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Old 06.02.2013, 07:18
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Raising a lab on hardwood floors in a high rise

Hi everyone

[Before I get started: I've been in extensive contact with Papa Goose, who has been generous with his time and information - no need to suggest that route now, I'm just looking for additional opinions / insights]

We're considering getting a puppy. Both my girlfriend and I have had dogs for most of our lives, and we're considering shopping around for a chocolate lab puppy. If, and I stress if, we get one, it would be from a new litter, with certificates regarding the health of the line and so forth.

However, I'm still up in the air as to whether getting a dog is the right thing to do, given where we live. We're in a new high rise (by Swiss standards - 20 floors and we're halfway up) that was built about 2 years ago. It's got very nice walnut hardwood floors, from which we've already removed a few chunks due to furniture relocations and plate droppings and such (oops).

I do expect floor damage. I think it would be hard to find an insurer to cover this, though I'm certainly going to check with my rental agency (who does allow dogs, by the way, as long as we sign an addendum to the contract). It could well be that we're going to have to forfeit our 10k+ rental deposit when we move out to replace the floor thanks to scratches from just walking around, but does anyone have any contrary experience?

PG has raised the concern that an excited dog has a long way to go when we get home before he/she finds a tree. I hope to minimize that concern by hiring a student to walk the dog once a day while we're out (for the first couple years, my girlfriend will be doing her masters and can be with the dog most of the time anyway). Still, do you have any tips for raising a playful attention-hungry breed like a lab in a high-rise apartment? Any recommended reading?

On the plus side, we live very close to the lake in Zug, and we all know how much labs love water!

Next up is to take the mandatory theory course. I've found a couple places in the Zug area that look promising from the Bvet website, but if you have any recommendations, I'd be happy to take them into consideration. English strongly preferred, German acceptable. Oh, and recommended chocolate lab breeders in Switzerland would be good... I've already had a look at the lists of current litters linked to from other threads, though PG says it's a good idea to find a breeder who lines up the families before going to litter.

Thanks for any thoughts!

Lance
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Old 06.02.2013, 08:11
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Well, we moved out of our flat after 5 years (flat was then 12 yrs old), and the owner of the flat said there was chf 4600 damage to the floor. However, the insurance settled with them for chf 1000 and we paid 200. Check with your insurance before you get the dog and understand the parameters. I think you end up paying 20% of the amount.

I love my dog to death, but she did a number on the cherry floors.
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Old 06.02.2013, 08:41
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Re: Raising a lab on hardwood floors in a high rise

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We're in a new high rise..20 stories..
You clearly have been here too long.
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Old 06.02.2013, 08:46
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Re: Raising a lab on hardwood floors in a high rise

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You clearly have been here too long.
Not all of us spend our lives living in and whining about Olten. ;-)
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Old 06.02.2013, 10:19
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Re: Raising a lab on hardwood floors in a high rise

Get in touch with meloncollie. She probably has some thoughtful and useful comments for you. If I ever want to get a dog, she'll be my first PM.
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Old 06.02.2013, 11:19
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Re: Raising a lab on hardwood floors in a high rise

The issue of the floors is one issue. If they are not coated, expect heavy damage. A homeowner could not claim against their insurance for this kind of damage, yet tenants can. Premiums keep rising and insurance companies are getting tougher about what they will cover. The floors are new, the lifespan of hardwood is very long, so if you move out in a few years you could well find yourself paying for most of the cost of sanding and refinishing the floors. I would not count on insurance covering much at all.

But for me the real issue is how far it is to get outside, as already been pointed out. Then there is the issue of the lift, and what happens when your dog has muddy paws, or has been in the water? You can expect complaints directed at you about the state of the lift, and dog hair in the common areas of the building.

Then you might have noise complaints about barking when you are not home.
When a dog is unaccustomed to being left alone, sometimes when they are they can be quite upset. It can be because they are lonely. I have worked from home for years and in some ways I think this can spoil a dog having a human around.
It's not that they get attention, they just know you are there.

Of course not all dog owners live in houses, but those that I know who don't tend to live in garden apartments or those with a big roof terrace. Also, most of the dog owners I know in apartments did not start out living in one and their dogs tend to be older.
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Old 06.02.2013, 12:12
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Re: Raising a lab on hardwood floors in a high rise

First, can I say 'good on ya!' for doing your research ahead of time, for thinking this through. A four-footed friend brings a joy like no other to one's life - but it is indeed a big responsibility.

(You couldn't have a better guide than PG. )

As to the floors...

Are your floors solid hardwood, or Parkett?

In years of the muttley crew clambering over my solid US-style hardwood floors I've never had any damage. But Swiss parket is something else. Like Edot, we had a quite large bill on moving out of our rental house, despite being ultra careful. And I am looking to replace the (very good quality) parkett in this one with tile, as soon as I can talk OH into it.

