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Introduction + Questions About New Puppy

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Hello everyone! I'm new here, so I thought I'd introduce myself and my pup and ask a few questions while I'm at it.

My name's Aidan and this is Odin
. He's 3.5 months old and the first border collie I've ever had. He came into my life shortly after my previous dog had passed away unexpectedly. He keeps me on my toes a lot more than Freya ever did as a puppy – which is fun. 

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While he's not my first dog, I do have a couple of questions.

Question #1:
The ears! He's only just started teething so I reckon they'll change later down the road, but his left ear has adopted a very labrador-esque appearance and has decided to stay that way, while the right ear's opted for a more border collie look – it even perks up sometimes! Odin's funky ears don't bother me one bit, but I wonder if his left ear will ever perk up again – it's been stuck like that for a while and hasn't shown any signs of »correcting« itself. Have your dogs' ears ever flopped over like that?

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Question #2:
He's received his shots and he's soon going to be ready to explore the world. I plan to take him for a walk around the city and show him around. There's also a dog park that we could visit, and I was wondering if that was a good idea. What's everyone's opinion on dog parks, especially with puppies this young? I've heard very mixed opinions. Some say it's good for socialization, others say he could learn bad behaviours from other dogs. I'm taking him to obedience training in September, so he's not going to miss out on dog-dog interaction if we don't go, but I thought it'd be a fun experience.

Question #3:
Does anyone have any experience with puppies and dog beaches? We're taking him camping with us in August. The beach is relatively small and usually packed with dogs. I plan to introduce him to a shallow and calm body of water first (early in the morning when there's no one around). How did you guys introduce your pups to water? Did they take naturally to it? I bought a cooling pad and a beach tent so he'll be able to cool down even if he doesn't want to swim. 

Question #4:
My mother's dog, Sif, is very loud. She gets spooked easily and she barks at everything. Is there any way I can prevent Odin from learning that behaviour from her? I've been rewarding him for being silent when she barks. He's not a fearful puppy and I think with proper socialization the problem should eliminate itself before it even begins but I want to make sure!

Question #5:
If memory serves me right his parents had a medium long coat so I reckon he'll take after them, but some of his siblings were a bit fluffier. What do you think? Will he have luscious long fur or a nice medium coat? ^_^

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Thank you in advance! 

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Cute little guy you got there.

The ears might do anything - it is too early to tell. They may go through a number of different iterations before finally deciding on where they will stay as an adult. This process sometimes takes over a year. Some folks on here have shown a series of hilarious photos of their pup's ears as they went up, down, sideways, and otherwise. Just watch and enjoy. (And take photos, you will like having them later).

I personally wouldn't ever take a dog of any age to a dog park and would strongly recommend never taking a young puppy there. You have no idea who will be there with what kind of dog or how those dogs (or owners) will behave, and some owners simply ignore their dogs if they behave badly and refuse to take responsibility for them. You could set up your puppy for very frightening experiences, possibly even injury, which could affect his attitude towards other dogs for a long time. 

Same with dog beaches. Unless there are very few other dogs there and they are on leash, you are taking too big of a risk IMO. If it is a quiet and unpopulated beach,  you could introduce your pup to the water by having him on leash (of course), and simply taking him up close, but not all the way to, the edge. Let the leash be loose and long enough that he can backtrack without being held too close to the water. Make sure to use a harness, in case he moves suddenly, so he doesn't twist out of the collar and get away. Then, let him sniff and go up to the water, retreat, go up, at his own pace. Make it a short duration, then again for a short time the next day. Of course, if he loves it right away, no need to keep it short. But do be careful and have him on a harness.

If I had a puppy I would never take that pup around another dog who behaves badly as you are describing your mother's dog. Keep him away from that dog until he is older and has learned some manners and gained some confidence. A dog that acts like that could frighten your pup, and/or set him up for a bark-at-other-dogs attitude. Which you sure don't want. Better by far not to let it happen than to have to deal with training the dog out of it later.

He kind of looks like a medium coat to me but that can change. 

Best of luck with him and have fun!  This forum is a great resource and I highly recommend coming here often. These folks are very knowledgeable and generous with their time and I have learned a great deal from them. 

