Puppy Socialisation

Angus is now 15 weeks old and since the socialisation period ends roughly between 12-16 weeks we have been super busy making sure he gets plenty of positive socialisation experiences with plenty of time to rest in between.

He is doing really well and I’m so pleased that he has such a happy, confident and cheeky character. He does have the odd shy or unsure moment but I feel that for such a sensitive breed he is doing super!

I thought I would include some of the socialisation work we’ve been doing to give ideas for any other puppy owners out there. ¬†And if you don’t need any ideas then I hope you enjoy the photos and videos of a pretty cute pup (even if I do say so myself!).



How cute are the pair of them in their coats ūüėä #raindoesntstopus #bordercollie #roughcollie #puppy

A post shared by Angus and Bonnie (@angus_and_bonnie_collies_ni) on

We have been having so much fun raising and socialising a puppy right from the start and look forward to many more fun and positive outings with him ūüėÄ

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Bonnie and Water

As many other dog owners can probably relate Bonnie hates getting bathed but she¬†loves to have a little swim in rivers and streams. She also doesn’t care at all about rain no matter how heavy it is!

Drowned rat – please let me out already!
Little paddle in the river

But one thing Bonnie has always had an issue with is the sea. The sight and sound of waves (especially noisy crashing waves on a windy day) would absolutely drive her mad. She would lunge, whine, bark and we couldn’t get her attention whatsoever! I had always envisioned taking my dog to the beach way back before we adopted Bonnie so I was quite disheartened.

First beach outing was a total disaster – was our fault as we had her only about 2 weeks here and hadn’t a clue

We went to the beach maybe 3 times in the first year with her before we had all but given up hope. Instead we concentrated on getting her confident and focused in other scenarios and in the past several months it has really started to pay dividends especially as my own learning has progressed and skills improved.

Back in September on our trip to Portrush¬†it was the first time she had been to a beach in ages, and if you have read that post you’ll remember how she embarrassed me on that beach! But hey at least I was able to get her back, I don’t think there would’ve been a chance earlier on in our training.

Since then though we have been going from strength to strength and have had 2 really successful beach trips – one in November and one at the start of this month. I uploaded the video below to our Facebook page showing the before (October 2015 and before we really hit our groove with training) and the after (November 16)

Bonnie – a beach dog after all?

Our recent beach trip was the best yet and I was so so proud of her. She was able to be off lead without chasing the waves, chasing the other dogs and their balls or running away. She was able to focus, play with her ball and even stopped when I called her name as she was thinking of chasing the other dog. Also just before the video starts she was enthusiastically chewing on a bit of seaweed which I was able to get her to drop without any force and also could pick up her ball while she was playing with it to continue our play – these successes mean a lot to us as she used to resource guard food and toys, so lots of wins for us!

I really am so pleased with how well Bonnie is doing these days and I’m glad our hard work is paying off!

As long as you’re by my side ‚̧

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2017 is here!

Hope you all had a lovely holiday period and we wish you and your family all the best in 2017.

We had a peaceful and quiet break which we mostly spent catching up on bits around the house and taking it easy. Bonnie enjoyed the fuss of Christmas presents as well as walkies, treats and naps!

The snake was a clear winner from her gifts
Hazelbank at the shore
Fun and games at Hazelbank
Our feathered friend
Brown’s bay beach

Even the degus joined in on the festivities and had their Christmas hazelnut treat!


For the new year I’m not one to make resolutions but I do like to set some general goals and also find it fun to look back on what I thought my priorities were in previous years and see how that has changed or if it has stayed relevant. So in no particular order here are my goals for 2017;

  • Continue training and socialisation with Bonnie
  • Continue learning about dog behaviour and training through self learning and possibly attend any local lectures, seminars etc
  • Add a pup to our family¬†and raise it to the best of our ability
  • Be more adventurous – visit new places, try new foods, recipes and restaurants rather than sticking to old familiar, try new things in general
  • Live a healthier life – more water, veg, fruit and exercise, less processed and junk food

Do you have any goals or ambitions for this year? No matter what hope 2017 treats you well!

