- Puppies sleep a lot. Taz is very active first thing in the morning and in the late afternoon, but the rest of the time she likes to sleep (especially in the dirt under the house!)
- Puppies and old dogs can be surprisingly compatible. Due to point one, so far Taz and Cheryl have been just fine together because Cheryl, at age 11, also likes to sleep a lot. Cheryl is also active morning and evening, so fits in well with crazy Taz time. Cheryl has also been quite helpful in entertaining Taz during her active time, and for this we are very grateful to Grandma Cheryl.
- Puppies don’t mind being confined during the day. We decided right from the start that Taz would stay in the “dog box” any time we weren’t home. This is the cage we made (Pete made) for the dogs to travel on the back of the ute. We put the cage under the verandah, which is south facing, so its always in the shade (perfect location for summer, in winter I would put the cover of it to give her shelter from wind and rain). She has a bed and a bucket of water in the cage. We put her in there when we are out mainly because she is small enough to get out under our gates and could end up anywhere. It also gives Cheryl a break. And finally, I think it makes Taz feel safe to have her own space, as she doesn’t seem to mind being in there at all, and will lie in there during the day even when we are home.
- Puppies like toys, but they don’t have to be expensive. Taz loves toys, she’s already figured out how to chase balls (to Cheryl’s disgust) and to rip other toys apart. As puppies tend to destroy things, buying dog toys can get expensive. My favourite source of dog toys is the op shop, I sort through the toy box and buy any that don’t have plastic eyes (choking hazard). Taz has one large Winnie the Pooh toy that she likes to snuggle up to, and one small Winnie the Pooh that she likes to chase and chew. Her other interest is collecting socks, so we have to remember to keep all socks out of puppy range. I just pick up the stuffing when she pulls it out.
- Puppies like to chew things, so give them something to chew. I know people complain about puppies chewing things, but we find that if we give Taz something that’s ok to chew she isn’t too hard on the things we don’t want her to chew. She gets a small bone in the morning (in her cage, so then Cheryl can’t take it off her) and she has a “kong” toy which we fill with peanut butter and puppy biscuits. This gives her something to do during the day.
- Puppies will stay out of mischief if you keep them appropriately confined, restrained or entertained instead. During the day, when Taz mostly sleeps anyway, she is in her dog box. When we let her out of the box, we try to make sure that she is entertained with games, either playing with us or with Cheryl (thank goodness for Grandma Cheryl!). If we take her out for a walk or into the paddock with the chickens, we put her on a leash so we have some control over her instinct to chase things. Puppies appreciate discipline, it makes them feel safe and secure.
- Puppies are scared of new things, but you need to help them get used to things that are going to happen regularly. For us this particularly applies to the cars. We need Taz to be OK with car travel, so she comes for regular car rides each weekend. At the moment she isn’t too keen on the car, but we need her to get used to it so she can travel with us. She also needs to get used to loud noises, which is fairly regular at our place if Pete is building something. I think it helps that Cheryl isn’t scared, so if they are playing and Pete starts grinding or whipper snipping, Taz seems to be less worried when she sees that Cheryl doesn’t care.
- Puppies from smart breeds are easy to train. Taz seems to have learnt very quickly, and compared to some of the dog training books I’ve read, does not seem to have had much trouble at all in picking up the basics. She has already mastered toilet training, and she can sit and come on command, we will gradually teach her the other basic commands. Taz is a kelpie-collie cross, which are two smart cattle herding breeds, we are hoping she is going to show some natural ability with the cattle, but if she doesn’t, she will be a lovely pet. I have bought a number of books and dvds on the subject, so we are prepared! I'll tell you more about them next time.