Category Archives: Breed Index

Westie: The West Highland White Terrier – Interview with an owner

Westie – a terrorist with lots of energy!

The West Highland White Terrier, or Westie was developed from the Cairn terrier breed and was recognised by the Kennel Club as a distinct breed just over a hundred years ago, in 1907. It is clearly part of the terrier group of breeds.  The name terrier comes from the Latin ‘terra’ meaning earth; these breeds were designed to flush vermin from holes in the ground.

As I have said before when talking about what type of dog you could have, terriers must NOT be confused with toy dog breeds – they are not lap dogs.  Terriers are much more demanding, physically active and not as cuddly.  The Westie is no exception to this rule.  Tiffany sums up the breed well:

“If you are looking for a dog with a soft, docile, obedient nature, do not get a Westie! They are a whirlwind of energy, fun and naughtiness.”

WestieTiffany feels that the best thing about a Westie is  his personality.  Her dog, Dougie, very much knows his own mind.  She says that when he’s got something to say, he can be vocal! If he doesn’t want to do something, he won’t do it!  But every night when they get home, he greets them so enthusiastically. Dougie is so loving and Tiffany’s little shadow at home.  She couldn’t imagine not having him.

Westie wiles

Being a terrier, he is what might be called a bit of a ‘terrorist’.  Tiffany says:

“Dougie definitely has ‘little dog syndrome’ and thinks he’s as big as a boxer. There is no predictability in which breeds he will be aggressive towards and which he will just completely ignore; sometimes that can be difficult.”

Dougie attended puppy training slightly late, around his first birthday.  Tiffany found him to be a keen learner who would do anything for a treat!  However, he is not as obedience as other breeds and outside he is easily distracted.  She feels that Dougie has absolutely no road sense and could never be off lead anywhere other than away from all traffic.

WestieYappy barking

Many small dog breeds have a tendency to be yappy.  Terriers have plenty of energy and enthusiasm, which means that they can bark all day long!  It is common for dogs like this to jump onto windowsills and bark at anything they can see outside.

Tiffany says that when younger he would bark all day.  They started to leave the TV on in the kitchen to create some background noise.  She drew the blinds and patio curtains too.  Tiffany also hired a dog walker.  She and her fiancé are at work full time, so they needed to ensure that he was given a good walk in the middle of the day.

Plenty of exercise

The Kennel Club guidelines for the Westie suggest they need up to one hour of exercise per day, but of course it depends on whether this is on or off lead, in parks or on pavements, along the same route every day or different places.  Dougie is give three walks per day, with short walks morning and evening and an hour with the dog walker.  At the weekends he is regularly taken on 3-5 miles walks.

Dogs like this are usually able to go for longish walks, but as with any breed, they need routine more than anything.  Just like us, it is hard to go from a small amount of exercise to a long hike. Please take this into account when planning how much exercise to give your dog?

Tiffany feels that a garden is essential (as it is for any dog, in my opinion).  Her Westie does like to chew fingers and jump up for a fuss.  She doesn’t feel that he would tolerate being pulled around like a Labrador might.  Dougie adores stuffed toys, but tears them to bits in minutes, rather than playing with them!

WestieHealth issues

Despite being an older breed and a tough little terrier, Westies do have some health issues.  Tiffany explains:

“The Westie is prone to skin and digestion issues and mine has both.  In the summer when the weather gets warmer, he will start to itch and scratch. He is given an anti-histamine to keep the itching under control. They do suffer with allergies.

“My Westie also has an incredibly sensitive tummy. If he eats something that doesn’t agree with him, it can upset his whole digestive system, leading to an inflamed bowel. He goes off his food and then ends up with lots of acid in his tummy, which he will then sick up. This also requires medication.”

A final health issue relates to anal glands.  These can become inflamed and even burst, which is messy and painful for the dog.  Dougie has twice needed to be sedated and a had the area shaved and cleaned.  As a result of this, he is given a grain-free diet.  His glands are also checked and emptied regularly at the groomers.  (This is rarely a problem suffered by Border Collies!)

Hair and grooming

The Westie has a typical terrier coat.  It is not particularly long and they do not shed or moult a great deal, although they are not listed as a breed of dogs that don’t shed.  However, they do require grooming and are usually taken to a groomers to have their coat ‘stripped’, to reduce the bedraggled look that terriers are prone to having, as well as keeping them cool in summer.

Always worth it?

Tiffany says that she hadn’t appreciated how much of her time and life revolves around her dog; it’s no different to having a child!  She says:

“I certainly didn’t think I would love a dog, quite like I do. He is my baby and I would do anything for him. But they are without doubt a huge bind and we do rely on family and friends to help to look after him, whenever we have to work late or go away somewhere we cannot take him.”

WestieTiffany says that Dougie is full of life and always raring to go out, so most of their holidays are geared around walking holidays.  Having a dog has made her go outdoors considerably more than she did before.

The personality of a Westie outweighs their sensitivities.  They are always smiling and happy dogs.  Dougie is small enough to take in the car and on holiday.  He is so loving; Tiffany wouldn’t know what to do if he wasn’t par of the family.  She recommends going to training as soon as possible and for a good while.

Thank you Tiffany, for a great insight into this cheeky little breed!

Ask for help?

