Category Archives: Litter 11 – April 21

Quin’s Story: Week 12 – Barking & Howling

How to manage your dog’s howling and barking

Dogs bark a lot don’t they? It’s one of the ways they communicate. We often find it annoying and sometimes frightening. It can be difficult to understand why a dog is making so much noise. Or it can be challenging to stop them. It is a complex issue, so I will only be able to touch on some of the key points here.

Border collies
Aura rarely barks – she is such a happy dog

Excited barking

This is probably the most common reason why dogs bark. Something is happening! The doorbell has rung! A bird flew past! There’s a cat in the garden! A squirrel ran along the fence! You got up! And so on. Your dog is communicating with you that something is happening they think you want to know about. Or they are just excited and reacting to that excitement.

How to react: DO NOT shout at your dog. Your dog will think you are also barking! Hurray! Let’s all carry on barking. Lol. Call them, calmly and as quietly as you can. Get their attention away from the thing that is exciting and reward the quiet. Make sure they know that whatever it is, it’s just not that interesting. The less reaction you give, the more likely they are to stop barking and generally reacting to the stimulus.

Border collies
Barking? Not me

However, this is very hard for a dog to control. It’s a base instinct, which means they react without thinking. Just as we shout at our dog for being annoying! Hmm. Another word of caution – if there are likely to be lots of things to bark at, try moving the dog to a different space, where there is less stimulation. Or reduce access to windows, or the garden. It’s a bit of a losing battle, if you have a constant stream of squirrels in the garden, to try and stop your dog barking at them.

Frightened barking

Again, this is an instinctive reaction to a stimulus, but this time it is about fear of the unknown. Who is that person? What are they doing here? I don’t know this other dog? Why is there a loud noise? Quin barks at his reflection quite a bit at the moment, bless him. We just ignore that. Or call away and reassure him.

I’m sure you can tell the difference between excited and frightened barking? Excited barking will happen alongside a wriggling, waggy, smiley dog. Fearful barking will be accompanied by hackles up and backing off. Your dog will be tense and focused on the fearful object.

Border collies
Luna – watchdog and guard

You might see both these types of barking at home and whilst you are out. Understanding the difference can help you react to them. If your dog is afraid, they need reassurance. So again, shouting at your dog to be shut up is NOT the solution. Once more, quiet reassurance and distraction is a better solution.

Just be careful that you don’t reinforce the fearful response. Call away, distract, be calm. Then reward. Otherwise your dog is warning you that something might be frightening and then thinks you want them to tell you every time they see something similar. You are not saying ‘thanks for telling me about that’! You are rewarding them for stopping.


When a dog howls, they are properly distressed. Or really, really excited! Again, you need to understand the circumstances and why the behaviour is happening, in order to react to it appropriately. Busy is my main howler. She howls when she is missing out on something. If someone goes off on a walk or out to training without her, she gives a really plaintive, sad little howl.

Howling is not nice to hear. Sometimes a dog howls briefly and then stops, realising that nothing is changing. Sadly, dogs who are left alone for long periods may continue to howl, or bark pitifully, which is horrible for neighbours.

Separation anxiety

If you get a puppy when you are around ALL the time, and then suddenly leave it alone, you will make your dog sad and anxious. This is a very real problem and one that is unfortunately becoming far more common following the pandemic. It is known as ‘separation anxiety‘.

The trick is to make sure your puppy knows that being alone is fine. The earlier and more often you do this, the better your dog will cope. I do not stay with my litters of puppies all day every day and nor do their mothers. They are safe and warm, so they just sleep, or play, until we return.

Border collies
Busy – hates to miss out

When I keep a puppy from a litter, I leave it alone from day one. I put him to bed in a crate, at night. Or during the day, when I walk the other dogs. It’s only for an hour or so during the day, but I go out little and often. Or I go into a different room (including the toilet!) and make sure that the puppy can’t follow. Building confidence is the key to tackling this issue.

Distraction toys

I always make sure my dogs are safe and have things to chew, such as Kongs, if needed. You can also try giving a dog something to distract them, such as a ‘Lickimat‘. Whatever you do, as always with your dog, make sure you are:

  • patient
  • persistent
  • consistent

Your dog will thank 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 of this post?  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  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.

Quin’s Story: Week 11 – Wait!

Teaching your puppy to wait

Do we really need to teach this to our dogs?  This is by far the most important command to teach a dog, in my opinion.  It is the lesson I want my puppy to learn as soon as possible, but it is pretty tricky to teach!  Again, this is something I started from day one with Quin, but it takes ages to teach, so I’m focusing on it now.

When they can wait, you can take group photos!

Why wait?  What do I use it for?

