About Puppy Raising

Wildhaus Kennels May 30 2022 13 min read

There is an old trick to raising a pup and how to be a great house dog. Take a newspaper or magazine, roll it up tightly, and use tape or rubber bands to hold it together in a roll. Then every time your puppy has an accident, chews something he shouldn’t, gets into the trash or kitty box, or anything else you don’t want him to do, take the newspaper and smack yourself in the head with it while repeating “I should have been watching the puppy. I should have been watching the puppy.”

It’s important to remember that puppies are like kids. They don’t come into this world knowing how we want them to act or having any understanding of human expectations and rules. Perfect house dogs aren't born, they are made. Puppies don't get into trouble out of spite or because they are “bad”, but because they just don’t know any better. It is up to us to teach them what we want them to learn. Puppies also have very short attention spans and short-term memory. Correcting the puppy after the fact is useless. He will not associate the correction with what he did a few minutes or an hour ago. He will associate it with what he is doing at the moment the correction comes. Unless you catch the puppy in the act of performing his latest rampage of destruction, there is nothing you can do but clean up the mess and vow to keep a better watch on him next time.

The biggest key to raising a puppy is supervision. Whenever you cannot keep both eyes on what your puppy is doing, put him somewhere that he can’t get into trouble. Crates or small enclosures made with exercise pens are excellent for this. A pup can’t mess on the carpet or chew the dining room chairs if he is confined to a safe area. When your puppy is loose in the house, supervise him carefully. Keep him in the same room with you, so he can’t scamper off and get into mischief. Close the doors, put up baby gates, and maybe even tether him to you using a light leash, in order to accomplish this.

Be aware that puppies are always learning, and it's up to us to make sure that they learn what we want and practice the behaviors that we want, and not what we don't want. Dogs are also creatures of habit. Once they have something in their heads, it can be difficult to break that habit. It is much, much easier to prevent a pup from developing a pattern of unwanted behavior from the start than it is to fix it later. Being proactive and setting the pup up to succeed and practice good behavior, and giving him constant supervision to ensure that he doesn't have the opportunity to develop bad habits, are critical.

It's an excellent idea to sit down as a family before the puppy comes home to decide what the rules will be, and discuss how they will be enforced. Be consistent with the rules, and make sure the entire family cooperates with this. If the family decides that they don’t want the dog to beg while they’re eating or cooking, having one person who always wants to share dinner with the pup will do nothing but confuse the pup and sabotage the rest of the family’s efforts to teach the dog not to beg. Consistency with all family members is very important. Likewise, when making this list of rules do so with an adult dog in mind, not just a puppy. When he’s small and cuddly it may be appealing to snuggle with the pup on the couch while watching TV. But before long he’ll be a full-sized dog. If the idea of an adult GSD on the couch is one you don’t like, then don’t allow him up there when he is young either. It is unfair to change the rules on the dog down the road. He certainly won’t understand why it always used to be ok to get on the furniture, but suddenly now he gets in trouble for it, and you will have a difficult and frustrating time breaking him of this habit down the road.

The old saying about an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure definitely applies to puppies. Be proactive in preventing mishaps by “puppy-proofing” the house as much as possible. Don’t leave anything valuable lying around where the pup can get to it. Use covered containers for the trash. Keep closet, pantry, and cabinet doors closed. Make sure you’re puppy has plenty of toys to play with. Don’t use old shoes, slippers or rolled-up socks as puppy toys. It’s expecting too much to assume that your pup will know the difference between the shoes he can chew, and the expensive new pair you just bought. Buy him his own, unique toys. Help your puppy build good habits by managing the environment to help him be successful in practicing the behaviors you want. Keep special chew toys like bully sticks or knuckle bones on hand for times when you want him to be loose, rather than crated, but also need him to be calm and settled. Such as family TV time in the evening. Teach him to quietly lie on his bed during these times by presenting him with a special, delicious, irresistible chew toy that he can enjoy. Whenever your puppy does grab a hold of something that he shouldn’t have, remove the object he shouldn't have and trade it for one of his toys. Praise him lavishly, and even play with him a bit, when he takes the trade and redirects his attention to his toy. This reinforces for him what he can chew, and what he can’t, and makes chewing his own toys a much more rewarding experience than chewing other things.

Don’t forget to reward good behavior. Often times people get so caught up in the peace and quiet when the puppy is behaving, that they become complacent and forget to reinforce the good behavior that they are enjoying so much. When he's being good, let him know how pleased you are with him at that time. Dogs are social creatures, they crave interaction with their people, and they need feedback in order to learn. Their social nature also means that, in a dog's mind, while good attention is the best thing in the world, bad attention is better than no attention. If we don't praise and pet and talk to our puppies and tell them when they are good, they will often act out solely for the purpose of getting attention from us. Because to them, even being scolded is better than being ignored. When your puppy does do something that is clearly a bid for attention, such as jumping up or barking at you, turn your back on him and ignore him. Try to prevent him from getting any attention or positive reinforcement for that behavior. And then as soon as he settles down again to being a good puppy, make sure you tell him this and reward him for doing so with positive attention. It is certainly ok to give your puppy verbal corrections like "no" for inappropriate behavior, but we need to make sure that his entire puppyhood is filled with more than just a bunch of admonishments. Raising a puppy to be a good house companion is more than just teaching him what we don’t want him to do. We need to teach him what we want him to do as well. When he is performing behavior that you want to encourage, tell him so. Praise him. It doesn’t matter what it is. Going potty outside instead of on the carpet, chewing his toys instead of the remote control, lying contentedly on his bed rather than doing laps around the coffee table… whatever it is, and no matter how small, praise him. This positive feedback from you will go a long way in reinforcing the behavior and ensuring that he keeps it up.

One last point that bears mention is that puppies, just like human toddlers, are prone to becoming absolute heathens when they are either over-tired or over-stimulated. People seem to experience this mostly later in the evening, when their puppy who has been good all day suddenly becomes a rampaging, zooming, mouthing maniac. There is no reasoning with puppies when they are in this state and no amount of offering chew toys or encouraging calm behavior will have any result. They need to be put to bed and, like toddlers, once this happens they will typically be sound asleep in no time. Remember that puppies need a lot of sleep, and many puppies don't get enough of it. Most young puppies just can't stay up as late as many households, and this is especially true in cases where someone is home all day and the puppy has been awake all day and has not had several opportunities for naps. So when your otherwise well-behaved pup has a Jekyll and Hyde moment and turns into a terror, put him in his crate for a nap before you lose your patience. Your puppy, and your sanity, will thank you for it!


