Purchasing the Right Dog

With my breeders hat on it is a common misconception that having a litter of puppies is a licence to print money. Very few people realise how important a job it is to raise a litter in the correct environment and how different influences go into making the dog who it is before it changes owner.
The mother instils the initial rules and boundaries in her litter, but the domestic dog has to be capable of living with a human family in an alien environment. To become good pets, dogs need positive interaction with humans on a daily basis. They also need to be exposed to as many different stimuli as possible.
A responsibly reared puppy has a head start on a litter born in a puppy farm or large commercial breeder.

The physical appearance of an adult pedigree dog is what attracts an owner initially. It is not as easy to predict size or appearance with a crossbreed dog, particularly if the parents are crossbreeds themselves.

Selecting the appropriate breed of dog is an important factor; pedigree dogs will have an intense desire to fulfil its genetic purpose. This may require more effort on the owners part to make sure these special inborn characteristics are satisfied. For example, Terriers are determined characters driven to dig and hunt rodents, do you mind if it digs up your beautiful lawn. Border Collies are high energy intelligent dogs, are you willing to walk whatever the weather or go to an agility class regularly.

The “Designer “dog has become incredibly popular in recent years. The original being a Labradoodle. This was developed to combine characteristics of two pedigree dogs, the Labrador and the Poodle. The Labrador is a very successful assistance dog i.e. guide dog, but unfortunately due to the normal moulting of its coat it was not suitable for people with allergies. The Poodle does not shed its curly coat so the two breeds were crossed. The hope was to breed a dog with the wonderful temperament of a Labrador and the coat of the Poodle.
Genetics are not that simple though and not all Labradoodles inherit the correct gene from the correct parent, some of them will moult.

The idea of controlled breeding between two pure bred dogs has snowballed. It is vital to look at the breed characteristics of both parents and expect a mixture of both in your “designer” puppy. Do consider your expectations of your new dog and remember when two different breeds are crossed breed traits from either parent may be inherited. For example a “Springador“. This is a direct cross between a Springer Spaniel and a Labrador. Your requirements may be for a Spaniel size Labrador with a calm, relaxed attitude to life. What you may end up with is a Labrador sized Spaniel with high energy levels and obsessive behaviour, which you do not have the skills or time to deal with.

Rescue dogs are a special case, it may be a little older and past the puppy stage. This may bring its own set of problems, remember early socialisation may have been missed by its previous owner. It is important to remember the dog is there for a reason and may come with a complex set of issues. There are advantages to homing a rescue dog particularly if it is older than 12 months, what you see is what you get, a lot of its behavioural patterns are already formed, it is unlikely to grow significantly. There are basically two types, dogs that have been abandoned on the street and picked up by the dog warden. These will have no history of previous ownership. The second type is a dog that has been handed in by their previous owners. There may be more information and basic details of the dogs’ background. Remember these dogs will have formed their own habits learned from the previous home and they will need time to adjust and settle.

Early Conditioning Training and Education of Both Owner and Dog

Puppies have an ability to soften the toughest amongst us but that does not mean we all have a natural ability or knowledge to raise a healthy balanced dog. It is easy to treat the cute, cuddly new arrival as a human baby but remember they are dogs. By the time you obtain your puppy at approximately 8 weeks it is more advanced developmentally than a human baby.
It is easy to fall into the trap of indulging their every whim, allowing it to take advantages we would never allow a child.
Early conditioning would have hopefully started at the breeder’s home; you are now responsible for all the learned behaviour that is essential to enable you to have a well-socialised and easily controlled adult dog. One thing is for sure, if no training is instigated your new puppy will grow up being out of control and an embarrassment to you and your family. It is surprising how many people address the issue of training when a problem has arisen. Not realising that by starting training early these issues can be avoided all together, consider the saying “shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted!”

An important thing to remember is a dog is a puppy for the shortest period of its life span, on average 6-9 months. These early stages are hard work they take a lot of commitment, but put the hard work in at this stage before things go wrong and you will reap the rewards for many years to come.

