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Me & you & a dog named Boo…

You know, one of the greatest things about starting my blog is all the wonderful new friends I’ve made around the world…and in my own city too! Yup, especially when I have to keep moving to a new place and don’t know anyone, it’s great to suddenly have local doggies contact me through my blog.

This was how I made lots of friends back in Brisbane…it didn’t work so well in Newcastle (‘coz I think Newcastle is so small that not many people were reading my blog) – although I did meet Miyuki the Maremma through my blog and she introduced me to the best walk there: the Stockton sand dunes…but I knew even before we moved to Sydney that I had several readers here and I was really excited about meeting them in person and making new friends! :P

Well, we’d barely been here a couple of weeks when I got a message from a handsome black boy Dane named Boo! ;)

Boo & his human actually happen to live quite near us…isn’t that a great coincidence? :P And they were so nice and offered to be our personal guides in the neighbourhood and show us all the best doggie spots – from the best parks for doggies to run free to the best dogfriendly cafes and pet stores!

So last week, Boo invited me to a playdate for us to get to know each other better – and also to show me one of the best dog parks in the area…

It’s a big piece of land next to Callan Park, which used to be part of an old mental hospital and some other government buildings…but now they are all empty and the grounds are all free for doggies to roam around as they like!

It is HUGE. It takes at least 1hr to walk around it properly and it is wonderful because it is not just a boring, flat field – there are woods & trees and little streams and hills and bushes and cliffs and rocks and old buildings to explore…

Hsin-Yi told me there was an easier way up the bank & around the bridge...but I decided I wanted to go THIS way! ;)

…and guess what? This park has free Kitty TV as well! What more could a doggie ask for?? :D

Yup – there is a part of the park where a ‘feral cat colony’ lives in one of the old, empty buildings…and you can see all the kitties sunning themselves on the roof!

I got so excited when I saw the kitties – I could just stand and STARE at them for hours!

…and if you walk through the grounds, right down to the waterfront, you get to Iron Cove, which is part of Sydney Harbour…

There’s a path right alongside the waterfront which is called the Bay Run and lots of humans like to go jogging or cycling along it (or walking their doggies) – the Bay Run is really long and only part of it runs through Callan Park – it follows the waterfront all along Sydney Harbour and has lovely views.

Although the area around Callan Park is dog off-leash, my humans made me come and walk nicely next to them when we were actually walking on the path.

Me doing my leash-free Heeling on the Bay Run path...

See – my humans believe that it’s really important for dog owners to make sure that their doggies don’t “disturb” or bother people – like chasing joggers or blocking cyclists or even just going up to people who are scared of dogs – because otherwise, this will give doggies a bad name and make people very “anti-dog”…and then this means they start to ban us from all the nice places. Lots of people already complain about doggies…you don’t want to give them any more excuses! :roll:

My humans believe that if all dog owners could be more responsible about their doggies’ behaviours so that they are always good ambassadors and always pick up their doggies’ poo and show people how well-behaved & under control doggies can be, then people will feel more friendly towards doggies (and also help those scared of doggies to overcome their fears) and this will mean that there will be more places that will welcome doggies.

Hsin-Yi often doesn’t bother to put me back on leash for these “sections” - I can do a very good leash-free Heel so she just calls me to her side and makes me Heel with her – this means I must walk on her left side, with my shoulder in line with her knee, and match her pace, and ignore all distractions around me. My humans only make me do this when we have to pass through crowded places or past big distractions but because we have practised this lots, I’m really good at it. Once we have passed through, I get told to Sit – and then my release word (“OK!”) – and then lots of praise & treats! :D

* It’s very important to “mark” the end of Heeling with a release word – rather than just letting us drift away, even though we have already passed through to a ‘safe’ area. Otherwise, it’s not clear to us doggies when we should be Heeling and when we can be free…and this means we end up with a very “sloppy” Heel where we’re not doing it properly because we keep thinking we can drift out of it anytime.

