This is the Guidebook I prepared for use by those who adopted dogs from me. It is used in conjunction with my Adopter's Summary, which describes the dog's temperament and behavior and which gives medical history



by Pam Green, © 1993, 1995, 2003, 2005

This is the Guidebook I prepared for use by those who adopted dogs from me. It is used in conjunction with my Adopter's Information Summary, which describes the dog's temperament and behavior and which gives medical history. By using the Guidebook and Summary to educate the adopter as to how the dog should be cared for, I was able to omit putting all these details into the Adoption Contract, thereby leaving the contract to focus on the core of the relationship, the vow of responsibility towards the dog.

Dear Prospective Adopter,

This GUIDEBOOK contains general information about adopting a "recycled" Bouvier. Please don't be offended by the fact that this sheet contains much very basic information which may already be well known to you : the basic information was written for a wide variety of readers. Please feel free to photocopy all or part of this Guidebook to share with others.

Specific information about the dog whom you now contemplate adopting is provided separately in the "Adopter's Information Summary". By reading both documents together, you should obtain a good understanding of the care of your adopted Bouvier.


The formal name is the one I suggest for use on the I.L.P. application, ie to take the place of a registered name. The suffix "du Clos de la Fourrière" means "from the enclosed fields of the animal pound" or "from the confines of the Pound"; thus it lets people know that this wonderful dog of yours was someone else's neglected and abused throwaway.

The informal name , or working name, is used whenever the dog's attention is required. Thus it is used especially as a preface to commands. This dog currently responds well to this name. However if you find that you dislike this name, feel free a few weeks from now to begin teaching a new name. Dogs learn new names very easily. (Indeed, in most cases, this informal name is a new one, taught by me, as I did not know the dog's original name.)

Also you may wish to create and use one or more additional affectionate "love names" when you are just chatting to the dog , rather than training or giving commands. Also use such a name when speaking of the dog to others. By not using the working name in situations where no response is required from the dog, you will avoid teaching the dog to ignore that name.


When I rescue a dog , I seldom receive any reliable information about its age, except when the prior owner has made a statement when abandoning the dog at the Pound or when the owner has surrendered the dog directly to me. However many Pound- abandoned Bouvs are under 2 years old, thus someone such as I who am familiar with the breed can make a pretty good guess based on behavior and physical attributes. Bouvs under 2 years are still quite immature (a 2 year old Bouv is like a 16-18 year old human ) and thus require more supervision and education from their owner than does a well-trained fully adult Bouv. They also require more play and excercise than a full adult. However Bouvs are essentially rather sober and thoughtful dogs, even during their youth, as compared to most breeds. Between the ages of 3 years and 7 or 8 years , it is much harder to make an accurate guess. Over 7 or 8 years, most Bouvs begin to show signs of middle-agedness, eg a touch of arthritis, some cloudiness in the eye, but it is hard to make an accurate guess of the dog's real age. Bouvs live anywheres from 10 to 15 years (comparable to humans living 60 to 90), and we are currently seeing more and more of them living to 12 or beyond, but of course there is no way of knowing how long a particular individual will live. Good genes, good care, and good luck all contribute to long life.


A spayed or neutered dog is generally calmer , better behaved, and more responsive to its owner. It is generally less quarrelsome with other dogs and less apt to mark its territory (your home) with urine. It is spared the risk of various diseases of the reproductive tract and hormone related diseases (eg prostate problems and perianal tumors in the male, pyometria in the female, and cancers of the reproductive organs; and bitches spayed before their first heat have greatly reduced risk of breast cancer). Most importantly, you will be spared the guilt of producing puppies which will add to the hideous toll of dogs doomed to die in the Pound. There are simply not enough responsible homes available for the dogs that are already here, so each new one added means that it or some other will die. As your dog is unregistered or has lost its papers , any pups it might have produced would be at high risk : unregistered puppies, especially crossbreds and especially pups that will be large and shaggy as adults, have very little chance to find responsible and permanent homes; neglect and eventual abandonment is the fate of most such misbegotten pups. I NEVER knowingly place dogs without first spaying or neutering , except under extraordinary circumstances (eg serious health problems which must be cured before the dog can withstand surgery). Almost all local dog licensing laws provide for a reduced rate for spayed and neutered dogs. To obtain this discount , you must provide a copy of the spay/neuter certificate. Send a copy, not your original, as they don't send it back.

If this dog was not already spayed / neutered when I rescued her / him, I have had it done (and a major portion of your adoption fee is reimbursement of this expense). A copy of the certificate will be provided to you upon adoption. In such cases the dog is absolutely known to be spayed/neutered.

If his dog was over a year old and had no evidence of testicles, we can be reasonably confident that he was already NEUTERED (CASTRATED) when I rescued him. (There is always some tiny possibility that instead this is an intact dog with two undescended testicles retained in the inguinal canal or the abdomen; such dogs have normal hormone production but do not produce fertile sperm.) While I do not have a neutering certificate, you can obtain a substitute neuter certificate from your vet stating that he/she has examined the dog and found it to be neutered.

If this dog was reported to me (from a reasonably reliable source) to be already SPAYED and /or if she displayed an appropriate abdominal scar when I rescued her , I have relied upon this as evidence that she is in fact spayed ­­­ and have marked her summary sheet as "believed to be spayed". However in such cases,I do not have any spay certificate. Your vet can probably supply a substitute spay certificate if upon examination of the dog he/she finds an abdominal scar consistent with spaying. (If not, then you will just have to pay the higher unspayed license rate.) While spay type scars usually are the result of spaying, it is always possible that an apparent spay scar is due to some other form of abdominal surgery, eg umbilical hernia repair. To guard against the possibility that this bitch is not really spayed, please for the next year or so be very alert for any signs of possible "heat", chiefly swollen vulva and reddish (bloody) discharge. If such signs appear, consult your vet, keep the bitch from exposure to males until her heat ends, then spay her 2 to 3 weeks after the end of her heat. Spaying while a bitch is in heat is more difficult and dangerous (because of poor blood clotting) than spaying out of heat; spaying during early pregnancy is quite safe, so if an "accident" has occurred, spaying 2 to 3 weeks after the end of heat will take care of it. Please make absolutely certain that no accidents are allowed to result in the birth of puppies : I am trusting you not to let this happen.

Even when it is utterly certain that a bitch is spayed , you should still be alert to any unusual discharges, especially if blood, pus, or foul odor are present in the discharge. If so, have her examined by your vet. Such discharges can indicate infections of the urinary tract or of what remains of the reproductive tract. Likewise a bitch with a urinary tract infection can have a smell that males find attractive and get excited about. Also be aware that a spayed bitch can still get breast cancer (although the risk is greatly reduced if she was spayed very young : reduced to near-zero if she was spayed before the first heat), so be alert for sores, swellings, etc near her nipples, especially as she ages.


Most abandoned Bouvs have natural ears, ie are not cropped, and some have natural tails, ie undocked. These mutilations must be performed in infancy if they are to be done at all. If your dog is not cropped and/or not docked, please be aware that it is now too late to crop or dock your dog : to attempt to do so would cause immense suffering and would produce no benefits for the dog. (I should add that in my opinion, cropping at the normal age also causes suffering and may be detrimental to the temperament. Docking at the normal age may also be detrimental.)

To make slight movements of your dog's uncropped ears more visible, thus making it easier for you to judge what's going on in the dog's mind, you may wish to keep the ears and the top of the head clipped very short , eg with a #10 blade or "fine" blade on your clippers. Likewise if the tail was docked extremely short, you may want to clip the tail and its surroundings very close in order to make movement and altitude of the tail more visible, thus making it easier for you to judge what is going on in your dog's mind.

