Category Archives: Litter 11 – April 21

Quin’s Story: Week 30 – Review the problems

What are the problems you have with your puppy?

Puppy problems can be hard to tackle, but we don’t necessarily have to solve every problem. At this age, we may feel that we have our finished dog. They are adult-sized and we have had them for a long time. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. We still have work to do, if we want to get the finished dog we dreamed of having.

puppy problems
The dream dog

Hopefully when you read through my questionnaire celebrating six months with your puppy, you thought about what was really great about them? And what was not so great? Did you find yourself realising that there are things you are not entirely happy with? I know I did. Quin is so lovely around the house and when he meets people. He is not so great with other dogs and this is the area that needs thinking about.

Defining the puppy problems

When you think about your dog, what problems spring to mind? The most common puppy problems around the ages of 6-10 months are:

Sound familiar? These problems are really common! So first of all, recognise that you have a dog and that’s what dogs do? Hopefully, some of these problems are ones you have already tackled, with me. Click the links above to see the posts I have already written about these issues?

Decide what to do

You have recognised your dog’s biggest issues. Now decide what you want to do? You have three choices:

  • Do nothing
  • Manage it
  • Train it away

First of all, don’t underestimate the decision to do nothing. You have a dog. Some things that you find really annoying are just part of who your dog is. You might just need to accept that and cope with it. Barking is the biggest of these types of puppy problems.

puppy problems
Quin watching TV with his dad

Do nothing

Quin barks at lots of things, including animals (especially dogs!) on the TV. It’s hilarious. Most dogs don’t react to the TV, or only look round if a dog barks. Quin leaps up and stares at the screen if a chicken appears! He is very fierce and gets really annoyed if we watch a wildlife programme. Funny boy. We don’t really mind, we just call him to distract him and give him a fuss once he stops barking. It’s fine.

One of the posts I’ve linked to above shows my efforts to stop Aura going berserk when the food processor is switched on. However, it doesn’t really bother us when the dogs all go mad occasionally, so I don’t keep revisiting this training.

Manage it

Barking around the house can be managed relatively easily, by putting the dog away from the source of the stimulation. So when someone comes to the door, put the dog in another room so they don’t get rewarded by the door being answered. You’re pretty unlikely to stop them barking altogether, but at least they are not rewarded for barking.

The most common issues that people choose to manage are pulling on lead and not coming back. People use harnesses with their dogs so that when they pull on lead they don’t strangle themselves. That’s fine if you don’t mind being pulled along. It’s actually useful if you are doing Canicross!

When dogs don’t come straight back to their owners, the owners get scared their dog will get run over, or that they will be attacked by another dog. So they keep them on lead. Some owners don’t even try to let their dogs off lead.

puppy problems
Dogs should be off lead

For me personally, I think it’s absolutely tragic if you choose not to tackle either of these issues. In my opinion (humble or otherwise), it is absolutely essential for dogs to walk off lead. Therefore they don’t necessarily need a harness if they don’t walk far on lead, but it’s obviously better if they can walk sensibly. And it’s vital for a dog to be able to wander and sniff, at their own pace.

Train it away

By far the best solution, for you and the dog, is to put in a bit of work to make puppy problems more manageable. WARNING: Some problems are more easily solved than others! Jumping up is a relatively simple problem to solve, whereas reacting to other dogs and not coming back when called are worthy of several blog posts on their own.

Hopefully though, this post has encouraged you to think about the ongoing issues with your problem puppy and make a plan about what you want to fix, what you are able to manage and what you can just ignore? I am working hard with Quin to help him cope with meeting other dogs – more on this in the coming weeks.


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.

Quin’s Story: Week 29 – Trick training

Tricks to entertain you and your puppy

Teaching your puppy to do something counts as a trick. You give the word and they do as you ask – hurray! So it could be as simple as getting your dog into a sit, or a down. Anything which gives you a bit more control when you need it is useful to have.

Taking it to the next level is a way of engaging with your dog and making sure that they listen to you. It is also a great way of giving your dog rewards for paying attention. This will keep your dog stimulated and ultimately happy. It’s incidentally a brilliant thing to have up your sleeve for when it’s raining, or you’re bored, or you can’t walk your dog because of illness, either in your dog or in you.

starting to learn to bow

Getting started with tricks training

Before attending a class, you need to consider if you will be bothered to work on any of the tricks. You might feel that your dog is fine just mooching around the house and having a bit of petting and love from you. That’s absolutely fine.

If you want a bit more from your dog, start by teaching simple commands like ‘sit’ and ‘wait’. Or you could teach a ‘down’. Recall is also part of basic training for any dog. There are quite a few tricks that are useful for a dog to have. Just being handled and coping with you or someone else, such as a vet or groomer touching your dog can become something that you need to work on.

Some tricks are more interesting for the dog to do or just more entertaining for you to have. Last week I shared the video of Ounce opening the door of her crate and going inside. Clever girl!