Parkett is delicate, and whatever finish is used here simply is not robust enough to stand up to much of anything.

However... there are always area rugs.

When my old boys started to go wobbly I put down area rugs to give them better traction - and then asked myself why I hadn't taken such a simple measure years earlier. (When your pup is young, put down cheap Ikea-like rugs that you can throw away after the inevitable house training mistakes. Don't invest in gorgeous orientals until your pup is well and truly house trained and past the chewing stage.)

But like all dog owners, one soon becomes a tad less house-proud. There will be damage, there will be accidents, there will be mud, dust, fur tumble weeds, there will be extra expense. And you will be a happier person for it.

---

As to the high-rise bit: My only experience was with 3 year old St Swimbo in temp accomodation in HK. She was an impecably behaved adult, quiet as a mouse, perfect in every way. And HK is a pretty laissez-faire society, no worries about neighborhood attitudes. Nonetheless, that was the most stressful few weeks of my life. It may well be because we had moved there from a typical US acre-plus garden, but neither I nor my girl could adjust to high rise living, to not being able to open the door and play in the garden. (Thank doG we found a house with garden in short order...)

A puppy will be more of a challenge in a high-rise. To test your mettle, when you go to sleep tonight set the alarm for 1AM. When it rings, you have 30 seconds get up and outside... can you make it? Now walk outside for 10 minutes in the winter temps in your PJs. Go back to bed, setting the alarm for 4AM, rinse and repeat .

This is what house training entails. When you have your own fenced-in garden, when you can just grab the pup and go, it's a heck of a lot easier. It's not impossible in a high rise - look at all the happy dog folicking in NY's Central Park, for instance - but it does require an added measure of dedication on the part of the owner.

(As for concerns about losing your deposit... Another test of your puppy-owner readiness: Once a week, take your wallet out. Open the window. Throw all the money in your wallet out the window. )

---

As for the SKN in ZG:

I don't know any trainers in ZG personally, so I'd suggest that you start with the BVet list of accredited SKN trainers. Visit before choosing someone - talk to the trainer, sit in on a class - you want to get a feel for the trainer's style and an understanding of his/her philosophy. The important thing is that the training is positive, reward based, punishment free. And remember - you are the one being trained.

http://bvet.bytix.com/plus/trainer/

You might want to check out the Hundeschulen linked on the Spezialistenklinik (in Hünenberg ZG) website. I don't know these personally, but since I am very happy with the care we have received at the clinic, that they are linking these three means they are likely worth checking out:

http://www.spezialistenklinik.ch/links.htm

If you are willing to venture farther afield, in Wollerau SZ, there is my trainer:
http://www.kurse-fuer-hunde.ch

I've been training with her for 7 years now; I very much respect her abilities and approach to training.

Your breeder will also be able to recommend someone. Some even offer the courses themselves.

----

One word of advice: optimally, a puppy should have someone at home with him all day in the first months to a year, character and physical developement dependent, to give him the best start in life, to set him up for success. In order to effectively house train, someone must be with the pup 24/7 to respond to his need, and in order to do the necessary training and more importantly socialization the pup should not be left long on his own. A young pup left to his own can development fear or boredom-related behavior issues.

That said, I was working full time when St Swimbo made her very unexpected appearance in my life. It meant scrambling to make sure she was not left alone - between taking vacation days, working from home, staggering shifts with OH, calling on favors from family, and employing a dog sitter we managed - and she turned out to be a lovely level-headed well grounded dog.

But knowing now what I didn't know then I wouldn't put my dog - or my family - through that again if I could avoid doing so. If I were to get a puppy again, I would ensure that I was home to be with the pup during that crucial period.

Over the years I've learned that my dogs and I can adjust to many different kinds of schedules and routines - as long as I put my dogs' welfare at the forefront, as long as I have appropriate dog care and support in place.

(From my rescue work, it's not so much the lifestyle that creates failure, but rather it is when an owner fails to prioritize his dog's welfare in light of his lifesyle choices, that I see problems arise.)

Of special consideration in Switzerland is your neighbor's tolerance for normal dog behavior. If you are lucky, this won't be an issue. But if you happen to have neighbors who are less than tolerant, you could be in for difficulties. A pup makes noise. It's normal, natural behavior - but one that requires someone on hand, right on the spot, to teach the pup what is and is not allowed.

How sound proof is your flat? Test it out - take a recording of a dog barking. play it in your flat. Can someone in the hallway hear it? Can your neighbors on either side hear it, ditto above and below?

Do not underestimate the Swiss aversion to noise, especially barking. This is a frequent cause for Nachbarstreit - and sadly, a frequent reason so many poor dogs land in rescue in Switzerland.

