Ten Tips to overcoming the Terrible Two’s!

We all know that teenage and children can be stubborn, moody, and often enjoy challenging the authority figures around them. But did you know that dogs also go through a similar rebellious stage as they transition from puppyhood into social maturity?  

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This adolescent stage of a dog’s life is most commonly referred to as ‘the terribles’ or ‘the terrible twos’ and believe me, it is aptly named. In the simplest terms, the terribles is a stage of a dog’s life in which they begin to challenge every rule, boundary, and limitation placed upon them previously. Essentially, they are trying to figure out where in the pack hierarchy they lie, and so they test their pack leader (that’s you!) to see how in charge they really are. Up until this point you will have given your puppy a set of rules to live by (ie. no jumping on the furniture, no barking in the yard), but did you really mean them? That is what your dog is trying to find out.  

While the timeline varies from dog to dog, the terribles often hit around 6 months of age and can last until they are anywhere from one to two years old. My puppy Sprout was 7 months old when I first began to see her ‘rebellious’ side emerge, and she is definitely in the thick of things now at 10 months old.  

While every dog experiences the terrible twos, not many owners know about this important stage of their dog’s life, and as a result end up feeling frustrated and discouraged by their dog’s newfound ‘bad’ behaviors. Even as an experienced dog trainer, I have found myself questioning where I went wrong as Sprout and I navigate this challenging life-stage together.  But fear not! This blog is aimed at both educating you on what exactly the terribles are, as well as giving you some helpful ways to deal with many of the behaviors that come with this stage of your dog’s life.  

Here are some behaviors commonly displayed by a dog in their terribles; 

  • Jumping on furniture they were not previously allowed on 
  • Jumping on family members and guests 
  • Humping 
  • Playing ‘catch me if you can’ in the backyard (not coming when called)
  • Barking/reactivity 
  • Attempting to lead on walks 
  • Hyperactivity  
  • Rough/dominant play with other dogs (or human family members) 

Here are 10 ways you can deal with the problem behaviours listed above; 

  1. Increase the amount of structure in your dog’s life (more crate and/or place time, set a daily schedule and stick to it) 
  2. Enroll your dog in training or daycare to increase the amount of socialization they get as well as to provide another area of structure  
  3. If your dog is already enrolled at daycare, increase the frequency of visits to 2-3 times per week  
  4. Increase the amount of walks and/or length of walks 
  5. Go on walks in new places and with new people (check out The Dog Haus facebook page for info on their free monthly meditation walks!) 
  6. Increase the amount of mental stimulation provided to your dog by joining a training class or working on the things you’ve already taught your dog (place, learn a new trick, sit stays, hide and go seek, etc.) 
  7. Keep your dog on leash in the backyard – if you can predict it you can prevent it! 
  8. Find some well balanced, calm, older doggy role models for your puppy to play with 
  9. Stand your ground! Remember this rebelliousness is completely normal for your dog and will pass with time, but giving into their demands will only lead to more problems in the future 
  10. Go easy on yourself and your dog – no person or dog is perfect, let any negative experiences roll off your back and focus on positive growth! 

So there you have it, a how-to guide for surviving the terribles! Remember that all the behaviours seen during this stage are to be expected and will pass with time, patience, and consistent enforcement of rules and expectations. Take a deep breath and be the calm, confident leader your rebellious puppy needs you to be!

Until next time,

Claire

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The Carmen Bucket List

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Photo by Lindsay Coulter

 

How do you start a blog about your dying dog? Grim topic I know, but I wanted to open up and share about our experience and how we are staying optimistic. As many of you know, my 10 year old dog Carmen has been diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma, an aggressive blood cancer and I wanted to shed light on how we are choosing to live with it.

Did you know that 50% of dogs over the age of 10 are diagnosed with cancer? Depressing statistic when you think about it, but the reality is our dogs don’t live as long as we wish and hope for. We know this when we sign up for dog ownership, but when the time comes for us to say goodbye to our companions it is the worst day of our entire lives. So, you can only imagine the fear and sadness that struck me when we were told Carmen has cancer and we may only have a little bit of time left with her.

