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What I've learnt about puppies

We’ve had Taz for just over a month. She’s my first ever puppy, and Pete’s first in 10 years. Neither of us were entirely sure what to expect from Taz when we bought her home from the local markets one weekend, but so far she’s been pretty clever and only wee-d inside once since we got her! Here’s a list of things that I’ve learnt from Taz so far (and an excuse for lots of Taz photos):

eight acres: what I've learnt about puppies

  • 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!)
eight acres: what I've learnt about puppies

  • 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.
eight acres: what I've learnt about puppies

  • 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.
eight acres: what I've learnt about puppies

  • 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.
eight acres: what I've learnt about puppies

  • 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.
eight acres: what I've learnt about puppies
  • 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.
eight acres: what I've learnt about puppies
  • 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.
eight acres: what I've learnt about puppies

  • 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.

As you can see, I’ve learnt heaps from Taz, she is a great little pup. Do you have any puppy wisdom to share?


  1. Looks like a lot of fun, those little teeth can be sharp and our dog is Aussie cattle dog / border collie and she was all into herding our steer until she got into the electric fence and though the steer did it so from then on left the cows alone. She is smart and you will be surprised the verbal commands that you can teach them.

  2. Always hang up your garden hoses, because they're just too tempting for growing puppies when rolled out. They will gladly shorten them into small pieces of hose for you, lol.

    Taz looks happy and its great to have a canine companion for her to seek assurances from.

  3. Although I've had oodles (and oodles) of dogs and puppies in my life, for the first time ever I've experieced the joy of puppy birth - just before christmas my son's young kelpie had a litter to 8 gorgeous bundles of kelpie x collie delights.... we are keeping 2 boys from the litter (all the rest have found WONDERFUL homes - I had no idea that the kepie x collie is THE most sort after dog... there you go)

    I'll let you know how the training goes eh....

  4. I have a kelpie/heeler/collie cross who's about 20 months old. She looks a lot like your Taz, who is gorgeous, except has blue spots on her nose and feet. I agree with the puppy pen, I trained Mirrhi to one, and although now she isn't locked in it at night, but has a small space off the kitchen with her crate in it that I put a gate across, she still sleeps mostly in her crate, and heads off into it during the becomes their secure place. I taught her to 'trade' from very young...if I had to take something unsuitable off her I'd always offer her something else, or a treat, and used the word 'trade'. Mirrhi is very smart and easy to train...I hide her collar every morning and she has to find it before we go walking, I don't even have to tell her to 'find' anymore, she just looks everywhere and then comes running to me with it. She rings a bell on the back door to go out and is learning to push a gate shut and I've started getting her to help me herd the chooks to bed at night...she gets distracted a bit by the cats, but is doing ok so far with 'come around' and 'get back'. You're going to have such fun with Taz as she grows and learns.

  5. Such cute photos, sounds like things are going great. Jessie is still sleeping a lot during the day and she is 3 but like your 2 has bursts of energy.

  6. Wait till you get to the part "puppy looses puppy teeth" and the troubles when the new ones start growing :D
    Taz is so cute and smart little dog.

  7. NO wisdom to share. Only to say that puppy is adorable! (Also I seem to be having troouble commenting on your blog at the mometn?)

  8. I don't know why I didn't reply to all these lovely comments earlier! Thanks everyone for sharing your stories, sounds like there are some really smart dogs out there :)


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