's calendar became more sociable than mine!
Vader has been to Boscastle Harbour, Barnstaple town centre, had his first run in the sea at Instow, went to Fremington Quay, Lynton and Lynmouth and visited the Hunters Inn at Newton Tracey and The Pyne Arms in East Down – an excuse for us to have a drink.
Finally it was time to visit a local school, as I needed to know how he was going to be with children in a school environment. My husband is a teacher at Chelfham Mill School, and they kindly agreed to allow Vader to meet some of the boys and what a star he was! I had a very proud mummy moment and how he behaved was far beyond his 18 weeks – a great DHK School Dog in the making.
To find out more about the charity visit www.dogshelping kids.co.uk or www.facebook. com/dogshelpingkids.