Of course I cried. I cried a lot. I held her and comforted her. Actually, she was the one who comforted me. And then, after a few very depressing days, I made a decision. I decided that for Carmen’s sake I would make the most of every day we had left together. We chose to be happy, even if it was just for a short time with her. To embrace each and every moment. To laugh at the silly things, show gratitude and to cuddle…a lot! Sure I still cry. I’m not trying to live in denial and forget that death is coming. I’m just trying to choose happiness over sadness. To, at the very least, practice gratitude for the time I do have with my best friend and create happy memories and not sad ones. Carmen doesn’t act sad, so why should I. Every day she wakes up happy for the day and ready for whatever it may bring. Just another lesson I’ve learned from this special girl. Resilience is strength and optimism rolled in one. Carmen is a trooper, so for her I’ll stay strong.

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Crate training your puppy

Can you imagine what your life would be like if you didn’t have a bedroom? A space that is just your own where you can escape to relax by yourself when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed? No doubt this lack of privacy and personal space would bring a lot of anxiety and unease into your life. Your dog is very similar to you in the sense that they too crave a space to call their own. Dogs are naturally denning animals, which means they enjoy sleeping in dark enclosed spaces. This makes a crate the perfect way to fulfil this natural denning instinct in your dog as well as to give them a space that is all theirs where they can go to relax. Crating your puppy also has the added bonus of making potty training much easier! Dogs naturally do not like to go to the bathroom where they sleep, so the crate is an excellent tool for getting your puppy on a proper potty schedule.

Crate training is one of the most important things you can do with your puppy, and it should start the first night they’re home. When done right, crate training will create an association of calmness and safety with the crate for your puppy. Trust me when I say, while they may protest their first two or three times being alone in their crate, your puppy is truly craving the shelter and protection the crate provides and they will soon learn to love it!

The most important thing to remember when crate training your puppy is, say it with me, you get what you pet! So if your puppy screams and cries when you first put them in their new ‘bedroom’ (and chances are they will!), please do not console them in any way shape or form. The best thing you can do for them is to completely ignore their protests and let them figure things out on their own. Don’t speak to them or pet them because, while you may see this as you comforting your crying puppy, they will see this as you rewarding and reinforcing their anxious behaviour and this will create a very negative association with their crate.

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If you brought your puppy home in a travel crate, they will already have had some exposure to a crate prior to their first night in your home. Even still, their first night in your home is going to be the most important interaction with their crate because it will set the stage for every other night moving forward. If your puppy screams and cries in their crate and you give in and let them on the bed that first night, they have just learned two things. Firstly, the crate represents panic and anxiety. And secondly, all they have to do is scream and they will be let out of their crate. So put in some earplugs and get into your most calm assertive mindset – this may be a long night.

Remember that this is going to be your puppy’s first night away from their mom and siblings, so along with being in a new place and being exposed to a crate for (likely) the first time, they are also without their family for the first time in their short life. Understandably, this is going to create a lot of stress and anxiety for your puppy, so it is completely natural for them to cry their first few nights with you. Don’t panic! Remain calm and assertive and always remember, you get what you pet.

I recommend keeping your puppy’s crate in your room at least for the first few nights as complete isolation may be too overwhelming for them right away. If you were planning on keeping them in a different room of the house, wait three or four nights until your puppy is completely comfortable with their crate before moving it into its permanent location outside of your bedroom.

After taking your puppy out for one last potty break before bed, lead them to their crate on leash to begin the introduction. Using the leash, apply light pressure to guide them into the open door. Do not drag your puppy into the crate – you want the decision to enter this new space to be their own. Keep the pressure constant and firm until they willingly walk into the crate, then relax tension as they enter it. Once your puppy is in the crate, do not immediately shut the door behind them. If they try to exit the crate, use either your body or the door of the crate to block them. Be patient! This is brand new for your puppy, so take your time and don’t rush this process. Once your puppy is calm and relaxed in their crate (ideally they will be sitting or lying down), silently close the door.