It is very tempting to allow your new puppy non-stop attention; this is our way of showing affection. It is barely alone for more than a few minutes until bedtime, and then suddenly the pup has gone from non-stop attention to isolation. This is too extreme. You have set yourself up for a problem with a stressed and anxious puppy. Think about it sensibly, by restricting the area available to the pup to roam and having set rules and boundaries early in the puppies education you are pre-empting separation anxiety issues arising at a later date. Dogs are pack animals naturally and would not choose to live alone; the only time this happens is when they live with us. This is modern life; we shouldn’t feel too bad about it as long as it is not excessive. The reason dogs are so popular is they are extremely adaptable they can adapt to being left alone with help and we train them early to do so.

I feel it is a useful exercise to ask yourself what behaviours you wish to instigate in your puppy. Set yourself a goal then be consistent from day one in communicating these desired behaviours. This rule must apply to all family members; the puppy needs to know where it stands in the family pack from the beginning. Everything you do, if your puppy is with you, is “training.”

There are many different approaches to dog training so be prepared. Read books, access the Internet and probably best of all, find a good trainer. Whatever the approach the aim should be the same to enable you to own a well-mannered dog that you can be proud of.

Optimum Age for Obtaining A Puppy

Optimum Age for Obtaining A Puppy

Having bred several litters of puppies of two breeds, German Shepherds and Large Munsterlanders, I will firstly relate my personal experiences and opinions on the optimum time to home a puppy. My belief is that it makes no difference what breed the puppy is whether it is a small or large type, their brains develop at a similar rate.

I allow my litters to go to their new homes at 7½ – 8 weeks old, certainly no younger. It is important to be aware of how quickly puppies develop, particularly if you compare their development to the human baby. A dog is a puppy from birth to 8 months then a “teenager” from 8 months to 3 years. Considering a modern dogs lifespan is 12 to 16 years this period of time is crucial in the development of your families’ ideal dog.

There are several critical stages of development;

Birth – 21 days. When born they are helpless blind and deaf. Their mother keeps them clean, feeds them, stimulates them by licking to enable them to poo or wee and keeps them warm. They sleep 90% of the time. During this time huge changes are happening to their nervous system.

At 2 weeks their eyes begin to open, they begin to become mobile, crawling around using their already developed senses of smell and warmth.
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By 3 weeks they are beginning to see more clearly and their hearing is developing. They are up on their feet, if a little wobbly. Their first teeth are coming through and they begin to wee and poo without stimulation.

4 – 6 Weeks. Puppies become aware of their surroundings, interaction with their littermates increases. They discover through play what behaviour is acceptable. Mum will discipline her babies; sort out squabbles between her pups. This is the beginning of learning how to socialise correctly. They also begin to respond to the human voice, to recognise their breeder. During this period they wonder away from their sleeping area to wee and poo.
Social skills are forming quickly but they do lack self-confidence.

7 – 12 weeks. A puppy’s brain is fully developed but similar to children they have no life experiences to rely on. They must be introduced to external stimuli. To become a good pet, puppies need positive interaction with humans on a daily basis. Exposure to humans is vital. My own puppies also socialise with the rest of my canine family, they come outside meet my poultry, experience different terrain and surroundings. A good breeder exposes the litter to as many different aspects of family life as possible.

I feel it is important to handle the puppies from an early age. They are weighed daily for the first week during a time when their mother is shouldering the lion’s share of raising the puppies. The mother trusts me to do this and is relaxed during this exercise, and then when the puppies senses are developed a little more, this controlled handling is accepted as normal. Nail trimming and worming are also carried out. All of these actions have an effect on the puppy and its attitude toward human beings. They may struggle or cry when older but they soon accept the restraint thus instigating important rules and boundaries providing the correct basis for a happy relationship within the family pack.

Factors to consider before obtaining a puppy greater than 8 weeks old.

If considering homing an older puppy it is vital to take into consideration how the puppy was reared. Puppies’ brains develop quickly so a blue print must be laid down.

A breeder may “run on” one or two puppies which they consider to be a suitable standard for the show ring. When a decision is made which one to keep, one or more of the litter may become available at a later stage. This may not necessarily be a bad thing so long as the puppy has had sufficient input from the breeder.

To prevent a puppy from developing fear or behavioural issues breeders and owners shouldn’t interfere with the puppy’s inbuilt curiosity, they have to make some mistakes and be allowed to develop their own skills for dealing with new challenges, even scary ones. If these important informative weeks have only been in the sheltered facility of a kennel they will not have developed this ability.

