Tricks Ideas

Hovawarts aren’t necessarily the most prone to please sort of breed. Thus motivating them may in some cases be extremely difficult because you need to be very motivating and unbelievably patient. I’m always looking for ideas for new tricks and things I can teach Afri, so here I’ve listed a few videos I found on Youtube for ideas. Afri enjoys learning when the whole learning phase is sort of chopped into little simple pieces. Hovawarts are extremely impatient and prone to get bored whilst learning, Afri is no exception. However she does enjoy learning when it is made fun and includes lots of treats ;)! 

The other thing that I have also noticed that it is good to train new things 15 min maximum so she wont have time to get bored. Also it is important to go back to the easy “safe” tricks she already knows; keeps up the motivation! I personally enjoy teaching tricks, especially the part when the dog “gets it”. It’s like a light bulb switches on above their heads and they’re thinking, “Aha! Now I get it!”. 


A few months ago I taught Afri to roll over, which she loves doing! Spinning is something we’re working on at the moment and the next thing on my “to-teach-list” is this: 



Easy and fun, just what Afri likes 🙂 Here are some other videos for inspiration

This was a trick I tried teaching Afri, but unfortunately the tape didn’t work out for us. She didn’t care that there was piece of tape on her muzzle and just happily dozed off. Need to think of an alternative for the tape.






2 more weeks to go…



I can’t believe in exactly 2 weeks we’ll be back in Heidelberg! I’ve been waiting for this moment for sooo long to finally bring Afri with me and now it’s finally happening 🙂 



Africa with a rather silly expression chewing her bone

In about half an hour we’re off to the stables to visit Afri’s friend so they can play in the snow a bit. I have tried very hard to take pics of them playing but those two are so fast in their movements that neither me nor my camera can keep up! I’ll try again today, maybe I’ll manage to get at least one decent shot 🙂


-Africa and Katja

Before travelling in Europe With Your Dog

So you want to travel with your dog across Europe? Great! Here are some basic things you need to know before your trip 🙂 These are based on my own experiences, if you have questions, feel free to ask!

1. Documents

First of all your pet needs a EU pet passport. You can can obtain one from your local vet. With this passport your pet is able to move freely in EU and EEA countries. The passport shows your pet’s details, vaccinations, Echinococcosis treatments and microchip details. So basically vet stuff. For more information regarding the Pet Passport, click here.

2. Vaccinations, Microchipping, etc.

Every pet (as in cats, dogs and ferrets)  needs to be vaccinated against Rabies. Rabies shots are valid for approx. 2 years, so remember to have your dog regularly vaccinated! Your pet should be vaccinated at least 21 days prior to travel.

As of 3.7.2011 ALL travelling dogs must be microchipped and tattooes are no longer valid. However if your dog was born and tattooed prior to 3.7.2011, a microchip is not necessary. But you do need written proof that the tattoo was made before the above mentioned date.

Dogs are also required in some countries (Scandinavian countries for one) to have Echinococcosis treatment. This has to be done by the vet 1-5 days before travelling.


*NOTE* There are special requirements for animals travelling to the UK and Iceland (just to name a few)!  Regarding the UK, when flying, you are only allowed to bring your dog via cargo and only through specific cargo operating systems. Also for some countries, your dog may have to be quarantined! Click here for information regarding pet travel in the UK. Iceland has very controlled animal importation, for example horses cannot be imported to Iceland even if they were born there. Luckily dogs and cats aren’t prohibited. Click here for more information regarding pet travel in Iceland


*NOTE* In some countries there are restrictions as to which breeds of dogs are and are not allowed to enter the country! This is mainly for the “fighting type” dogs. Such examples are Denmark and Germany. Especially Denmark has recently become very strict regarding keeping these types of dogs (import of fighting type dogs is prohibited as of late) Click here and here to read more.

A Slight Change of Plans

Ok, so first of all, the train tickets have been bought! They arrived on Wednesday and I booked them on Sunday. Pretty good for Deutsche Bahn especially since they came to Finland. It just has my train ticket because DB doesn’t allow pet tickets to be bought in advance. Hopefully sometime in the future they will do something about it. 


So then the title… Well, I mentioned that our plan was to go with the ferry from Helsinki to Travemünde. Unfortunately we had to change it because the price would have been RIDICULOUS for a oneway trip. So then I looked at the Baltics option again and did some proper research.