Natural ears are somewhat less vulnerable than cropped ears to the intrusion of foreign bodies, including the infamous "foxtails" so dangerous during the Calif summer. However natural ears are thought by some to be a bit more vulnerable to infections resulting from poor air circulation, so it is especially important to periodically pluck out any excess hair from the ear interior to improve air flow and perhaps to use ear cleaning solution somewhat more often. (I should add that in my own expereince most of the realy bad ear infections I have seen have been in cropped eared dogs; cropped eared dogs may also need to have hair plucked from the ear canal.) An infected ear usually smells bad as compared to a normal ear, so do an occasional sniff test. An ear that is painful from infection or foreign body intrusion will usually cause the dog to tilt its head slightly , with the bad ear carried lower than the good one; this is the signal for a trip to the vet as you will not be able to remove a foreignn body yourself and will need medication for infection.


STABILITY of temperament is the MOST important quality of any dog that is to share your life as a companion. Stable dogs are able to adjust to new situations and unusual events and stimuli in a reasonable manner. Ie after several exposures to a given situation, they will usually have evaluated it fairly accurately. They are not "shy", "spooky" , "screwball", or "flakey"; and they do not remain nervous or fearful about people or events which are actually harmless. Eg a loud noise such as gunfire will startle most dogs who are not used to it; however if that noise is repeatedly followed by absolutely nothing, a stable dog learns to ignore it, or if it is followed by a chance to do something the dog enjoys (eg retrieve a bird or dummy) the dog learns to become pleasurably excited and ready to go. In contrast , a spooky dog may remain frightened despite many repetitions of an innocuous loud noise or other stimulus. Stable dogs can learn to deal with actual unpleasant events in a sensible manner, calmly avoiding the undesirable consequences. Eg to avoid getting bumped by your bicycle or stepped on by a horse. Thus stable dogs can accept and learn from any appropriately administered training procedures. If a dog which I rescue is not sufficiently stable to adapt to the life of a family companion dog, I euthanize such a dog rather than offering it for adoption.

SOCIALIZATION is the process of exposure to the world (variety of environments) and to people (variety of strangers). The ideal time for such exposure is during puppyhood, with further exposure continuing in adult life. However , an inherently stable dog which may have lacked such exposure in early life, may still respond very favorably to socialization later in life. Thus some dogs which fresh out of the Pound appear to be withdrawn or fearful, may upon socialization make an excellent adjustment and gain confidence rapidly due to an underlying inherent stability.

If these socializing exposures are comfortable and pleasurable, the result will be a self-confident dog, with enhanced stability. Such a dog may be either outgoing (eager to make friends) or reserved also termed "aloof" (cool) towards strangers (especially away from the dog's home and car) but he will not be incurably fearful or unprovokedly aggressive. Those dogs whom I describe as "initially timid but soon adjusts and trusts" are generally dogs of underlying stability which were not adequately socialized when young, but which are now in the process of remedial socialization and which will ultimately adjust well to ordinary social contacts, though some of them will remain more timid than the average highly self-confident Bouv. Sometimes a dog is friendly with strange adults but seems disinterested in children; usually this is a dog who has had little contact with children , and a few pleasant encounters will be all that it takes to make such a dog very friendly with children. More commonly , the well socialized Bouv already knows what children are and considers them delightful sources of affection and play.

A well-socialized and confident Bouvier is likely , however, to exhibit some degree of vigilance and assertive display towards strangers "trespassing" on the dog's home territory (including the Bouv's beloved car) ; but such display will proceed from confidence rather than from fear and the dog should remain responsive to the leadership and commands of the owner if the owner has earned such respect and response through obedience training (see below).

A "shy" dog is one which is unreasonably fearful of strange people (or even familiar people), and often also lacks confidence about the world generally. The cause may be either basically unstable temperament or lack of socialization or both. If the underlying temperament is adequate, the dog may gain confidence through extensive socialization. When I receive a mildly shy dog , I attempt such rehabilitation. Severely shy dogs MAY pose a risk of self-defensive biting, or "fear-biting", in reaction to their perception that they are being threatened, especially if they are threatened and are not in a position to solve the problem by running away. I evaluate such dogs with the utmost care !!! A severely shy or severely unstable Bouvier with a propensity towards fear biting is too dangerous to be a satisfactory pet ; I euthanize such dogs rather than offering them for placement. (Note : not all timid dogs are fear biters : some are very very passive and "go pancake" ie flatten themselves against the ground when they think they are trhreatened, and some will flee either quite obviously or more subtly by just keping a few feet of distance between themselves and the untrusted person. A timid but not fear-biter dog is placable, provided the home understands the dog's problem and can accept it. If this is the case with the dog you are adopting, we will have discussed the situation in some detail.)

When two dogs which are strangers to each other first meet, they will almost always engage in some test of SOCIAL DOMINANCE. Dogs do not believe in the concept of "equality" : each dog carries an invisible rank. Thus on encountering or re-encountering each other, they will engage in various rituals and displays to determine who has the higher rank. Sometimes this looks like a dramatic fight , but it is rare for anyone to get hurt. More often the interchange is more subtle, and sometimes so subtle that only the most acute observer will realize that anything is happening. Once dominance has been settled, in long term relationships most Bouvier get along well with OTHER DOGS, either actively enjoying friendly contact with them or else displaying a more aloof live-and-let-live attitude. A dog may be friendly with some individuals and tolerant or aloof with others. Two dogs of opposite sex will almost always get along well. Most Bouvs can get along with most dogs of the same sex , especially if their natural invisible ranks are substantially different. A few Bouvs remain quarrelsome with dogs of the same sex, and a very few do not get along well with other dogs of either sex. In such cases one suspects that the quarrelsome dog was taken out of the litter at too early an age or perhaps had no littermates, since "playing nice" is something that dogs normally learn from their littermates (and other puppies) at the age of 5 to 12 weeks. A dog that has serious difficulties getting along with other dogs or with same sex dogs should receive extra obedience training (to ensure handler controllability) and should be placed in a home where other dogs or same sex dogs are not part of the household.

As dogs are by nature predators, almost all dogs have some degree of PREY CHASING DRIVE : the instinct to chase and grab hold of anything that is fleeing from them. Bouviers, being bred for herding, have had the desire to chase enhanced by selective breeding. Most will have significant desire to chase a running cat, rabbit, motor vehicle, jogger, bicycle, or livestock. Those with the most "herding instinct" will also have a strong desire to cut off the path of the fleeing prey, cutting in ahead of the prey to block it and turn it back. The faster the prey runs and the more frightened it appears to be , the greater the desire to seize hold which is aroused. DO NOT EVER ALLOW YOUR BOUV TO CHASE LIVESTOCK : the owner will be quick to enforce his legal right to KILL a dog chasing, harassing, or worrying his stock. DO NOT ALLOW YOUR BOUV TO CHASE CARS : sooner or later , death is inevitable. Likewise , do not allow chasing of joggers, skateboarders, roller-skaters, and bicyclists. Put your dog back on leash and under obedience command whenever you thinks such temptations might arise.

