Congratulations - You are about to bring home your Swedish Vallhund puppy.  This is a little dog that will in all likelihood live into their 15th or 16th year.  They will be a loyal, and faithful family companion and/or working farm dog.  

This has been a big decision and it has not been cheap either.  Here you can learn some of the key things you can do to maximise the potential of your dog and the chances of turning your puppy into the once in a life time,  much loved family dog.  Below is comprehensive advice worth reading over a time or two BEFORE your new puppy comes home.

 

People proof' your dog from early puppy-hood when you can make the most difference for their life!  Socialisation for the Swedish Vallhund breed cannot be under estimated in it’s importance!  Your puppy must be exposed to meeting new people over and over particularly through a critical development period, which is 8 to 16 weeks of age and then in an ongoing way as they grow up. Ensure that the people you choose include the elderly, men and numerous considerate children.

Without this effort, your puppy stands a very high chance of adopting aggressive and fear based behaviour towards strangers and particularly men and children.  This  creates enormous stress on your dog and your family.  You may not even be aware you have an issue with a dog (that is at ease at home and with family), if you predominantly stay home and avoid contact with strangers and new people when they are very young pups.  The realisation that you have real problems comes much later when you start to venture out on the lead and your half grown dog does not cope with meeting new people.  

Undoing and re-training dogs around fear of strangers is extremely difficult, expensive and ongoing with often only a limited measure of success. From the moment you bring your Swedish Vallhund puppy home, there is some considerable urgency regarding socialisation and training. Make it your mission to ensure your puppy:

1. Meets 2 to 3 new people every day, or every second day.

2. Hand your puppy to people you know and trust to cuddle your pup, at times with you out of the direct sight of your puppy, so that they learn that they can be okay without you (this helps avoid separation anxiety also.)

3. Introduce your puppy to new children, men and women.

If you do not have children of your own... find children through friends and family and let your puppy meet and play with kids.  Small people tend to run, jump, shout, act suddenly and these actions and behaviours need to be seen by your puppy.

It does not matter if the breeder does not have children at home, so long as you are taking your puppy around 8 - 9 weeks of age and YOU make sure your puppy meets children, on many occasions before the puppy hits 16 weeks of age.

If you are struggling to find people, you can position yourself at the bus-stop or outside a supermarket for a organised mornings perhaps and encourage people to talk to your dog and pat the pup.  Most people are happy to do this especially when you explain that you need to socialise your puppy. 

2) Puppy Pre-School

 

Preschool programmes are usually run by your local vet clinic and are invaluable. This will run you through the basics of teaching your Swedish Vallhund to walk on a lead, and simple come, sit, stay type commands. Importantly this is also introducing your puppy to other dogs and lets them play appropriately with other dogs and develop bite inhibition.  Even if your puppy was one of several in the litter, take them to preschool.  Dog behaviour is learned, and meeting new dogs is very good for them.  

Puppy Preschool classes typically only run for 4 - 8 weeks.  Yet learning for your Swedish Vallhund does not stop when preschool does.....anymore than children finish up in their education as they conclude Kindergarten!
   



 

Similar to socialisation - this is the routine and early exposure to every day aspects of your life that your dog needs to be familar and comfortable with as an adult dog.  This may include such things as: 

  1. Car rides; (boats, trucks, quad-bike etc).
  2. Washing machine and vaccum cleaner sounds
  3. hair dryer, tumble dryer, dish washer
  4. Door knocking, door bell etc.
  5. Flapping plastic bags
  6. Wheels going by  (Traffic, lawn mowers,  bicycles, scooters wheelie-bins).
  7. Other animals (horses, cats, geese, goats, chickens).
Introduce puppy in a safe and gentle way.  If your puppy reacts fearfully, rather than reassure with cuddles and a high pitched voice... say very little and move further away from the new 'thing' and do nothing -  letting the pup settle themselves.  They learn quickly when they are very young that if they are scared and nothing happens that the scary thing isn't that scary afterall.  Short and frequent exposure is best.  If you pick them up, rescue them and pamper them for their fear reaction it works to reward that behaviour.

With cats, chickens and such - remember, 'contain, train, and supervise'.  Your puppy has an inbuilt prey drive.  Their instinct to herd is a modification of that prey drive.  Without supervision and training, your chickens may be targeted.
  