A significant challenge here is finding dog care. Granted, I have somewhat stringent requirements ( ) but I have been unsuccessful in finding a qualified dogsitter, able to provide the service I need, working legally - despite paying an absolute fortune. Thank doG my current sitter has agreed to help when she can (she is now retired), but I am very worried about the future as I cannot find anyone else in Switzerland who can provide what I need.

So if you anticipate needing a sitter or other dog care, start looking now - before you get your pup.

One thing you must plan for: your free time will now revolve around your dog. We no longer ski, we go snow-shoeing or winter hiking, so that the dogs can spend the day with us. We don't go to 5 star restaurants, we head out to the local Gasthaus where the dogs are welcome. Night life? That means sitting in front of the fire with a bottle of wine, a good book, and a cuddly pup. But again, we are happier for it.


---

Anyway, just some random thoughts. First order of business, take the SKN theory course. And then evaluate your readiness to let your life go to the dogs.

All the best to you and to your future four footed friend.

Last edited by meloncollie; 06.02.2013 at 12:34.
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Old 06.02.2013, 12:32
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Re: Raising a lab on hardwood floors in a high rise

I live in an apartment, and don't have a garden. We also have wooden floors (Parkett).

My dog is tiny, so I'm not competent to speak about a Lab, but she never left any marks on the floors. The only problems we tend to have is that wooden floors are slippery: in her wild moments of running in circles and going batshit crazy, she tends to slip and slide. Quite impossible to do an emergency brake on wooden floors : D

As to the tree question, I don't see the problem. My dog has no problem doing her business on the pavement. I encourage her to go to the side, but in the end pee is only liquid. It dries up, and gets washed by the rain. And poo you pick up anyway. Obviously you can't let your dog do his business on private property, but the pavement belongs to everybody.

My dog is first and foremost a city dog, and she doesn't seem at all unhappy about it.
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Old 06.02.2013, 13:17
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Re: Raising a lab on hardwood floors in a high rise

We moved into a new apartment with our 7 year old Lab/Bernese MD cross. She had a hard time not slipping on the floor and we watched as it was slowly covered in scratches. We just resigned ourselves and luckily didn't have to worry about replacing/repairing it.

There's a river at the side of the house where she'd always walked so she was free to do her business in a minute but she wasn't the same dog for a while. I think she missed the footsteps and people passing by our old apartment. There were a few negative comments from neighbors about the smell of wet dog in the lift, nothing that couldn't be solved ( carpet removed from lift and replaced with washable flooring) but if they swim every day they can get smelly.

Lacy got used to things in the end and lived to a ripe old age for her size and although we miss her and having a dog we wouldn't have another in this apartment.

If you have a hobby room or basement area where you could keep towels before taking her through the entrance to the lift? This would help with some of the practicalities. There are always solutions.
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Old 06.02.2013, 13:33
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Re: Raising a lab on hardwood floors in a high rise

We live on the fourth floor with our ex-guide dog - haven't moved out yet and not exactly looking forward to the floor polishing costs. Perhaps insurance will cover part of it (toes crossed).

If you toilet train your pup outside from Day One, it will be able to hold its bladder while you take the lift. If you feel it's pretty urgent, hold the pup in your arms (easy at 5kg, not so easy at 10kg). The school experts gave us this tip.

Also, get Velcro shoes or easy slip-ins for a quick getaway with your dog. My tip.

I took our ward to puppy kindergarten (important for socialization) at

http://www.hundeschule-capraro.ch/kurse.phtm

We also took their Young Dog Course. They were good experiences, on top of the guidance we received from the guide dog school where our pup came from. She passed her guide dog exam top-notch but failed her gun test (no, she couldn't shoot straight for cookies) so she came back to us as a family pet.

P.S. Did you notice Papa Goose keeping a dog towel in the lower part of his letterbox? Excellent tip.

P.P.S. Our pup miraculously slept through the night without needing to go out at unearthly hours. She only had a couple of accidents in the daytime and only because I forgot the time lapse since her last pee.

Last edited by argus; 06.02.2013 at 13:43.
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Old 06.02.2013, 14:40
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Re: Raising a lab on hardwood floors in a high rise

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Still, do you have any tips for raising a playful attention-hungry breed like a lab in a high-rise apartment? Any recommended reading?

Missed this bit... a website every dog owner should be read:

http://www.spass-mit-hund.de

Interactive games you can play with your dog, made from everyday items you likely have lying around the house. These kinds of 'brain training' games are great both indoors and out. There is a book available as well, in both German and English translation.