SOME Bouvs can adjust to living peacefully with CATS, but it will require a lengthy adjustment period. If introducing your Bouvier to a home with a cat already present, or vice versa, you must be prepared for a long period in which you must supervise all interactions and act instantly to correct the dog for any attempts to chase or grab at the cat. A muzzle on the dog during the first few encounters would be a prudent idea. When you are not supervising, put a closed door between dog and cat, ie separate them safely. Don;t be in any hurry to leave them alone together. I usually do not get the opportunity to assess a rescued Bouv's attitude towards cats and I usually do NOT have any information on the dog's prior history regarding cats, so I advise you to be very cautious in this regard. SOME Bouvs will NEVER become cat-safe. If I do have any history or evidence that a particular dog has a predatory attitude towards cats, I will not place such a dog into a home with cats.

A "soft" dog is one which is relatively sensitive to discomfort and to pain; a "hard" dog is relatively insensitive to pain and to other adversities. A medium-hard to somewhat-soft dog reacts to pain by avoidance; such dogs respond well to appropriate use of mild to moderate collar jerks as corrections in training, but may become panicked and stop thinking if too severe a correction is used or if the timing is so poor or inconsistent that the dog cannot figure out how to respond to prevent or to terminate the correction.. A hard dog may at times require rather firm corrections and a more assertive attitude on the part of the trainer; this does not however mean that such dogs are hard to train or must be treated with brutality. Finally, it must be understood that a dog may be very soft in some or many circumstances(eg around the house) and yet be considerably harder in other circumstances where he is stimulated to pursue strongly instinctive behavior (eg while chasing a cat, a rabbit , or livestock) or otherwise in the grip of strong emotional excitement. Dogs of whatever degree of hardness or softness can and should also be trained with positive reinforcement , ie reward based training ; most but not all training can be accomplished in this way.

A "laid-back" dog is easy-going, mellow, relaxed. The typical adult Bouvier , ie 2 years and upwards, is decidedly laid-back , sometimes extremely so: when nothing exciting is happening, the Bouv "kicks back", "chills out" , and watches the world go by --- or takes a nap. Such a dog's energy and enthusiasm quickly reawakens when he perceives pleasurable events (eg a walk, ride in the car, etc) may be about to occur. As puppies, most Bouvs are more energetic and playful and require adequate excercise and play several times a day; if bored, they may invent games of their own which tend to create chaos and destruction amid your household furnishings. The transition to adult mellowness is gradual, with relapses. The sobering effect of obedience training helps "teenage" Bouvs to settle down to civilized adult behavior (see below). Even the least laid-back Bouv is pretty mellow compared to most other breeds ; I have yet to meet a "hyper" adult Bouv.


It is essential to keep your dog current on RABIES and DHLPP (distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, and parvo) shots. Your vet may also recommend Corona and Bortadella immunization. When I rescue a Bouv, generally it is impossible to know its exact age and it immunization history. Therefore I play it safe by assuming the dog is under a year (unless obviously older) and that it is not current on its shots and may perhaps never have been immunized. If the dog is under one year when vaccinated for Rabies, it will be due again one year later. If the dog was over one year, it will be due again in 2 or 3 years, depending on the type of vaccine used. In higher risk areas, some vets are recommending re-vaccination every two years. Your dog's Rabies certificate will be provided to you upon adoption; keep original and send a copy when applying for local dog license. Keep any immunization tag attached to the dog's collar, along with dog license tag and phone number tag. DHLPP shots used to be thought to be good for only one year, but the veterinary profession has re-evaluated that and now many vets recommend re-vaccinating adult dogs only every 3 years. Discuss this issue with your vet . The leptospirosis immunity may be good for only 6 months and it does NOT cover all the existing strains of lepto. Revaccinate as advised by your vet and consult your vet about the advisability of extra boosters if you live in a high risk area or if your dog has a lot of extra exposure (especially to high risk dogs ) or in times of epidemic.


Heartworm is a deadly risk in most areas , ie in all areas that support a mosquito population. (Mosquitos infect the dog by biting.) You can protect your dog easily and cheaply ( about $6 per month) by use of once-a-month pills ("Interceptor" or "Heartguard"). Dosage is based on weight, so make sure to weigh your dog at intervals (most vets now have a walk-on scale and allow customers to drop in to use it freely). For years I have been using the monthly "Interceptor" = mibemycin oxime, which also controls several other internal parisites (hookworm, roundworm, & whipworm). Before beginning any heartworm preventative medication, the dog must first be tested for heartworm (simple blood test, $10-15 (that was in 1993, ten years later it has more than doubled, like just about everything else !) and found to be free of infestation. Use of either of the preventive drugs can kill a dog which is already infested. Some vets advise annual re-tests or re-tests at two year intervals for extra safety.

If your dog is not protected and contracts heartworm, be aware that the treatment is very expensive ( in 1993 it was $250 -300 or more ; in 2003 figure on a minimum of $500-600 and it can easily go to twice that figure), requires prolonged restriction of the dog's activity and avoidance of any excitement that could raise its heartrate (failure to keep the dog serene and sedate can cause its death from an embolism !!!, and involves two deep intramuscular shots which are extremely painful for the dog . The drug in current use (in 2003) is much safer than the one in use 10 years ago. Almost all dogs who are treated and whose excercise is strictly curtailed as directed will recover , and those who are treated early in the process will usually recover without any lasting damage. Left untreated, heartworm is inevitably fatal and it is a slow and miserable way to die.

Recently a new product "ProHeart" has appeared. It is a shot that is supposed to protect the dog for 6 months. Do NOT use ProHeart : some dogs have had severe life-threatening reactions ! Worse yet, a dog may have no reaction on the first or first several uses, but then without warning have a severe reaction on some later use. Even if it were perfectly safe and worked as intended, I would have some concerns about the owner's remembering to keep the 6 month schedule -- at least I know that I would find it difficult. A once a month schedule is easy to keep because you can do it on the first of every month, which is usually when you pay your rent or your mortgage --- and if you are wealthy enough to not need to do either of these, then I'm sure you will figure out some monthly event to tie it to. (Note: in 2004 this product was taken off the market because too many dogs had had adverse reactions and too many had died.)

Normally I will have already had the dog tested and proven heartworm free and will have put him on a monthly prevention schedule that calls for his pill to be given on the first day of each month. Please be sure to keep your dog on prevention throughout all parts of the year when any mosquitos might be present and one month before and after that period. In California that means doing it year-round, unless one lives in the Mojave Desert and the dog never leaves that mosquito free environment. Please don't take any chances by skipping prevention !!! Remember how expensive and difficult and painful the cure is !!


Dogs obtain TAPEWORM by eating a FLEA that carries it. So where fleas are plentiful, sooner or later you will see little white tapeworm segments appear in your dog's stool. Once you ahve seen these , you will always be able to recognize them easily. The worms do not appear every day, but rather at intervals, so check the stool occasionally for little white wigglers.. Your vet will treat this with Droncit pills (or injection). It's not an emergency, as a healthy dog can tolerate a moderate tapeworms load for a while without ill effects. The very first time your dog receives Droncit, it is best to give it at the vet's office and hang around there for a while : rarely, some dogs have a bad reaction that could require a vet's attention. Most likely if your dog had tapeworms when he came to me, I have already noticed and treated these. But re-infection is possible at any time if flease are present, so you have to keep on the lookout for the evidence in the stool.

Now the really good news is that FLEA CONTROL has become very easy : it's "a walk in the park" compared to 10 years ago (when it was more like climbing Everest). Topical products like "Advantage" and "Frontline" can be applied once a month to the skin between the dog's shoulder blades or all along his spine to provide a month of really good flea protection by killing any flea that hops aboard without the flea having to bite the dog first ; Frontline also provides protection against ticks, so would be the preferred method in areas where ticks are at all common. There is also a pill, "Program" (lufernuron), that can be given monthly that prevents reproduction by any flea that bites the dog; because the flea must take one bite, this is not recommended for any dog who suffers from "flea bite allergy." There is also a pill, "Sentinel", that combines flea protection with heartworm protection. New products continue to appear, so ask your vet for recommendations. (New products, eg Advantix, Revolution.)