Bonnie preparing herself for the adventure filled year ahead!

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Dog Behaviour Class 4

Class learning

Again we covered two topics in this class;

Motivational Techniques

This covered motivation methods of training dogs, looking at the different motivations of dogs including physical, behavioural, play etc. We also looked at different breeds and dog groups Рwhat they were breed for, what motivates them, common issues and things to be aware of or look out for.

Dog Training

This covered what is dog training, why do we do it or need to do it, what are the benefits, what are the most important behaviours to train.

Assignment progress

First assignment was handed in on time woo hoo!

The third assignment is due in on 31st October – yes we still have class on Halloween night! I’ve got about half of it done so will be finished in time for Monday!

The second assignment is due in on 7th November and that will be started once I finish the third assignment.

Reading list progress

Dogs That Bite and Fight – still in progress!

Outside of class learning

As it’s that time of the year where there can be a lot of fireworks you will see a lot of advice trying to be helpful where it states to ignore the dog when it is afraid in case it reinforces and validates the dog fear. Well no need to worry about feeling¬†mean while¬†ignoring your dog during fireworks or thunder – you cannot reinforce fear! Only behaviours can be reinforced, in fact positive interaction and conditioning can change a fearful response to a happier emotion! Check out the useful links below which will explain it much better than I can.



And on a lighter note look how adorable this little Lemur is getting weighed!

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Week in review – Busy, tired but content

These weeks just seem to getting more and more busy which has left me a bit exhausted but I’m learning to cope and I’m very happy with how things are going. I have a week long holiday in a few weeks time though so I’m really looking forward to that although we still have a few things we need to buy before we go away. Anyway onto what happened this week!

On Monday I attended the 2nd class of my dog behaviour course. I’m still getting used to Monday routines as it means a full day of work, having dinner in the office, travelling to class then getting home around 9.30 and by that time I’m ready for my bed! In case anyone is worried Bonnie is catered for as we have a dog walker at lunchtime and my partner arrives home at the normal time.

How we feel about Monday mornings!

On Tuesday we worked from home and at lunchtime we took Bonnie into town with us to get some milkshakes as a treat (this may be becoming an awful habit xD). She wore her “Do not disturb” vest and it seemed to make some people aware. She was on her best behaviour and as we were heading back to the car we came across a westie that was barking and lunging at Bonnie while tied outside a shop. Bonnie startled a bit but kept her cool and walked beside me calmly then.

Then at the top of the street there was a woman with three dogs – one terrier type was again barking and lunging, but Bonnie still kept her cool. The woman seemed to purposely avoid coming near us so hopefully the vest is working! It was quite funny as some elderly¬†women nearby seemed to be commenting on how well behaved Bonnie was in comparison to the two shrieking dogs xD Tuesday was a long work day and I didn’t get finished work until well after dinner time so I didn’t have any energy to do a blog post or progress on my assignments.

Tuesday not much better!

Wednesday was a fairly normal work day for us and I was finally able to do the blog post on the class and made some more progress on my assignment.

On Thursday I worked from home and had planned to go out for drinks with co-workers after work but that didn’t quite work out! At lunchtime I took Bonnie out for a walk but we had a bit of an incident with a wasp which was just inside the front door of our house. As you might know Bonnie got stung 7(!) times in total¬†a while back now and clearly is still terrified of them.

Don’t jump Bonnie! – there’s a stream lower down over this wall and I’m waiting for the day I need to pull her out of it!

We did a normal walk and when we came back to the house Bonnie wouldn’t go through the front door. I eventually managed to get her in but she went out to the kitchen and lay down for a few hours totally avoiding the living room and front of the house. Needless to say I wasn’t going to go out and leave her alone and terrified in the house so I sat with her to make sure she was okay and she eventually came around. Later that night I collected my partner from the night out and by the time we went to bed it was well after midnight!

Friday was a normal work day and I was pleased that I had finally got a project sorted which¬†I’d been working on for some time. But with how busy we had been this week when we came back from work we pretty much feel asleep without even having dinner. Thankfully we had the animals fed and sorted and Bonnie was very accommodating and just snoozed with us!