Luring vs Shaping

When Quin and I went to our first ‘Trickstars‘ training class, the excellent Nicola Smith from Lucky Dog Training started by talking about the difference between luring and shaping.

Luring is when you use your hand, holding food, to show your dog what you want. You put the food on the end of his nose and move it slowly where you want him to go. This is easy to do and produces good results. Great, you think, I’ve taught my dog to sit, or go into a down. That was quick!

paws on

Unfortunately, your dog has not learnt to do those things. They have learned to follow your hand in order to get the treat. If you remove your hand, or even if you just remove the treat, your dog will struggle to do what you want. It’s quite hard for your dog to understand what you want and they probably weren’t paying much attention to you when there was food at the end of their nose.

Wait for it…

Shaping is when you wait for your dog to offer you the right behaviour. When it works, it’s like magic! So how do you make it work? You wait for it. It’s much more difficult to do. The dog must be ‘set up to succeed’. So when I talked about training your dog to fetch a toy, I said you needed to reward your dog for going near the toy, or sniffing it. This is shaping the behaviour of your dog. You are encouraging the dog to think about what gets the reward and to allow them to process that.

You can start shaping by putting down an obstacle and seeing what the dog will do to get a treat. That’s the first thing we tackled in our class yesterday. Or you can do what I do, eat a bag of crisps and wait for your dogs to offer something to get one. Ounce has quite the repertoire! She will twist, go down, sit, give a paw and speak (loudly). Give me a crisp mum!

Clicker training

Lots of dog trainers use a clicker to mark the behaviour that they are looking for in the dog. A clicker makes a noise when pressed, which you can do at the exact second your dog does what you like. You then give them a reward. The only problem with a clicker is that you need lots of hands! You need to hold the clicker and make it work, hold the treats and give them to your dog, hold your dog’s lead, or toy, or show your dog what you want.. It’s a lot to manage!

An alternative to a clicker is to replace it with a word, or a tongue click. Most people use ‘Yes!’ as it is quick to say, has a distinct sound and is rewarding for you as well as the dog!

tidying up

Simple tricks to try

I recommend using a trainer like Nicola and following a course or attending a class. It’s quite intense going to a two hour workshop, but a good trainer like Nicola will break it down and teach a variety of tricks during the session, with a break halfway through. The tricks we covered yesterday included:

  • Paws onto step, back feet on floor
  • Nose touch to hand
  • Card touch as a starting point to teach touching something on a wall
  • Turn around bowl – going on from the first one but moving back legs around in a circle
  • Nose into cone, to start hiding their face
  • Bow, like the play bow dogs do
  • Head down on the floor when they are lying down
  • Pick up duster – tidy up! 

Quin was brilliantly behaved and managed to keep going even though it was hard work. He finished off with a real highlight. He is used to getting objects and bringing them to me, so immediately grabbed the duster and brought it to me. I was then offering his tuggy to play, as he’d had so many treats. This made him drop the duster, so Nicola then placed an upturned step underneath and he dropped in on that. Tidying up!

It was a fantastic end to a great session. See the website for all the courses and tricks Nicola offers. We can’t wait for our next class 🙂 Thank you to Emma Conlisk of Beancroft Agility, Hoopers and Scentwork for such a great venue and hosting the session.


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.

Quin’s Story: Week 28 – Crate training for puppy happiness

Why a dog crate is essential for your puppy

I am still using Quin’s crate for him to sleep in, so I am reviewing why this is such an essential piece of equipment for your puppy.

There are people who say ‘I would never put my puppy in a cage!’ That’s lovely for them, as long as they are able to watch over their puppy 100% of the time and don’t mind a few vet visits when the puppy eats a sock or other undesirable item. For most people though, a cage, or crate represents an easy way of keeping your puppy safe.

Border collie puppies
Hiding from a scary noise

Keep your puppy safe

Someone once commented that you wouldn’t put a baby in a crate. Well dur – what is a cot? Looks like a crate to me! We used to put children in playpens and I’m sure plenty of parents still use these. A dog crate is nothing more than a means to keep your puppy out of harm’s way. You can’t be watching your dog at all times and nor should you. Having the ability to pop them away safely for a while is common sense.

Ounce’s clever trick

Having said that, you should not be using a crate at all times. My dogs sleep in their crates for 8 hours, but I wouldn’t ever leave them in a crate during the day for more than a couple of hours. They have been absolutely fine in the van for 8 hours travelling up and down the country, just being let out once or twice to toilet. But I wouldn’t especially do that all day, every day. Dogs who spend lots of time in crates can become bored and frustrated, which may lead to them being more anxious or guarding.

A safe space for your dog

Believe it or not, your dog loves to have its own quiet corner. Wild dogs will make a nest or bed in a ditch or under a bush. Dogs about to give birth will find a dark corner to nest in, away from the hustle and bustle of the house.