 

Your Swedish Vallhund puppy is a member of a breed regarded as robust and healthy.  There is no guarantees however that individual dogs will not develop health considerations during their life. Rarely Swedish Vallhunds may have or develop:

1. A food allergy (itchy skin and paws)
2. A temporary deformation of cartilage in the front legs, Carpel Laxity Syndrome.
3.  Front leg issues - notably a turning out of one or both front legs. CLICK FOR PHOTOS
4. Seizures without any clear cause have been known to develop later in life.

Understand about the main health issues that breeders concern themselves with - an eye anomaly and healthy hips.

Your puppy should come to you not under 8 weeks of age and be:

  1. Microchipped.
  2. With first vaccinations complete, and a booklet to show when these were done and when next are due.
  3. Wormed &  parasite free.
  4. Weaned.
  5. Seen by the breeders vet within the week they come to you.

Ensure you keep up with worming.  Puppies are very prone to worms and as an internal infestation can be very serious.  Fleas can take a lot of blood off a puppy, and in Australia ticks can be fatal.  Finish the vaccination course, then get the annual shot done at one year and then........  research if you want to continue with annual jabs or switch to 3 - 5 yearly. 

This is becoming more common as people decide that their pets are over vaccinated.  

ARTICLE ABOUT OVER VACCINATION.

5) Dog Training Club

 

Find and join your local dog training club.  Commit to attending for the first year.  You may discover that you really enjoy this and it can lead to dog sports such as fly ball, agility, rally-o and obedience.  Even if you do not get into the dog sports, your dog will benefit immeasurably for attending a dog training club for the first year of their life.



Successful domestic puppy education involves teaching your puppy to train themselves through confinement. This prevents mistakes and establishes good habits from the outset. When you are physically or mentally absent, confine your puppy to keep them out of mischief, and harms way. 

The more you confine your puppy to their puppy playroom and doggy den during their first few weeks at home, the more freedom they will enjoy as an adult dog for the rest of their life.

The more closely you adhere to the following puppy-confinement program, the sooner your puppy will be house trained and also chew toy trained! And, as an added benefit, your puppy will learn to settle down quickly, quietly, calmly, and happily.

When You Are Not at Home

Keep your puppy confined to a fairly small puppy playroom, such as the kitchen, bathroom, or utility room. You can also use an exercise pen to cordon off a small section of a room. This is your puppy’s long-term confinement area, which should include:

1. A comfortable bed

2. A bowl of fresh water

3. Plenty of hollow chew toys (stuffed with dog food)

4. A doggy toilet in the farthest corner from her bed

Obviously, your puppy will feel the need to bark, chew, and eliminate throughout the course of the day, and so they must be left somewhere she can satisfy their needs without causing any damage or annoyance. Your puppy will most probably eliminate as far as possible from her sleeping quarters — in the doggy toilet. By removing all chewable items from the puppy playpen — with the exception of hollow chewtoys stuffed with kibble — you will make chewing chewtoys your puppy's favorite habit. A good habit!

The Purpose of long-term confinement is:

1. To confine the puppy to an area where chewing and toilet behavior are acceptable, so the puppy does not make any chewing or housesoiling mistakes around the house

2. To maximise the likelihood that the puppy will learn to use the provided toilet

3). To maximise the likelihood that the puppy will learn to chew only chewtoys (the only chewables available in the playroom)

4. To maximise the likelihood that the puppy will learn to settle down calmly and quietly, i.e., without barking

When You Are at Home

Enjoy short play and training sessions hourly. If you cannot pay full attention to your puppy’s every single second, play with your pup in their Puppy Playpen, where a suitable toilet and toys are available.  Or, for periods of no longer than an hour at a time, confine your puppy to their doggy den (short-term close confinement area), such as a portable dog crate. 

Every hour on the hour, release your puppy and quickly take him to his doggy toilet. Your puppy's short-term confinement area should include a comfortable bed, and plenty of hollow chewtoys (stuffed with dog food).