If the puppy has been kennelled it will not be house trained. This is an issue that has to be addressed whatever age the puppy. Patience and time are important factors here.

Bad habits may have already formed such as jumping up at fences and barking.

The puppy may have formed a strong bond with its kennel mate. For the first few weeks of life your puppy is programmed to follow its leader. If that leader is another dog rather than a human the puppy will automatically look to other dogs as its leader.

It is worth remembering that if the older puppy has not had enough socialisation with varying groups of people i.e. children, they may be frightened by the excited and noisy behaviour of boisterous young children or an elderly relative walking with a stick or frame.

If the puppy has been kept on its own it may be too independent in nature and therefore difficult to build a bond. The opposite may also be true, extreme attention seeking such as barking, repetitive jumping and whining may indicate a dog capable of building an almost obsessive relationship.

The puppy may struggle when left alone. In their natural environment they have constant companionship in the form of other pack members, this can create issues at night or during the day. They have to be taught to be left for short periods initially. Following a leadership plan and a good exercise and feeding routine appropriate to the puppy’s age is vital.

If fed alongside other dogs the lack of a competitive aspect of eating could affect the puppy’s appetite. It is then tempting to introduce increasingly tasty morsels to tempt the puppy to eat. As long as a quality diet is offered, preferably a natural diet, the puppy will soon eat assuming there are no health issues.

Initial socialisation may be lacking, it is so important to encourage your puppy’s desired behaviours as soon as you bring it home. This is easier at a younger age. There are so many different influences that go into making your dog the perfect family member. The mother will have already given her litter a great start. The litter will have instilled in them the concept of rules and boundaries and will come to you with an understanding of canine social do’s and don’ts. Instinctively, once it enters adolescence its confidence and curiosity grows, it will want to explore and be much more independent. A good breeder will have introduced the puppy into the peculiarities of our human world, furthering its education.

Every action you take, every emotion or signal will be used to formulate the puppy’s opinion of you and what your role will be in its life. So if this period of learning is absent from your puppy due to the way it is kept, for example kennelled with little or the wrong human interaction or with their litter mates only for company, they may have formed a less than ideal view of humans. Socialisation does not mean being so friendly toward people, your puppy also has to learn how to ignore people dogs and other exciting distractions. Remember, not everyone loves dogs!

Modern lives are busy making it tricky to be with our pets 24/7. Dogs as a species are incredibly adaptable, a puppy or young dog can adapt to a new lifestyle if we communicate the correct information. Whatever rules and boundaries we decide on setting have to be enforced from day one consistently by all members of the family. By being clear and consistent about these rules from day one it is perfectly possible to succeed in introducing your puppy into its new pack. It may be that a few undesired behaviours may have to be ironed out. This takes time, effort and skill in communication.

Choosing Your Dog

I have been aware of the many different breeds of dog for many years. I do breed German Shepherd Dogs and Large Munsterlanders. I have also owned Border Collies and a Golden Retriever. This has given me experience of the different predisposed behaviours between these breeds. All of which have been reared in similar circumstances, but are very different characters.

breedsWhat amazes me is the lack of knowledge people have about their chosen breed. They may have seen one specimen of the breed in question that happens to be well trained. An opinion is then formed on these limited circumstances that the breed is the dog for them. Take Munsterlanders for example, they are hunt, point, and retrieve gundogs with limitless energy. Wonderful characters very sociable, love cuddles especially when wet after a good swim. They have a tendency to separation anxiety if not taught at an early age to be left. Perfect family dogs for outdoor types that enjoy long walks in all weathers. So many people contact me for a Munsterlander puppy with no idea what they would be taking on.

I do think in this modern society everything is too easy and available. If someone feels a dog is the status symbol they are lacking then they buy one, as easy as that. The family may have moved to a rural area to improve their ”life work balance”. Dad may want to learn to shoot, so decides a gundog is the thing to have. They really do fail to research the breed and have a poor understanding of what training and owning a dog is all about. At the opposite end of the scale are the Staffordshire Bull Terrier types that youths have as status symbols. It is too easy to breed and sell these puppies without any thought or planning. So many of them are abandoned and end up in rescue centres, with real behavioural issues and very little hope of having a good life.

