Category Archives: Finding a Dog

7 Ways to be a Brilliant Dog Owner

How to give your dog its best life

With so many first time dog owners appearing over the past 18 months, it is hard to recognise just what it takes to do the best you can for your dog. I know people who absolutely adore their dogs, but they do not necessarily have all the right attributes that their dog would want. So what does it take to be a brilliant dog owner?

I’m going to start off by saying – buy the right dog! That doesn’t mean the most expensive, or the one I like (Border Collie). It’s what’s right for you. Choose the right breed and buy from the right breeder.  Or get a rescue. I don’t mind. It’s you that will be living with it for the next 10-15 years. That’s longer than you’ll have your car or your sofa. After that, it’s up to you..

1: Interact with your dog

Talk to it, play with it, stroke it. You’d be amazed how many people like having a dog around the place, but don’t actually engage with it. NB: Don’t cuddle your dog unless they ask to be cuddled. Above all, be there for your dog so it doesn’t need to rush up to other dogs and people.  It should NOT be desperately attention-seeking. It should be happy with its own family.

Border collies
We love you (you have the ball!)

2: Be present as much as possible

Dogs are sociable and like hanging out together. If you’re going to be out all day, make sure you do plenty with your dog when you’re in. Hire a good dog walker, who walks dogs in groups. Have another dog. Or a cat.

Border collies dog owner
Just hanging out

I’m not saying you can’t have a dog if you work. We all have to work at some stage in our lives and I don’t think people should deny themselves a dog just because they are out. Dogs sleep for the majority of the day anyway, provided they have had a good walk in the morning and some play, training and interaction later on.

3: Groom your dog

Check your dog over daily for parasites, grass seeds, sores etc. Just stroke it! Brush when you can, but often. Little and often works wonders. Even if you dog has long hair, tackling it for 5 minutes a day can make a big difference.

Border collies
Beautifully groomed

Many of the poodle crossbreeds need regular professional grooming, which does take time and effort to organise and of course costs money! Take that into consideration when choosing the right dog for you? Don’t wait until it is a horrible matted mess that has to be shaved to the skin. We have created dogs in different shapes and sizes, so it is our responsibility to care for them properly if we are to be the best dog owner.

4: Feed your dog sensibly

A well-balanced diet makes for a happy dog. Pay attention to the level of activity of your dog, rather than what the bag says. Is it active enough? Or too hyper? Too fat? Or too thin?  You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs, not see them.

A healthy, happy dog

We all know that obesity causes terrible health problems, so why inflict that on your dog? ‘Just a few treats’ is no good if your dog suffers as a result. You have the power to control your dog’s food intake and therefore to manage its health proactively. Pay attention.

If you have more than one dog, don’t think you can feed them all the same food and don’t just chuck the food down and walk away. Control the food you give and watch how it is eaten. Manage it. Personally, I feed a nutritionally balanced kibble because it works for my dogs. I am not knowledgeable enough to feed them food I have concocted myself. And I can’t be bothered! It’s easy to feed ourselves rubbish, but why should our dogs have to suffer? Raw food carries bacteria which may be leading to antibiotic resistance, which could be fatal for us all. I do not recommend this.

5: Walk your dog

Walk your dog slowly, so it can sniff and experience the world around it. An hour wandering and sniffing is far better than a pavement trudge several times a day. Don’t take it for a run! Dogs don’t naturally go ‘out for a run’ it’s not really their thing. They might run around chasing each other in a game, or chasing prey, but it’s not really necessary for our dogs. Let them be active in their own space, at their own pace.

Border collies
Active on her terms

Doing the same walk every day is useless – dogs need variety. And of course Let. Them. Off. Lead. You wouldn’t go for a walk with a blindfold on. Don’t torture your dog – here’s a lovely place you can’t experience, because I am holding onto you! Here are dogs to say hello to, or be frightened of, but I am hanging on to you so you can’t deal with that yourself. Teach your dog how to behave when they are out and about and they can enjoy a relaxing walk. Which brings me on to..

6: Train your dog!

Teach your dog to come when you call it. Stand in a different room from your dog and call it. Does it come? If it’s barking at a squirrel in the garden and you call it, does it come? If you open the fridge door, does it suddenly appear? Hmm, maybe a bit more work on recall is required… It is absolutely NOT difficult, nor is it rocket science. It just takes effort. And lots of practice. With cheese.

Border collies
Starting young

You don’t have to teach tricks to your dog, but it’s fun to engage your brain and theirs. Going to classes can be about focusing on your dog and sharing your experiences with others. Teaching your dog manners will save you both a lot of heartache.  Basically, the more effort you make, the more you will enjoy your dog.

7: Say goodbye with dignity

Don’t put your dog through complex or invasive treatments, especially if they are a reasonable age and have had a good life. Let them go, with love. And be there to hold them as they do.  It’s hard to part with your best friend and constant companion, but don’t make them suffer because you don’t want to say goodbye?

Border collies dog owner
If you love them, let them go

They make us laugh, they are there for us, bringing so much joy. Don’t they deserve a good life?  These points should all have been so obvious they don’t need saying, but can you tick them all? Are you ready to be the best dog owner?

Weekly Focus Challenge

  • Think about why you chose the dog you chose?  What was it you liked about their breed?
  • Why did you choose the breeder you bought your puppy from?  What criteria did you have?
  • What did you think of the puppy’s mum?  Was she what you were expecting?
  • Now think about your plans for your dog?  What are you going to do with it?  Will you go to puppy classes?  Are you hoping to do a dog activity in the future?
  • How often will you walk your dog?  Whereabouts will you go?
  • What behaviour issues do you anticipate?  What do you think will be the biggest problems with your dog?
  • What will be the best thing about having your dog?
  • What arrangements do you have in place for when you are away?  When you are at work?
  • What are you worried about?

Please share your thoughts and a photo? You can do this in the AYWYP Facebook group, or buy the workbook to keep your own record. Details below.

