The Puppies are Here!

Congratulations to breeder Cathy Lewandowski of Softmaple Curly Coated Retrievers on the delivery of the Lodi & Reilly litter! Nine beautiful healthy pups! Congratulations must also go to Lodi’s owner Natalie Donnelly, and Reilly’s co-owner Connie Buchanan.

I feel very honoured to be getting a puppy from this lovely cross, and was so excited to hear from Cathy that I was in fact getting a pup from this litter!



Skywatcher’s Dee Liver Me to SoftMaple RATN, RATI, CGC, TDI, DN

(AKC, CKC, UKC Pointed)



SHR GRCH Softmaple Green River JH, DJA, AJ, RATO, CGCA, UJJ, WC, TDI, CA


I was looking for a puppy from Reilly’s last litter; but unfortunately circumstances kept me from taking a puppy at that time. So I am very happy to have a second chance to get a puppy from this lovely girl.

Lodi is Tess’s brother, so it’s a nice feeling to keep it in the family. I have loved watching him and Natalie’s many successes over the years, and Lodi’s personality seems to encompass the very best of the breed. Many pups out of that litter have done very well in their respective events and I have enjoyed seeing them all grow up into lovely dogs, so I am very comfortable with getting a pup out of these bloodlines.

I look forward to watching them grow at Softmaple Curly Coated Retriever’s over the next number of weeks, and seeing all their personalities develop!




You can easily get lost in the pet store at the toy aisle if you haven’t been there in a while. There seem to be a million new types of toys in all shapes and colours, and it’s hard to separate what you “need” from the cutest and best advertised.

Toys break down into a few different categories:

  • Food Dispensing
  • Interactive
  • Chewy & Edible
  • Comfort

Food Dispensing Toys

In my opinion these toys are some of the best toys money can buy! They are great to keep your puppy (or adult) dog busy when you need a dog free moment, or when you are at work. These toys are very helpful in teaching puppies to have quiet settle down moments, help prevent separation anxiety, slow down eating for dogs that like to gulp down their food, and satisfy the puppies need to chew while teething. These toys are exactly what they sound like, you fill them with food and let the puppy figure out how to get it out.

Some of my favorites:



Fill the Kong with a “recipe” of your choosing and let your puppy keep busy trying to get every last morsel out. This is usually the best (easiest) toy to start with to teach your puppy this new game of foraging for food. A good way to start is to fill it with the puppy’s kibble, wet dog food, or some yummy treats, and just let them fall out as the puppy paws at, drops, or tries to lick the food out of the Kong. Some dogs love it if you add a little peanut butter around the rim blocking in the kibble. As your puppy progresses there are a lot of great recipes you can try, or invent some of your own.  Tess loves her Kong’s but won’t work very hard to get the food out for some of the “harder” to get out recipes, or frozen. I still use them, they just don’t give me much time. If your puppy is the same there are some other options to make it a little harder for them. Or you may need to up the ante with the food inside to increase their interest.

Busy Buddy Squire Dude


Works the same as the Kong, just another brand you may find or prefer.  This one has rubber nubs at the opening so it is a little harder to get the kibble out, so if you aren’t stuffing the toy, just filling with kibble this can be a better alternative as it takes a little longer for the puppy to get all the food out.

Kong Genius

These toys are similar to the Busy Buddy in that you fill them and they have little nubs preventing the food from falling out to easily. Tess has both the Leo and Mike and they work great when I go to work in the morning. I was finding I was barely out the door when she had emptied her Kong, where these (partially filled) will keep her busy for closer to 15-20 minutes. They can be a little harder to find at the pet store, but I have found them well worth buying. One of my foster dogs had to show her how to use it, so (if that isn’t an option for you!) I’d suggest filling it with yummy treats the first time you fill it.

Busy Buddy Barnacle


I attended a seminar where the instructor’s dog was using the Barnacle and ever since I’ve been on the hunt for one. I can’t seem to find it at our local stores, so an online purchase may be in order. It works similar to the Squirrel Dude or Kong Genius.




wobblerThe Kong Wobbler is another great food dispensing toy. This one works a little like those blow up clowns, the puppy has to knock the Wobbler over to get the food to fall out of the little hole part way up the toy. It takes a little longer for the puppy to empty than some of the toys, is very easy to open and fill (and clean!). So could be an easy way to put in a meal and let the puppy keep itself busy for a while.  This brings us into the little more “active” toys than some of the earlier ones mentioned, so this won’t teach your dog to settle down and relax when you are gone, but will keep him busy when you need a moment and can’t keep him entertained.