There are so many wonderful breeds of dog in the world, with a little research and help from responsible breeders there is a dog with the correct breed traits for most types of home. They do not all enjoy romping through muddy fields, swimming and hunting. Many have been bred to fulfil the role of companion without a need for excessive exercise. They love nothing more than the opportunity curl up on a lap. Personal preference is fundamental in the decision of type of dog we choose, we are all different and have different requirements from our pets. There will always be a space in modern society for a companion dog; there is no other animal that is capable of fitting in with our very different lifestyles and giving so much whilst asking for so little in return.

Common Behaviour Problems

The following are some of the more common behaviour problems I come across and how they may impact on you the owner or your family.

1. JUMPING UP

i. Embarrassing when visitors arrive.
ii. Frightening if the person is a child or the dog large.
iii. Socially unacceptable, not all people are dog friendly.
iv. Clothing may be damaged or made dirty.
v. Allows the dog to be dominant, which demeans the owner.

2. ISOLATION ANXIETY

i. Effects the planning of day-to-day activities.
ii. Causes concerns about what happens when you are absent.
iii. Excessive demands on owners’ company within the house
iv. Frustration for friends and family, when the dog seems to come first.
v. Destruction of furniture and household items has a financial implication

3. PLAY BITING

i. Concern that puppy play biting develops into a display of dominance.
ii. Dangerous where children are concerned.
iii. Embracement for the owner, dog has the upper hand.
iv. Owner may be frightened.
v. Inclination is to isolate the dog to prevent he/she biting a visitor.

4. TOLERENCE TO A HEALTH CHECK

i. Owner wary of handling the dog. Snarling and growling puts them off.
ii. Reliant upon the vet to check problems causing stress to dog and owner.
iii. Financial implications, expensive vet bills (sedation).
iv. Dominance issues, dog does not accept invasion of his/her body space.
v. Places doubts in the owners mind about the trustworthiness of the dogs temperament.

5. EXCESSIVE BARKING

i. Frustration with living with a noisy dog.
ii. Effects relationship with neighbours.
iii. Causes family arguments.
iv. Disappointment with the relationship you have with your dog.
v. Allows dog to control your actions, i.e. letting it out or feeding it on demand.

6. SELECTIVE DEAFNESS

i. Owner thinks the dog is stupid.
ii. Lack of control of the dog limits activities.
iii. Frustration at their inability to train their dog.
iv. Dog adapts to life without much input from the owners and becomes more independent.
v. The dog may develop more undesirable behaviours that would cause stress within the family due to it having to find stimulation elsewhere i.e. chasing other dogs/people.

7. DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOUR

i. Confusion that the behaviour is normal, particularly if the dog is young.
ii. Frustration, failing to understand that punishing the dog on your return home when you find chewed items has not worked.
iii. Arguments amongst family members when prized possessions are destroyed.
iv. Start to resent the dogs position in the house.
v. Other rows may develop when considering how to deal with the problem.

8. REFUSING TO COME WHEN CALLED

i. Embarrassment when the dog refuses to come back when called in a public place.
ii. Find excuses not to take the dog on their required exercise.
iii. Other behavioural problems may have to be dealt with caused by excess energy the dog has due to the restricted exercise regime.
iv. Concerns about the losing the dog.
v. Worried the dog may cause an accident.

9. EXCESSIVE ATTENTION SEEKING

i. Embarrassment when visitors are at the house.
ii. Interferes with lifestyle, causing frustration.
iii. Begin to resent the dog pestering for attention.
iv. Can cause arguments within the family if members disagree with what constitutes excessive attention.
v. Nudging or pawing the arm can cause an accident with small children or hot drinks.

10. SELECTIVE OBEDIENCE DUE TO DISTRACTIONS

i. Embarrassment when walking the dog in a public place.
ii. Disappointment that the dog chooses not to interact with the owner
iii. Thinking the dog is unintelligent.
iv. Frustration when allowing the dog to dictate where or how fast the walk actually goes. Having to wait for it to sniff at a lamppost or patch of grass.
v. Limiting the time you take your dog or the location restricts the dogs stimulation, which may lead to other behavioural issues for you to deal with.

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.