New Puppy?

Let us suppose you are considering purchasing a puppy. The first steps are so important, ask yourself and do please be honest would the pup choose you as its owner! I have experienced lots of families new to dog ownership and and here are a few considerations to help.

  • Do you have the time to devote to your new family member? Families lead busy lives, can you cope with another demand on your time? Be under no illusion, children often keen to have a new pup get bored quickly. The day to day exercise and feeding will become your responsibility. The dog could be with you long after your children have grown up and moved on. 10 to 15 years.
  • Do you have a garden and is it safely fenced
  • Will you train your dogs to play a responsible role in modern society
  • Have you considered all of the costs involved, not only the purchase but also accessories (lead collar, bed) also vets bills, vaccinations, micro-chipping, insurance
  • Is everyone out at work or at school, if so then please re-consider, summer evenings are fine for exercise but are you prepared to exercise in the rain and darkness of winter
  • Very few family pets receive the exercise they need which can lead to all sorts of destructive behaviour and a very frustrated pet

One thing which I believe is vital is to consider the breed of dog very carefully, even cross breeds will have distinct breed traits assuming you can be sure of parentage

Let me explain, dogs fall into various categories all bred over many generations by man to fulfill a job/role in life an obvious example being the Border Collie. This type of dog has been bred with traits and instincts to herd sheep, they are intelligent and have high energy levels. In my experience a collie pup purchased from a farm whose parents have worked sheep will not necessarily make a good family pet. The farmers who breed these litters have very different criteria. They emphasise working ability which can make for very intense and stressed pets. The same issues sometimes materialise with “working” cockers and springer spaniels. people mate without much consideration for the pups that will inevitably not work and get placed in pet homes.

Consider carefully your lifestyle and family commitments, it is so important to acknowledge that dogs vary some are intelligent, biddable, eager to learn, with high energy needs.

Basic training can start in your home and garden as soon as your pup arrives home. It should be without distraction from any other family pet or person. Taught through rewards and motivation in a positive way will help you to gain trust and respect as the pack leader.

One of the first things we teach puppies is No. Please do not think discipline is a bad thing, dogs need rules and boundaries. If a rule or boundary is broken then there must be a consequence. This does not mean hitting your dog. A sharp reprimand with the voice and use of body language are equally as effective. You must be patient and consistent. It is very easy to fall into the trap of allowing your cute fluffy  puppy up on the furniture for a cuddle then when it grows you change your mind confusing your dog. Start the way you mean to carry on.

While your puppy is learning to live with you its character is continually developing. It is very important to socialise your new puppy with as many different circumstances as possible. Its first few car journeys are probably to its new home with strangers or to the vets for vaccinations neither of these are positive experiences so take it out in the car to the park or for a walk as soon as you are able (after vaccinations).

If you live rurally take him or her to the nearest village to say hello, puppies always attract attention. This will introduce him to strangers, push chairs, traffic and other dogs.

It really is so important, particularly in this anti dog climate we now live in to have the canine member of you family able to walk and be confident it will know how to behave.

Please do not wait until your cute puppy has grown into some hormone fueled “Kevin” at 10 to 18 mths of age. Yes dogs do go through adolescence. They do start to push the boundaries but with correct and consistent training they will come out the other-side.

Find good training classes with a qualified teacher enroll as soon as you get your puppy home. A place may not be available immediately. Your local vet is a good source of information and they may be able to recommend a trainer to you.

Responsibilities of Ownership

A DOG’S NEEDS

A dog owner must be aware of a dog’s needs and they are:
  • Water – A dog needs a constant supply of clean drinking water
  • Food – One or two meals a day are suitable for most dogs
  • Exercising – All dogs need exercise and where possible they should be taken to places where they can safely run free
  • The pack – All dogs need to be able to feel part of the pack
  • Leadership – A dog knows there will be leaders within a pack (leaders should not include the dog!)
  • Company and affection – Dogs need company and affection without being excessive

