Let’s celebrate! How well do you know your puppy?
Can you believe it? I’ve had Quin for 6 months! He’s my 8th dog and my second boy, so I haven’t had many surprises, but if you’ve just spent 6 months with your first dog, how’s it been? Let’s celebrate the successes and reflect on what still needs a bit more work?
If you’ve spent time with your dog, you should know them pretty well, right? Ah but how much time do you consciously spend time with them? This morning I was doing some focused work on Quin’s recall, which has deteriorated bang on time, as his hormones kick in and he enters the teenage stage.
So here we go, how much do you know about your dog?
Around the house
- What is your dog’s favourite food? Are they a good eater? Do they need to be slowed down when eating? Quin is a steady eater and always finishes his food. I’m happy with his weight and the firmness of his poo.
- What treats or snacks does your dog like? Raw carrot is a favourite of my dogs. They all love crisps and will offer lots of tricks to win these!
- Where does your dog like to sleep? Do they go on the sofa or your bed? Or do they prefer to find a quiet corner? I’m putting money on the fact they don’t often sleep in that expensive bed you bought? My dogs like a raised bed with some lovely vet bed on it. They usually just lie on the floor.
- When does your dog wake up in the morning? What time do they go to bed? Does this work well with your routine? It’s hard work changing your dog’s body clock isn’t it?
- How often does your dog need to go out to toilet? Do they always go in the same place? Do they prefer to toilet in the garden or on a walk? I like my dogs to be able to toilet in the garden, so that I don’t have to take them out – it’s so much more convenient. But I know they prefer to toilet on a walk. So I make sure I pick up after them in the garden as well as on walks and I walk them after breakfast so they can toilet then.
Out and about
- How often do you take your dog out for a walk? Do you go at the same time each day? For the same length of time? My dogs have an hour long walk, off lead, around an hour after their breakfast, from 7.30 am.
- Where does your dog like walking? Do you go to different places, or do the same trudge every day? Dogs love variety and thrive on visiting different walks. My dogs love the woods! So many interesting smells 🙂
- Where else have you taken your dog? Have they been to the pub? Or to a cafe? It’s a good to show off your dog and give them a different experience. Quin went to the pub a few times back in the summer and was a good boy.
- Have you visited someone else’s home with your dog? Don’t be afraid to take them into new situations? Quin recently went into school and behaved himself brilliantly!
- I know this is a tricky question in the current climate, but have you taken your dog away? Quin has been up to Scotland and down to Devon – he loves it!
Tricks and games
- Can your dog do the basics? Sit, down, wait? How often do you practise these? Every few days is a good starting point.
- How is your dog’s recall? How often do you practise this? As I said at the top, Quin’s recall is currently going through a dodgy phase and definitely needs extra work.
- Can your dog do any other tricks? Quin does this really cute ‘roll over and die’ trick when I point at him and say ‘Bang!’ He can also do a ‘twist’ which is pretty easy to teach.
- What’s your dog’s favourite game to play with you? If you have other dogs, do they play together and what games do they play? Quin loves to play tuggy and will bring me a toy to get me engaged. He also loves to play tug with Ounce, but he plays rough and tumble with Busy.
- Does your dog engage with other dogs when out on walks? Do they try and say hello nicely, or bounce into other dogs’ faces? Quin is wary with other dogs, but annoyingly barks at dogs on lead. He does occasionally engage with another dog with a bit of chase. He’s cautious, but not aggressive, so that’s not too bad at this age.
Training and activities
- What classes have you done with your puppy? Did you do a 6-8 week block of puppy classes? What did you learn? Quin didn’t go to puppy classes because he is my 8th dog – I could run the classes! I did consciously try to cover the areas.
- Did you continue with classes after the initial block? Was the trainer good? Did you find it useful spending time with other people with pups the same age as yours? I think that’s one of the best things about going to training – knowing you are not alone!
- Have you tried out other types of training? Quin has been to a few scentwork classes. He found it quite hard being in a classroom for an hour, but was perfectly capable of doing the training.
- Hoopers is a great way to introduce your dog to the skills you need for agility. If you plan to do agility, you need to get onto a waiting list, as trainers are hard to find and often fully booked. You can’t start agility properly until they are a year old, but there is plenty of foundation work you can do.
- Obedience training is another way to challenge you and your dog and build on your working relationship.
Health and breeding
- How typical is your dog for its breed? Or breeds? If they are a crossbreed, can you see traits belonging to each breed? I had a couple of spaniels here over the weekend and the difference between them and the Border Collies is quite remarkable.
- How healthy is your dog? Have you been to the vet? How many of those visits were your fault? Did your puppy eat something they should not have done? Were any of these visits dues to breed or breeding issues? So far, Quin has not been to the vet (other than for his vaccinations).
- Is your puppy what you expected? If not, why not? Have you had support from your breeder? Have you been in touch with the owners of your puppy’s siblings? Each of my litters has a WhatsApp group, so they can share problems and celebrate successes!
- Are you happy with way your dog was bred? Do you think they were given the best start in life? I have learnt that it makes a difference. A puppy that is cuddled every day likes being cuddled. It’s that simple.
- Is there anything about getting your puppy that you would do differently?
What still needs work?
I know that the current problems with Quin’s recall are only temporary. He probably won’t wreck much more around the house, if I pay him attention! But I need to work on his barking at other dogs, as this is irritating and can be fixed.
Please take a moment to reflect on your successes and the remaining challenges? Think about what you’d like to do with your dog in the next 6 months? Please do get in touch if you’d like to share any of the answers to my questions?
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NB: I am not a dog trainer, or a dog behaviourist, just a dog breeder and owner. I can only offer my opinion, based on my experience.