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Choosing a puppy? First choose the breeder!




 From my experience of my own dogs as well as my client’s pets, I been aware for many years that puppies reared indoors, by a family that has a lot of interaction with the litter, are best prepared to adapt and adjust more easily to life, when taken from the litter and placed in their new home. By living in a busy household from birth, the puppy is exposed to all the household noises, smells and paraphernalia of family life. Stop and think about how much goes on within the 4 walls of a family home, notice the sounds of children playing, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, music, PC games, TV and an endless list of incidentals. Imagine coming into this environment, if your only experience of life had been in an outdoor kennel with access only to a run or at best a field?

 

It is far more common for smaller breeds to be raised indoors, yet all breeds need this exposure early in life, and the science backs this up.

Many good breeders also breed outdoors as rearing large puppies indoors can be a challenge as they get passed 5 weeks, but a good breeder will be sure to expose the puppies to proper socialisation, whereever they are housed.

 

The social experiences a puppy is exposed to in weeks 4 to 7 of life are the most “bang for your buck” in a puppies’ life. The reason for weeks 4 to 7 being so powerful is that the puppies first developmental fear phase kicks in any time 5 to 7 weeks, it is assumed that puppies whose fear phase arrives later, say nearer 7 weeks, have time to absorb more life experiences, before the puppy has any awareness of fear. Ensuring that all they experience, within reason, will be accepted as a normal part of life by the puppy.



 

This fact places a greater importance on the breeder exposing the litter as much as possible to social experiences, people other dogs, new environments and other species, when possible, this will ensure the puppies well prepared for life.

In their new home the work must continue. This period of easy acceptance of new experiences (handled positively) lasts until around 16 weeks, by introducing the puppy to as much of life as possible, the puppy is much more accepting of all new experiences, over time it will become more challenging to introduce new environments and events.

 

Handled sympathetically, new experiences create a small amount of stress for the puppy each time, through gentle repetitions of small amounts of stress the puppy will develop the ability to cope with more stress and this leads to a better adjusted adult dog. Through this exposure and education we can create a puppy with a rounded personality, one that has gained the confidence and coping mechanisms to adapt to life.

 

There is a huge burden on breeders to produce healthy puppies with excellent temperaments, it is such an important job, not one that should be undertaken lightly without research. Please support the good breeders by doing your research before deciding where to buy your puppy, are the parents healthy and of a good temperament, is the breeder aware of the need for socialisation in the litter? A healthy puppy reared with correct socialisation in the litter will make your life so much easier. Once you have your puppy home your work begins, before 16 weeks to expose your puppy as much as possible to life and to establish what you don’t want as much as what you do want. For example, we want them to meet new people, but not to greet everyone they see in the street if you don’t want them to approach everyone when adult! Likewise other dogs!

Your job does not finish there of course, your puppy will not be an adult until at least 2 years of age, but by building these early great foundations, the ongoing training will be much more fun for you, and your dog!

 

 

References: Jessica Hekman www.thedogzombie (for more support for breeders)

Genetics and the Social Behaviour of the dog Scott & Fuller

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