It is much easier to watch your pup if he is settled down in a single spot. Either you may move the crate so that your puppy is in the same room as you, or you may want to confine your pup to a different room to start preparing him for times when he will be left at home alone. If you do not like the idea of confining your puppy to a dog crate, you may tie the leash to your belt and have the pup settle down at your feet. Or you may fasten the leash to an eye-hook in the baseboard next to your puppy's bed, basket, or mat. To prevent the chewtoys from rolling out of reach, also tie them to the eye-hook.

The Purpose of Short-term Close Confinement is:

1. To confine the puppy to an area where chewing behavior is acceptable so the puppy does not make chewing mistakes around the house.

2. To make the puppy a chewtoyaholic (since chewtoys are the only chewables available and they are stuffed with food)

3. To teach the puppy to settle down calmly and happily for periodic quiet moments.

4. To prevent housesoiling mistakes around the house.

5. To predict when the puppy needs to eliminate.

Dogs naturally avoid soiling their den, so closely confining a puppy to their bed temporarily inhibits urination and defecation. This means the pup will need to relieve themselves when released from the crate each hour. You will then be there to show the puppy the right spot, reward them for eliminating in the right spot, and then enjoy a short play/training session with the delightfully empty puppy.

Train Your Puppy to Train Himself

Housetraining and chewtoy-training will be quick and easy if you adhere to the puppy confinement plan above, which prevents the puppy from making mistakes and prompts the puppy to teach themselves household etiquette. 

If you vary from the program, you will likely experience problems. Unless you enjoy problems, you must reprimand yourself for any mistakes you allow your puppy to make.


Swedish Vallhunds are a HERDING breed.  They herd cows by nipping at the cow's hocks.  Running legs can be deeply exciting for your puppy.  Ensure that your children to not play run and chase games with your puppy.  Should your puppy nip at trouser legs, and ankles you must correct immediately and firmly.  At the chase and fun stage this can be corrected and sorted.  If it is encouraged with laughter and treated as a big joke.. nipping can become biting!! 






Swedish Vallhunds are a slow growing breed.  This combined with their short legs means that what you feed, and more importantly what you do not feed is quite essential particularly to protect the front legs, and encourage straight leg growth.

Despite vet protestation, avoid dried kibble - no matter how superior and premium they are described as being.  Most premium kibble foods are based on wheat, barley and grain, (not a natural main diet for canine constitution) additionally they are filled with nutrients, minerals and additives including calcium.  When the soft supporting structures of your dog's legs grow at a different rate to the bones, the legs can end up bowing.  Bowing of the legs can be a genetic issue, but it is exacerbated by rolly-polly heavy puppies and by grain based, highly modified dried feed.

Instead - DO NOT be afraid to feed a raw meat diet.  Feed a wet diet... meat based and low nutrition.  This sounds counter productive to having a healthy puppy.  However, common sense will tell you that pups in the wild do not get the best feed.  The internal organs of prey and best food is taken by the higher ranking adult dogs and puppies survive on scraps getting to eat last.  Swedish Vallhund puppies do well on raw feed diets.  You can include some offal, mostly raw red meats and chicken.  

New Zealanders are familiar also with BUTCH dog sausage.  This is a good supplement product to raw meat, as it is meat based and does not contain artificial preservatives, and colours.  

Your puppy should be having a small meal twice a day when they come to you.  BONES are good for puppy teeth.  This means RAW, and LARGE bones twice a month.  This will help teething and keeping teeth clean.  Avoid dried pigs ears and rolled dried hide dog chews.  Bones do the same job and are a much less choking risk that a slippery chunk of dried pig ear. Caution, when finished with uplift and throw away bones.  Left for days and weeks in the sun on the back lawn bones become brittle.  Brittle bones can be a hazzard for the splintered shards.

Once your Swedish Vallhund is up over a year of age and heading towards 18 months of age, their front legs will not change in shape.  The growth plates have closed over and you can revert to the dog food choices of your preference.  Do your research, trial what works.  Typically dogs can eat (low salt) table scraps, cooked vegetables added to their main feed.

Adult dogs should be fed once a day.
Dogs sleeping outdoors may need twice a day feeding to maintain body warmth.

 

image: by Jette Holmes

PRIORITISE TIME - and MAKE A PLAN

Before you bring your puppy home, so that you know what you are doing with your puppy in these early days and week write up a schedule if need be.   Have every member of the family on board and understanding what you are working towards and.....