  • Stopping my dog from heading into danger
  • Stopping my dog from approaching another dog
  • Waiting to cross a road
  • Stopping them from rushing at their food
  • Stopping them pushing past me through a door (rude)
  • Making them wait when I open the door to the garden, or to go into the van
  • Enabling me to take nice pictures of my dog(s)
  • Waiting on the start line in agility

I’m sure you will find other uses for a good solid wait.  It is absolutely invaluable.  It is useful but also keeps them safe.

How do you start?

Call your dog to you.  Have them sitting at your feet.  Give them a treat for coming.  Then get eye contact with them.  Say ‘wait’.  I usually put up my hand, or my finger to reinforce.  Wait a few seconds.  Say ‘yes!’ and reward.

Wait! And smile!

Do this a few (hundred) times.  The amount of times you need to do each stage and the speed with which you can move forward depends on:

  • Your dog
  • Your consistency
  • Your patience

Not all dogs are as quick to learn and keen to please as Border Collies.  So this can be challenging.  But it is worth the effort.

Next step

Once you have your dog able to sit and focus on you for a few seconds, you can start to move away.  Take a step back.  Stand sideways and wait.  Then step back in and reward.  From there you can gradually (very gradually) increase the distance and time. 

It will go wrong!  When you move off, your puppy will probably follow you.  That’s fine.  Step back and put your puppy back into a sit.  Say ‘wait’ again.  Step away and wait.  If you can move away and then step back in without movement from the puppy, you are succeeding.  It might take a while! 

First steps

You might find it easier to put the dog into a down to teach the wait.  Get them into a down and reward.  Then say wait and step away.  I have found Quin is less fidgety and more relaxed in a down.  He can be a bit watchful and anxious in a sit.

Moving on

Once you have a bit of distance and you feel that your dog understands the basic concept, you can start to make it more challenging.  There are all sorts of ways you can do this.  Here are some options:

  • Increasing distance
  • Turning your back
  • Moving around
  • Going round the back of the dog
  • Moving quickly
  • Waving your arms around
  • Making a noise
  • Having a toy

There is a lot you can do to challenge the wait!  You can mix it up, sometimes just standing beside your dog, at other times moving around.  It’s a great idea to call your dog to you, from the wait.  This is known as a ‘formal recall’, as the dog remains calm and still, then comes neatly to you and sits at your feet.  It looks impressive!  The hardest part of this is that your puppy will anticipate what you want and set off before you call it.  So you need to go back to your dog for some of the time and reward the waiting, before you reward the recall.

Be realistic

If it goes wrong, that’s fine.   Put the dog back and start again.  If you can’t get the distance or movement, go back a step.  Move away and be still.  Or just stay by your dog until they are happy with the wait. 

Don’t push your luck.  If you try to make your dog wait in a busy, distracting environment, you will find it hard.  Try and practice where it is quiet.  Or go somewhere busy, but wait beside your dog, building their confidence.

Ounce @ 5 months

Advanced wait

As I’ve said, there is a great deal you can do to challenge the wait.  I will talk about that in a few months’ time.   There is also a difference between ‘wait’ and ‘stop’, although you might use the same command for both.


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 of this post?  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  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.

Quin’s Story: Week 10 – Dog Toys

What’s the point of dog toys?

Why do we buy toys for our dogs? What are they for? Like most people, I love a bit of retail therapy every now and again. I am seduced by cute, furry toys, with funny faces. I love buying presents for my dogs. They love receiving presents from me! They are so happy to have a new toy, running around waving it about and making sure to give it a good shake, or a squeak.

Dog toys
How long will donkey last?

I suppose one of the reasons for buying toys is that it gives us and our dogs pleasure. They enjoy the stimulation of having something different to play with.

Destructor puppy!

The trouble with buying cute cuddly toys for your dog is that they don’t last long! Puppies have sharp teeth and they absolutely LOVE ripping toys to shreds. They scatter the stuffing all round the room and eat ears, feet and hands, which then end up littering the garden when they reappear. Oh dear!

Dog toys
What was it?

The thing is, if you don’t give your puppy toys to play with, they will find other things to chew and destroy! That’s what a puppy does best. So far we have lost a phone cable and a cushion to our darling Quin, but I know there is more to come, because this morning we found a tooth.

Teething trouble

At around 4-5 months of age, puppies lose their baby teeth and their adult teeth come through. Just like with human babies, that is annoying and painful for puppies. They find relief through chewing.

Dog toys
What should this puppy be playing with?

In the wild, they would chew sticks and roots, or probably bits of fur and skin from the animals killed by their mother. You can buy bits of animals for your puppy to chew, such as chicken feet or pigs ears. Beware antlers though, as these can break teeth, leading to expensive vet bills for dentistry work. Luna lost a canine to an antler. Teething puppies can also be soothed with food, such as frozen Kongs, carrots or ice cubes.

Different toys for different tasks

When shopping for your dog, you need to think about meeting a variety of needs. Soft toys are great for playing with, squeaking and believe it or not, cuddling! My dogs definitely love their soft toys and some last for ages. Others, not so much.