Buy the Workbook

The Workbook – A Year With Your Puppy is available to buy. It was written and designed to be a hands-on, interactive book for you. It will help you survive the first year with your puppy, but also act as a memento of that time and the journey you have been on. You can write notes and stick in pictures of your puppy throughout the year. Lovely!


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, by filling in your email address below?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.


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.

The Kennel Club – Friend Or Foe?

Why we should support the Kennel Club

I am receiving large numbers of enquiries for puppies once again, as people realise that a dog will improve their lives. It is so frustrating not to be able to offer any support to these people, because puppies are not toilet paper and cannot be made to order.

I always recommend that people contact the other Kennel Club Assured Breeders and ask to go onto their waiting lists. I’m delighted to have recently had my three-yearly inspection as part of this scheme. I am disappointed that there isn’t wider recognition and take-up of this scheme.

The history and purpose of the Kennel Club

It’s a very old organisation that runs dog shows. I think that is the public perception of the Kennel Club. The organisation was set up in 1873 “to have a consistent set of rules for governing the popular new activities of dog showing and field trials. It was the first national kennel club in the world.”

dog showing
dog showing

The home page of the brand new Kennel Club website now states it is:

The largest organisation in the UK devoted to dog health, welfare and training. Our objective is to ensure that dogs live healthy, happy lives with responsible owners.

What does the Kennel Club do?

The Kennel Club still runs dog shows. Although most people are aware of Crufts, the world’s oldest and largest dog show, they probably don’t know everything that happens there. The show really is a celebration of dogs! You can find out about different dogs, watch dogs at work, doing what they do best and enjoy the amazing relationships between dogs and owners.

I love watching the heelwork to music displays and the excitement of the flyball. I love watching the agility and was very proud as a breeder to have one of my pups competing last year. It’s a great place to learn about dogs and what brings them into our lives. And there is LOTS of shopping to be done!

heelwork to music
heelwork to music

Other dog shows around the country are run by the Kennel Club. Breed shows promote the enormous range of dog breeds we have available to us in the this country. Sadly though, dog breeding is still viewed as an elite hobby and one that is regarded as subject to corruption and bias. I do feel that something based on the subjective opinions of individuals is likely to be a bit unfair. However, I have learnt through writing the Breed Index, that there are breed standards and that these are rigorously checked.

Healthier Dogs?

I do believe that the Kennel Club is a force for better dog health. There have been scandals in recent years about dogs with poor conformation winning prizes. I think that on the whole, there is a momentum of support for healthier dogs.

health and health screening
health and health screening

The Kennel Club claims the following:

“We help improve the lives of dogs, now and in the future, through research, collaboration, resources and health schemes.”

For pedigree dog breeders, there is a wealth of information and support. As an Assured Breeder, I am not able to register my puppies as pedigree Border Collies without meeting the health testing requirements for my breed. If I want to use someone else’s dog to mate with mine, I am able to check the health records of that dog and ensure that the dogs are a good match.

Sadly, the Kennel Club is not as rigorous in recording the health of all dogs. You are not required to health test crossbreeds. You can still ‘register’ puppies with the Kennel Club, but this is just a record of existence, not a certificate of proven parentage and health. Do you think this could be improved?

Getting a dog

Just as I have tried to support people in finding a dog, the Kennel Club have a huge amount of support and resource to help people. You can find out about different breeds, check the health of a dog’s parents, and think about what different dogs might need in terms of care. The Kennel Club provide support on finding a rescue dog and help you find an Assured Breeder.

finding a dog
finding a dog

Admin issues

Part of the problem the Kennel Club has is to do with the sheer volume of information it holds and the demand for dogs in this country. In this message to its users published yesterday, the Chief Executive Mark Beazley said “we know that many of our customers have not had the experience they deserve and expect from The Kennel Club in recent months.” The message details the progress that has been made to work through and resolve these issues. I believe there is still work to be done, but with 40 million records to transfer, I can quite see why this is a challenge!

What do we want from the Kennel Club?

I have said that we need more responsible breeders. The Kennel Club should promote and manage this more assertively.

Personally, I would like there to be a much clearer message about dog breeding and health. It makes me sad that someone with a mixed crossbreed dog can embark on breeding with no thought for checking the health of their dog beforehand. They can produce a litter of pups and sell these to random strangers for thousands of pounds. If you ‘don’t care about paperwork’ they don’t have to produce proof of parentage and health testing.

We do now have an understanding that if we keep demanding puppies, that there are unscrupulous people who will force dogs to breed continuously, in horrible conditions – a puppy farmer. You may not yet always be savvy enough to spot a dog that has been bred this way. You can still buy dogs from unregulated online adverts, and this means we can easily be the victims of fraud. This affects us all, because getting a dog without proper care and due diligence can result in emotional trauma.

introduction to breeding
introduction to breeding

Breeders are under no obligation to vet prospective owners of dogs. I can breed from my dogs and send them off to complete strangers, without any checks. There is no guidance on the questions to ask prospective homes. Sadly, it is the puppies that are ‘carelessly homed’ that end up in rescue. Good breeders take their puppies back, and provide a lifetime of support to their owners.

Please let me know what you think? What do you think the Kennel Club should do better? How do you think things should change?

Buy the Workbook

The Workbook – A Year With Your Puppy is available to buy. I wrote and designed it to be a hands-on, interactive book for you. You will be helped to survive the first year with your puppy. This book acts as a memento of that time and the journey you have been on. You can write notes and stick in pictures of your puppy throughout the year. Lovely!


Please CONTACT ME if you would like me to write about a specific topic?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think?

What is a Puppy Farmer?

Puppy Farmer – how do you know when you see one?

A Puppy Farmer breeds dogs for money. So anyone who breeds from their dog simply to make some money could be seen as a farmer, but that’s not it. Having one or two litters from your pet dog is not the same as setting up a business and doing it on a large scale.