Once again, if/when your puppy cries in the night, do not let them out or pet them or speak to them in that baby voice we humans love so much. Ignore the behaviour and remember it will pass, no matter how endless the noise may seem now. Like most puppies, Sprout cried her first night in the crate but by her third night with me she walked right into it without me even having to tell her. It is now one of her favourite places in the house and she is comfortable in any crate I put her in whether it’s at daycare, in the car, or even at the vet!

Crate training isn’t just limited to bed time! In order to ensure your puppy is completely comfortable in their crate, I recommend crating them both when you are home during the day as well as when they are home alone. This will give your puppy some time to rest and recharge on their own, as well as prevent them from getting into things they shouldn’t or having accidents in the house!

So remember, no matter how hard your puppy may fight you the first night they are in the crate, it is actually the best thing for them and for you! Breathe deep, invest in some earplugs or headphones, and wait it out. I promise your puppy will thank you.

Thanks for reading and happy crate training. Don’t forget to stay tuned for next weeks Puppy Blog!

Claire

How to introduce your puppy to their new home

How many times have you imagined bringing your new puppy home? Have you pictured them running through the front door and zooming around your entire house, smelling every single nook and cranny as they excitedly explore their new home? This may sound like a happy picture in our human mind, but this is actually one of the worst ways to introduce a new puppy to their forever home.

Puppy’s brains are like sponges – constantly absorbing and processing new information to learn from their environment and those in it. So if their first experience in your home is one of over-excitement, that is what they will immediately learn the house represents and it will be incredibly difficult to create calm with your puppy inside your home moving forward. It is very easy to create excitement with dogs, especially puppies, but it is much more difficult to create calm. It is for this reason that you should ensure your puppy’s introduction to your home is a very calm, controlled experience that is led by you. This will start your puppy on the right (calm) foot in your home and in your life, making each day moving forward that much easier.

When bringing your puppy from the car and to your home, I once again suggest walking them in on leash as long as they are already used to this tool. If possible, take your new puppy for a short walk down the street or around the block to introduce them to their new environment and to give them some physical exercise to help work through any anxiety or excitement they may be feeling being in a new place.

Once you are at your front door, have your puppy sit and wait calmly as you open the door. Do NOT let your puppy rush into the house ahead of you – a pack leader always leads through doorways no matter what. It may take some time for your puppy to be calm, but be patient! Wait calmly inside the door and allow your puppy to work through their anxiety and excitement on their own, possibly giving them a quick but firm correction if the excitement becomes too much. Once they are siting politely outside of the doorway and they give you eye contact, then invite them to cross the threshold CALMLY. If they rush into the house, repeat the exercise until they get it right. Repeat this same process for every single doorway and threshold in your home. I know it may sound tedious, but skipping these seemly minute but very important details could lead to an overexcited or anxious puppy. As I mentioned earlier your puppy is constantly learning from you, so if you set clear boundaries, limitations, and expectations inside the home from the start they will already have respect for you and view you as their leader.

Once inside your home, the theme of ‘calm’ continues! Keep your puppy on leash as you lead them through your home to their designated puppy area that you set up for them in advance. Your puppy is allowed to be curious and sniff around as they walk through their new home, but they should never lead you anywhere. Once you reach their assigned puppy area, lead them into it and allow them to calmly explore, still keeping them on leash and keeping any excitement to a minimum. Once they are in a calm relaxed state, drop the leash and allow them to explore on their own. I highly suggest leaving a leash on your puppy at all times as this allows you to easily interrupt any unwanted behaviours and will help them get used to this new tool. However, make sure to supervise your puppy constantly when they are wearing the leash to be sure they don’t choke themselves.

By this point you’re probably dying to love up on your new puppy; you’ve been waiting weeks for this after all! Once your puppy is relaxed and settled in their new home and play area, feel free to give them lots of CALM affection. As I mentioned earlier, it is very easy to create excitement with a puppy so when you do give them some affection, make sure it’s slow and relaxed and please do your best not to use a high pitched ‘baby’ voice when you speak to them! Remember, you get what you pet! So as long as your puppy is relaxed and not anxious or excited, cuddles and belly rubs are always welcome.