Set up your crate to be an enclosed, dark space, with a cover over most of the outside. I have seen people sharing horror stories of dogs becoming tangled in the covers or eating them, but I’m sure your dog will be fine if you use large blankets or towels to cover the crate and fold it neatly, so that only flat surfaces are facing the insides of the crate.

border collie bedding
Vetbed – perfect for all your dog’s needs

I always use vetbed inside. It’s soft and fluffy, but is extremely lightweight and easy to wash. It is absorbent so if your dog has an accident, they will not be uncomfortable. If they are wet after a walk and then have to be left, they won’t get cold. Vetbed is also durable so less likely to be chewed than standard pet beds.

How to train your dog to enjoy its crate

When I get a puppy, I feed them in their crate. Then, quietly close the door. Puppies love to search and sniff for pieces of food, and once they have found and eaten everything, they often settle down and drift into sleep for an hour or so. This gives you a chance to do other things without worrying about what the puppy is up to, and it is a good experience for the puppy to curl up and sleep in the crate by choice.  You can gradually increase the time the puppy stays in the crate and initially this should be whilst you are in the room with it.

Border Collie
Such a cosy space

I try to have my puppy sleep in its crate from day one, but sometimes they need a bit of reassurance from you to start with. It’s useful to say ‘in your bed’ when you want them to go in there.

NB: Always reward your dog for going into its crate. If you are going to leave them in there, make sure they have been to the toilet first, then give them a treat for going in, as well as some verbal praise. And please:

  • Never shout at your dog to go into its crate.
  • Never drag your dog by the collar and shove it into the crate.
  • Never allow children to get into the crate, with or without the dog
  • Never take food or toys off your dog, especially when they are in their crate.

When to put the crate away

Most people long to pack their crate away, because it takes up space. I usually find that by six months your puppy should be reliably house trained and have stopped chewing most of the time. Or at least they are better at only chewing the things you give them! However, if your dog is happy to sleep in the crate, I would leave it up, if you can. They are safe and they feel safe.


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.

Quin’s Story: Week 27 – Tackling boredom in your puppy

When your puppy is bored

I find the week between Christmas and New Year boring at the best of times, so it seems a good time to write about how to tackle a bored dog. I feel I am going over the same ground as I talked about a few weeks ago when I explained about punishing your dog, followed by the post about the disobedient puppy.

The purpose of this post is to stress that dogs do get bored if they are not correctly cared for. That boredom will inevitably appear as destructive behaviour, which will then lead to punishment and ultimately, re-homing. That’s no good for anyone, so let’s focus on tackling boredom in our puppy?

How much physical activity does a dog need?

This is like saying how long is piece of string, because not surprisingly dogs need different amounts of exercise and stimulation. Big dogs need not too much walking (bad for their joints) while little dogs need not too much walking (they only have little legs). NB: No puppy needs loads of exercise, but at 8 months old they are fine with an hour or so, if they are fit and healthy.

Walking your dog is NOT the way to stop boredom! If you walk a dog for hours every day what do you get? A fit dog (I typed ‘git’ dog – you’ll get that too :p) And if you walk your dog on lead you absolutely won’t solve the boredom. If anything, you’ll make it worse, by increasing their frustration. What you cannot do is ‘tire out’ your dog. No way.

Out and about

A dog needs to sniff and wander. It needs to move at its own pace, exploring and running around. Dogs do NOT travel in straight lines! Any attempt by you to keep your dog moving with you is detrimental to the dog’s stimulation. Less stimulation means more boredom. An interesting walk, with plenty of sniffing, in a range of different environments (woods, fields, parks, beach) will tire out your dog. It will also make them calmer.

What else is an activity for a dog?

Apart from walking your dog, off lead, there are plenty of other ways to provide stimulation and enjoyment. Playing is obviously the main way you can entertain your dog. Ideally, they should be able to play on their own, or with your other dogs (I recommend having 5 dogs for this).

Quin brings me toys for him to tug. It’s a great game for him and relatively easy for me to do while reading a book, or watching TV. Tug, tug, tug. The girls prefer to bring toys to be thrown. Ounce loves to be thrown a toy, with the challenge being not to let her jump to catch it, or throw it where it causes accidents to furniture or other people or dogs.

Lots of toys for lots of dogs

Aura likes to watch Ounce’s ball or toy being thrown, then try to get it before she does. Ounce will then either take it out of her mouth or tell her to drop it, which she instantly does. That’s their game. You do have to watch that Aura doesn’t sneak off with a toy, as she will then eat it, which the others rarely do.

Busy loves a shaky, snakey toy. Shake it! She does like you to throw it for her, but if you’re busy with the others she’ll just play with it herself. Running around, shaking her toy. Funny girl.

Dog toys do not need to be expensive. You can use plastic bottles, flower pots, or bits of old jeans plaited together to make toys.

Chewing stops boredom

Hmm, well we don’t want our dogs to chew, do we? Well yes, if they have the right thing to chew. Mine have filled bones, which last for months, even years. These are natural treats and really help to keep your dog occupied. You can buy lots of alternatives to these, such as antlers, buffalo horn, chicken feet etc. All pretty yucky if you’re vegan, but dogs love them.