Dogs definitely need hard toys to chew. These are often bone, or stick shaped and made of plastic, rubber or nylon. Beware rawhide, as these have been shown to be produced using hideous chemical processes, which are bad for our dogs. They also cause blockages.

Dog toys
Looks like a bone, but won’t splinter

Balls are of course essential. Most dogs love chasing after a ball. My dogs have a box of tennis balls they have discovered on walks; Aura is the queen of the ball. They have so much fun running around after a ball, giving it to one another – they hardly need my input at all!

A word of caution about ball chuckers: I used to use one to give the dogs long, fast runs, but decided that it was just too problematic. Too much running at top speed and jumping for a ball leads to early onset arthritis, joint damage and other possible injuries. It is also too stimulating, which can just make your dog hyper, rather than tiring them out, as you probably intended. Oh and chewing tennis balls has now been shown to erode teeth, so again, this needs to be managed.

Tuggy toys are another must have for many dogs. I use tuggy play to engage with my dog and keep their focus on me whilst training. It is super rewarding and really helps stop my puppy reacting to things going past him whilst on walks. At agility, it’s a great way of stopping dogs getting wound up by other dogs training, or competing. Some people think tuggy play can be too distracting for dogs and lead to undesired behaviour, so again, this needs to be kept in context. Dogs will play tuggy with each other, which can be fun, as long as it doesn’t lead to fights.

Alternatives to toys

If you don’t have endless funds to spend on buying toys, there are alternatives. Soft toys can be made from old socks for example. A pair of socks, one inside the other, filled with the stuffing and squeaker from an old toy can provide plenty of fun. Or buy soft toys from a charity shop.

You can use yogurt pots, juice or water bottles, or flower pots for dogs to chase around and chew. If you fill a bottle with gravel that provides an extra level of sensory play. Watch the chewing of this plastic though and take it away once it starts to break up as the pieces are much sharper than plastic bones.

Dog toys
Kongs: fill with peanut butter and kibble, lovely!

Tuggy toys can be made from bits of vet bed, cut into strips. Or how about getting an old pair of jeans, tearing it into strips and plaiting it? My puppies love playing with these and they last a good while.

Toy management

As you have seen, most toys have limitations. They need managing and you need to be aware of what your dog is doing, as much as possible. But they are safer than chewing sticks or stones. Ultimately, it is about keeping your dog occupied in a manageable way, rather than letting them destroy your home. There are now plenty of toys available to help challenge your dog, such as licky mats, snuffle mats etc.

Dog toys
Hours of play and no furniture damaged

When they are teething, people often despair and think about re-homing. Like many stages of puppyhood, this will pass. Most dogs stop chewing, most of the time.


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 of this post?  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  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.

Quin’s Story: Week 9 – Toileting

How to house train your puppy

I recently received an enquiry recently asking me if the puppies I produce are sent to their new homes fully toilet trained. Er, no. At 8 weeks of age, puppies are still babies and do not have full bladder control.

Over the years, as I have had litters of puppies and watched them grow, I have realised that they will try and toilet away from their bed almost before they can walk. Their mother cleans them up completely for the first few weeks and you rarely see any mess in that time. Then they stagger and stumble away from where they are feeding, feeling a different texture underfoot and toileting there.

A monster? Possibly

As they grow, puppies become weeing and pooing monsters! It’s one of the hardest parts of having a litter of puppies in your home – it’s a constant mess. Once they are up and about, they will toilet anywhere. I have newspaper in the run, which I change regularly. Other people use different materials. Many puppies are kept on sawdust or straw, in outside runs, or sheds, simply to help manage the mess.

Dogs don’t care

Dogs do have very different toileting behaviours to us. Because they are ruled by their noses, they use their urine to scent, or mark where they have been. They also urinate on top of where other dogs have been. Once one dog has urinated in one place, every other dog in the world will want to go there! So if you have a male dog who marks something, you must expect every other male to also add their scent. Beware cleaning with normal household cleaners – they are likely to make the problem worse, as the ammonia just smells like wee to a dog! And they can still smell traces of wee for years – trust me!

Dogs will also poo in particular places. My dogs do toilet in the garden, which I clear every day. I know that each dog has one or two places they go, every day.

Border collies
I am the boss of you

So they do care where they go. But they don’t care what you think about where they go! In other words, in makes no real difference to them if it is inside or outside, on a walk or in the garden.

Dogs won’t go to the toilet in their bed, if they can help it. But a bit of wee doesn’t really bother them and they will happily lie in it if they have to. They also eat poo! The Kennel Club recently produced this great article: Why does my dog eat poo? We might find it disgusting, but for them, it’s no big deal.

Getting started

I think understanding toileting from a dog’s point of view does help us to manage their behaviour. As I’ve said, I know that dogs move off their bed (usually) to toilet from a very young age and I do try to keep their run clean.