Introducing your puppy to your home is an incredibly important process that cannot be rushed, so be sure to set aside lots of time so you don’t feel pressure to speed things along. I myself took the entire day off work which allowed me to remain calm and patient throughout the entire introduction process. To give you an idea of what your puppy’s first experience in your home should look like, here’s a little story about Sprout’s first day home.

As I previously mentioned, Sprout did not come to me leash trained. As such, I brought her inside the front door still in her travel crate rather than on leash. We live on a very bust street and I wanted to make her first experience with the leash was a very calm one, so I decided to wait until we were inside to introduce her to the tool.

Once inside, I opened up the door to her crate and allowed her to exit on her own terms by sitting on the floor about two feet away and encouraging her with sound to come out. Once she was out of her crate, I shut the door so she couldn’t run back in should she become afraid and try to escape her new surroundings. Next I put her slip over her head, being careful not to apply any pressure. I sat on the floor silently beside her, allowing her to get used to the feeling of the leash around her neck as well as to check out her new surroundings with her nose and eyes. She tried to climb into my lap a few times, but I gently pushed her off and back onto the floor – this is a form of insecurity, and had I allowed her into my lap and began petting her I would have actually nurtured that insecure response. Once she was relaxed, I began to move down the hallway. This is where we hit our first major roadblock.

Sprout put on the brakes, refusing to follow me down the hallway and fighting the tension that was now on the leash. I did not panic – I remained silent, calm, and confident while she worked through this new challenge on her own. I relaxed the leash and waited for her to be calm again before adding a very light bit of pressure to coax her forwards while using my voice to also call her in. Still she fought the leash, and still I remained calm. It took us about ten minutes to make it down the hallway, but eventually once I added pressure and called her name she moved forwards with me rather than fighting against me. Success! It may seem small, yes, but this was actually an incredibly important moment in our relationship. It taught her that I may sometimes ask her to do things that scare her or make her unsure, but that I will always help her through those situations through calm, confident leadership. This simple exercise did a LOT to build her trust in me as her leader, and the rest of the house tour was a breeze!

So remember, while this is a very exciting day for you, it is also a very scary one for your new puppy. As much as you will want to immediately shower them with affection and give them the run of the house, do your best to remain calm and confident in leading them into and through your home. Your puppy will be looking to you for leadership, be sure you are able to give it to them!

Until next week,

Claire

The drive home with your new pup

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The big day has finally arrived! After all of your research and preparations, it’s finally time to bring your new puppy home. This day is going to be filled with a lot of emotions – both positive and negative – for you and your puppy. Therefore it is important to do your best to maintain the calm, confident energy of a pack leader despite the excitement you are sure to be feeing. As I mentioned in my last post, this will likely be one of the most stressful days of your puppy’s life but it is important not to let this ‘weaken’ your energy by feeling sorry for your puppy. The absolute worst thing you can do is to coddle a fearful, timid, unsure puppy because this will only reinforce their nervousness. The best thing you can do for them on this day and every day going forward is to take control of every situation the way a true pack leader would – calmly and confidently. If it helps, think of your new puppy as a child – you wouldn’t add to a panicked child’s fear by reinforcing it but would instead calmly help them face whatever is creating their negative experience by leading them through it with confidence.

After leaving the only true calm, confident influence they have ever known (their mother), your puppy will immediately look for another person to take over this leadership role. That being said, if their humans fail to do so, the puppy will assume this position themselves and this is what leads to a wild puppy and behavioral issues later in life. So yes, it is perfectly acceptable to be excited about bringing your new puppy home, but please for the sake of your puppy do not allow this excited energy to dominate you on this day especially. Go for a run in the morning, or do a quick meditation in your car before going into the breeder’s home; whatever it takes to help you enter a calm assertive pack leader mindset. Most of us would do anything for our dogs, and in this particular situation your dog needs you to put your own needs and feelings aside to become the leader they need on this difficult day.

