I used to think of myself as quite an experienced dog owner. After having trained my first dog, a German Shepherd for work trials and volunteered many hours at a local dog rescue home, I thought it would be a doddle to train a cute little Entlebucher Mountain Dog. I was in for a bit of a surprise and as it turned out this breed was a completely different cattle of fish! This page covers many of the things I wish I’d known about the Entlebucher’s behaviour and personality before we brought our little Alfie home.
First Time dog owner?
Breeders take pride in finding the right owners for their cherished Entlebucher puppies, and rightfully so. They are not beginners dogs and breeders are looking for people who want to remain highly involved with their dogs. Once you’ve passed their interviews and you have taken your gorgeous puppy home – you will never have a dull moment again.
Entlebucher Mountain Dogs are known as the ‘der Lachen Hunden’ – the laughing dogs, and their positive outlook on life is contagious. In fact, a couple of years into owning an Entlebucher I’ve started thinking of it less as dog ownership and more of a lifestyle choice!
Training your Entlebucher Mountain Dog
Entlebucher Mountain Dogs are highly intelligent and trainable dogs – but they can be dominant and pushy and need an experienced and calm leader to follow. Take a moment to consider what they were bred to do – herding unruly cattle, protecting the family farm and pulling milk carts. Over the years that’s produced a very strong, fearless and somewhat stubborn dog that has an ability to think for himself. This means the Entlebucher Mountain Dog could be challenging to handle for an inexperienced or non assertive owner.
In order to develop the calm, wonderful personality and behaviour the Swiss mountain dogs are known for you must start obedience training and socialising early. As soon as adolescence kicks in he may start to test limits so the more you can teach him as a young puppy, the better. Heeling is an especially important lesson as these powerful dogs can literally pull you off your feet.
Their intelligence and high energy levels are of course great if they are given a job to do such as herding cattle, but if you don’t supply enough entertainment, they will find their own projects and chances are slim you will like what they come up with. When you leave your dog home alone, supply him with chew and activity toys to keep him occupied and when you’re out and about activate his brain cells with games such as hide and seek or obedience training, agility or flyball.
Entlebucher Separation Anxiety
Entlebuchers love their family and will bond closely with his primary carer. He’ll love you so much that he will want to be with you all the time, and follow you around the house – he might even want to join you in the bathroom if you don’t close the door behind you!
In order to avoid the development of separation anxiety you must start leaving him alone for short periods of time as a puppy and then gradually build up the time he can be left alone.
If you don’t train your Entlebucher Mountain Dog to be home alone, then his loving personality means you will be faced with a howling, desperate dog who might turn into destructive behaviour such as chewing or urinating while left alone.
Leaping, romping and rough housing comes natural to the Entlebucher Mountain Dog
As your puppy grows up and becomes better coordinated, he will probably start practicing his cattle leaps. This is the same technique they would have used on a cattle in the Swiss alps and having experienced it first hand I’d say it could probably move mountains as well as cows, but its not quite as pleasant when he tries it on you or your friends.
‘If a cow refuses to move, Entles will first nip heels and , if that doesn’t work, they’ll leap up and slam into the stubborn animal’s side’ (AKC Gazette, Jan 2011).
The first time my dog jumped up to kiss me on my mouth I didn’t believe my eyes, how could such a relatively short legged dog jump that high? Now I’ve realised that its part of his origin and will require consistent and positive training to be kept within acceptable levels. After all, not all visitors will appreciate a flying, slobbery kiss! Even fewer will enjoy having their heels nipped as the puppy ‘herds’ them around the house!
Entlebucher Mountain dogs, especially the young ones can be very determined to jump up into your face, or slam their body against your leg as they run and play. You could describe them as bulls in a china store and its important to keep an eye on them if they’re playing near children as they can easily bowl over little ones in their excitement.
The Entlebucher is a small dog with a big voice
The Entlebucher Mountain Dog will make a brilliant watchdog who is impossible to bribe away from what he perceives to be his duty. He has a loud, deep bark and sounds like a much bigger dog and this behaviour is sure to scare off any unwanted visitors and alert you to any dangers.
This is of course great if you have someone breaking into your house, but not so much fun when your puppy is going through his fear periods and barks at anything and everything. Other ‘dog people’ will take this for what it is, but ‘civilians’ can sometimes get frightened as they misunderstand the barking as being aggressive behaviour simply because it is loud.
Many new Entlebucher Mountain Dog owners, including myself, are quite surprised the first time they play tug-of-war with their cute little puppy and he sounds like a wolf fighting another wolf to the death! We bought our puppy a treat pyramid thinking it would keep him occupied and quiet for a while.
The noise that came out of the dog as he tried to retrieve the kibble from the contraption was unbelievable, it sounded like he was attacking a burglar at the very least. I’ve had moments when I was certain our neighbours must have thought our dog had turned on us.
All in all, owning an Entlebucher Mountain Dog is a challenging but equally rewarding experience. You will meet lots of new people who are curious about the breed. Because of your Entle’s curiosity and boundless zest for life and play, you will get to know all the dogs and their owners in the local park in no time at all.
You will also get lots of exercise and if you’re not fit when you buy your puppy – you will get in shape pretty quickly as your puppy grows up and require more and more exercise. The Entlebucher’s built in devotion means your dog will never stray but stay near your side at all times and that in itself is a priceless feeling.