Don’t F*CK up Day 1

We can all agree that first impressions are a big deal in life. Whether we’re meeting our partner’s family, or interviewing for a new job, the stakes are high and we take it seriously. People fail to realize though that when it comes to meeting their new dog it could be make or break. Whether you just bought a puppy or adopted a rescue, that first day is crucial to setting up your relationship…so seriously, don’t f*ck it up!

Dogs are extremely in tune with energy. They pick up on the tiniest things. I always tell my clients that the first week of owning your new dog they are studying you, observing and assessing your every move, your routines, what you do and how you do it. And what are we typically doing that first week? Constantly fussing over the new dog. Is she happy? Is she comfortable? Does she love me yet?


Needless to say, we surrender all power to the puppy. Instead of embodying calm confidence and making a dog feel safe and secure, we create chaos and excitement. We parade the dog around and invite everyone we know over to come and celebrate the newest addition. This is not only overwhelming to a dog of any age, it’s confusing, intimidating, and down right rude. We are inviting complete strangers over to add to the excitement and infringe on the dog’s intimate space, insisting they hold the dog, pet the dog, talk to the dog, and play with the dog.

Don’t see why it’s such a big deal? Well, imagine yourself in the dog’s shoes. Let’s say you just traveled somewhere you’ve never been before, by yourself and you get picked up by strangers who take you to their home. They are shouting at you in a different language, you don’t understand them, or why they are constantly touching you, and have invited over many people to do the same thing….oh and your naked. That’s the life of a dog!

Now compare that to the experience a brand new puppy would have just left a calm, quiet room, where her mother protects her and her siblings. There are clear rules: when to eat, sleep and play. There are boundaries of where they can and cannot go. There are even limits to how intensely they can play with their litter-mates. There is order in their pack which creates a sense of peace, and their mom is a clear leader for them. She is calm and assertive.


See how completely opposite that is to the life we introduce them to?

All my dogs have been rescues from other countries and I try my absolute best to ensure that they feel safe in their new environment and know the expectations from the start. They may have come from stressful situations, so the easiest way for me to gain their trust and respect is to first show them trust and respect. I make sure to spend one on one time with the dog so we can learn about each other and in the house they have their own space to be left alone. I do not force relationships at the start. It’s like dating, you have to keep some distance to feel each other out at the beginning and then you can grow closer. Most people put all their cards on the table, not allowing the dog room to breathe. That would be like telling someone you love them on a first date as well as listing all your insecurities, deepest secrets and fears and expecting them not to think you’re crazy. That person would take what they wanted and then leave. A dog doesn’t have that luxury. So the dog walks in, takes a step back that first week to assess the environment and everyone in the pack and if there is unbalanced energy and zero structure, that dog will assume no one is in control and therefore take the leadership role.

So if you don’t want to mess up the first day, here’s what you absolutely SHOULD NOT do

  1. Never pet your dog when they are doing a behaviour you do not want. So if it’s barking, jumping, whimpering, or what have you, resist, otherwise you are training your dog to do just that. You get what you pet. So always ask yourself first, how does the dog feel before you pet them.
  2. Don’t let your dog walk all over you…literally. You absolutely must establish boundaries around yourself. Don’t allow the dog to jump on you, lean on you or push you around physically. Dogs only do that to to people and things they don’t respect. Be sure to claim your space and ask your dog to move away from you unless invited in.
  3. Your dog can never pull you on leash. Plain and simple, if the dog is in front they are the leader and you are the follower. Always ensure your dog is walking beside or behind you. This is always easier when you use a proper training tool and start the walk calmly without excitement. If you struggle with this step be sure to contact a trainer who can help or check out my blogs on walking.

So what should you do day 1? My advice to you is simple. Go slow. Be patient. Speak less, listen more. Be a source of calmness not excitement. Give the dog down time to be alone – no one likes to fussed over 24/7. Be clear about rules from day 1. You can always lighten up on rules later, but it’s much harder to be more strict if you’ve already been super relaxed on rules. And that’s why you should never f-up day one!

Good luck…and don’t f*ck it up!

7 Tips to finding the best Puppy Training

Being a puppy parent can often be overwhelming; there are so many decisions to make! What should I feed them? When should I start introducing them to new dogs? What kind of toys should I get them to help with teething?

But one of the biggest and most important decisions to make regarding your new puppy is where to take them for puppy training. Puppy’s brains are like sponges; they soak up all the information around them which is why it is vital that the training you do with them reinforces behaviours that you want and starts them off on the right foot. But with so many different puppy training options out there, how do you choose what is best for you and your puppy? Here are 7 major things to look for when researching training for your puppy.

