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An additional to the family

January 2012 blog – Ingrid Grayling

I love the month of January, for me it brings a feeling of optimism and a sense of excitement about the unknowns that lie ahead for the year. There is one aspect of January that I don't look forward to and that is the weather! Now I don't want to be a stereotypical Brit and always talk about it, but it plays such an important role in my daily life that one can't help referring to it! And, I don't think I'm alone when I say that the thought of working outside in the bleak, cold, damp and dark January days is rather an uninspiring thought.

I am always optimistic that January and the New Year will offer freezing weather conditions that bring a mixture of fresh soft snow and brilliant bright sunshine with crystal blue skies, making it crisp and frosty underfoot and beautiful to walk in. I know these conditions are not appealing to everyone, but for me I love walking through the un-trodden snowfall with my two black Labradors who like nothing better than to chase each other and roll around playing in the fresh snowflakes.

My youngest Labrador was bred by me nearly five years ago now from my other Labrador, Emma. She was the smallest of the litter and so I named her Twinkle as she shone out like a little star among litter. And what a litter it was, Twinkle's mother Emma had the puppies when she was 3 years old and had 10 pups in total - quite a shock for her and also a lot of hard work for both her and me!

Breeding from your own dog is exciting and fun but I can't deny also very hard work. There is an enormous amount of responsibility, nurturing and time that needs to be put in to make sure that your dog and the puppies are looked after correctly. One of the most important aspects is making sure that the feeding of both mother and puppies is done correctly. The correct food with the right nutritional value is of extreme importance as the puppies need to be well nourished both before and after their birth. Anyone thinking of breeding can obtain professional advice on which type of food they need to be feeding their dog and puppies with from various pet food suppliers including Blendbetter who specialise in nutritional advice including supplements, specialised food and medicines, and who also offer excellent help and advice during the whelping period. I personally have had excellent advice and support from them over the years, and not just with my puppies, but also with my older dogs and other guest dogs that have had special nutritional & dietary requirements.

Meal times are certainly a full time job during the weaning period; extracting over excited puppies from sitting in the food dishes, stopping them from tipping over their bowls, and scrambling around as they try to eat each other's food is guaranteed to keep you fit and slim. The mother too should have extra food and vitamin supplements as it's important for her to build up her strength and energy to get her back into a good condition.

The time I treasure most is when I am sitting quietly in the kennel watching my dog with her family; it's fascinating when you see how the relationship and natural instincts of the mother takes over even if they are a fist timer to motherhood. Pack leadership in particular takes over so naturally.

Pack leadership is so important and this takes place a short time after the puppies have been born with the mother taking over her role as pack leader. As she cleans her babies and as they get to recognise her smell, they also get to recognise that she is the pack leader and the head of the family, within a short space of time each puppy knows it place with in the family unit. As well as feeding them, keeping them clean, and bonding with them, discipline also comes into play and this is especially important as they need to learn boundaries for later on when they leave the pack and go into the human pack.

As all dogs live in a pack at the beginning of their lives pack leadership is a very natural instinct for them and the positive boundaries that have been put in place in the early stages are important as they make them feel secure. Potential issues around pack leadership arise when they leave their natural pack and go into the human pack and meet their new owners. It is important for new dog owners to recognise that as well as love; their dog needs a pack leader to teach them boundaries, good manners, obedience training and discipline, as well as socialising. When all of these are put into place, both owner and dog can have a happy and stress-free life where the dog knows exactly what is required and both can have a good relationship.

I train the owner to train their dog, so right from the beginning it is very clear to the dog who the pack leader is. Within my training methods, I use very simple but effective commands; these include using a whistle, hand signals and a training line. These techniques combined with a commitment from owner to dog, ensures that at the end of the training time both dog and owner understand each other, have respect and the dog has a happy and secure life.

Ingid Grayling.com
Blendbetter Carlisle. Blendbetter Pet Foods, Westlinton, Carlisle. CA6 6AA. 01228 791608
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Blendbetter Carlisle. Blendbetter Pet Foods, Westlinton, Carlisle. CA6 6AA.
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Website By StevenAskew.co.uk