If we would’ve gone via the Baltics, it would have taken approximately a week because they don’t have trainlines connecting the countries directly. Busses do go, but they do not sadly allow dogs on a lot of them, especially big dogs like Afri. I did try to see if DB had a suggestion, but their suggestion was going either via Belarus or Russia, meaning extra Visa costs and a lot of extra hours. Russia seems to possess a fairly good railway system, in the sense that they have trains that go to almost all of the Baltic countries. 

There has been talk about building a connecting railway system for the Baltics, and hopefully it’ll happen in the next few years. Fingers crossed!

So now, the solution to our little problem? Going the other way! As in, via Sweden and Denmark.


We’ll be taking the ferry to Stockholm and go with various trains to Heidelberg. It’ll be one long train ride, 18ish hours which includes the time needed for changing. We’ll be travelling with Viking Line which is my favorite ferry company anyway and highly recommendable! Pets are only about 15ish euros, so it’s a great deal! With  Finnlines a pet is 96 e, so that’s quite a big difference. 

For trains going through Europe, I recommend checking out Deutsche Bahn. Even if you don’t want to buy from them, they can still give  you pretty good ideas regarding train transportation all around Europe! 

Afri’s stomach has been acting up a bit this week, it could be potentially nerves because she has a bit of a stress stomach and is probably sensing that something “big” is about to happen. 

Tomorrow I’m going to go an buy myself a new suitcase which I told myself I would do in the beginning of this year. I’m stuck between 2 choices, can’t decide which one I like more!



A Trip to the “Vettist”

 Yesterday evening Afri went to the vet to have all the needed vaccinations done plus a small checkup to make sure everything is ok. Afri got a Duramune shot as well as one for rabies.


“Who could I bark at today?”



The vaccinations were marked into her pet passport, her microchip was also checked and we are pretty much ready for take off! Afri had no problems whatsoever with the vet, only the microchip reading device made her slightly nervous as it made weird sounds.                    


“These vet visits are oh so tiring!”

The vet also checked her teeth, gums, heartbeat and ears and all was good 🙂 So we can check off vet visit from our checklist! 

New Header

I’ve been meaning to do something with the header. As much as I like the original lake picture which came with this blog theme, it didn’t exactly scream “Afri the Hovawart’s blog”, now did it? Plus I wanted something that I had actually made myself. So here is the temporary header for Afri’s blog 🙂


As a bit of a pre-warning, this is one very looong entry!

In almost exactly 1 month Afri’s journey to Germany will begin! Initially I thought we would be flying from Helsinki to Frankfurt, but was left a bit unsure of it since she would have to travel in the cargo department and be all alone surrounded by strange noises etc. Plus she would have to travel in her own doggy box.

One can probably imagine how HUUUGE that box must be as she is a Hovawart and weighs approx. 33 kg… Taking the box, Afri, and luggage on the train by myself would basically be mission impossible. I could take a taxi from Frankfurt to Heidelberg, but that would cost most likely at least another 200 e.

So what to do?


Afri in Estonia 2009

When we lived in Estonia, travelling  between Helsinki and Tartu was very easy with a dog. A ferry goes directly from Estonia to Finland and pets are allowed on board.

Perhaps we could take the ferry to Estonia first and then via train travel through the Baltics to Germany? Sadly it would take AGES! This is why:

  1. Ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn
  2. Bus from Tallinn to Tartu
  3. Tartu to Riga, Latvia
  4. Riga to Vilnius/Kaunas, Lithuania
  5. Vilnius/Kaunas to Warsaw, Poland
  6. Warsaw to Berlin
  7. Berlin to Heidelberg

There would be A LOT of changes and the trip would take close to 3 days when travelling nonstop. I tried to see if  Deutsche Bahn had a good travel plan idea from Vilnius or Tallinn, but their routes would have gone either through Russia or Belarus. Now these are both countries I would absolutely love to visit, but you need a Visa :/ And getting a Visa for just passing through is expensive.

Then I remembered that  Finnlines has a ferry going between Finland and Germany. There was our solution!

The ferry would take us to Travemünde, the very north of Germany close to Lübeck. We would then take a train from there down to southern Germany. Perfection!

The journey will be long;  27 hours on the ship, another 6 on the train. But I think it shouldn’t be a problem since we both have a lot of experience on travelling in ships. Also the ferry should be rather comfortable as well as the German trains.

This evening Afri is going to the vet for a pre-trip checkup and all the needed vaccinations + documents. Fingers crossed everything goes well 🙂