I hope you have enjoyed my insight into owning a Westie?  Please comment and share your views and experiences?  What breed would you like to know about?  Or do you have a breed of dog and would like to share your views on living with your dog?  Please CONTACT ME to let me know?

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.

Remember..

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.

NB: If you read my posts in an email, you may be missing out on the lovely pictures!  Please click through to my website to see the post in all its glory?

Whippets – Interview with an Owner

Whippets – a Champion Pet!

This week’s breed, the Whippet, has the distinction of having won this year’s Best in Show at Crufts Dog Show.  Like the Greyhounds, Whippets are part of the Hound Group of breeds.  The breed is over 400 years old and has retained its popularity, although with the current fashion for crossbreeds it is perhaps seen less often.  This is a shame, because Whippets make great family pets, as the breed description indicates.  Let’s hear what Tracey has to say about her breed..

whippetsTracey says that she wanted a breed that was active and healthy, as well as being able to cope with being left for a few hours at a time.  She has owned five Whippets in total and says;

“Each one of our Whippets has had a very distinct personality, but all have shared similar breed characteristics.”

Kind, gentle dogs

Tracey says that Whippets are kind and gentle dogs, who love to snuggle up against you, despite not being lap dogs.  Watching them run at full speed is perhaps one of the most amazing sights to see.  Whippets are intensely loyal; they are intelligent, sensitive, comical and incredibly loving.  Tracey says that although they are not the easiest dogs to train, a good level can be achieved with positive, reward-based training.

whippetsIf you love to take long walks, then chances are a Whippet will fit your lifestyle perfectly.  Tracey says

“We enjoy attending companion and fun dog shows on most weekends during the summer months.  This provides us with the perfect opportunity to socialise with our friends and their dogs.”

All her dogs travel well in the car and have accompanied Tracey on her holidays.  They are happy to be left at home for short periods of time and can be real couch potatoes.  If you happen to be short of time, a quick off-lead blast around a field is more than adequate for Whippets.

Stubbornness again!

Whippets can be hard work as puppies – just like any other breed!  Tracey points out that they do not respond to harsh training methods (I should hope not!) as they are a very sensitive breed.  They can be stubborn (that word again :)) when it comes to training, as they often have their own agenda.  Tracey says that a good solid recall is a must for this breed as they can cover a lot of ground quite quickly.  Whippets are described as high maintenance until around two years of age.

“Our Whippets have all been (and still are) incredibly greedy and are highly skilled at counter surfing.”

Heart disease sufferers

Whippets do seem to be high on the list for suffering from mitral valve disease. Tracey’s 11 year-old Whippet has had a heart murmur for a number of years due to mitral valve disease.  She takes daily medication for this, but is currently symptom free.  Whippets also appear to be prone to a number of different autoimmune diseases and some ocular conditions, with cataracts and PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) being two of the most common. It is recommended that any Whippet owner brushes their whippet’s teeth as they are quite prone to dental disease. Other than that, due to their fine skin Whippets can be prone to skin injuries.

whippetsFitting in easily

Whippets can fit into most homes as they are so versatile.  Younger Whippets would definitely benefit from living in an active household, with people who are committed to spending time with them. Tracey says,

“We live in a town with few open green spaces where they can run freely and safely but we do have a small number of enclosed private fields that can be hired.”

Her Whippets are currently walked for anywhere between 2 and 3 hours a day (the older whippet less so, but does still go out on a walk most days). They do little mini training sessions daily. One of Tracey’s current whippets also does short trick training sessions 2-3 times a week.

WhippetsFinal advice

“You only get out what you out in! Spend the time and effort on your dog as a puppy and you will reap the benefits. Research your breeder carefully!”

Thank you to Tracey for her input and the beautiful photos!

Ask for help?

I hope you have enjoyed my insight into owning Whippets?  Please comment and share your views and experiences?  What breed would you like to know about?  Or do you have a breed of dog and would like to share your views on living with your dog?  Please CONTACT ME to let me know?

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.

Remember..

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.

NB: If you read my posts in an email, you may be missing out on the lovely pictures!  Please click through to my website to see the post in all its glory?

Miniature Dachshund – interview with an owner

Miniature Dachshund: a pocket full of fun!

Today we are hearing from Nina, who is telling us all about Fudge.  The Dachshund is another dog in the Hound Group, but one in a different league altogether from the Greyhound!  Originating in Germany where he is known as the Teckel (badger dog) the Dachshund is still used for both tracking wounded game such as deer and for going to ground after badger or rabbits.  In the UK there are two sizes, with miniatures preferably weighing under 5 kilograms.

There are three coat types in each variety: the Smooth haired, the Long haired and the Wirehaired and the six varieties all share the same breed standard, divided by size and coat.

dachshund“I always knew I wanted a Miniature Dachshund from when I was very young. I just thought they were adorable and so I had my heart set on getting one.”

Stubbornness again!

Nina says they bought Fudge from a family who were unable to cope with him and who advised that he was not getting along with their female Dachshund at the time. [Note from a breeder: please return your puppy to the breeder if this happens?  Good breeders will ALWAYS take their pups back] Fudge was 4 months old when Nina got him.

Nina had researched Dachshunds heavily before deciding to get one.  All the information suggested that they are a very stubborn breed who are difficult to train! 

