It takes time, money and a large dollop of worry to produce a litter of puppies you can be proud of. From the moment you decide to breed the next few months of your life are committed to watching your bitch like a hawk for all signs and signals. Even just the mating can be fraught, often we travel the length of the country to bring about the “perfect” match, some even travel abroad in search of the magic combination. You would think that something as natural as making puppies would be straightforward and simple, but nature conspires to have a trick or two for the unwary. Why is it, for instance , your lovely bitch has no interest in the handsome specimen in front of her and prefers some completely unsuitable hobo from down the road? She had been flirting like a red hot mama just minutes before your chosen Adonis hove into view , then suddenly her tail is clamped down like a vice and an uncharacteristic lip lift is the only greeting he’ll get today! The scientists will have us rely on pheramones, those wafts of chemicals that get us mammals “in the mood” , we all want a trouble free mating for our precious girls but is there anything we can do to enhance her mood ? Pointless thinking about a candlelit bone for two or a dirty weekend in a dog hotel but I have found that as a Stud dog owner and a breeder that one thing really does make the difference…and that’s the humans involved. On several occasions I have found that gently escorting the owner of a bitch away from the scene of amore means a successful mating is quickly in the bag. We all send out unconscious signals to our dogs , sometimes our presence can confuse them and make them feel they have to be less dog and more human , inhibiting their natural instincts. My tips for a successful mating are simple, plan ahead and give yourself and your bitch plenty of time. Expectation can bring excitement into the air but it can quickly change to concern , your bitch will pick this emotion up from you and become uneasy and even aggressive in protection. Try to relax , if the owner of the stud dog is experienced , let them manage the mating. It helps if you have talked this over with the stud dog owner and feel confident in their ability to control the situation. Make sure your girl has had exercise and has had a wee before introducing her to the stud dog, she may mark his territory with a wee but no one wants sex on a full bladder! With Small dogs it can be tricky to see exactly what’s going on , but too many hands on the courting couple will result in tension so keep calm and keep your distance. Larger dogs can be quite a handful after a tie has been achieved so be ready to steady your bitch to avoid damage to either. Talk the plan through with the Stud dog owner , some stud dogs have a particular routine for their mating ritual, I remember a n Irish Setter some years back that would only perform his duty if his favourite rug was in place!. Communication is the key, both between you and the stud dog owner and you and your bitch. The effort will be worthwhile, there is nothing like puppy breath to make you smile and watching your pups go to their new homes is such a good feeling when you know you’ve done your very best.