NB: Antlers are very hard and can break dogs’ teeth. Luna broke a canine tooth on one, which had to be removed by the vet. Ouch!

Snuffle mat

There are other food related boredom busters. Kongs are an obvious one, but there are also licky mats and snuffle mats. All these require a bit of input from you to set these up, but can last for hours.

Training to fight boredom

Ultimately, your dog will be happiest and most relaxed if you spend time with him. When you hang out with your dog and better still, when you engage with your dog, they will not get bored and look for other entertainment. Just making a fuss of them, stroking and talking to them, will make them perfectly calm and content.

More tuggy play

Training your dog is an even better way to provide stimulation for your dog. This might be a few tricks, or just a bit of ‘work’ whilst you are out on your walk. Perhaps a practice wait, or a down, or a bit of heelwork?

You might also try out some other activities. Quin and I have only tried a few scentwork classes so far, which I am continuing with Ounce. We plan to do quite a few other activities in the next few months.

Finally – a word of warning

Please, please don’t overdo it? Dogs sleep for around 12 hours a day, which means they should be asleep for large chunks of the day. Having that ‘down time’ is absolutely vital for their wellbeing. If your dog lives in a busy household, with lots of comings and goings, please try to make sure they have a quiet space to go to and are left alone for long periods?


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.

Quin’s Story: Week 26 – Celebrating 6 months with your puppy!

Let’s celebrate! How well do you know your puppy?

Can you believe it? I’ve had Quin for 6 months! He’s my 8th dog and my second boy, so I haven’t had many surprises, but if you’ve just spent 6 months with your first dog, how’s it been? Let’s celebrate the successes and reflect on what still needs a bit more work?

Border Collie
Arla at 8 months

If you’ve spent time with your dog, you should know them pretty well, right? Ah but how much time do you consciously spend time with them? This morning I was doing some focused work on Quin’s recall, which has deteriorated bang on time, as his hormones kick in and he enters the teenage stage.

So here we go, how much do you know about your dog?

Around the house

  1. What is your dog’s favourite food? Are they a good eater? Do they need to be slowed down when eating? Quin is a steady eater and always finishes his food. I’m happy with his weight and the firmness of his poo.
  2. What treats or snacks does your dog like? Raw carrot is a favourite of my dogs. They all love crisps and will offer lots of tricks to win these!
  3. Where does your dog like to sleep? Do they go on the sofa or your bed? Or do they prefer to find a quiet corner? I’m putting money on the fact they don’t often sleep in that expensive bed you bought? My dogs like a raised bed with some lovely vet bed on it. They usually just lie on the floor.
  4. When does your dog wake up in the morning? What time do they go to bed? Does this work well with your routine? It’s hard work changing your dog’s body clock isn’t it?
  5. How often does your dog need to go out to toilet? Do they always go in the same place? Do they prefer to toilet in the garden or on a walk? I like my dogs to be able to toilet in the garden, so that I don’t have to take them out – it’s so much more convenient. But I know they prefer to toilet on a walk. So I make sure I pick up after them in the garden as well as on walks and I walk them after breakfast so they can toilet then.
Border Collie
It looks like a bed, so why not?

Out and about

  1. How often do you take your dog out for a walk? Do you go at the same time each day? For the same length of time? My dogs have an hour long walk, off lead, around an hour after their breakfast, from 7.30 am.
  2. Where does your dog like walking? Do you go to different places, or do the same trudge every day? Dogs love variety and thrive on visiting different walks. My dogs love the woods! So many interesting smells 🙂
  3. Where else have you taken your dog? Have they been to the pub? Or to a cafe? It’s a good to show off your dog and give them a different experience. Quin went to the pub a few times back in the summer and was a good boy.
  4. Have you visited someone else’s home with your dog? Don’t be afraid to take them into new situations? Quin recently went into school and behaved himself brilliantly!
  5. I know this is a tricky question in the current climate, but have you taken your dog away? Quin has been up to Scotland and down to Devon – he loves it!
border collies
First beach walk

Tricks and games

  1. Can your dog do the basics? Sit, down, wait? How often do you practise these? Every few days is a good starting point.
  2. How is your dog’s recall? How often do you practise this? As I said at the top, Quin’s recall is currently going through a dodgy phase and definitely needs extra work.
  3. Can your dog do any other tricks? Quin does this really cute ‘roll over and die’ trick when I point at him and say ‘Bang!’ He can also do a ‘twist’ which is pretty easy to teach.
  4. What’s your dog’s favourite game to play with you? If you have other dogs, do they play together and what games do they play? Quin loves to play tuggy and will bring me a toy to get me engaged. He also loves to play tug with Ounce, but he plays rough and tumble with Busy.
  5. Does your dog engage with other dogs when out on walks? Do they try and say hello nicely, or bounce into other dogs’ faces? Quin is wary with other dogs, but annoyingly barks at dogs on lead. He does occasionally engage with another dog with a bit of chase. He’s cautious, but not aggressive, so that’s not too bad at this age.
border collie puppies

