Puppy love

Naturally there are puppies delivered almost around the year, but it seems that there are excessive amount of them going around right now. In the Club Show I mentioned earlier there were loads of puppies and I know of some batches just about to leave their home. Puppy love in it’s best.

I’m sure the puppies will get excellent, loving and caring homes for the most part. And as natural as that is, there are those who will find home only after one or two tries, which is very sad in it’s own way.

Every breeder has their own ‘rules, regulations and guidelines’ on how you should feed and care for your new puppy. All meaning well, all aimed for one thing only: the wellbeing of the Irish Wolfhound puppy in it’s new -hopefully- permanent home.

The question is, what is the only way to do it right?

Like I said, every breeder has their own set of guidelines, which have things in common, but have vast differences, too. We have the guidelines from three breeders, and they all have their differences. In some cases even very big differences.

And that is where the owner comes into the play: how clever, interested and curious she is about the dog, the breed and the overall handling and wellbeing of this puppy. Will she do whatever the breeder has stated, even if she sees that the guidelines are not working for this puppy? Will she have the nerve to make her own decisions? Will she have the courage to call the breeder and ask even the most stupidest thing if she’s not sure about it?

We have been blessed with three things: magnificient breeders from whom our dogs came from (especially the first one, for she paved the way for the interest in the breed), great interest in doing the best for the dog (and the breed in general) and some prior experience about dogs before our first gentle giant.

Because of the fact that the breeder trusted us so much that we got to do our own decisions from very early on (she insisted that we should use our common sense), we have experimented with feeding, excercise and training in general. We have learned from our mistakes, corrected them on the way and rejoiced from our successes.

And noticed how little we really know.

One of the questions I got asked in the Club Show was that how can one start training this 10 week old puppy to become a lure courser. What could I say except to love her, to play with her and just live with her. No restraints, no limits and no demands in the beginning. I citated the Holy Triangle several times, as that has proven itself to be valid and solid foundation for a healthy Irish Wolfhound.

What usually seems to be difficult to understand is the movement of a puppy: most of the breeders emphasize that you shouldn’t make your puppy run excessively at young age, and that long walkies are especially bad. Long meaning walkies over 15 minutes at a stretch. For us it has been so that the puppies have had full freedom in our yard from very early on: they can run and play as much as they want. There is one thing I’m very strict about: the puppy will do what she wants and when she wants (except eating). If she wants to sit, she sits: no-one should force a puppy to move when she’s resting. The puppy may sit down in the middle of a shorter walkie: she should be given the time to get up herself.

That is the only thing I would forbid from a new puppy owner completely: forcing the puppy to move. Free running and playing is for the good of the postural muscles, which pays in the long run in better agility and balance. Forced movement (pulling from the leash, urging the puppy to continue when she’s resting and so on) only causes damage to both the body and the mind of the dog.

But then again, the last one applies to the whole life of the Irish Wolfhound. They are clever enough to get along without forcing them to do anything.

Really.

The best for a new puppy: unconditioned love and loads of free movement with set feeding times and ample resting.

I could live with that, too!

Breed specific exercise needs

I just checked out of curiosity the search words used to find this blog, as it is about a month old now. Much to my pleasure the blog had been found by “lure coursing” quite often. Then again, much to my utter surprise someone had been looking for “dog which doesn’t need exercise“. Thankfully that search found my sarcastic post on the subject, and I hope the visitor had the guts to read that one through and change his mind.

But the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that very few people think about the requirements of their dog. Even less about the breed specific needs of their pet. Recent ‘global dog news’ about President Obama’s new dog has risen this issue to the discussion, as the Portuguese Water Spaniel which they decided to get ‘for the girls’ actually needs quite a lot exercise and activity to stay fit, both mentally and physically. Does the White House staff have time for that? Just asking, because Mr. and Mrs. President most probably won’t, and you should never, ever give a living animal to your children alone as a pet without supervision, let alone as a present. The horrifying warning was seen in Britain earlier this week. Not for the faint!

Each breed has their own, breed specific needs for exercise. Chihuahua most certainly isn’t the best partner for a long jog, nor a Mastino Napoletano with it’s bear like movement. Quite on the other end of the spectrum would be a Whippet for an elderly people to stay in the confines of four walls and a window. By recognizing the requirements and natural affinity of the breed should be one of the first things to note when one is selecting a proper breed for themselves.