“Whilst his stubbornness does show through on occasion, he has been an absolute dream to train and is an incredibly fast learner! This does mean though that he is also very quick to pick up bad behaviour, so you need to be vigilant and consistent with any form of training.  This is tough and frustrating when you know he knows how to action the command, but he simply chooses not to!”

Nina says she has also had to train her partner, as he has not owned a dog previously.  He has had to be taught to remain consistent with his commands to Fudge!  Nina feels that Fudge learns more quickly than any of her family’s other dogs.

dachshundSeparation anxiety

When he first arrived, Fudge did exhibit some of the typical separation anxiety issues that had been talked about with his breed.  As Nina and her partner both work full time, this was hard to deal with at first.  Nina works close to home, so she went home at lunchtimes to feed him and keep him company.

“With some training, an Adaptil plugin, and some soothing “doggy sleep music” we managed over a matter of weeks to reassure him that we would be coming home and there was no need to bark and howl at the top of his voice whenever we left the room! This also worked well for bedtimes when Fudge was left downstairs to sleep. Since this, he now goes to bed on command without any fuss and doesn’t whine when we leave the house.”

Cuddle Monster

Fudge enjoys showing off and was a clear front runner in his puppy training class. He seemed to know instinctively what to do; where other dogs were still learning after 7 weeks Fudge had mastered it after a couple of examples in class.

A Miniature Dachshund is very lovable and loves to be around people.  Fudge gets on well with babies, toddlers and other animals and so is very friendly and not shy at all.dachshund

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It is true what they say about them having a big personality for a little dog.”

Unfortunately, Miniature Dachshunds are described as ‘Velcro dogs’ because they want to be around you ALL THE TIME.  This was true of Fudge initially as he was reluctant to use the garden for toileting unless Nina or her partner were out there with him!  With some tough training on his separation anxiety (including tough love when he was howling the place down at night), he quickly out-grew this phase.  However, it is very important not to pander to them when they do this as they are so quick to learn!

Because they crave attention, the Miniature Dachshund is hard to stop from doing something, because any action you take provides attention.  The best tactic is to ignore the undesirable behaviour and distract them away with something else.

Back problems

Breed health issues with the Miniature Dachshund can include eyesight (PRA- Progressive Retinal Atrophy) and also problems with their backs, due to their shape and size.

The back problem is IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease) which may result in future surgery. Because of the shape of the dog, it is best not to let them jump on and off of furniture and up and down stairs.  Nina says this is easier said than done!  She monitors Fudge’s weight closely, since this can put excess strain on their spines.  Delaying neutering can also help to reduce the likelihood of them suffering IVDD in future.

“Fudge has had a bit of dry flaky skin. We were recommended to use Yumega Oil, which is added to his breakfast.  After a matter of days, this has made him flake free.”

dachshundLittle legs, but plenty of exercise

At the moment Fudge doesn’t walk far as he is still young.  An adult Miniature Dachshund should have around 45-60 minutes of exercise a day (a mix of on lead and free running).  I regularly see one up in the woods and it can clearly cover the distance.  Nina says that Fudge prefers fields to built-up areas.

Nina has found that he needs regular, short training sessions to keep reminding him what he has learnt.

Cheeky habits

As the Miniature Dachshund was bred to hunt badgers, they can dig the garden, so watch out!  They can also slip under a hedge; be aware of this!

Nina says that Fudge does have something of a ‘doggy’ smell, so she has a daily spritz spray to keep his skin moisturised and to keep him smelling fresh.  He doesn’t like being groomed, but doesn’t need much as he has a short, sleek coat.

Overall, Nina highly recommends her breed.  She says he has converted even the least likely dog lovers in the family and beyond.  They suit just about any home due to their size and friendliness.   Thank you Nina for such a great insight xx

Ask for help?

I hope you have enjoyed my insight into owning a Miniature Dachshund?  Please comment and share your views and experiences?  What breed would you like to know about?  Or do you have a breed of dog and would like to share your views on living with your dog?  Please CONTACT ME to let me know?

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.

Remember..

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.

NB: If you read my posts in an email, you may be missing out on the lovely pictures!  Please click through to my website to see the post in all its glory?

Springer Spaniels – Interview with an owner

Springer Spaniels – they’re bouncy, bouncy, fun, fun, fun!

This week’s breed is the English Springer Spaniel (Springer). They are from the Gundog group of breeds, which means they are scent driven, being bred to flush out prey and return it to their owner.  I asked Kate to talk to me about them, because she has had three; two from puppies and one as a rescue.

Springer spanielsKate says she originally chose a Springer, as many people do when looking for a first dog, because she knew someone who had one!

“I was essentially looking for a dog that I could walk with, that would get me out and about and be a companion when I was working from home.  My shortlist included labs (too big especially if I wanted more than one), retrievers (same reason), Yorkies, Westies (both too small) and cocker spaniel (it was close!).”

Springer by name, Springer by nature

When talking about Springers, the word ‘bonkers’ seems to come up quite a bit.  Full of energy (crazy energetic), but after a good walk are happy to chill out.  Great temperaments and good with children of all ages… and mad as a box of frogs.

Springer spaniels
I think it’s over there mum

“Springers are active, outdoor dogs, with lovely friendly natures.  They are loving, loyal, gentle, people pleasers.”

