After over 40 years of breeding, you learn a lot! Research and interfacing with other breeders all add important feedback BUT I would have to say most of my learning has come from “watching” the litters. Dozens of them over the years, different breeds YET all the same in the way the mother looks after them, the way they mature, and the way they start to develop a personality.
After observing over and over again I started to develop my personal plan for raising all types of pups to their fullest potential. This includes the runts, the over aggressive ones, the timid ones. My opinions formulated while watching and encouraging development within the litter.
I have taken a lot of flack from breeders who proudly announce that their pups are handled continuously from birth. I doubt you will find many breeders who raise pups the way I do.
You often hear statements like, “raised with the kids and grandkids”, exposed to seven (don’t’ know why that is the magical number) surfaces and so on and so on. Most breeders brag about handling their pups from the moment they are born, not just checking them out BUT handling them all day long. They further go on the tell me that their pups are so used to being held all evening that they are nice and “cuddly” when buyers come and that makes everyone happy.
To me this only produces a dog that turns out to be “needy” and only secure when the human is nearby or holding it. This pup has not been encouraged to develop within the litter and that means learning to get along with all types of personalities within the litter. My runts are feisty, my shy ones come out into their own, aggressive ones have a few run-ins with the group and learn that is not how to play.
By contrast the excessively handled pup goes home, next day off goes the family to work and school, what effect do you think this total lack of “over” handling suddenly stopped has on a pup?
Well, I never met a puppy that didn’t love a child or any human for that matter so why the rush to expose a pup to the premature handling by a human? Does it not seem more consistent in the integrating of the pup to be able to set a schedule according to your life style? One that the pup will instantly get used to and be happy with, thus minimizing the stress of adjustment and even minimize the crying!
I am a professional breeder. Big difference between “mom/pop,” puppy mill, and casual breeding. I take this very seriously. Pedigrees are researched and dogs are bred with the intent of producing the best puppies I can. Medical research and testing is constant.
I keep the numbers small so every dog can spend time with me. From the moment a dog comes into season she is inside the house to prevent harassment within the group and an unplanned breeding. If bred she is there until the pups are weaned. This is one of the reasons my retired moms make such great house dogs later in life.
They are so used to house activities and rules they adjust quickly and easily into another home. Every dog is on a rotation of bathing/grooming, clipping on a two week turnaround. This is done to maintain the continuous good health of the dog and again spend personal one to one time with each dog. My dogs are not caged or housed in individual runs. Instead, they live in groups in a large sectioned, temperature controlled dog house. Each dog has its own cubby hole and bed and access to the larger outdoor area that gives them lots of room to play games with each other or just lounge under the shade trees. Add daily runs and exercise and I know my parents are in the best possible condition to plan a breeding. I know each dog’s personality, quirks and individual needs. This isn’t a full time job it is a 24/7 job and needs to be taken very seriously.
I don’t feel I am producing puppies as much as I am producing someone’s pet for life. There is a big difference here. These are not for my personal enjoyment but rather for the sheer pleasure they will bring to their new owner. Again a big difference. I approach breeding totally different than most breeders. True, each mom and dad and all the kids have a piece of my heart, you couldn’t give yourself to this totally if you didn’t first love dogs but beyond that is a dedication to not just have a litter of pups but to have a litter of pups that are exceptional in every way from looks to health to disposition and most importantly confidence within the dog itself. We have all met the shaking, barking, and fear biters. These are dogs that have NO confidence.
Obviously, the most important part is already done for you, I have bred a pup of exceptional quality, including years of striving for breed standard and done genetic testing for development of an extremely healthy offspring. When talking with me, you will often hear me say, “keep it simple”. Often those few words are ignored, or overlooked as the buyer searches for all the information they can glean from books and the internet. True, sources are a help, but, once you are raising that pup, I watch new owners get themselves into more trouble by complicating a simple process!
Here are MY favorite three words: CONFIDENCE, STRESS & RESPECT
If you grasp nothing more than the full meaning of confidence you will have success with your new puppy. To understand this you must stop thinking in “human mode” and go to “puppy mode”. We humans want to fix things with love translated into holding/clutching, because what make “me” comfortable and safe feeling so it must work for the pup! The worst thing you can do is over handle a pup.
NOW—let’s think like the pup does. You are taking it away from everything familiar, the sounds, smells, of home and most important the littermates. I know it goes against human nature, but you must leave the pup alone as much as possible for the first several days to a week, depending on the nature of the pup.
Your research has no doubt covered the subject of socializing. Many buyers include that in their “breeder questionnaire” and in fact, many breeders use it as a huge part of their sales pitch.
I feel puppies need to spend ALL their time post weaning growing efficiently. It is well known that too much handling and “sense overload” causes upset to pups and thus they tend not to eat. Interrupt precious sleep times and they don’t eat so what do we have now? Disruption of sleep patterns----inconsistent eating and the obvious result of poor nutrition---not a very good start for a baby that does all of it’s maturing within the first 6 months of life.
Weaning is stress enough. I leave my pups ALONE in their new environment. To me it is essential they NOT be handled at this time other than to check each pup and perhaps clean bottoms. They ARE watched closely, hourly checks just to see that they are eating/drinking and going to the bathroom okay. Weaning often causes diarrhea or constipation, both results need quick action.
Picture them the first week, just huddled together for the most part but what you don’t see is what I sense, the NURTURING of each other carried on from birth but even now necessary with the absence of the mother. This is what I don’t want to interrupt. This is the first part of socialization. This is where I feel most breeders are wrong. Socialization is not to humans it is in fact to the litter. I let nature work here. They learn a lot within the litter; they develop a personality, learn submission, and learn how to be strong. ALL this can and should happen without human intervention. They have plenty of “human touch” just during the multiple checks, feed changes BUT since I don’t “force myself on them” they quickly want to force themselves on me!
At 8 weeks, this is what you see**********
A confident pup, no matter how tiny my pups are outgoing and self assured. This is a trainable pup because its’ responses are based on the confidence in itself. I hand off what I refer to as a “clean slate”. This pup has not been handled excessively, does not expect to sit in my lap the minute the TV goes on, knows the house goes “on around them” and does not need constant attention.
I hate the word “submission”!!! So many times I see a buyer flip a wee, scared pup over on its’ back in order to see if it submits. They have read this and other nonsense in books on “How to pick the best pup”. Certainly a normal pup will squirm and cry, here you are a giant by comparison, nothing about you from smell to forcing the pup to do something totally against its’ will makes the pup confident. What can be gained I don’t know, when asked most people have NO idea why they did this, just that they had heard or read it somewhere. To me this whole silly little scenario proves nothing more than you can always force something smaller than you to do your will. How many owners want a dog that responds to them out of “fear” rather than love and respect? AHHH never thought of it that way did you?
When training a pup you need to gently teach them “respect” of the human. This can and should be easily done without taking away the confidence of the pup or initiating a stress level to the pup. You must understand that they really want to please you, they just don’t know how! AGAIN---keep it simple. I just can’t go over this enough.
My goal is to hand off a CONFIDENT pup to a CONFIDENT buyer!!
A pup is meant to give you love and laughs to enhance your life, not turn it upside down! Consequently, my buyers tell me they can’t imagine their home without their pup, that they feel they have had it forever and most important, the “transition” was a snap!
I tend to over-educate, my reason being the more you know, the easier it is. The more you know eliminates panic if something doesn’t look right.
I don’t just give you a pup, I educate you along the way, help you set up the best location for pup, settle pup into your routine efficiently for you and pup. From the first phone call to the booklet covering all your questions to come, I am a complete support system.