Breeding professionally is not necessarily the same as breeding commercially. If you LOVE your dogs and decide to promote them, show them and then breed from them, you might end up with lots of dogs. They might have lots of puppies. You might then decide to have a professional setup, which involves kennels and outdoor runs. (Or you might just end up with lots of dogs in your house, on your sofas, on your beds, by your feet…)

puppy farmer

It might seem a fine line then, between breeding for the love of dogs and breeding for the love of money. If you love your dogs, you might find the money generated from having puppies comes in handy to pay for your dogs. But that isn’t really true. If you LOVE your dogs, you will spend ALL your money on them.

Puppy Farming – Definition

“Puppy farmers produce lots of puppies in poor conditions and with little consideration for their health and welfare.”

The Kennel Club: avoiding puppy farmers

What does that mean exactly?  Quite simply, it means that the breeder cares more about making money than how healthy and happy their dogs are.  They do not care about their customers either; they are simply the mugs stupid enough to buy whatever is being sold, at any price.

puppy farmer

What does a Puppy Farmer do differently?

Here’s a description of someone’s experience of buying a puppy:

“She went through the puppy pack with all the breed details from mum and dad with us but didn’t give it to us to take away. She is a ‘breeder’ rather than the same as you (breeding your pets). Albeit a well organised breeder. She breeds 4/5 different ‘types’ and has a big set up. Was all very professional, clean, spacious etc but not ‘pets’. Lived in a massive beautiful house with lots of land and kennels. She clearly make lots of money from it! “

puppy farmer
Is it a Labradoodle?

Here are the alarm bells for me:

  • Didn’t give away details of parents – were they actually the parents of that pup? Had they been health tested appropriately for their breed? Unless you are given copies of paperwork, you can’t easily verify what your puppy is and where it has come from.
  • A breeder, but not ‘breeding pets’.  Sorry? Aren’t you buying a pet?  Why would you want something not bred as a pet?  That’s the very definition of doing it as a business.
  • She breeds 4/5 different types and has a big set up.  Not pedigree dogs, defined by their characteristics and lineage, just random mongrels.  A big set up – 20 dogs? 50? Not much time for them then. No personal care and cuddling. These puppies may never see a human being before they are sent off.
  • She clearly makes lots of money from it!  No other income? Relying on this income to live on means the litter must be profitable.  So not spending money on health testing, toys and good quality food. Not to mention health tests. It costs a LOT of money to breed well.

Paperwork is essential

If I had a pound for every time someone said to me “I’m not interested in the paperwork, I don’t want to show/breed from my dog”, then I’d be a rich person. I recently realised that buying a dog should be like buying a car – it’s a big, expensive purchase that you have for years. Unlike a car of course, dogs are living, breathing animals that are part of your family!

So, would you go along to some tatty garage and pick up a car that looked like it was cobbled together from different cars? Would you pay thousands for a car with no paperwork? There is a registration system for cars, so that we know where they are from and who has owned them before us. We need cars to have health checks (services and MOTs).

puppy farmer

Dogs need these things too, We need to record where they are born and who their parents are. It is vital that we take advantage of health tests available, to ensure we produce healthier dogs.

One ‘type’ of dogs is enough

If you care passionately about your dogs and want to breed from them, you don’t often have more than one or two different breeds. When you DON’T care about what you are producing, you might mix and match to get whatever the buyer wants. You might even tell the buyer a dog is one type of crossbreed, when it is something else entirely! That is fraud, pure and simple, but it happens all the time.

Questions for the breeder

Here are a few questions you could ask your breeder:

  1.  How many dogs do you have?  Can I see them?  Where do they live?  Good breeders might have a number of dogs, but they will be part of the family.  They might spend some time each day in crates or runs, but should be in the house for most of the time.
  2.  How many litters do you have per year?  How many does each dog have?    How old are they when they have the first litter?  And the last?  A litter of puppies is extremely time consuming (or should be!) So the more litters you have, the harder it is to spend time cuddling the pups.  Dogs should have no more than 4 litters each, between the ages of two and eight.
  3.  Who is the sire?  Why was he chosen? How closely related is he to the mother of the litter?  What is the in-breeding coefficient? Stud dogs should be from good lines, fully health tested and with a good temperament.  They should be similar in breeding to the bitch without being too closely related.
  4. What health tests have the parents had?  Can I have copies of these test certificates?  If the correct tests have been done for the breed, copies of these tests should be given to you as part of your puppy pack.

If the puppies are pedigree dogs, all this information is available on the Kennel Club website.  You can look up dogs and breeders and see who has had what, how they are related and what health tests they have had.  As soon as you move away from pedigree dogs, this information is not compulsory, therefore breeders don’t need to bother following the KC rules.

border collie breeder
NOT a puppy farmer

What to do if you suspect someone is puppy farming

People are (unfortunately) cunning and devious. They know many ways to take your money. Equally, there are good people out there with the best of intentions, who don’t know how to do the right thing.

If you think that a breeder may be a puppy farmer, or is breeding irresponsibly:

  • Never purchase a puppy from them, even if you think you are rescuing the puppy. That puppy may be better off going home with you, but by giving the “breeder” money, you are funding them to breed even more dogs, possibly from the puppies’ mother, in horrible and unethical conditions
  • Report them to the RSPCA, the police or your local authority –local councils, animal health officers and the police have the power to enforce the law.

Taken from The Kennel Club: avoiding puppy farmers

A final thought

“Dogs owned by people who spent more than an hour researching where to buy them from are likely to live twice as long as those who spent under 20 minutes choosing a puppy, with mean mortality ages of 8.8 and 4.3 respectively.”

Taken from the KC report ‘Collaboration is the Key – the Way Forward for Breeding Regulations’

As a result of buying from puppy farms, people claim to have suffered emotional and financial hardship, the KC report. Do your research! Read how to get a perfect dog!

Buy the Workbook

The Workbook – A Year With Your Puppy is available to buy. It was written and designed to be a hands-on, interactive book for you. It will help you survive the first year with your puppy, but also act as a memento of that time and the journey you have been on. You can write notes and stick in pictures of your puppy throughout the year. Lovely!