Kate says she was once told it was ‘impossible to train a Springer to walk to heel’, but she does not believe this.  They are pretty trainable as they are quite bright and very food orientated, although walking to heel does not come naturally to them.  They do tend to ‘go off’ on a walk, as there is always another interesting smell to chase down, just over there.

Regular exercise required

Just like all active breeds, Springer Spaniels benefit from regular exercise.  Kate walks twice a day for 45 minutes, whatever the weather.  Springers tend to run everywhere, but never in a straight line!  They can be just as focused on a ball as a collie, but Kate has never found that to be the case with hers.

As well as regular walks, off lead, where they are able to use their noses, Springers need play.  Kate does this from time to time at home.  This means she doesn’t spend hours and hours glued to a computer and can get on with work when she needs to.  While working she has an accompaniment of gentle snoring!

Despite walking and training, Kate daily has to cope with ‘zoomies’ – loopy time when the excitement takes over and they run around like a lunatic!

Demanding and muddy

Spaniels can by hyper and intense, so if you can’t exercise them this probably isn’t the dog for you.  They are field dogs and explorers that love water (and mud even more).

I spend quite a bit of time pulling sticky weed and seeds out of them during the summer and washing mud off all year round.  Even in summer it can seem strange to come home with a clean dry dog!

Springer spanielsKate says she has never found an ‘indestructible’ dog toy and is on a constant mission to find a chew that lasts for more than a minute.  Although she has not experienced it, Kate has been told that socks, slippers, shoes, underwear, skirting board and carpets are all fair game.

Selective hearing, especially when out on a walk, is a definite trait. They moult, so watch out for dog hair – oh and don’t forget the added dust.

Robust health is typical

Springer Spaniels are another old breed, like Greyhounds, so health issues are rare.  During the summer, ears and toes need to be checked daily for seeds – it’s expensive if they get embedded and infected.

Best home for a Springer?

You need to have the time and lifestyle to provide the exercise they need.  Kate says

“I’ve done basic training with all my dogs – with an emphasis on recall and distance work because they are rarely by my side.  If I’m honest this has been more of a challenge with my rescue than with the puppies but essential to ensure their safety.”

Springer spanielsYou know you have a Springer when…

  • “You have to spend 15 minutes brushing the sticky balls out”
  •  ”Your home is happy, but muddy”
  •  “You’re sitting watching the telly and suddenly a ‘flash’ zooms in and out of the room over all the sofas and out again.  All suddenly ending in cuddles”
  •  “You never eat alone”
  •  “You can’t go on a dry, mud free walk as they find mud in the desert!”
  •  “You can’t find one of your shoes”
  •  “The shoe you can’t find is in the dog’s bed”
  •  “The house looks like a baby’s playpen”
  • “You go one a walk and nobody comments on how ‘beautiful or cute’ he is, because he’s covered in mud and won’t stand still”
  •  “When you see someone with a dry dog and think that it’s odd”
  •  “You wake up in the morning with a tennis ball in your face”
  •  “When you’re out on a walk and they don’t walk in a straight line”
  •  “When you can’t say the word car [or walk or food] without it resulting in zoomies”
  •  “You have a constant show”
  •  “There’s a racetrack round the edge of the lawn”
  •  “You can’t open a food source without one appearing as if by magic”

In the end though, owning a Springer means

“You actually found out what loyalty, friendship and soulmate really means”

Springer spanielsThank you to Kate for the information and the beautiful pictures.  If you want a real treat, please go to Kate’s website for plenty more gorgeous photos?

Ask for help?

I hope you have enjoyed my insight into owning Springer Spaniels?  Please comment and share your views and experiences?  What breed would you like to know about?  Or do you have a breed of dog and would like to share your views on living with your dog?  Please CONTACT ME to let me know?

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.

Remember..

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.

NB: If you read my posts in an email, you may be missing out on the lovely pictures!  Please click through to my website to see the post in all its glory?

Greyhounds – Interview with an owner

Greyhounds: The Best Couch Potato?

What do you think of when you imagine Greyhounds?  Do you think of them racing around a track at a million miles an hour?  Maybe you imagine them chasing (and killing) small furry animals?  Perhaps you think they would not be at all suitable as a family pet?  Well you’d be wrong, as Becca can explain:

“Greyhounds are brilliant for first time owners as they are gentle, loving and relatively low maintenance! There’s a preconception that they need loads of exercise, but they are described as 30mph couch potatoes – this is so true! They are the laziest dog you will ever meet. Greyhounds are more like cats than dogs.  They love to sleep all day and will demand fuss.”

GreyhoundsChoosing the right breed

Becca says she’d been desperate for a dog for as long as she could remember and luckily, when she met her husband, he was persuaded he would like one too!  They wanted something that would fit into their lifestyle, but were also keen on getting a rescue dog.  Becca’s godmother had a Lurcher and this is what started her interest in sighthounds.  She did some research and felt Greyhounds were perfect for them.

There are so many Greyhounds needing homes, as they are often retired young after racing (if they even race at all) and are either euthanised or end up in rescues.  Greyhounds are part of the Hound group of dog breeds, (see Types of dog).  They are a healthy breed, as they have been around for a long time.  They generally live for around 12 years.