---

There are many good training books out there... a few I like are:

'Train Your Dog Like A Pro', by Jean Donaldson:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Train-Your-D...0160543&sr=1-1

The Official Amhisa Dog Training Manual: A Practical Force-Free Guide To Problem Solving and Manners', by Grischa Stewart
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Official...ef=pd_sim_b_21

'How To Behave So Your Dog Behaves', by Dr Sophia Yin
http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Behave-Y...0160493&sr=1-1

And, any of Karen Pryor's clicker training books. (Reaching the Animal Mind is a good one, but it's not just about dogs.)

---

I also highly recommend the Kikopup videos available online. Emily Larlham is a fantastic trainer, a passionate voice for improving our relationship with our furry friends. Putting her work online for free shows how committed she is to canine welfare:
http://kikopup.com/Dogmantics/Free_Video_List.html

---

And, two other book that every dog owner should read:
Calming Signals: On Talking Terms With Your Dog' by Turid Rugaas:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/On-Talking-T...ref=pd_sim_b_6

The Other End Of The Leash', by Patricia McConnell:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Other-End-Le...ef=pd_sim_b_14


Happy reading, as you prepare for your pup.
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Old 06.02.2013, 16:00
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Re: Raising a lab on hardwood floors in a high rise

Hi!

We also live in a flat and have an english bulldog The wooden floor is scratched... no doubts about it.

We have not had any issues with the neighbours or so, obviously we clean the elevator in case there were mud prints or accidents as pup. Never had any issues. Only issue is to find the places the dog can pee as you cannot just let it pee outside the door-neighbours tend not to like this

The toilet training was hard but he managed to go "through the night" pretty quickly and was only at 6 am that hubby literally had to jump out of bed and run out with puppy underarm... but that also does not last long.

What I would more urge you about is to think whether the breed fits your lifestyle and whether finding a student to walk it is realistic.

I know you say you have already chosen but don't labs need to excercize lots or they may become stressed/frustrated? Do they cope well long hrs by themselves?

We also had the student idea but it never materialized. People do not want to come over for just 30 mins work (despite we live in Zürich city center) and we really need someone reliable as we live in an area full of children, so someone inexperienced may cause us a lot of trouble (i.e. scare a child with subsequent police reporting)

Also, the addition you will sign from your regie/verwaltung, will lieky state you are not allowed to leave the dog alone in the flat, so think about this as well.

you will find the right way for yourself

K
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Old 06.02.2013, 16:03
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Re: Raising a lab on hardwood floors in a high rise

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We also live in a flat and have an english bulldog
How is that working out?

Tom
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Old 06.02.2013, 16:15
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Re: Raising a lab on hardwood floors in a high rise

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How is that working out?

Tom
SO WELL

PM me if you are interested in the breed, do not want to hijack the thread
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Old 07.02.2013, 08:01
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Re: Raising a lab on hardwood floors in a high rise

Hi everyone

I just wanted to thank you quickly for your responses. I might not get around to posting again with more detail until this weekend, but I wanted to thank you so that you didn't feel I just disappeared after asking the question!

Cheers
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Old 07.02.2013, 09:43
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Re: Raising a lab on hardwood floors in a high rise

One more thing - check with your insurer that your policy explicitly covers damage by a dog.

IIRC - my memory is hazy because this was almost 10 years ago - we had a tussle with the insurer, who claimed that dog damage to floors wasn't part of standard Privathaftpflicht coverage, that we should have had a special rider added, or something. I *think* we sorted it in the end... but if you are worried about damage to the floors double check that, adding whatever coverage needed.

(Oh, and if you would want to trial your flat's suitability as a canine haven... you could always offer to dogsit. There must be lab-owning EFers who would be grateful for a bit of help. )
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Old 07.02.2013, 11:14
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Re: Raising a lab on hardwood floors in a high rise

As for wet or muddy paws coming back inside the building, I usually let the dog walk a couple of rounds in the porch or in the carpark basement before letting her go in. It helps a lot! I mean human shoes track in more water than she does.
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Old 09.02.2013, 05:23
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Re: Raising a lab on hardwood floors in a high rise

Saturday 5:30am, dog needs to go out....NOW!

Rush downstairs, open back door to garden, dog races outside to do her business. She loves the snow, decides she is in no hurry to come inside.

Finally back inside, dried paws and dog, she's gone back to her bed.

I am certain there is no way that dog could have waited for me to put on something over my pjs, plus appropriate footwear for the snow and waited for a lift to get outside.
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Old 09.02.2013, 12:19
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Re: Raising a lab on hardwood floors in a high rise

My personal opinion- in one word 'NO' unless one of you does not work and is home part of the day. Sorry.
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Old 09.02.2013, 16:26
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Re: Raising a lab on hardwood floors in a high rise

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My personal opinion- in one word 'NO' unless one of you does not work and is home part of the day. Sorry.
Not the most detailed and helpful post in the thread, but opinion noted, thanks. As at happens, one of us will be home for the first few years, but we're considering all the pros and cons!
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