Busy Buddy Twist ‘n Treat


The Twist ‘n Treat was one of the first food dispencing toys I bought for Tess, and it works great. It’s similar to the Wobbler in that it’s a more active toy as they have to spin it around to get the food to fall out. I like it as a puppy toy especially since it comes in different sizes (so a smaller size can be great for the smaller puppy food) and you can make the opening larger or smaller to make it easier or harder for the puppy. The only downside to me is it doesn’t hold a great deal of food, and they can empty it pretty quickly.


Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble & Magic Mushroom

I haven’t used either of these products, but they look like they would be good alternatives to the Wobbler, or Twist ‘n Treat if you can’t find them.

Tricky Treat Ball



I have used this one for Tess for a while, it is a great keep busy toy. In fact I think I have a video I’ll post of her using it as a puppy. It allows you to put quite a bit of food in, is good for slowing down quick eaters, and will keep them busy for a while. Downside is I don’t find it particularly easy to clean.


mini-treat-wheel-mainOutward Hound makes a number of different puzzles you can purchase for your dog, there are other manufacturers that sell them as well. I find them to be a little hard to find at the local pet store, but they are worth looking at if you can find them or order online. I bought a fairly simple one for Tess to start with, we haven’t gotten a tonne of use out of it. I find it’s a little more hands on for me, having to refill it since the one we had did not hold much food. So it didn’t work for us as a busy toy, but others look like they hold more food and would work well for a dog that is a quick eater. The Treat Wheel pictured above, or Star Spinner look like they might have been a better purchase for what I wanted. So my advice would be to know what you are looking for when buying one…whether you want to be part of the game or are looking for something with more capacity for food.

Interactive Toys

I would say there are two big categories in here, toys you can tug with and toys you throw.

Tug Toys

Not everyone likes to teach their dog to play tug, and feel it can teach them other “bad” habits. Many hunters feel it can be detrimental to their hunting training, and some people feel it can teach aggression. For the type of sports I do it would be helpful (Tess isn’t much of a tugger). So you may or may not want to purchase tug toys for your puppy depending on what your feelings are on this.

If you have a dog that is a strong or enthusiastic tugger I would suggest one that has a little give, either elastic or rubber that will absorb some of that shock to your body (and theirs). For dogs that aren’t big tuggers ones like the hol-ee roller can be good to build interest as you can toss and tug; or hide ‘n treat tugs that have food inside the dog has to “tug” open.

Toss Toys

jolly-egg-group-435x321For our retriever friends these are likely going to be their favorite toys, and will pretty much be anything they can catch. Some of Tess’s favorites are her Kong Aqua, Training Dummy, Chuck It – Max Glow Ball (she thinks it makes an awesome smacking noise when she bites it), Chuck It – Ultra Tug Duo, Hero Sonic Frisbee, and her Squeaker Ball. Not exactly a toss toy but fits here probably better than anywhere is her Jolly Egg, which is awesome at getting her warn out chasing it around trying to catch it…yes she is spoiled!

Chewy & Edible Toys

 Nylabone is probably the king of this category, they have an endless line of edible or chewable toys to keep teething puppies happy, or adult dogs satisfied. Tess’s food allergies made these a godsend when she had chewing urges, her favorite now is the stick one; but for dogs that need to stay away from real animal chews these can be a great alternative.

Rawhide, pigs ears, bones, antlers, hooves, and similar have been popular for ages, dental chews would also fit in this category. However, a word of caution, be very careful when buying real animal chewies. I would recommend checking with your vet before giving any to your new puppy. I would only purchase products made (and sourced) in North America, any of these treats should only be fed when you are home to watch, bone fragments, pieces of rawhide or pigs ears can get broken off and small pieces can get lodged in the dog’s throat. Chicken bones are also a no-no since them can also get stuck in the dog’s throat. So feed (and purchase) with caution!

