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Responsible TM Ownership

Helpful Hints and Staying Sane!!

After much discussion we finally made a major decision to welcome into our family a new member in the form of an adorable TM puppy. After our initial joy had subsided we got straight into encouraging the puppy to learn and experience things, we knew too that we had a great deal to learn regarding rearing a young puppy into a happy and well adjusted adult dog.

The breeder we chose was very generous with her time and loved hearing about our fur baby. Being a responsible owner means doing everything possible to keep your dog in good health both physically and mentally.


Puppy vaccinations start at the age of 6 weeks up ‘til eighteen weeks. A booster is given at 12 months of age and then every year throughout the life of the dog to prevent canine parvo, distemper and hepititus. In addition to this you have all the usual treatments (worming etc) and ear and eye checks.


Very slowly maturing – means you have to be extremely careful to get the mineral / vitamin balance and the amount and type of food right. Feeding timeToo much protein can lead to dogs growing too large too soon and putting their structure out. Sometimes this cannot be rectified. For example, pasterns can become weak under strain. If a dog is too heavy at an early age this puts stress on tendons and ligaments. If this is not rectified within a few months this can lead to a foot turning out slightly sideways for the rest of the dog’s life. Usually regular checking, early detection and a change in diet is enough to achieve the necessary balance but it is always better to prevent such things from happening if possible.

The breeder will advise you on the puppy’s diet, usually small meals at frequent intervals are given up until the age of 6 months, then it is up to the individual whether once or twice daily. Avoid foods containing soy, preservatives and by-products. A premium puppy food for large dogs is not recommended – it’s essential. You may also add carrots, natural yogurt and turkey and chicken necks for variety. NEVER feed your dog cooked bones such as the remain of a roast lamb dinner.

Clean water should be available at all times except immediately after robust exercise. My dogs love a few ice cubes in their water, especially on a very hot day. Feeding timeEnsure the water bowls are in the shade and not direct sunlight and find a place where this is the case for the entire day otherwise move the bowl! Steel and aluminum bowls are preferable over plastic.

Try not to feed your dog when you eat. They will establish a pattern whereby you eat and then they do. This can lead to demanding dogs and ones that drool in front of your while you attempt to enjoy your meal or snack!! It is much better to feed your dogs after you have eaten (as this would be the case in the pack). If however you are like Troy and I and prefer to eat an hour or so after the time we like the dogs to be fed do what Jan Fennell, the Dog Listener suggests: Take a couple of dry biscuits (or whatever) out. Prepare the dogs meals then eat your biscuits in front of them while they await their meals. They won’t know that this is not the same as what they are just about to enjoy. All they will think is that you (the pack leader) is eating first (as it should be) and they (as members of the pack) are eating what you leave for them.


Socialisation means your puppy should become acquainted with all manner of things at a very early age. Meeting people and other animals will provide him with social skills that will make him a confident and happy dog.

Socialize with people Socialize with animals Socialize with kids


Training should cover everything from cutting nails and giving puppy a nice first grooming experience, to how to behave in and outside the home to sit, drop or, if you are wanting to show - to stack. From an early age puppies can be taught basic training such as sit, stay, come, etc as well as learning to tolerate a lead, grooming and a bath. Later the dog will benefit by attending an obedience class, enabling him to learn to obey more extensive commands. The owner must always accompany his or her charge to these classes, thus establishing himself as the alpha who needs to be respected. Always be consistent with your dog, it is the least they deserve.

Training stay Training stack Bath time


As puppies can do a lot of damage in a short time, a crate in which to contain your dog is useful for the times you may have to leave him or her unsupervised. Dogs like to have a special place of their own so make the crate a comfortable place to be. Situate it with the door tied back in a spot where he can see what is going on around him. If the puppy is hesitant to enter the crate, reward him with a treat or special toy when he has entered the crate. After a few days he will become familiar with his new place, the crate will not be seen as a threat and he will go in and out of it freely. The next step is closing the door when he enters. As this will not appeal to him at all and he will make his feelings known by whining and barking. Do not release him until he has quietened, and hopefully calmed down somewhat, for if you do he will see a pattern and continue to misbehave in future. However the puppy will soon accept being confined if you praise him for his good behaviour. A crate is also invaluable when you travel and is a must if you plan to show your dog. It is also a godsend when you need to leave your dog at the veterinarian so it’s important to show the dog that a crate is a safe place and to feel comfortable within it.

Groom your TM


Once a year, usually in spring and summer, your TM will shed his undercoat and require daily grooming, a tool called a rake is ideal for this purpose. At other times brushing is all which is required to keep their coats in good condition as TMs are naturally clean dogs. Make grooming an enjoyable time for both you and your dog. I just love it and my dogs line up for a brush and a check over! While doing so check the coat for fleas, hotspots, lumps and eye infections. Have a vet or breeder show you the correct method of clipping the dog’s nails.