It’s the same for other commands – a lot of doggies have a poor Stay because their humans don’t use a release word to show them when the’Stay’ ends – and so they just think they can get up whenever they feel like it (when they’ve had enough!) – that’s why they keep breaking their Stays - whereas I have learnt that I must Stay in position (or keep Heeling or whatever) UNTIL I hear my release word. If I get up before my release word, my humans just put me back into Down Stay or Sit Stay again (and again…and again…as many times as they have to, until I get the message). But if I stay until AFTER I hear my release word, I get lots of praise & treats! (if you’re using a clicker, make sure your humans only click AFTER they say the release word – because otherwise as soon as we hear the click, it signals the end of the exercise)

The key to successful training is helping us doggies not get confused – and so by having a very clear Start & Stop to each command, it keeps things consistent and helps us understand what we must do and when.

And I’m off!

Boo is a really bouncy, energetic doggie – he was running circles around me the whole time! :P Well, he’s only 3 & 1/2yrs old so he’s still a young ‘un. Even at the end of our long walk, he was still full of beans!

Still, I think I kept up with him pretty well – considering that I’m nearly 5yrs older than him! ;)

Dane slalom! :P

I think Boo was a bit hurt in the beginning because I was acting a bit snooty and even though he kept trying to invite me to play – licking my jowls, jumping all around me and even on me! ;) – I just wasn’t responding much. Well, you see, when I was younger, I used to play with anything that moved…anytime, anywhere! :D But now that I’m an older, mature lady, I’m a bit more – ahem – ‘selective’ about who I will play with and when I will play. I have to be in the right mood to play…and I usually take a while to warm up to a new doggie, before I decide that I will play with him/her. So it usually takes me till the 2nd or 3rd playdate before I’ll really play properly…

…still, I did show Boo a few of my signature moves! :lol:

"The Big Honey Dog Left Hook - match that, young whippersnapper!" :P

.

And before we said goodbye, I gave him a big slobbery kiss to remember me by! Hee! Hee!

I’m so happy to have made a new friend – and Boo’s told me that he’s got LOTS of other great places to show me (well, since that day, we’ve been on 2 other playdates! I’ll tell you about them soon…) – I can’t wait!! :P

Hsin-Yi is really happy too because Boo’s human, Sarah, has the same beliefs & attitudes towards doggies - she has done lots of training with Boo and really cares about his manners and is also very careful about supervising interactions with other strange doggies and stuff like that – plus she takes Boo out socialising to lots of different places. Sometimes we meet nice doggies but their owners aren’t very sensible or responsible and then Hsin-Yi finds it a bit frustrating spending time with them because they are always doing things in a very different way to us…so she says it’s really nice to find a friend who is a “like-minded dog owner”! :P

I think we’re going to have great adventures together!

* You can contact Boo through the FB Sydney Great Dane Owners page as his human, Sarah, is the Administrator! ;)

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49 Responses to Me & you & a dog named Boo…

  1. parlance says:

    Honey, it’s great for us readers that you move from place to place, because lots of people get to see the wonderful places you find. I’m glad you have a new friend, too.

  2. jet says:

    wow, who would have thought Sydney would have such a big, abandoned place? Looks awesome!!

  3. Yay! We think you’ve got a great new pal in Boo! And he’s tall, dark and handsome! ;-) That looks like a really cool park to walk around in and explore, and that’s so cool that Boo is going to show you all the ‘cool places’ in town! Nice of you to give him a kiss to remember you by! :-) Happy New Year!

    *kissey face*
    -Fiona and Abby the Hippobottomus

  4. Thy says:

    What a great place for dogs & human . You guy are lucky !

  5. Vero says:

    The two of you make a gorgeous pair.

  6. MOWGLI says:

    Honey did you leave all that slobber on Boo’s face??? Looks like you guys had so much fun…Boo is a great friend.

  7. Rubie says:

    I’m so glad you have met up with Boo – that park place looks too good to be true!! And isn’t it wonderful to find a sensible like-minded doggie owner!!