Training and activities

  1. What classes have you done with your puppy? Did you do a 6-8 week block of puppy classes? What did you learn? Quin didn’t go to puppy classes because he is my 8th dog – I could run the classes! I did consciously try to cover the areas.
  2. Did you continue with classes after the initial block? Was the trainer good? Did you find it useful spending time with other people with pups the same age as yours? I think that’s one of the best things about going to training – knowing you are not alone!
  3. Have you tried out other types of training? Quin has been to a few scentwork classes. He found it quite hard being in a classroom for an hour, but was perfectly capable of doing the training.
  4. Hoopers is a great way to introduce your dog to the skills you need for agility. If you plan to do agility, you need to get onto a waiting list, as trainers are hard to find and often fully booked. You can’t start agility properly until they are a year old, but there is plenty of foundation work you can do.
  5. Obedience training is another way to challenge you and your dog and build on your working relationship.
border collies
Visiting the school

Health and breeding

  1. How typical is your dog for its breed? Or breeds? If they are a crossbreed, can you see traits belonging to each breed? I had a couple of spaniels here over the weekend and the difference between them and the Border Collies is quite remarkable.
  2. How healthy is your dog? Have you been to the vet? How many of those visits were your fault? Did your puppy eat something they should not have done? Were any of these visits dues to breed or breeding issues? So far, Quin has not been to the vet (other than for his vaccinations).
  3. Is your puppy what you expected? If not, why not? Have you had support from your breeder? Have you been in touch with the owners of your puppy’s siblings? Each of my litters has a WhatsApp group, so they can share problems and celebrate successes!
  4. Are you happy with way your dog was bred? Do you think they were given the best start in life? I have learnt that it makes a difference. A puppy that is cuddled every day likes being cuddled. It’s that simple.
  5. Is there anything about getting your puppy that you would do differently?
spaniels – adorable

What still needs work?

I know that the current problems with Quin’s recall are only temporary. He probably won’t wreck much more around the house, if I pay him attention! But I need to work on his barking at other dogs, as this is irritating and can be fixed.

Please take a moment to reflect on your successes and the remaining challenges? Think about what you’d like to do with your dog in the next 6 months? Please do get in touch if you’d like to share any of the answers to my questions?


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.

Quin’s Story: Week 25 – Hormones!

Coping with your puppy’s hormones and the teenage phase

Do as I say, not as I do! Last week I talked about why you should not tell your puppy off. Today I could have cheerfully killed mine! Aargh! Such a naughty little shit. My family were trying to make me laugh about it by telling me about this great blog post explaining why you shouldn’t tell off your puppy. I told them that shouting at him made me feel better.

Border Collie
Not waiting

What did he do? He climbed over the back of the sofa onto the sideboard, dug some soil out of a plant pot, (having already killed off the plant that was in there last week). And he got one of my Christmas gnomes and de-stuffed it. Thanks Quin.

Why does your puppy’s behaviour get worse?

When they begin to reach sexual maturity, your puppy goes through what is known as the ‘teenage phase’. I remember a couple of years ago, one of my puppy owners saying to me “When do they stop being difficult and annoying?” I (unhelpfully) replied “Around two years of age.” Hopefully it’s not quite that bad.

At two years of age, you have a fully-formed adult dog. From six months old though, you have an adult-sized dog with a puppy’s mind. They are still bouncy, lively, playful, untrained and annoying. They still chew, destroy things, demand attention and generally fill up more time than you have. And their hormones are raging!

Teenage puppy not coming (near the spaniels)

In the video above, he does a lovely wait (albeit lying down not sitting) but then won’t come to me because the spaniels are there.

This is the age that things can go a bit backwards, to be honest. That fantastic recall? Not so much now. Am I bothered? I have better things to do. You know how we worked so hard to ignore other dogs? Well now I’m going bark at them. Or chase them off. Or play with them. And when you call me, I won’t hear you. Little bugger.

New anxieties

Quin misbehaved this morning and last weekend because he was left unsupervised. There were other dogs in the room, but I went upstairs (to do some cycling) and l thought he would be OK. Nope. So although he doesn’t have the mindset to think ‘What can I do to really piss her off?’ he does feel a bit anxious and lonely and look around for something to do. I suppose it’s possible that me telling him off will make him decide not to do it again.

Much more likely that he won’t do it again because I have:

  • moved the (now plantless) plant pot outside
  • moved the sofa further from the sideboard
  • asked other family to stay with him while I go upstairs
  • taken him with me when I’m working or exercising
  • put him in his crate if I do go out
  • make sure he practises being on his own.

Dogs suffer from ‘separation anxiety‘; they get stressed if left alone. This is particularly true if they normally have company. They may have been fine for months, but as they get older they learn to depend on you more for company and care more when you are not around.

Dealing with separation anxiety is possible, but as with everything else, it takes work.