 

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Thank you very much for your response! I've never been to a dog park before and while it could be fun, I don't want to take any unnecessary risks. I think we're going to cancel the visit and stick to unpopulated areas.

As for the beach, that particular location is very popular. Most people have their dogs off leash, so the plan was to go there when there's no one around (early mornings and evenings). I'll make sure to follow your advice! I'm looking forward to seeing his initial reaction to water. 

My mother's dog is very unpredictable. He can hear her bark but they don't have any contact – and I plan to keep it that way for the reasons you mentioned.

Again, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! You and the forum in general have provided a lot of useful information so I'm glad to be here. :)

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Welcome to the Boards. Adorable pup.

There's no way to know for sure what your pup's ears will do until they've done it. ;) It can take a year or more for him to decide how he wants to wear them, though some dog's ears will set earlier. (I had a pup whose ears went to full prick at 7 weeks old to the day and never wavered a bit, but that's the exception to the rule.) Border collie ears can run the full gamut from completely pricked to completely dropped, much like a Lab's but set a little differently on the skull and more mobile, to anything in between. They can be matched or mismatched. I rather like the rakish look of a dog with one prick ear and one dropped. They can be what I refer to as Flying Nun or airplane ears, which tend to stick out to the sides. Or rosebud ears. If there's a variation in dog ears (other than the larger hound ears) border collies can have them. It's a relic of their having been bred with little regard to appearance in the pursuit of the best working dogs.

Your pup's a rough coat (as opposed to a smooth), but you won't know exactly how long it will get till he's mature. Some border collies have a fairly minimal rough coat while others can be nearly as long as a Lassie-type collie, though rarely as thick and full. My experience with males is they tend to fill out a bit right about 3 years of age and their coats will also reach maturity about that time.

Many, many border collies don't do well at dog parks, especially after they've matured. It's often a too high intensity setting for these dogs who want to control their environment and they often really, really don't appreciate the play styles of other breeds of dogs. They prefer chase games to rough and tumble play and can be quite intolerant of the rude in-your-face greetings of other dogs. And while many border collies enjoy a good game of fetch, most won't appreciate other dogs trying to compete for the same ball or Frisbee. (p.s. Fetch isn't a healthy game for young dogs who'd bones haven't fully matured.) A puppy may be more interactive with other types of dogs as long as he's not overwhelmed, but most by the time they've matured won't be as interested in the other dogs.

The one exception to that is if it's a park full of border collies. :D I've had dogs who were really pretty uncomfortable in mixed groups of dogs, but who when let loose among a huge group of border collies were instantly right at home and highly interactive right from the start. They do like their own kind and share a play style that they understand.

I'd think a beach setting with a lot of other dogs would be pretty much the same.

I introduce my pups to water be letting them explore it on their own. If the dog doesn't have a good recall I'll keep it on a long line if there's anywhere s/he can get into trouble or run off. And it's also a good idea until you know for sure the dog won't be obsessive about swimming and not want to come out. Been there and it's not fun when the dog gets into some dicey situations and won't come out of the water. If you want to encourage a fraidy pup, just wade out into the water and encourage them to come with you, but don't force the issue.

I'd worry about having a pup around a reactive dog lest he learns to also be suspicious of little things and react to them as well. Maybe when he's older and more confident, but not now.

 

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That's a lot of different variations! I never know what type of ear I'm going to see when I wake up, and that's what makes it fun. :D 

13 minutes ago, GentleLake said:

Many, many border collies don't do well at dog parks, especially after they've matured.

I actually had no idea! Everything you wrote makes perfect sense, though. I've read a lot about this breed but I learn something new everyday. :) We'll just stay away from dog parks in that case and only visit the beach when it's empty. I don't want to create additional stress in a completely new environment. 

29 minutes ago, GentleLake said:

I'd worry about having a pup around a reactive dog lest he learns to also be suspicious of little things and react to them as well. Maybe when he's older and more confident, but not now.

That's what I was thinking as well. I really don't want him to pick up her bad habits. I'll keep him away from her for the time being. Thank you for the welcome and for your answers! Very enlightening. 

