Category Archives: Quin’s Story

A YEAR with your puppy!

Let’s celebrate! It’s been a year!

Well here we are! I am as surprised as you are that we have got to a year of owning a puppy! How’s it been for you? As expected? Better? Or worse? What have been the highlights? What have been the unexpected challenges?

The year we’ve had

For me, the biggest, well really the only problem is the ‘barking at other dogs’. He is still doing it and it is still driving me mad. I call him and he comes. He stops barking and says ‘sorry mum I forgot’. Silly boy! I apologise and the other person says ‘It’s fine’. I say ‘it’s not fine, he’s annoying.’ We walk on. Oh and this morning he found some fox poo for his neck. Lovely!

Border Collie a year
Quin at a year

Chris and I absolutely adore our boy – he’s the best. We love how he barks at random stuff on the TV. It’s so sweet to see him playing with Murmur and he’s great with all the girls. He’s such a goof. I love it when he snuggles up next to me on the sofa, chewing on a bone. And he’s so handsome!

We think he’s turned out pretty well. I feel confident taking him pretty much anywhere, as long as I watch him around other dogs. He’s perfectly friendly (no really), meaning we can walk with friends or chat to people. He just likes to shout when he sees another dog.

Let’s revisit the questions I asked you 6 months ago about your dog. Do you know them better now?

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? Nothing has changed with his eating and he continues to be fine.
  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, or the sofas, of course.
  4. When does your dog wake up in the morning? What time do they go to bed? Does this work well with your routine? Your dog should be happier being left for longer periods, both day and night. What arrangements do you make when you are out?
  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
A favourite spot

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 continues to get out and about and enjoys the experience.
  4. Have you visited someone else’s home with your dog? Don’t be afraid to take them into new situations? Quin has carried on going into school and behaves himself brilliantly (apart from barking at the chickens).
  5. Have you taken your dog away? Quin has been up to Scotland and down to Devon – he loves it!
Border Collie a year
still loving the beach

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? Quin is perfect at recall – hurray! <smug>
  3. Can your dog do any other tricks? We’ve done lots of tricks and Quin and I both really enjoy this.
  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 has a new playmate! He and Murmur play together a lot. So sweet.
  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? Still annoying. Not fixed. It’s not the end of the world, but it is irritating.

Training and activities

  1. What classes have you done with your puppy? Have you carried on with any classes? What did you learn?
  2. Have you considered doing the KC Good Citizen Dog Training Scheme?
  3. Have you tried out other types of training? Quin has started Hoopers, which he enjoys.
  4. Now your dog is a year old, perhaps you could start agility?
  5. Obedience training is another way to challenge you and your dog and build on your working relationship.
Border Collie

Health and breeding

  1. What do you think of your dog’s breed now? Has your dog continued to be typical of their breed?
  2. How healthy is your dog? Have you been to the vet?
  3. 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?
Border Collie
the boy

Enjoy your puppy now

Your dog may not be perfect, but they are part of your family. You have already had them for around a twelfth of their life. Think about what you were doing 11 years ago? Not long is it? A year in their life is such a long time. Celebrate your puppy and the joy they have brought you.

Please take a moment to reflect on your successes and the remaining challenges? Think about what you’d like to do with your dog going forward? 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 41 – Temperament

Testing temperament

Following on from my post about health testing, in order to produce ‘The dog of your dreams‘ it is also important to breed for temperament. As I approach Quin’s birthday, I have been reflecting on his temperament and what makes him the way he is. Of course, he is a Border Collie, first and foremost, so his behaviour will always reflect that.

Border Collie temperament
different temperaments

It is interesting to me that many of my ‘dog friends’ say to me things such as ‘all your dogs are so good natured/well behaved/lovely temperaments’. They know about dogs and they think it significant that mine are all ‘nice’ dogs. Someone recently said “It’s so good to come into your house and the dogs are just pleased to see you. There’s no chaos, or fighting, or anything like that.” When I first had a person come to look after them when we went away, she couldn’t believe they all got on so well. So how do I do it?

Nature vs nurture

I’m a psychologist (in as much as it was my degree subject), so I understand the interplay between nature and nurture. It’s easiest to think of it as the balance between being biologically programmed to behave a certain way, or being brought up to be like that. Of course it’s not an either/or situation, both are crucial in creating the dog you want (or the person, come to that).

Border Collie temperament
related but different

Starting with nature, I choose stud dogs from lines that I study and understand to be good-natured. I have tended to stick with the Goytre lines, because I know the temperament of these dogs is fantastic. However, I don’t want my dogs to be too inbred, so I sometimes need to add different lines. This means I might end up with different temperaments.