Border Collie
Maybe one day Quin will be as handsome as Bodie

Keep practising to cope with hormones

As I prepare to watch the final of Strictly Come Dancing I think about the amount of work it takes those celebrities to achieve what they do. That catchphrase ‘Keeeeep Dancing!’ is at the heart of the high standards of performance. And my friend Sam has just won a jumping agility class at the Horse of the Year show (they have dogs too). I know the level of dedication she has for training and working with her dogs.

Basically, the more effort you make, the better behaved your dog will be. I’ve been pretty distracted recently, with all the usual Christmas crap we have to do. As a result, my puppy is not as well-behaved as he should be! So, keeeep training!

Don’t give up on your puppy

Puppies are most commonly re-homed around 6-8 months of age. The Blue Cross saythe most common reason for dogs needing our help to find them a new home is that their previous owner no longer had the time to care for a pet.” However, what this means is that people just cannot be bothered to keep on training the bloody annoying puppy. So they give up. Which is a shame, because in just a few more months you will have that dog you dreamed of having. Won’t we Quin?

Border Collie
Couldn’t love him more


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.

Quin’s Story: Week 24 – Disobedience

What to do when your dog is disobedient?

Each week I start to plan my posts before I sit down to write them. This week, knowing what I intended to write about, I thought I would do a video of me telling off my puppy. Bad dog! Something like this one:

Bad dogs!

However, there is a fundamental flaw with telling your dog off. They do NOT understand the concept of ‘being naughty’.

What does your dog understand?

Your dog understands when you ask them to do something, if you are clear and consistent. For example, if you say ‘sit’ they should sit. Or they should go into a down on command, as discussed last week. But imagine saying to your dog “Now I’m just off upstairs and I’m leaving this food item on the side, so don’t eat it, OK?” What will they get from that? Hmm.

Likewise, if you say to your dog “Why did you eat that food I left on the side? You know it wasn’t your food!” Can you honestly think that your dog will grasp your meaning?

Not guilty

Dogs will listen to you going ‘blah blah blah’ and not take much notice. Unless you say their name. Or ‘biscuit’. Or ‘sausage’. They are good at picking out key words. Research has shown that dogs understand around 200 words. Pretty clever. But we say around 5000 words PER DAY! Well, women do anyway.

Body language

What dogs are really good at understanding is body language. If you have a deaf dog, as many people with elderly dogs do have (or if you have a dog with white hair, such as a Dalmatian) you can teach it sign language relatively easily. This is mainly because dogs really focus on how we are moving and pick up on subtle cues and expressions.

Amazingly, dogs are able to read our facial expressions, even though their own expressions can look very different. They know what our angry face looks like and how we become tense, making ourselves tall and threatening. They react to that, cowering away in fear.

Canine body language poster from Lili Chin at
What do dogs say?

Try taking the time to understand what your dog is saying to you. Looking at the chart above, can you see where it says ‘your dog is lying to you’? Or the picture of the dog planning something naughty? Have you heard about the dog that that is unkind? No.

Dogs are not mean!

The reason we love dogs so much is because they are pretty straightforward creatures. Your dog will not try and annoy you. Their goal in life is to please you, so that you will feed them, fuss them and keep them company. If a dog is aggressive, it is nearly always afraid.

Quick quiz for you

After all that, when do you think you should punish your dog? Here’s a quick quiz for you:

handling disobedient dogs

One more thing: please sign the petition to ban prong collars?


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.

Quin’s Story: Week 23 – Down command for your dog

Why do we need a ‘down’ command?

Down is one of the first commands I teach my puppies and I have already demonstrated and talked about teaching it. As with lots of activities you do with your dog, it is not a quick fix. It takes plenty of time and practice, which is why I am revisiting it now.

Border Collie
Always the Border Collie – lying in wait

First of all, lying down is much easier for your dog to do than sitting. A sit is not a particularly natural physical position for a dog – they are much more likely to lie down to wait for you. If you want a good solid ‘wait’, then a down is a good starting point. A dog will wait much longer and be more relaxed if you ask them to wait in a down position.

Teaching your dog a ‘down’ command

In order to teach a down command, start in the house, when everything else is quiet and calm. Get your dog’s attention and give them a treat. What for? Well for being your wonderful dog of course! When they are focused on you, hold a treat in your hand and bring it from their nose to the floor, slowly. They should follow you down and with a bit of luck and patience, go into a down position. Yes! Reward!

Do it again. And again. And again. When you feel they are starting to understand, add the word you want to use – ‘Down!’ Try to use one simple word, in the same intonation, with the same emphasis. Be consistent.

Border Collie

Once they understand that this is the game we are playing, you can start to wait for them to go into the down, without you moving your hand in front of their nose. If they don’t do it on command, carry on with the physical prompt. Some dogs always need this.

Use the right word

Lots of people say ‘Lay down’ when they want their dog to go into a down position. This annoys me intensely, because it is grammatically incorrect. ‘Lie down’ is the correct term. But I wouldn’t say that anyway, because it is two words. One clear word is much easier to understand.