When they are up and about, I ensure they can go outside as soon as possible. They have access to grass, which they much prefer to poo on. I also start to take them all outside to wee as soon as they wake up, or after they have eaten, or after they have been playing… I call them, “Puppy, puppy, puppy” and they all come running! Of course I can’t do that all day every day; six week old puppies are particularly trying!

Border collies
This is my playground

When they go off to their new homes, this is how you get started – every hour, after a sleep, after food, after play, go out with them. Go onto the grass and say “Do you want a wee?” Or “Be quick!” or “Be clean”. It’s up to you what you say, but then as soon as they have toileted, REWARD!

Reward every time

It’s really about consistency. The more effort you make, the less ‘accidents’ you will have to clear up. If you can’t be bothered to be with your puppy and pay attention to its behaviour, you can expect to step in the odd wee!

Border collies
Always the innocent

Naturally we can’t be with our dogs every second of every day. When we get a puppy at 8 weeks of age, they will need to toilet at least every hour during the day. They can’t go through the night without needing to toilet. They poo four times or more.

For me, I prefer to give my dogs space to toilet, in a run either outside or inside.

Dry at night

Puppies can usually last all night from around ten weeks of age. They can then go into a crate, to stop them rampaging, playing and chewing all night long! Crates are a great way of helping them to learn bladder control and managing when and where they do toilet.

Border collies
Quin @ 4 months

You may still have accidents in the crate, if you leave them in there too long, or if they get an upset tummy. Border Collies are a breed that are prone to sensitive digestion, so you need to feed them something consistently.

Keep going

If you get your puppy in the summer, it’s tempting to just leave the door open and let them find their way outside. Dogs prefer to toilet on a soft surface, so if you don’t have any rugs or mats, they should go outside.

However, if you do that, your puppy might then be confused when it gets colder and you shut the door! So you might then be back to square one. Go out with them, wait for them to go. REWARD! If they find the garden too exciting and rush around playing and exploring, you need to put them on a lead and just stand with them and wait.

Border collies
Toileting? I’d rather chew this stick

Of course they might not always want to go when you want to take them. This is when is good if you can be around your puppy for a while. If they are wandering around a bit restlessly, that is probably what they want. Some puppies are kind enough to stand by the door and wait for you to open it, but they won’t wait for long! You can teach them to ring a bell on the door, with time and patience. Be careful though, or your dog will have you at their beck and call, ringing every five minutes just to go into the garden and play!

Should you tell them off?

In the old days (a very long time ago) we used to show our dogs their wee or poo and shout at them (I won’t mention rubbing their noses in it). Thankfully we don’t do that any more. But it’s not unreasonable to say ‘NO!’ sharply if you catch your dog in the act of toileting in the house. They can understand when you’re not happy, it just needs to be very clear what it is for.

Border collies
Where did you want this hole again?

Above all, praise them for toileting in the right place. If you keep going, patiently and consistently, you’ll get there in the end. I’m writing this post when Quin is over four months old. He’s pretty good, on the whole. We caught him digging a hole in the lawn the other day and got cross, so he came in the house and weed everywhere. Silly us! And he tends to leak a bit if we don’t let him out when he needs to go.

Excited wees

When you greet a puppy, it wees. They just can’t help being excited and they don’t have enough control. This usually sorts itself out by the time they are six months old. You can help by being less exciting, or by letting them out before you greet people. Or by saying hello to them outside, when it doesn’t matter so much.

Toilet training your puppy is a challenge. Like everything else relating to your dog, it requires effort, patience and persistence. Oh and don’t forget the REWARDS!


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 of this post?  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  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.

Quin’s Story: Week 8 – Playdate!

Socialisation – part 2: meeting a friend

This post is really about recall, but it’s also about socialisation. On my post two weeks ago about socialisation, I talked about training your dog to ignore other dogs, to be calm and not lunge or bark. I wanted to be able to stay relaxed and calm as other dogs walk past.


But life would be pretty boring if we never talked to anyone else! I definitely like seeing friends and I love walking my dogs with other people. So how would Quin react to meeting up with another puppy his age? And would he ever come back to me?

Meeting another dog

This morning I met up with a friend, who has a five-and-a-half-month-old Border Collie puppy. We had both pups on lead to start with and managed the distance between them and the way they said hello. It was interesting, because Quin immediately knew the puppy was a friend. He recognised his breed and the age of the other dog, not surprisingly. His behaviour was far more confident and he straight away asked if Isla would play with him.

Border collie puppies
I bow to you

When dogs meet, they ask to play with a ‘play bow’. This means ‘Hello, I’m friendly. I would like to play with you’. Your dog will do this to you, but you might not realise. Obviously they know you, so to you they are saying ‘you are my family and I love you. Now give me food/walk/play!’ It’s their way of saying ‘please’.

Off they go!

