Bear, our Saint Bernard, is now one year old.  He is a big boy but still small for his breed.  The Norwegian Saint Bernard Breeders Association have made a commitment to breed healthier dogs and this includes downsizing to eliminate extra large problems such as hip and joint problems. Bear has a wonderful temperament.  A heart of gold.  He loves everyone and is certainly not shy.  He is kind, patient and willing to please, however, it is hard for him to be obedient. This is because of immaturity.  When there is a choice between sitting and staying or running in an open green pasture, the latter always wins.  He is more energetic than we hoped.  He can't get his rough and tumbles out with us as he is just too big and heavy.  Like all puppies, he can't help jumping on us or sitting on us.  He weights about 60 kilograms so that is a lot of pup to try to shove off. Bear understands our commands but unfortunately he has a brain that rationalises.  One habit that was easily curbed was his nipping.  Puppies need to nip to learn about the world and to learn appropriate behaviour.  Bear is able to control his nipping on the command 'gentle'.  But when he is excited, nipping comes back into play. The sheer size of Bear makes him hard to control.  Using our own bodyweight to control him is key.  We set the leash behind out butts to push against as our hands are too weak to hold onto a charging Saint Bernard.  We have to use two leashes in case Bear breaks one.  (Because he has in the past.)  We have a harness on him when taking him for walks and we also have a choker.  We don't like the choker but in tough situations, like a toddler is running around him and Bear just wants to jump it, we have to use it. We have tried to get Bear socailised but it is very difficult.  Bear loves going out and he is a saint in a crowd.  It is just when we get him out on the street walking that he gets unruly.  He wants to say 'hello' to people and that means doing what every dog does to be friendly - charging, jumping, pushing and wagging a large tail that wacks hard.  Norwegians aren't too keen on the idea. Norwegians are used to dogs but only medium size ones.  Bear's size scares them.  Bear's running, jumping and playing looks rather ferocious.  His ears flap back, his large mouth shows his beautiful large teeth and the whites of his eyes show because the wind pushes back his droopy skin.  Cujo, look out!  A body-slam would knock even the strongest man off his feet.  Taking Bear for a normal walk down the street is not popular with the locals.  They become jumpy and flighty around Bear, which is the perfect turn on for him.  So we have to look for places and times we can take him out, like on the beach on a late Saturday afternoon on a windy day. Bear is already serving his purpose on the farm with keeping chicken predators away just by his presence.  We can't let him roam free on the farm as he likes to chase the animals.  They run so he chases.  It is not his fault, just instinct.  He is still a puppy and won't be fully mature until two years.  The next year will be his adolescence - oh boy. When you get a Saint, you certainly don't get him for the puppy experience.  We are looking forward to when Bear is more settled.  He will be calmer, more grounded and hopefully lazier.  His best years are yet to come.  Happy Birthday, Bear!  

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