That was a tough work week!

Saturday was a very exciting day for me! Earlier in the week I had contacted one of the trainers who runs the dog behaviour course asking if I could help out or observe at any of his classes and events to gain more practical experience. He very kindly offered me the opportunity to come along to his classes on Saturday morning and also that I was welcome to attend his behavioural home visits afterwards. I couldn’t believe my luck! I set out to met at his house for 9am and we travelled down to the location for the classes together.

The first class was a puppy class and the puppies were absolutely lovely and the owners were really keen and did a brilliant job. We had a Newfoundland, a Chihuahua, an Akita, a Cocker Poodle cross and a Cocker Spaniel so was a good mix! A Mini¬†Schnauzer didn’t turn up so maybe we will see them next week. The second class was for adult dogs and it was great to see the owners try their best especially as some of them were rescue dogs.
Then we went on to do three home visits which was really interesting to see different behavioural issues and solutions for those. All the owners seemed really keen and committed which I was really impressed with.I finally got back home before dinner time so was almost like another work day this week! I am welcome to come back again next week so we shall see if I can hack it!

Bonnie’s crisis¬†– why does mum smell like so many other dogs

Finally today on Sunday we travelled to Pet Warehouse again to stock up on Bonnie’s raw food and also some treats for her Birthday coming up on Halloween day! Then afterwards we went out on a lovely walk in¬†a local park. It felt very autumnal and we had a blast with the frisbee – Bonnie is starting to get the fun of the game!

Feeling like Autumn now!
Wee poser!
Look at her go!
Both ears up!
Ahh so exciting! I love the frisbee now!
Throw it that way!

Needless to say we are taking it easy the rest of today! Hope you guys had a great weekend and are re-energised for the week ahead!

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Dog Behaviour Class 2

I was gutted to miss out on our week in review post this week as we had a little streak going but things have been hectic around here. I’m not letting any more posts slip behind schedule though so here is my update on the dog behaviour course!

I’m going to format these posts a bit better so it’s easier for me to track progress etc so here we go.

Class learning

Again we covered two topics in this class;

Canine Life Stages and Learning

This covered the importance of socialisation (defined as learning how to recognise and interact with the species with which it cohabits – kids, adults, other dogs, cats, livestock etc) and habituation (defined as becoming accustomed to environment stimuli – household noises, traffic, fireworks, surfaces etc). It also defined the different development and life stages for a dog including the importance and effects of socialisation, habituation and potential problems at each stage.

Learn to Earn training program

This covered the training protocols for the learn to earn program. This program is recommended for dogs with poor impulse control that may excessively bark, jump, mouth or dogs that are quite “pushy” for attention or are a bit over the top in general. It is a program where the dog must earn all its rewards so that it can develop impulse control and realise that patience and behaving calm is what gains access to things it likes such as food, throwing a ball, releasing through a door, getting to greet and play with other dogs, getting stroked etc.

Assignment progress

I still haven’t completed the first assignment. I have done most of my research and background reading and will be hopefully get it finished this week.¬†It is taking me longer than expected due to being quite busy with work¬†and also due to making sure I¬†put enough time and care into¬†research and compiling the references for the essay.

A second assignment¬†has also been handed out¬†which is due on¬†7th November. This is another 1000 word essay based on the importance of socialisation and whether socialisation is necessary only at the “critical socialisation window”. I’ll need to pick up the pace to make sure I’m not too pressed for time!

Reading list progress

In Defence of Dogs – done, fantastic in-depth read, actually re-reading for assignment 1

How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves – in progress, great practical easy to read book

Dogs That Bite and Fight – in progress, really insightful book around aggression that isn’t really covered in detail in other books

The Other End of The Leash – done and really enjoyed it but could do with re-reading as it was a long time ago!

Outside of class learning

I follow quite a lot of facebook pages, groups and subscribe to channels on youtube pertaining to dogs so I usually come across a few interesting videos or resources so I thought having these grouped here would be great for future use or if anyone else finds them interesting or informative!