Nurturing temperament

As I say all over this website, my puppies are given a brilliant start in life, with loads of positive experiences. They are cuddled every day, meeting plenty of people, including children. Puppies in my house spend time around dogs of different ages and temperaments, so they should cope better when they are out in the world.

Border Collie temperament
essential cuddling

That covers the first eight weeks, but after that, it is over to their owners to define their temperament. I have had dogs I’ve bred be nervous of children, because they haven’t spent time around them, once they have gone to their new homes. So different experiences continue to have an impact.

Different characteristics

When I had the Rainbow Litter, I had one of the owners ask me about managing the ‘herding instinct’ that Ounce’s brother was showing. “I’ve never had to manage that, mine don’t really do that,” I said. Then Ounce started herding off other dogs. Hmm, a new characteristic to manage! That litter are also real water babies – thanks Sox!

Border Collie temperament
my herding girl

Not all my dogs are the same. I can see likenesses between them, but also differences. It’s fascinating to see the traits develop. And to see the likenesses within and between litters. When I’m doing agility with Busy, people always say ‘She’s so fast!’ to which I respond ‘Just like her mum!’

Can you change it?

Dogs, like people are a mix of their biology and their upbringing. So you can influence how they are, up to a point. When I look at Quin, I can see he is a lovely nature. Like Busy, he’s generally calm and laid back. But then he barks at other dogs, or something on TV! Funny boy. I’ve worked hard on the barking at other dogs and he’s more or less stopped doing that. I think that yes, you can change their temperament, a bit.

Border Collie temperament
my barking boy

It’s complicated isn’t it? I do my best to make lovely dogs – the dog of your dreams. Sometimes it goes it bit wrong (Aura :p). Oh she’s lovely, I’m only kidding. Hopefully it’s given you food for thought.

Oh and by the way, I had planned to talk about ‘Formal obedience/heelwork‘ this week, but I haven’t managed to go to a class for this. It’s a dying art, it seems?


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 39 – Training vs managing

Should you train your dog or just manage it?

I’ve already talked about the fact that Quin barks at other dogs. I find it really annoying and difficult to manage. So what do I do about it? Do I settle for that behaviour. Let’s think about training vs managing these problem behaviours.

Border Collie
reactive dog

Barking at other dogs is described as reactivity. People are very scared if they have a reactive dog. They panic about meeting a reactive dog. No-one wants their dog to become reactive. Oh no! What should we do?

What does managing look like?

If you choose to ‘manage’ your dog’s reactivity, you might start by getting a yellow lead, or a jacket that says ‘Nervous dog‘. You will of course keep your dog on lead for all walks, unless you have hired a private field that is completely secure.

Border Collie
Watching the birds

All your walks will be spent nervously watching out for other dogs. You prepare to grab your dog, step away from the path, glare at the other dog owner. If the other dog approaches you, you might get ready to shout at it, putting your dog behind you, or picking it up.

Quality walks

It doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? Some people think that is part and parcel of dog ownership. It isn’t. Honestly, it doesn’t have to be like that. Dogs should be able to run around, sniffing and wandering at their own pace. You should be able to walk calmly and at your own pace, enjoying the countryside, watching the seasons changing and listening to the birdsong.

Border Collie
natural posers

Doing this might take a bit of work though. You’ll have to start by paying attention to your dog. Secure your recall. Motivate him to come back quickly and often.

Training takes time

As I’ve been saying from the start, training is an ongoing process. Does Luna no longer get treats because she’s 12 years old? No of course not! She gets treats for being my best, beautiful Boo. Always. Well not quite always, she’s diabetic after all.

Border Collie
my beautiful Boo

You need patience and persistence to train a dog. It is not always straightforward, but it is worth it.

With Quin’s problem, I know that part of the reason he reacts to other dogs is because he is a bit worried by them. So I call him back to me and reward him for staying calm and not fussing at the other dog. I keep going, he keeps getting better. Equally, I know to pay attention to the other dogs and look out for those who have been really frightened in the past and may therefor react more aggressively towards him.

Border Collie

Generally though, when dogs meet other dogs they want to keep it simple and not react. Ideally, they want to say hello nicely.

The rewards of training

One of the rewards for me is walking past people who said ‘What beautifully behaved dogs’. People do notice when your dogs are good. They appreciate not being knocked over by a rabble when they come in the house (I haven’t stopped Aura squeaking though!) Overall, training vs managing wins for me (and my dogs).

Border Collie
family photo

Eventually, you can take nice family photos of your dogs. When your puppy owners come around you can show off your waits and individual recall by name. Most of all though, you can relax and enjoy your dogs!

Whatever you do, keep practising, keep rewarding and keep engaging with your puppy!


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.