You’ve done your research, you’ve found a suitable breeder and you have a date for your pups arrival, but, what has your research NOT told you about this lovable, affectionate, athletic breed?
We’ve had two pups in the last 18 years, Bruno our first was a very steep learning curve filled with sleepless nights, toilet training disasters and overwhelm. When George joined us 4 years ago we were so much more knowledgeable and this led to less stress and much more FUN.
I’m not going into details about the basics, pups first days, sleeping arrangements, feeding and toilet training. There’s lots of great advice online, I recently came across this fantastic lady, www.thepitterpatteroftinypaws.co.uk – Gretta has some informative, helpful articles and also runs courses if you feel you need or want more help. Having a puppy is not always as easy as you think.
This is the list of what they don’t tell you - 10 things that only whippet owners know, the inside knowledge of what life is really like when you share it with one of these special (needs) dogs….
1 – They are VERY trainable if you have enough of the desired treats! Whippets are discerning and quickly learn when being fobbed off with a low grade treat! So, for training, the tastier and smellier the better! It will help them focus and WANT to please you.
2 – Take little steps and build on them daily. This goes for getting them used to the car, learning to pee in the right place and at the right times, being patient – this does not come naturally to these nosy dogs who are easily distracted. Never get cross with them, it will set you back and affect your relationship with this sensitive breed.
3 – They LOVE comfort so you can never have enough soft blankets or quality bedding. A hard and uncomfortable bed will just have your pup seeking out something better, your sofa, the warm spot you’ve just vacated or your bed! If you plan to keep your whippet off the furniture, good luck.
4 – Being separate from you must be TAUGHT. Whippets are like little people magnets; they love and desire to be with you, ALL of the time. But, sometimes they need to be on their own and starting when they are pups is the best time. Stair gates are invaluable. Put one between you and pup while you are doing something else, make sure they have a bed, toys or a treat to amuse themselves, ignore the cries, praise when they are settled. They soon pick it up, and then start to leave them when you are not in sight, but do this slowly and with patience. Build it up and in time they learn that down time alone is ok.
5 – You can’t force a whippet to do anything; let them think it’s their idea! Whippets can give you a whole lot of ATTITUDE when they don’t like the choice you have made.
6 – They feel the cold and hate the rain so need suitable clothing, but don’t expect your pup to know this before they find out for themselves! Make the experience of wearing their first jumpers fun, use treats to help it be a positive experience, they soon learn to lift that leg up when the jumper appears!
7 – Whippets love other whippets and they play in a unique way! Any owner will tell you about the embarrassment in the park when their whippet is engaged in a fun game of ‘bitey face’. It’s loud and can sound aggressive but you will get used to it if your pup has other whippet friends.
8 – They are excellent THIEVES. What do you think that long nose is for? Add that to their ability to walk on two legs supported by your counter top and you will find out that what you think is not accessible, actually is!! You will eventually learn to put food away, close the kitchen door and never leave food around a sleeping whippet unattended! It takes time but it does become second nature!
9 – Whippets love to play. Some love balls, some squeaky toys, some soft and comforting. Find the type of toys they love and use them to engage and reward. Toys that hide treats are a great way to amuse and for them to learn.
10 – Most of all whippets LOVE to run, preferably with another whippet but remember that puppies need to develop and grow before it’s safe to let them zoom at full pelt. The wait is worth it, seeing your whippet run free is one of the greatest pleasures you will get in life.
This is just a little insight into what’s to come when you welcome a whippet into your world, I hope it has helped and of course I’m always happy to chat if you want to get in touch – or pop your question up on the Redhounders Facebook group where there is always someone with knowledge and experience who can help.