Submitted by Susan on Fri, 12/07/2012 - 19:53
Every year around this time, folks start to think about getting a puppy as a gift. Every year around this time I advise people against it. This year, I am not going to lecture you on why a gift puppy is a bad idea. You already know that house training in the winter or getting to puppy training class in a blizzard is a challenge. By now, you know that getting a discount if you take two puppies is the worst idea ever, because siblings are twice as much work and will always have rivalry.This year I am going to give you some tips on getting a Christmas puppy. I know you are going to do it anyway and I look forward to your calls to enroll in training classes! Here are some things you need to ask your breeder when you pick out your pup.
1) Can I meet both parents? Some traits are genetic, so that whole Nature vs Nurture thing. If Mom & Dad are awesome, friendly, but not over the top you are in a good starting place. If one of the parents isn't on premises, ask if you can meet him/her. Chances are your pup will have some traits from BOTH parents.If Mom or Dad is hyper, fearful, ferocious- LOOK OUT!
Keep in mind that training is possible for behavior but instinct & genetics are not easy/impossible to change.
2) Is the pup paper trained? Yes, it's true! Pups at 8 weeks of age should be paper trained. They should know not to poop & pee where they eat and while paper training isn't ideal for the long run ( unless you want a toy breed and live in an apartment on the 16th floor), it will make house training a little simpler later.
3) How much time has the pup spent in a crate? If the answer is zero, you will need to crate train the puppy ASAP. Crates and confinement are critical for a young pup to learn. If not, the first time they get put in a cage will be traumatic, Think vet, groomer etc!
If the answer is that they have grown up in a caged environment ( pet store) then how did they get paper trained and what are your chances for success in that area? Pups that live in cages have no choice but to eliminate where they eat and often grow up to be dogs that eliminate where YOU eat.
4) What has this pup been socialized to so far? Yes, socialization starts at about 2 weeks and the critical period is up until about 16 weeks. No, that's not a typo. At 2 weeks of age, before eyes & ears open, your pup is learning about the world through scent & touch. At 4 weeks they become mobile and get more life lessons, by the time your pup is ready to leave the litter(about 8 weeks but up to 12 weeks) How many experiences has he/she had and of those, how many made positive brain connections? Have they met any animals ( cats?) that weren't litter mates? How many people and of what shape,color & size? What sounds have they been exposed to? Vacuum? Hair Dryer? Ring Tones? Children? Trucks? Doorbell?
Keep in mind that you are the consumer. The breeder or sales representative is trying to make a living by selling you this puppy, but ultimately it is your life and your dogs life that will be effected. If they don't give you the answers that you need to hear for a lifetime of love & companionship it is okay to walk away. Politely tell them you want to sleep on it, it is a big decision, likely to last 10-15 years and go meet another pup.
You probably wouldn't buy the first car that you saw on the lot, no matter how cute it was. Puppies are cuter than cars, but last a little longer than many. Be smart, take your time and make a wise investment for both you and your dog.