Category Archives: Litter 11 – April 21

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?

Border collies
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. 

Border collies
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.

Border collies
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.

border collies
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!

border collies
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.

Border Collie

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.
Border Collie
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!)

Border Collie
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!

Border Collie
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)

Border Collie
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!


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.


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.

border collie
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.

Border collies
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.

Border collies
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.


Quin’s Story: Week 2 – Play With Your Puppy!

The importance of play

I’m pretty old, so I remember a time when ‘playing’ with your dog wasn’t really something you did. We might have thrown sticks for our dogs on walks or in the garden. Not that we really walked our dogs that much. We certainly didn’t train them!

Border collies
The old days of owning a dog

Likewise, dogs played with each other if they lived together, or met on a walk. They might have got into a fight, but that wasn’t that big a deal. Even 30 years ago, a family dog would regularly get into scraps with other dogs, but it wasn’t considered a crime.

Border Collie
Quin at 11 weeks

How far we have come! Nowadays, we value our dogs so much more. Well we pay a lot more for them to start with! We expect them to be a loved family member and we don’t want them being beaten up by other dogs when we are out. Unfortunately, whilst our expectations for our dogs have changed massively, our ability to manage them hasn’t quite kept up.

Engaging with your dog

We are starting to appreciate that in order to manage our dog, we need to engage with him. I first learnt about ‘play’ with my dog only a few years ago. When doing agility, I have always been taught to reward their training, usually with by throwing a toy. Some dogs don’t really respond to this as a reward and need to have a treat instead.

Border Collies
Sticks are good to chew but must not be thrown

I have gradually learnt that the best way to reward your dog is to teach them to properly play with you. This means getting a toy and playing ‘tug’ with you. Watching my puppies, I have discovered that they naturally do this. It is clearly a way to get the best bits of food. It’s rather grisly, but puppies will fight over entrails and when you watch them with a toy you can see this behaviour.

What this play does is make your puppy think you are fun. This is the key. They then know that you are the source of happiness! Fantastic! Your puppy will then know that coming to you is a great idea. This is how you get the best and quickest recall.

Reward the recall

It’s not quite enough to play with your puppy. You also need to provide tasty treats. Call them, reward, then play. Play, then call them and reward. I have noticed that if I want Quin to give up the toy, I need to let go, then call and reward with a treat. He will usually drop the toy to take the food.

Border Collies
Alfie – visiting dog

Remember to wait! You need to be patient. It takes time for puppies to process the instructions. Don’t always expect instant reactions.

DO NOT keep on calling! Don’t call their name repeatedly. If you keep saying their name, it just becomes white noise. Blah blah blah.

Border Collies
You called?

“Quin come.” Wait. Here he comes. Hands together between your legs. Bring your hands up so he sits. Say “YES!” nice and clearly. Give a treat. Well, a bit of a treat.

Train when hungry

My top tip for training your puppy: make sure he is hungry. Don’t try and train him straight after his meal. Equally, don’t train him when he is tired.

Border Collies

Play with other dogs

This brings me to another key point: play with other dogs. I don’t do much training when I have more than one puppy, because they are just too busy and too focused on each other. It’s lovely to see dogs playing happily, but it does need managing. If you a young dog (1-3 years old) and a puppy, chances are they will play all day! That’s lovely, but you won’t get much concentration from the puppy unless you keep them apart for some of the time.

DO NOT assume that your puppy MUST play with every other dog it sees! On the contrary, teach your puppy that YOU are the most exciting thing on the walk. I’ll talk about that more in my next post..


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.


Quin’s Story: Week 1 – Getting to know you


Last year, during the first Lockdown, I began a fantastic photography course, called ‘A Year With My Camera‘ by Emma Davies. Each week there is an email, with some instruction and some homework to do. You post the homework into a Facebook group, with explanation, if you want to. It was a brilliant course and concept. I can take better photos now (well I think so!)

Border collie puppy
butter wouldn’t melt

This week I ‘got’ my puppy. Or rather, I kept my puppy. The 7th puppy Chris and I have had. I thought I would try to write ‘A Year With My Puppy’ so you can see the trials and tribulations of owning a puppy.

Lesson 1: Learn your name

My mum taught me that there are only two words a puppy needs to know: his name and ‘NO!’ These days we are a bit more progressive and try to focus on the positive behaviour we do want. So I want to teach him ‘Yes!’ rather than no, but the latter will inevitably be said as well!

Border collie puppy

When I have all the puppies, I do try using their names as much as possible, but if I call one, they all come! So as soon as I had just him, I started to make sure I called him.

I call out ‘Quin’ then when he looks, (or appears) I call ‘Quin come’ in a stupidly high-pitched voice. When he comes, I ‘draw him in’ with my hands, until he is sitting at my feet looking up at me. Then I say ‘yes!’ and give him a treat. I try to give him two tiny bits of treat, one from each hand. Jackpot!

Border collie puppy

Practice makes perfect

How often do you think I do this? Once a day? Every now and then? Possibly 10-20 times PER DAY. EVERY SINGLE DAY. The more I do it, the more likely he is to respond.

Is it OK to call him without treats? Er no. What I’m going for is developing a ‘Pavlovian response’. If I describe a pizza to you, with oozing cheese and juicy tomato sauce, on a crispy dough base, will your mouth start watering? Mine did! I have that response because I have eaten enough pizza to be able to imagine eating it again.

I want to create that response in my puppy. I want him to hear his name and imagine he is getting a treat! I need it to happen enough times that he makes that instant link. The more practice we do, the stronger his response to his name will be.