Socialization is also imperative with young pups. Take your puppy everywhere and expose him to everything you can think of. Take him for car rides. Take him into stores and walk him down busy streets so he can get used to traffic, noise, and unfamiliar smells and objects. Do your best to get him used to all aspects of everyday life and the world around him, and teach him that the world is a good place, not a frightening one, by exposing him to as many different environments, people, and situations as you can, making sure he has lots of positive, enjoyable experiences outside the home.

If, and how, puppies should be exposed to strange people and dogs is a big topic of debate amongst many dog people. There are advocates of both ends of the spectrum; those who believe puppies should regularly interact with strange people and dogs, be petted by strangers and given treats by strangers, and be afforded opportunities to play with other dogs and those who believe that puppies should never socialize with those outside their family and that merely being around in the presence of nearby people and dogs, but not interacting with them, is sufficient. As with most dog-related topics, our belief is that the best course of action is somewhere in the middle

With regard to people, there are times in a dog’s life (at the vet, at the groomer, being boarded or having a pet sitter when the family is on vacation, and so on) when a dog is going to need to be handled by strangers and it is best that they are introduced to this in a positive way when they are puppies. But owners are wise to manage these situations carefully and ensure that nothing happens where the puppy is made uncomfortable, or outright frightened, by strangers. More than anything else, this means being selective about who is allowed to interact with the puppy and in what manner. There are many well-meaning, but absolutely clueless people in the world, who want to swoop in, bend over a puppy, or even worse grab him and pick him up, and practically rub the fur off of him. Sure, some puppies are completely unphased by this. But many puppies, particularly those of working and herding breeds that tend to be more aloof toward strangers, are offended or intimidated by it. When we think about it from the puppy's perspective, this makes perfect sense. None of us would want some stranger rushing up to us, getting in our personal space and giving us a hug, or patting us on the head when we are simply minding our own business standing in the checkout lane at a grocery store. And we certainly would never, ever allow it to happen to our young children. We shouldn't allow it to happen to our puppies either. It is perfectly ok to just say "NO!" to people out in public who want to pet and fondle our puppies. And we should do exactly that if we feel that the puppy may be made uncomfortable with the interaction.

If we do wish our puppy to interact, and we have judged that the stranger is sensible and not overly pushy and that our puppy would enjoy the interaction, the best way to go about ensuring the pup has a good experience is to ask the person to crouch down a few feet away, and then let the puppy approach the stranger. This is far less intimidating to a puppy than a stranger person towering or bending over them and allows the puppy to be in control of whether or not he wants to interact and the manner in which the interaction happens, and in doing so build confidence. Occasional interactions with people in this manner are great for puppies, but we also don't want our puppies to assume that every time they see a stranger that it is going to be social time and start dragging us over to every single person they see, and maybe eventually barking in frustration when we don't comply. Not only is this annoying for the owner, but once the pup grows it can be downright scary to passersby. We have found that the best way to accomplish a good middle ground here is that when we have our puppies out and about in public, we just walk past and around people but don't interact with them. Instead, we have treats and toys ourselves and interact with our own puppies when other people are nearby. This helps the puppies get used to being around strangers without becoming overly interested in them and allows them to grow into dogs that are used to having strangers around and are unbothered by strangers while at the same time not becoming overly excited in the presence of strangers. Then every now and then when we encounter a person who wants to meet the puppy and that we feel will do so in an appropriate manner and be willing to follow our instructions described above on how to best do so to ensure it is a good experience for the puppy, we allow those interactions. A favorite place for us to take puppies with the express purpose of interacting with strangers is to the vet clinic. We will take our puppies in to walk around, get some pets and treats from a few people, maybe hop up on the scale for a weight, and then we walk back out again. Most of the staff at vet clinics are dog savvy enough to handle this properly and ensure that puppies are scared or overwhelmed, and this has the additional benefit of providing the puppy with good experiences at the vet. If dogs only ever go to the vet to be poked and prodded and manhandled and given shots, it is little wonder many dogs come to hate or fear trips to the vet. But if those bad experiences are countered by lots and lots of good ones where it is just treats and petting and nothing bad happens during puppyhood it is much easier to have a dog who is at least neutral, if not outright happy, to go to the vet.

Exposure to strange dogs is an area where it is even more important to be extremely careful. Just as enough scary experiences of being manhandled by strange people can make a puppy wary or fearful of people, it only takes one or two bad experiences with strange dogs to have the same effect. Many cases of "dog aggression" in dogs are actually rooted in fear due to a puppy being injured, or even just badly frightened, by a strange dog when he was young. And unfortunately, it seems that practically everyone at the park or at the pet store not only feels the need to let their dog run over to the puppy to say hello, but they are also convinced that their dog is good with puppies whether he is or not. My feeling is that unless I know the dog personally and therefore am confident that he is both healthy and well-mannered with puppies, I do not allow any interactions between my puppies and strange dogs. It doesn't take an intolerant or aggressive dog to cause a bad experience for a pup. Merely being bullied by an older, larger puppy or bowled over by a 80lb Labrador that in true Lab fashion is both overly exuberant and oblivious at the same time is enough to terrify a puppy. When it comes to dogs we don't know, we stick with just getting our puppies out and about in public with strange dogs in the background but no interaction. While we do feel it is useful for puppies to have some play and socialization with other dogs, particularly adults who are good at teaching puppies manners and social skills, we keep this limited to dogs in our own home and a few dogs owned by friends and family that we know well. Puppy kindergartens that allow puppy play time can be good experiences for younger puppies too, provided the class is well managed and supervised and the puppies are split into play groups sorted by age, size, and temperament to ensure that the shy puppies aren't overwhelmed by the high energy puppies and the small puppies aren't bullied by the large ones.

When taking your puppy out for socialization, it is important to watch him carefully and learn to read his body language so you can determine if he is ok with what is happening or not. Never assume he is ok because you think he should be, or because in your mind nothing bad has happened. Listen to your puppy and let his comfort level determine what happens. Different dogs have different temperaments and reactions to new things. Many puppies are bold from birth and nothing ever phases them or gives them pause. Others are a bit more cautious, and some are downright fearful. Your pup’s early personality is mostly a product of genetics, but as he grows his experiences will play a more and more important role. Whether he is naturally fearless, fearful, or somewhere in the middle, socialization is never a bad thing. It reinforces the bold behavior of confident pups and helps instill more confidence in those who are naturally more shy or hesitant.