The first major challenge your puppy will likely face after leaving the breeder will be simply getting to your car. If your puppy is already leash trained, I recommend walking your puppy to the car rather than carrying them as this will allow them to gain some confidence by leaving their home on their own as opposed to being forced to leave in your arms. Sprout was not yet leash trained, and I knew I wanted to spend much more time getting her accustomed to the leash than the short walk to the car would allow, so I broke my own rule and carried her to the car. In my mind leaving her home was already stressful enough, and I didn’t want to overwhelm her by adding the extra pressure of a new tool (the leash) to the process.

The next step is actually getting your puppy into the car. I highly recommend having a travel carrier ready in the car for your puppy to stay in during the trip home. Even if your puppy is not yet crate trained, the travel crate will provide some security to your puppy (more on this later, but dogs actually find comfort in the den-like feeling of a crate) and is also the safest way to travel with your puppy. Once you reach the car, do not force your puppy into it as this can create a negative association with the vehicle for your puppy from the start. Instead, open the door and allow them to sniff inside and be curious about the new object. Once they have explored it a little from the outside, place their front paws up on the inside of the open door, and invite them to jump in themselves. Once again, this gives your puppy some confidence in that they were able to enter this new environment on their own and will also build their trust in you by allowing them to explore on their own terms. Sprout was just under 10lbs when she came home, and wasn’t quite tall enough to pull herself into the car on her own. As such, once she began leaning into the car and trying to move in herself, I gave her bum the little push she needed to get all the way in. Help your puppy when they need it, but do not rescue them! Allow them to do new things on their own to build their confidence, but always lead them into and through these new situations calmly and confidently (are you sensing a theme here?).

Once your puppy is in the car, lead them to their travel crate using scent or sound. Do NOT force them into their crate – the decision to enter this new object must once again be their own in order to build a positive association with the crate. I brought a pizzle with me when picking up Sprout, and so once she was on the back car seat where her open crate was, I got her attention using the scent of the pizzle by putting it under her nose, then led her into the crate by placing the treat at the back of it. The exercise does not end here though! Don’t close the crate door as soon as your puppy is inside – this is the fastest way to create fear and anxiety around the crate! Instead, sit beside the crate as your puppy explores, and calmly correct them with your hand if they try to get out of it. Wait until they lie down and relax inside the crate before shutting the door. This may take some time, so be patient! If you close the crate door on an anxious puppy, the association for them with that crate will always be one of anxiety, and that anxiousness will only intensify the longer they are left inside it.

Now that your puppy is calm and secure inside their crate, it’s time to start the car and head home! But your work isn’t done here. You need to be prepared for the very likely possibility that your puppy will cry and scream in the crate on your drive home, even after all of the work you have just put into ensuring they were calm before leaving. If this happens, don’t panic! This is a natural reaction for your puppy to have, and you panicking with them will only make things worse. As humans, our instinct is to immediately coddle a crying puppy either with touch or sound, telling them “it’s okay baby, good girl!” in a very high pitch, unstable voice. But while this compassion is what makes us human, it is actually the worst thing we can do for our now very nervous puppy. Resist the urge to use baby talk with your anxious puppy or to pull the car over and cuddle them, because once again this will only reinforce their behaviour. Always remember, you get what you pet! To you, you’re telling your puppy that everything will be okay and you are here for them, but the message your puppy is actually getting is “you’re right to be anxious, the car is very scary, I approve of the way you are behaving right now”. Instead, either ignore your puppy if their whining is at a low level, or correct them with a calm, assertive ‘tsst’ to disagree with their anxious behaviour. It may seem harsh to correct an anxious puppy, but they are actually looking for someone to take control of this stressful situation and tell them how they are supposed to deal with it; they are looking for a leader. That’s you!

By now you’ve probably realized that bringing a puppy home isn’t as simple as throwing them in the car and walking them into your house – every single step is important and cannot be rushed. This doesn’t mean that you need to be anxious about doing every single thing right, but it does mean that you need to do your absolute best to remain calm and confident throughout your puppy’s entire journey home, and every day afterwards. This is why I have taken an entire post to discuss just the car ride home; it may seem like a very straightforward event but if not done properly it can start off your puppy’s life with you on the wrong foot. So remember to take your time, check your energy, and be the leader your puppy needs (not the coddling ‘puppy parent’ you likely want to be!).

