Puppy Progress At Six Months - Furry French Fun

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Thursday 10 August 2017

Puppy Progress At Six Months - Furry French Fun

At 3 months old!
It's difficult to get my head around how much has changed with the pups in the last 3 months, since my previous update, and so it's hard to know where to start. At some point I'll have to write about some of the many behavioural and training related lessons we're learning about keeping 5 dogs, especially over the last fortnight since moving into our motorhome. It's hard work but we find it very rewarding. In the meantime I'll share a few more general updates and get to the important part.....cute pictures.

Before saying anything else though and in keeping with tradition I will do a weight update....in grams compared to their first few weeks, although I will have to skip Teddy and Jess. I'm going to leave them in the table though as it gives me a chance to say that they are doing really well in their new homes πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€


That's right, with Leela weighing in at 7.5kg we now have around 36kg of dog which is the same as a biggish adult labrador. We just have it spread across 5 dogs.

So, how have they been getting on during the last 3 months?

When we arrived in France back in early May the pups were a little over 3 months old and were just starting to lose their puppy coats. Slowly but surely the fluffy, downlike fur they arrived in France with started to vanish to reveal the much shorter, slightly more wiry but still soft fur beneath. For Bella, George and Pati this meant that a fortnight later they were sporting a slightly wispy, ginger look with tousled coats and bushy tails while Rose, the more short coated girl, developed a much blonder colour almost like a Labrador.




As the weeks passed in the gite where we were housesitting for 10 weeks the pups and Leela all settled well and soon seemed to relish rural French life. After a much more urban environment in San Jose, the wide open countryside around the gite was perfect for quiet walks and our continued recall training with all of the individuals. Making sure that all of the pups and Leela got individual training time and walks was time-consuming, but also lots of fun. Based on what we have read and most importantly what we have observed in the past 6 months, we know how important it is for all of the dogs to have lots of personal attention as well as group play time so they can develop their own character and confidence away from the pack.

It's also the reason we started to crate all of the pups separately at night time. Ever since birth they had slept in one big, furry heap but at around four months old we set up individual pens for time-outs and sleep time. We thought it would be a bit of a heart-wrenching few days, expecting that they would cry for each other, but they actually adjusted immediately even seemed to prefer sleeping alone, happily hopping into one pen or another after their last trip outdoors before bed. It was only really Esther who felt sad, missing the cuteness of the nocturnal puppy pile we had been used to.

Are you angry with us?
Esther has continued to do a marvellous job with training the pups. The main focus has still been recall training to a whistle, individually and in a group, with half a dozen other commands they understand pretty well now. Having so many learning at the same time is a double-edged sword. They learn new commands and desirable habits very fast, like sitting and waiting to be given the 'OK' to go out of a door, but they also learn the bad habits from each other as well. It often feels like 3 steps forward, 2 steps back. They've known 'sit' since they were six weeks old and get it 95% of the time, but some mornings just look at you with a puzzled look and you think "I know you know this....." but we can't help laughing. Fortunately they're cute when they're naughty. Well, most of the time. Crazy, 5 dog barking moments are irritating whichever way you look at it, but we try and remember it's a chance to learn patience.

We did have a local dog trainer come to the house to help review how we were getting on and she said she was very impressed. Little things we had taken for granted, like the way they usually sit together and wait for treats one at a time without grabbing for each others, she said were usually hard to teach. Esther then also took Pati to a few of her puppy training classes just to get used to being around other dogs since she was the most timid of the group. The crux of dog training seems to be all about consistency and making sure to use desirable treats.

Sometimes it's hard to know who is training who.

Another big change (for us anyway) over the last few months has been wake-up times. When we arrived in France we were only just moving away from needing several nocturnal wee-visits as part of toilet training. That has now changed completely, with the pups sleeping through for up to 9 hours at times, basically until we get up, and then holding it until we take them out. The only time they cry to get out sooner, we've found, is when they really do need the loo and can't wait much longer. Essentially, we're trusting them to tell us and so far they're being very honest! For a couple of months the number of 'accidents' is in single figures, which is pretty good for six months, especially as we've been told toilet training takes longer with a group.

Oh, I should probably also add that for the most part all the pups now have their adult teeth as well. Unfortunately George has 5 or 6 baby teeth still in his mouth alongside his adult teeth but we're hoping they will come out soon, otherwise he will need surgery to remove them.

Not that our (or their) lives have been entirely based in the countryside during our time in France. Lots of trips into nearby towns and villages to see people, cars, buses.....etc. was fun for all of us. Fortunately the place we were staying was surrounded by several beautiful villages which attracted visitors by the coachload so there were always plenty of people to say hello to. If there was a downside it was that life in the country was a little too similar day to day and we did notice the pups became more prone to barking at anything unexpected or at strange dogs. Largely we put this down to the 'pack effect' when we were walking them as a group.




Thankfully even a few days touring in the motorhome seems to be reducing that already and we think it will be very good for them to tour for a few weeks or months and settle down to the unexpected and irregular. We're also now mostly doing walks in just 1's or 2's and rotating the groups while they get a little older. It will be interesting to see how this changes, especially now that the pups have all be neutered/spayed. Timing wise it was a bit tricky having 4 of our 5 dogs operated on just 3 days after moving into our motorhome with them, meaning we were all sharing a much smaller space at the same time as we had to restrict their outdoor play! We got through it perhaps the best thing to say about the past week and it also gave us the chance to develop some much needed routines for managing so many dogs in our small living space. Thankfully Esther and I have so few possessions travelling with us now that there is ample space for the puppies combined effects, toys, blankets, towels, food, treats, harnesses, leads.....it's working. It really is. I can't say I ever believed a motorhome and 5 dogs was even possible. It will be an interesting couple of months ahead, but I feel excited about instead of terrified, which is what I felt a few weeks ago.

Speaking of the motorhome and one major modification I probably should mention is that we now have an on-board kennel! Compared to our van conversion our new coachbuilt is much, much more homely and spacious for our needs, but it was still tricky to share our living space with 5 dogs all the time. At first we tried setting up a couple of pens in the large 'garage' space, but that was entirely cut off from the living space meaning we couldn't see 2 or 3 of the pups and they couldn't see us when they were put away. Therefore, last week, I took a screwdriver to our new home and removed the cabinet separating the garage and living space and then bought some timber to build a raised floor in the garage so the living space now runs the entire length of the van. It's working out brilliantly. We have our bed at the back of the van and underneath, instead of a separate garage, we have a massive 'kennel' with pens for all of the pups. It's their space and they love it, as do we since it gives us so much more living space all round. We also still have storage underneath my 'new' floor.

Needless to say the pups get a LOT of attention. All dogs are beautiful, but when they are all together this lot certainly make for a cute picture and I reckon there must now be snaps of them on memory cards in every continent. If we charged a euro for every picture taken of the pups we'd be millionaires! But then we just like seeing people happy. Some people are a little stand-offish when they see 5 wagging tails bounding (often barking) towards them, but most people love it and the pups certainly do as well.


  1. You guys are so AweSome and Inspiring. I'm loving hearing about and seeing your journey!! All the best you! Peace and Blessings!

    1. Hey Sharmeen, wonderful to hear from you and thank you. Really pleased you enjoy the pictures, the pups certainly ratchet up our cuteness factor by several thousand times (at least). Lots of love, D&E x


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