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Tollers as Companions (Pets)


Tollers make exceptional companions but they are not for everyone! I refer to the toller as the 'clown' of the sporting dog group. The primary job for a toller is to play on the shorline in order to attract ducks inland which gives them their fun loving, goofy personality! The second part of their job description is to retrieve the downed birds to their hunter. Due to this two step process they are refered to as a 'dual purpose' hunting dog.

Now the first question you need to ask yourself is "Is a huntinig dog good for your family?" The answer varies depending on what your family is interested in. Do you have an active family who enjoys outdoor activities? If yes, then a toller would make a wonderful companion for these ventures! However, if you are a family who enjoys lots of down time indoors, such as playing video games, watching movies or spending large amounts of time on your computer while enjoying limited or no outdoor activities, I would say "Not likely".

Tollers only make good companions for homes willing to accomidate their excercise needs. An average toller needs 30-45 min walk a day and a minimum of 10 minutes of mental stimulation such as obedience, training tricks, doing agility or doing controlled retrieves. If you can satify a tollers needs then you should have a well rounded happy dog. Of course the above times are an average toller, there are a number of pedigrees of tollers within the breeding and energy levels will vary from the level of an ADHD border collie to the level of a calm golden retriever depending on the pedigree of the puppy you choose.

Tollers are very smart so working their brain daily is recommended to avoid distructive behaviours such as digging and chewing. There's a few simple excercises you can include into a session of basic obedience commands to help stimulate other senses. The one I use to help stimulate their senses works by taking a handful of treats and throwing them up into the air outdoors so they scatter when they hit the grass. I then let out my toller outside and tell him to "find it" and watch while he tracks every treat. This excercise helps stimulate their minds by using their senses. I follow this excercise up with a few basic obedience lessons such as sit, down, stay, wait, come, leave it, take it, watch me, look, hold it ...etc

Once you have stimulated their senses by working their mind and body you can then spend the day enjoying your family companion. Family companions are calm when they have done their 'job' daily. Keep in mind a happy person is typically one who is social, preforms tasks (job), and is active. This is the same rules of thumb for your family companion. By giving them something social (dog park, doggy daycare, training class etc..), a task (obedience, retrieving etc..) and excercise you will in turn have a companion your entire family can enjoy.

Tollers who 'have it all' make wonderful companions for families, single people and couples. Tollers are very social dogs and enjoy interacting with their families on a constant basis. Many tollers enjoy keeping eye contact with their owners when they are interested in learning something, or when they are trying to 'tell' you somethiing. Due to this characteristic it makes them an easy dog to live with because they are always looking at you to know what to do next.

Tollers vary when it comes to snuggling with their owners. There are some tollers who are natural lap warmers who will want to snuggle everytime you sit down. There are some tollers who enjoy being close but not on you and they will lay down by your feet. There are some that are so independent that if they could feed themselves and work for money they would live on their own! It's important to talk to your breeder about what you are looking for in a puppy prior to picking up your puppy if you are looking for a specific temperament.

Girl vs Boy... Personally I find boys on average to be better companions. The reason for this is due to what the dog wants. A majority of girls in the breed are princesses and strongly believe 'a diamond is a girls best friend'! By this I mean most girls work for pay checks. When asking a girl to do something for you, you almost all the time need a toy or food on hand for the task to be preformed. Boys on the other hand tend to have more of an 'unconditional love' for their family. By this I mean most boys work because they love you! When asking a boy to do something for you, almost everytime they will do it before they know what they will get for it.

So "Is a toller right for a family?" the answer will vary depending on your family. Remember if you are an active family and decide to get a puppy, don't forget to consider the activity level of the toller you are considering, the temperament of their parents and the puppy, as well as is your puppy a typical boy or girl before committing to a puppy. A good breeder will be able to help you find the right puppy for you and guide you through the process of that decision. Happy Tolling!