Dodford dog whisperer gives help and advice with new canine column
Laura kicks off with the do's and dont's of getting a puppy or rehoming a dog.
Puppies and rehomed dogs can be a fantastic addition to a family but they are a huge commitment and not everyone finds the first few months easy. It is really important to choose the breed of your dog carefully:
Choosing a puppy or rehoming an adult dogs dog purely on looks or because it was a breed you had as a child, is not a good idea.
* All puppies are gorgeous, but will the fully grown adult version fit into your family?
* Size should not be the only consideration though as some small breeds are more active than their larger, couch potato relatives. A bouncy Dalmatian may have been the kids' choice after watching 101 Dalmatians, but if Grannie is going to be your dog sitter, this may need to be reconsidered.
* How much time can you dedicate to grooming? Poodle crosses are extremely popular, with the idea of having a low moulting breed very appealing, but they do have high maintenance coats.
* Can you honestly offer what they need in terms of exercise … all year round, even in the winter months? There are some breeds that want to be out hiking, come rain or shine, while others struggle to exercise in warmer weather and not suitable if you are planning active summer holidays with your dog.
* Some breeds thrive on activities and mental stimulation, without it they can exhibit behavioural problems. Consider how much time you can dedicate to training and if you have the time to take part in a dog sport like agility, hoopers, heelwork to music or scent work.
* Breed characteristics – What are they bred to do? Eg – hunt, guard, companionship, herd? Although you may not be getting a border collie with a view to teach it to herd sheep, they have an inbuilt desire to perform that behaviour and can direct it to children, cars, bikes and joggers. Some breeds require a lot of company and will suffer separation anxiety if left while you work.
* Working lines v’s show lines. Labradors, golden retrievers, cocker spaniels, and their crosses are very popular, but I find very few people have researched the difference between the show lines and the working lines – they are like different breeds. In classes we have seen a rise in the working lines over the past five years. Families haven’t always realised the difference and were not prepared for the levels of exercise and training required.
Once you have chosen your breed, the journey of finding a good breeder or good rescue then starts.
If you are considering getting a puppy, feel free to contact me for advice on what breed might suit you and your family. Email [email protected]
Laura's dog training sessions take place at Dodford Village Hall. For more information, visit www.lwdt.info.