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Dog Training

The Right Pup

. . . . . . for you

QUESTION - If you are considering buying a pup first think HAVE I GOT THE TIME TO INVEST? It requires a lot of time to bond with, and train a young dog. Pups are not born with an understanding of the English language, they need to be taught.

If you are not prepared to ‘find time’ then buy already trained dogs and save yourself and the pup unnecessary stress.

Before you look for a pup consider too, the type of work it will be doing. There is no point purchasing a dog that has been bred for the opposite of what you require - big days on big properties require a dog bred for stamina whereas an hour or two a couple of times a week requires a calm laid-back dog.

Personality plays a big part as well; if you are a hard dominating person you will soon ruin a soft dog and if you are a gentle kind person a hard dog will soon be taking control, stressing you to the max.

Where do you get the right pup? It isn’t easy, there are so many pups being born, that shouldn’t with unplanned pregnancies or bred by unknowledgeable people. So ask lots of questions.

1/ was it a planned mating
2/ what are the sire and dam like, also the grandparents play a big part as well
3/ are the bloodlines the type you are looking for eg type style nature
4/ did the person who bred them, breed to solely make money or were they due to a passion for working dogs

Incidentally, handy Huntaway’s are an old breed of very clever, agile Huntaway – they are not a Huntaway Heading dog cross – do not buy one, it is probably an accidental mating, if not, the breeder knows nothing about working dogs. Occasionally one will turn out to be good, but most end up with a bullet.

If you want a Heading dog buy a Heading dog, if you want a Huntaway buy a Huntaway, but bear in mind that Huntaway’s come in all shapes and sizes; they can be big powerful dogs with a lot of noise, best suited to big jobs and they can be small to average build with less noise and a desire to head – using their noise when required rather than constantly.

CHECK Don’t buy just any pup. It is advisable to buy one that is at least 7 - 8 weeks old, who has been wormed regularly and has had its first parvo vaccination.

Does it look healthy? Healthy is – bright alive eyes, a shiny silky coat & no bones showing – you should barely be able to feel them when you stroke its back & hips. Check that its legs & feet look well shaped – that it stands square. Look inside its mouth – make sure the front top & bottom teeth bite together & that the pup isn’t over or undershot in the jaw. If it looks sad & lifeless there is a reason for it – be aware!

Also, an astute breeder will have a good idea as to the personality of each pup in the litter so listen to their opinion. Pick a pup you like - that is very important.

Do not buy a pup that cowers and hides, terrified of everything as it is unlikely to change.

DIET - Before taking the pup home, find out what it has been eating – it is wise to feed it the same food for the next couple of days. It is quite traumatic leaving siblings behind and going to a new environment, and quite often they will be off food until they settle in, so it helps if the food is familiar.

When you change a pups food do it gradually over several days, this avoids an upset stomach.

Feed your pup at least twice a day. I give my pups meat, dog sausage, puppy biscuits and milk. Don’t overdo the milk or the puppy will scour, its faeces should be soft but hold their shape – too firm or too runny means the diet is unbalanced. It is important not to over feed him as obesity can strain soft growing bones but he must be fed enough that when you run your hands over him you can’t feel ribs or hip bones.

Keep the milk bowl clean or it will sour the milk and the pup won’t drink it. Also have a container of clean water available at all times.

It is very important to keep your pup free from worms so discuss this with your vet.

HOUSING – I prefer to keep my pups in a large run that has shelter from wind and rain and that has both sunny spots as well as shade, and there must be a warm dry kennel.

Remember too, that kennels in summer can be like a furnace if they are exposed to sun from 11 am through to 4 pm, so find a spot in the shade for it during the hottest part of the day. Most people are unaware that dogs of any age can die from over heating.

The reason I prefer not to tie up little pups or put them in a motel is I feel it is more natural and better for their feet legs and development to be on the ground, too many dogs have problems later in life with splayed feet, arthritis and joint problems – I’m sure a lot of that is due to care in the early days.

It is a good idea to have the pup pen near busy buildings where it can see and hear all sorts of daily activity. If a pup’s upbringing is sheltered it can grow into a nervy shy adult.
Remember to spend time bonding with your pup and also socialize it with other dogs and people. Children can be cruel so be mindful, also be aware of vehicles, horses, cattle, poisons – puppies are curious and many things can be dangerous.

Rearing and training a working dog is both rewarding and an investment – the more you put in, the more you get back.