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David the Dogman debates – housesitting solution or kennels

The housesitting solution becomes the right solution for some pet owners in the most unexpected ways. ‘David the Dogman‘ dog trainer with some 50 years experience shares his story of Boy Boy one of his favourite dogs.  He explains how he chose him, trained him and how when he was left at a kennels he nearly died of gastric torsion.  Now after that incident David and his wife Susan prefer to have someone at home to care for their pets where their food and routines can be controlled. This way the pets can maintain their routine and any separation anxiety is minimised and whoever is at home can help and take action should anything happen. Housesitters can become a good solution for some people and their pets.

MEETING MY DOG BOY BOY

housesitting solution

Boy Boy as a three year old dog

Anyone who knows me will remember that I have always had large dogs, German Shepherds had been my favourite breed over the years. But this time I had decided to buy a female Rottweiler as I am of the opinion that the female species of the canine is a far closer animal due to the maternal instinct kicking in. Females, be they German Shepherds or Rottweiler’s are not often used by Police due to the fact that the females are approx. 30 % smaller. They are often  better pets and certainly good alarm dogs regarding visitors, and in my opinion they are better to train due to the fact that they do not sniff the ground too much and neither mark during the first year. Any breeder will tell you that the first year is vital for training your dog, and in any event by the end of the first year a dog should be able to carry out complete heel work, recall, sit, down stay and do nose work.

When I arrived at the chosen breeder’s property, a breeder whom I had known for many years, I was impressed by both the male and female puppies. I was able to touch them both. After some thought I eventually decided on the male dog due to his size and I knew that the father had all that I required in a dog i.e. big, strong, loyal and a good pet and guard.

WHY NAME A DOG BOY BOY?

Most owners repeat everything by calling the dog’s name over and over again the same as sit, sit sit, I said sit! Etc. So Boy Boy just came about over time,

Boy Boy started his training immediately by being taken to my dog training school, and there everyone in turn held him and chatted to him. He began to socialise immediately. He was also allowed on the ground to sniff other dogs. This is vital in young dogs, and within weeks he was in the puppy classes and within a year he was able to walk to heel, sit, down, send away, track and do a full agility course.

Needless to say Boy Boy was everything one could want in a dog being intelligent and loyal. He was an excellent guard dog and when told to ‘stop’ barking anyone could touch him.

Many say this breed of dog is dangerous which is complete nonsense. All dogs which have not been trained in a school are potential dangers especially a dog out of control. Out of control means for example ‘Pulling on the leash’ when the owners have no brakes!  Owners should get their dogs trained from a young age, good habits start early.

Boy Boy posing

Boy Boy posing aged 3 years

BOY BOY TRIES KENNELS

A little while after we had brought Boy Boy home, Susan and I decided it was time to take a break. Yet how should we care for the dogs? Do we try kennels again or find a housesitting solution. Should we take up the offer of our friends in the UK,  to come to our home in Spain to look after my dogs whilst we’re away ?  After long and careful consideration we decided that we were unable to put upon our friends with such a big responsibility.

Yes indeed, our friends are caring dog owners themselves but dogs do not always relate to new people. A new person with a new voice giving them commands can create challenging situations and occasionally they can go horribly out of control be it with large or small dogs. Dogs by their very nature are very territorial and can react entirely differently to new people staying in the home when the owners are absent which certainly means they are then without the control of their owners.

When owners are absent, for example stepping out to go shopping, most dogs will face the direction of wind where they think their owners have gone and go into an air scenting mode.  Anyone that kindly offers to pet sit runs a risk that a door only has to be ajar for a few seconds and the dogs are off looking for its owners.

I have always been certain that my dogs will not respond to a command of  stay, go down, or come when called by someone else. In simple terms this means they will be out of control. Many people often inform me that they will love a dog, cuddle it, let it lay on their bed etc. but no thought is given to whether this will make a dog ‘content’ in fact this can cause aggression.

Most dogs need space, more so when they are missing their family who, apparently in the dogs mind, have deserted them.

Before going into the kennels I’ll send my dogs for a full medical examination to ensure that their teeth and gums are in order and that in general they are in good health.

However, we discovered on our return from holiday that Boy Boy was found on the floor of his kennel with a gastric torsion. He nearly died. We are not sure what was cause the torsion but perhaps separation anxiety was part of the reason. perhaps a change of food causing his stomach to bloat – we’ll never know.

BOY BOY TRIES THE HOUSESITTING SOLUTION

Boy Boy in his prime

Boy Boy in his prime

Housesitters offer a different option, a housesitting solution that will work for many pets and their owners in their own home. As described earlier in this article, I obviously had wrestled with this. The question I asked myself is do I really want to leave my dogs with friends or new comers who do not know them?  I do not think for one moment that either Boy Boy or Sheba will not accept the sitters, but can I be 100% certain, when I am not there ?

Though I had earlier come to the decision to leave them in the hands of professional, licensed Kennels, unfortunately for Boy Boy we nearly experienced a tragedy. This made me think again. Perhaps we need to care for the dogs at home where they know their environment and property, the food is what we provide for them and we can guide who is looking after them and have a meet and greet to ensure they can be familiar with the sitters.

I am now of the opinion that a housesitting solution, ‘care at home’ is the better option for many pets, they will be more relaxed. We are lucky that we have family who are willing to care for our dogs while we take a holiday. Not everyone is that lucky and the housesitting solution through a company like HouseSitMatch.com can work well for many many people.

Earlier this year after a full life Boy Boy passed away in his sleep at home. My wife and I sadly miss him and the gifts he always had in his mouth for us! I write this piece in his memory.

Boy Boy 4.1.2006 – 4.1.2016

 

To find your housesitting solution register with HouseSitMatch:

To register as a House-sitter follow this link

To register as a Homeowner follow this link

David Klein
David Klein is a radio broadcaster AKA ‘David the Dogman’ and for over 50 years he has been a dog trainer and canine behaviourist specialising in aggressive dogs. He offers weekly advice on his Saturday morning show at Talk Radio Europe. Check out his website http://thedogman.net/

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