He may not be completely comfortable with everything initially, and that’s ok. He’s just a baby. The world is a huge and unfamiliar place to him and he will look to you for reassurance. Don’t force anything on him. Do things at his pace, and only so much as he is comfortable with. Reward confident behavior with praise and petting. If something does scare him, don't hesitate to go to his rescue and remove him from the situation and help him feel safe and secure so the experience ends on a positive note in his mind. Show him that he can count on you for protection and support in situations that may scare him and this will help him gain confidence that the two of you together can get through anything. Never, ever correct for fearful behavior or force him further into a situation that scares him thinking he will just get over it with more exposure or if nothing "bad" happens. The key to socializing is to ensure that our puppies don't have bad experiences, and to a puppy being scared IS a bad experience. So certainly is any sort of correction. Punishing him for being afraid or unsure is not only unfair to him, it will in fact make it worse by showing him that there indeed is something to worry about and he was right all along to be uncomfortable in this situation. Harsh treatment or punishment for fearful behavior will also teach him that he can’t count on you for guidance and support in a stressful situation.

Young pups are very impressionable, and just as good experiences during this time will help them to become confident, well-rounded adults, traumatic experiences can cause lasting effects as well. So be aware of what is going on around you and use common sense, and avoid any situation or person that might harm him or cause him to feel frightened, stressed, or insecure. Socialize often and make every effort to make socialization as positive as possible, and your pup will grow into a confident, stable companion.

Raising a pup to be an excellent family companion isn’t rocket science, but it isn’t as simple as waiting until he grows up and calms down either. He must be taught what you would have him learn, and this takes a lot of time and patience on your part. In the end, it’s worth it, and keeping these few key points in mind will help get you both through it smoothly.

Be proactive and try to prevent mishaps before they can happen.


Be consistent.

Provide your puppy with feedback; positive as well as negative.

Socialize, socialize, socialize.

Finding A Good Breeder

Wildhaus Kennels May 24, 2022* 24 min read

Updated: Aug 15, 2022

Most characteristics found in dogs, from structure to color, health, and most importantly temperament, are genetic. While the environment can play a part in these things, even how much influence the environment can have is also largely based on genetics. Most health problems are genetic in nature, or at the very least require a genetic predisposition in order to occur. Temperament problems, such as skittishness and inappropriate aggression, are also more often caused by genetics than by past experience. Many people mistakenly assume that fearful and unstable dogs must have been abused or neglected in order to act the way they do. While this is sometimes the case, the unfortunate reality is that more often than not the dog was born that way and how the dog was raised and treated had little, if anything, to do with it.

To put it simply, the importance of good genetics when it comes to ensuring healthy, stable, happy dogs cannot be overstated. This is of course where the breeder comes in. While certainly no one sets out to be a bad breeder or to produce poor quality dogs, many people producing puppies do just that because they are either genuinely ignorant of the steps needed to be a good breeder breeding good dogs, or because they lack the time, money, energy, desire or resources to do so. Fortunately, there are also many good breeders with the knowledge, experience, dedication, ethics, and quality control measures in place to produce exemplary animals.

Of course, when dealing with genetics and living creatures, there are no absolute guarantees. Even the best breeder breeding the best dogs from the best bloodlines, titled and health tested in every possible way, cannot entirely avoid the occasional health or temperament fault. But proper breeding practices can drastically reduce the chances of such problems happening and therefore, one of the most important lessons a future puppy buyer can learn is how to tell the difference between a breeder who is a good, reputable breeder, and one who is not. Educate yourself

The key to finding the right breeder is to first educate yourself. Don't rely on the breeder to educate you any more than you'd rely on a used car salesman to tell you what car to buy. While good breeders are more than happy to teach newcomers, there are many dishonest breeders out there, and without prior knowledge of your own, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to know who to listen to and who to ignore. Especially when you receive different, and often contradictory, information from different sources. Reading books and researching on the internet is a good place to start, but it is only the beginning. The only true way to learn about dogs is to get out and spend time with dogs and gather information from as many different dog enthusiasts and professionals as you can. Visit shows, trials, dog clubs, and training facilities. Talk to vets, breeders, trainers, and owners. Meet as many dogs as you can and talk to as many dog people as you can.

Really put some time and thought into what breed is the right one for you. While we all have certain breeds whose looks we admire and others we find unattractive, the physical package the dog comes in is far less important than its character. Make sure the breed you choose is a good match for your own personality, lifestyle, and goals. Failing to do so is a recipe for disaster. Yet many well-meaning, but uneducated, owners do just that.

For example, many apartment dwellers or people with more sedentary lifestyles seek out small breeds because they believe that a larger dog will have space and exercise needs that they can't accommodate. This can easily end up as a mistake, no matter how well-intentioned, because in fact many small breeds (particularly the terriers and hunting breeds) are very active and energetic, requiring constant attention and stimulation. Whereas there are many large breeds of dogs that are very calm, easy going, and laid back in nature, making them much lower maintenance in the space and exercise department than many smaller breeds.

Spend a lot of time considering your own personality and lifestyle, and how you want a dog to fit into it. Do you want an indoor dog or an outdoor dog? There are very few breeds of dogs that can live quite happily outdoors with limited interaction with people, and most of those few are breeds with specific jobs to perform and who get stimulation and fulfillment from doing those jobs. For most dogs, this sort of lifestyle would result in the development of behavioral problems due to being kept isolated from their families for extended periods of time. How much training can you commit to, and do you have not only the time and inclination but also the resources where you live to properly train your dog? For some dogs, an 8-week companion obedience class and infrequent practice is all that's needed to have a well-mannered pet, while others with higher intelligence, work ethic and need for mental stimulation require frequent training for a lifetime to keep them from developing bad habits out of boredom. Your happiness and the happiness of your dog are contingent upon making a good match, and that starts with making an informed decision about what breed is the right choice for you.