Class size and trainer to client ratio

  • Small class size is best (7 or fewer puppies per class)
  • More puppies means more excitement, which will hinder you and your puppy’s ability to focus on what is being taught
  • Look for a trainer:client ratio of approximately 1:3
  • More clients per trainer means less one-on-one time between you and your trainer

Cleanliness of the training environment

  • Puppies are more susceptible to illness so it is important the the facility you take your puppy is properly cleaned and sterilized to ensure your puppy’s safety

The facilities ability/willingness to answer your questions beforehand and provide a tour of the facility

  • It is important that any facility you are considering using for training is willing to answer any questions you have prior to signing up for their classes
  • They should also be willing to give you a full tour of their facility so you can get a behind the scenes look

Do you agree with the training method and philosophy?

  • It is important that you are comfortable with what you will be teaching your puppy and how
  • Look on their website or email them to see what method they use (ie. positive reinforcement, dog psychology, etc.) and be sure it aligns with your beliefs

Amount of in-class practice time and hands on instruction

  • Each class should provide about 20 minutes of trainer instruction/demonstration followed by AT LEAST 30 minutes of practice time for you and your puppy
  • There should also be ample one-on-one time with you and the trainer to ensure you are given proper feedback on your technique

Is there additional information provided (ie. handouts, training books, etc.)

  • Training shouldn’t end as soon as each class is done
  • You should be sent home with additional training information on what you have learned in class to be sure you can continue practicing at home

Price isn’t everything!

  • Be aware that sometimes the cheapest option isn’t the best
  • You get what you pay for!
  • Many times, what you are paying for is the trainers experience, so low price point may mean inexperience. If a trainer has put in the work and education, it won’t be cheap to hire them and trust me, that’s a good thing.

So now you know how to find the best training class for you and your pup. What are you waiting for? Training should start right away, so find one and sign up so you can set you and your dog up for success. And if you’re struggling finding one that fits your needs, check out our upcoming Puppy Essentials.


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.


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!


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,


The drive home with your new pup


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,


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’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


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

Claire’s Corner: Finding the right breed

Fun fact – there are currently 190 dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), and even more breeds owned and loved by people around the world that are not yet registered by the AKC. With so many unique breeds to choose from, how can you be sure to pick the right breed for your family and your lifestyle?


The first thing you need to look at is your current lifestyle and activity level. Are you someone who goes for daily runs and weekend hikes? A high energy working breed, such as an Australian shepherd, may be right for you. Conversely, if you prefer to spend your free time lounging on the couch (I relate heavily to this), then maybe a low-energy non-working breed, such as a shih tzu, is your perfect match. Far too many people get a certain breed because of how they look, or because they’ve wanted that specific breed for “as long as they can remember,” but not enough people step back and look at their own lives before making this incredibly important decision. Remember that selecting the wrong breed may have a negative impact on not only your life, but the life of your puppy as well. If you are a low energy person with a relaxed lifestyle and you bring home a high energy border collie, you will likely be left frustrated at a dog that chews your furniture, while the dog is left anxious and unfulfilled. So please be honest with yourself and choose the breed that is best for you and your family now, and not necessarily the breed that you think you want.

Once you have narrowed down your breed selection based on your lifestyle, the next thing that you need to look at is the history of the breed you’re considering. This is a very important step because the original purpose that the dog was bred for can give insight into possible behavioural characteristics your puppy may display. For instance, schnauzers were bred to hunt and kill rodents, a task which often required them to dig and burrow into the ground after their prey. As such, schnauzers have been known to dig a hole or two in their owner’s backyard, especially when they haven’t been given enough exercise. In Sprout’s case, bulldogs were bred to attack and bring down bulls, a trait which sometimes comes out in her play if she gets over-excited. As such, I never let her ‘attack’ any of her toys by shaking them or destroying them and instead use walks as an outlet for this excess energy in order to keep this natural instinct under control. In short, know the history of your chosen breed so you can prepare yourself for possible unwanted behaviours they may display as well as to give you some ideas on ways you can fulfil their breed-specific needs.

The third factor that I believe you should consider when choosing a breed is so simple that it is often overlooked – size! Large breeds like Great Danes and mastiffs don’t make good apartment pets for obvious reasons, but even if you have the living space to accommodate these gentle giants there are still other things to consider. Do you have a large enough car to transport them when they are full grown? Will your family and friends be comfortable with you bringing such a large dog to their homes when you go to visit? Can you afford to feed this size of dog, which will require significantly more food than a medium or small breed? On the other hand, small breeds are great for apartment living and are incredibly easy to travel with, however you need to consider the time of year you are looking at bringing your small breed puppy home. It is incredibly important that you begin walking your puppy from the first day you bring them home (more on this in a later post), however if you were to bring a 2lb Chihuahua puppy home in the middle of January it would be unsafe for a puppy this small to be walked outdoors. As such, if you are thinking of bringing home a small breed puppy, I highly recommend you wait until the spring or summer months to do so in order to be able to safely walk your new fur baby.