When we got to the field, we immediately let the puppies off lead. They can’t play together if they are on lead. It was so lovely to see that they ran around together straight away. They roared about, up and down, probably going a bit further than Quin would go from me.

Border collie puppies
Running away

Then they stopped. After just a few minutes they had a pause. Take a breath, then go! That is the ideal point to do a quick recall, to get them to check in with you.

Recall away from distractions

It’s very exciting, being around another dog! So much fun, being chased and chasing. So don’t expect a miracle? I bet if you call your other half, they aren’t there in a second, are they? What about your children, do they respond immediately when you call them? And if someone calls you and you are busy on your phone, do you say ‘Coming!’ but actually take a while to actually go?

Border collie puppies
Will he ever come back?

Get a grip. Your puppy will not come back to you straight away. But IF you have done your training, practising that recall again and again, you will find that they DO come back to you, even when they are playing. Well, they will in a minute…

Always reward

Don’t forget the reward. YOU MUST REWARD EVERY TIME! And be pleased to see them, even if it has taken longer than normal. Have good, tasty rewards. Grab their collar and stroke their neck and ears. Use a toy to engage them if you can.

Border collie puppies
Here he comes!

Don’t keep calling

If you say your dog’s name, over and over again, it just becomes white noise. Blah, blah, blah. Boring. So try to just say clearly ‘Quin come’. Wait. Then wait a bit longer. Of course in a really distracting situation like this, it’s incredibly difficult not to keep on saying his name. Panic sets in! But patience is rewarded.

In the clip, you can see I call him and he turns to come. Then Isla runs past him and he decides that’s much more fun. But he does turn towards me and then does come over. I get his attention with an ‘Oi!’ rather than repeatedly calling. I laugh, because I am being realistic about how hard this is for him. He comes. I am thrilled! I am hopeless in this clip, but it is my first time with such a BIG distraction!

Manage it

Don’t overdo, especially when they are still so young. We were out for around 20 minutes. They were off lead for around half that time. That’s it, it was enough to tire them out. And I wouldn’t want to do that every day. Now and again is fine. Lovely to have friends though. Thanks Ruth.

Border collie puppies
Happy boy


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 of this post?  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  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.

Quin’s Story: Week 7 – Travelling

Puppy travelling – how can you get them used to the car?

This post is about putting your dog in the car, not about going on holiday, or travelling abroad. One day we will do those things, but not today…

Like so many things in life, getting a puppy used to travelling by car takes practice. It’s as simple as that. Lots of dogs do not like going in the car to start with. When I take my puppies to the vet’s for their microchips, or to the specialist vet’s for their hearing and eye tests, they often cry for most of the journey. Some of them are usually sick.

Border Collies
puppies’ first outing

When they go off to their new homes, they are still small enough to be cuddled. They are usually happy travelling on a lap, curled up on a blanket or towel. In a crate, in the boot, they are very often frightened and stressed. Even covering the crate doesn’t necessarily help. Earplugs might be needed!

Travelling in crates

Dogs must be secure when travelling in cars – it is a legal requirement. The most common way of achieving this is by having a dog guard fitted between the back seat and the boot area. The advantage of this is that it is inexpensive and easy to fit or remove. It should not impact the sale of your car in the future (although the mud and dog hair might!)

Border collies
How many dogs can you fit in a car boot?

However, if you are planning on leaving your dog in your car, where they might chew, you might be better off getting a crate to go into the boot. This can be a free-standing crate that just sits in the boot (see above), or it could be a structure that is specially fitted. When you have multiple dogs, people normally find that a van is the best option.

Border collies
My van – Morrison

One of the key advantages of this option if you plan to go to any events or shows with your dog is that the dogs can be safely left inside the cage, with the car boot or doors open. It’s also brilliant if you are taking the dogs away with you, as they have plenty of room.

Other travel options

Border Collie

Some people don’t like using crates, or they don’t feel they have space in their car. You can use a harness to keep the dog secure on the back seat. Personally I feel that a dog is likely to chew through a harness. I also feel that a crate gives a dog more opportunity to change position and stand up, if it wants to. You can also put a water bowl in a crate.

How can we help?

As I’ve said, the main thing in getting a dog used to travelling is to take your dog out and about. Don’t make the only time they are in the car be when they go to the vet! Take them out for short journeys to different walks. This has the advantage of being a really positive experience for your dog. It also gives you the chance of a change of scenery.

Border Collies
Up in the woods with the girls

I tend to walk from home for only around half my walks. The rest of the time I go off to woods or fields. I park in places where my dogs can go straight out from the van, with no lead walking at all. Lovely!

If your dog is really stressed by the car, try feeding them in the boot, with the engine off. If that is too stressful, start with giving treats next to the car. Gradually increase the time in the car. Turn the engine on and sit quietly, with the dog in their crate. Then start to go for short journeys, without stopping or getting out.