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I have an Odin too! :) He looked a lot like your guy when he was smol. (Squee, the memories!) Ears looked almost exactly the same.  I agree it is too early to tell, but my Odin ended up with airplane ears (see below). He didn't have much hair when he first grew out of puppyhood, then his tail filled out, and the the hair just kept growing over the years. Now at 10 he is a medium  to long coat with a good amount of curl.  

My vet cautioned against dog beaches and dog parks in particular until past the initial vaccinations (not just the puppy set, but bordatella as well). She also cautioned that puppies can pick up diarrhea-causing illnesses at these places.   I'll be placing my new pup in doggy daycare on some days but that is a very controlled environment (vax records required) but not until she is 5 months old, again because we do not want to risk disease any sooner than we have to.  

Welcome! 

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Ooh, what a handsome pup! His eyes are gorgeous. I hope my Odin fills out like that too. :)

He received his initial vaccinations but not for bordetella. I will definitely consult my vet about that before we go anywhere, thank you for bringing it to my attention! 

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Congrats Aidan! I am not a trainer, nor do I have a long experience with BCs so take my words with a grain of salt. These are statements from a new BC owner (I have a 1 year old) who wishes he could go back and change a few things. Here are my suggestions:

Socialize, socialize, socialize. Take him through the city, take him to a skate park, expose him to every noisy, energy filled stimuli you can think of. And be prepared to work with your dog to calm down and feel comfortable around the stimuli. My dog is great around cars and whatnot because we showed her that when she was young, but she didn't see a skateboard until recently. The new sound and energy of a skateboard sets her off.

I used to take my dog to a dog park but stopped doing it. I never had a bad experience with the park, and on very rare occasions still take her there. I just feel I'd prefer to use that time training her and exercising her myself. If I'm going to stand around a dog park getting bitten by flies and letting her play with random dogs, I might as well put that time to a more constructive use, like leash training, fetch, and obedience. 

I live in HI and take my pup to the beach all the time. She's a bit shy/sharp with other dogs there, but I think it's a good experience for her. She initially hated the water, but I would walk out and hold her, then let her swim around a bit. When she was young, she would get very cold in the water, but now that she's older, she loves it and I swim to a marker about 200m offshore with her multiple times a week (though she still occasionally climbs on my head during the swim). When she gets out of the water, she's like a dog who just got a bath and can be overwhelmingly hyper. Be prepared for that possibility and try to get her to calm if you can. 

Edit: One other thing I'd recommend, get him very good at "leave-it" and "look at me". Both of those are great for when you get in a situation where he starts to fixate on a stimulus. 

 

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Bordatella is kennel cough, essentially the canine version of the common cold. There are a lot of integrative vets who don't feel it's any more necessary than you getting a vaccine for a cold every year for a self limiting illness that's really not all that common unless the dog is exposed to other dogs who have it. This may be why your vet didn't bring it up, though I'm sure s/he'll be happy to take your money for the vaccine if you ask.

https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/09/09/9-natural-remedies-for-kennel-cough.aspx

https://drjeandoddspethealthresource.tumblr.com/post/148259661186/know-your-bordetella-vaccine

Leading vaccine researcher Dr. Ron Shultz doesn't even believe bordatella is a "vaccine preventable disease": http://truth4pets.org/2012/07/kennel-cough-vaccine/

https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/bordetella-does-your-dog-really-need-the-kennel-cough-vaccine/  and https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/three-critical-problems-kennel-cough-vaccine/

I believe in giving core vaccines early in life, but not of repeating them every year or three years. There's no scientific backing for those recommendations (i.e. no proof that repeating shots "boost" immunity at all) and plenty of evidence that duration of immunity lasts much longer, quite possibly even for the lifetime of the dog.

You can easily find fear mongering vets who'll tell you you need every vaccine and preventative under the sun. When questioned about it, most will tell you what the real risk factors are in your area. I firmly believe pet parents should be proactive and learn about these issues and go to their vets armed with some basic information and questions rather than blindly allowing vets to make the decisions for you.

An anecdote if you're interested: A therapy dog friend and I used the same vet or a number of years. I was up front with her that I feed my dogs a raw diet and only wanted minimal vaccines, and wanted them spaced out. She said she had no issues with the raw diet and that she agreed with me that vaccines aren't necessary as often as they're usually given.