Once you've decided on a breed, research that breed extensively. Learn about the breed's standard, history, and original purpose. Investigate the different health and temperament faults common within that breed. Study the different types within that breed and the mental and physical characteristics of those types. Most modern breeds are divided into different types as a result of decades, and sometimes centuries, of different groups of breeders breeding for different goals. Some breeders breed strictly for show-winning looks, while others work to maintain their breed's functional heritage, and many more breed oftentimes watered-down versions for the mainstream pet market. These different sets of priorities amongst breeders have created such differences in types within breeds that you may well find that one type of your preferred breed is not suitable for you, but another type could work out well.

This huge variance in types is most commonly seen in the working, herding, and hunting breeds that were originally created to serve useful purposes, but are often no longer used for such in modern times. The result is that today there are Labs that wouldn't know what to do if a bird fell on the ground in front of them, Beagles who'd completely ignore a rabbit running by, Huskies who don't like to be outdoors, and German Shepherds and Dobermans who'd run and hide under the bed if a burglar broke into the house. In short, not all dogs of the same breed are created equal and there is huge variance in type. Learn about these different types and decide which is best for you. And again, while some of this can be accomplished through books and websites, really the best way to get a clear idea of what the types are like is to get out and spend time with the dogs.

Be realistic in your decision. While a German Shepherd from a long line of police dogs may sound cool, you may not have the experience or lifestyle to accommodate such a dog. And while it may seem attractive to own a "real Lab" from a pedigree full of serious hunters and field trial champions, you may find that this dog is very different from the Labs you are used to seeing and may not be a good match for you. In the same vein, if you want a Pointer or Retriever or Spaniel and have an interest in hunting or field trial competitions, don't get a dog from conformation or pet bloodlines and instead look for a breeder who works his dogs in those areas and breeds dogs proven to have what it takes to perform those jobs. And if you want to get involved in Schutzhund, look for a GSD or Rottweiler, or Doberman from lines proven to still retain working ability and a breeder who proves this by training and working his dogs. Avoid pet stores, newspapers, and most classified ads.

Everyone is a sucker for cute puppies in the window at a pet store, and unsavory breeders are well aware of this. Pet store puppies do not come from good breeders. No reputable breeder would be so desperate as to sell his puppies to a pet store. Pet store puppies come from large commercial operations, many USDA licensed and regulated, that are designed to produce a great number of puppies at low cost, which is then sold to pet stores who turn around and sell them to the public at exorbitant prices. The dogs unlucky enough to find themselves in such operations are often subjected to deplorable housing conditions, insufficient diet, exercise, and medical care, and live their lives being treated as commodities whose only purpose is to produce as many puppies as they can in the quickest and cheapest manner possible. Health and temperament testing of breeding stock and puppies is non-existent. Thus, the quality of these dogs is subpar. Sometimes these dogs are purebreds, sometimes they are mixed breed "designer dogs" under cute or fancy names like Teddy Bear, Puggle, Daisy Dog, and of course the ever-present Doodle, often with price tags far in excess of puppies from responsible breeders. These are mutts and if a mutt is what you want, please visit your local shelter and save a life. Don't support such irresponsible, money-hungry breeding practices.

Puppies advertised for sale in the newspapers and in most online classifieds such as Craigslist, Kijiji, and Hoobly, and even some dog-specific online advertising websites, are more often than not the result of someone putting two dogs together for all the wrong reasons, with little thought as to the consequences. These puppies may or may not be good dogs with good temperaments, but if they are it is luck, not planning. Someone mating the two family pets or setting up a date between their bitch and the dog down the street is not likely to put the time and money into researching pedigrees, screening the dogs for genetic defects and temperament faults, and overall ensuring that such a mating is beneficial to the breed as a whole. They may or may not even put the time and money into the proper care of the dam and of the puppies. Typically such "backyard breeders" as they are often called don't mean any harm, they are simply ignorant of what being a good breeder entails, but nevertheless, this lack of understanding, experience, and effort to preserve the breed can severely compromise the quality of the pups.

Don't be fooled by "AKC Registered" and "Champion Bloodlines."

Many breeders promote their dogs as AKC Registered, and in fact, many poor breeders use this as their primary marketing technique, implying that "AKC Registered" is a stamp of quality. Reality is nothing can be farther from the truth. All that is required for puppies to be registered is that both parents be registered purebreds of the same breed. That's it. No health or temperament testing is required and the parents don't have to even meet their breed standard with regard to size, color, structure, coat type, or anything else. There is nothing to stop a breeder from breeding animals that are poor representatives of their breed in every way, registering the puppies and selling them as "AKC Registered."

To make things even more confusing, while AKC papers are not indicative of quality dogs or breeding practices, a lack of AKC registration is an even bigger "red flag". While AKC is not the breeding police and is merely a purebred registry, it is also the ONLY purebred registry in the US that is truly legitimate and internationally recognized. If a breeder is advertising puppies that are not AKC registered, as the buyer you must be even more skeptical. The dogs may not be AKC registered because they are not eligible for it due to documented ancestry, which may be caused to question their heritage and even purebred status. Or it may be that the breeder is not eligible to register litters with AKC due to a lack of record keeping, questionable ethics, or previous violations of AKC's policies. In either case, this is probably a breeder to be avoided. Don't be fooled by the other, illegitimate registries that abound such as the Continental Kennel Club, Dog Registry of America, Federal Kennel Club, American Purebred Registry, American Canine Association.. and the list goes on. There is no shortage of questionable registries for breeders who have been suspended from AKC or whose dogs don't qualify for AKC registration. No matter what excuse a breeder gives for using any one of these rather than AKC, don't believe it.

The only other registries in the US that would be considered truly legitimate are the United Kennel Club (UKC) and the American Rare Breed Association (ARBA). Many breeders, particularly those who participate in a lot of performance events and confirmation showings, will dual register their dogs with AKC and UKC in order to take advantage of UKC's extensive showing and trialing opportunities. But in those cases, a legitimate breeder will have dogs registered with both organizations. The only exception is if this is a rare breed that is recognized by UKC or ARBA but not yet by AKC.

Another common marketing technique is to say a dog is from "Champion Bloodlines". That doesn't mean the puppies, or even their parents, are of any sort of quality. Any purebred dog, including ones who look and act nothing like they're supposed to, can trace its roots back to a few Champions and probably has a couple within the first few generations of its pedigree. Quality is easily lost when breeders don't make it a priority, and unless the subsequent generations between those "Champions" and the current litter have been produced by conscientious, responsible breeders working to improve their bloodlines, having those champions in the pedigree means nothing. Good breeders are involved in dogs beyond just breeding puppies.