Quin’s other news

Walking around other dogs continues to be a challenge. The other day I had two dogs, including a greyhound, run over to us, causing Quin to run away from me. The owner called them, but it was a bit of a challenge and I had to go and fetch Quin from where he had run to hide under the van.

Border Collie puppy
My happy boy – with wonky ears!

Fortunately, some dogs are polite and don’t rush at us. Quin is happy to sit by me whilst they go past, or even cope while they sniff him. We have managed to walk alongside a few other dogs, which is great.

This morning someone remarked “What a well behaved puppy!” That’s lovely, but really, I’m not doing much. It’s a slow, steady process. Keeping on doing it, every day. We do a few recalls, a bit of a wait. On lead, off lead (mainly off lead). Playing with my puppy. Engaging with him. He’s a happy boy, loving his life. Which reminds me to go and check what he’s eating..


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 of this post?  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  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.

Quin’s Story: Week 6 – Socialisation

How do you socialise?

When you meet someone, do you rush up to them shouting ‘Play with me’? Do you insist that everyone you meet talks to you and gives you a hug? Or do you calmly walk up and look at the person to see if they are interested in talking? Let’s think about how dogs need to learn to say hello?

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How do you do?

If your small dog runs up to my tiny puppy and chases it, do you think ‘how sweet they’re playing’? I don’t think that. My puppy is frightened. He doesn’t know your dog, so why would he want to play with it? What will happen when Quin grows into a big dog (the size of a lab) and your dog runs up to him and chases him? He might turn round and say ‘go away’ and snap his teeth, which might catch your dog and draw blood. Who’s fault will this be? You taught him that dogs are scary and rude. 

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lounging about

Call your dog. Get it under control. Walk calmly towards me and say hello to me. If I stop to chat, your dog and mine will say hello. They might even play!  I teach my dogs to ignore everything they pass, as a starting point. But if I say hello to someone, they can say hello. Calmly. It’s not that I’m an anti-social bitch who never talks to anyone. It’s that I want a calm, relaxing walk, with no stress, shouting or running away.  No barking or lunging. No pulling on the lead. No lying down until other dogs go past and then leaping at them.

How to socialise your dog

Teach them to be calm and focus on you. Like this:

Other dogs just aren’t that interesting. There is no need to panic and run away. Nor is there any need to bark or lunge. This other dog is not a playmate, I am exciting and will play with you! One of the crucial parts of this process is how I behave with my dog. I MUST stay calm and positive. If I am nervous, particularly if my dog is on lead, my dog will know straight away and that will impact on how he reacts.

Ignore it, it’s boring

Here is some more training to ignore. With a bit of recall thrown in at the start:

You can see in this video that there is a lot of feeding of treats – in this case, cheese! Look how small he is though! Such a baby still. I am not going to feed him this much indefinitely, but at this point, I need to get commitment from him. NB: I feed my dogs treats as rewards for the whole of their life!

The next step

When you are confident that your dog is calm and feeling happy, you can try a bit of greeting:

You can see in this clip that he is not that confident. He thinks about running away, but is reassured by me standing calmly. Quin then comes through my legs, so nice and close to me. He enjoys saying hello. So much in fact he jumps up! He nearly gets rewarded for that, but fortunately he remembers he’s not supposed to do that so is rewarded for sitting down.

Look at how he is with the other dog. He doesn’t really want to engage with it. The other dog would like to sniff him, but it is on lead, so can’t get there without pulling. Because he’s pulling, he can’t reach Quin and Quin isn’t interested in talking to him (perhaps because he is pulling?) So then we calmly walk away.

What is socialisation? Why do we need it?

What is the ultimate goal here? I am aiming to teach my dogs to calmly pass other dogs on their walks. But I also want to be able to have them walk alongside other dogs, if I meet up with friends.

If you only have one dog, these issues are bigger and more difficult to overcome. If you have a breed of dog (or a mix of breeds) that are not particularly confident, such as a poodle, or a toy dog, you will find these issues more challenging to train.

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Two families together

Border Collies want to learn and to please. They are more intelligent than other breeds and will pick up training more quickly. But that doesn’t mean you can’t train other dogs – of course you can. You just might need more time, more effort and maybe some professional help from a good dog trainer.

Other training progress

I’ve started teaching Quin to ‘wait’. This takes a long time, but is an essential command, one that I use every day.

I will be adding time, distance and distraction over the next few months.

Finally, I am very pleased with his on-lead walking. I don’t walk him on lead very much, but is vital that he is able to do so.


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 of this post?  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  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.

Quin’s Story: Week 5 – Jumping up

Don’t jump up!

A dog that jumps up at people is annoying. Fact. People rarely like it. Unless of course it is their dog, when they might actively encourage it. Which is a bit of a shame, because it makes training a lot more difficult.

If you are out walking your dog though, chances are you do NOT want them rushing up to strangers and leaping into their faces. So why do they do that? And what can we do about it?