Dave brought his dog to a group visit one evening and asked if I had any thought about the rash on his dog's chest and belly. After he'd told me she hadn't been anywhere unusual or into any chemically treated lawns I asked about vaccines. She's had a combo vaccine and a rabies booster just a week before and I looked into reactions. Sure enough, the rash and blisters are pretty typical reactions and can occur up to a month afterwards, though the vet told him that any reaction would have occurred within 24 hours so that "couldn't" be what caused it.

The next year Dave took the dog in for her annual wellness exam and the vet repeated all the shots, even though he hadn't specifically asked for them. Sure enough, a week later she had the same rash and blisters.

2 things really irk me about this. First is that the vet is telling different clients different things based on the client's knowledge base. (This isn't the first time I've run into this with a vet I've used.) The second is that even though he'd reported the vaccine reaction, the vet repeated the all the vaccines only one year later, even though he hadn't requested them and against the recommendation of both the AVMA and AAHA recommendations to repeat vaccines every three years. And, of course, it really bothers me that she didn't take his concerns about the reaction the year before seriously in the first place, so I guess that's 3.

Sorry I went off on a tangent and a bit of a rant. My point is that we need to be proactive and informed in order to do the best for our dogs.

 

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Sorry I wasn't more clear - we are doing not only Bordetella bronchiseptica but also canine flu and canine adenovirus as "kennel cough" vax.  "Bordetella" is a constellation of diseases, some of them can become very serious. Though I agree bacterial bordetella is one of the less concerning ones, it is required for doggy daycare here, and is especially recommended for puppies because that's who is most susceptible (along with very old dogs). It can be a secondary infection to something more serious, and has been prevalent around this area for the past few years, is what I have been told by multiple vets who I trust.  

If my pup were to contract any of these diseases in the next couple of months I could not take her to daycare until it was resolved - not good for us.  But I also don't want her to get a bacterial or viral respiratory infection at a young age, if I can at all help it. I have also had a cat who had a series of common respiratory infections as a kitten (she got sick in a shelter) that caused sinus scarring and other lifetime effects that I would prefer to avoid in my new pup. And it has nothing to do with vax, but I also really would like to avoid some sort of persistent diarrhea mung like Odin had as a pup and took us months and months to get a handle on, which is also a big concern at high density areas like dog beaches and dog parks.

As a biologist with a background in medical science, I take a very different approach than the above to vaccinations - I am most decidedly pro-vax and pro-scientifically recommended vax schedules for my animals and human child :) Efficacy is not perfect, it varies among vaccines and among individuals, and vaccine injuries can very rarely occur. But the overwhelming evidence is that vaccines are a very low risk medical intervention, especially given the benefits they provide.  Without trying to argue too much, I don't find dognaturally to be an especially reputable source, too much like the anti-vax human literature and claims I have seen (like combo vax are "always" more dangerous - not true!), with links to (in my mind) questionable products to "remove harmful vaccination effects".  The link below calls them out specifically. But you should discuss with a vet you trust, do your research, and make your own decision!  I just brought it up because when I think of heavily-used dog parks and dog beaches with my young pup right now, my -- and my vet's -- thoughts immediately turn to it not being a great time in her life or immune system for lots of possible disease exposure. Gentle Lake and D'elle already spoke very well to all your other questions and the other good reasons that dog parks and beaches should be carefully considered.  

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/jan/24/anti-vaxxers-new-target-their-sights-pets

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Just tossing in another opinion: I tend to get the first puppy shots and the next booster and then stop. My dogs (the youngest of whom is 6) have not had shots for years.

However, when I was actively taking in foster dogs, many of whom came from shelters rife with kennel cough, I kept current on the bordatella vaccines for all my own dogs. None of my dogs ever caught it from the foster dogs. Coincidence? Who knows. But that was about 8 years' worth of fostering dogs, not all of whom had kennel cough but many of whom did. If I go back to fostering, I will do it that way again.