“They’re great for older people looking for a companion as they don’t need miles and miles of walking and they’re quiet and gentle. This also works for families with children or people who want a dog, but don’t have hours and hours of time to dedicate to exercise or don’t want a really high maintenance breed.”

GreyhoundsSettling In

Sora arrived with Becca and Neil around 6 years ago, arriving just after they bought their first home.   She took a few days to settle into a routine and learn what their routine was, but after a bit it was like she’d always been with them.  Basil came as a ‘foster’ but he chose them as his forever home, and again, felt like he’d always been part of the family.

Great for working homes

Although I would not normally recommend people who work full time to get a dog, Greyhounds are a good choice if this is your situation, because they are so lazy!  Becca says

“We both work full time so we needed a dog that would be ok with being left for a few hours (with a walk in the middle of the day). Sora was perfect, as long as she’d had a walk in the morning and was taken out midday, the rest of the time she just slept. Neil now works from home, but they still sleep all day! The best thing about them is that they will walk for as long or as short as you’re happy to do. “

Becca and Neil took their Greyhounds with them on their honeymoon to the Lake District and walked for hours each day, which they adored.  Equally they will settle down after a 20 min walk when you’re pushed for time or the weather is vile.

Love sponges

Becca describes her Greyhounds as ‘love sponges’; they just want to be with you and be loved!  Sora thinks every visitor to the house is there to see her specifically. Poor Basil was abused and is very wary of new people, but he adores Becca and Neil.  He is the most loving, special boy, despite everything he’s been through. They are so gentle, very respectful of you and other dogs and generally very placid.

GreyhoundsSora doesn’t like bouncy dogs and will tell them off, but in the politest way possible.  Greyhounds will give you hugs by leaning on you! Becca says she has never known other breeds to do this and it makes her smile every time she meets one! (Busy does this too by the way :p)

“Greyhounds are like skinny Labradors in that they are food obsessed! They are also the biggest drama queens you will ever meet. If you are owned by a Greyhound, you will be aware of the scream of death!”

A minor hurt or injury (such as accidentally treading on them) will elicit the most blood-curdling scream from them.  It is horrifying when you first hear it and they will always do it in public!

The prey drive

The prey drive in Greyhounds can be very strong and this is to be expected due to their breeding.  That being said, many Greyhounds live with cats and Becca’s two live with chickens! They pretty much ignore them now, although she wouldn’t trust them not to chase if the chickens got out .

“We have to be aware of small furry things when out on walks as cats are still quite interesting for them. We never let them off lead except in enclosed spaces.”

They’re happy with this and don’t need to be let off.  On the other hand, it is fabulous watching them run! Becca and Neil took them to a beach in Norfolk and thought they’d successfully tired them out, until they started trotting off down the beach together.  They then decided to race each other and disappeared off over the horizon!

GreyhoundsThey have very selective hearing; once they get excited and start to run/chase something they will go deaf.   You have to be aware of  the front door being open and the dogs being around in case they spot something they want to chase…

Words of advice

Becca says she would get a Greyhound again in a heartbeat; she can’t imagine having any other type!  They would always go for an ex-racer.  There are so many needing homes.

“The best piece of advice I would give myself is to give myself time, let them settle and don’t panic if they’re a bit stressed or make messes when they first arrive. They will settle, find their feet and becomes the most loved member of your family that you can’t imagine being without. Be prepared to lose your sofa (as they are a large breed).  Hide anything edible – they will find it and they will eat it!”

GreyhoundsAs always, I am incredibly grateful to Becca for giving us such a clear insight into owning these adorable dogs.

Ask for help?

I hope you have enjoyed my insight into owning Greyhounds?  Please comment and share your views and experiences?  What breed would you like to know about?  Or do you have a breed of dog and would like to share your views on living with your dog?  Please CONTACT ME to let me know?

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.

Remember..

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.

NB: If you read my posts in an email, you may be missing out on the lovely pictures!  Please click through to my website to see the post in all its glory?

Husky – Interview with an owner

Husky – do you fancy owning a clown?

I love a Husky, I think they are beautiful dogs.  They are from the Working Group of dogs and look like dogs should look in my opinion, (a bit like wolves).  They seem so wild and free.  But what are they really like to own?

HuskyLetty says that she knew she wanted an active, larger breed of dog, but wasn’t sure what that might mean until she saw a Siberian Husky and fell in love.  She made contact with a breeder and was invited to go and meet some.

“I found myself at this person’s door and was struck by the fact that it looked an awful lot like a prison, with double gates and an ‘airlock’ type system! What followed was a fantastically enthusiastic greeting by 6 gorgeous Huskies that completely stole my heart.”

Unfortunately Letty was not able to have a Husky straight away as she was living in a flat.  So she very sensibly helped out with the breed-specific welfare run by these breeders.  She learnt all about the fantastic challenges that comes with owning Huskies.

Gus’ journey home

Gus came from a breeder in Romania, bought to become a potential show and stud dog.   Letty fell in love with him from the moment she met him, which was delayed by his time in quarantine.  He turned out to not be suitable for showing, but he was a fantastic working dog and loved running in harness.

“Due to his time in quarantine during his formative years he can’t speak dog very well and struggled being in a big pack.”