This is the easiest way to discriminate between those who may be serious breeders worth looking into further, and those just pumping out puppies from the family pets to make some money. If the breeder just breeds, but never trains or titles or shows his dogs, walk away. Good breeders study their breed and are involved in their breed as a whole. They will be known within their breed's community because they get out and participate. They train and title their dogs in some venues. What that venue is of course will depend on the individual breeder's interests, chosen bloodline, and goals. Someone who is into show lines is going to show his dogs and put conformation championships on them. Someone into the hunting lines of any of the Sporting or Hound breeds will hunt his dogs or participate in field trials. Someone who is into working lines of any of the Working or Herding breeds will compete in activities like Schutzhund or herding or may utilize dogs in Search and Rescue or Law Enforcement.

Breeders being involved in their breed outside breeding is vitally important. First, it shows a true love of their breed and dedication to their breed, not just a desire to line their pocketbooks from puppy sales. Secondly, it helps ensure the quality of the lines by providing a venue through which breeding stocks are tested and objectively evaluated to see how they measure up against a set standard and against other representatives of the breed. Third, it allows breeders a way to network with other breed enthusiasts, sharing information about pedigrees, health histories, training methodologies, and every other breed-related topic imaginable.

It also demonstrates a breeder's competence. Being successful in his chosen venue not only proves that the dogs have what it takes, but it proves that the breeder has what it takes as well. He hasn't just read about it in a book or on a website or talked to someone who's done it. He's done it himself. He knows what sort of dog is needed to succeed, and knows how to raise and train dogs. This arms him with a great deal of important knowledge that comes into play when selecting breeding dogs and planning matings to produce dogs who have what it takes to be successful and then develop those dogs properly. This knowledge and experience on the part of the breeder is very important to the potential customer as such breeders can not only help the customer select the right dog but are also better prepared to offer advice and support to the customer throughout the dog's life.

If you are looking for a dog to perform a specific task, find a breeder who specializes in that type of dog and participates in similar activities. If you want a hunting dog, find a breeder who hunts or competes in field trials with his dogs. If you want to get involved in dog shows, look for someone who shows his dogs. If you want an obedience dog, find a breeder who competes in obedience trials with his dogs. If the breeder has no experience in the activity for which he claims to be breeding dogs, look elsewhere.

Good breeders are breeding for a purpose, and to preserve their breed.

Look for breeders who are breeding for a purpose. Ask the breeder straight out what are the goals of his breeding program. If the breeder cannot answer this question or does so merely by waxing sentimental about what a wonderful dog he has, keep looking. There are a lot of nice dogs in the world, but that doesn't mean that they should be bred. Good breeders do not breed just to produce puppies and make money, nor do they breed for purely sentimental reasons. They breed out of love; not just the love of their own dogs, but for their breed as a whole. And they demonstrate this devotion by having long-term goals for their breeding program and carefully planning each breeding to further these goals and preserve the integrity of their chosen breed.

Ask the breeder what the faults of his dogs are. We're all happy to talk about our dogs' good points, but the bad points are often another thing entirely. Many breeders will openly berate the dogs from other bloodlines or breeders, but will not discuss or are completely oblivious to the faults in their own dogs. Kennel blindness is common in the dog world. The fact is no dog is perfect and every dog has faults. Thus, the goal of a good breeding program is not to produce the perfect dog, as there is no such thing, but to create the least imperfect dogs. It is a constant battle to lessen the faults and compensate for them, while at the same time strengthening and maintaining the good things. When looking at a particular breeding or puppy, ask the breeder what the goals for that particular mating are. Why was that particular stud chosen for that particular bitch? A good breeder will be able to tell you how the dogs complement each other, the positive traits of each dog that he hoped to bring out in the breeding, and the negatives that he hoped to minimize.

Good breeders health screen their dogs.

Every breed of dog has common health problems that are genetic within that breed. Some breeds have a greater or lesser number or frequency compared to other breeds or are prone to genetic health problems that are more or less severe in terms of impact on quality of life. But the bottom line is that every breed, and every type and bloodline within every breed, has some. Good breeders work hard to try to prevent these issues, but you can't determine if a breeder is doing that or not if you don't know what those health problems are and how they can be minimized. So again, education is key. Educate yourself regarding the genetic health concerns of your chosen breed, and ask the breeder what he is doing to prevent them in his dogs. If the breeder claims his breed or bloodlines are 100% healthy and there are no problems... run away. It sounds too good to be true, and it is. Any breeder making that claim is either outright dishonest or isn't seeing it simply because he isn't bothering to look.

The first step any responsible breeder takes is to have his breeding stock health tested to ensure that each individual dog is free of genetic health problems. What health testing is appropriate of course depends on the individual breed, what health problems to which it is prone, and what type of health testing is available. Again, having researched your chosen breed beforehand is important, as that is the only way you can be aware of what health problems are prevalent in that breed, and thus know what questions to ask breeders.

It is not feasible, or even possible, for a breeder to screen for every existing genetic defect within a breed. No testing exists for many of these problems, and while a test may exist for a specific health disorder, if that disorder is uncommon or non-existent within the breed or bloodlines the breeder is using, it would be unrealistic to expect the breeder to screen for it. But obviously, whenever possible, the breeder should screen his breeding dogs for disorders common to the breed and bloodlines and should make the results available to customers. Don't take the breeder's word for it that he has health screened his dogs. Ask for proof and do your own research, such as verifying OFA certification claims on the OFA website (www.offa.org).

Also be aware that while health screening can reduce the incidence of health problems by removing affected dogs from the gene pool, all the health screening in the world cannot eliminate problems entirely. Most genetic health problems are not only recessive, but also polygenic and multi-factorial, and some even require environmental triggers to occur. This means that bad genes can remain hidden for generations, and then one day suddenly appear when just the right combination comes along. Good breeders work to minimize these chance occurrences by studying the pedigree and genetic history of their dogs. Researching the traits, good and bad, found in ancestors and other close relatives can provide some insight into what genes may remain hidden within a bloodline, and in turn, allow breeders to select breeding partners in an effort to further reduce the likelihood of any problems coming to the surface.

