Sunday, May 25, 2014

So you're thinking about buying from a breeder ...

I thought I'd do a spin-off of my previous post "How could you BUY a dog?!" with things that you should look for, ask and avoid when researching breeders.  People will choose to buy or adopt. As my previous post stated, I chose to buy.  Every person has their reasons for doing so.  However, if you are choosing to buy you really need to do your homework.  And the homework may be extensive but it will be worth it for a possible 10-20 year commitment for a new family member!

FIND A SUITABLE BREED FOR YOU & YOUR LIFESTYLE
First and foremost you need to find a breed suitable for your family and your lifestyle, activity level and needs.  There are well over 200 breeds of dogs and sadly there will be more that are not suitable for you than those that are.  This is the most important step to take before deciding to buy or adopt a dog. This will be a deal breaker.  A working German Shepherd Dog will not be suitable for a couple that is inactive and wants to watch TV all day and a giant English Mastiff may not be suitable for a single woman that likes to run 5Ks on the weekends.

To find a breed suitable for you it is great to go to a dog show, see the different breeds and speak to breeders about their breed.  You can also speak to owners of the breed and do your own research on the care, temperament, grooming, activity and trainability of said breed. There obviously is a lot of info on the internet about any breed you wish to learn more about as well, but we know that often can be just as hurtful as it is helpful so be careful here.  The AKC (American Kennel Club) has a "Meet the Breeds" section on their website as well as loads of other info than can be helpful.

I highly recommend that you contact a trainer that is well-versed in working with the breed you are interested in.
 Trainers often have a completely different perspective on breeds for people not looking to join the show world or competition world and can speak to the suitability of the breed as a family pet.

Whatever you do, do not pick a breed based on what your roommate had in college or what you ran into at the dog park.  This should be a nice process of elimination so that you do in fact find the perfect breed for you and your family.

YOU FOUND A BREED, NOW DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
So you found the right breed for you and now you want to buy a puppy from a breeder. Great! Now let's do our homework! There are many things you need to know and understand about what goes into a Quality and Reputable Breeder.

It is my personal belief that all great breeders should use the Puppy Culture puppy raising program for their litters.  It is the Gold Standard for breeders and puppy rearing. You can find a lot of breeders that do the Puppy Culture program on their website. However, it's not inclusive and some breeders that do Puppy Culture aren't listed.

Here is a list of questions you should ask a potential breeder [especially if they aren't a Puppy Culture breeder] prior to buying a puppy, and below this list is a list of things that will show you the likelihood of a non-reputable breeder as red flags to look for.


13 QUESTIONS TO ASK A BREEDER BEFORE BUYING A PUPPY.

1. How old is the dam (mother) and how many litters has she had? How often do you breed your dogs?
[Too many litters often means breeding for profit. It should be no more than 1 a year from one single dam. That same dam should really only be bred once every other year, and preferably they don't breed her for the first time until she's at least 2 years old.  Dams being bred shouldn't be older than 7-8 years. ]

2. What temperament do the dam and sire (father) have, what about other dogs in the lineage?
[Find dogs that have no aggression or other undesirable behaviors in their lineage in relation to aggression, guarding, shyness, aloofness (some breeds can be more aloof than others but shouldn't be aggressive or shy), bold, confident, over-confident (bully), etc. Remember, aggression can be genetic. Resource guarding can be highly genetic and a real problem.]

3. Do you do any temperament testing on the pups? If so what does that entail and what are the results?  Puppy temperament tests aren't totally accurate but they are a good baseline.  Ask what tests they do.  My favorite is Suzanne Clothier's CARAT (Clothier Animal Response Assessment Test). However a more common puppy temp test is the Volhard Puppy Temperament Test, which I'm not a fan of to be honest.  Ask what their test consists of and how the come to results.

4. Do you have a contract?
[Many breeders have a contract you must sign and agree to. It varies from breeder to breeder but it should at least contain the following items: It should state that at anytime in the dog's life said breeder will take back the dog for any reason. It should also state their health guarantee which will state all testing they do on their dogs and what to expect if anything comes up in your dog.  It should state something about vaccination, worming and when your pup should first see a veterinarian after you get the puppy.  It should state something regarding spay/neuter (usually a limited registration) as you shouldn't be breeding your puppy.]