Comfort Toys

These are usually my favorite to buy, because they are so cute! These would be your stuffies, or any toy your dog might carry around with them. Tess likes to destroy these! She is not the cuddle, carry around type…or maybe more accurately I haven’t taught her not to! So after buying expensive toys for her as a puppy I am now a spendthrift in this category. I often look in the sale bin for these toys, or wait until after holidays when they go on sale. Recently I’ve been buying the stuffing-less toys and they have stood up well. The supposed non-destructible stuffies I have bought have not lasted much longer than the inexpensive so I don’t purchase them and instead go the sales route.

New Puppy Shopping List

For the last couple days I have been searching around the house trying to pull together all my puppy  items to make sure I have what I need, and know what I need to buy or replace for the new puppy.



 Shopping List:

  •  Food & Water bowls (Done!) – I primarily use stainless steel since it is easiest to clean, but I seem to have amassed quite a variety of dishes; which will be good to rotate to get the puppy used to eating out of different containers and materials so he isn’t picky about what he eats out of later in life.
  • Leash for walks (Buy) – I can’t seem to find Tess’s puppy leash, so I’ll need to buy a new one. I will try to get a small (1/2 inch wide) leash since I find the buckles on some of the larger sizes can be pretty heavy for the puppy. When I bought Tess’s first leash I went with one a little longer than I probably should have, so I will look for about a 4-5 foot leash (vs. 5+ feet). Once the puppy has learned a little more about walking on leash we’ll upgrade to the little longer one.
  • Adjustable Collar (Done!) – I have one that has a small ½ inch width which is a little more puppy sized. Once he grows out of that he should be into normal dog sizes.
  • Toys (Done-ish) – Tess is a picky toy dog, so I have quite the collection of loved and rejected toys. So I should be good here, I might look for a few teething toys to add to the collection since I’m not sure I have many specifically for that. Watch for my upcoming blog on toys.
  • Harness (Buy) – Since I live in a condo my puppy will be walked before he learns how to walk nicely on leash, so a front buckle harness will help me teach and manage him without a big battle until our leash walking skills improve. I use the Easy Walk Harness with Tess when needed, but like the look of the Freedom No-Pull Harness a little better so will likely get that for the puppy.
  • Training Treats (Done!) – Due to Tess’s food allergies I already have quite a collection of training treats, that I inevitably buy and she ends up allergic to, so I should be good here!
  • Grooming Supplies (Done!) – If your puppy’s breeder doesn’t suggest what you might need, this info can usually be found in breed specific resource books, or even on the internet. Nail trimmers will be needed regardless of breed if you are doing that yourself, Tess has pretty brittle nails that painfully chip and crack so I find she prefers it when I use the Dremel type nail grinders, I also use a pin brush for regular brushing, and I LOVE my FURminator when she is shedding heavily. Poop bags, shampoo, and toothpaste will be needed too. You may also need ear cleaner and styptic powder (if doing nails yourself).
  • Kennel (Done!) – I have a large dog kennel for once he is grown up. I may use this once he outgrows the travel crate (below) and just block off the “extra space” until he grows into it.
  • Blankets & Pillows (Done-ish) – I do have an extra doggie pillow for the family room, and a blanket I can use in the travel kennel initially, but I will need a new pad for the full size kennel once he grows into it. I like ones that have covers that unzip and can be easily washed.
  • Training Books – Before bringing home your puppy you’ll want to refresh your puppy education, a few of my favorites that I have re-read are: Perfect Puppy in 7 Days, Before & After Getting Your Puppy, and the Puppy Primer. I have a few new resources to dig into this time as well: Attention is the Mother of All Behaviors, and Crate Games.
  • Play Pen (Optional) – I bought one for Tess (which I have since given away), I didn’t end up using it very much with her, so I am debating whether I need it or not. I may just use the full size kennel as the “play pen” and set the travel kennel up inside to get started.
  • Odor Remover (Buy) – Odor remover is good to have on hand in case (when!) the puppy has an accident in the house. So the smell of previous accidents does not encourage him to go inside again.
  • Bitter Spray (Buy) – there is some debate on whether this is affective, but I don’t think it hurts to have some bitter spray on hand to try in case the puppy takes a liking to some of your furniture.
  • Pee Pads (Optional) – I don’t use them in house training so I won’t be buying them. I used sod with Tess, but I am hoping I can get away with popping home for mid-day breaks instead.
  • Clicker (Optional) – If you are clicker training
  • Life Jacket (Optional) – Since puppy is set to come home in late spring/early summer we can go swimming! I will likely get him a life jacket until he gets the hang of it.
  • Winter Coat / Booties (Optional) – depending on where you live and when the puppy comes home you may or may not need these items. Since puppy is coming home in the summer I won’t need these until he is older.