Breeders and owners alike also must accept the fact that if we eliminate from breeding not only all dogs who have health problems but also all dogs who have relatives with health problems (and thus may carry the genes for those health problems themselves) we'd have no dogs left to breed. Thus, even the best, most conscientious breeder who has done everything humanly possible to reduce the risk of health problems will produce a puppy with a health problem from time to time. This is an unfortunate reality when dealing with living creatures. Most good breeders offer health warranties on their puppies for just this reason, and should an issue arise they will offer some sort of compensation to the customer, even though they did all they could to prevent it. The actual wording and stipulations of warranties vary from breeder to breeder, but the point is that the breeder is willing to stand behind his dogs and is confident enough to do so.

Good breeders don't just answer questions, they also ask them.

It goes without saying that a good breeder should happily and openly answer any questions a prospective customer may have. Whether the questions are about the breed in general, health testing, temperament testing, training, housebreaking, or any other topic, the breeder should provide clear answers. The breeder should also gladly provide references for past clients and others who have experience with him and his dogs, and encourage you to contact those references. A breeder who dodges questions or dances around subjects should be treated with suspicion. What is he hiding? And it also goes without saying that a breeder who is unwilling to answer questions and help educate a potential customer before a sale certainly isn't going to be willing to offer long-term advice or support to customers after the check has cleared.

But the really good breeders go beyond just answering questions from potential customers; they ask a lot of questions of their own. Don't be put off if the breeder asks you as many if not more, questions than you ask him. Good breeders feel responsibility for their puppies. They not only want to ensure that their pups go to responsible owners who will provide the pup with the best of care, but they also want to make sure that the pup and owner are a good match in personality. Just as it's important to the customer to determine if the breed, type, bloodline, and individual pup is right for him, it's important for the breeder to determine if the home is right for the pup. Screening potential buyers and asking a lot of questions is the best thing a breeder can do to ensure that not only is the customer happy with his purchase, but the puppy has gone to the best possible home.

Other things to look for and questions to ask.

To ensure you get a pup who's a good match for you, find out how the breeder goes about selecting puppies for customers. There is much more to puppy selection than the customer handing the breeder a check and the breeder handing the customer a puppy. At least there should be. Good breeders put a lot of time into puppy selection. They interview their customers to determine what type of puppy would suit them best, and select puppies for customers accordingly based on their knowledge of the dogs and bloodlines, daily observations of the puppies, and frequently some form of puppy aptitude and personality test.

Few good breeders will let customers select their own pups, or if they do it will be from just a couple of possible candidates, not the entire litter. No matter what a customer experiences, he is not going to be able to observe a puppy for a few minutes, or even a few hours, and know as much about the puppy's individual personality as the breeder who has been observing the pup daily since birth. The breeder's experience and more thorough knowledge of the puppies as well as the bloodlines behind them makes the breeder better able to select the pup that fits the criteria given by the customer, and in this way, the customer gets the pup that is the best for him and his own goals and situation.

If you find what looks to be a good breeder locally, contact him and request a visit. Ask to see all his dogs, particularly the parents of any puppies you are interested in. It is not always possible to see the sire, as many breeders breed their bitches out to outside studs, but you should certainly be able to meet the dam. Watch the dogs carefully for any signs of temperament problems. Temperament is the result of both genetic and environmental factors, and as the puppies spend so much time with the dam during their early development she will have a bigger impact on their future personalities than the sire will. Avoid purchasing a puppy from a breeder whose dogs show any kind of fear or shyness, skittish behavior, or unprovoked aggression. Some barking and such behavior when you first arrive is of course to be expected, and if the bitch already has her puppies she may be more on guard and suspicious of strangers than normal. However, the dogs, including the dam, should tolerate your presence and be approachable by adults and children alike when the breeder is present. Not all dogs are overly friendly and outgoing and will engage a complete stranger in a game of fetch. Some are more aloof and standoffish, and depending on breed and what the dog is bred for this is not necessarily a bad thing. However, even aloof dogs should allow themselves to be calmly petted and should show no shyness, skittishness, or resentment. Regardless of the purpose for which you intend to use your dog, good temperament is always a priority. A dog that is confident, curious, stable, and approachable is always a good thing.

When at the breeder's, also take a look at the overall setup of the facility. Whether the dogs are house dogs, kennel dogs, or some of both, take note of their living situation. Are things clean, or is there dog poop all over everything? Do all the dogs appear healthy and happy? Are they well fed, well-exercised, and do they have access to fresh water? Ask the breeder what food he feeds; is it a quality commercial or homemade diet, or cheap poor quality kibble? Just because a breeder takes excellent care of his dogs doesn't necessarily mean that he will put the same time and effort into his puppies, but if a breeder doesn't take good care of his dogs it's a sure bet he won't with the puppies either. If the breeder does have a litter of puppies when you visit, ask to see them. Pay special attention to the area where the puppies are kept to ensure that they are in a safe and clean environment. Keeping the puppy area clean is not only important in terms of health but is vitally important to success in future housebreaking.

Ask the breeder how his puppies are socialized. Are they just kept in a kennel with mom and their littermates until they are old enough to go to their new homes? They shouldn't be. Early socialization is very important for puppies. The breeder should make sure that the pups are handled by people daily. This socialization with people shouldn't just be limited to the breeder himself and the pups should also be exposed to strange people, adults and children alike, as well as strange sounds, smells, objects, and surroundings. In fact, when you first ask to see the litter beware of any breeder who hesitates to show them to you, as a good breeder will happily jump at the chance for some extra puppy socialization. The more early socialization a young pup gets, the more outgoing and confident he will be as an adult.

And finally, find out what kind of long-term support the breeder provides to his customers. A good breeder will ask that you keep in touch, and provide photos and updates as to how the puppy is doing. He will make sure you know how to contact him should you have any questions or concerns with the pup, even years down the road. And he will be happy to answer those questions. A good breeder will offer that if ever, at any time, you are unable to keep the puppy, he will take it back and either keep it himself or find a good home for it. Many breeders will even put such stipulations in their sales contracts in order to ensure that they know where all their puppies are at all times. Someone who is willing to do this shows that his concern for the pups goes beyond raising them until 8 weeks old and then sending them off. A good breeder is concerned with the welfare of his puppies for their entire lives, not just until they leave his kennel.

But I just want a pet!

