practice dog

Practice Dog: A great way to prepare for dog ownership

Dog Doc: How do you know whether you are ready for a dog?  Practice!

I have just written about going away with your dog, but it’s also important to be able to leave your dogs.  I find it really challenging to get away, but not because I struggle to leave my dogs; I just have too many of them!  Giving someone the opportunity to practice owning a dog for a few days is a great way for me to get away.

practice dogOne of the key questions I ask when vetting potential puppy owners is about the holidays that people take and the arrangements they make for their dog.  It’s not just about what these arrangements might be as much as the fact they have made plans and thought about it.  Someone I know took on a dog without giving any thought to the fact that they were going to leave the country for months at a time.  The poor thing was then dumped on a family member who did not want it, resulting in it ultimately being returned to rescue (sad emoji).

Leaving your dog with friends

This is my preferred second choice option, after having a house sitter.  I absolutely love being able to leave my dogs with friends and then reciprocate by having theirs to stay.  Guilt free (and I don’t have to pay for the boarding).

I love having other people’s dogs to stay.  I would board other dogs on a regular basis, left to myself.  We have plenty of space and the garden is big enough.  Unfortunately I am not single, and I own five somewhat grumpy collies!  They honestly don’t mind other dogs in the house – I have never, ever had a fight or even a disagreement.  But they don’t love it; they would prefer not to have visitors.

One of the things I love about having other dogs to stay is that you have a chance to experience the joys of different breeds.  I find it completely fascinating, learning about the foibles and features of different breeds.  Equally, it is fascinating to see how my friends find my dogs, particularly those who have not previously experienced the joy of Border Collies!

practice dogEnjoy the practice

When you are familiar with a particular breed, you take them for granted and expect all dogs to be like yours.  If you have more than one, you might realise that there are differences between individual dogs.  However, it is not until you have a different breed of dog in your house that you can truly start to see just what different dogs can be like.

10 things I hate about you

For example, Border Collies in particular:

  1. Are demanding!  If they think you will engage with them, they will persist.  On and on, over and over.
  2. Are clever.  They can figure out your weaknesses and work out how to manipulate you into doing their bidding
  3. Have great stamina. They are designed to work on the hills all day, so they can keep going for far longer then you can.
  4. Don’t like water much.  OK so that might be a good thing, if you don’t like wet, muddy, smelly dogs, but plenty of people love throwing a ball into the river; Border Collies are not usually that fussed.
  5. Are hairy.  They moult, so twice a year, for about 3 (or maybe 6) weeks they leave long silky hairs absolutely everywhere
  6. Can be obsessive.  They LOVE to play with a tennis ball.  They don’t just want you to throw it once, but hundreds of times.  They can also become obsessive about watching lights on the ceiling, or squirrels in the garden, or…
  7. Are destructive.  If they are left to their own devices, they will find something to do.  This might be chewing the skirting board (Ounce!) or the sofa, or the walls.  They need something to engage their brain, or you will have to leave them somewhere safe.
  8. Are neurotic.  If you don’t train them and manage them, they can easily be nervous and reactive.  This means they react to something they perceive to be scary, but then remember that thing FOR EVER and always react to it.
  9. Are herding.  Obviously, they are sheepdogs – doh!  But that means that they will try to herd children, or other dogs, or cars, or runners, or rabbits or… Basically if it moves, a Border Collie might try to round it up.
  10. Like a cuddle, but only on their terms.  They are not lap dogs, and many Border Collies do not like being cuddled.

Naturally, some of these characteristics can be found in other dogs, but reading endless posts on the Wonderful World of Border Collies these represent the major issues that many people have to cope with in their dogs.  If you have never spent time with a BC, you won’t have experienced their ‘special features’.

practice dogThings I love about Border Collies

Just for balance:

  • They are intelligent.  You can teach them anything you can think of (and quite a few things you didn’t!)
  • They want to do it.  You want to play?  Happy to oblige.  You want to work?  Yes sure.  You want to climb a mountain?  Right there with you.
  • BCs are quick and agile.  If you want to do dog sports, they are your dog.
  • They are versatile.  Border Collies can do anything.
  • They communicate with you.  And right now it’s dinner time, so I will have to hurry up :p
  • They are dog shaped.  This means they are generally healthy and happy, in good physical condition.
  • Border Collies are beautiful.  Just saying.

That’s enough, I’m getting sentimental about my breed, as usual.  So if you are thinking about getting a dog, why not see if you can look after a friend’s for them while they go away?  Practice makes perfect, so they say.

Ask for help?

You are very welcome to contact me to ask for my advice.  I can help you with a variety of issues and problems around getting a dog and suggestions for tackling training issues.  Go to the What Dog? page for more information on my new service.

Please let me know if you have found this post helpful?


Please CONTACT ME if you want to know more about me and my dogs?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.

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