Until next week,

Claire

Preparing your home for your new pup

You wouldn’t bring home a new baby without purchasing a crib, diapers, and other essentials right? Of course not! So why do so many people bring home puppies before puppy proofing and preparing their home? This week we are going to talk about how to properly ready your home for the arrival of a new fur baby before they arrive.

The day you bring home your puppy will be one of the most stressful days of their lives – they will be leaving the only home and family they have ever known to be brought into a new world with complete strangers. As such, it is incredibly important to have an area for your puppy already established before their arrival in order to make this transition easier on them. If you allow your puppy to have access to the entire house as soon as they come home, your puppy will actually become overwhelmed by all the space they now have access to. Giving them a space in the home that is all their own will provide them with a sense of security and stability, and will also prevent them from getting into things they shouldn’t. The area you choose to be your puppy’s resident living space for their first few weeks at home should ideally be somewhere you and your family spend lots of time so he or she can be included in daily activities and you can have a constant visual on them. I myself blocked off and puppy proofed the entire living room days before Sprout came home; tucking away wires and setting up some ‘puppy essentials’ such as her crate and bed. Here are a few tips for setting up a safe and fun puppy area;

  • Use baby gates or a doggy playpen to block off the area; these are easy to move as you expand your puppy’s space but still provide a clear and consistent barrier
  • Remove any exposed wires from the floor that your puppy could chew on
  • Remove any plants that may be toxic to your puppy (full lists of these plants can be found online)
  • Remove any small objects that your puppy may be able to ingest as these can be choking hazards and may lead to intestinal blockages if consumed (ie. children’s toys, yarn/string)
  • Set up your puppy’s crate in the corner of the room/area – preferably in a quiet, secluded spot where your puppy will be able to rest undisturbed
  • Provide your puppy with a water bowl
  • Have one or two durable chew toys out so your puppy has something to help with their teething (all the rest of their toys should be out of reach and only played with when you say so)
  • You may choose to provide your puppy with a bed in addition to their crate – if so place this bed in the puppy’s area as well
  • If you’re using pee pads with your puppy place one in the puppy’s area, but be sure to keep a close eye on them so they don’t chew and ingest it

There are a few other essential puppy items that you won’t be leaving in the puppy’s space but you should still have in your home before they arrive. Here’s a list of everything you’ll want to have before your puppy comes home;

  • A crate
  • A bed for the crate
  • A travel crate (this one item has paid for itself ten times over with Sprout! Car rides are a breeze and she has a crate to sleep in wherever we go, I highly recommend getting one even if you don’t plan on taking your puppy on long trips)
  • A bed
  • Strong, durable teething toys
  • A food bowl and a water bowl
  • Food (do your research! Find out what your breeder is feeding and research other options to decide what is best for your puppy)
  • A collar and ID tag
  • A leash
  • Poop bags
  • Puppy shampoo
  • Baby gate(s) and/or a puppy playpen
  • A doggy towel to wipe off muddy paws and dry your puppy after bath time

Preparing for the arrival of your new furry family member is easy to do and will make a world of difference for both your puppy and yourself. No one wants a stressed out puppy who destroys shoes and makes messes all over the house – set you and your puppy up for success by giving them a safe space of their own that is ready for them as soon as they arrive.

Stay tuned for next week’s puppy blog,

Claire

Claire’s Corner: Picking the Perfect Puppy

So you’ve done your research and found a breed that is the perfect match for you and your lifestyle, but what’s next? Now it’s time to find a reputable breeder and select your new fur baby from a litter of bouncy puppies.