RESPONSIBILITIES OF OWNERSHIP

  • Register your dog with a veterinary practice and discuss with your veterinary surgeon the necessary vaccinations, frequency of boosters, worming and flea prevention
  • Feed the dog regularly a nutritionally balanced diet
  • Do not feed the dog from your plate but from the dog’s own bowl
  • Dogs like a bed of their own, so provide one
  • Rub your hands over the dog’s body to check for burrs, thistles, ticks, or lumps and bumps
  • Regularly clean and groom your dog and ensure that no part of the dog’s coat becomes matted
  • Bathing is sometimes necessary and should be done in moderation
  • Do not allow the dog to be a nuisance to others and ensure control is maintained at all times
  • Take great care when entering open spaces where livestock are present and keep your dog on a short lead near all livestock, horses and wild animals
  • Always consider the safety of yourself and your dog
  • Your dog should not be allowed out on its own
  • Do not allow the dog to foul at inappropriate places
  • If fouling does occur in a public place always clean up after the dog
  • Remember that barking may be a nuisance to others
  • Discuss neutering with your veterinary surgeon to avoid unwanted puppies
  • Always ensure that your dog is wearing a collar with an identification tag
  • Remember that not everyone is a dog lover and they may dislike even a friendly approach from your dog
  • Children should be reminded to respect all dogs
  • Adults should be mindful that children should never be left alone with a dog

OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES

Socialisation
Dogs should be gradually socialised to other strange dogs, people and children and be familiarised with traffic. Not doing so can cause apprehension. Withdrawing a dog from something that frightens it will only make apprehension worse in the long run. Never make eye contact with an unfamiliar dog. All socialisation should be carried out in a careful manner.
More than one dog
If owning more than one dog, do not initially try to train two or more together. It has to be remembered that, not only will one dog distract the other but when one is admonished, or praised, this will also apply to the other and will be confusing. Always train a dog on a one to one basis with the other out of the way. When both are well behaved individually they can be handled together.
Dogs off lead
No matter how well trained or under control a dog might be, it should never be walked off lead in environmentally unsuitable areas or those that do not permit dogs to be off lead.
Equipment
A dog’s lead should be totally secure and attention should always be paid to worn stitching or a clip that may not be reliable. There are many different types of collar available and handlers should ensure that the one they choose to use is in good condition and will not break under strain. Also it should always be adjusted so that, in the event of panic, it would be impossible for the dog to get free.
Babies, children and dogs
When the family has a baby it is natural that much attention will be given to the new arrival. It is therefore important that the dog does not become jealous. Owners should try to ensure that the dog continues to receive the same love and affection.

CHILDREN

Children are usually less predictable than adults and they should be warned:
  • Never to make sudden movements close to a dog.
  • Never to scream or suddenly yell close to a dog.
  • Never to lunge at a dog, particularly when it is asleep.
  • Never to put their face close to a dog’s face.
  • Never to eat food close to a family dog.
  • Never to tease or pull a dog’s body or coat.
  • Never to ignore a dog’s warning growl.
  • Always ask permission before touching a dog they do not know.
Note: Children should be reminded to respect all dogs.

BARKING

Excessive barking at home can be a nuisance, and the way the dog is kept at home may inadvertently encourage the problem.
Territorial reasons
Dogs barking for territorial reasons might do so at the front door or a window where they can see people or dogs approaching. In the garden they may do so at the garden gate or a fence. Excluding them from such areas helps to reduce the habit factor.
Predatory or chase instinct
Allowing a dog to constantly indulge in this habit in the garden will exacerbate this problem.
Reasons of insecurity
Constant company and excessive reassurance and touching given to an insecure dog may cause stress when left without the company of people. The result may be barking, whining or howling.
At night
If it is necessary to vocally command a noisy dog at night, it should be done at a distance. This avoids the dog learning how to call its owner back.

DOGS AND STATIONARY VEHICLES

Ventilation for a dog left in a car
Dogs must always be given ample ventilation when left alone in a vehicle. However, during hot weather even windows left wide open and/or shaded may not give sufficient ventilation. In such conditions dogs should not be left in vehicles.
Approaches to a vehicle from strangers
Most dogs are territorial when in their vehicle and may become aggressive if strangers put part of their body in through a window or door.Therefore this should always be prevented.