(Some older methods that may still be available.) You can also make your home's interior very hostile to flea reproduction by spraying or "bombing" with products that include Insect Growth Regulator (IGR), which is a substance that prevents flea larvae from maturing into adults, thus breaking the life cycle. There is more than one IGR, but "Precor" ( = methoprene) is the most common and probably the only one you will see available. It does well indoors but is destroyed by sunlight outdoors (though fenoxycarb is supposed to be more resistant than methoprene). Some of these products last several months, others only a shorter time. Do your first "bomb" or spray before the start of the flea season for best results. Remember that fleas spend most of their time off the dog's body but inside your home or your yard. The yard can be made hostile to fleas by monthly application of a nematode that is a predator on flea larvae. Sold under trade name "Bio Halt" or "Bio Flea Halt", the product is sprayed on with an attachment to your garden hose. These products for home and yard were the best line of defense against fleas prior to the advent of the topicals "Advantage" and "Frontline" and were fairly effective if used with diligence. Today they are much less needed. I don't even know how easy they are to find and buy. But if you distrust the topicals, then by all means try to find these older methods, because they do work.

Tick control is also very important as ticks can carry and transmit a number of nasty diseases, some fatal, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Ehrlichosis.


Dog foods offering superior nutrition and digestibility that are likely to be available at dog stores or livestock feed stores in your area include Natures' Recipe , NutroMax , Science Diet , Iams, ANF, Eukunba, and Cornicopia. Each of these brands comes in several formulations: puppy (high protein and high calories), adult , and senior (lower protein and lower calories) -- and sometimes a high-stress formulation for dogs doing a lot of very hard work. These may seem expensive as compared to grocery store brands, but they are much more nutritious and digestible and thus a smaller quantity is needed (which also results in a smaller volume of stool being produced at the other end). Your dog will stay healthier on such a high quality diet, sparing you extra vet bills. Good quality kibble, when fed dry, will reduce build-up of plaque and tartar on the teeth. Natures' Recipe and Cornecopia are made without dyes and preservatives that can disturb some dogs' digestion or cause them to act hyper. Any of the lamb & rice or lamb, chicken & rice formulas made by Natures Recipe , NutroMax , and some other brands are especially easily digested and less apt to cause or aggravate food allergies. I myself have been very happy with Natures Recipe for several years, and I fall back on NutroMax whenever Natures Recipe is out of stock. The listed brands are not the only high quality dog foods available. Consult several local breeders who are really serious about their dogs for advice on locally available brands. One pretty good clue is that anything that costs less than $35-to $40 for a 40 lb sack of kibble is almost certainly not high quality. However some trashy foods can be expensive (with high advertising costs). Please don't succumb to the temptation to feed some grocery store brand, especially not a canned or semi-moist If you cannot afford to feed good quality food, you certainly cannot afford the vet bills that will result from feeding inferior food !

Update note : quite recently some concern has arisen about the adequacy of lamb based diets in regards to supplying sufficent sources of the amino acid Taurine. Taurine deficiency may have a role in contributing to Dilated CardioMyopathy (DCM) in dogs. This is currently an area of research. (Lamb and rice formulas first became popular as being "hypo-allergenic" at a time when these two ingrediants were not much used in most dog foods. Since the "hypo-allergenic" effect of any ingredient depends completely upon the dog not haveing been previously exposed to that ingredient : for the food-allergy prone dog, any ingredient that is fed for a long enough period will provoke an allergic response. Any dog suspected of food allergy must be in the care of a vet who is knowledgable in this area.)

Update note : recently there has been a fad or movement of using "natural diets" and "all raw diets". If you want to do this , you must become very aware of the bacterial risks (salmonella and campylobacter being the most important ones) , risks that are even higher for the human beings who may be exposed than for the dog.

Most Bouvs are quite gluttonous and will overeat and become fat if you allow it. Obesity is the single most common serious medical problem in today's dogs and cats -- and even more so in humans in our "developed" (industrialized) nations. Obesity is caused by too much food and too little excercise. Obesity will drastically decrease your dog's health and qualtiy of life and may even contribute to a premature death !! Do NOT "free feed" ! Put down the proper amount and leave it for 10-15 minutes, then remove anything uneaten. If your Bouv skips 2 meals in a row, take it to the vet right away. (For some Bouvs, a single missed meal would mean the poor dog was at death's door -- or beyond it !) At least once a week use your hand to feel the area of the "hips" (pelvic ridge) : there should be virtually no padding over this crest of bone if the dog is a healthy weight -- ie athletically lean. Your dog's butt and thighs should feel as well tones as those of your favorite figure skater might feel if you were to run your hand over them (in my dreams!). Weigh the dog at the vet's (most have a walk-on scale and are glad to let clients use it) occasionally and make note of the results. Most of the Bouvs you'll see at the beauty contests are actually too fat.

I have found that most dogs really enjoy some fruits and vegetables, so I encourage you to offer them to your dog. Most dogs will quickly learn to love brocali and carrots, both of which are considered health promoting. You can shred brocali and carrots in the food processor to increase the digestibility and decrease the rare risk of a dog gulping a piece in a way that could cause choking. (I do know of one dog who almost choked on a carrot, but was saved by quick acitng owners doing a doggie Heimleich manuver; since this dog had been sucessfully cured of cancer some months earlier , her loving guardians now jokes about "surviving the big C, but nearly succumbing to the little c !" ) Most dogs learn to love tomatoes : mine harvest them right out of the farm fields. Other favorites include pieces of banana , strawberries, blueberries, blackberries , figs , pieces of apricot or nectarine (remove the stones first!), apples , and even (for one of my dogs) unripe persimmons plucked off the tree. All of these are healthy treats. Don't suddenly give a lot of them to a dog or you might see some changes in stool consistency. Don't be alarmed when you see various colors or seeds or other remnants in the stool. (I once thought I was seeing blood-filled worms in the stool but it was simply rolled up bits of tomato skin. This never happened again , though I've had many dogs who were gluttons for tomatoes.)

Don't allow your Bouv to excercise vigorously for at least one hour after eating; two hours would be better. And let your Bouv cool off for at least 1/2 hour , or preferably one hour, after vigorous excercise before you feed. Bouvs as a breed are subject to bloat, a mysteriously caused digestive ailment in which the stomach fills with gas and then twists about itself; this is an absolute emergency, as without immediate treatment the dog will die ! If you detect any signs of stomach ache, or abdominal ballooning, or repeated unsuccessful attempts to vomit, call your vet immediately and get the dog in as fast as you possibly can ! If it is a case of bloat, immediate surgery is the dog's only hope of life.

THE CRATE = "a room of his own"

A comfortable dog crate can be the dog's private room and the owner's best friend. Appropriate use of a crate is a great aid to housebreaking, prevention of chewing and other destructive behavior, and a source of security to a dog who might otherwise suffer separation anxiety when left home alone. A "size 500" Vari-Kennel or equivalent sized Dogaloo (a very superior design) with some comfortable padding on the floor suits Bouvier well. I used to crate train most rescue dogs as soon as they entered the house, initially crating them (ie closing the dog into the crate) at night , feeding them in the crate, and crating them when they are left home alone. Once the dog has adjusted well to being a housedog, the crate is simply made available with door left open for dog to use at will. Many make frequent use of it for a private nap. Dogs love small , dark , enclosed places to be used as a "den", ie a private sleeping place. To a dog , a crate is a cherished private space, not a jail. Nowadays I don't routeinly crate-train most of the rescues. But I do notice that some of them choose to utilize the two open-doored 500 crates that are always available in my home's central room . Some of my own dogs use these crates a lot and others almost never use them. ( I do use them as private dining areas for two of my dogs, as part of my overall scheme of separating dogs at feeding times, so they don;t feel a need to protect their food against each other.)