Why dogs jump up

With this litter, my tenth, I finally realised why dogs jump up. When they were just a few weeks old, the mum is not with them all the time. She arrives into the den or run and they rush to greet her. Initially this is just for milk. They scrabble around to get onto a teat and when they are too big to fit lying down, she will stand so they can get into position underneath her.

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the milk bar

A few weeks later, they have started to eat solid food. In the wild, this consists of her regurgitating food for them. The puppies all rush to her mouth and ‘kiss’ her, licking and pawing at her.

Steps to stop jumping up

It is perfectly possible to stop your puppy from jumping up at you. But it takes CONSISTENCY and you must be PERSISTENT. Here are the steps:

  1. Sit down with all members of your household and agree that this is a behaviour you want to stop. You can have plenty of cuddles with your dog, without letting them jump up when they see you.
  2. When you come into the room with your puppy, DO NOT give attention if they jump up at you. Say nothing. No eye contact.
  3. If they persist in jumping, turn away from them. Walk away from them, ignoring them completely.
  4. When they stop jumping up, bend down and give lots of praise and fuss. Ideally, say ‘yes!’ as you do this. You are rewarding the correct behaviour. Great.
  5. Model this behaviour for your family and friends. Ask them to copy you.

Out on walks

Ideally, you then need to continue this good practice when you are out and about. You should initially stop your puppy from greeting people on walks. Call your dog to you and reward their attention. Then when they are calm and still, the person you meet can bend down and make a fuss of them. Perfect!

What is rewarding?

There are various things that your dog finds rewarding:

  • Praise – your dog loves you and anything you say in a positive voice is rewarding to them
  • Patting – a gentle fuss around their head or ears is tremendously rewarding
  • Play – activity with a toy is great fun!
  • Food – (can’t think of a way to say food beginning with p). Of course food is a great reward. Tiny amounts though.
food is not the only reward option

If you push your dog off you when it jumps up, you are rewarding it with ‘patting’. If you shout at it, you are rewarding it with ‘praise’ by speaking to it. Have a look at my ‘fun quiz‘ for more ideas about how not to reward your dog…

Managing visitors to your house

Of course not everyone you know will understand the importance of good dog behaviour and they may be really pleased to meet your dogs. But some visitors may be quite nervous around dogs and definitely don’t want to be leapt on!

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a calm hello

When people arrive, put your dog away. Every home should have a separate space, even if it is just a bathroom. Ideally, it should be a room that the dog is used to being in on its own, so that it doesn’t try and wreck it if left for a few minutes.

Greet your guests, bring them in. Ideally, you want to get them seated and settled before you bring the dogs in. Then calmly let the puppy in. If people are sitting down there is less chance of them being jumped on and it is easier for the visitor to bend down to stroke them.

If the puppy jumps up, try calling them away. Calm them down, then let them try again. If they get too excited, take them away. Do this by calling them, not dragging them. Put them away again, preferably with a treat.

Good manners cost nothing

It’s just a bit of time and effort. You want other people to love your dog, so try to teach it to behave politely? I did train Ounce not to jump up, more or less. Here is the post of her progress at around this age.


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: 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.

Quin’s Story: Week 4 – Biting puppy?

Puppy biting is such a problem, isn’t it?

Puppies have VERY sharp teeth – everyone knows that! When they first arrive home at 8 weeks of age, they can be really bitey. Children soon go off their cute, fluffy puppy when it nips their ankles and chews their fingers.

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I see so much about people being exasperated with their puppies biting so much. Now I have a confession to make: I have never been bothered by a biting puppy! I’ve been pondering about why this might be and have come up with a few reasons. Here goes..

  1. Don’t let your puppy become overtired. My puppies have a pretty calm life. I do play with them and I do make sure I spend some time every day training them. Apart from that, nothing much happens in our house. Even when my sons were small, we were not a household full of shouting and running around. It’s hardly ever hectic. So my puppies don’t get to that ‘overtired’ stage, where they just don’t know what to do with themselves. That’s when they can’t control their biting and it gets much more frequent and harder!
  2. Tell your puppy that it hurts! When puppies play with each other, or with adult dogs, they do occasionally hurt each other. You always hear a yelp when this happens. They then stop playing and look at each other. Then the play starts up again. So when a puppy accidentally bites me too hard, I yelp. Or at least, I say ‘Ow!’ Well that seems reasonable, doesn’t it?
  3. Let them know it is not acceptable. If my puppies are behaving in a way that is annoying, I say ‘No!’ and then call them away. I might even give them a tap on their nose if they are really getting carried away. Or just push them off and leave them alone for a minute. Again, this is the same way the adult dogs behave. Puppies are quick to learn.
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Puppies need plenty of sleep


Of course puppies do need to chew and bite, especially when they start to lose their baby teeth and replace them with adult teeth. Again, I’ve never particularly found this difficult. My top tip: provide plenty of things to chew! Frozen carrot sticks are supposed to be good. Or food put into a frozen ‘Kong‘. Equally good can be alternatives to bones. We don’t give our dogs bones or sticks these days, because there is a risk of choking. (That doesn’t mean they won’t eat sticks from the garden if they can!)

