Is The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever For You?
If you know that you want a dog and are already for the responsibilities that ownership entails, are you ready for an active breed such as the Toller? The puppy you take home will not mature into the well mannered adult Toller you saw at the dog show or at the breeders home, unless YOU make an investment in time and care.
There are however, some special requirements for TOLLER DOG OWNERSHIP.
Like any dog, a Toller needs a safe environment. Safety includes a home or kennel where poisonous substances are not within reach. Safety also includes a secure fenced in area for the dog when not under direct supervision. A Toller should never be chained or staked outside, nor should he be left to run free, no matter how much acreage surrounds his home. The dogs fenced in area should include shade and shelter. With a healthy coat and a weather proof shelter, a Toller does not need heated quarters.
All dogs require grooming, but this is a special need of the double coated breeds such as the Toller. Thorough brushing and combing at least twice a month is strongly recommended. During periods when the dog sheds out his thick undercoat, extra time must be allotted for grooming. An ungroomed Toller coat can mat (most common in behind the ears and in the long feathered parts of the coat), especially when frequently damp. (And if your Toller is like most, that may be a large portion of the time...they love water!) A neglected coat in a frequently-swimming dog can actually mildew and will have a horrible smell! Also an ungroomed Toller will shed his coat all over the house and on everyone's clothes. Not to mention, by neglecting grooming you are also asking for skin problems.
A Toller needs exercise to stay in good condition. He is a very active, energetic dog, and can sometimes be a hyperactive dog, so regular exercise, opportunities to swim, time spent running with another dog, playing ball, etc is absolutely necessary. An excercised Toller is a happy Toller! It is important though to limit too much repetitive exercise on a growing puppy, as this is hard on their joints. No jogging, biking or day-long hikes until puppies bones are mature...this is usually safe starting around 14-18 months old. Swimming, retrieving, playing with another dog etc (where the dog can go at its own pace, and stop when needed) is all okay, but watch out for jumping before the dog is mature.
Obedience training is an absolute must for a Toller. Because of his/her high energy level, determination and desire to chase anything that moves, a Toller must be under control at all times. A mature Toller can run faster than any human and can pull harder much harder than you would expect from a dog of that size. He can jump up and knock down a man, or plow through an open door, taking out whatever is in their path. Fortunately, Tollers respond well to training, they like to please and they look for constant direction. As early as 12-16 weeks of age, starting with puppy classes is a good time to begin formal training. They tend to be a "soft" breed and do not typically react well at all to harsh correction-based training. So make sure you use a method based on positive motivational techniques. Clicker training is especially good.
A Toller can be a house dog or outdoor dog. However, without human contact and love he/she will not thrive. A Toller loves to be with his/her family. Therefore, most Tollers will thrive with a mixture of indoor/outdoor life. A Toller loves to ride in cars and boats, or be anywhere his/her family is. They especially love to lie at you feet while you are reading or working at the computer! Yet if you allow him/her to become dirty and ungroomed, or have not trained him/her, he/she will not be the most pleasant companion, and this will be through no fault of his/her own.
A Toller can be noisy. They have a unique sound called the "Toller Scream" that they tend to emit when they are very excited or upset. Tollers are very alert and make excellent watch dogs, but some can bark too much if not trained that excessive barking is not allowed.
Some people are by nature too fastidious to own a Toller. A Toller does not walk around puddles, he seeks them out! He does not usually want a cushioned bed, he prefers to dig holes in the cool earth for his/her nap. Some will dunk their whole heads in a water bucket, and splash with both front paws, then walk around dripping water. Your Toller may insist on bringing you all sorts of dirty yucky objects (slimy tennis balls, muddy sticks, maybe even a dead critter!) in an attempt to play fetch. If you like polished floors, or if you wear fancy clothes that will soil when your dogs drops a muddy toy in your lap, a Toller is probably not the dog for you.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a lovable, sensitive companion that usually gets along well with other animals, that is very energetic and active, A dog that will fit into many lifestyles, from the very outdoorsy, to the urban family, that will become another family member not just a pet. A dog that will play with the children, or stroll with grandpa, and bring in the limit of ducks out in the marsh....then
THE TOLLER IS PROBABLY FOR YOU!