Blues people - beaches and beer
And so begins the big adventure of taking a new pup out in public. Great times ahead. This is the stage where there is lots of fun to be had – watching Blue’s response to falling in a rock pool (not that bothered, slightly bemused), the sheer delight of seeing him running on the beach with ‘his pack’, and the pride of how sociable he is with different ages of people and other dogs at the campsite, the beach and the pub.
I realise how lucky we are to have a confident and attentive pup. He is happy to engage in new situations, but does back off if he is warned to, which is an important lesson. The key for us now is to keep this up, keep going out and about with him so that fears do not develop at a later stage.
But now he is ‘out’ we also have to be mindful of disease risks, so his worming and flea prevention needs to be tip-top. There are so many safe products available from vets now, and it is important to know what is a risk in your area before deciding on the best protocol – it isn’t necessarily one-size fits all across the country.
• Fleas – prevention is so much better than cure. Trying to deal with an infestation in your house is a nightmare, so far better use a good quality, safe flea product from the outset, and 12 months a year. With central heating (and mild winters) fleas are not just a summer problem.
• Ticks – our wonderful Pembrokeshire is not known particularly as a ‘tick area’, but these days ticks can be everywhere, and the coast path and hills are certainly areas of higher risk.
• Roundworms and tapeworms – are an ongoing issue throughout life, so regular treatments are a no-brainer, from your own pet’s health as well as the risk to humans.
• Lungworm – is a concern here, so it is important that our parasite protocol covers lungworm prevention – there are not that many products out there that do, so its worth a chat with your vet about whether a spot-on or tablet might suit you and your pup best.
• Mites – useful to have some mite prevention / treatment in with your regular parasite treatment
As well as disease prevention, there are other considerations to keeping Blue safe - travelling in the car and being out-and-about in general. In the car Blue always travels in the boot, and we use a crate here when he is on his own. This helps him to feel secure, as well as stopping him suddenly jumping into the back seat and potentially causing chaos.
An alternative is a car safety harness which plugs into the seatbelt. Some pups suffer from car sickness – in this case going on lots of short journeys usually helps, and most grow out of it. Most importantly is to get your pup used to travelling in a car full-stop. If he/she doesn’t travel in a car until they are older, they are far more likely to be frightened or over-excited by it.
Freedom - well sort of.
On the beach Blue was kept on the lead, as we would not rely on his ‘recall’ at this stage. We used a long lead (not an extendable, just a long nylon lead) so he could still run around and meet other dogs without feeling ‘attached’ to us. On a quiet stretch of beach, well away from distractions and roads, we let go of the lead very briefly so he could run with the other dogs. By calling the other dogs back, Blue came back with them and could be rewarded for returning to us. This would have been less reliable if Blue had been on his own.
So, as well as parasite prevention, a good lead and rewards, poo bags are the other essential item for being out and about with Blue. Many of our beaches in Pembrokeshire are unspoilt, and it is just responsible ownership to bag it and bin it, to keep the environment pleasant and safe for all visitors.