5. What health tests do you run on your dogs and what are the results of each?
[Know what health issues run in your breed and find out if the breeder tests for these. Testing for hips/elbow dysplasia in dogs prone to it thru the OFA or PennHip should be a must. Other genetic testing should be done depending on what things are commonly prevalent in your breed of choice. Research your breed to know what to ask the breeder in regards to testing. Also ask for results of the testing they do, they should very readily agree and give you these test results.]

6. How old are puppies when you wean them from mother & introduce to food?
[Ideally this is at 4-5 weeks of age,  no sooner unless they had to bottle feed for one reason or another. If so, get specifics on why and how the puppy is developing.]

7. How young are puppies when you let them go to their new home?
[Ideally no puppy should be under 8 weeks of age going to a new home. Lots of learning takes place prior to this age with mama dog and littermates that is critical to development and socialization. Some breeders even keep puppies up to 12 weeks (some even older), which I find too old for socialization and developmental reasons. I find the ideal age to obtain a puppy is between 8-10 weeks as proper socialization needs to take place quickly.]

8. What do you do to help them start to potty train? Where do they regularly go potty? Indoors? Potty pads? Paper? Grass? Outdoors?
[Ideally I like to see breeders have puppies utilize outdoors and not encourage potty pads and/or newspaper for potty. It is a huge plus if they have introduced each puppy individually to a crate (not all the puppies in one crate) and some crate time alone for short periods. This can often be an indicator for how difficult/easy it will be to start housebreaking for your new pup!]

9. What environment are they raised in and what enrichment do you provide?
[Do they get daily outdoor time? Do they stay in a dog run? A barn? A kennel? Where do they sleep? Do they start any crate training? Adding sounds to their environment? Objects to climb on? Odd and different surfaces? Any training at all? What do they expose their pups to to get them ready for the real world? Other dogs? Other animals? Other people?]

10. What do you feed your dogs and puppies?
[This is a question I like because I want someone who doesn't feed cheap dog food for convenience but cares about their dog's nutrition. I personally prefer one open to raw-fed dogs or that does raw feed but this isn't a deal breaker and of course not everyone is on board with this. So really the best is just a high quality food.  Stay away from Purina, Pedigree and grocery store brands. Good nutrition is key.]

11. What vaccinations have they had once they are 8 weeks and have they been health checked prior to going to their new homes by a licensed veterinarian?
[Most puppies have been to the breeder's vet for a health check (esp if you are having the pup shipped they have to by law) and many do their own vaccinations. Be sure to get a copy of the vaccination vile and or sticker from the vile of each vaccine the breeder gave to the puppy or had their vet give to the puppy.]

12. What questions do you have as a breeder for me as a prospective puppy buyer?  [Breeders should be equally full of questions for you as a potential home for one of their pups. If they don't ask any questions you shouldn't buy from them.  They should have as many questions for you as you do for them.  They should also welcome any and all questions you have for them.]

13. Will the you take the puppy back at anytime for any reason? [All reputable breeders will take back one of their puppies during the lifetime of the pup for any reason and have this stated in their contract (as stated above in question #4).  They should do this as they don't want to see one of their pups in the wrong hands or in a shelter/rescue situation.  This is a vital question to ask a breeder not because you think you'll be giving your puppy back or expecting something but because this goes towards the reputability and character of the breeder.]