Few people would rush out and buy a car or a house without taking their time to research and shop around and make a sound decision. Yet every day many people do just that when it comes to bringing into their home a living, feeling animal to be a member of their family for the next 10-15 years. Some start off on the right track doing their research only to find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information out there, the differing opinions on breeds and bloodlines, not to mention the fancy breeder advertisements and websites all claiming to have the best dogs in the world. Often times this bombardment of what seems like way too much information makes potential new dog owners just throw up their hands in frustration and go out and grab the first cute puppy they come across. Many others feel that because they just want a pet, not a show dog or a performance dog, all those titles and certificates don't matter. Especially when they see the prices of pups from such breeders as compared to what they can find in their local newspaper.

But those things DO matter. They serve a purpose far beyond bragging rights or higher puppy prices. They serve to prove the quality of the dog and its genetics. Do pet owners not deserve quality dogs? Is a dog of sound health and temperament not important to a pet owner? I would argue those things are every bit as important to a pet owner as they are to someone with big aspirations of trophies and ribbons. Perhaps even more so when one takes into consideration the fact that a pet owner may not have the knowledge, experience or resources to properly recognize and cope with health issues or temperament-related behavioral problems.

Sure, well-bred dogs cost more. Sometimes significantly more. There are a lot of costs, not to mention time and energy, involved in good breeders doing what they do. No one would expect to get a BMW quality car for a Yugo price, and the same applies to dogs. Dogs are no different than anything else, and in many ways, you get what you pay for. And while a quality pup from a good breeder may cost more initially, that cheaper pup from a questionable breeder may turn out to be much more expensive in the long run. One can easily rack thousands of dollars in vet bills for health problems or private training fees for behavioral/temperamental problems, not to mention the emotional heartache and stress that comes with an unhealthy or unstable dog. And while such problems are still possible even in well-bred pups, all the effort good breeders put into their breedings makes these things significantly less likely to occur.

The importance of health testing should be abundantly clear to anyone, regardless of whether or not they want a pet, competition dog, or show champion. But let's look at titles, as this is the area that many people looking for family pets feel is unimportant in relation to their goals. After all, what bearing do performance titles on the breeding stock have on a pup's suitability for family life?

To understand this, we must first understand the purpose titles serve and that that purpose extends far beyond proving an individual dog can be trained to perform a specific set of behaviors. Achieving a title requires the trainer to spend a huge amount of time training and working with that dog in a variety of different situations and environments. All that equates to the trainer really, really getting to know that dog well. Through this training, the trainer gains a much more comprehensive understanding of the dog's drives, nerves, and temperament than can be obtained through any other means. The stress of training, travel, and competition, of going to new places and being surrounded by strange dogs and people, may bring to light temperament and nerve faults that would otherwise remain hidden when the dog is at home in familiar surroundings.

Training and working their dogs allows breeders to gather intimate knowledge of each dog's individual personality and its true ability to do what it's bred to do. This is a depth of knowledge about the dog that can never be obtained if the dog just lies on the couch and putters about the house or lives in a kennel all day. And it is invaluable to deciding whether or not a dog is worth breeding in the first place, and then selecting the right mate for the dog.

Shows and competitions also provide excellent third-party evaluations of the dogs, both objectively compared to the standard and subjectively compared to other representatives of the breed. They test the dog's structure, temperament, nerves, and trainability in ways that would never be done if the dog never left the breeder's property. Even if all you are looking for is a family pet and you have no plans to ever show or compete with your dog, this is very important. The pup need not be a top show or performance prospect, but the sound temperament that comes with generations of breeding-only dogs who are thoroughly tested in this area is of great importance, even for people who want "just a pet".

Can good dogs come from bad breeders? Of course, they can. The most ignorant, careless, and irresponsible person will succeed on occasion just due to chance. Just as a broken clock is still right twice a day. Can bad dogs come out of good breeders? Yes. Even the most careful, conscientious, and responsible efforts will sometimes fail due to chance. But getting a dog from a good breeder certainly loads the odds in the buyer's favor.

If you find yourself determined to get a dog, but the effort or expense of getting a pup from a good breeder is out of reach, please, PLEASE visit your local shelter or contact your local rescue. The genetic gamble of health and temperament issues in a dog of unknown origin from a shelter or rescue is no greater than that in a dog from poor breeding, but at least in that case your hard-earned dollars would go to a good cause and save a life instead of supporting irresponsible breeding

For more information about the different aspects of temperament, the importance of temperament testing for breeding stock, and how genetic temperament impacts a dog's ability to serve both as a working partner and a trustworthy home companion, this excellent article provides insightful further reading: The Elements of Temperament by Joy Tiz.

How Hot Is Too Hot? Heatstroke in Dogs

Key Points:

  • Heatstroke can saddle your dog with serious health problems.

  • The most common cause of heatstroke is confining a dog to an enclosed car.

  • Use cool, but not ice-cold, water to reduce your dog’s body temperature.

Dogs are notoriously bad at dissipating body heat. Watch for early signs of heatstroke (also known as hyperthermia) in your dog to avoid serious outcomes.

What Is Heatstroke?

Signs to Watch Out For

Why Does Heatstroke Occur?

  • Breed: Heatstroke can be seen in all breeds, but may be more likely in certain breeds, including longhaired and brachycephalic (short-nosed) dogs.

  • Age: Very young dogs, as well as older dogs, are more susceptible.

  • Physical fitness: Dogs that are out of shape are vulnerable when they exert a great deal of energy in excessively hot surroundings.

  • Weight: Overweight and obese dogs are more likely to suffer.

  • Medical disorders: Hypothyroidism, cardiac disease, and laryngeal paralysis also contribute to heatstroke.

  • Environment: The most common cause of heatstroke in dogs is confinement in a closed car. The ambient temperature inside a closed car can become dangerously high in a matter of minutes, and the results can be fatal. Other causes of heatstroke can include being confined in an exercise pen without fresh water in direct sunlight and dogs left in cages for an extended period of time with cage dryers unchecked.

  • Water: Restricted access to water can cause overheating, as can not drinking enough water.

  • Acclimation: Sudden change to a warmer climate can cause heat stress.

How to Treat Heatstroke

Heatstroke therapy involves immediately trying to lower the dog’s body temperature. If you notice signs of heatstroke in your dog, it’s critical to stop any activity and help your dog cool down by:

  • Walking or carrying the dog to a well-ventilated, cool area

  • Spraying or sponging the dog with cool (not cold) or tepid water, especially on the underside. Do not immerse the animal in cold water.