An alternative to crating, one that gives a bit more room to the dog, is the use of an "exercise pen", usually called an "X-pen", which is an 8 panel fold-up wire sided playpen. (I especially like the "Precision" brand because the panels are held together with long bolts and thus can easily be altered by adding or removing panels. ) These come in various heights, and for a Bouv you would need the 36" high one or higher. For some dogs you need to add a barrier over the top of the pen, and for most dogs I recommend attaching one side of the pen to a wall by screwing eye-screws into the wall and using snaps to attach the pen to them. These pens are also useful for confining dogs at shows and trials. Stretchs of X-pen panels can be used to fence off hazardous areas from dogs or children, eg to surround a hot wood-stove.

I sometimes recommend some use of a crate or X-pen during the first month or so that a dog is in a new home. However , a similar result may be achieved by "dog proofing" (clearing out dangerous or destructible items) one room of the house, so the dog may be confined there when necessary. A dog proof room is not as powerfully relaxing as a crate, but it i often preferable to giving the dog free run of the house.


I do not offer a dog for adoption until that dog has proven in my own home that it is reliably housebroken. My routine includes a morning walk (usually 2 miles) and sometimes an evening walk. During nice weather , the door into our small fenced yard is usually left open ; otherwise the dog door is available, so the dog can go into the yard when needed to eliminate. At night , I might crate the recycle dogs at night for the first week or so; thereafter the recycle dog usually sleeps wherever it likes, usually in my bedroom along with my own dogs. I find that the availability of the dog-door almost always results in a new dog becoming house-broken almost without any effort on my part -- even for dogs that I am fairly sure have never lived inside a house before. I used togive lessons to each new dog to go through the dog door, but I find that often my own dogs teach the new one to do this right away -- mine run through and the new dog follows, and after a few such pasages the new dog as got it figured out .

During the first week or two in your home, you want to make it as easy as possible for your dog to remain house-clean. At first the dog won't necessarily regard the whole house as being his "den" (thereby invoking the canine instinct to keep the den clean of urine and feces) and he also won't know how to get himself out of the house to reach the "toilet" by using the dog door or by getting you to respond to attempts to ask you to let him out. Also your feeding and walking schedule will be different from mine. Therefore you may want to limit the parts of the house the dog has access to when you aren't home (ie exclude him from the room with the expensive carpet) and /or (unless the dog has a history of being an "escape artist" in which case we have discused this at length) you should make sure a dog-door or an open door allows him easy access to the outdoors when you are away. Alternatively, you could crate the dog while you are away, provided this time does not exceed 4 to 5 hours and provided he has been walked (and has eliminated) just prior to your leaving. Definitely take at least a short walk (which can be entirely within your own yard) in the morning and evening , just before or just after feeding. You should accompany the dog so that you can see if he has eliminated, preferably both urination and defecation. As you see the dog about to urinate or defecate , use some cheerful invitation phrase (mine is "dump time") and then give low-keyed praise while the dog actually eliminates. This invitation phrase will become associated with the act, which can be very useful when you are traveling or any time you want to effectively tell the dog that now is the time to do it if he needs to. A noonish and a just- before- bedtime outing are wise if you lack a dog-door, and are much needed by young puppies and old dogs and may be needed when hot weather prompts your dog to drink a lot of water. If your dog has trouble making it all the way through the night, pick up the water bowl a few hours before bedtime and shift his dinner time until just before bedtime. (Trust me: it can work wonders !) During the first few weeks when you are home, I would strongly recommend that the dog be in the same room with you, which can be ensured by using stretch gates or shutting doors. Better yet is the "umbilical cord" method, in which you simply take a 6 to 10 foot piece of cord and attach it from the dog's collar to your own waist / belt. The umbilical cord speeds up emotional bonding with the dog and ensures that you have maximum oppertunity to be aware what the dog is doing and about to do, eg from needing an oppertuinity to urinate or defecate to being about to pick up or chew on something that you don't want him to and therefore should interrupt or being about to pick up one of his own toys in which case you would express your approval.

I strongly recommend a dog-door unless you have a young child in the house who might "escape" through it, or have concerns about cats or wild animlas entering through the door, or some other concern. The dog-door need only be a hole about 18" high by 12" wide , set about 10-12" above the floor level , with a free-swinging flap covering the hole. (If there is an elderly dog in the house, I would extend the hole downward another 6", as old dogs can have difficulty folding up their legs to negotiate the higher barrier. )Use a leash to guide the dog through it a few times, first without the flap and then with the flap in place. That's usually all it takes to teach a dog to use it. You might leave the flap off for the first few days if the dog is hesitant. (Dogs that I foster have already learned to use my dog door, but you might still bewise to send five minutes helping him learn to use your dog door.) If you live in rented housing and the owner does not want a hole in the door, ask permission to remove the owner's door, store it away, and replace it with one of your own. A dog-door has the added advantage of allowing a dog to better perform his watchdog duties, protecting indoors and out. All this assumes that you do have a fenced yard. It need not be very large : a mere 10' by 10' adjacent to the dog door would be ample for toilet purposes. While 4' high will suffice for some elderly or handicapped Bouvs, almost all healthy young and middle-aged Bouvs are physically capable of jumping that if motivated to do so; thus 5' to 6' is better. Inexpensive woven wire garden fencing or stock-fencing supported by inexpensive T-posts will suffice. If the dog in question has had some history of jumping/climbing over or squirming under fences , then it would be best to delay adding a dog door until after the dog has bonded into his new home and has abandoned any escapist tendencies; and it may be advisable to add some "hot wire" (electric fence) to your fences to ensure that the dog does not attempt to dig, jump, or climb. (I have written an article on "Escape Artist Dogs" that deals extensively with this problem; if the dog you are adopting from me has any history as an escape artist , I will have discussed this with you at great lenght.)

Note : I virtually NEVER place a dog into a home that does not have a fenced yard that is at least 5 feet high,preferably 6 ft high, all the way around and with fences and gates in excellent condition, and preferably with the exterior gate kept locked. I have occasionally placed dogs with experienced owners living in apartments or condos, but only after being certain that they accept the responsibilities of 4 or more potty excursions evey day for the dog;'s entire life.


You may already have definite and unshakable ideas about where a dog should sleep. but if you don't , then let me recommend that almost every dog is happiest to sleep in his packleader's bedroom. That would be the bedroom of the adult head of house or the alpha couple. (I do understand that some couples do not want any 3rd party sentient being present in their bedroom when they are "making woopie." If you feel this way, then of course the dog should sleep elsewhere, preferably in someone else's bedroom.) Your child's bedroom is an equally excellent choice, and may induce the child to be more willing to go to bed and to naps. In bedroom sleeping has the additional benefit that it lets the dog protect the sleeping person from unfriendly intruders while you sleep. Most dogs prefer a corner or under a table as their sleeping den, ie out of the line of foot traffic. Most dogs prefer some kind of cushion to sleep on, ie a "dog bed". An old sleeping bag from the thrift store makes a fine cheap Bouv bed. Some Bouvs prefer a cool surface to sleep on and prefer cooler (even drafty) parts of the room. In really hot weather, some abandon their usual bed for a tile or linoleum floor or for a breezy porch or a dug-out cool-earthed hollow in the yard. (there is a wonderful product called "Canine Cooler" that is in effect a thin layer water bed, providing cushioning and cooling (the water acts as a heat sink for the dog's body heat). Elderly Bouvs may prefer warmer areas and they must have a very well cushioned bed.

