Archive for the ‘German Shepherd’ Tag

Walking with the Woofs – My Story   Leave a comment

Lately I’ve been thinking about how to help people achieve relaxed, enjoyable walks with their dogs, using my years of experience walking German Shepherds and Jack Russell Terriers.

It starts with a good place to walk, preferably off lead, although it can still be a great experience on lead.  Off lead is where most guardians come unstuck, but if you can get it right, the pleasure of walking with your fast moving, free dogs is immense!

So here’s what happens with my dogs:

We go regularly to the park – a wonderful, huge space ringed by the Hottentots Holland Mountains, with sports fields and open grassed areas.  A river chortles along one side, at this time of the year it is boiling and tumbling rather than chortling after all the rain.  There are lots of trees along the river so it’s a pleasure even in summer.   Many locals run and cycle there, and of course it’s a dog walker’s paradise.  There are busy times of the day when you can pass more than 50 people and their dogs, depending on which way you go. 

Sometimes we go to the beach at Strand.  Here it can be more challenging for my big, energetic girls (GSDs) who cover so much ground quickly as the space is narrower with fewer options for changing direction and avoiding a possible problem.  I am so proud of them when they meet and greet and politely choose not to respond to silly little yappers, or jumpy youngsters.  They keep an eye on me and all I need to do is keep moving and maybe quietly call them away to have them break away and come after me.  Shepherd bitches are not known for their patience so I am aware of their tolerance limits.  Uschi usually chooses to not engage, but if she does she’s polite and disinterested.  If she’s carrying a toy she’ll warn with a growl but never anything more.  She’s a balanced dog with a happy temperament.   Her daughter Minka is more reactive and much more interested in interacting with other dogs, but not keen on playing anymore.  If a game starts I have to watch her that she doesn’t switch from ‘play’ to ‘prey’.  Rather bossy, in typical insecure child fashion.

We’ve had 3 Jack Russells over the years and it’s been just as much fun with them, despite their terrier tendencies to prefer going down a mole hill to keeping up with me!  Sometimes it was my 2 GSDS, Pepsi our JR and my dad’s JR Minchie too – 4 bitches all walking very happily together.  Sadly we had to put Pepsi (see photo in  post Reflections 27/12/11) and Minchie to sleep in May so now it’s just the big girls.

I’ll unpack my tips on achieving a happy walk in the next post.

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Born to be a midwife (for pets, not humans!)   Leave a comment

I got a new book from work yesterday (I work at Wordsworth Books during the day, puppy class in the evening):

‘The Art of Raising a Puppy’ written by The Monks of New Skete. Published by Little Brown, R300 at Wordsworth.  ISBN 9780316083270.

Written 20 years ago and recently updated and revised in a lovely hardback version, full of photos of their dogs and other dogs brought to the monastery for training.

Some quotes:
“There is an art to raising a puppy that is not solely the domain of the naturally gifted.  It can be acquired by any responsible owner; what is needed is a desire for true companionship, an openness to learning, and a willingness to invest time and energy in caring for and training the puppy.  The more informed you are on the background, development, and training of your pup, the more you will approach him with the patience and understanding necessary for an enjoyable and rewarding relationship.”

“…dog training actually goes far beyond the elementary instruction of basic obedience commands; it must encompass a whole new attitude and lifestyle with your dog.  It must touch on the levels of a dog’s own life that have often been ignored.”

So far I’ve read the first few chapters where they carefully take the reader through the birth and first weeks of life, using one of their bitches and her litter as models.  Having been midwife to 4 Jack Russell litters, 2 German Shepherd litters and 9 or so Burmese cat litters, I can honestly say that those hours spent waiting with my 4 legged girl friends, feeling their trust and  courage, watching the incredible birth process and mourning the ones who didn’t make the traumas of being born have been amongst the most precious of my life.  I WISH I could earn a living being an animal midwife!  So this start to the book resonated strongly with me.  Their purpose in starting right at birth is to help new owners (I prefer the term guardians) become aware of the impact of those early days on their puppy.  Many owners seem to think their dog’s life only began when it arrived at their house.

Will say more when I’ve read more!  You’ll find I’ll be talking books quite often as I am pretty obsessed by reading in general and learning as much as I can about understanding dogs more.