Not to be confused with ‘Off!’ as a command. Again, lots of people say ‘down’ to their dog when it jumps up. I say ‘Off’ to distinguish between these two actions. I do also say ‘off’ when the dogs are on the sofa and I want to sit down, but they mainly understand this because I am waving my hand at them and sitting on top of them if they don’t move. Lol.

Border Collie
The princess pose

If you get confused trying to stick to different words for different commands, don’t do agility! We need an increasing number of words in this dog sport. ‘Tunnel’ is no longer sufficient – we need ‘wrong end of tunnel’ as well. Hmm.

Increase the distance

The ultimate goal with the down is to have the dog ‘drop’ when they are at a distance from you. I will talk about this more a bit later on, but it is really useful way to control your dog. If they will drop into a down where they are, you can stop them from running into a road, charging into another dog, blocking the path for a cyclist and so on. You will earn the admiration of everyone, who will describe your dog as ‘well trained’ and ‘beautifully behaved’. It’s just a down command. How do you teach this?

How do you think? Yes, of course, practice it a thousand times. Top tip: it really helps a puppy to learn down at a distance if they have other dogs to copy. Once one drops, they all do. Eventually. 😀

5 dogs going down on command


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.

Quin’s Story: Week 22 – Grooming your dog

Grooming: how do you keep your dog in tip top condition?

I’m revisiting this information, which I wrote a few years ago. I suspect the prices for grooming your dog have gone up considerably! Grooming is one of the key ‘hidden costs’ of dog ownership, as you may not think about it before you get a dog. However, once you’ve had your dog for a few months, you will start to realise just how much care you dog needs.

Perfectly groomed?

Ask yourself: how lazy am I?  Then ask yourself: how rich am I?  I think these are the two key questions when considering what dog will suit you.  This is particularly important when thinking about the care your dog will need relating to its grooming requirements.

Long or short coat?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that dogs with short coats require less care than dogs with long coats.  Common sense tells us that a Labrador will not need as much grooming as a Border Collie, for example.  Or will it?  Labradors have what is know as a ‘shedding coat’ which comes out all the time, scattering fine, short hairs throughout the house, sticking to every surface and getting into food.

grooming your dog
Labradors love the water

As a result, short-haired dogs still need grooming.  Regular brushing will stop the hair being scattered everywhere.  You will also find that short-haired dogs tend to smell more, because dirt becomes trapped in the hair, prompting the need for more regular baths.  Dogs like the Spanish Water Dog, Spaniels and Labradors also love the water, so will find puddles and ponds to jump into at every available opportunity.

Moulting coats

Border Collies have a ‘moulting coat’, which comes out in armfuls once or twice a year.  Over a three week period, you will have ‘tumbleweeds’ around the house and may have to vacuum behind the sofas.  After that, not much hair comes out.  If you brush during those three weeks you can definitely reduce the impact, although you will be astonished with just how much hair comes from one dog!

Other care required for a Border Collie, (as with most dogs) will include:

  • Nail trimming – their nails must be clipped or trimmed
  • cutting out tats – sometimes Border Collies get hair clumped into tats, which have to be cut out. This is partly because they don’t need brushing on a daily basis.  Their hair is silky and usually sorts itself out, but sometimes the fine hair on the belly and round the back legs needs tidying up.
Any poodle cross needs regular grooming

Hypoallergenic or ‘non-moulting’ coat

This sounds ideal doesn’t it?  A soft, cuddly coat, that doesn’t shed or moult – perfect! Or is it?  Well, in my view, there are a number of issues with this type of coat:

  • it will still come out, just not as much as with shedding or moulting breeds
  • you aren’t guaranteed this type of coat if you have a crossbreed, or so-called designer dog – it will depend on how the mix of breeds comes out in your individual dog
  • dogs with these coats need regular care.  As with collies, their hair will form tats and because it is curly, this is going to happen all over their bodies, on a regular basis.  They will therefore need daily brushing, and/or frequent trips to the grooming parlour.


NB: Dogs do like to be muddy!  You won’t keep them clean and that’s as it should be.  They need to be outside, running around, smelling smells and exploring.  If you try and cover up their ‘dog smell’ with your silly perfumes and shampoos, they will just go and roll in some more mud.

Using a Grooming Service

I picked up a leaflet for one of these services recently, having never really looked into it before.  Wow, these things cost A LOT of money!  Prices are from 2018. For example:

  • Pug:  Bath, brush and blow dry every 4-6 weeks and Express groom every 6-8 weeks.  Total annual cost: £528
  • Cockapoo:  Bath, brush and blow dry every 4-6 weeks and Full groom every 6-8 weeks.  Total annual cost: £594
  • Newfoundland: Full groom every 6-8 weeks, including de-shedding or hand stripping as required.  Total annual cost: £816

By way of contrast: 

Border Collie:  Stand in a bucket when muddy, clip nails if not worn out by running around, cut out some tats, brush when moulting.  Total annual cost £0.  Lol.