RED FLAGS: if any of the following apply do not buy from that person/place selling puppies.
  • If a breeder has lots of puppies always available, it's highly unlikely that they are reputable breeders.Quality breeders often take a year or even years to produce a quality litter.  They don't rush. They don't breed often. So you may need to wait. They also usually have a waiting list.
  • If a breeder cannot answer many, many questions about their breed.  This includes anything about the breed be it health, temperament, grooming, training, etc.
  • If a breeder is willing to sell you littermates.  This is never a good idea and no reputable breeder will sell littermates to one family at the same time. (Please read about Littermate Syndrome.)
  • If the breeder cannot help you decide if their breed is the correct breed for your family and your lifestyle. Not all breeds are a match to all people and breeders should be able to tell you if their breed is a good fit for you or not.  Never take offense to this, a good breeder knows when they shouldn't sell a puppy to a family that isn't suited for their breed.
  • If a place doesn't register their dogs with a reputable dog registry, most commonly the AKC (American Kennel Club) then they probably aren't quality.  AKC registered dogs does not automatically mean the dog is of sound breeding.  Note: AKC is something the dogs & litter should be registered with, they should be able to provide documentation to prove registration. However it needs to be noted that an AKC registered dog doesn't automatically qualify the breeder as reputable.  But a reputable breeder will register her dogs & litters with the AKC or other reputable breed registry.
  • Stay away from breeders that register their dogs with the CKC (Continental Kennel Club).  This is not a reputable dog registry and is actually quite flimsy, holding no merit at all in the dog world.
  • Quality breeders do not sell puppies to pet stores. Period. There are no "but ..."  If you buy a puppy from a pet store you are getting a puppy mill dog regardless of what the pet store tells you.
  • If you ask for the lineage of the parents and they cannot provide it or dance around the question, go the other way.  "His grandfather is a Grand Champion" isn't the answer to that question either.  Quality breeders will provide a family tree that can be traced back and you can see all lineage and accomplishments of those dogs.
  • If none of their dogs have any titles or participate in any shows and/or sports.  Quality breeders usually show their dogs and/ or participate in a sport or competition of some kind.  They are usually very open about this and will discuss it when asked.  If they aren't you need to go the other way.
  • If you can hit a Paypal button online to purchase a puppy ... well, really? This should be a no-brainer. Dogs aren't retail items and shouldn't be able to be purchased online via a button!
  • If a place sells puppies for vastly different prices for different coats or male vs female they probably aren't a quality breeder.  The only difference should be "pet quality" vs "show quality" and pet quality are usually a little less and come with a spay/neuter contract/agreement.
  • The place advertises "raised in our home with love" (or on our farm/property).  This is nice but that doesn't say one thing to the actual breeding or what they do for the dogs they are breeding.
  • If a person selling puppies doesn't allow you on their property or to certain areas to see where pups are raised and how they interact with mama dog, littermates, etc. I would be quite suspicious.  Sometimes some so-called breeders will ask you to meet somewhere or they will have you secluded in one area on their property but won't allow you to see much else.
  • If a person selling puppies sells you a pup under 8 weeks of age, especially under 7 weeks, go the other way.  Puppies should stay in their litter at least until 8-9 weeks of age but not past 12 week unless very extensive socialization is taking place from breeder, which is very unlikely.
  • If a breeder cannot provide health tests and results of the tests on their breeding dogs against the diseases or ailments most common to your breed.
  • If they don't ask you, as a buyer, tons of questions.  They should ask you as many questions as you do them.  If they don't then I'd look elsewhere.  On that note I'd also be proud to be grilled and not take any offense to any questions as a reputable breeder will be asking, possibly, some hard questions to be sure they are placing their pup in a home that is the right fit and a forever fit!
Buying a puppy may sound like a daunting task, and it can be, but for a good reason.  You are making a commitment to raise, care for and train a living creature for possibly close to 20 years so you want to do it right.  That's a huge responsibility.  Finding a reputable breeder can be so helpful in finding a dog that is not only suitable for your family but also sound in temperament and health.  

However, also know that even if you do all of your homework diligently and accurately there is no guarantee you'll get a dog without flaws.  The likelihood of something going wrong is less when you do your homework, but it's not 100%.  So, do your homework the best you can and take your time.  

WHAT ABOUT ADOPTION OR RESCUE?
If you find that buying a puppy isn't for you or your family then I do recommend you adopt.  And even if you'd like to buy but you feel that adopting is a better option, then please do so.  I am a very huge advocate of adoption.  Do not let this blog post or my previous, "How could you BUY a dog?!", lead you to believe this indicates that I am against adoption.  I am very much in favor of adoption.  (I have plans to write a blog post on what to look for when adopting a dog, keep an eye out!)


Monday, May 12, 2014

It's been fun ... but this is good-bye ...

CGC Test 2004

I've been training people and their dogs since 1999 and I've loved all of it. I've met some wonderful people and dogs and when I started my own business in 2003 it was great to have the flexibility I wanted but still do what I loved.

Now that I've grown my family from 3 to 5 in the past year it's become increasingly difficult to maintain the multiple jobs and responsibilities that I have in my life.  I want to devote more time to my family and raising my very young kids, while they are still young.  

So after many weeks of thought and considerations, I've come to the conclusion that I will be shutting down Adventures in Canine Training and joining the job force of full-time Mother.

My Dane, Amos, balancing a treat 2003
Each dog is different, each expectation is different, and I hope that everyone I've worked with knows how much I have enjoyed them.  Thank you for allowing me to step into your lives, your canines' lives, and your homes.  It's been an absolute pleasure to work with all of you.  It's been a delight to be able to do what I've wanted to do since I was a child.