  • Using a fan to blow cool air on them.

If you have a rectal thermometer, you should take your dog’s temperature. According to Dr. John Hamil, DVM, if the temperature is less than 105 degrees F, you should still consider this an emergency and immediately take your dog to your veterinarian. If the temperature is higher than 105 degrees F, try to cool the dog down, and after a few minutes, retake the temperature. Don’t reduce the temperature below 103 degrees F, because the temperature may descend to critical levels.

Bring your dog to your veterinarian as soon as the temperature reaches 103 degrees F or if you are unable to reduce the temperature significantly. Severely affected dogs require fluids, medication, support, and oxygen. Complications may not occur immediately, so it’s important to let your veterinarian determine the type of follow-up treatment required.

Prevention Is the Best Medicine

Immediate action and correct treatment are so important because they can mean the difference between a swift and complete recovery and long-term complications. Some veterinarians also advise that once a dog has experienced heatstroke, it is more likely to reoccur.

Our dogs live to please us, and if we ask them to jog or hike or play catch, they’ll do it with enthusiasm, even on the hottest days. So it’s up to you to keep the weather in mind and limit the time your dog exercises in the heat. Choose cooler times of day for play or training sessions.

Always provide plenty of cool fresh water, shade, and frequent rest periods when it’s hot. And never leave your dog in the car. They may miss you, but they’ll be better off waiting for you at home.

Heatstroke in dogs is life-threatening and can also result in very serious complications. Recognizing early signs of heatstroke may help you remedy the condition before things get too serious.

Early signs of heatstroke include heavy panting and rapid breathing, excessive drooling dry mucous membranes, bright red gums, and tongue, skin that’s hot to the touch, and a higher heart rate. Affected dogs become hyperactive and may have difficulty maintaining balance.

As exposure to excessive heat goes on, the dog’s condition worsens and includes signs of shock, pale mucous membranes with white or blue gums, a very rapid heart rate, and a drop in blood pressure. The dog hyperventilates, and dehydration becomes more severe. Pupils dilate, the pulse becomes more irregular, and the dog has muscle tremors. They may become lethargic and unwilling to move, urinate or defecate uncontrollably, collapse, and become comatose.

When a dog’s internal body temperature goes above a normal temperature of 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit (F), this is a fever and is called hyperthermia. When the body temperature is above 105 degrees F, the dog may be suffering from heatstroke.

Dogs have only a couple of ways to cool off—blood vessel expansion and panting. When dogs pant, they evaporate moisture from their tongues, nasal passages, and the lining of their lungs, and this cools them down as air passes over the moist tissue. They also cool off via vasodilation. Blood vessels, especially in the ears and face, expand, bringing overheated blood closer to the surface to cool down.

The bottom surfaces of paws can sweat, but not enough to make a difference. “Heatstroke usually occurs when high ambient temperature overcomes the dog’s ability to dissipate heat. The degree of damage is determined by how high a body temperature is reached and how long the animal is exposed,” says Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer for the AKC.

Heatstroke generally occurs during the hottest part of the year, especially when it is humid. Contributing factors include:

Unleashing the Benefits of Feeding Dogs Raw Food

As pet owners, we constantly strive to provide the best nutrition for our furry companions. While traditional commercial pet foods have long been the go-to choice, an increasing number of dog owners are turning to raw food diets as a natural and beneficial alternative. Feeding dogs raw food, often referred to as a raw or "species-appropriate" diet, offers numerous advantages that can enhance their overall health and well-being. In this article, we will explore the benefits of feeding dogs raw food and why it is gaining popularity among pet owners worldwide.

  1. Improved Digestive Health: One of the primary benefits of feeding dogs raw food is that it promotes excellent digestive health. Raw diets typically consist of raw meat, bones, organs, and vegetables, which more closely mimic the diet of their wild ancestors. This biologically appropriate diet is easier for dogs to digest, as it contains natural enzymes and nutrients in their raw and unaltered state. As a result, many dogs experience reduced instances of food allergies, gastrointestinal issues, and improved stool quality.

  2. Enhanced Nutritional Profile: Raw food diets offer a superior nutritional profile compared to heavily processed commercial dog foods. Fresh, unprocessed meats and organs provide dogs with essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats that contribute to optimal health and vitality. Additionally, feeding raw bones helps support dental health by naturally cleaning teeth and preventing dental disease. Customizing the diet to suit specific dietary needs and preferences of individual dogs is also possible with raw feeding, ensuring they receive the appropriate balance of nutrients.

  3. Increased Energy and Vitality: Proponents of raw food diets often report that their dogs exhibit increased energy levels and vitality. This can be attributed to the absence of artificial additives, preservatives, and fillers commonly found in commercial pet foods. Raw food diets promote overall well-being by providing dogs with wholesome, nutrient-dense ingredients that support their natural physiological functions. Many dog owners notice improvements in their pet's coat quality, muscle tone, and overall stamina when switching to a raw food diet.

  4. Weight Management and Healthy Body Composition: Maintaining a healthy body weight is crucial for a dog's overall health and longevity. Raw food diets can help with weight management as they often contain fewer carbohydrates and higher protein content than commercial pet foods. This macronutrient balance promotes lean muscle development while reducing the risk of obesity. Additionally, raw food diets can be easily customized to meet the individual needs of dogs with weight-related concerns, making it an effective tool for maintaining healthy body composition.

  5. Potential Allergy Relief: Food allergies and sensitivities are common in dogs, leading to various issues such as skin irritations, itchiness, and digestive problems. Commercial pet foods often contain common allergens such as grains, artificial additives, and fillers. Switching to a raw food diet eliminates these potential triggers and can alleviate allergy symptoms in many cases. By feeding dogs a diet consisting of wholesome, hypoallergenic ingredients, pet owners often witness significant improvements in their dog's overall well-being.

Conclusion: Feeding dogs raw food offers a range of benefits that contribute to their overall health, vitality, and happiness. With improved digestion, enhanced nutrition, increased energy, weight management support, and potential allergy relief, it's no wonder why many pet owners are embracing raw food diets for their four-legged companions. As always, it's essential to consult with a veterinarian or a qualified animal nutritionist before transitioning your dog to a raw food diet to ensure a balanced and complete nutrition plan that meets your pet's specific needs. By nourishing our dogs with a species-appropriate diet, we can help them thrive and enjoy a healthier, more vibrant life.