If your Bouv is still young enough and playful enough that he wakes during the night to amuse himself chewing on inappropriate toys (eg the sofa) or otherwise get into trouble, then crate him at night. A crate is an utterly natural sleeping den. If the crate door is open during the day, many dogs retreat to their crate whenever they want peace and quiet.

I guess I'd better also say something about dogs sharing a person's bed. Many books will threaten you with hellfire, damnation, and loss of your dog's respect for your alpha status if you let him share your bed : "it will make him think he is your equal" is the dire warning. Others, and I am definately one of them, recognize that it is not any one single detail , such as sleeping together, that assures your status as the packleader, but rather that is determined by your entire relationship , your entire attitude of "alphatude" ("because I'm your Mother , that's why" is a pretty good summation) , your calmly benign demeanor and attitude of guardianship and dominion, and your consistancy in being the one who sets the rules of life. So to me the main questions that determines whether or not to invite your dog to be a guest in your bed are (1) have I already established myself as packleader ? (if not , then delay the invitation), (2) is my bed big enough to accomodate this additional body ? (remembering that dog's often manage to take up extraordinary amounts of room by extending their legs straight out), and (3) can I cope with the amount of gritty dirt that may come off of my dog's coat and into the bedsheets ? There might also be the 4th question of the tastes and desires of any other human being who is currently sharing your bed or any who might be invited to do so in the future. (If you enjoy a life of great variety in this regard, I would advise leaving the dog on the floor, maybe even outside your bedroom.) I would advise my adopters to delay inviting the dog into bed for at least a month or several months after the dog jins the household. When and if you do invite the dog into bed, make it clear that this is an invitation and a priviledge, not an inalienable right. As a general rule, don't let the dog jump up without your word of invitation or your physical gesture of invitation (eg hand patting bed). If he does invite himself up, uninvite him : ie make him get back off and wait a while before you invite him up. Be sure to insist that whenever you ask the dog to move over or to get off the bed, the dog does so immediately and unprotestingly. You need to be able to do this to maintain the dog's awareness that the bed belongs to you and he is only a guest, and you also need to do it to be able to re-arrange the sheets and covers so your own body is comfortably covered and so you don't find yourself occupying a more and more narrow edge of the bed. Now all of this being said, let me confess to you that my own dogs certainly share my bed. Chelsea and Bones and I never slept apart unless one of us was hospitalized, and I certainly never felt that their respect for me was diluted by this. Today Pixel and Chris share my bed and Duke prefers the floor. I do NOT invite the foster dogs to join us in bed, because I want to leave that decision for their adopters to make. I do however do a lot of my grooming with the dog lying flat on the bed while I sit and groom and watch TV.


All dogs need daily excercise; so do all humans. Adult Bouvs are almost always too lazy to take enough excercise without a human companion to accompany and encourage them. A normal , healthy Bouv between ages of 6 months and 8 years will need and enjoy a couple miles of walking per day, at rates ranging from a brisk human walking pace (ie 3 to 5 mph) to a moderate jogging or bicycle pace (7 to 9 mph). I usually do 2 miles in the morning and 1/4 to 1/2 mile in the evening, either on foot or on a bicycle. Younger and older dogs are better with several short and mild walks per day. (Update note : because I almost always have an older dog in the group, I will take everyone for a shorter slower outing, then return the old ones to the house and go out again for a longer walk with the rest. My ideal day is a 3 mile walk in the morning, but in hot weather it is likely to be much shorter. Some days all we get is a short walk just before sundown when the heat of the day yields.)

In hot weather , it is essential to remember that dogs cannot endure heat as well as humans. The canine cooling system, panting, is not very effective. Bouviers are even less fond of heat and less enduring of it than most dogs. So excercise in the cool of the morning or evening, preferably with water breaks along the way and possibly some shaded rest breaks as well. Watch carefully for signs of distress and be ready to shortcut your excercise. KNOW THE SYMPTOMS OF HEATSTROKE AND THE FIRST AID FOR IT !!

I am not really knowledgeable about dog management in severely cold weather or in conditions of snow and ice. Moderately cold weather (30 to 50 F) delights Bouvs, and rain and wind do not bother them. An elderly Bouv may appreciate a waterproof , windproof "parka."

If you are a jogger, remember to condition your dog gradually and keep an eye on the foot pads for signs of abrasion or scalding from hot pavement. Carry water for your dog as well as yourself. You might even want to carry electrolyte solution such as Gatorade or Pedialyte (if you have already gotten your dog used to drinking it.) Teach your dog how to drink from a squirt bottle or a cup or one of those wonderful fabric folding bowls that are so easy to carry. Likewise if you are a horseman or bicyclist. Constantly monitor your dog's condition and be prepared to abort the jog or ride and transport your dog home.


The object of grooming the pet Bouvier or the working Bouvier should be utility and comfort. The advice that follows is aimed at such practical grooming, not at the impractical styles and fads of the beauty contests in the show ring, something of which I remain ignorant.

Bouvier require regular coat grooming, usually 3 times per week. I recommend short daily or alternate daily sessions, rather than longer less frequent ones. Bouvs with soft outercoat and have excessive undercoat require more grooming than dogs with really harsh outercoat and moderate undercoat. Unfortunately show ring fads have led to breeding for soft, fluffy, excessive coat. Less frequent sessions too easily result in a few sessions being skipped or shortchanged, resulting in runaway matting and discomfort for the dog. I suggest that if there is some daily TV program that you watch, this is a convenient time to groom the dog as well ; grooming occupies the hands but leaves the ears free and the eyes sufficiently free. I usually have the dog lie on his side on the floor (or on my bed) and I myself sit on the floorv (or bed). Some prefer to have the dog standing on a grooming table, while the groomer stands or sits on a chair.

My preferred method of coat grooming is to comb the coat out using either the "MatBreaker" tool (my favorite !) or a "shedding comb" (alternates long and short teeth) or other medium spaced comb. ( Recently there is a great tool called the" Mars Coat King" that sounds even better than the MatBreaker. I have not yet used one.) The MatBreaker will break up any existing mats, break up any mats that are beginning to form, and remove a lot of excess undercoat, and will make the outercoat more harsh. The shedding comb will also break up mats that are forming and remove excess undercoat, but less efficiently than the MatBreaker. A "stripping knife" can be used to remove undercoat and harshen the outercoat, but it takes more skill and effort than the MatBreaker. MatBreaker can be bought at pet emporiums such as PetCo or PetsMart or from various catalogs. The best stripping knife is the McClelland coarse (ask a professional groomer where to get one) and there is also a folding jackknife style of very coarse stripper that I like a lot. Shedding combs can be had at most large pet supply stores or from catalogs.

Some dogs really enjoy coat grooming, but many merely accept it , and some endure it with a martyred air. Most dogs have some tender or ticklish areas which should be combed gently. Always be careful when grooming the face, especially around lips, ears , and eyes. Flank and armpits are sensitive on many dogs.