I will be running a group class starting on Sunday, May 18th at 7:00pm at All Fur Fun Training and Event Center in Addison indoors.  Please join this class as it will be the last training I'll do!

I cannot say if this will be long term or short term but stick with my Facebook page (I'll be maintaining this page) and this blog.  If you need a trainer referral please let me know and I'll get that info to you. As of right now I'm no longer taking any clients and my business should be wrapped up and closed by mid- to late June.

Love, hugs and slobbers to all of you!

Stacy Greer
Adventures in Canine Training
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Saturday, March 29, 2014

"How could you BUY a dog?!"

As a professional in the dog world who decided to buy a puppy from a breeder instead of rescue one from a shelter/rescue group, I did have this fleeting thought during the process -- "Yikes, I bet I'm going to piss off someone by doing this!"  And sure enough I have.  I've received a few emails, nothing nasty or rude (I do want to point that out!) asking why I chose to buy and not adopt.  I actually haven't responded to the emails as of yet and so thought I'd send this as a message hopefully to help others understand and also ease anyone that has the possible guilt of buying instead of adopting.

First of all I want to say this: Everyone has a reason for everything they do. Everyone has their own lives and things going on that others have no clue about. Making judgments on any issue is wrong at best, harmful at worst.  So before jumping to conclusions you should get facts and know all the details of the situation at hand. Sure, easier said than done.  But I digress ...

...Now onto the actual subject matter -- Why did I buy a puppy from a breeder when so many are in shelters? We recently bought a puppy from a responsible breeder.  Let me reiterate the adjective I used before the word "breeder" -- responsible.  There is a lot that goes on in finding a responsible and very reputable breeder. I researched and asked all the right questions. I did all my homework and lucky for me I know exactly what questions to ask a breeder before buying.

Over the past 12 years I've owned 6 dogs, including the new puppy we have now. Of those six dogs two of them were rescues and four were "bought" from breeders -- two were not reputable breeders and two were highly reputable and excellent breeders.   I slowly learned how to ask the right questions and do my homework.  And that can often involve a lot of work, and it should.  If you are going to go the buy-a-puppy-route you need to know exactly what you're doing and where your puppy is coming from.  A bad breeder can be a disgrace to the reputable breeder community. Bad breeders are indeed contributors to the too-many-pets-in-the-shelter problem we face today.

Now, don't get me wrong -- buying a dog from a reputable breeder doesn't guarantee a quality dog for health or temperament. However, the chances are greater that you will have these things on your side if you did get the dog from a good, well-rounded and reputable breeder.

On the flip-side, rescuing a dog doesn't mean you'll be guaranteed problems either.  There are many excellent dogs in rescues/shelters that are absolutely amazing dogs that live a fully, happy, healthy and behaviorally-balanced life.  However, in my experiences (and this is just my experience but it's been 15 years of working with rescue dogs and "breeder's" dogs from all angles) rescue/shelter dogs are more likely to have some behavioral and/or medical issues.  I've also worked with loads of rescues and I know that they are often a crap-shoot both medically and behaviorally.

So does this mean I'm against rescue dogs? Absolutely not!  I work with rescues day in and day out. I also work with full-bred dogs too from reputable and responsible breeders as wells as from backyard breeders and puppy mills. One of my current dogs is a rescue as well. The facts are that reputable and responsible breeders do most often produce sound dogs.  There is a reason they are reputable and responsible.  If it weren't for these types of breeders we wouldn't have dogs at all.  They aren't the problem, contrary to what you may believe.  (Read this great piece here on this topic.) ... More on breeders  later in this post ... Keep reading.

So, why did I choose to buy instead of adopt? Well, my first response to anyone who really wants my answer -- it shouldn't concern you.  Ok. But it does. Because I'm in the dog profession. I'm not just an average person with a dog. I work with dogs in rescue all the time. I work with rescue groups and shelters all the time.  I know loads and loads of wonderful people who volunteer countless hours, blood sweat and tears in rescue. I cannot tell you how much I commend these people. It's unimaginable how much hard work, dedication and tireless hours rescue people put into what they do.  I can't even begin to describe some of the things they have seen, been part of or done; and I commend them all for their work and efforts.

I have the highest respect for anyone and everyone involved in rescue in any way. It's a grueling part of life that I find will sadly probably never go away.  I am pretty certain that we can make a difference but sadly there will always be people abusing animals, neglecting them and all the in betweens of that.  

