Linda Liebrand is the owner of an Entlebucher Mountain Dog, a high-energy, intelligent breed originally bred for herding cattle, guarding farms and pulling carts.
Her new book “Entlebucher Mountain Dogs – What I Wish I Knew” is about what you can expect if you decide to own this extremely high-energy, working breed. I thought many of That Mutt’s readers would relate because so much applies to ANY high-energy breed! Um, weimaraners?
Linda is giving away a paperback copy of “Entlebucher Mountain Dogs – What I Wish I knew” to two readers of That Mutt. She will ship anywhere in the US or UK. To enter, leave a comment at the end of this post. Update: The giveaway has ended. Congrats to Christina M. and Lisa M.
I hope you enjoy this Q&A:
Linda Liebrand: I recently stumbled across the Survivor Dogs series by Erin Hunter and got sucked into the world of Lucky and his wild dog pack for weeks.
Seriously, if you’re a dog person who enjoys YA fantasy books then get ready to get addicted to this series. The dog characters are amazing, and the story is fast-paced and incredibly engaging. The dogs are spiritual, kind and ferocious in equal measures and it feels like you get to live life like a wild dog for a while. It’s actually books for kids – but hey, it’ll be our little secret!
TM: What dog training tool or dog product has benefited your dog the most recently?
Linda: One of my biggest training fails with Alfie is that I never really managed to teach him how to walk nicely on the lead without pulling.
It wasn’t for lack of trying, but after nearly two years of daily training, he still pulled like a tractor despite all the best training advice we received from various trainers. I threw in the towel and bought a gentle leader, and we haven’t looked back since.
At seven years of age, our Alfie is still an incredibly energetic dog, and I never leave the house without the gentle leader if Alfie’s coming along, especially since the arrival of our baby boy. After some people asked me why my dog wears a muzzle, I bought a red one that looks a little friendlier than the black one we started off with.
Alfe doesn’t like it much to be fair, and he looks very indignant every time I put it on. But sometimes the nose collar is the only difference between my bringing Alfie along to places or not – so he puts up with it.
TM: In the last few years, what belief or habit has most improved your life with dogs?
Linda: When we first brought our Alfie home seven years ago, we had no idea how much energy he’d have as a puppy and adolescent dog. I thought a simple long walk a day would be enough, along with some fun dog classes every week like I’d done with my previous dog, a German Shepherd. It turns out Alfie had other plans, and his batteries never ran out.
At first, I tried to give him more and more exercise to burn off his endless energy, but the only one who got tired was me! Alfie happily carried on playing and inventing mischief when we got home from our walks, and he didn’t settle until I locked him in his crate at night. It wasn’t until I met with our third (!) dog trainer that I realised that I needed to exercise Alfie’s brain as well as his paws and I started taking him on what I like to call ‘working walks’.
Instead of simply walking him for an hour, I built in fun brain games and exercises for him to do during the walk. I hid toys and treats for him to sniff out, we practised obedience and impulse control – basically, anything that I could think of that would engage his smart brain and help tire him out. That way I added some much needed mental stimulation to his day, and he turned into a happier and somewhat calmer dog. We still do working walks to this day.
TM: What advice would you give to a friend about to get her first dog?
Linda: Take your research seriously, and don’t just look at dog pictures on the internet. Meet dog breeders and people who already own the type of dogs that you’re considering. Ask them what’s good about the breed, and what’s bad about them and try and envision living your life with that type of dog. Never choose a dog because of their looks.
The worst example of this I’ve ever heard of was when I volunteered at a dog rescue home a few years ago. Someone asked for a dog that would match their furniture, absolutely crazy and they would have probably been better off with a goldfish bowl than a dog.
Once you get your puppy, be sure to future-proof him or her as well as you can. When we got Alfie seven years ago, kids were not on our radar at all, and we didn’t think about socialising him with children. When we decided to have a baby, Alfie was five years old, and I had to scramble to get him socialised with kids. I wish I’d thought of it sooner as things would have been easier for us both that way.
Now he loves our toddler to bits. So my advice would be to try and think ahead into the future and socialise your dog with people of all ages and abilities.
TM: What’s the worst advice you hear when it comes to dogs?
Linda: When our baby boy was born one of our neighbours asked how Alfie was coping with the big change – before I had a chance to reply she continued ‘Isn’t it funny how they just ‘know’ how to be around kids’.
I smiled politely and said yes, but in my mind, I was thinking about how much work had gone into preparing our dog for baby’s arrival, and how we had to keep an eye on them both every second of every day to teach them how to behave around each other.
Alfie’s life changed just as much as ours did when the baby joined our pack, and we prepped him as much as we could beforehand. Some dogs are not that lucky – when I volunteered at the dog rescue home, I often wondered why perfectly wonderful family dogs were turned in. When I asked my supervisor, she simply shrugged and said it’s another ‘first baby can’t cope’ case where mums feel overwhelmed with a baby and a hyperactive, unprepared dog.
(See That Mutt’s post: How to prepare your dog for a baby.)
TM: Does Alfie sleep in your bed?
Linda: Alfie’s allowed on all of our furniture, and he sometimes sleeps in our bed when my husband’s out of town. He curls up at the top of the bed, kicks his paws in under the duvet and rests his head on the pillow with a content sigh.
Thank you, Linda!
To enter the giveaway to win a paperback copy of Linda’s book, just leave a comment below so I know you want IN on the drawing. Do you have a high-energy or unruly dog?
I’ll choose two winners at random on Friday May 25. Must have a US or UK mailing address to win. Winners will be notified by email. Update: The giveaway has ended. Congrats to Christina M. and Lisa M.
ORDER THE BOOK:
The book is available in paperback, hardback and Kindle formats on Amazon here.
You might remember Alfie from my post a few years ago: How to tire out a hyper dog!