Border Collie
Border Collies stay beautiful with almost no effort

Grooming tools

Of course there are many grooming tools to choose from to enable you to do the expensive stuff yourself.   This deshedding tool looks great and it comes in different colours!

There are also nail clippers to keep their toes trim.  People worry about doing their dog’s nails because if you catch the quick, they bleed profusely.  But the dogs aren’t especially bothered if this happens, and it’s much better to risk that than to have nails that are far too long, as this can be crippling for your dog.


Just a minor point here about microchipping, as the ‘grooming service’ I looked at offers to do this.  Since 6th April 2016, all dogs are required by law to be microchipped.  As a breeder, I know that I am legally required to have my puppies microchipped by the time they are 8 weeks old.  I get this done by the vet.  I have to register the pups in my name and then the new owners have to transfer ownership to them.

So, if you are getting a puppy, check before you get it that it has been chipped?  You should therefore be able to trace its ownership back to the breeder.  If you are getting a rescue dog, it should now be microchipped before you get it and that chip should be registered to the previous owner.  If not, why not?  There’s not much point having a legal requirement to microchip dogs if this doesn’t allow us to trace ownership of them.


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 21 – Guarding food/toys

How to cope when your dog guards food or toys

You know I’m old, so I grew up being told that under no circumstances should you interfere with your dog when it is eating. You knew that if you tried to stroke it or even go near it, you might lose your hand! Nice. I have to say that if you leant over me and tried to take food off my plate you might lose your hand too. So is that OK? Well, yes and no.

Border Collies
Why do you need me to hold this sock?

I think it is important to respect your dog and their space. Dogs must absolutely be able to get away from a situation that makes them uncomfortable. That might be to a quiet corner, or a bed, or a crate. Border Collies definitely love a dark corner.

When guarding becomes a problem

My dogs definitely do have favourite toys or bones. They might lie down with one tucked between their front feet, or under their head. Of course if someone has something they think is great, another dog will inevitably come along and try to take it off them. Usually that’s fine. Aura will absolutely complain if Quin wants to take something she has, but she won’t do anything, it’s just noise. I will tell him off – ‘Quin! Leave Aura alone!’ but I won’t do anything, it’s fine.

If Aura went for him though, I might intervene. I would call Quin away from her and shout at them both ‘Enough!’ If there was a real argument over toys and it happened on more than one occasion, I would make sure I didn’t leave them alone together.

Border Collies
this is not my sock

Of course the biggest problem is when your dog won’t give something up to you. If they take something they shouldn’t, whether that is clothes or food, and then growl or snap if you try to take it. That is definitely something you need to work through.

Be careful!

Dogs are powerful predators and can be vicious if provoked. So mind how you go if your dog is challenging you for something. Don’t rush in and try and grab the object off them; you will probably lose!

First of all, play with your dog? Not when they are guarding something, but before that happens. If you regularly have engagement and interaction with your dog, they are much more likely to trust you and feel happier about you handling them.

play with your dog

When your dog plays with toys, you should be able to get the toy off them to throw it, or play some more. If you find this difficult, you need to try swapping the toy for a treat. Once this pattern is established, you are more likely to be able to do this with other articles.

No punishments, please

When your dog is doing something it is not supposed to, the temptation is to:

  • shout
  • grab
  • chase
  • smack

Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for the dog. They are not able to understand the complex relationship between their actions and the consequences you have decided are appropriate. They won’t remember what happened last time and decide not to do something in case that happens again. Or if the punishment is severe, they might remember and make sure it doesn’t happen again by preparing to bite if approached. When should you punish your dog? Never. It’s your fault if they have something they shouldn’t.

Reward, reward, reward

My advice? Start by calling your dog away from the unwanted behaviour, to come to you and receive a treat or other reward. You might need to do this extra positively! Wow, how amazing, you came to me! Reward!

If that doesn’t work (it probably won’t) you need something more tempting. Yummy sausage? Squeaky toy? You running away shrieking excitedly? Try everything.

Border Collies
this is my toy

Food manners

Personally, I give my dogs their food and they eat it. That’s it. I put it down in the same order, in the same place, at the same time. No tricks required. No funny business. I have to give Luna her insulin, so I don’t have time to mess around.

If you want to be able to pick up their bowl, in case you gave them the wrong food, for example, start by adding extra food to the bowl. Or throw some food near the bowl, wait for the dog to go for that, then pick up the bowl.

Be patient. Manage your own behaviour and expectations. I think you need to be calm, quiet and confident if you want to go near your dog’s food. If you are worried about doing it, don’t bother?


Yes, many dogs will tolerate their family members taking their food and toys, just as Aura lets Quin do it to her, but honestly, don’t push your luck?

manage how you feed your dogs

Practice makes perfect

In conclusion, here are my tips for preventing food and toy guarding:

  • Play with your dog regularly
  • Handle them daily
  • Practice ‘leave it’
  • Swap the item for a treat
  • Throw food nearby and wait
  • Call the dog away
  • Stay calm and quiet


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.