Nocturnal Barking

Given that TMs have been guarding villagers and property for thousands of years it is a given they will bring this to your house. It is simply part of the breed – they are a guardian breed. Having said that some of our TMs sleep outside at night and some inside. Quite simply not all TMs are barkers and some are as quiet as a mouse at night. Try thanking them for protecting you but then showing that everything is fine and that it’s okay to relax now. I remember when we moved houses and lived backing onto a river. My two dogs barked every time a fish jumped up out of the water (something that never seemed to happen while we were fishing!!). I would sit out there with the dogs, an arm around them and when a fish jumped up and the dogs would start to go on the offensive, I would pat them and say: “Fish! It’s okay, fish”. Use a soothing voice that shows no concern whatsoever. 2 nights later the fish were going crazy but there was no barking to be heard!

Teach your dogs what are possible threats and what doesn’t need their attention. Also endeavour to teach your dog to bark on command and to cease barking for the word: “Quiet”.

The “Uglies”

Although we did not experience this with out first TM other TM breeders did not believe us when we said that he grew evenly! You see your TM might look adorable one day, gangly the next, and later as though he has a pin-sized head compared to the size of his body OR a puppy with a head twice the size it should be!! Most of this is normal and you are lucky if you have a dog who matures evenly, especially if you are showing him or her! All I can say is not to worry and just cuddle him when he’s looking less than the dog you’d hoped for… he is still the same inside. TMs are the cutest puppies, they may go through some awkward growing stages but are stunning from at around 2 years for females and 3 years for males and improve even more by true maturation (around 3+ years for females and 5 years for males).

Puppy 6 Months Young Adult
Panda at 10 weeks
Panda at 6 months.... oh dear!
Panda at 10 months

TMs – Idiosyncrasies!

The TM is unlike other breeds! Bringing up your TM can be time consuming, at times frustrating, but always worth it.

Panda on the runTheir intelligence is what actually makes any ‘training’ more difficult! I remember that we were the top of the class in our obedience group but after a few weeks, when the other breeds had finally come to realize what was being asked of them and started to rejoice in knowing and doing what their beloved parents wanted from them, our TM was bored, had already learnt that and didn’t see why he had to do it three times in a row!!

You see they know EXACTLY what you want from them, but they don’t necessarily agree that it’s needed. Many other breeds do things by rote learning and not ever questioning. Get prepared to ‘debate’ with your new TM puppy!!!

Believe me, this may sound like extra work (and it is) but it results in an admiration for your new friend and a difficulty in going back to the ease of more simplistic breeds.

My family and I knew how essential it was to spend as much time with our first TM puppy when it just arrived. Even though my partner was working from home, I took a week off work and ensured that the next few weeks I could be flexible with my hours.

For the first two months we bonded, watched each other and learnt a great deal. We also attempted to expose our puppy to as many new experiences, sounds, people and places as possible. This of course depends on when vaccinations deem the puppy able to cope with such pursuits.

Fozzie meet & greetIt is essential that the puppy feel comfortable when placed in such situations. Your attitude and reaction to these situations will either help or hinder such learning. It is so important to expose your puppy to anything and everything at this time. Puppies will give most things a go and if exposed to new things calmly and lovingly by you will be comfortable with them. If an adult dog hasn’t had these experiences with these things when a puppy it can become very fearful and jittery. This is the saddest thing to see.

We thought we had covered everything. We had read the books, gone to socialization and obedience training, mimicked situations in the home and yard and taken our pup to fairs, fetes, open days, into town, you name it, we did it. Then when he was12 months of age, just before he went into the ring for his first real show a lady in a motorized scooter went slowly past and scared the life out of him!!! This lady seemed to be a permanent fixture at most shows so our dog got used to it but it took a little while. When he was nearly 14 months we were walking through a park in town and he stopped, dead in his tracks, near a statue. It was very much a real life form of a man. Our dog could not understand how a dark ‘man’ didn’t move and didn’t have a scent. I went over to the statue and sat next to it, patting it and reassuring my dog. It took 3 trips for him to go over to it, sniff and lick it before raising his hind leg to show what he thought of it!!

In SalzburgAt 15 months he reared back from a $2 electric rocking horse outside a convenience store! Now this was a dog who walked down sideshow alley at shows, into town for the Crazy Day Sales, and into classrooms with 29 pairs of hands patting him, totally surrounded and not able to ‘check in’ with me to see that all was well. It is commonly remarked how calm and totally adjusted he is and yet we still had 3 things which at first glance frightened him.

Just reassure the dog but don’t ‘mother him or her –this is very important, if you say “Oh it’s okay, yes it is a big scary thing isn’t it, you can be portraying to puppy that they indeed were right to be and remain scared.

Encourage him or her to explore and show what you mean by role modeling. Show that just because something is new and strange that nothing is to fear. You’ll be amazed how brave they are willing to be when mum is as well!

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