But here is the thing.  That has nothing to do with me.  I am not the person neglecting dogs. I am not the person abusing dogs. I am not the person dumping dogs at the shelter, or worse.  I am a responsible dog owner, to say the very least.  I am not contributing to the dog over-population problem/dog dumped in shelter problem/dog being abused/neglected problem.  My breeder would have sold my puppy to another person if she hadn't sold her to me.  My breeder also takes any puppy of hers back at anytime during the dog's life, anytime, no matter what. Her contract states that should I need to re-home her I have to give her back to her, and her only.

This means my breeder isn't contributing to the pet over-population/dumped/abused/neglected problem either.  This also means that all responsible and reputable breeders aren't contributing to the pet problem.  No, they aren't.  Where do you think dogs started from?  Where do we get all these wonderful breeds to choose from?  Responsible and reputable breeders preserve a breed. They make them what they are and what they should be.  They breed for betterment of that specific breed.  If you had a Border Collie that didn't herd you'd have a very bad specimen of a Border Collie, no?  If all breeders ceased to exist there would eventually be no dogs. Of course this would take decades to do however,  realistically if no one ever bred dogs ever again dogs would become extinct.


The truth is that breeders aren't the problem. Irresponsible dog owners are the problem.  Plain and simple.

The people contributing to our too-many-pets-in-the-shelter-problem are the result of lack of education, understanding, training and/or compassion for animals.  For those extreme cases of abuse and neglect, that's an entirely different problem. People who are actually harming and neglecting dogs have a problem that goes far beyond irresponsible dog ownership. Those people have an underlying mental health problem of some kind. That's a whole other topic that I will not discuss.

If you want to help keep dogs in homes and out of shelters adhere to these tips:
  1. Don't get a dog if you are not able to afford it (or make your own sacrifices to afford it!) -- I get it. I am not rich by any stretch. But I do what I can to make it work because when I get a dog I get the dog for life regardless of what comes along the way.
  2. Don't get a dog if you cannot commit to it for the dog's entire life, no matter what. -- Really? Do I need to elaborate this one?
  3. Learn to understand canine behavior and body language and get your dog trained as soon as you get it! -- One of the main reasons dogs are over-crowding shelters is because of a behavior issue. You'd be surprised at what some people define as a behavior issue.  It ranges from jumping on guests (insanely easy to train polite greetings!) to biting people and/or other dogs.  So no matter what, as soon as you get a new dog (any age!) hire a highly qualified training professional and get started on the right path.  And don't stop training your dog. And if you see something come up later re-hire your trainer and get the issue addressed immediately. Nearly all problems are able to be helped with appropriate training. 
  4. Don't give up a dog because he's become an inconvenience. -- If you find that having a baby means "we just don't have time for the dog" then think this thru before having a baby and actually getting a dog.  You cannot believe how many people give up dogs when a new baby comes into the home. It's ludicrous. This goes back to #3 --> find a highly qualified trainer that understands families, babies and dogs.  They even have specialized programs for this exact thing (Family Paws Parent Education). There are really no excuses on this one.  Maybe the baby thing wouldn't even apply to you.  Maybe you're just tired of having a dog. I really don't care what the reason your dog is an inconvenience to you is.  Go back to bullet #2.
  5. Dont' breed your dog if you are not a responsible and reputable breeder. -- Oh so your dog is gorgeous and has a great temperament.  It doesn't matter unless you plan to health test the dogs for all genetic diseases.  You also have to take back any puppy your dog produces at any time if the owner cannot keep it, whether the dog is 4 months or 12 years old.  You should show your dog and get points in confirmation at the very least. These are only a few of the things responsible breeders do, just a few.  I don't want to list them all, this is a good read if you think you want to breed your dog.  And don't say I want to have "just one litter".  How do you think litters get in shelters? Half of those dogs were part of a "just one litter" thought by someone who never should have bred their dog. Do not breed your dog if you aren't an established, responsible and reputable breeder. Period.
Now you may still be wondering -- so, why did you buy a puppy? You never answered that. You're right I didn't. I am not going to answer that. I don't owe anyone an explanation. I chose to buy a puppy. That's my right. I am a responsible dog owner. I'm highly educated in dog training and behavior. My puppy will never be bred. My puppy will be a respected and well-trained dog in the community. My puppy will not ever be in a shelter or on the streets.  The reason I chose this path is mine and mine alone.  