HuskyLetty was not able to have him though, so he went off to someone else.  Then about a year later she got a call:

“Gus is coming back to us, he’s in a real state!” By this point I was living somewhere new and my response was “I’m coming to get him this weekend.” There was absolutely no question in my mind that he’d come back at exactly the right point in time and that he was MY dog. But he was skin and bone, was riddled with fleas and had obviously been beaten, because whenever you went to touch him he would cower on the floor.  That’s how I chose my dog, or rather, how he chose me.

An active lifestyle

Letty says that they are quite active people., who like walking, camping and being outside.  Gus fits in with this lifestyle very well.  She says that taking on any dog is going to be a bit of an adjustment, but having Gus has been better than expected.

Gus was 5 years old when Letty got him, so she didn’t have to cope with chewing or the manic puppy stage.  There were some issues with ‘marking’ in the house while he was settling, but they worked through this.

HuskyHe is now 11 years old with spondylosis and suspected hip arthritis so his exercise has been cut down.  She does some training everyday and walk for half an hour a day with Gus, which used to be an hour a day.   Letty also used to run him in harness on the bike in the winter and did an agility class every week.

Husky characteristics

Huskies are most definitely clowns!  Letty says they seem to enjoy making us laugh. They are talkative and will often ague back when you tell them off, many always wanting to have the last word!

They are loving and enjoy cuddles, but not loyal; they’ll snog anyone within tongue reach! They’re a very empathetic breed of dog.

“Gus always knows if I’m down, upset or ill, and he’ll never be far away or he’ll do something daft to make me laugh.”

They are intelligent, but not in the same way as a Border Collie who wants to please people. Huskies have an independent intelligence, they are problem solvers and question askers. This is what they were bred to do.

HuskyLetty says that Gus is pretty chilled and easy-going, which she feels is because of his bad experiences.  Apparently he was as mad as other Huskies before he went to that first home.

Husky challenges

They ARE trainable, but they have to see the point in what you’re asking them to do. Mental exercise is just as important, if not more so, than physical exercise.  But they should also settle when not working, the idea being they conserve energy until they need to run.

Other issues with Huskies:

  • They are escape artists.  They can clear 6ft fence from a standstill and 8ft with a bit of a scrabble.  If they can’t jump over they’ll dig under.  They can jump out of open windows, even upstairs!  Once they’re out, they’re off – they LOVE to run!
  • No road sense, so no off lead walks unless it is a very secure area.
  • They are fabulous landscape artists!  If you like a nice garden and a clean house then a Husky is not the dog for you.
  • There is lots of fur!  Huskies have a double coat with a thick layer of undercoat to keep them warm in -50⁰C.  But it when it comes out, you’ll have fur EVERYWHERE. If you don’t like seeing fur ‘tumbleweeds’ float across your living room, a Husky probably isn’t for you.
  • If you have small furry animals like cats or rabbits and you want them to stay alive, then a Husky probably isn’t for you. Huskies have a very high prey drive; they  can catch birds out of the sky, or next door’s cat.  They will eat what they catch.
  • When bored, they make their own fun, which includes being destructive.  They can eat through doors and stud walls.  Huskies will chew things up astoundingly quickly!  Letty’s sister only got up to answer the door to a delivery man and the sofa was dead when she got back.
  • They will also push the limits unless you are very clear with the boundaries.  Huskies have got a bad reputation for being aggressive of late. Letty has only ever met one truly aggressive husky, the rest are just trying to dominate.  But they can sound intimidating when they’re grumping and grumbling at you.
  • They are very vocal, which may be a positive or a negative depending on your point of view (or how many neighbours you’ve got!)
Husky
Hair anyone?

Who should have a Husky?

You must be an active person with plenty of time to spend with your dog. They are not suitable for someone who works full time.  Not suited for someone who doesn’t have much experience with dogs as they will push and push  the limits until they’re telling you what you can and can’t do.

Letty’s advice:

“Research, research, research. Meet the breed. Ask questions. Volunteer. Don’t be set on a puppy, consider an older rescue or rehome. Second hand dogs give first class love.”

As always, I am incredibly grateful to Letty for giving us such a clear insight into owning one of these beautiful dogs.

HuskyAsk for help?

I hope you have enjoyed my insight into owning Huskies?  Please comment and share your views and experiences?  What breed would you like to know about?  Or do you have a breed of dog and would like to share your views on living with your dog?  Please CONTACT ME to let me know?

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.

Remember..

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.

NB: If you read my posts in an email, you may be missing out on the lovely pictures!  Please click through to my website to see the post in all its glory?

Bassett Hound – interview with an owner

Bassett Hound: if it’s character you want, look no further!

Janet has given me a wonderful insight into what it is really like to own a Bassett Hound, having had four of them over 30 years.  She says that:

“We wanted a characterful dog and one possessed of a fairly gentle and laid-back nature. We also wanted a ‘largish’ dog but had limited space at the time. Bassets are medium to large sized dogs on short legs which seemed to us a good compromise.”

Bassett Hound
Aren’t I beautiful

Lola, who is Janet’s current Bassett Hound is described as pretty laid back, loves company and is very happy to travel in the car anywhere. If she needs to come to work, she’ll happily do so. She also likes plenty of exercise, which is particularly important to Janet. She even goes running with Janet from time to time!