Tasty treats

It’s no good just giving him a bit of his ordinary food for this. He needs sweeties! Not too big, he’s only a baby! Not to rich, or too sweet, too crumbly for you to manage. They must be easy to hold and feed. Personally, I use ‘Wagg’s Training Treats‘, because the dogs love them, they are easy to handle and they are cheap and easy to buy. You can also use cheese, or sausage, or liver cake, or bits of chicken, or any one of a million tasty bits of food, as long as they are safe for puppies.

Border collie puppy

Play away

I have also taught Quin to play with me this week, using a tuggy toy. I think I’ll talk more about that next week though. If you have a puppy and you practice recall 100 times this week, that is a good start!

I also want to mention that you do need time to spend with your puppy, away from distractions and especially away from other dogs. If you have other young dogs and they spend hours playing every day, that’s lovely. But you may then find the puppy is too tired to concentrate when you want to spend time training.

Border collie puppy
Ounce playing with her brother

A puppy can only concentrate for 5 minutes, but you do need them to be alert enough to do that. So make sure they have some down time before you ask them to focus.

Older dogs

Finally, I just want to give some love for our older dogs, who may be struggling with the very annoying puppy! Aura has found this week hard, because she is so sweet that she hates telling off the puppy. Even when he is jumping in her face. This makes her stressed and miserable.

I’ve spent some time focusing on just her today, practising our agility moves, making a fuss of her and taking her away from the puppy, but with me. All of which have improved her mood no end.

Border collie puppy
Aura – such a princess

It’s hard to know what age is ideal when introducing a second dog. Too young and they can become very focused on each other, which can make them harder to manage. Too old and they can feel miserable and neglected. Being aware of the issues helps, of course.


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.


Week 9: Mystical Litter

We’re home!

It’s been a journey with this litter. Honestly, I thought by now, after 11 litters and 60 pups, that I would be used to it. That I had gone through the challenges and was now an expert. Wrong! We’ve had quite a few hiccups along the way.

border collie puppies
Arla and her family

Three puppies went off to their new homes on schedule, as they reached 8 weeks of age. They are settling in well, sometimes sleeping most of the night, sometimes toileting in the right place.

border collie puppies
Ziggy with his mum and dad

Of course these puppies are ALL lucky enough to be living with older dogs – four of the homes have Dentbros Dogs in them! Plus Sam, who is an honorary Dentbros Dog.

border collie puppies
Grace with her family

I’ve been getting pupdates since they went and the older dogs are not thrilled about having them – yet!

Extra time needed

One puppy, Winter was always staying a few days extra. Her mum, Amber also stayed with us, as she was on a course in MK. Well I couldn’t let her stay in a hotel 3 miles away while I played with her puppy, could I? It was helpful having Amber here and we all had a good time.

Winter and Amber

Sadly, Tilos was not able to go off as planned, due to family circumstances. Before you get excited that a puppy is now available, she went home yesterday, to a very special and loving family.

border collie puppies
Tilos with her mum and big brother Symi (actually her uncle)

My new puppy

Keeping a puppy from a litter is a bit weird. Sometimes I know before they’re born that I’m keeping one – Luna, Aura and Ounce. Both Luna and Aura were one of five chocolate and white girls, so I had to choose one, which took a little while. Ounce was mine immediately. My purple puppy.

Dentbros dogs
Dentbros Dogs – June 2021

Busy was not meant to stay, but she just decided to. Thank goodness. What a dog she turned out to be. This time, I had not meant to keep a puppy, but circumstances changed, meaning Quin had to stay.

What’s in a name?

I have strict criteria when choosing a name for my dogs. The 8 dogs I have had have been called: Rue, Buzz, Sunny, Luna, Aura, Busy, Ounce and Quin. When we got to Aura, we realised they all had ‘u’ as the second letter of their name. We also realised that the three I had at the time – Sunny, Luna and Aura – all sounded different. So that became the game.

border collie puppies

Quin. Sounds different. Has a ‘u’ as the second letter. He’s also the 5th puppy I have bred and kept at home. Quintus – five.

Quin is also a ‘quintessential’ Border Collie, even though he is chocolate/red and white, rather than black and white. ‘Quince’ might be a fun nickname, alongside Ounce? I reckon he’ll mostly be called ‘Buoy’ (it has a ‘u’ as the second letter :p)

The legacy lives on

It’s rather poignant that today is my first day with just him, as it is Sunny’s 15th birthday. I can’t believe it’s over 3 months since she went, so suddenly. Missing her today, but very proud of what she left behind. My Midsummer Sunshine.

border collie puppies

Next year I hope to breed a girl to go with my boy (not a sibling!) It’s exciting to be looking ahead at my journey as a breeder.

Meanwhile, I now have a puppy to train! I’ll be writing about ‘Quin’s story’ over the coming months.

border collie puppies
The 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.  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.


Week 8: Mystical Litter


No more nagging or lecturing, just lots of pictures this week. As they get to 8 weeks I spend lots of time printing out paperwork to put into their puppy packs. There is a great deal of information to share!

I finally received confirmation of their Kennel Club registration, so I can introduce you:

Dentbros Moondance** – Arla

Dentbros Spirit in the Sky** – Winter

Dentbros It’s a Kind of Magic** – Grace

Dentbros Starman** – Ziggy

Dentbros Magical Mystery** – Tilos

Dentbros Man on the Moon** – Quin

Dentbros – how to say it

I’ve written in the past about my Breeder Affix – how I chose it and what it means. Just a reminder that’s it’s pronounced ‘bross’ not ‘brose’. Like Moss Bros, or Bros, the group (in the 80’s!)

Why the stars?

Their Kennel Club names are followed by two asterisks, because Busy (Dentbros Busy the Imp***) was transferred onto the KC Breed Register, even though her sire was not pedigree registered. Every subsequent generation has one less asterisk, meaning if Ounce has grandchildren, they will have no asterisks. Hurray.


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.