I finished watching the following 2 part series this week and I really like how it shows that even inexperienced trainers can train their own dog to do something quite impressive¬†through the power of positive reinforcement! I also like how they cover dog body language and signals which is important in respecting our dog’s emotional state.

This short video from Chirag Patel is a great reminder to be aware of our dog’s true feelings about¬†being petted and stroked, and to ensure our dog is enjoying it or help them form positive associations to truly enjoy it rather than just tolerate it for our sake.

I love this quote and feel like it’s something we should all strive towards with our dogs. There are always going to be difficult situations we get into with our dogs where we have to ask¬†them to “trust us” whether it’s navigating a particularly stressful situation out of necessity or emergency, performing first aid procedures on our dog that could be stressed and could lash out in pain, asking them to leave a really tasty looking scrap of food that is dangerous to them and so on. If we have continually built up our relationship and trust with our dogs through positive means these “deposits” add up then when we have to take out “withdrawals” in situations like I mentioned then our balance stays in the positive.

Finally some interesting research was done around children and dogs’ abilities to follow advice from adult humans. Those of you that have both young children and dogs what do you think of the research? Maybe it would be a fun experiment to try at home!


If you made it through all of that well done (click Рtreat :)) and for your efforts have a picture of Bonnie hiding under our recliner because why not!

Bonnie’s little dark enclosed den

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Week in review – new phone & slow mo videos

This week I felt pretty tired, unmotivated and like I hadn’t achieved much but now looking back it was actually a pretty busy and productive week, funny how that happens! This time last week I got a new phone and I have been really enjoying using all the new functions and the camera on it, it’s definitely a big upgrade from my previous 3 year old phone and it’s nice to not have to always be bugging my partner to take photos or borrow his phone haha.

For this week’s walks we did a mixture of walking around our neighbourhood, into town, along the seafront and also to our favourite park Hazelbank to take final advantage of the summer opening hours as it now closes early at 8pm ūüė¶ As always we are continuing our loose lead training, general focus outside and muzzle training.

Nothing too out of the ordinary happened this week on walks except 1. A small grumbly match between her and an off-lead lab but it wasn’t really anything to worry about and she came away easily 2. In Hazelbank while me and Bonnie were playing off-lead another off-lead dog came out of nowhere with owners halfway across the park and started a chase game with Bonnie. Thankfully since Bonnie was already in a playful mood from playing about with me she didn’t take offence and just had a bit of fun with it, but it was really difficult to get them to stop and the other dog’s owners didn’t attempt to call it back or even walk closer to help out.

Carrickfergus castle
Posing outside Shake Shack – we have become slightly obsessed with their milkshakes!
Muzzle training on our walks – not paying attention at all as there is a bird over there xD

I have been having a lot of fun with recording videos especially slow motion as it’s so fascinating to watch things slowed down! The first video is after a few attempts at¬†learning a switch sides cue while walking. And the other two are just fun slow motion videos ūüôā

We bought a frisbee this week to see how Bonnie would react and if she would like to chase it as when we first got her she didn’t really know how to play at all. As you can see below she didn’t quite get the appeal!

After so much muzzle training recently this is what she came up with haha

Our office took part in the Macmillan Cancer coffee morning on Friday and we baked some chocolate brownies to contribute. Bonnie tried her best to convince me that she deserved a brownie too – sorry Bonnie but not a chance!

We went back to Pet Warehouse NI to buy more Nutriment as she is really getting on fab with it. We have had no upset stomachs yet since switching her over so fingers crossed! She did great in the store but we got ambushed by a man who encouraged her excitement and when we said sorry please ignore her we are training¬†rather than¬†him¬†acknowledging that¬†and backing off, he instead encouraged her jumping, petted her and asked what she was training for and asking us to clarify multiple times. God I was so mad as both me and my partner tried to make it clear that we didn’t want to be disturbed but anymore we are just going to walk the other way than try to explain ourselves. When we came home we ordered a slip lead and customised vest/jacket thing¬†to hopefully get the message across to ignore us as her little training bandanna is quite hard to notice so we will do a post on those items when they arrive.