If the dog has gotten burrs stuck into his coat, the sooner these are removed the less difficult it will be for you and the less uncomfortable for the dog. For the great huge sharp-spined cockleburs, especially if they are badly entangled and especially on the dog's more sensitive areas, I find it is easiest to grasp the burr with needlenosed pliers or with a hemostat (also called "hair pulling tool" at the pet supply store), then use a comb to pull the hair away from the burr a few strands at a time. A few drops of Avon Skin So Soft diluted with water can be applied to make the hair slippery and thus easier to pull away. Horehound burrs generally comb out with the shedding comb or other medium spaced comb. Filagree (long & spiral shaped ) and "foxtails" (awns of wild oats, barley and other weeds) burrow into the coat and ultimately into the skin ; they should be combed out as soon as possible, and may need to be grasped with the hemostat and pulled out; once through the skin, it's a job for the vet. Failure to remove a foxtail can have horrible consequences, including death, as they tend to keep traveling through the body.

It is customary , though not essential, to clip the hair on the top of the skull and on the ears short, ie with a #10 blade. It is also customary and necessarily to cut out windows for the eyes; I prefer to make very large windows to allow the dog maximum freedom of vision, especially needed by herding dogs, protection dogs, and dogs doing any sort of jumping or agility work. Such windows are cut using blunt-tipped scissors. (Never use anything sharp tipped near the eyes!!!) It is customary but not necessarily to leave a "fall" or forelock of hair between the eyes; removing or thinning out this forelock probably improves the dog's vision. I myself prefer to thin out the hair on the cheeks to avoid too "chipmonky" a look. I personally prefer to preserve the beard long and full; but some prefer to thin and shorten , or even remove, the beard to reduce the amount of water that gets dripped across the floor every time the dog drinks from his waterbowl.

In summer in hot climates , especially in areas where foxtails abound, some Bouvs are much more comfortable with a summer cut down. This means clipping the entire coat (body and legs) short (some even shave the face, but I prefer to leave the beard long, but thin it out a bit with thinning shears). Try to leave at least 1/4 inch of hair ; clipping too close to the skin exposes it to sunburn. (If you do go too close, limit sun exposure for a while.) Other Bouvs with harsher sparcer coat , and with greater heat hardiness, may not need a cut down. However if foxtail exposure is likely, do shave the feet (with a #10 blade or closer), removing as much hair as possible between the toes and between the pads. This will have to be repeated every few weeks throughout the foxtail season. If you don't have clippers, you can do a decent job with blunt tipped scissors. Also clip or shorten the hair in the armpits , groin, belly, and around genitalia (and on male dogs, the area between the sheath and the belly button is especially prone to sucking in foxtails).

In winter you may also want to clip or scissor the feet to reduce the amount of mud that will be tracked into your house. (In my area, because I live amid agricultural fields, in summer there is often a goodly supply of mud in the irrigation ditches and in the irrigated fields.) In snow, removing hair between the pads reduces formation of snowballs.

Throughout the year, use blunt tipped scissors to trim hair around anus and genitalia. Long hair around the anus can collect bits of feces, especially if the dog has an episode of diarehha.

Clean ears regularly by use of an appropriate cleansing fluid , eg Oti-Clens: squirt a half dozen or so drops into the ear, then massage, then let dog shake it out. An equally good cleaning fluid for many dogs is simply vinegar mixed half and half with water; or for some dogs 1/4 vinegar to 3/4 water. You may also use Q-tips or cotton balls to wipe dirty grunge out, but be careful how you do this. At the same time, if your dog has a lot of hair inside his ears, use the hemostat ( = "hair puller") to pull it out a few strands at a time.

Use a tooth scaling tool regularly to scrape tartar off the teeth. There's a bit of a trick to getting the plaque to pop off the teeth. It takes some practice. Don't be worried if you get a little bleeding from the edge of the gums. Vets highly recommend daily tooth-brushing with a doggie toothbrush and doggie toothpaste. There are also some special biscuits and special prescription dog foods that remove and reduce tartar. If tartar has built up badly enough that the dog's gums become first inflamed then infected, you will need to have your vet do a serious tooth-cleaning proceedure that includes cleaning below the gum line; this is done under general anesthesia and can be done safely even on an old dog if the vet is a genuinely good anesthesiologist. Most vets say that neglected gum disease contributes seriously to kidney failure and heart failure in middle aged and older dogs.

Toenail length must be checked frequently. Most dogs need to have their nails shortened regularly by use of either a nail cutter or a nail grinder, as they do not get worn off sufficiently by ground contact. Old dogs need especially frequent nail care. If your dog has dewclaws (5th toe), these toenails will definitely have to be shortened regularly as they do not wear down at all


Basic obedience training is essential to the happiness and harmony of dog and master. Obedience training helps to establishe the leadership of the master and creates the beginnings of communication between them. The hard-core basics are "come", "down", "down-stay", and orderly walking on lead. I have begun your dog's education in these essentials, with the greatest emphasis on "come" and "down". I have also emphasized general good manners in the house and car.

I strongly recommend that you continue his education by enrolling in an obedience course. If you are an experienced dog-trainer , you may well prefer to teach all the exercises at home first, and then enroll in class to confirm the training under group conditions. If you are inexperienced, then you yourself need to attend the classes in order to learn how to teach your dog; thus you will go to class right away. There are many different methods of training and different class instructors use and emphasize different methods. Local breeders, boarding kennels, groomers, and vets usually can tell you who is running classes and where. In most towns there is a local AKC dog club , usually listed in the phone book with a name such as "Townsname Dog Training Club" or "Townsname Dog Obedience Club" or "Townsname Kennel Club".

Some dogs require rather firm handling , with any errors made on the side of occasional over-firmness. Others do better with lighter corrections, and with any errors made on the side of occasional leniency. I will have discussed this with you or indicated on the Information Summary. All dogs require praise and correction to be very well timed, ie as nearly as possible to be simultaneous with the action you intend to encourage (by praise) or discourage (by correction). Sloppy timing causes great confusion to the dog. Your class instructor can help you to evaluate the accuracy of your timing and the appropriateness of your corrections and praise.

Most classes today also stress use of "positive reinforcement" (which most people simply think of as "reward" or "reward based training"), ie the dog gets some pleasant consequence for obeying. The usual reward used is a tiny bit of food, but for some dogs a ball or other toy works as well or better. Initially every correct response is rewarded, but soon one has to shift to "slot machine schedule" (usually termed "variable schedule reinforcement" or "random reinforcement") in which the payoff becomes unpredictable. Although it might seem hard to believe that variable schedule reinforcement works better than getting a predictable reward for each performance, you have only to visit a casino to observe the greater power of the slot machine schedule !

It takes both wise use of reward techniques and correction techniques and a few other techniques to train a dog and to maintain training. Many good books have been written on this topic.


"DogSmart" by Dr Myrna MiIani DVM and "The Other End of the Leash" by Patricial McConnell PhD are absolutely MUST READ books for every dog owner. as training guides, I strongly recommend "Mother Knows Best" and "Second Hand Dog", both by Carol Lea Benjamin. These are superb books on basic leadership and dog-training techniques. "Don't Shoot the Dog" by Karen Pryor (found in the psychology section at most bookstores) is a superb book on the general principles of creating desirable behaviors and eliminating undesirable ones in any creature , from mouse to man; and "Excel-erated Learning" by Pamela Reid is excellent in showing exactly how these principle apply to a variety of dog training situations ; "How to Behave so Your Dog Behaves" by Dr sophia Yin, DVM, covers the same ground, but may be a better choice for an inexperienced trainer.. Jean Donaldson's "Culture Clash" and "Dogs Are From Neptune" also deal with applying positive reinforcement techniques to dog rearing and training. "The Evans Guide to Housebreaking" by Job Michael Evans is of great value on the obvious topic, and his book "People , Pooches, and Problems" is a good guide to preventing and solving the most common owner complaints about dog behavior . "The Dog Who Loved Too Much" and "Dogs Behaving Badly" both by Dr Nicholas Dodman, DVM are also excellent books on behavior problem solving. "Dogs and Kids, Parenting Guide" by Bardi McLennan is of value to all who have children or contemplate doing so in the future. Should you become interested in any form of specialized training, such as tracking or herding or protection, I can furnish bibliography.