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

Dog Breeding – Conformity vs Individuality?

Be the same, but different!

Jeremy Vine does a series of pieces entitled ‘What makes us human?‘ on Radio 2 and this is a picture that sums up a viewpoint I have realised over the past few days in relation to this question.  It is similar to a picture I saw on social media with a man in camouflage trousers and a neon top with the caption “do ye wanna be seen o’ no?” (Scottish) Lol.  Here I am, with my camouflage jacket and my bright purple hair.

What’s the point I am making?  We want to be the same as everyone else. We are desperate to conform, to fit in, to be seen as ‘normal’, to go unnoticed.  AND we are desperate to be different, to stand out, to be memorable.  In order to achieve these two opposing and confrontational goals, we will buy the latest fashion, follow the trends, look carefully at what others are doing and copy it.  There are many entertaining social experiments about people going along with a crowd, performing in increasingly bizarre ways, just to do the same as everyone else.

Equally, there is a constant battle to be just a little bit different, to be memorable and not the same as everyone else.  We give children ridiculous names, or spell their names in ridiculous ways.  We get tattoos, with our own versions of patterns or pictures making us look a bit different from other people (while following the fashion for body art).  We dye our hair.

How does this relate to dogs?

I watched the Catherine Tate programme Saving the British Bulldog the other night (watch it, if you haven’t already, it’s really good).  Catherine presents a really clear, balanced picture of what has happened to the bulldog breed and why this has taken place.  In my view, this represents  this same dichotomy between conforming and being different.

The Kennel Club have a breed standard for the British Bulldog. It says right at the outset:

“A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance including the correct colour of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for functionAbsolute soundness is essential.

“Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed.

There it is, in black and white.  So what’s going on?  Breeders are breeding for health and to produce the best examples of the breed, conforming to the ‘standard’ set.  BUT people don’t want all dogs to look the same.  They want them to look different. People want a dog, but they want it to look like a baby.

As the programme demonstrates, this make the dog unhealthy, because it becomes deformed.  This is NOT the fault of the Kennel Club, nor the breeders, but the buying public, who are trying to find a particular ‘look’, no matter what that costs.

Health comes first

Surely we would not deliberately buy something that was unhealthy, would we?  We wouldn’t choose to have an unhealthy child, would we?  So why would we choose to have a dog with inherent health problems?

crufts best in show 2018

If we only cared about dog health, we would all have dogs that are shaped like dogs.  A bit like this year’s Crufts Best in Show, Tease the Whippet, (Collooney Tartan Tease). The Kennel Club says that the Whippet was originally bred for rabbit coursing, with gambling on racing in the North of England.  It goes on to say:

“Although Whippet racing continues on a very minor scale, the breed is now hugely popular in the show ring where its elegant lines and smooth daisycutting action has won many admirers. As a family companion, the Whippet is gentle and affectionate and enjoys the comforts of domestic life.”

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?  But we don’t all want Whippets, do we?  We want something different.

The same, but different

This is all just an excuse to talk about my puppy, Ounce.  I LOVE that she is different – pretty unique in fact.  She is a lilac and white Border Collie, which is a colour that is found in only around 1% of the breed.  In addition, she has blue eyes, which is even rarer.  Blue eyes are definitely not part of the breed standard.

At the same time, Ounce conforms to the ‘show type’ of Border Collie, because she is from those lines.  So she is more ‘stocky’ than a farm-bred, working sheepdog type Border Collie.  She has the pedigree Border Collie broad, short back and head, and she has a thicker, longer coat than a working sheepdog.  She has very even markings, with a white blaze, full mane, white socks and white tail tip.  Ounce is also a ‘typical collie’ in her temperament and behaviour. Lovely.

The evolutionary compulsion

In my opinion, there is a biological reason why we want to conform and be different.  We need to ‘fit in’ so that we can be desirable to others, but we also need a diverse gene pool and we need to attract a mate.  To meet these needs, we are prepared to do almost anything and ‘variety is the spice of life’.

Going back to the health issues, we are, unfortunately, prepared to do many things in order to be ‘attractive’ to others.  People have always been happy to mutilate themselves and each other in the name of beauty, eg stilettos, makeup, piercings, FGM.  This is well documented, so I do not need to detail it here.

This compulsion is transferred to our dogs.  We want the same as everyone else, but we want ours to be better.  More beautiful, more unusual, more extreme, more fierce and so on.

My mother has passed down a family expression to me, which my sons now say.  It was said by my great-grandmother; “It’s a good job we’re not all the same, or we’d all want to marry the same man.  And it wouldn’t be you Charlie.”  Poor Charlie!  My conclusion is that we strive to be different, while fighting to be part of the human race.  It’s what makes us human, but also what makes us part of the evolutionary process.  Purple hair, purple puppy, something different.

Hopefully, we can recognise the need to promote the healthy ‘normal’ while celebrating the beautiful variety of life.  Pedigree dogs should be healthy, but this is only true as long as responsible breeders can produce enough dogs to meet public demand. Once we clamour for more and more ‘designer dogs’, unscrupulous people will see a chance to make big bucks by compromising standards, as Catherine Tait’s programme demonstrated.  Please bear in mind what a dog should look like when considering what to get for your best friend?


If you are buying a dog, start by looking at the What Dog? page, then contact me?  Or if you want to breed, read this Dog Breeding Blog and then please CONTACT ME to discuss this, as I may be able to mentor you?

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.


SOLD OUT! Puppies cannot be made to order

You may or may not have noticed, but the world and his wife have got a new puppy! How lovely for everyone. People have been forced to spend time at home reviewing their lives and have realised that their life will be better with a dog. Correct. It will be. If you have changed your working pattern and will now be spending time working from home, you will be able to play with your new dog – that’s great.

puppies for sale
Life is better with a dog

Of course there will be plenty of people who have been at home and thought it was the ideal time to get a puppy so they could ‘get it sorted’ before going back to work, when it will be left all day, every day. Those people will find their bored, frustrated puppy (it will still be a puppy) will wreck their house and bark all day, annoying their (now working from home) neighbours. Those puppies will then go into rescue centres – more on that later.