Closer to Puppy Arrival:

  •  Food – Initially what the breeder has been feeding the puppies, if I want to switch to another food I’ll buy that as well.
  • Travel Kennel – Since I will be picking up the puppy to fly it home I will need either a soft sided bag (similar to this one) if the puppy is traveling in the cabin, or a hard sided crate if going as “cargo”. If flying be sure to check the airlines requirements.
  • Tag – our city has licensing laws that requires dogs carry city tags (once they are over 6 months) so I don’t need to panic about that yet, but I like to have ID tags for the flight and drive from the breeders incase the puppy makes a great escape. So once I pick a name, I’ll have tags created with my contact info.

Breed Standard – Temperament

A majority of the AKC (and other) Curly Coated Retriever Breed Standard’s focus is on the correct form and conformation of the breed. What the ideal structure should be to facilitate a day in the field hunting; and lifetime of activity. I’m no expert when it comes to judging this conformation, so I am not even going to attempt to wade into that topic. My personal belief is most pet quality puppies from a good breeder are going to have an acceptable level of conformation for everyday living and activity; if you are getting a puppy with the intent to compete heavily in dog sports or hunt often, I would suggest you speak with your breeder to identify a puppy that you both believe will stand up to the rigors of the activities you have planned. Likewise if you are searching for a show dog prospect, conformation will be a key concern to you and the breeder and yourself will likely spend hours agonizing over photos of the puppies to pick “the one” that appears to be the best show prospect. If you have questions about the conformation of your puppy, or simply would like to learn more I would certainly suggest asking the breeder about it. Or seeking out information from the breed club or show judges.

For the purposes of this post however I’m going to focus on the other side, the side that seems to play the biggest role in our lives with our dogs – temperament!

I really like the AKC standard, so I’ve used it as the basis for this post. They describe the breed temperament (as an ideal) as follows:

“Self-confident, steadfast and proud, this active, intelligent dog is a charming and gentle family companion and a determined, durable hunter. The Curly is alert, biddable and responsive to family and friends, whether at home or in the field. Of independent nature and discerning intelligence, a Curly sometimes appears aloof or self-willed, and, as such, is often less demonstrative, particularly toward strangers, than the other retriever breeds. The Curly’s independence and poise should not be confused with shyness or a lack of willingness to please. In the show ring, a correctly-tempered Curly will steadily stand his ground, submit easily to examination, and might or might not wag his tail when doing so. In the field, the Curly is eager, persistent and inherently courageous. At home, he is calm and affectionate. Shyness is a fault and any dog who shies away from show ring examination should be penalized. Minor allowances can be made for puppies who misbehave in the show ring due to overexuberance or lack of training or experience.”

As a novice first looking at the breed I struggled to understand a few of these descriptors so let’s go through it! My interpretation and comments inserted in orange below:

Self-confident, steadfast (unwavering; firm in purpose) and proud, this active, intelligent dog is a charming and gentle family companion and a determined, durable hunter (in this context I take it to mean they won’t quit while hunting, will preserve through difficult terrain, and from a “form from function” perspective physically capable of withstanding multiple days out in the field year after year). The Curly is alert (depending on the individual dog I could take this to mean “good watch dog” or “attentive” in training), biddable (willing; obedient; trainable) and responsive to family and friends, whether at home or in the field. Of independent nature (more self-reliant; look for their own fun; or do things their own way) and discerning intelligence (smart enough to know when to listen!), a Curly sometimes appears aloof (there was a really interesting post on Facebook about this topic, I have posted the comments below blacking out the authors names for privacy, but I would recommend reading some of their experiences. One definition I found described aloof as “not friendly or willing to take part in things; or not interested or involved, usually because you do not approve of what’s happening” [this last definition cracked me up in relation to the breed! I can imagine Tess not approving of much of what I try to get her to do!], another dictionary defined it as “reserved or reticent; indifferent; disinterested”. The later part of this statement refers to this as applying more towards strangers, which I sounds like some – not all- dogs of the breed, however in my experience I wouldn’t say this applies to family or friends at all. They seem very happy to partake in whatever we are doing with great enthusiasm!) or self-willed, and, as such, is often less demonstrative (I take this to mean they will not tend to be as “clingy” or seek out cuddles and attention as other “more affectionate” retrievers like the Labradors and Goldens. Again I wouldn’t say they are not demonstrative, just less so than some other retrievers – and more so with strangers than family and friends.), particularly toward strangers, than the other retriever breeds. The Curly’s independence and poise should not be confused with shyness or a lack of willingness to please. In the show ring, a correctly-tempered Curly will steadily stand his ground, submit easily to examination, and might or might not wag his tail when doing so. In the field, the Curly is eager, persistent and inherently courageous. At home, he is calm and affectionate. Shyness is a fault and any dog who shies away from show ring examination should be penalized. Minor allowances can be made for puppies who misbehave in the show ring due to overexuberance or lack of training or experience.

“Aloof” Post


Seems there is quite a bit of variety on dogs in the breed who are aloof, I would guess this comes down some combination of their personality and early socialization. I love the comment above about how it may be beneficial in a working environment, which is very true. I love the questions it raised, and I have no answers.

For interest’s sake I wanted to compare Tess to the breed standard:

“Self-confident (depends on the situation), steadfast (YES!) and proud (very much so), this active, intelligent dog is a charming and gentle family companion and a determined, durable hunter (the most Tess hunts is tennis balls and sticks, but I would say she shows all these qualities when she is “hunting” or in the field doing her own doggie things. I would not say she is super self-confident in all scenarios but I suspect that was mainly my fault for not socializing her enough [or properly] as a puppy. When it’s her decision to do something though, nothing will stop her!). The Curly is alert, biddable and responsive to family and friends, whether at home or in the field (I would say this has been very true for her, she has been easy to train and eager to please). Of independent nature and discerning intelligence (again I would say this is pretty accurate, she is independent and happy to find her own doggie interests when we are out walking or when she is “supposed” to be doing an agility course! And of course I think she is very smart), a Curly sometimes appears aloof or self-willed, and, as such, is often less demonstrative, particularly toward strangers, than the other retriever breeds (for Tess I would say this is very true, she may, or may not, come say “Hi” to a stranger but then she’s off exploring again. From the other posts this sounds more like individual personality than a breed trait. However, when it comes to family, friends, or her favorite trainers in class forget being “aloof” all dignity is lost and she isn’t happy until she has properly greeted you!). The Curly’s independence and poise should not be confused with shyness or a lack of willingness to please (again I would say I have found this to be true, Tess very much wants to make me happy and hates it when she gets things “wrong” but it’s all on her time…so you have to be willing to take it in stride! Or make her think it’s her idea!). In the show ring, a correctly-tempered Curly will steadily stand his ground, submit easily to examination, and might or might not wag his tail when doing so (I haven’t competed with Tess in the show ring so can’t speak to that side of things, but I think the insinuation  from this to a non-showing situation would be that they should not be shy or aggressive when greeting strangers, but may not be as overtly “friendly” as other breeds. I think this has been a training fault in my program with Tess as a puppy, so she is not always great about meeting new people. I would think this comes down more to early socialization again than breed trait.). In the field, the Curly is eager, persistent and inherently courageous (again we haven’t hunted, but I have found this to be true. She is happy to dive into freezing lakes, thick brush, or off hills and banks I wouldn’t dream of attempting!). At home, he is calm and affectionate (yep). Shyness is a fault and any dog who shies away from show ring examination should be penalized (same as previous showing comment). Minor allowances can be made for puppies who misbehave in the show ring due to over exuberance or lack of training or experience.”

Well that’s it from me, I’m curious how closely your dogs would compare to the breed standard; or their breed standard if not a Curly. It’s interesting to see how much seems to be hereditary and how much is socialization and training.

If anyone knows of a “conformation for dummies” on the Curly Breed Standard, or that can speak to the physical side of things I’d love to post it! If you have a differing view on the temperament side I’d love to hear that too! So what’s your take?