While I know you will use good sense and take care to prevent your dog from becoming strayed, lost, or stolen, nonetheless "freak" situations can occur. For example, a friend was crossing the street, with the light and in the crosswalk, with her dog at heel on leash, when some idiot ran the light and ran her over , putting her in the hospital in a coma for 3 days ; the dog bolted in fear (of course!) but was soon recovered because of the ID tags on his collar (and he was also tatooed).

REFLECTIVE COLLAR: makes dog more visible to drivers at night.

LOCAL LICENSE TAG : legally required, facilitates finder of your dog to contact you; requires Animal Control to hold dog several days longer before selling it or killing it.

RABIES TAG: usually has vet's phone number plus number which lets him ID the dog and you; the vet is in town even when you are not.

NAME & PHONE TAG : your phone number on a tag attached to the dog's collar is your single greatest means of getting your dog home again if he is ever separated from you. I provide with each dog a temporary tag with your phone number on it to use until you can get a handsome one engraved with dog's name, address, phone #, and (sometimes) vet's #. Nowadays I encourage adopters, before they come to meet the dog, to use the while-you-wait engraving machine (at Petco, petsMart, WalMart) to make up a tag with home phone, work phone , cell phone, and vet's phone ( the dog's naem and address are not really nescessary, though the owner's name may be advisable). It's a good idea to keep an extra tag on hand in case one gets lost and needs to be replaced.

TATOO : the ultimate back-up, since unlike a collar it cannot break or slip off. Professional thieves avoid tatooed dogs (and know to look for a tatoo); research labs won't buy them. Vets, trainers, and groomers usually will tell a finder to check ears and thighs in search of a tatoo. Pounds are supposed to look for tatoos, but probably most do not do so. The process is not painful, though some dogs find it uncomfortable. Usual cost : $10 to 20 (as of 1993). Use the dog's AKC ILP number or your state Driver's License number (or both). If you use your Social Security number, you will need to register it with National Dog Registry (Box 116, Woodstock, NY 12498 ; $25 lifetime), as otherwise it can't be used to trace you. NDR and AKC have Hotlines for contacting owners of tatooed dogs. There are some other dog tatoo registries, such as ID Pet, that keep Hotlines. Update : the tatoo has more or less given way to the microchip. But these are not mutually exclusive ; you can use both. Remember that the tatoo does not require any special equipment to read, and may be discovered incidentally by a finder who bathes or grooms the dog. Most people who might find a lost dog do not know to look for a tatoo , but if they happen to see one they will guess that it means something and is probably a clue to ownership.

MICROCHIP : another ultimate back-up, a rice grain sized gizmo that your vet can inject under the skin between your dog's shoulder blades. It does require a special device , a "scanner", to be detected and deciphered. Most vets have them and will gladly and gratuitously scan any stray dog brought in. All Pounds are supposed to have and use them (but some Pounds don't bother to do so). Most ordinary people, ie the ones most likely to find a lost dog, don't know about microchips and of course they will never discover one accidentally. All vets and most groomers and trainers are very well aware of them and will know where to go to have the dog scanned. For the chip to trace back to anyone other than the vet or shelter who inserted it, you must register your information with the chip maker's database (principal manufacterers are "Avid" and "HomeAgain") or with the AKC database. There is a new database called "24Petwatch" that says it will also accept medical data into your pet's file.

I.L.P. (Indefinite Listing Privilege)

For unregistered or unregisterable dogs that appear to be purebred dogs of AKC recognized breeds, AKC offers the ILP. This allows the dog to compete in AKC Obedience Trials and AKC Tracking Tests and (after mid 1991) in AKC Herding Tests & Trials. There is a form to be filled out (I will gladly help you with this), to be sent in with 2 photos (front view & side view, standing posture) ,spay/neuter certificate, and $25. Your Bouv should have no trouble obtaining an ILP if you want it.

You are welcome to use my "du Clos de la Fourrière" suffix in your ILP name (or, for fewer letters, you might use "de la Fourrière") to let the whole world know that this dog came from the Pound. This bit of "advertisement" of the wonderful dogs available at the Pound may well help to save the lives of other deserving dogs.

I encourage you to get an ILP and to compete for your AKC "Canine Good Citizenship" and AKC "Companion Dog" (and higher) obedience degree. I believe you would experience a great thrill of achievement ! And, again, it may be the good advertisment that helps another dog get a home. I think all of our breed clubs should be promoting the CGC vigorously and should make it a part of their "breeder ethics" programs. All of us should be educating municipal and county lawmakers and regulators as to the CGC program as a way of reducing problems with bad dog behavior and bad owner behavior in the community. Think of the CGC as a possible immunization against anti-dog or anti-dog-breed legislation, a problem which as of 2005 is on the rise again.


Besides the AKC competitions described above, an unregistered dog may (without an ILP) compete freely in Schutzhund, in ASCA Herding Trials and AHBA Herding Trials, in the AKC's Canine Good Citizen test, and in the ATTS Temperament test, and in non-AKC Agility Trials, and in other events which you might enjoy.

Agility is an especially enjoyable activity for both dog and handler. See "Agility, the Fun Sport for All Dogs" by Jane Simmons-Moake for training from the simplest to the most sophisticated. Today there are Agility clubs or training classes in many communities, and there are plenty of trials to compete in. There are at least 3 different trial sanctioning organizations that are open to mixed breed and unregistered dogs, plus AKC which is open to registered or ILP dogs.

Herding is, of course, the most ancient vocation of the Bouvier ("bouvier" means "cattle herder" in French). It is immensely enjoyable to the many Bouvs that have inherited sufficient talent (herding instinct); but it requires lengthy and dedicated effort from the trainer-handler. It is not a sport for dilettante. For an introduction, see "The Farmer's Dog" by John Holmes, and for a very good and detailed training program see "Herding Dogs" by Vergil Holland..

Tracking is a great joy to most dogs, and Bouviers often excel at it. If you enjoy being outdoors and doing a lot of walking amid the beauties of nature, sometimes in wet weather, you will probably enjoy tracking. In tracking, unlike other "works" of dog, the dog is the controlling partner and the handler is merely a humble assistant and follower. The trackers' "bible" is "Tracking Dog , Theory and Methods" by Glen Johnson.


You may wish to consider joining the Southern California Bouvier des Flandres Club (SCDBFC), which has membership far beyond So Cal, but which is more oriented towards beauty contests than towards training and working dogs. It does have a Rescue program and needs more members willing to participate in the rescue and foster housing of needy Bouviers. It publishes an excellent monthly magazine.

For those in Northern California, we have the Bouvier Club of Northern California (BCNC) , which has a very active family-dog membership and a very active Rescue program and which holds many enjoyable events throughout the year and publishes a quarterly magazine.

Most regions have a local Bouvier club.


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site author Pam Green copyright 2003
created 1993, 1995, 2003 revised 8/08/05
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