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Sticks are so great!

Give it up!

I’ve noticed that Quin is very good at finding things in the garden that he then doesn’t want to give up. He will run away from me if I try to get it off him.

DON’T CHASE HIM! He’ll love that game! I have to call him, standing still, with a treat in my hand. If he thinks what he has is particularly fantastic, I might need an extra tasty treat – a bit of cheese. I offer him the treat and make sure I am being positive and exciting. He drops the bit of mud/hair/stick and comes to see me. I then slide round him to pick up the discarded yuck. Nice!

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Dogs are not allowed on sofas

It’s worth remembering to limit access to the garden at this age. It’s a whole world out there, full of mischief to make! Holes to be dug, plants to be chewed, poo to be eaten. Of course it’s tempting to leave the door open, so that he can go to the toilet when he needs to, but it’s just not worth it.

Toileting – getting there

Trying to cover one topic per week is clearly hopeless – there is so much to deal with! Quin is being really good with his toileting, on the whole. When he wakes up, I take him out and then give him loads of praise for going. I also have to remember to do this after he’s been playing for a while. And after he’s eaten of course. But the good news is that he can hold on for a while. He isn’t going to the toilet indoors most of the time, with just an occasional accident (not usually on my watch :p)

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Butter wouldn’t melt


A quick training update – we have been practising our ‘down’ command. Every day, a few times. Then a few more times. I start by bringing him down with my hand, holding a treat. Then I try using the hand action without a treat, then giving the treat once he is down. You need to start without really saying anything, then add the word ‘down’. Say it in the same voice every time, if you can.

The final stage is to give the command and wait. Don’t move! See if he knows what you’re on about. If not, use your hand. Then try again. If he isn’t getting it, move him a bit and try again. The video is not great, but we’re getting there. Clever boy!


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Quin’s Story: Week 3 – First Walk

First time out for a walk!

It’s a day you look forward to, but also secretly dread. How will your puppy behave when they go out into the world? What will happen? Will you be able to manage?

Quin is my 8th dog. I remember taking one puppy out for their first time on lead, 35 years ago and being amazed at how they danced around and dangled on the end of the lead! Coping with the lead is very much the first battle. Nowadays I make sure that puppies have met their collar and lead well before their first walk.

Vaccination restrictions

As a breeder, I don’t vaccinate my puppies before they go to their new homes. This is because each veterinary practice has a different brand of vaccine and a different regime for giving these. My vet gives the first vaccine at 8 weeks and the second one three weeks later. The puppy can go out straight away after this, although not swimming in lakes and rivers for another month.

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Ounce sets out

Please make sure you follow the guidance given by your vet and respect their regime.

Going out out

Just because the puppy can’t go out for a walk, does not mean they cannot go out! Of course I have taken them out for microchipping, hearing and eye tests and their school visits! Then they travel to their new home.

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Baby Ounce

I hope that my puppy owners have taken their puppies out for visits to friends’ houses. Or carried them along to meet people at the school gates. They might even go out for a walk in a puppy sling. (I can’t do that with Quin – he’s too heavy already :p).

Finally though, the day is here and they are ready to go out out.

Off lead – surely not?

I ask my potential puppy owners when they should let their puppy off lead. Sometimes people say ‘Six months?’ A six month old puppy is fully grown. They can run – fast! Even a small toy breed can shoot across the ground at that age. So you’ve got absolutely no chance of catching it.

When you first take your dog out, you are their whole world! You are their comfort blanket, their familiar, loving, caring food provider. You should also be their fun playmate.

If you really don’t believe they will come back to you – get a longline. Then you can let them wander away from you, but still have some control. You can gently tug the line as you call them. If all else fails, you can hang onto the end and go and get them.

You shouldn’t need to do that though. If you have done the practice recall around the house and garden, and played with them, you should be able to go for it!

How long should first walks be?

When you take your puppy out for their first walk, 15 minutes is long enough. It’s an intense experience for a dog. There are so many smells! So much to look at! All that noise! Added to which you are making them think about coming back to you.

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tired puppy

Do not imagine you need to ‘tire out’ a puppy. They will play all day long, unless they are asleep! Puppies are extremely active, but also sleep for long stretches. They must be able to regulate this activity level themselves. Enforced activity can do untold damage to joints. Not to mention the more you force a dog to exercise, the fitter they will get.

You wouldn’t take a 2 year old child on a 3 mile run, would you? Well don’t do it to a puppy either :(. Keep it short and sweet. A positive experience for you all. Then do it again tomorrow.


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.