Where are all the puppies coming from?

When we first went into Lockdown, everyone decided they MUST have toilet paper. It sold out pretty quickly. But then the manufacturers realised that it was essential for everyone to have a year’s supply immediately, so production of toilet paper went into overdrive. These companies were able to stop making other products and produce more toilet paper. Great, everyone has a clean bum now.

puppies for sale

With puppies, this has also happened. I am sure that LOTS of people who were considering having puppies some time in the future, have decided to crack on. This might well be because their own plans have changed.

Unfortunately, if breeders have brought forward their plans and had a litter in the past year, they are unlikely to have another litter this year. So although there will have been some puppies available during the past year, it is going to get harder and harder to find puppies bred by responsible breeders.

puppies for sale

What happens next?

I have had hundreds (literally) of enquiries for puppies, over the past year. I could have sold many, many puppies. I have a waiting list of carefully scrutinised, suitable owners. I am sure all responsible breeders, especially those who are Kennel Club Assured Breeders, will have gone through the same process. I have plenty of people on the reserve list.

border collie puppies

The trouble is, I am still getting enquiries. Usually, when I get an enquiry, I tell people to go the other KC Assured Breeders. Or to look on Champdogs, a reputable website with health tested, pedigree dogs. So what happens now? Where will the future puppies come from?

The breeding cycle

It only takes 9 weeks to make puppies. Wow, that’s not very long, I hear you say. Then it’s standard practice to have the puppies for 8 weeks before they go to their new homes. The Kennel Club recommend that as a minimum.

So then you start again, right? Wrong. Dogs are only able to have a litter when they come into season. This is usually every 6 months, but can be less often. The trouble is, they should NOT have a litter of puppies every 6 months. I’ve talked about all the issues with having puppies already on my recent post 5 reasons not to breed from your dog.

border collie puppies

If more puppies are being produced, the chances are therefore high that these are being bred by people who don’t care about the health and wellbeing of their dogs. They just care about the money. These people are known as puppy farmers. The puppies they breed are NOT HEALTHY. They will charge you a fortune to buy a puppy, it will get sick, cost you a lot more money and THEN DIE. Trust me, talking to a vet last week, this is what is happening.

Puppies are not a commercial commodity

Please care about where your puppy comes from? If you get it from a rescue centre, why was it there? It may have been bred without much thought, or care. Usually that won’t matter too much, but there may be health issues that have not been accounted for.

It will probably have been dumped because the pet owners couldn’t be bothered with their new toy any more. They probably won’t have taken the time to train their puppy. It might not even be house trained! It almost certainly won’t come when it is called, or know how to interact appropriately with other dogs, or cope with strange situations.

puppies for sale

Most of these issues can be fixed, given time and patience. Some things can be harder to work through and it may be years before you have the dog you imagined. That can be painful and frustrating, for both you and your dog.

A key point to note here is that every dog in a rescue centre and every puppy now being born, has many, many homes eagerly wanting it. It’s now a fierce competition for every dog. You have a lovely home and big garden? So what! You have children under 5 years of age? No chance you will be considered for a dog, rescue or puppy.

Illegal importing

I know from information given to me by the Kennel Club, that dogs are imported illegally into the UK all the time – it is a huge problem and one that is likely to get FAR WORSE in the coming months. Hopefully, with travel from Europe being more restricted, there might be better controls, but I think it unlikely.

border collie puppies

People bring pregnant dogs into the UK, smuggled in tiny spaces in the backs of cars. They then register the puppies here, sell them off for a fortune and then go home to breed again from that bitch at her next season. NB: Registration on the Kennel Club Activity Register does not mean that the dog is a pedigree!

Extortionate prices

Sadly, when it comes to dogs, you don’t ‘get what you pay for’. Responsible breeders will charge a reasonable amount to cover their costs, including health testing of course. Unscrupulous people, breeding for financial gain, will charge whatever people are prepared to pay. So if it is costing thousands, it’s not necessarily been well-bred.

border collie puppies

In conclusion

Now really is not the time to start looking for a puppy! You will get one from a rescue soon enough, if you are prepared for some extra work. But healthy, carefully bred puppies are sold out. Please, please forget about getting a dog, for now? I can’t help you and nor can anyone else. Sorry.

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.  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.

Rescue or Rehome?

Beautiful dog in the wrong place

Doing the right thing

It is very fashionable these days to have a ‘rescue’ dog, isn’t it? Celebrities do it, so it must be the right thing to do, mustn’t it? Rescuing sounds heroic – we are taking a dog that’s had a terrible time and giving it a much better life, aren’t we great!

It’s not quite that simple. I’ve already talked about whether you should get a dog from a rescue or a breeder and covered a number of points. Now I want to focus specifically on the difference between going to a rescue centre vs finding a dog the ‘old-fashioned’ way, through word of mouth. In other words, taking on a dog straight from the unsuitable home it has been in.

Why re-home a dog?

There are lots of reasons why a dog might not be suitable for the home it is in. Circumstances change. Many people take on a dog believing that they are in a position to cope with it, only to find that their job changes, or they have to move house, or their relationship status changes.

Often though, people simply don’t appreciate how challenging it can be to have a dog in your home. What looks cute and fluffy as a puppy turns out to be a weeing, pooing, chewing nightmare! Parents often decide they simply don’t have time to cope with a dog as well as their children.

Rescued, thank goodness

Where to start rehoming a dog?

If you are feeling overwhelmed with your dog, please start by talking about it to a few people? You might be surprised that other people have similar problems with their dog. Sometimes talking it through can help you see things differently and keep things in perspective.

If people agree that for whatever reason, your dog is not in the best place, it is worth asking around to see if someone can offer a better home. This has happened to people I know a few times. I have been able to ask my contacts in the dog world, who have passed the message on.