There’s no rush

Bassets do things at their own speed and in their own time. There’s absolutely no point trying to hurry them along. If you try, they will slow up even more! In Janet’s experience, this is typical of the breed.  Lola, has a huge character with a bigger heart. She is fiercely independent, funny, gentle and loving.

Bassett Hound
Butter wouldn’t melt

Part of the pack

Janet feels that Bassett Hounds definitely prefer a home with other dogs, as they love being part of a pack.  That pack mentality not only means they don’t like being left alone.  However, they can get the upper hand if they aren’t shown their place. You need to count yourself as a pack member too and make sure they don’t try to boss you around! We would say not a dog for novice owners.

“You need oodles of patience and tolerance. Plan for the worst whilst hoping for the best. (Damage limitation!)”

Bassett Hound
So laid back

Character or challenge?

The features of Bassett Hounds which make them so lovable as characters can also make them a bit of a challenge, if we are being honest.  They are described as unbiddable (therefore can be unreliable off lead) stubborn, totally untrustworthy around food, (not to mention sofas and beds).  They are prone to laziness if given half a chance, notoriously hard to house train.  Bassetts can carry a bit of a ‘houndy’ smell around with them.

With regards to training, Janet says:

“I should probably do more training than I do but I at least try to reinforce basic commands on a daily basis. Classes are tricky as Bassets are often disruptive and get asked to leave!”

Lola has plenty of exercise; she has around 90 minutes in the morning off lead and two shorter walks later in the day.  Having walked with Janet and Lola this morning, I can report that she is more than capable of keeping up with the collies and me going at a brisk pace.  She was completely unimpressed when we got back to the car after an hour!

Bassett Hound
Those eyes!

In future, Janet feels she would like to have a puppy, having always had rescues.  She says that if you haven’t raised a dog from a puppy it can be hard to deal with the ‘issues’ they invariably arrive with.  However, it is also very true that watching a dog flourish when they’ve had a rotten start is very satisfying (and a real testament to Janet’s patience!)  I have talked about the benefits or otherwise of having a rescue dog – Rescue or Breeder?

Ask for help?

I hope you have enjoyed my insight into owning a Bassett Hound?  Please comment and share your views and experiences?  What breed would you like to know about?  Or do you have a breed of dog and would like to share your views on living with your dog?  Please CONTACT ME to let me know?

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.

Remember..

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.

NB: If you read my posts in an email, you may be missing out on the lovely pictures!  Please click through to my website to see the post in all its glory?

Terriers – Interview with an owner

Terriers – are they really so terrible?

I know lots of people with a wide variety of terriers and they always strike me as being such characters!  I have also stood watching terriers doing agility on many occasions.  They are super fast and agile, but also quite likely to run off into the next ring.  Or into the scorer’s tent, looking for biscuits!  Cheeky and determined are two adjectives that spring to mind.  But what’s it really like to own them?  Clare has kindly given me lots information about them.

The first dog that became a full time responsibility for me was Timber, a working Lakeland terrier, who was 12 years old when I met him.  He had been a hunt dog, worked all his life, but had become a bit old for most work other than ratting. His owner became ill and Timber was passed round a few temporary owners and eventually came to us (narrowly avoiding being shot!)  When I met him Timber had the appeal of a well worn teddy bear.  He was a companion and van dog, accompanying Roger all over the place.”

terriers
Timber and the cat

Clare says that Timber initially lived outside and they were told he was not house trained. They were also told that he would kill cats and they had 5 at the time!  However, after some patience on Clare’s part, he was able to live happily in the house alongside the cats.

More terriers

After a while Clare and Roger planned to get a second dog and were able to choose from a litter sired by Timber to a Patterdale terrier.  They had planned to keep a boy, but ended up with two girls!  Plenty of people told them that two terrier bitches, who were littermates, would be untrainable.  (I tend to agree, on the whole, see my post on Littermates).  Clare was undaunted:

“I booked puppy classes, and Roger came with me and the 2 puppies to classes.  We loved it so much we continued with classes for years, introducing them to scent work, gun dog work, flyball, obedience and agility.  I have also done some heel work to music with Styx. Eventually I spent most time at agility with them both, starting at grade 1. Now Styx is grade 4 and Twiggy is grade 6.

terriers
Litter sisters (Styx photobombing Twiggy)

Clare had her two girls DNA profiled as they looked so different.  She found the mix was about a quarter each of wire Fox Terrier probably the origin of the curls), Border Terrier, Parson Russell Terrier and Sealyham Terrier.  Go to the KC website to see descriptions of all the different Terriers.

Puppy time

Clare wanted another terrier, but waited until Timber died – he lived until he was 22 years old!  Having originally hoped to breed from one of her girls, she then found it was too late for them, so started contacting breeders.

Eventually a breeder got in touch to say that one of their pups needed rehoming.  She was four and a half months old.  She had been homed with two working adults, plus two young children and an older terrier of 11 who had been used to being the only dog. The puppy was very lively and the older dog didn’t want to play.   Clare went to see her:

The puppy launched herself at me as soon as she saw me and had masses of energy, constantly jumping at me or her owner. I can see that might not be suitable in some homes.  However I wanted her to join in the agility that the others did, so bags of energy and enthusiasm for jumping suited me down to the ground.”  

terriers
Clare and Tilly

Bringing in a new family member

Clare wasn’t sure if she would get on with a puppy she hadn’t had ‘from the start’, but of course Timber had come to them in middle age, so it was fine.  Clare says:

I have been very careful introducing Tilly to Twiggy and Styx bearing in mind she didn’t get on with the older terrier in her previous home. Indeed, they have both put her in her place, because they don’t want to play and have got aggravated by Tilly biting their legs to entice them to play.”