Like I stated in my earlier post about this issue, there is no such breed which wouldn’t need exercise: daily walkies to the nearby lamp post and back isn’t sufficient for any dog of any breed. To avoid unnecessary criticism I have to add that this applies naturally to the healthy dog with no medically related restrictions. For a healthy dog the daily walkies should be at least 1.5 hours a day, as much of it without a leash as possible. That actually comes up pretty fast if you think that you take her out for a 15 minutes six times a day… Which I think isn’t quite enough for an active dog.

For an Irish Wolfhound as a breed it should mean a healthy free running about for that hour or 1.5 hours at a time. In addition to the several visits to the lamp post. Sighthounds are creatures which have been made to run, so they should be given this opportunity to express their inner need for sprinting. Irish Wolfhounds, which are bred especially for the big game hunting and long lasting chasing, should be able to run that hour or so constantly: that would be the approximation of a healthy Irish Wolfhound which would be capable of fulfilling the expectations of a mighty hunter. Or a lure courser.

I’m not saying this should be daily: for us the longer walkies are done every other day, maybe 3-4 times a week, while the daily routines outside of these walkies fulfill the minimum requirements.  This is merely because our dogs are roaming free for about 2 hours on a normal trip to the woods and about 3-4 hours during the longer one during weekend, and they have to rest properly if they take off to chase anything during the trip. 

Which they so often do… So they really need the rest of an easier day every now and then.

Sure, Irish Wolfhounds are the easiest and nicest creatures when they are at home: sleeping or laying across the floor, taking very small space and acting very graciously and quietly. But this appearance -combined with the size- gives people the false assumption that Irish Wolfhounds don’t need any exercise. And as much as I hate to think of it, this leads to the fact that so many IW’s in their maturity are way overweight and suffer from joint and/or back problems.

Have you taken care of the breed specific exercise needs of your dog?

How about your OWN breed specific exercise needs?

I thought so… 

The holy triangle for healthy dog

The breeder of our youngest Irish Wolfhound told to me when I was fetching the newcomer to her new home, that the worst hereditary disease of an Irish Wolfhound is it’s rapid growth. Almost at the same breath she told me about the Holy Trinity, which would help to keep the young puppy healthy and safe from other ailments. As I have thought more and more about it, the same trinity actually applies to puppy growing, children and even physical exercise of a grown up.

And training of a runner, be it man or beast.

holy-triangle

It is very simple ideal, but very hard to apply properly. The three most important things to remember when training yourself, the dog or growing an giant breed puppy are:

1. Nutrition

Proper food with proper nutrients. Enough energy to compensate either the need for the rapid growth or the energy depleted in exercise. Adequate amount of protein, fat and energy. What makes this problematic is the fact that every dog is different: the same amount of same food makes one dog gain weight while another loses it. You have to know your dog and monitor it constantly.

2. Exercise

I already touched this subject yesterday and earlier, but I cannot emphasize this enough: the best possible exercise for any dog at any age is to run freely with her mates. They play may seem rough at times, but it seldom goes over. Also the dogs will be able to regulate the strain, resting when necessary. The less we have to force them to move, the better it is for the well being of the dog as whole.

3. Rest

I have crossed this subject many times already, and most probably will, but the dogs know inherently when to rest and when to go on. We have to give the growing pup or sprinting ‘trainer’ the luxury to rest if they think it’s necessary. Also, the muscles and nervous connections grow during rest, so it is more than advisable to have a full day of rest after a hard training or a competition: the less the dog suffers pain from the exercise, the more enthusiastically it will run the next time.

As long as the triangle is served well, the dog will move adequately, digest as much as needed for exercise and growth and rest to repair and grow the musculature. Usually the new Irish Wolfhound owners (and probably to all giant breed owners) are given the advice to prohibit the movement and exercise of a puppy so that the bones and joints don’t suffer any strain or injuries. The funny thing about that is the fact that the bones and joints actually need exercise and adequate strain to develop hard and flexible enough to carry the giant body later on! The bones actually need the ‘gentle beating’ the gallop provides.

Instead of confining the dog inside the four walls, take her out and let her enjoy the life. Feed her the food that suits her and allow her the luxury of rest and solitude.

The dog, afterall, is the man’s best friend. It’s our job to be her best friend in return.