VEHICLE TRAVEL

The psychology of vehicle travel:
  • Dogs or puppies should gradually be accustomed to vehicle travel by taking the dog out in the vehicle for very short training journeys
  • Dogs learn to enjoy vehicle travel if they are often taken by vehicle to a place where they have a pleasurable experience.
  • Dogs learn to dislike vehicle travel if they are only taken by vehicle to places where they have an unpleasant experience
  • How a dog behaves in a vehicle on the first few journeys will form its habits for the future
When travelling in a vehicle a dog:
  • Should not be constantly moving around
  • Should not be a distraction to the driver
  • Should be secure so that, in the event of an accident, injury to canine or human passengers is minimised

HEALTH

Vaccinations
Most veterinary surgeons will administer the first vaccinations at eight/nine weeks.They will advise when the dog can be allowed on the street, parks or mix with other dogs. Discuss with your veterinary surgeon the necessary vaccinations and frequency of boosters.
Fleas
Fleas are usually found around the neck and abdomen of a dog. Owners should regularly look for signs of fleas or their droppings, which appear to be black and no bigger than a grain of sand.There are various products, which will effectively deal with fleas, and veterinary advice should be sought.

WORMING

Roundworms and tapeworms are common in dogs.
Roundworms
There are many kinds of roundworms but Toxocara is the most common.They are a round white worm between three and six inches long. When born nearly all puppies carry Toxocara canis as their mother will have transferred it to them. Badly infected
puppies may pass worms in their faeces or vomit and often appear to be pot bellied.The eggs of Toxocara canis survive for years, therefore great care should be taken in cleaning up after a worm infected puppy or dog.
Tapeworms
Tapeworms are not so common and are less often found in puppies. However, they should also be treated.Tapeworms can be very long but usually small segments, which resemble cucumber pips, may be found in the faeces.
Medication
When worms are evident the dog must quickly be given the right medication.Take veterinary advice about dosing and about preventing infestation in the future, to protect the health of you and your dog, other people, livestock and wildlife.

THE COUNTRY CODE

Chasing
Never allow a dog to chase or worry livestock or wildlife as it raises its predatory instinct and can cause distress, injury and death.
Awareness
Ensure that you know where your dog is and what he is doing at all times. Also be alert to any possible situation where the dog can cause a problem.
Arable land
Provided a dog’s owner keeps it on a lead and on the footpath, dogs are allowed on all public rights of way even if the land either side of the footpath is cultivated.
Gates
Always leave gates as you find them unless instructed otherwise.
Country lanes
These are as dangerous as urban roads and your dog should be on a lead.
Leaving the countryside
Neither you nor your dog should leave anything behind including the dog’s faeces.

MISCELLANEOUS

Dog owners and non-dog owners have the right to live side by side.There are, however laws which must be followed.They are made to safeguard the environment for the benefit of everybody.
Identification
All dogs must normally wear a collar and carry the name and address of the owner when in a public place (including the car).
Fouling
Local authorities have the power to make it an offence if the owner or walker does not clear up dog faeces.This offence is punishable by a fine.
Nuisance and public health
It is an offence for a dog to be kept in such a place or manner as to be prejudicial to public health or a nuisance.

