Category Archives: Quin’s Story

Quin’s Story: Week 3 – First Walk

First time out for a walk!

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

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

Vaccination restrictions

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

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Ounce sets out

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

Going out out

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

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Baby Ounce

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

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

Off lead – surely not?

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

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

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

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

How long should first walks be?

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

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tired puppy

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

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


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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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..


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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!)

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.