Fortunately, Tilly has also had other young dogs to play with and Clare worked hard on socialising her (lots of visits to the pub!)  She has taken Tilly to classes and agility shows, preparing her for competition in the future.  Clare says “She isn’t old enough to compete yet, but is a joy to teach and quick to learn.”

Old dogs can learn new tricks

Clare has no regrets about taking on Timber when he was 12, and thinks we shouldn’t worry about trying to retrain an older dog.  Young dogs may learn quicker, but that doesn’t mean an older dog won’t learn new things.  In fact Clare has taught one of Timber’s daughters agility, starting when she was 8 years old (now 11).  She has competed at KC shows, her best result being a clear agility round.

Trouble with terriers

 Clare says that terriers can be noisy and can fight if there is more than one (although this is especially the case with littermates).  She likes the fact that they will bark to warn that someone is nearby, but says if you live close to your neighbours it might become a problem.

Terriers are also escape artists!  They are small dogs, who are intelligent and persistent, so it can be harder to make a garden terrier proof.   However, they are loyal and can generally be trained to have a good recall.

A bonus feature is that they are small, portable dogs, who can easily travel around with you.  On balance I would say they Clare adores her terriers – and they adore her!  Thanks Clare, for sharing your experiences.

terriers
Clare and her terriers

Ask for help?

I hope you have enjoyed my insight into owning Terriers?  Please comment and share your views and experiences?  What breed would you like to know about?  Or do you have a breed of dog and would like to share your views on living with your dog?  Please CONTACT ME to let me know?

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.

Remember..

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.

NB: If you read my posts in an email, you may be missing out on the lovely pictures!  Please click through to my website to see the post in all its glory?

Australian Shepherd – Interview with an owner

Australian Shepherd – the owner’s view

Gemma said that she did a great deal of research before getting her first dog.  She also went to a responsible breeder, who bred her puppies with loving care and attention.  Gemma therefore followed the two key pieces of advice given by dog owners in my survey results Go Gemma!

Australian ShepherdArcher is a two year-old Australian Shepherd.   Before getting him, Gemma decided that she wanted an active, fun-loving dog who was going to cope with the lifestyle she has, with plenty of hiking and long cycle rides.  She said that Australian Shepherds are described as being good at running with bikes.  She knew that like Border Collies, they would be intelligent and easy to train.

Home Circumstances – plan ahead

Before looking at actual puppies, Gemma made sure that she had the right home circumstances to look after a dog.  She checked that she was going to be able to take her dog to work.  She walks him to work and then he has a special run, with shelter and space, so that he is safe and happy.

Gemma has put in a great deal of effort to ensure that Archer is well-trained and well behaved around people, so that her work are happy for him to be there.  He is a lovely boy and a real credit to her.

Australian ShepherdChoosing the puppy

Interestingly, Gemma said that she had wanted a girl rather than a boy.  She also said she had always wanted a merle, which is the most common colour of Australian Shepherd dogs.  She waited until a breeder had a bitch available for her, but then saw Archer and fell in love with him!

Personally, I think Gemma made a great choice there.  I have said before that I think boy dogs are easier to have on their own than girls, as they are more sociable with other dogs.   However, that is particularly true for Border Collies, less so for other breeds.

Australian ShepherdBreed Characteristics

What is the difference between the Australian Shepherd and the Border Collie?  Well the Aussie is generally broader and ‘squarer’ than the BC.  They usually have ‘tipped’ rather than ‘pricked’ ears (although BCs can have all sorts of ears!)  Aussies typically have merle or tricolour coats, which are normally thick and curly, whereas a BC’s coat might be straight.

One significant difference between the Aussie and the BC is that they have historically been docked, although this is fortunately no longer the case in the UK.  There is also a ‘bobtail’ type, where they are born with no tail.  This is part of the recognised Australian Shepherd breed standard.

Australian ShepherdChallenges of the breed

Australian Shepherd dogs, just like Border Collies, are very demanding!  They need exercise and stimulation, either training or other play activities.

Gemma mentioned that Aussies are described as being typically attached to one person in particular.  She feels that Archer loves her and her partner equally, with another friend also accepted into his pack.  My observation is that Archer is extremely well bonded to Gemma and that he may become quite guarding of her around other dogs, which needs careful handling.

Speaking to an agility friend, she observed that Aussies can be inclined towards stubbornness.  This in comparison with Border Collies, who are anxious to please, to the point of being needy and clingy.  You pays your money and takes your choice!

Many thanks to Gemma and Archer for their help.

Australian Shepherd

Ask for help?

I hope you have enjoyed my insight into the Australian Shepherd breed?  Please comment and share your views and experiences?

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.

What breed would you like to know about?  Or do you have a breed of dog and would like to share your views on living with your dog?  Please CONTACT ME to let me know?

Remember..

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.

NB: If you read my posts in an email, you may be missing out on the lovely pictures!  Please click through to my website to see the post in all its glory?