Of course you still want to ‘vet’ anyone who offers to re-home your dog. I remember the first time I did this, I was quite anxious about meeting the person who was interested in the dog. I didn’t need to worry, they were one of the nicest people I’ve ever met! They took the dog and gave him an AMAZING home! It was everything I wanted for him. They were young enough to take him for long walks, had other dogs to keep him company and were experienced enough to cope with his quirks.

A better home makes a better dog

More recently, I helped move on a super dog with no faults, who just didn’t really fit into the home he was in. Once again, through contacts and messages, a more suitable home was found. When I asked how things were going, I received this response:

He’s doing really well. They’re so proud of him, meeting grandchildren, family members, other dogs etc. They can’t believe how well he walks on lead. They adore him, which makes me so happy.”

A happier life

Isn’t that lovely? As much as the dog was previously loved, the owner knew it wasn’t the best fit for him. He’s happy now.

Rescue centres – pros and cons

A few months ago there was a super series, called ‘The Dog House‘ about Wood Green Animal Rescue. It really clearly showed all the ins and outs of rehoming: the trauma of bringing the dog in and leaving it (including the dog being upset). Then the people coming in being vetted and helped to realise that what they thought they wanted might not be the best fit for them. You saw the dogs having to make a good first impression and how challenging that was for some of them.

What was most upsetting about the series, was how many of the dogs shown were taken home by the people, only to be returned, sometimes after as long as a month. Heartbreakingly, many dogs who end up in a rescue go backwards and forwards into a number of homes. How much better to go straight from one home to another, forever?

rescue or rehome


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Designer Dog Breeds: What are they?

Designer Dog Breeds – are they better than pedigree dogs?

What makes a crossbreed a ‘designer dog’?  Over the last 20 years there has a been a massive increase in the sale of so-called ‘Designer Dog breeds’.  Crossbreeds, or mongrels, have always been around and have always been popular.  Many people think it is not important to have a pedigree dog and don’t care what mix of breeds their dog might be.  But the new fashion trend for ‘specified mixes’ has a number of implications for the health of dogs in general.

designer dog breed

Any crossbreed is simply a combination of two or more pedigree dogs.  When this is done purposefully, in order to achieve a particular look, or type, it may be given a specific name, to demonstrate that it is a combination of the two breeds.  

Of course this is how new pedigree breeds are generally created – we take different breeds of dog and put them together is a structured and managed way, to create a new, distinct type of dog.  If we do this over time and can demonstrate that dogs will breed ‘true to type’ we can eventually have a new pedigree dog breed. 

Labradoodles – the first designer breed?

The Labradoodle is a combination of the Labrador and the Poodle.  The original intention was to create a dog that had all the benefits of these two distinct breeds, including the poodle’s non-shedding coat, which is considered to be hypoallergenic.  This process was started in 1988 by a breeder named Wally Cochran, of the Royal Guide Dogs in Australia.  He was asked to ‘create’ a dog that could be trained as a guide dog, but with a coat that wouldn’t aggravate an allergy.  Labradoodle History then says

“Because of their immense rise in popularity, people began crossing any Labrador with any poodle without any regard to genetics, bloodline, or temperament and calling the puppies “Labradoodles. The result was an unpredictable variety of puppies with various physical characteristics.”

designer dog breed

This is the issue at the heart of dog breeding.  When it is done purposefully, to create something in particular, bearing in mind health and temperament, it is a positive thing.  However, when it is then taken up as a fashion fad, it can become problematic.

Kennel Club view

The British Kennel Club have a primary aim, referred to when talking about Designer Dogs“To protect and promote all dogs”.  They encourage the registration of all crossbreeds onto their Activity register.  Their main concern is:

designer dog breed

“Some unscrupulous breeders may be breeding these types of dog simply for financial profit, rather than with the health and welfare of the dogs in mind. This can mean that they will mass produce puppies to meet the latest celebrity-driven trend and will sell them on to people who are buying the dog as a fad rather than based on an educated decision about what is right for them.

“Buying a dog is a lifetime commitment and they should not be purchased on a whim or to go along with the latest fashion.”

Other designer breeds

Once Labradoodles started to appear, people quickly jumped on the bandwagon.  Now it seems as though every dog you meet has some fancy name.  Other popular crossbreeds include:

  • cockerpoo – very popular, Cocker Spaniel/Miniature Poodle
  • sprocker – Springer and Cocker Spaniel cross
  • maltipoo – Maltese/Poodle cross
  • puggle – Pug/Beagle cross
  • schnoodle – Miniature Poodle/Miniature Schnauzer cross
  • jug – Jack Russell/Pug

designer dog breed

Most of the ‘designer’ crossbreeds have some poodle in them.  This is because people (mistakenly) believe that this automatically means you won’t get dog hair around your house.  Unfortunately that is not necessarily the case.  What people also fail to realise is that this means you will need  to spend a great deal of time and money grooming your dog.

Health issues

I could go on, banging on about issues with designer dogs and why they are not a great idea.  Fortunately, the Kennel Club have been campaigning very actively to increase awareness of the health issues surrounding careless breeding. They report that:

The research found that:

  • One third of people who bought their puppy online, over social media or in pet shops failed to experience ‘overall good health’.
  • Almost one in five puppies bought via social media or the internet die before six months old.
  • 12 percent of puppies bought online or on social media end up with serious health problems that require expensive on-going veterinary treatment from a young age.
  • 94 percent of puppies bought direct from a breeder were reported as having good overall health.

Because of vigorous campaigning, we now have Lucy’s Law, which may well help to reduce the production of puppies by unscrupulous commercial breeders.  It may also help encourage people to think twice before buying a designer dog.  Unfortunately it may also make the process of breeding and buying a dog much harder for everyone.

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 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.