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About dog parks: they can be chaotic and unhealthy places, or not, it just depends on the park. At my park, during the week, there are times when it's crazy and times when no one is there. So if I go at, say, 7:00 AM, no one there and I have a nice big fenced space all to myself. If you are considering using a park, drive by at a few different times of day, and get a sense of when it's busy and when it's not. If you can figure out the times when no one is there, and you are able to go at those times, you can have a big fenced space to yourself for puppy to explore and for you both to play recall games and such with no fear of the pup running off. 

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Hi, and congrats on the handsome new pup! Looks like he and my Mancer could be mistaken for brother and sister. Just want to say that I take my Mancer to a dog park every weekend, and she absolutely loves it. Of course I'm not saying there are not very valid concerns with visiting a dog park. I'd suggest visiting your park alone a few times before taking your pup there and see if the environment is to your liking or not. But I wouldn't just automatically rule it out, especially if it will be the only place your Odin can let loose and really run his butt off for a while. But obviously if you see aggressive or confrontational dogs or inattentive owners there the bad will outweigh the good and probably best to stay away. And if course your dog's personally traits will be a key consideration too. Mancer is very well socialized and outgoing, which I don't think is necessarily the norm for BC's. She loves people and loves running with other dogs so the dog park works very well for her, which may or may not be the same for Odin.

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I don't think anyone's suggesting to write off dog parks completely. It really depends on your dog and how s/he does with the mix of dogs at that park.

The cautions come from many of us having experienced the disconnect between (usually mature) border collies and so many other types of dogs. The play styles often don't mesh. As others have pointed out, many, perhaps even most, mature border collies really aren't interested in wrestling with dogs they do't already know well and a whole lot of them do. not. like. the in-your-face style of many other dogs, especially retrievers and the like and they just won't tolerate the rude (yes, by dog standards Labs are often pretty rude) greeting styles they may encounter at these mixed group settings. Add to that that the dogs already at the park are usually already riled up and will often rush a new dog coming through the gate . . . well, that's just an affront to most border collies and they either may decide to let the other dog(s) know or, if more timid, be overwhelmed by it.

And it's not necessarily a matter of socialization. My very well socialized therapy border collie has little interest in dog parks. He won't tolerate the very rude greeters, especially if they keep it up. Mildly obnoxious is OK, but that sure doesn't mean he wants to engage with them; he doesn't. He loves it when someone throws a ball, but if other dogs are running for it he simply defers and leaves the melee. Once in a while he'll find a chasing partner if the park's not too full, but forget it if a dog offers to wrestle with him. He just evades it with a huff. Most of the time he just comes back to me and I swear is asking why the heck we're even there. I rarely bother to go anymore. He gets tons more enjoyment out of an off leash walk in the woods or a pond where he can swim. He has a border collie friend who often goes along and the two of them have wonderful chase games. Go on a walk like that with someone else with a different kind of dog and mine usually does his own thing.

So there's no reason IMO not to try a dog park, but I'd definitely recommend introducing the dog in quiet times with fewer other dogs first, and to be prepared for the very distinct possibility that it just isn't his cup of tea. Be aware of the potential issues and watch him carefully for any signs of distress. If he's uncomfortable get him out of there. And remember that many young border collies are much more social in mixed groups of dogs than they are when they're more mature, so keep watching him as he gets older to make sure it's something he still enjoys.

In my admittedly limited experience with dog parks, the biggest problem is ppl who just don't pay attention to their dogs when they're being jerks and/or simply don't have a clue what their and other dogs' signals are. If you can find a respectful group of people at a dark park it would have the potential to be a great place.

 

 

 

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I hate dog parks.

For far too many people "off leash = no reason to control your dog."  Not every dog wants to wrestle with every dog and if your dog is that way then you are not allowed to advocate for him. Its far too many dogs crammed into a small area with too few eyes supervising, so when and if something goes wrong its too late.

A dog park used to be an area where you were allowed to run your dog off leash, and you would walk with them or play with them and if your dog found a dog they liked they could play. Nowadays its more about dogs playing which not every dog wants to do. Many parks say no toys and no food rewards to prevent fights. Too many clueless people, too many opportunities to be exposed to disease (sheer volume of park x dogs using it).