    Tail Wuggles, Rubie

  8. Cinnamon says:

    It’s great that you have made a nice friend like Boo already! I am so happy for you!!

  9. Oh boy, what a great place that park is! Looks like doggie heaven to me. Sounds like Boo and Honey had the best time and the photos are wonderful. Can’t wait to read about more adventures.

  10. sara, oreo & chewy says:

    How nice to have a doggie your own size to play with! The park looks like a wonderful place to romp around.

    That slobber you have is quite impressive!

  11. Gus Dagger says:

    That looks like a wonderful place to run and play, and Boo seems certain to be a good friend to you! We are looking forward to more adventures.

    gussie n teka

  12. Melanie & Grendel says:

    Thanks for sharing your playdate with Boo! That park looks fantastic…. I love the stream and the old buildings. Plus bonus kitties — what more could you ask for :-) (Actually, I found those photos really interesting. I support a local TNR group in Tallahassee, but I’ve never seen anything like the official signage that marked the space — very cool!)

    Hugs & Slobbers from Melanie & Grendel

  13. Courtney says:

    Wow! What an amazing place to run around in – I find it so amazing that through your blog you can connect with all these different dog owners and get all this socialization.

    I also just love your beliefs about dogs…from the Raw diet to the way you train…I can’t stress enough how much it annoys me when I see other dog’s poops when I’m taking Jade for a walk…you’re right, it gives dog people a bad name! Grrr – stoop and scoop people!! haha.

    Anyway – another great blog, so glad you guys made a new friend – those pics are adorable! Having an old guy myself, I know what it’s like to have them be a little ‘snooty’ to those young’un dogs who are full of energy and want to play lol.

  14. bubba says:

    JEALOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    harumph

    love,

    bubba

  15. Mina & Maks says:

    Boo is gorgeous :D
    Such a beautiful boy, I’m really blown away by his beauty …. Honey, you’re still young in heart, looking at photos of you two together, it seems like you’re the same age!
    It’s such a nice park, I must admit I thought Sydney would be much more dog-unfriendly city, and it proved to be complete opposite … Look forward to reading about other playdates you had!

    Bye,
    Mina

  16. Hi Honey, what a great new friend Boo looks like. He sure is handsome. Also what an absolutely fabulous place to be able to run around. We love all your photos especially the slobber one hehe. The action shots are grreat too. Honey you are amazing. No worries, and love, Stella and Rory

  17. sprinkles says:

    I think you might have found yourself a new boyfriend there, Honey! bol

  18. Kari says:

    Boo is so handsome

    Stop on by for a visit
    Kari
    dogisgodinreverse.com

  19. Glad to hear that you are making friends! This blogging is great for connecting people all around the world!

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’0 which is not a hashcash value.

  20. BODIE says:

    Thats great that you have found the handsome BOO to show you around Honey. What a cool park.

  21. Amanda says:

    Hi Honey!

    My name is Amanda, and I am a proud Great Dane owner.
    I had a beloved Fawn Great Dane (mixed in with a rare hunting dog from Tennessee – she was mostly great dane except some in the face,) that I rescued from the SPCA, her name was Athena.
    She sadly passed away about three months ago :(

    I miss my Athena. I miss the large gracefulness and goofiness of having a Great Dane around. I miss the love that they bring, and the smiles she caused with everyone around her.

    Athena was trained some, she knew the house rules, and knew only how to sit, shake, and down.
    I’m getting a mantle Great Dane puppy from a family friend who breed two pure great dane dogs for the first time.
    The puppies were born on November 19th, 2011 and (obviously) are ready to be sold at 8 weeks old, which will be January 29th, 2012 (she is very specific – there is no way around it with the breeder.)

    I want to train my puppy as soon as possible, which my question is, how early did you start doing that with Honey (or how early did Hsin-Yi start training you, Honey, as a puppy) and what was done at specific times? (what should/shouldn’t be done at certain ages, what is possible at certain ages, etc.)