FRIGHTENING, OUT OF CONTROL AND BITING

If a dog is dangerously out of control in a public place, the owner, or the person for the time being in charge of the dog, is guilty of an offence. It is not necessary that the dog injures, merely that there are reasonable grounds for believing that it will injure. Penalties may be as follows:
  • An order that the dog is kept under proper control
  • A fine
  • Destruction of the dog
  • A ban on keeping dogs in the future
  • Imprisonment
Dangerous dogs
Breeds banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, including Pit Bull types, are illegal to own unless you have previously been taken to court and proved the dog is not dangerous.The dog is then placed on a list of exempted dogs. Once on this list, it is required that the dog is muzzled in public, registered with the police and neutered.
In the country
If a dog worries livestock on any agricultural ground, the owner, or the person in charge of the dog, is guilty of an offence.
Even letting your dog walk off a lead in the same field as livestock may be considered ‘worrying’. A farmer may legally shoot a dog they consider to be ‘worrying’ their livestock. Note: There are conditions attached to the exercise of this right by any person.
Stray dogs
Every local authority appoints an officer responsible for the seizure of stray dogs. Where the officer has reason to reason to believe that any dog found in a public place is a stray dog, he can seize and detain it. While the dog is detained it must be properly fed and maintained. If the owner is known they must be notified. Any dog not claimed within seven days of the seizure (or the owners notification of the seizure) may be sold or destroyed.
Local dog control measures
In England and Wales, local authorities are empowered to make local rules known as Dog Control Orders to replace old local by certain areas when directed to do so by an authorised officer. The orders can also give authority to ban dogs altogether from certain places, limit the number of dogs that can be walked by one person at any one time, and require you to clean up after your dog. In Scotland it is an offence not to pick up after your dog in a public place.These orders and laws are punishable by fines.
Unnecessary suffering
It is an offence for an owner to cause unnecessary suffering to their dog or cause or permit anyone else todo so. This includes failing to provide food, water and necessary veterinary attention.
Abandoning
Temporary and/or permanent abandonment of a dog that causes suffering is an offence.
Dogs and food outlets
By law, dogs are not allowed into an area of restaurants or shops where food is prepared. Dogs are allowed where food is served at the discretion of the proprietor; there is no law banning dogs from areas where food is served. It is understood that owners will keep their dogs under control, and may be required to leave by management.
Medical Treatment
It can be an offence for someone other than a veterinary surgeon to provide medical treatment to a dog other than emergency first aid.
Dogs knocked down by vehicles
Any motorist that knocks down a dog must report the incident to the police within 24 hours.
Third party claims and insurance
If a dog causes injury or damage to a person or property, the injured party can make a claim against the dog’s owner. Often household contents policies cover third party claims against the dog but it is wise to check.You may wish to consider additional insurance cover for veterinary bills.

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF LEARNING

Learning by habit :
A dog learns by habit, therefore he is likely to repeat an experience that was pleasurable and avoid an experience that was not. Every time he does something the habit becomes more ingrained. Therefore we should encourage and praise the good habits, and discourage the bad habits.
Inconsistency
Inconsistency causes confusion. If a dog learns by habit, our praise or discouragement allied to the dog’s habit must be prompt and consistent to advance the learning process. When play and learning are linked the result is a happy dog.
Analysing problems
When there is a problem with your dog’s training do not immediately work at the symptom. Instead try to think like a dog to find the cause of any problem before attempting to reverse it.
Teaching disobedience
If dogs learn by habit then it is easy to teach disobedience.To continually repeat commands that a dog disobeys is therefore to teach disobedience to that command.
Natural learning
When a dog performs naturally an act which is desirable to us, i.e. sitting when we stop walking, if we consistently add the appropriate command to the dogs natural action, the dog will learn to obey the command as a matter of course.

Teenage Traumas

No it really isn’t just humans that go through adolescence. In dogs it tends to sneak up on owners, one minute you have the sweetest, cutest puppy, next it has grown up into a leggy, stroppy junior.

A high number of juvenile dogs end up in rescue centres which suggests owners are ill prepared or unwilling to cope with this challenging phase of their dogs development.

Imagine how full rescue centres would be if parents gave up on their human equivalent so easily.

The teenage period is generally from 9 months to 2 years of age depending upon the different rates of development for different breeds. Small dogs i.e. Terriers mature earlier than larger breeds. It is important to understand the difference between actual and apparent full development. Just because “Max” starts to cock his leg or “Millie” has her first season does not mean they are fully mature. Again compare to the average human teenager, it just means they are able to breed!

The influence of new hormones can put their bodies under enormous stress. They are easily distracted and find concentration difficult. It is far easier to have trained from early puppy-hood than begin training during this period. They are just likely to tell you to put your “down stays” where the sun doesn’t shine!

