BLOSSOM HILL
GREATER SWISS MOUNTAIN DOGS
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Q & A

Swissy  Q & A

I have been asked every one of these questions over the years.  I have listed them here to share my answers.  I have left off a few questions as they were simply too odd or I just really don’t know….Like why does my boy puppy have nipples.  Yep, I was seriously asked that question.

Q - You say you socialize the puppies you raise, will it know to sit and come when I get it and will it be housebroken?

A – No, I cannot train a puppy to do all that reliably in its first eight weeks of life.  It won’t sniff out explosive devices or illegal substances either.  Swissies are notoriously slow to housebreak.  Plan on working on that at your house for the next few months.

Q – Are Swissies really as calm as they seem?

A – Perhaps yes, but compared to what?  Swissies are not typically high energy dogs.  So if you are comparing them to a Border Collie or a Golden Retriever they may seem calm.  However, they do have a moderate energy level and it is usually presented in spurts.  They do need regular exercise and stimulation or like any dog they will be unhappy and possibly destructive.

Q – Are Swissies good with kids?

A – I always want to say, “Are your kids good with dogs”, but my real response is usually something like:  They can be if you put in the work.  Train your dog and train your kids, it’s really that simple.  Without your instruction neither one really knows how to behave around the other.  Teach your children appropriate boundaries and respect for the dog and teach your Swissy basic obedience and socialize them well.  Everyone likes dogs with manners and kids too.

Q – Will the Swissy guard/watch over my kids?

A – Um, you are supposed to have an adult or babysitter for that.  By nature Swissies can be a bit guard-y.  They are a sentry dog.  They are often pretty good at alerting to a change in surroundings.  This can be alerting you to a new person approaching or the trash can in the wrong place.  Always use common sense with kids and dogs!

Q – I want my child to learn responsibility, so this will be his/her dog.  Do you think they can handle this dog?

A – NO!  Food, clean water, exercise, mental stimulation, physical assessment, that’s a lot to put on a child.  Please consider a houseplant.  This is a living, breathing, intelligent being that you hope will be a family member for the next decade or more.  Please do right by it.

Q – Should we crate train the dog?

A – Absolutely yes!  And just in case that wasn't clear YES! The crate is great for so many reasons.  First, it is a safe place to house a puppy or dog.  Puppies can chew, eat foreign objects, dig on flooring, pull things off tables, they do all sorts of crazy things that will damage your property and/or hurt the puppy.  A crate is a safe place to keep them out of harm’s way when you are unable to supervise them.  A crate can also serve as that safe den like environment for your grown Swissy.  Many owners leave the door to their crates open to find their Swissies happily napping inside.  Dogs dig dens.  A crate can mimic a den and give them a feeling of safety and security.  It is also a great place for a dog that may be stressed by environment (children, fireworks, other pets, etc) to retreat to.  Teach the kids the crate is off limits.  This will give your dog a place to go if they are overwhelmed.  Another important reason to make sure your dog is familiar with a crate is you never know when you may have to crate your dog during travel or transport or when they are with a professional or under veterinary care.  It’s sad to me when a dog has a stressful situation away from home and has added stress because they don’t know a crate and are scared of the confinement.  Please crate train them even if you don’t plan to use the crate every day.

Q – Should we free feed our dog?

A – I am not a fan of free feeding or keeping the bowl full.  I know this works for some people in single dog households.  I believe it is harder to monitor/regulate your dogs feed.  It is easier for people not to notice if their dog becomes overweight when they free feed.  They also don’t notice as quickly if their dog isn’t eating as well, which may possibly indicate another problem.

Q –I run everyday can my dog go running with me?

A – Why did you choose a Swissy?  This is not the best choice of dog if you want to run ten miles every day and you want a dog companion by your side.  Sure you can train your dog to run with you.  However, there are probably better choices if you want a long distance companion.

Q – I want this dog to be a therapy dog.  Do you think Swissies can do that?

A – Yes, with training Swissies certainly can be therapy dogs.  I have had a few puppies grow up and earn their therapy dog certifications and have gone on to participate in very meaningful work.

Q – Do I really need to take my puppy to the vet after I pick it up from you?

A – Yes.  Not only is this a confirmation your puppy is in good condition and healthy, it is an opportunity for you to set up your vaccination schedule for your new puppy and discuss heartworm preventative and flea and tick prevention, etc.


Q – What should I feed my puppy?

A – I recommend you feed a premium dog food.  There are many good choices on the market.  I personally feed Purina ProPlan and Purina One.  I definitely suggest a premium food.  Cheaper foods may sound like a bargain however, you often find you have to feed a larger volume therefore it is really not more economical in the long run.  Also it’s as simple as this…garbage in garbage out.  Feed larger volumes of lower quality food and get larger volumes of clean up in the back yard.  You wouldn’t feed your family fast food every day, please read the bag and avoid the junk food for your dog as well.  Make sure meat (chicken, lamb, beef etc.) is the FIRST ingredient on the list.  Not a grain and not a meal, i.e. Chicken Meal.

Q – Do they shed?

A – Yes they shed.  They don’t shed out once or twice each year in huge quantities like many longer coat breeds.  They shed throughout the year with undercoat shedding more heavily, usually in the Spring as temperatures rise.  If you brush regularly you can keep the hair in your house to a minimum.  Otherwise be prepared to vacuum….regularly.

Q – What age should I have my puppy spayed or neutered.

A – I personally recommend a female puppy not be spayed until after her first heat cycle.  It has been my experience and that of many of other breeders there is a reduced chance of incontinence in a female spayed after her first heat cycle.  I personally recommend a male puppy not be neutered until he is at least 18 to 24 months old.  I understand there are many concerns with both spaying and neutering at this later age.  I also understand this opinion is often contrary to what many veterinarians will tell their clients.  I would be happy to discuss the many factors concerned with this topic any time with any interested party.

Q – When can we start training?

A – Right away!  Many local obedience clubs or training facilities offer Puppy Kindergarten.  The ages they allow will vary from facility to facility.  Most offer classes for puppies starting at 8 or 12 weeks and older.  This is a super opportunity to start to socialize your puppy to other people and dogs, not to mention buildings, noise, the car, etc.

Q – Do you use choke collars?

A – Yes, I often use a choke collar on a dog.  Generally not before approximately 5 months of age.  Most importantly please learn how to properly use a choke collar.  If it feels like your dog is always pulling and you are never walking on loose lead then you are not using it correctly.  I am happy to give you a demonstration in person or instructions over the phone any time.

 

Q – I think prong collars are cruel, do you use them?

A – Yes, I use prong collars on adult dogs.  They are not cruel if used correctly.  In my opinion they are less cruel than a flat nylon collar that is constantly putting pressure on a dog’s neck and being constantly tugged backward.  If a prong collar is used correctly a very brief correction is made and a dog learns quickly how to walk on a loose lead.   I cannot stress enough the importance of having control of your dog on leash in public, for your dog’s safety, for your safety and the safety of others.  I will be happy to demonstrate the proper use of prong collars any time.

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