If we all actually followed the above 5 steps we'd have no problem with too many pets in shelters.  That's a fact. Seriously. If every single one of my above steps was followed by every single dog owner there would be no problem. Simple as that.  Wanna help? Wanna learn more? Wanna get to training your dog or learn how to educate others about it?  Let me know, because contrary to what you may be thinking I'm very much an advocate for getting dogs out of shelters. I'm all for responsible dog ownership, as this alone would solve our problem.

Here is my follow up blog post, "So your thinking about buying from a breeder..."



Saturday, March 1, 2014

Get Along Little Doggie ...

So you all know now that we've had our new Beagle puppy here for a week (9 days to be exact). She's fabulously fun and I'm going to be doing a one week post on her next. First, I wanted to address a question I've gotten many times since she arrived -- How are your other dogs liking her?

The answer is: I don't know. They haven't really met her yet.  See, it's my professional and expert opinion that any new dog (puppy or adult) that comes into a home with an existing dog (or dogs) should never just be tossed in with the mix right up front.  Actually they shouldn't physically mingle for several weeks, ideally several months. I understand that for the average pet home that's just not going to happen.  Either people don't agree with that or they think it's too much of a pain or ... I don't know they have some reason of their own.  But let me tell you why I choose to do this.

Contrary to what we like to think as humans about our dogs we need to understand a few things that are often hard for us to understand.  We don't think like dogs regardless of how hard we try. However, we need to run a household that runs smoothly and peacefully and to do this we should really stop putting human emotions on our dogs.  

Dogs don't necessarily need a canine buddy.
I see this a lot especially when a 2-dog home loses one of the dogs.  The common thought is that Fido misses Fluffy as they were such good pals. So they bring home a new dog for Fido.  Now he's got a new pal and this should ease his sadness of not having Fluffy anymore.

The truth is that Fido may have loved Fluffy. He may have actually been best buds with her.  However, that doesn't mean he's wanting a replacement.  It's like replacing your best friend. Sure you may get another friend and they may be a great person but they aren't going to be able to replace your BFF.

Also, dogs base just about everything with other dogs around resources.  For dogs the most common resources are: food, toys, sleeping areas (beds), crates (or safe areas), and their beloved humans.  When another dog comes in they can become quite reluctant, if not aggressive, about sharing any or all of these resources.  Dogs are not hard wired to share.  They are not like humans at all in this regard.  Teaching a dog to share is even more challenging than teaching a toddler to do so!  (However when they do understand sharing it's fabulous! And not all dogs don't share, some are ok with that.  All dogs are different.)

So, bringing Fido a brand new pal to replace Fluffy actually can do more harm than good if it's not done properly.  Fido will start to realize he has to now share all of his resources with Gidget, and Gidget is not Fluffy.  He and Fluffy already had long established who got what and when and how.  They did that years ago.  But Gidget, she's new. She doesn't know. What if she's going to steal all the food? What if she's here to get all the attention from human-mama?  Fido is now stressed out and isn't all too happy about you bringing home Gidget.

So, you're saying having more than one dog is not good? Adding a new dog is bad?!  
No. If you can do it properly and with good training and low-stress then it can work out beautifully.  Sometimes it doesn't work out and we may need to see if the dog was a poor fit to the home and/or other dog(s) in the home.  Also some dogs just don't want another companion, plain and simple. Some dogs are totally fine being the only dog in the home.  We have to respect that. Not all dogs need friends, and some do not want them!  You need to know your dog(s) very well and understand what will be best for your dog(s) and your home.

Signs your dog isn't happy about the new addition.
Your dog can show signs of stress in many,  many forms.  We often think if they didn't break out into a dog fight then all is well, right?  OR If they just have a few non-eventful squabbles every now and again that's ok. Well, not necessarily.

Here are a few common signs of stress with any new addition:
  • Regression in potty habits and/or marking starts to take place.
  • Becomes possessive of things that s/he didn't before.
  • Seems to be "stubborn" and won't listen to cues s/he knows reliably.
  • Becomes distant, doesn't sleep where s/he used to, goes and lies alone in other places.
  • Barks or vocalizes uncharacteristically and/or randomly.
  • Starts new poor habits (jumping up, barking, potty accidents, etc.)
  • May have some new medical issues pop up "out of the blue".
  • Shows signs of what humans would call "jealousy".
If your dog is doing any of the above after adding in a new dog it's likely that some steps backwards need to take place. If things are going rather poorly you need to hire a professional to come and assess the situation. Your dog may be with the wrong dog or may not be able or wanting to live with another dog.