Even well behaved puppies can go through a rebellious stage but they are capable of returning to their earlier well behaved selves. Dogs that were never taught as puppies what is acceptable behaviour have no base to return to. They need constant guidance, consistent training, sufficient exercise, all providing directed mental stimulation through these formative months.

In the wild dogs have to learn acceptable behaviour extremely fast, failure to do so would mean being cast out by senior pack members making survival extremely difficult.

A firm, constant boundary has to be set. rebellion, manic energy and an urge to be independent is found in most species. We need to understand and cope. have faith, it will pass and our teenage “Kevins” will be nice to know again.

Classes vs. One-To-Ones

The following table outlines what I see are the main advantages and disadvantages of classes versus one to one training.

Classes One To One
Advantages Disadvantages Advantages Disadvantages
Socialisation of dogs

Lower cost

Fun environment for handlers

Gain knowledge from other dogs and handlers

Venue away from home distractions

 

Lack of individual attention

Specific issues not tackled

All dogs temperaments not suited to class environment

Time of class

Location of class

Specific training or behavioural issues can be tackled

Individual attention

Relationships between handler and dog in the home can be observed

Expensive

No socialisation for dogs or handlers

In my experience there are a few important advantages of classes over one to one sessions. The first and most important being socialisation. With puppies and young dogs the socialisation aspect of the class is fundamental. Socialisation means learning how to behave in an acceptable manner amongst other dogs and people. This may be a hard lesson for the puppy that has not learnt to ignore other dogs or people, not everyone wants to be its friend.

Handlers can learn from other handlers and their dogs, particularly if a problem arises that they may not have had to deal with. They can watch and learn techniques, which may be useful at a future date.

It can be helpful to take the dog away from its home environment to focus both the handler and the dog on training rather than day-to-day distractions at home. Cost may also play a part, class lessons are usually cheaper.

Classes do not lend themselves to all types of situation. It can be tricky, in a hall environment, to simulate walking on a street.  Depending on the numbers present in the class there may be a lack of individual attention. The training may not be specific enough or the dog may have behavioural issues i.e. nervous or aggressive tendencies. From an instructors point of view classes can be more difficult as they need to be aware of all class members even when focusing on one dog. Not all people can cope amongst their piers, shy people may struggle amongst their classmates. The timing of the class may not fit in with family commitments.

One to one sessions may take place at the dogs home or at a selected location where the issues can be dealt with. I have had great success, after an initial consultation to observe the dog and handler at home, with recommending they bring their dog to my home where I can introduce my socially balanced dogs. A sensible mature dog can have a significant influence on a dogs’ behaviour. Various situations can then be set up i.e. meeting on a walk. More time may be available to discuss the care and management of the dog i.e. exercise regimes, feeding. The social side for the handler is also lacking, people who come to my classes often seem to make friends and meet up to walk their dogs. One to one classes are also expensive, time and travel have to be factored in to the cost by the instructor.

In conclusion I believe there is a role for both situations dependant upon the dog and handlers requirements.

Test Night

Well done to to all who took part in our second Test night.

 

Congratulations to Anne and Pablo, Sue and Jessie, Lynn and Jameson who all passed their Improvers test with flying colours. A special thanks to Ang and Cocoa who volunteered to act as a distraction as part of the test.

 

On the same evening 11 dogs and their handlers took their Beginners Test. Congratulations to Paul and Winston, Lionel and Shep (who got the highest percentage of the night) Chris and Ellie, Jane and Bently, Liz and Jack, Fiona and Fin, Lynn and Maise, Janet and Libby, Zoe with Max and Paddy. A special mention for Megan and Fern, our youngest participant who had to leave before we took the picture.

None of this would have been possible without Steve Tolly who Judged for the evening. Steve has many years of training and handling German Shepherds and Springer Spaniels in the Police Force.  It was very satisfying to hear Steve compliment everyone on the high standard.

Well done to all. It gives me an awful lot of satisfaction to see the change in handlers and dogs as the weeks go by and makes me very proud.

Location

We are located on the Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire. See map below and detail map showing the location of Mannerly Mutts, village hall for training classes and home boarding at Steve and Pips.
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Detail Map. We are 3 miles from Cleobury Mortimer.

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