- Exploring Boston Terriers’ ancestors and canine appeal
- Understanding a pup’s basic needs
- Realizing the importance of housetraining and obedience
- Knowing how to care for his medical needs
When you think of a Boston Terrier, what picture pops into your mind? Perhaps you think of his unmistakable pug nose and pointy ears, his one-of-a-kind black-and-white tuxedo of a coat, or his endearing snorts and wheezes that trumpet his approach. Bostons pack a lot of personality in their small 15-pound bodies. It’s no wonder why you’re interested in this dapper little breed!
Lovers, Not Fighters
The early days
– They’re great with kids. Most Bostons adore children. When children are taught how to behave around dogs, Bostons and kids become fast friends, with the dogs often enduring wrestling matches and playing dress-up without a hitch. Because they have such a solid constitution, these little dogs can handle just about anything that a child can dish out. Jump to Chapter Welcome Home! for details about how to introduce your child to a Boston.
– They’re great with adults. Integrating well in any household, Bostons make attentive companions for adults and seniors, too. Some Bostons become good therapy dogs, well-behaved pups who travel to nursing homes and hospitals to bring joy to patients. Skip to Chapter Taking Training to the Next Level for details.
– They’re easy to care for. A definite perk, Boston Terriers are simple to maintain. They have short coats that can be easily washed and brushed. (See Chapter Looking Good for more about grooming your Boston.) They don’t require a great deal of energyexpending exercise. And they are very intelligent, taking to housetraining and obedience training quickly. (Hop to Chapter Housetraining for Bostons and Chapter Training and Behavior for housetraining and obedience-training details.)
– They’re a relatively healthy breed. Though they do have some difficulties stemming from their shortened snout, or being brachycephalic, Boston Terriers are healthy dogs. They often live 12 years, often reaching their 15th birthdays. (Chapter Breed-Specific Ailments describes some breed-specific ailments to watch for.)
– They fit in just about any home. Bostons are the perfect size for apartments, townhouses, or single-family homes. Because they don’t require a large yard, they make wonderful house pets.
– They get along well with other pets. Being an easy-going breed, Bostons are happy to share their homes with other dogs, cats, or even a caged hamster or bearded dragon. As long as they are introduced slowly, they’ll get along like siblings! (Chapter Welcome Home! covers introductions between four-legged friends.)
– They’re addictive. Once you get one, you can’t stop, or so many Boston owners attest. Prepare to add a second Boston to your menagerie shortly after you get your first!
Why go purebred?
With all the homeless animals crowding shelters, you may ask yourself, why should I get a purebred dog when I can rescue a mutt? Purebred dogs have their advantages, including:
If you feel strongly about adopting a puppy or adult rescue, consider opening your home to a rescued Boston. Organizations across the country continually look for loving homes for special-needs or abandoned Boston Terriers, including: the Boston Terrier Club of America (http://bostonterrierclubofamerica.org/rescue.html), Boston Terrier Rescue (www.btrescue.org), Boston Terrier Rescue Net (www.bostonrescue.net), and Nationwide Boston Terrier Rescue Inc. (www.nationwidebostonrescue.org).
Give Me Shelter — And Food!
– Dried kibble: These crunchy little morsels are formulated to contain all the nutrition your Boston needs. They come in a wide range of flavors and formulas, and contain a variety of nutrition sources. Whatever you choose, make sure that it’s a quality recipe that derives its protein, carbohydrates, and fats from easily digestible sources.
– Semi-moist: With a texture resembling moist clay, semi-moist foods also contain balanced nutrition. They contain higher water content than the dried kibble, but because of the higher sugar content, semi-moist foods can cause plaque and tartar buildup on a dog’s teeth, which can lead to tooth decay. Semimoist food is best served as a treat rather than daily.
– Canned: What dog doesn’t love a meaty stew? Canned diets closely resemble “real” food. They’re often packed with carrots, potatoes, chunks of meat, and lots of gravy. Canned diets provide complete nutrition, a good amount of water, and a tempting meal for finicky eaters.
– Natural or organic: Very popular diets to feed dogs, many natural formulas derive their ingredients from organic farms and often claim to contain “human-quality” ingredients. These foods can be excellent choices for your Boston, but only buy them from reputable sources.
– Raw: Raw diets are just that: raw meat to feed to your pet. The prepackaged meals can be found in your pet store’s freezer case. If you choose to feed your Boston a raw diet, first consult with your veterinarian. These diets lack the vitamins and minerals found in plant-based foods, so you’ll need to supplement your pup’s meals to provide adequate nutrition.
– Homemade: Rather than purchase a premade dog food from the grocery store, some people prefer to make their dog’s meals from scratch. There are quite a few dog food cookbooks on the market that contain mouth-watering recipes for your pup. To ensure your Boston is getting all of his nutritional requirements, however, consult with your veterinarian before offering this type of diet to your dog.
– Prescription: Purchased through veterinary offices, prescription diets are for dogs who may have allergies or special nutritional requirements. Your veterinarian can prescribe the best brand to ease your Boston’s condition.
Food is important, but clean water is even more so! All dogs require access to fresh clean water to keep their bodies functioning normally. Fill his bowl daily and put one wherever your Boston roams — including outside and near his food bowl.
A home of his own
Creating his own space
Adapting your space
– Kitchen: With all the smells to investigate and cabinets to explore, the kitchen is a tempting place for a Boston. Install childproof latches on all the cabinets and drawers, and keep a secure lid on the garbage can.