Curly Exercise Requirements


When I was looking at the Curly as a potential breed for my first puppy (Tess), I had a heck of a time finding any info out on what kind of exercise requirements they had. I was very busy at the time and wanted to be sure I could handle the exercise requirements of my future dog. However, I had a heck of a time figuring out what they were like to live with.

The Breed Standard gives you an idea, you know they are going to be active dogs due to their history and breed purpose. The AKC website has a handy chart that shows their energy level.


With this accompanying write up:

Energy & Exercise

Curlies are charming, affectionate, and gentle housemates in the way of all retrievers. They are, though, more emotionally complex—a bit more independent-minded and less needy—than Labs or Goldens. With loved ones they’re playful and mischievous, but Curlies will hold themselves aloof from strangers until proper introductions are made. This wariness makes them more discerning watchdogs than other, more compulsively gregarious retrievers. As hunting companions Curlies are famously versatile gundogs and peerless swimmers, and they’ll never quit before you do.

However, this didn’t really give me a whole lot more information than I already had. I picked up a few books on Curly’s which gave me a little more info:

I would highly recommend reading all three if you are looking at the breed for the first time.

At the end of the day here’s what I’ve found my girl needs:

  • Minimum 30-45 minute walk on leash: This takes the edge off, she’s hardly exhausted but she is no longer bouncing off the walls. The next day we might need a good off leash romp or play sesison; or
  • 45-90 minute walk on leash: This is more our average everyday walk, again she isn’t tired but she’s content; or
  • 60+ minutes off leash: Best! She’d love it if we could do this every day; or
  • 30+ minutes swimming and fetch: Great! The cold water makes her want to go forever, we usually stop when she is shaking from being cold (why again do I live in Canada?), rather than fatigue; or
  • 15-30 minutes of fetch: depending on the weather she can do more or less. I find she overheats very quickly, so in mild to warm weather we don’t play these games very long. When it’s cooler she can play a long time; or
  • 20 minutes tracking: we might be in the field around an hour with me setting tracks or playing with her after, but generally about 20 minutes of actual tracking time wears her out mentally; or
  • A few 2-3 minute disc/frisbee sessions: disc dog games really tire her out mentally and physically; or
  • 45-60 minute agility/flyball/disc/obedience class: mentally she’s tired at the end of class, if we are working on something on our own (with shorter breaks between runs) around 20 minutes and she’s mentally & physically tired.

Again these have been my observations to give you a bit of a ballpark idea; I’d be curious what more experienced owners of the breed would say.

From some of the exercise options above I’d guess my girl is about average in her exercise needs. I recently read online on one of the breed pages of a kennel club that the Curly needed a 2 hr off leash run for daily exercise; while I could see some hunting dogs wanting this if they are physically fit, it certainly hasn’t been my experience. Would she love it? Absolutely! Is she capable? You bet! Do we do it sometimes? Of course! Does she need it to be happy and to be enjoyable to live with? Nope.

With all the activities we’ve done together I’ve only once seen Tess where I would say she was physically tired – on a hot day I was riding my horse on a trail ride with her tagging along. We were out maybe 45-60 minutes, and probably walked more than half that time. I would guess this would be a little less demanding than quading or biking with your dog. Snowshoeing or hiking – even if she were off leash bounding through 2 foot snowbanks – would not get her physically tired, so if you have concerns that the breed won’t be active enough…don’t worry!

If you own a Curly I’d love to see your comments on how this compares to your dog!

My Puppy Training Plan

As the litter due date gets closer I’m getting pretty excited, things are definitely starting to seem like they are going to happen in a hurry! I want to be as ready as possible beforehand since I know I’ll be running non-stop once puppy gets here.

Looking ahead I’m starting to put together my puppy training plan. The puppy will need to learn basic commands of course; however, I also want to plan out what other classes I want to take with him in his first year.

My favorite things to do with Tess, which I’m sure the puppy will get roped into doing, are agility and tracking. Flyball is a little newer to us, but I hope that can be a part of it too. I haven’t done any hunt training work with Tess – though I would have liked to – so I hope I can do that with both of them.

So what does that mean for my training plan?