    I have a clicker, and am familiar with using it (somewhat… I’ve watched all your videos “introducing” click training to an animal and most of the ones using it to teach tricks and I’ve been using it on my cat!)

    Sorry – I am just very anxious! :D

    Thank you,

    Amanda

    • bighoneydog says:

      Hi Amanda – I’m so sorry it’s taken me so long to reply to your lovely comment! You must be getting very excited as it is nearing the time for the arrival of your new puppy. Congratulations!

      As far as your question – we started training Honey from Day 1 as soon as she arrived, at eight weeks. We started “Sit” on the first day and also started introducing some household rules, such as “Out” of the kitchen, off the furniture, etc. We introduced the word “No” as our correction word for whenever Honey was doing something she wasn’t supposed to – it was said in the firm, slightly louder tone – and then followed by praise in a happy , high-pitched voice as soon as she stopped doing the inappropriate action.

      There are really no hard and fast rules about when to start training puppies and how much to teach them. I personally believe that you can start teaching them all the basics from Day 1 (well, maybe just one command, such as “Sit” on Day 1 – give them a couple of days to settle in before you bombard them with lots of commands! ;) ) – but to be honest, puppies are learning all the time anyway so if you don’t teach things they will just learn other things instead. There is no such thing as formal training versus non-training – all the time you spend with your puppy is essentially training. So you just need to remember to always reward the good actions, the stuff that you want, and either ignore or stop/interrupt any behaviour you don’t want, either with a verbal telling off or other form of deterrent. (If you follow the positive -nly school, they do not approve of using interruptions/deterrents – so they say you should only ever ignore bad behaviour. I personally prefer using a combination of both praise and deterrents – it is really up to you).

      As I was saying, you can start teaching all the basics very early but the key is not to expect too much. People seem to think that if you are teaching a command, that means the dog must master it immediately – but training is a process and with puppies, you have to be very patient and work in “baby steps”. Repetition and consistency are the most important things – not how fast you’re progressing or how quickly a dog picks up a command and does it perfectly.

      So you can basically teach a puppy anything but make allowances for his age, abilities and most importantly, attention span. Don’t ask for more then 2-3 repetitions per command and keep all sessions to 5mins max. So for example, I would teach my puppy Sit and even Down from the beginning but I would not expect him do it ‘fully’ from the beginning. I would just help him and encourage him to start understanding what those words mean (using treats, luring, capturing – i.e., saying the word whenever you see him going to do the action naturally, etc) – but I would not expect too much from him. If I was teaching Down, for example, I would only expect him to lie down for a split second before I gave him the release word (remember, always train with the release word – very important) – and let him get up.

      The reason most people often struggle is because they tried to do too much too soon – not in terms of actually teaching the command (there is nothing wrong with teaching a young puppy Down) but in terms of what they expect from the dog at that stage. A very young puppy can only hold a Down for a split-second so only expect that much from him – Don’t set him up to fail. Gradually as he gets a bit older and has lots more practice, you can start extending the exercises – e.g. expect him to stay down for 10 seconds or 20 seconds, working up to 1 min – before you give him the release word to get up. If he keeps breaking before the end of the time, then that means you have tried to progress to quickly too soon.

      I personally would start teaching all the basic commands from within a few weeks of him coming home – because you are going to need them around the house anyway and it’s good to incorporate them into your daily routines, so that he gets rewarded for them by things other than just treats – otherwise he won’t work for you unless you always have treats. For example, once you start to teach him Down or Stay, you can use those commands just before you let him out to play in the garden or give him a toy or give him his dinner bowl – make him do a Down for 10 seconds before you give the release word and give him his dinner, for example. Similarly, you can make him do a Down Stay and walk around him in a circle holding his dinner bowl before you release him and let him eat. These kinds of exercises enable you to practice your basic training as part of your daily routine and teaches him that he needs to behave well to earn all the good things in his life – but because it is incorporated into your daily life, you don’t need to spend a lot of extra time training.