Later that night I had a little chilled out grooming session with Bonnie (cutting her nails, trimming her hairy feet, brushing) and I thought it was adorable that she feel asleep between my legs afterwards although my legs were starting to go numb hanging off the sofa as I didn’t want to disturb her haha

Today we don’t have anything too exciting planned – we are going to have a relaxing day since tomorrow I will be starting my dog behaviour course(!) which means I have a 14hr day ahead so think I’ll need the energy for then! Hope you guys all had a great weekend and are refreshed for the week ahead!

Looking super fit at the minute ūüôā not that you can see much because of the long fur!

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Ready for her close up!

Bonnie loves to pose and doesn’t mind the camera or our phones pointing at her at all. Here are a few recent shots!

She was “hugging” the camera here with one paw on top of it ūüôā
As chilled out as you can get
Wee hairy hobbit feet that need a trim!
Less hairy front feet
She loves being held like a baby – she’ll lay there for ages until she gets up of her own accord
Her default pose now is a sit pretty – she offers this for nearly everything now!
She even does the pose for our dog walker who captured this lovely photo on their walk
Posing with the gang – also taken by her dog walker

The two photos above were taken by our lovely dog walker Ashleigh from Ashleigh Young Dog Services who Bonnie absolutely adores!

All that posing tires a girl out!

It’s been a busy start to the week so unfortunately I don’t have a lot of¬†time to write much but I can’t wait to catch up on everyone’s posts soon! See you about!

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Week in review – feeling like autumn

This week brought cooler temperatures, darker nights and plenty of rain! It’s definitely starting to feel more like autumn now. We have had to bring out Bonnie’s raincoat and my hat and scarf for some of this week’s walks.

Bonnie’s little rain coat for wet weather
At our favourite park – starting to get chilly!

Bonnie is still enjoying her Nutriment raw food and is getting on great with it. We have got used to storing, defrosting and serving it and it’s really no more inconvenient than kibble. As it is a complete and balanced meal it’s straightforward but I imagine DIY raw would be much more involved because of research, finding suppliers for each component and balancing the diet.

Bonnie doing her best begging pose
Begging over now give me the food!

On the training sides of things we have got a new bigger muzzle which fits Bonnie much better and have been getting her used to that. We are also getting her used to leaving her alone and be happy in her pen by feeding all her meals in there.

New muzzle at the top (size 4) is much more comfortable on Bonnie

As I love to take videos of our training sessions to keep track of our progress, critique my technique and also to share with you guys I bought a¬†Tripod¬†for my phone so I could record videos easier without my partners help. It’s quite a cool design and will definitely be used a lot in future!

Love the design of this – can be used in so many ways!

She is getting better with the potty bells and is now nudging them while they hang on the door handle with her nose. She only rings it¬†when¬†I am near the door so just need to work on adding distance so I don’t need to be near the door for her to ring them herself. That’s really all for us this week, we haven’t really been up to much special or even taking many photos so that’s all folks!

All snuggled up – best thing to do on a chilly day!

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DIY Potty Bells and a Pen

Just as a note this is not the DIY project that I keep hinting at – that has been slightly postponed! Never the less here is a quick DIY for any one who needs extra help with toilet training their puppy or dog. If you just want the steps pass my little background info below.

Bonnie is house trained in that she will not use the bathroom inside the house under normal circumstances and will hold it until she is let outside.¬†We have always let her out regularly and on a routine so she wasn’t too hard to house train but the big issue is because she is used to being let out regularly she doesn’t let us know if she needs out at other times! This doesn’t happen too often but when she has an upset stomach it turns into a game of us taking her out very often and it’s always a gamble overnight if she will have an accident or not.

She doesn’t bark, whine, sit at the door, scratch at the door, paw at us, stare at us or give any foolproof sign that she needs the bathroom. She sometimes paces but that can also mean she is just bothered by other dogs in the neighbourhood barking so isn’t always a true sign. Since she had an upset stomach at the end of last week we decided it was finally time to try out some potty bells and see if we can crack the house training 100% even when she is ill and off her usual routine.