The only exception to my "I hate dog parks" rule is if you have a very large area (like acres) where dogs generally stay with their owners hiking like a big dog beach or a giant park like 1,000 Acres in Portland.

YMMV (as Rushfan's does) but I have had so many students whose dogs were attacked, traumatized and bullied at dog parks I am not a fan.

Use a long line and a harness and stick to less populated places to socialize and hang out.

 

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Hey everyone! Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my inquiries (and for the photos of your beautiful pups), I apologize for taking so long to get back to you all. 

We just got back from our camping trip a couple of days ago and little Odin had a blast! I followed everyone's advice as much as I could. Turns out he absolutely LOVES water. He wouldn't even come near it at first but he gradually became more confident and soon enough he was jumping in and out of it and fetching his ball. I'm pretty sure he would've just stayed in water all day if I had let him. :D

I know you guys said it wasn't a wise idea to visit a popular beach but most dogs were leashed and the ones that weren't were mostly just minding their own business so I thought why not. Odin pretty much only had eyes for his toys. He would acknowledge other dogs but he was mostly focused on me and what I was doing. Huge fan of sticks, too. 

Overall, a very fun & productive experience, we made the most out of it training wise. :) He got over his fear of cars and learned how to walk on leash without pulling. Very proud! I also took him to the vet as soon as we got back to make sure everything was okay and he's as healthy as ever. Thank you again for everyone's helpful advice, much appreciated!

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Glad to hear that you and Odin had a nice trip! I find it very rewarding to see Mancer have fun and interact with other dogs and people. I call her my little social butterfly. It makes me feel so good about myself as a dog owner. Hope you are happy for Odin and feel good about yourself as well (You should!) :D

(As we all should feel good about ourselves for the fun and happiness we bring to our canine buddies, in whatever way works for them and us!)

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Thanks for the update!

Great to hear that you had such a wonderful and positive experience. Y'know most of our dogs don't have all the issues we warn can be problematic, but enough of them do that it's important that we warn about them.

So, with that in mind, another word of caution . . .

5 hours ago, AidanK said:

Huge fan of sticks, too. 

Please, please, please be very careful with sticks. If he's just picking them up and running around with them, that may be OK. But throwing sticks for a dog can be extremely dangerous, even deadly. When thrown, sticks can land in such a way that they end up stuck in the dirt or sand sticking up to form a projectile that when the dog pounces on it can pierce their mouths or throats. It happened with my first border collie many years ago. In his case, it was just a horrifying very, very bloody mess (the stick pierced alongside the back of his tongue), but the vet said if it'd been just a bit deeper it could have killed him. I've never thrown a stick for a dog on dry land since. I will throw one into the water because it obviously can't land like that, but never on land.

But overall, so happy to hear how well things are going with Odin.

 

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Glad to hear that you and Odin had a nice trip! I find it very rewarding to see Mancer have fun and interact with other dogs and people. I call her my little social butterfly. It makes me feel so good about myself as a dog owner. Hope you are happy for Odin and feel good about yourself as well (You should!) :D

Thank you! I'm definitely proud of our progress. :)Mancer sounds absolutely lovely. It's always nice to see your dog have a great time, not only with you but with others as well. Odin's still quite shy around strangers but he loves kids and the kids love him. :D 

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Please, please, please be very careful with sticks.

Thank you for the warning! I'm sorry to hear about what happened with your pup, that sounds very scary. I hope he recovered well. :( Odin's an avid stick collector and he loves to pick them up and carry them around. I never throw sticks because I figured it was unsafe to do so. I don't even let him chew on them because of splinters. But he seems happy just to carry them back home after a walk even if they mysteriously disappear as soon as we enter the house.

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Congratulations on your successful camping trip with your utterly cute puppy.

I second the concern about sticks, as I had a friend whose Aussie loved sticks and nearly had it pierce her throat.  However, that happened while she was running with the stick in her mouth and it hit something and spun around in her mouth.

Have Odin's ears settled down yet? They look like airplane ears in the photos above.

And thank you for the update, we love those here.

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Thank you! And I don't think they've settled down just yet. While he did have airplane ears for the longest time, they've been floppy for a couple of days now. First time I've seen both of them like that at the same time. ^_^

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