Lucy’s Law and Its implications

Want a dog?  It’s about to get much harder to get one

I am pleased that Lucy’s Law is coming into effect from 1 October this 2018.  Anything which helps to protect the welfare of animals is a good thing.  If it helps to prevent people from importing and breeding dogs and cats en masse, as if they were mere commodities has got to be a good thing.  But how on earth are you supposed to find a dog when you want one?  And how is it going to affect a hobby breeder like myself?

want dogWhat is a ‘hobby breeder’?

I breed from my pet Border Collies because I love my dogs and I want to share that love.  Other reasons include:

  • Loving watching the puppies grow and develop, not just from birth but into adulthood as well
  • Cuddling puppies!
  • Doing it well – as a previous business owner and entrepreneur, I love to think I can produce dogs that are the absolute best they can be.  I love being professional about it, creating a positive experience for the new owners right from the start
  • Producing healthy, happy dogs, that are a real asset to the families they go to.

Because I strive to do it well, I am a Kennel Club Assured Breeder, and proud to be one.  It was hard work to ensure I did everything necessary to pass the assessment and I feel that it is an accolade worth having.

Breeding in this way makes me a responsible breeder, but it also means that I do it as a hobby, not a business.  You cannot make a profit of any significance producing puppies this way.  That is not what I want and it is not what it is about.

want dogThe cost of producing puppies

To do it well, there are many costs, both large and small, in dog breeding.  These include:

  • Health testing – these range from £300-£400  for the hip x-rays to £50 for an annual eye test.  That is for the adult dogs – the puppies must also be health tested
  • Good food – well bred dogs require good quality food and this is certainly more expensive than a supermarket own brand
  • Toys and equipment – well bred dogs live in comfortable surroundings with plenty of stimulation
  • Training – all my adult dogs attend weekly training classes and I think most breeders do the same.  This is part of ensuring that dogs are well behaved and are happy and healthy
  • Time spent with the puppies.  I rarely leave the house when I have a new litter.  I sleep with them for the first week or so.  I have many visitors to the litter, to ensure that they are used to a variety of people and experiences. (It’s a difficult thing to do if you have an actual job!)

People complaining about Lucy’s Law say things like:

“It’s impossible to get a dog from a rescue centre.  They won’t give you one if you have young children.  You can get a child if you have a dog, but not a dog if you have a child.  How mad is that?”

If you have young children you are busy and your home is hectic.  Can you supervise your children at all times with your puppy?  What if they tease it and it bites them?  I know it’s unfair, but we want the best for the dog, don’t we?  We must learn to be critical.  Look at my advice on Dogs and Children and think carefully before getting a dog with young children.

want dogWant a dog now?

I have already talked about the buying process you need to follow when buying a puppy.  That post is about having patience and doing research.  It explains that you need to present yourself to the breeder and convince them that you are the right home for a puppy.  This is more true than ever now that we will have new legislation.

But how do you judge the place you get a dog from?  What do you look for when you want a dog?  Again, I have already talked about the definition of a Puppy Farmer and I have covered some Questions to ask a breeder.  

Problems with the new law

Problem no 1: Hobby breeders like myself may require a licence in order to sell their puppies. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against having a licence, BUT at the moment Local Authorities are not staffed or skilled in the issue of these licences, particularly in being able to discriminate between hobby and professional breeders (ie puppy farmers).  They are more likely to issue a licence to the latter, as it can appear that they are more ‘business-like’ in their approach.  By the time the LA come to visit my puppies, they will have gone off to their new homes.  I am an Assured Breederwhich is much better.

NB: Do not expect small scale breeders to produce a licence.

Problem no 2: How on earth are we hobby breeders supposed to meet the demand for dogs in this country?

Everyone wants a dog, but a breeder like me only produces around 6 puppies per year.  I am able to choose the very best homes for my puppies, so what is everyone else supposed to do?

want dogTop tips if you want a dog

  • Research the best dog for you
  • Wait.  For the right dog, or the right time, or the right home
  • Find an actual, purposeful breeder who takes the trouble to produce the best dogs
  • Look for a story with the dogs

A top breeder will be able to tell you their dog’s life story.  She will be able to show you pictures and certificates of both parents of the puppies.  You will see pictures from the day the pups are born and then every stage of their development, until they go to you.  A breeder like this will expect you to visit more than once.  They will help you choose the right puppy for you.

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 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.

Selecting a puppy: How do you choose which one to have?

Selecting your puppy – which one will you have?

I thought it might be helpful to talk about selecting a puppy from a litter.  Another week goes by and I have received more enquiries for puppies.  I hear from some really lovely people and I hate to disappoint them.  But unfortunately I am not a puppy farm, so I can’t produce puppies every week.  If I’m lucky, I will have half a dozen puppies each year, but things rarely go according to plan.

That is why I try to support people when they have to go looking elsewhere.  It’s such a challenge, to find a Responsible Breeder who is also hopefully a Kennel Club Assured Breeder.

selectingChoosing your breeder

You’ve decided to ‘do it properly’.  You’ve chosen what type of dog to have, then narrowed it down to your breed,  perhaps by attending an event such as Discover DogsThen you look at the list of breeders for your breed, such as the Assured Breeders for Border CollieYou contact them all, get onto some waiting lists.  

Finally the day arrives when a litter is born and you are on the list!  Yay!  Now what?  How do you go about selecting your puppy?

Breeder’s criteria

If you are lucky, you will be at the end of the list and the breeder will present you with a  puppy and say “you can have this one”.  If you have done your research and chosen the right breed for you and your lifestyle, then the best breeder you can find, then it truly, honestly will not matter which of the actual puppies you have.

Of course there will be occasional issues with one particular puppy.  But in terms of the temperament of the puppies from a litter, I can promise you that they will be like their parents and affected by the home they have been bred into.

By the time my puppies are three weeks old, I can start to see subtle differences between their characters.  Even though they are only just up and about, with their eyes open, I can sense that one will be slightly more outgoing and confident, while another might be more cuddly.  That’s because I spend hours with them every single day.