DIY Potty Bells Instructions


What you will need

  • Ribbon
  • Split rings (keyrings)
  • Bells
  • Needle and thread or a sewing machine


  1. At one end of the ribbon create a loop and sew the top and bottom edges of the loop so that only the sides of the ribbon are open
  2. At equal lengths along the ribbon create¬†2 loops by folding the ribbon back on itself and again sewing the top and bottom of the folds so that it won’t unravel
  3. Thread the bells onto the ribbon by inserting the split rings into the holes you created by looping the ribbon
  4. Take the nearly finished piece to the door you want to use it on and make sure you leave enough length that your dog can reach them with their nose and paws
  5. Create a handle – create a loop by folding the ribbon over and sewing that firmly before cutting off any excess ribbon


And there you have it, your very own potty bells for a fraction of the price of store bought potty bells. Another nice thing about it being homemade is that you can choose a ribbon colour or pattern and customise to your liking!


We are still training her to paw or nose them – she is now getting the fact that interacting with the bells means the door opens but she still is struggling to generalise that she can touch the bells while they are on the door as I still need to hold them for her to interact with them. Also because she is still getting out on her usual routine she hasn’t volunteered to go out by using them by herself yet. But we will get there in time as she already has nearly 2 years of routine behind her so it may take her a while to get used to the new way of things.

In other news we also purchased a pen for her which arrived this morning. Bonnie is crate trained and is very calm and happy to spend extended time in her crate but we have been wanting to let her “free roam” for a while now and have practised leaving her home alone outside of her crate. As we rent a house we are of course worried that we may damage someone else’s property so as a stop gap measure we are hoping to give Bonnie more freedom slowly over time so that she get’s used to being relaxed with more space while we are out.

More space for her to settle
Already associating it with positive things!

The pen is big and gives her plenty of space to have a stretch while we are out and it’s great as it can be made smaller or even bigger if you buy more panels, can be arranged into different shapes depending on the space you have and also can be used as a barrier for example to stop counter surfing.

Many people might wonder why it has taken us this long to start allowing Bonnie to have more freedom when we are out and some might think it’s cruel but when Bonnie first came to us she was not at all used to a house environment. To be honest we had wondered what we had got ourselves into as when we brought her home she commando crawled in through the front door totally wary and when we let her off the lead in the living room (silly mistake – knowing what I know now I would’ve tethered her to me) she immediately crawled under the coffee table and barged in through the shelves of the TV unit to stand behind it then ventured out to the kitchen and found the degu’s cage and begin to try to climb the cage until we pulled her away.

Honestly she was a little bit like a feral dog as it seemed like she had no previous experience with a house. She was not house trained, she paced and paced and didn’t know how to settle, she chewed through a laptop charger and a mouse both while plugged in and got zapped (thankfully nothing came of it!), tried to hide high value items like antlers from us, scratched and scrabbled and bit at the furniture if her ball or food went under it and she didn’t know how to play with toys and ingested everything whether it was edible or not. Also did we mention she had a infection from her spay incision and a dodgy stomach from the antibiotics, needless to say our first dog owning moments were a bit rough!

2014-10-31 18.57.19
Bonnie was a totally different dog back then!

She was crate trained as a matter of safety to herself as I couldn’t bear to think of coming home to her seriously injured out of her own curiosity or the house totally wrecked as there is only so much clearing away you can do unless you have an empty room to spare. The crate training has been a great help in that it helped her learn how to settle and relax instead of pacing all the time (the pacing happened no matter how much we exercised her physically and mentally), she has a safe space where she can go if she feels scared, doesn’t want to be bothered or just wants to enjoy a treat by herself and also it means if she ever needs crate rest after a surgery or illness it won’t be foreign or scary to her.

With your own dogs how did you know it was time for them to be able to be safe and not cause damage when you were out? Have you had a dog that never “graduated” to total free roaming due to safety or other reasons?

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