Older dogs don't often like puppies.
Another thing is that adult dogs often completely dislike puppies and their annoying antics.  Some adult dogs do marvelous with puppies while others think they are too old and wise to deal with the spryness of a youngster.

Puppies bond quickly.
Puppies bond quickly to whomever spends the most time and engages with them the most.  If you have multiple dogs and your puppy gets to hang with them, it's likely she'll hang with them more than you.  Afterall, her canine housemates speak dog and you don't!  So it is very easy for a puppy to bond to a dog.  However, this can hinder your relationship with the puppy and will show through lack of what will look like "listening skills" and "disobedience".

It is vital that the human bond with the puppy and let the other household dog(s) come in later!

So, what do you do then?!
I keep all the dogs separated for several weeks.  Ideally for several months.  Yes, months.  They don't have to be completely isolated. At my house the puppy's crate is in our bedroom just like our other dogs'.  They all see each other come and go.  My two boys are out and moving about as normal and the puppy is in her crate and visa versa.  We also rotate who goes in the yard. My boys will go outside without me and hang for a bit but the puppy is taken out and supervised as we are still working on potty training (must go out to praise the potty in appropriate places!)

So,  here is a typical morning at my house over the past week.  
6 am - puppy goes out to potty, other dogs stay in our bedroom (I carry her outside)
She gets put back into crate after potty break and sleeps until I get up with my kiddos about 7:30-8 am
8 am - take her out again, leave my dogs in bedroom
Then I bring her in and put my dogs outside.
8:30 am - feed all dogs - my dogs eat in their crates, Charlotte currently eats in the kitchen with me via a puzzle toy and/or using the food as training rewards
I play with her for 15 minutes and train her some as well.
9 am - back out to potty then straight to crate for down time
I then let my dogs out of their crates and they hang with me while I then feed all my kids!  
Then rinse and repeat for the most part.

We added another dog and it went fabulous!
Remember, this doesn't apply to all dogs, nothing does. However, I don't throw caution to the wind when it comes to dogs. It's not fair and when/if things go south it's not going to be fun trying to back pedal!  So, it's best to take this approach with a new dog just to ensure less stress, more happiness and no surprises!

What if we want to add another dog, how should we do it?
If you are considering another dog or a new puppy to add to your house with a current dog (or dogs) then contact me or another trainer in your area to help you with the transition.  It will be some work and commitment in the beginning but it will be so worth it in the long run!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Chronicles of a Puppy Owner.

Hello dog world.  Guess what? This mother of 3 youngsters (of the human variety) and mother to two dogs now has become a mother to a puppy. Yup. A 10-week old Beagle named "Charlotte" (lovingly named by my 5 year old, Sophie.)  I decided after much thought, research and consideration that my 5 year old would do well understanding how to raise and train a puppy.  Our other two dogs are almost 12 years and 9 years and really don't have too much to offer for a playful, spry 5 year old.  I decided Sophie would be great to help me work with and raise this puppy.  And so it was decided that a Beagle was a good choice from a responsible breeder.  They are a nice size, grooming maintenance is minimal and temperament is good with kids.  So, the Beagle was found and we got her Thursday, February 20th.

I've decided I'll be making various videos to show little hints of properly raising and training a puppy, especially with kids.  However, this will benefit anyone with a puppy even if kids aren't in the home.

I will do  individual videos on the following  common puppy issues that I get the most questions about as a trainer:

  • nipping/biting (hands/feet)
  • chewing in appropriate objects
  • grabbing clothes and/or biting at shoes 
  • first things to teach a new puppy/dog
  • body language 
  • how kids should interact with puppies 
... and several others are hopefully going to happen as well!  Stay tuned and follow my YouTube channel to see all the videos as they are added.  In the meantime here is the first video I have. It's completely raw (totally unedited) and I decided to leave it this way.  Sophie chimes in throughout the video and I loved how she did this (none of this was rehearsed or coached!) on her own after I have gone over a few things with her.

Enjoy! (If you cannot see the embedded video either visit my blog directly here: http://adventuresincaninetraining.blogspot.com or click the following link directly to the YouTube video here: http://youtu.be/v5crpG5A0kI