When you visit a litter, even if you are there for over an hour, you are unlikely to really see their characters.  They might even all be asleep when you are there.  If one crawls over to you,  it doesn’t mean he has chosen you!  So if the breeder says she thinks one will be more suitable for your lifestyle or circumstance, please listen to her?

selectingBoy or girl?

Which sex of puppy you get will depend on your circumstances.  If you are having your first ever dog as an adult (even if you grew up with dogs), I recommend getting a dog, rather than a bitch.  Dogs are more sociable with other dogs, particularly Border Collies, which makes them easier to manage when you are out walking and meet other dogs.  They are also a bit more ‘robust’ with younger children and better able to cope with being an only dog, in my opinion.

Other than that, it doesn’t really matter which sex of puppy you have.  So when selecting one from a litter, choose the temperament you want, not the sex?

What colour?

When selecting a puppy, it is easy to focus on what it looks like.  I often have people say they want a particular colour – that they have searched far and wide for a particular ‘look’.  I find this rather disappointing, if I’m honest.  Border Collies come in many varied colours, shapes and sizes.  They have all different kinds of ears, and markings.  Their coats can be curly or straight.  They can be fluffy or quite short coated.  So even if you think you have a certain ‘look’ in mind, you might end up with something completely different!

I regularly have people say that they want a different colour from their last, beloved collie, because they don’t want to replace him.  Hmm, I doubt that this one would be at all similar, even if it was another black and white collie, with ‘classic’ markings.  Oh and what are those, by the way?  Wouldn’t you rather have Aura?  I know I would.

Don’t forget that if you were having a Labrador, it would be golden, chocolate or black.  (Or possibly red).  That’s the only choice you get.  So does it really matter that much?

Keep an open mind

My best advice to you is to keep an open mind and listen to the breeder.  They know their dogs, they know what the puppies will be like and they understand what will work for you.

By all means pick the one that stumbles into your lap for a cuddle, but be prepared for the fact that that one might already be taken.  Try to be happy that you have carefully chosen the right breed, the right breeder and the right litter.   Then take your puppy home. They will then become the dog you make them, influenced by the way you raise them.

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 service.

Please let me know if you have found this post helpful? Photos by Bridget Davey Photograpy


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!

Guide to contacting a Dog breeder

How to get in touch with a dog breeder

We generally think we know how to apply for a job, don’t we?  We reflect on our skills and aspirations and craft these into a CV.  We then put together a carefully worded application form, which is relevant to the job for which we are applying.  I was talking about this process with my son this week and we were agreeing that it is a challenging and time-consuming process.


I have worked in HR for many years and have seen many variations in the quality of applications.  You can tell straight away whether someone is committed to the job, or if they have just sent out a generic ‘give us a job, any job’ application.

First contact

You may have already read some of my posts about the challenges of being a Responsible Breeder.  What I haven’t really talked about so much is the challenge of finding suitable homes for the puppies.

Of course a Puppy Farmer doesn’t really care who has his puppies – he’s just breeding dogs to make money.  They are a commodity, nothing more.

But if you care about the dog you are bringing into your home, wouldn’t you want to find the right one for you?  Wouldn’t you want to ‘apply’ for a dog from someone who equally cares about who you are?


How would you feel if you received a message like this?

“Hi, I saw that you breed border collies, I wondered if you had a litter? Thanks”

What would you say?  I honestly try to reply to every enquiry I receive, but really, what can I say to this person, whoever they are?  No.  Why should I say anything else?  Even if I did have a litter, why would I bother to reply to this message?

Sell yourself

When you contact a breeder, you need to let them know who you are.  At the very least, you might tell them your name!  But actually, if you really want a puppy, you need to sell yourself to the breeders.  By contrast with the message I received, I also had a phone call from someone.  He was keen to tell me all about himself, his family and his previous dog.  I told him that I wasn’t going to have a litter for a while, but he was keen to wait for the right dog, from the right breeder.  He had already done some research and asked some great questions.  (He’s got through to the next round :))

What should you say?

Here my list of a few points that you might say to a breeder, just by way of introduction:

  • Your name, where you live, your circumstances – do you work full time?  Who lives with you?  Do you have children?
  • Your current and previous dog ownership
  • What you are looking for in a dog?
  • When you want to have a dog – this year or next, not too specific
  • What you would like to do with your dog

What should you NOT say?

Equally, there are a few ‘no-nos’ when you make contact with a breeder:

  • I want a puppy now, or on a specific date (it’s not an exact science!)
  • Specifying colour or markings – I want a black one
  • Asking for unusual characteristics – I want one with blue eyes
  • Saying you have a 2 year-old child (too young, really)
  • Wanting a puppy before your old dog dies.  Old dogs don’t take well to puppies.

Breeders talk to each other

Breeding dogs responsibly is quite a specialist ‘job’.  There are not that many Assured Breeders around and we know each other!  This is partly because we need to find non-related dogs to breed with and partly because we give each other support and advice.

This means that we help each other out when we have litters, sending along good homes once we have found homes for our pups.  We also tell each other if someone seems unsuitable!  So be warned, even if you think you are making a casual enquiry, you might be jeopardising your chances with a number of breeders.


contactA final thought

“Dogs owned by people who spent more than an hour researching where to buy them from are likely to live twice as long as those who spent under 20 minutes choosing a puppy, with mean mortality ages of 8.8 and 4.3 respectively.” (Taken from the KC report ‘Collaboration is the Key – the Way Forward for Breeding Regulations’).  As a result of buying from puppy farms, people claim to have suffered emotional and financial hardship, the KC report.

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 Find a Dog section of the website.

If you are a breeder, you can talk to me about how I vet my puppy owners, together with advice on the information I provide to my puppy homes. CONTACT ME for more information?

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

Buy the Workbook

The Workbook – A Year With Your Puppy is available to buy. It was written and designed to be a hands-on, interactive book for you. It will help you survive the first year with your puppy, but also act as a memento of that time and the journey you have been on. You can write notes and stick in pictures of your puppy throughout the year. Lovely!


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.