      The basic commands I would teach a puppy are: Sit, Down, Stay, Wait, Come (be careful with this one – make sure you read the post I did on teaching Recall first, to avoid the common mistakes: http://www.bighoneydog.com/2010/10/recall ) , Drop it (something in the mouth), Leave it (something it wants to investigate/go towards)– and any additional ones that fit your individual lifestyle. For example in our case, we also taught “Out” because we had the out-of-kitchen-rule – but most people would not have that rule. I would also suggest teaching “Off!” – For whenever the puppy jumps up and put his paws up on things it shouldn’t, e.g. people, tables etc. It’s important not to use “Down” in those situations because it is very confusing to the puppy – unless you actually make him lie down. Most people make this mistake. The word for telling a puppy to take his paws off something or get off something should be a different word from the one telling him to lie down.

      Finally, it’s fantastic that you’ve been doing so much preparation with the clicker and you will probably find that your puppy takes to the clicker really quickly. But I just wanted to say also not to worry if you don’t teach everything using the clicker. I am not a pure clicker trainer either – a lot of the things I taught Honey in everyday life was just taught using a combination of rewards/praise and verbal corrections. I tend to use clicker for the more specific actions and tricks – although it can be used very successfully for all the basic commands as well. Just do whatever makes you the most comfortable and is the most convenient – it’s no use having a fantastic training method if it is so inconvenient that you hardly use it. Training is most effective when it is a little bit, every day – so incorporated into your daily life.

      I hope this has been helpful – good luck with your new puppy!

      Best wishes
      Hsin-Yi

  22. 2browndawgs says:

    Boo looks like someone you can have a lot of fun with. It is fantastic that you found another Great Dane to show you around. That park looks wonderful and the pictures are beautiful. We think we would like the cat area too. :)

    We practice heeling all of the time. All of the time. Heeling and stays. All of the time. We remember most of the time except sometimes we get so excited when they are throwing ducks in the field that we just contain ourselves. Then it looks like we never knew either command. :)

    the 2 brown dawgs

  23. Sarah says:

    Thank you for all your lovely compliments about Boo – they have made my day! Boo is having great fun introducing Honey to all his favourite spots around our area – especially the ones which are perfect for big dogs!

    He certainly adores Honey – he will be happy to be her toyboy! Spending time with Honey is also really helping him – unfortunately he gets picked on a bit by other dogs but he’s had none of that when in Honey’s company so his confidence is getting a boost.

    I’m also very happy that Honey’s owner is sharing her beautiful photos with me.

    Sarah

  24. Lady the great dane says:

    Dear Honey,
    Glad you made a new friend to have adventures in the new city. Thank your human for the pictures
    They are beautiful!
    Slobbers,
    Lady

  25. Wow! That’s very nice of Boo’s owner to show you guys around. Looks like you had lots of fun with Boo too Honey! Can’t wait to hear more about your playdates with him :)

  26. YAY!!!! Boo looks like a fantastic new friend for you to walk and play with. That park looks fantastic, possibly better than any Auckland parks!

  27. That’s great to know that you’ve gotten along so well with Boo and your move has already made you go on fun adventures! It’s so nice of your hoomans to get to meet up.

    We really enjoyed reading all about your playdate, Honey! Happy New Year to you and your family! =)

    Love,
    Piappies Fudgie, Princess, Frappie, Mocha, Sugar, Wai-Max, Wai-Pai & Forgie

  28. Sapphire says:

    So glad you found a new friend and having so much fun!
    Haha… love your moves, and that slobber too ;P
    Happy new year!

  29. Badger the Deerhound says:

    My release word is “That’ll do.” Apparently my human can’t distinguish me from a sheep dog!

    We are very jealous of your huge dog park. It takes less than three minutes to walk the perimeter of the only one we can get to easily. Glad you have a big buddy!

