Tuesday, September 29, 2009

English Cockers - The worst thing about this breed!

Why did I have to fall in love with a breed that requires so much grooming???

Those of you who know me know that I am completely and totally in love with this breed. They are almost a perfect match for me. Energetic, smart, funny, athletic, friendly, cheerful, and biddable. They are a great breed for someone interested in performance events. They love to work and their love for cookies makes this a fabulous breed to train for someone (me) who prefers to have a lighter hand when training. In fact, heavy handed training methods do not usually work with this breed. There is no need for a battle of wills with my dogs... they work for food and a few extra snuggles.

I also love the size of this breed. A 200 vari-kennel is just about perfect for traveling with to shows, yet they are large enough and hardy enough to play at the dog park with goldens and labs. I cringe sometimes when I see smaller breeds of dogs at the dog park running with much larger breeds of dogs. No need to worry about my cockers. They run, jump and play with the big dogs and yet make nice playmates for smaller dogs as well.

I love the snuggling capabilities of this breed. They are never happier than when they are in your lap, shoving a toy in to the crook of your neck and then dropping it in favor of wet kisses all over your face. They are so charming and happy. All people are their friends, all dogs are their playmates. All tennis balls are for fetch and birds are for chasing.

Overall, this breed is a wonderful match for an active home that does not mind a dog who can't keep four on the floor (-:

However, this breed needs regular grooming!!! They need to be combed out every other day and need to be groomed about every 6 weeks. When an ECS is spayed or neutered, or clippered, they tend to grow even more coat and will need even more grooming. They need their nails trimmed, ears cleaned out, clippering, stripping, feet scissored, the list goes on. If you like grooming yourself, that is great, but if not, you should expect to have a *very* good relationship with your groomer. You should shop around for a groomer just as you would look for a veterinarian. Try to find someone that you like and trust as you will have an ongoing, long term relationship. It is in the best interest of your dog if you can find a groomer who will listen to you and who you can completely trust. All groomers are NOT created equal. Find one that you and your dog like and feel you can work with.

Get your English Cocker on scheduled grooming visits and stick with the schedule. Puppies should be taken to the groomer for face and feet trims and baths in order to get accustomed to the environment. It is not fair for you to expect your puppy to have a full haircut for the first time at 6 months of age. Your puppy need to be trained to accept and behave for grooming just as you will train a sit and a down. If you will use a professional groomer, your puppy needs to learn to be groomed and handled by strangers at a young age. I recommend the first grooming appointment be made for age 16 weeks, as soon as your puppy has had all of his or her puppy vaccinations.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Off Lead Play For Puppies

Risa, our liver puppy, formally known as Calypso's Barista, is now 12 weeks old. She is such a good puppy, but a bundle of energy and enthusiasm. Meg, from our M Litter, who is now 13 weeks old, came over today for a play date with Risa. They had a TON of fun playing together. They sounded quite wild and crazy as they raced around barking, growling, wrestling, and leaping at each other. Meg's mom works as a veterinary technician, so she had the patience to stay here for several hours and watch puppies play with me, knowing, as I know, that off lead play time with other dogs is an essential part of socializing a baby puppy. Dogs learn so much from each other. They learn appropriate play styles, greetings, when to be submissive, etc. They learn how to interact appropriately with dogs only by playing with other dogs. Puppies also learn proper bite inhibition by playing with other puppies their age.

Many pet owners neglect this part of socializing their new puppies. This can lead to an adult dog who is fearful of other dogs or who gives the wrong cues while playing with other dogs which can lead to inappropriate behavior, either from your own dog or from the other dogs interacting with your dog. Dogs are not miniature humans and one of the best ways to allow them to develop proper canine language is to allow puppies plenty of off lead play time with other dogs and puppies while they are growing up.

If you have a puppy growing up at home, schedule a play date with another puppy your puppy's age. If you do not know another puppy, consider taking a puppy class where off lead play time is part of the curriculum. Once your puppy has had all of his or her vaccinations, you can look for a doggy daycare that will allow your puppy to visit for a few hours or a dog park with a "small dog" section where your puppy can make friends with dogs his or her size.

Properly socializing your puppy will take work on your part!! Remember, though, that in order to end up with a well socialized, well behaved adult dog, you must first put the appropriate amount of effort in to raising your puppy correctly.

One added benefit to puppy play sessions... a very tired and happy puppy! Risa is currently quietly sleeping in her crate. Too tired to even chew on the bone I gave her!