– Bathroom: The bathroom can be a dangerous place for your pup. Cosmetics, medications, razors, and dangling cords look like playthings to your Boston. Keep them out of his reach. Your dog could ingest a stray cotton swab or bar of soap — which could mean a trip to the emergency room!
– Living room: A busy area of the house, the living room contains a range of temptations, from houseplants and electronics to strewn shoes and books. Secure loose cords behind furniture, and keep houseplants and other important objects out of your Boston’s reach.
– Bedroom: If an item of clothing smells like you, it’s fair game for your dog! To protect your belongings, keep your clothing and shoes in a closed closet. Secure loose cords, position plants out of your Boston’s reach, and keep the area tidy.
– Garage: Keep all those car fluids, yard tools, fertilizers, and poisons behind closed and locked cabinets. Antifreeze is a particular danger because it tastes sweet to animals, yet just a small amount can be toxic.
– In the yard: Rat poisons, snail bait, and fertilizer can be deadly to your dog, and gardening tools look like fun toys to a playful pup. While your Boston is in his exploring stages, avoid using poisons and put away your tools to prevent bumps, cuts, and other injuries. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Time for fun!
Bostons in Toyland
To keep things interesting for your dog, rotate his toys. Instead of giving him a dozen new toys at once, pull them out sporadically or offer him a new one when the old one wears out. You’ll want to buy him a fun new trinket every time you visit the pet store, but resist the temptation to give it to him right away.
Get out and play
– Take a walk. Outfit your pup in a harness, attach a leash, grab some pickup bags and go for a walk. Your Boston will explore everything he comes into contact with! If you take your puppy on dusty trails, however, keep the journey short. His prominent eyes are prone to scratches and irritation. Stick to walks through a grassy park or around the neighborhood where he’s less likely to irritate his eyes.
– Visit your local dog park. As pet popularity continues to skyrocket, more dog parks are opening up. These fenced-in areas allow you to let your Boston run free! Before you visit one of these places, however, make sure he’s up to date on all his vaccinations.
– Play a game of fetch. A great way to expend pent-up energy, a rousing game of fetch challenges your Boston to retrieve and return a ball, disc, or any other quarry. Some dogs enjoy this fun for hours and hours!
– Get involved in organized sports. Enroll your Boston in competitive sports like agility, tracking, or flyball. Agility requires your dog to run through obstacles in a timed race, tracking challenges him to follow a scent over a distance through various terrains, and flyball pits him against other dogs to jump over hurdles to catch a flying tennis ball. Organizers of these activities can be found through your local dog breed club. Chapter Taking Training to the Next Leveldescribes these fun sports in detail.
– Plan a party. Who doesn’t love a party? Gather your dogowning friends and host a dog social. Make a cake — for the dogs, of course — plan games and activities for the dogs, and have a fun time! The dogs will love to interact and socialize, and you will enjoy spending time with other dog owners.
How to Be a Good Boy
Socializing for life
Part of the litter
The human connection
At about 8 weeks old, puppies enter their first fear phase. At this age, he becomes aware of the world around him — and sometimes, it can be frightening! Most breeders won’t let puppies go to their new homes until after they pass through this fear phase.
The wide, wild world
Listening and obeying
When you’re teaching your Boston basic commands, always use positive reinforcement rather than negative correction techniques. Positive reinforcement recognizes the pup’s positive behaviors, rewarding him with treats and praise for a job well done.
– Settle: This command puts your dog in a submissive position. Your pup is calm and relaxed, with soft eyes, ears back, belly up, and tail tucked. He is essentially relinquishing control.
– Sit: Sit is when you command your dog to stay in place, waiting for your instruction. The starting point for most other commands, Sit requires your pup to look to you for guidance.
– Stay: Paired with Sit, Stay is when your dog holds his position until you tell him otherwise. It’s a posture that can save his life.
– Come: Another life-saving command, Come tells your dog to return immediately to you. It’s one of the most important commands your dog will learn.
– Heel: When you walk with your Boston, you want him to walk beside you and not pull on the leash. This is especially important for Bostons because some can have narrow windpipes, which make it difficult to breathe.
Caring for Your Boston’s Needs
– Veterinary visits are fun! Besides you and your family, your dog’s veterinarian will be his best friend. Your vet will offer preventive advice, emergency service, annual checkups, and general advice about dog care. Teach your Boston early that visits to the veterinarian are something to look forward to! Chapter Your Visit to the Veterinarian describes qualities to look for in veterinarians and what to expect during your pup’s vet visits.
– Know your Boston’s special medical needs. Bostons are a brachycephalic breed, which means that their shortened snouts can create respiratory challenges. That snorting and wheezing may be endearing, but it can be a sign of a debilitating medical condition. See Chapter Breed-Specific Ailments for details.
– Be prepared. Gather canine first-aid supplies and keep them near your human first-aid kit. In case of emergency, those tools can help to stabilize your Boston until you can get him to an emergency clinic. The essentials are listed in Chapter First Aid.
– Check him while grooming. Your Boston can’t tell you when something hurts, but you can watch his reactions when you inspect his body while grooming or petting him. Look for unusual lumps, bumps, or sore spots. If you see something new, consult with your veterinarian.
– Aging Bostons have special needs, too. Elderly dogs have their own set of medical conditions, including age-related disorders and dietary changes, that warrant your attention. Chapter Caring for the Senior Dog goes through them in detail.