  30. The Ao4 says:

    My mom’s got that song stuck in her head now. I hope she doesn’t start singing….
    WOW, does it look like you and Boo had a GREAT time! Isn’t it nice to meet a friend?!? AND one with a responsible, caring owner??! What fun! Can’t wait to hear about your other play dates with Boo!
    Play bows,
    Zim

  31. Cheryl Dunkin says:

    I am so happy for you and your Mom honey, good friends are hard to find!

  32. Kirsten and Zeppelin says:

    Honey your play date looked like a lot of fun. Kirsten was looking at all those pictures and was saying that it reminds her of me and how much energy I have ;) The park looked like a lot of fun, and I’m glad that you are able to find proper places to go and run around and just be a dog.

    Love and Slobbers,

    Zeppelin and Kirsten

  33. Tessa says:

    Oh Honey that is just pawsome that you met Boo in the furs! Looks like you gots a real good furiend there too! I sure is happy that you get to explore your new doggie parks with a furiend! You sure do look HAPPY!

    woos, Tessa

  34. O wow, you and Boo have the exact same head profile!! If you were black Honey we would struggle to tell the difference!

    Looks like you and your humans have made some great new friends, it makes thing so much more plesent when they friends you make have the same views as you :)

    Licks and lots of slobber,
    Lexi and Jasper the Danes

  35. Cheryl & Benji says:

    Honey, have you heard the term Cougar ;) ;) purrrrr x Benji

  36. Digby says:

    So glad you found a friend so quickly Honey :)
    I actually know Sarah, She visited me when I was in foster care and she said so many nice things about me that it made my family want to adopt me! She is a lovely human, so I know why you and your Human get along with her and Boo so well :)

    your pal,
    Digby

  37. Blue-Sea says:

    Hi Honey, I always feel so happy to see you go on such beautiful walks and always have new friends. Where I live, we do not have such open spaces for dogs where they can go and have fun or simply walk with their humans. Wish u and your humans a great time in Sydney.

    Lots of love,

  38. Lassiter Chase and Benjamin says:

    So nice to meet you Boo! Honey you look so proud in that last picture after you gave Boo that slobbery kiss!

  39. Yeah Honey!!! What an exciting day and Nicki says Boo is a handsome boy!

  40. Oh I’m so glad you met a doggy friend to show you some of the local sights. That park looks like a real find! And kitty tv – a bonus!

  41. Jed & Abby in MerryLand, USA says:

    Your new year is off to a great start with your new friend, Boo! It looks like you had a wonderful first play date, and we bet the subsequent ones were even better. And it sounds like Boo is in a position to introduce you to even more Danes. Wonder if Boo would like to learn some doggie dancing with you? It is just plain miraculous that you have so many places you are allowed off-leash in Sydney. Very civilized.

    Jed & Abby

  42. Sparta the Great Dane says:

    That’s a fantastic park you found. We had heard about it but have never been there. We’re definately going to go and experience it ourselves.

    What a beautiful new friend Boo is!

    Love Sparta

  43. Phatso says:

    Hey Honey
    Your new friend has some great places to take you! what an amazing place to run around!!
    And what about all those cats?
    Seven used to live near there and never knew that place existed!
    There is nothing like a local to show you around!
    You two looked evenly matched for a rumble too!!
    Though I do think you out slobbered him!!
    Ha ha!!
    Peace love and slobbers Phatso and 7

  44. Emma says:

    That’s a great idea for using vacant or abandoned space…..off leash doggie area. Marvelous!!!!!

    I’m glad you’ve found a nice friend to have play dates with. That’s a beautiful heel you are doing there on the pathway.

    Emma

  45. Looks like you guys are going to be really awesome friends!! :) I’m glad the blog helps you transition into your new homes. It must make moving around so much easier. I can’t wait to hear about your other play dates and the fun places you explore.

  46. Luna says:

    Honey, I’m so glad you found a good vet!! I just love reading about your adventures and your friend, Boo, looks like so much fun! I’m glad you guys found each other.

    I was wondering if I could put a link to your blog on my new blog? I’m new to the blogging world and don’t know all of the rules. ;)

    Woof Woof,
    Luna

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