Finding a reputable breeder to adopt your puppy from is an incredibly important step and shouldn’t be taken lightly. You must put time into researching breeders in order to be sure you are supporting a trustworthy and reliable breeder, as well as to file1-3-2give you peace of mind that the puppy you bring home will have spent the first eight weeks of his or her life in a safe, healthy, and happy environment. Unfortunately, there are many ‘breeders’ out there who are only in the puppy business to make a quick buck and who will not take the health of the puppies or the parents into account when having litters. A good place to start looking for a trustworthy breeder is on the breed’s club website (ie. The French Bulldog Club of Canada) as they often have a page dedicated specifically to respected breeders. Here are a few signs that the breeder you have selected is reputable;

  • First and foremost they will be open to answering any questions you have about their business – any breeder who is hesitant to answer questions about their facility, their dogs, and their breeding program may not have the dog’s best interests at heart
  • They will be open to you visiting their facility and meeting their dogs, as well as visiting your puppy’s litter once they are born
  • They will have a detailed questionnaire that you must fill out before being approved to adopt one of their puppies – they may ask you about your experience with the breed, the size of your yard, how long the puppy will be left alone each day, etc.
  • Their puppies have been vet checked before going home
  • They will require you to spay or neuter your dog before they provide you with CKC registration papers for the puppy
  • For breeds prone to genetic health conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia, their breeding stock (moms and dads) must have documentation from a veterinarian stating that their hips and elbows are in good health (because it is a genetic condition, if your puppy’s parents have poor hip and elbow health the likelihood your puppy will develop issues is much greater)
  • They will provide a health guarantee for your new puppy that usually covers any genetic issues that could affect the health and wellbeing of your puppy
  • Their website will have testimonials from other clients who have purchased puppies in the past
  • They will not send a puppy home with you before they are eight weeks old – some (like Sprout’s breeder) will even keep the puppies with their mother until ten weeks of age
  • They will make it clear that if you need to rehome your puppy for any reason throughout his or her life you must bring the puppy back to the breeder rather than to a shelter
  • They will not have many litters throughout the year
  • One or both parents are on sight and available for you to meet

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Now comes the really fun part – selecting your puppy from a litter! But as exciting as this part of becoming a puppy parent is, it also requires a lot of self-restraint on your part in order to ensure you select the perfect puppy for you. Far too often I hear that people selected their puppy based on his or her colouring, or because the puppy “chose us” by jumping up on them, or they felt bad for the one puppy hiding from everyone and everything in the corner. Well, the puppy that “chose” its humans actually claimed them and exerted dominance by jumping up, and the cowering puppy will require much more socialization than a typical happy-go-lucky pup to boost its confidence. The ideal puppy energy for new parents is happy-go-lucky as these dogs tend to go with the flow, have moderate energy levels, and are always willing to follow a confident leader. Ideally you will be able to visit your puppy’s litter in person to select your new addition as this will allow you to see the puppies interact with their siblings, their mother, and you first hand. I know it’s hard, but please try not to let the ridiculously cute sight of 5-10 puppies rolling around cloud your judgement when selecting your puppy. Take a breath, clear your mind, and simply observe. Here are some things to look for in a happy-go-lucky puppy;

  • They will not jump up on you when you enter the puppy play area, but they also won’t run to the back of the room in fear. Happy-go-lucky puppies are curious but not pushy or fearful
  • Dominant puppies will often engage in intense puppy play and wrestling as they are fighting for the dominant position in the pack, while happy-go-lucky puppies will play nicely and respectfully with their siblings
  • If you are visiting during feeding time, happy-go-lucky puppies will not force their way to the front of the line but instead will wait and approach the feeding bowl (or their mother, depending on age) calmly and respectfully
  • They may be seen licking their mother and/or their sibling’s faces
  • If there are toys present, happy-go-lucky puppies will willingly give up the toy they have to any other dog or human that approaches

And that’s it! Now you’re ready to pick your puppy and begin the next stage of your lives together. Don’t let all of this information overwhelm you – choosing your new furry family member is supposed to be fun, exciting, and a truly happy experience. So keep a cool head and make an informed decision, but don’t forget to enjoy this stage of your journey into the wonderful world of puppy parenthood!

Hope you’ve been enjoying my blogs! Stay tuned for another one next week 🙂

– Claire