Right now I think we’ll start with the basics, Puppy Class of course! I have a few classes I still need to check out to finalize where we will go. Right now I am debating adding a second puppy class and doing two different facilities. My hope would be to get the puppy used to another new facility, different puppies & people; but most importantly since I live alone I want the puppy to have more opportunities to be handled and meet new people. So I have to think on that, alternatively I might do a couple different visits to the groomer (even though I normally do this myself), and/or a visit to a local doggy day care & rehab facility (that has a heated indoor pool) for a swim session with their trainers.

After puppy class I think we will enroll in a Canine Good Neighbour class, I did this before with Tess and it was an excellent way to continue to work on socialization, as well as continue with our obedience training (or lack thereof!). My biggest regret with Tess is that we can’t get our title, so one of my big goals with the puppy is that he get his.

Occasionally I mix up the order in which I want to take these next two classes, but I think the next class for us will be puppy agility. This is a puppy safe class so it is designed not to stress their growing bones and bodies, but will start to introduce the puppy to the obstacles and environment in which we hope to compete down the road.  I want to move this one up a bit earlier while the puppy’s brain is still a sponge to new experiences and environments and before the socialization window begins to close. After completing the puppy agility class, I hope I can start to bring the puppy when I rent the agility hall and work on little sequences ourselves before enrolling in the next level of classes, which will likely be 6-12 months down the road.

Puppy won’t be ready to jump into agility full tilt just yet, and I don’t want him injured or burnt out before he’s even grown up. So I think we will enroll in Rally Obedience next. It’s something I haven’t done with Tess, so it’ll be new to me, but I think it’s something that’ll keep me a little more focused on keeping up with the obedience work. Which should take us to around the end of his first year!

I’m also looking into some drop in conformation classes. I haven’t done any of this, and I’m not sure I’m too keen to do it, but I think it might be a good way for the puppy to get used to focusing in a show environment; lots of dogs, noise, kenneling, and more people handling him.

Outside of classes we will do some tracking, maybe some simple hunt training (sit-stay in place, retrieval, and swimming) over the summer, and some trick dog training. A good friend’s 16 week old puppy earned her Novice Trick Dog Title so the bar’s been set pretty high!

Writing all this I’m so excited to get going!


A Day in the Life – One Curly

As I’ve mentioned before I’m new to Curlies so I’m not sure how typical my dog is for the breed, from what I’ve read she sounds pretty average so hopefully this is helpful. I’d be interested to see how other Curly owners would compare their dog’s day to mine.


Tess’s Workday Schedule

5:30 am Mom’s Up, time for first breakfast (1)!
6:00-6:30am Maybe I can have some of Mom’s breakfast too!

Ok, I’ll go sleep on the couch where I can keep an eye on her in case anything falls on the floor!

6:45am Bathroom walk!
7:00am Mom’s leaving; but I get my Kong! Second breakfast!!!
2:00pm Wake up, protect the house from the mailman
5:00pm Mom’s home! Dinner time!!!
6:30pm Walk time! My favorite time of day!!! (2)
8:00pm Couch snuggles!
10:00pm Bed time, time for nighttime Kong!!!



  1. When I first got Tess it was clear she could have developed some level of separation anxiety, so I got in the habit early of feeding her often so she would enjoy being by herself and not worry when I left. I do still use bowls for some of her meals as it makes it easier for me to give meds or have her eat all her breakfast early if we are traveling, etc. Between treats through the day (baked wet dog food) and her kibble she gets about 3.5 cups of food a day.
  2. Now that she is older I’ve found that she’s pretty happy with a 45-60 minute walk most nights. If I have other plans or can’t do a longer walk she’s content with 30 minutes, but she might need an off leash romp or good hike the next day. Can she do more – you bet, but that’s what I find the minimum to be.

Looking at adding another puppy there will be a few things that will have to change in our daily routine. Likely not many right away, but as the puppy gains more run of the house, and they are left out together when I am not home some of the feeding routine will likely need to change. So I’m trying to figure out what will work best for our new routine.

I’ve fostered a couple dogs as a trial run to see if I can squeeze in the extra training sessions or walks, and it seems ok. The routine doesn’t seem to need a whole lot of adjustment. We’ll see how true that holds when the puppy arrives!

If you own a Curly I’d be curious how does your normal day compare?