It’s been quite a long time since I’ve written about our daily life with Nix. When I started the blog in August 2016, I used to write weekly reports on what she had done and how she was doing. Eventually, I stopped writing these and decided to focus on dog-related topics which we normally had to deal with because of her. For this reason, I think it’s interesting to take a step back and examine how she has evolved in the last year.
Staying Home Alone
One of the first things that comes to mind is the fact that she can stay home alone for longer periods of time without breaking or destroying our door frame. From time to time we’d find wood all over the corridor floor when we came back home. It’s been months since she last did this (and fingers crossed that it will keep this way). I don’t like leaving her alone for long periods of time (4 or 5 hours maximum is what I’m comfortable with), but at the same time I find it reassuring to know that she can stay 7 or 7.5 hours alone without breaking anything. What’s even better is that due to her sensitive stomach, we haven’t been able to give her any chew bones or ox sticks to pass the time while we’re away, so she really is okay when left alone.
Ironically, though, we’ve noticed that when both Manel and I leave the house simultaneously, she tends to bark. It doesn’t usually happen if one of us has already left and there is only Manel or I. I have no clue for the reason why, it’s almost like she knows that we’re not going to work when we leave the house together and she decides to complain about it. This barking behaviour didn’t happen a year ago.
However, there is an easy solution for this. Since we can’t leave her any chew bones, we usually throw some of her kibble around the house. This is a really good exercise for her: she is not allowed to search for kibble while we are throwing it, and we usually tell her to start searching just before we leave. In this way, she doesn’t even seem to care when we leave, she tires herself a little by looking all over the house for the kibble, and she is entertained for a while (not long, though, she searches fast).
Note that I would like to emphasise that she doesn’t suffer from separation anxiety. We know that she stops barking at some point because whenever we get back she is quiet, and we haven’t had any complaints from the neighbours.
On her first days (maybe even weeks with us) she didn’t care much about balls or frisbees. However, her interest in them increased gradually and she’s now become a frisbee junkie. Whenever we play fetch with her, she is extremely focused and takes the exercise very seriously.
The downside to this is that she is even more posessive of her toys than she used to be, and she can get very upset when other dogs approach her if the toy is not in her mouth. We have to avoid other dogs whenever we wish to play fetch with her.
Nix hasn’t changed at all when it comes to food. She is a kibble devourer. I still remember the time that the vet warned us that she might lose her appetite during her “teenager” phase. I thought he was kidding.
How she relates to other dogs
In general she is still pretty well-behaved, but we’ve noticed that she doesn’t behave as well as she used to. She shows more teeth and growls more often when there is something she doesn’t like. Fortunately, she still behaves really well at the dog sitter’s, so this change in behaviour may also be due to some change on our side.
The vet assistant always reminds us that these dogs take at least two years to develop their personality. From what I’ve seen, though, I think she is probably right.
Relationship to Us
I think that the biggest change in her relationship to us is how much of a cuddly dog she has become. I sometimes tell Manel that why get a Poodle or any other lap dog, when you can get a German Shepherd.
Perhaps because of this, I feel that she tends to be a bit more annoying when I’m working from home. Last year she’d let me work for hours straight, I now feel that she asks for attention more often. Still, it’s manageable and she is very well-behaved overall.