The final piece of the puzzle to finding the perfect breed for you involves looking at the potential health risks associated with your chosen breed as well as any grooming requirements they may have. Large breed dogs are often prone to hip dysplasia, while small breed dogs are at a higher risk for heart conditions. On top of this, every breed has their own breed specific health conditions that you should be aware of before purchasing a puppy of your own. Be sure to research not only the possible health conditions associated with your breed of choice, but also the possible cost of treatment for said conditions. Along with breed health comes breed lifespan – a very important factor that is often forgotten about. A puppy is not just a short term commitment; the minute you bring that puppy home you are signing yourself on to be a committed pack leader for the remainder of that dog’s life. It is a large commitment not to be taken lightly, and you should seriously think about how different your life may look a few years down the road. If your small breed dog has a lifespan of 15 years, will you still be in a position to care for that dog that far into the future? If not, that’s what adoption is for! There are a ton of older dogs looking for loving homes just like yours. Along with breed health comes grooming requirements. Grooming can be expensive if you choose to have a professional do it for you, and time consuming if you choose to do it yourself. Be sure to research the grooming requirements of the breed you are thinking of getting, and make sure you have both the time and money to accommodate these needs. I myself knew I wouldn’t have the time to brush my dog’s fur every day, and so the French bulldog’s short and low maintenance coat was perfect for me.

So now you know what to look for when researching your breed of interest, but where is the best place to find this information? The internet is a wonderful place to find information on breeds of all shapes and sizes, however you need to be careful that the facts are legitimate. I recommended visiting several different sites and even reading a few books to ensure the information you are finding is consistent, as well as to look at specific breed club websites (ie. The French Bulldog Club of Canada) as these are often very informative and legitimate. That being said, the best way to really get a feel for what a specific breed is like is not to read about it online, but to see it in person. Once you have done your preliminary research and believe you have found the breed for you, I encourage you to meet as many of them as possible before making your final decision. Just like one very calm and well socialized husky doesn’t mean every husky is low energy, one over-excited French bulldog does not mean they are all bouncing off the walls and impossible to control.

One final note on selecting the right breed for you – not all dogs will fit their breed description perfectly. This means that getting a ‘low-energy’ breed does not mean you don’t have to walk your dog or put any work into training them. Sprout is the perfect example of this. French bulldogs are often described as lazy couch potatoes, but she is a very active girl who requires a fair amount of exercise before her inner couch potato comes out. We have bulldogs at daycare that are more active than some huskies, so be sure to take any breed descriptions you read with a grain of salt and remember that each puppy will have its own unique energy requirements no matter the breed. Do your research, examine your lifestyle carefully and honestly, and choose the breed that will fulfill your life and allow you to fulfill theirs. After all, that’s what having a dog is all about!

Until next week,


Introducing Claire’s Corner

Hey all!
Claire here! I’ve worked at The Dog Haus for a little over a year now, but if you don’t know me yet you will soon! This is my first entry in a series of blogs about raising a puppy right, all from my own first-hand experience raising my newest angel, Sprout. I’ll discuss our successes, our failures, and give you some tips and tricks to make raising your new furry bundle of joy the happy and exciting experience it is meant to be! But first, a little background on myself and my journey here.


Last month I finished my four year animal biology program at The University of Guelph and will be graduating with distinction in just a few weeks. My original intention had been to go to vet school here in Guelph, however my plans changed rather quickly after starting at The Dog Haus. Working with The Dog Haus pack brought forth the realization that I was not meant to fulfill my lifelong passion for helping dogs by healing them physically through veterinary medicine, but rather by using Dog Psychology to
bring them back to their roots and simply let them be dogs again. And so two weeks after finishing my final exams and bringing Sprout home, she and I headed for California to learn from Cesar Milan himself in his Fundamentals I training program. This course was the experience of a lifetime – I learned so much not just from Cesar but from the other wonderful trainers at his facility as well and I am so excited so share some of that knowledge with all of you!

But enough about me, the real star of the show (and the main reason behind these blog posts) is Sprout! She is a four month old French bulldog who is as stubborn as they come but that I love more than life itself. She’s a sweet and spicy, happy go lucky potato who is always up for meeting new friends and doesn’t go anywhere without her stuffed pizza toy. She came to me from a breeder in Hamilton but I had been planning her arrival for months before she was even born, and while it felt like an eternity waiting to bring her home I couldn’t imagine life without her now! I will talk more about how I selected
this breed and Sprout specifically from her litter in coming posts, but for now please enjoy these photos of my wrinkly girl!

I can’t wait to share our journey through puppyhood with you all, and to hopefully give you some advice along the way that will help you raise a balanced, happy puppy!