Childhood dogs – teaching us how to look after dogs
I regularly receive enquiries from people looking for Border Collie puppies; I am an Assured Breeder for Border Collie after all. Many people come to me because they are thinking of getting their first family dog or their first dog as an adult, having had dogs in childhood.
When I ask people if they have had dogs before, as part of my vetting process, people often say “yes, we had such and such dogs when I was growing up”. Sometimes people even tell me they have previously owned dogs and it isn’t until I meet them and they talk about these dogs that I discover that the dogs actually belonged to their parents.
What’s the difference?
If your parents own a dog, then it’s yours too, right? Well maybe. If you grew up with a dog or dogs, can you answer the following questions:
- how was your family dog chosen?
- who chose its name?
- where did your dog sleep?
- who was responsible for feeding your dog?
- who trained your dog?
- did you walk it regularly?
- who cleared up your dog’s poo/sick?
- did you care for it when it was ill?
- what health issues did your dog have?
- how long did it live?
Living in the same house as a dog is not the same as owning one. I’m sure plenty of people were able to answer some of these questions, but ultimately, it’s about making decisions. Starting with what kind of dog to get. Most children have a dream of owning a dog, but hopefully their parents are the ones making the choice, doing the research and buying the dog.
Very often parents wait until their children are in their early teens before getting a dog. This means that by the time the dog is old enough to need care and (often medical) attention, the children have left home. They therefore miss most of the ‘owning an old dog’ stage.
Adulting – learning from childhood
Just because the dog wasn’t yours doesn’t mean you didn’t learn anything from the dog you owned in childhoood. Hopefully you experienced the joy of dog ownership. You probably cuddled the dog when you were sad. It is likely that you ran around with it in the garden from time to time. I would definitely hope that your parents dragged you out on walks with your dog occasionally, although probably not every day. You might remember some of the challenges – chewed shoes, accidents, fighting.
Look back on these experiences in childhood with a dog and understand what you learnt and what are the limitations? Be realistic about the fact that it won’t feel like that to you, as an adult? Read about 10 common mistakes made by new dog owners?
One of my puppies went to a lovely young family where the husband had grown up with collies. Sadly, the puppy developed epilepsy and they had an extremely challenging eight months before she was put to sleep. Not what they signed up for. Be prepared for the fact that it’s not all cuddles and carefree walks in the sunshine. It is mostly that though.
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.
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