A New Puppy

First alone walk on the beach, big time life experience for baby Riggs.

First alone walk on the beach, big time life experience for baby Riggs.

You’ve got a new puppy, where do you begin? What are the first things you need to do? Let’s discuss.

With the addition of a new dog to your home and family, there is much to do. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard from new guardians “I don’t know what to do?” Puppies are a lot of work and there are many important things to teach them before you even get started on the official obedience stuff, that is other than “sit.” “Sit” is so very important to teach right away; it is the beginning of learning about manners.

We have a new puppy and it has been a ton of work; puppies are a substantial amount of work up front. But the pay off for all your hard work is a well mannered k9 member of the family. Like humans, all puppies are different; each comes with it’s own personality and issues. Some require more work than others; there is not a one size fits all when addressing the addition of a k9 to your family.

With Riggs nearing the 5 month mark, we’ve been busy. For the last 5 days my husband and I have been away on a family trip. What this means for us is getting back at it hard and intense. Much of the rules and regulations that I have instilled have gone by the wayside with my absence. So we have started off this day with strict rules and Riggs is remembering easily.

Without even addressing the obedience stuff (other than sit) there is so much to work on. Food guarding, nipping, jumping, house training, crate training, socializing (life experience) and so, so much more.

My book above covers all the things that you need to know when you have a new dog. Without getting into too much official “obedience;” it covers all the essential basics that you can address to avoid problem issues down the road. It is a must read for any k9 lover or guardian (if I do say so myself.) ;)

Our human world is vastly differently than that of the k9. It is our job to assimilate them into our world as best we can. Some have a more difficult time than others but they can all “get it,” with our help. As our dogs age and things start to become easier, we will drop the ball to a degree. This is how we humans work for the most part, myself included. So when we begin a new relationship with a canine we must start off with a bang.

That new little canine brain has got so much to learn in a very short time. And I have to say that I cannot believe what they can learn in a fraction of the time that we learn. They are amazing, truly.

National puppy day

Do you want a dog

You want a puppy?  Do you really?  You think you want a dog but do you?

Many people go through the process of adding a puppy to their family only to discover shortly after that they don't want a dog.  

If everyone who was thinking about adding a dog to their family could see into the future and get a glimpse of what was to come, they might not get a dog.  Of course I adore dogs but not everyone does; not everyone wants to deal with dog issues.  Issues that are very species specific and normal for any dog but not just any human.  Sadly many people don't realize this until after they get a dog.  

Puppies and dogs are work, bottom line.  Dogs deserve companionship which often elude those who add a dog to their family.  Dogs should be considered a member of the family.  They are not a creature that you purchase to complete the image of a family.  Dogs deserve a life of togetherness; they should never be left in a yard to live their life alone.  Although the backyard is where many dogs find themselves after the family realizes that they didn't really want a dog.

Dogs are amazing; and what they give us should be given back to them.  The canine/human connection is a wonderful thing.  An intense bond forms from quality time together.  But is often lost from those who find a dog to be do much work.  

Isle of Dogs

Check out this new movie.  Isle of Dogs - I can't wait to see it and would love to hear if you see it.

Yes dogs are work, especially puppies.  But if you truly want to live with a dog; living side by side as true companions, the work doesn't feel like work.  When you love someone, acts of care and giving feel good; they do not feel like work.  

As I write this morning, Elsa is draped across my legs, dreaming.  She loves her mornings in bed and I love that I can work in bed with my laptop.  We are connected and this very special time in bed confirms that.  Elsa feels safe here and enjoys the comfort of connection restricted to family members.  

When a dog joins a family, they should be blanketed in the cloak of family.  They deserve nothing less.  Living alongside the family is where dogs belong.  Piled on the couch, resting on their own bed by the fire, enjoying hikes, mornings in bed, evenings on the porch and much more.  Loving a dog is good for you; it is a humbling experience.  To truly know a dog will change you forever. 

Once you've been connected to a dog, there is no going back.  

When we allow ourselves to connect with another species; to genuinely share our lives with a canine, we grow and flourish to a much better self.  Dogs deserve our very best because they don't know how to give us any less. 

Do you want a dog?  Just know, there will be work; and your life will never be the same.  Loving a dog will come back to you tenfold.  Do some research, find out if you really want a dog.  If you really want to live with a dog; you are in for an amazing connection.

If you've got a new dog and want to know what you need to know, check out my book.  




Genetics vs. Environment in Canine Temperaments

Personally, I want to see a wiggly, wagging little butt coming my way.  I'm looking for the puppy who says "HELLO human, I love you;" delivering kisses while squinting.  Dropped ears is an extra bonus. Choosing puppies from a litter of adorable little bundles of fluff is tough.  This is one reason I feel very strongly about a breeder doing the job for prospective puppy buyers.  That said there are breeders who don't know what they are looking at and cannot place puppies correctly.  

The first and most important part of puppy temperaments is genetics.  I've met a lot of not so friendly puppies over the years.  When I delve into the genetic make-up, it is clear that the apple does not fall far from the tree.  One specific puppy I remember who was extremely aggressive at a scary young age had an almost identical Mother.  When I asked the owner about the parents she told me "no we couldn't touch the Mom."  Oh...was all I could muster up.  Although I was thinking "really?  and you took a puppy anyway?"

Genetics is not everything, but it is definitely there.  What a breeder does with their puppies as far as socialization is huge.  But even still genetics can come creeping up through the litter.  Sadly many breeders overlook temperament; when in fact it should be at the very top.  I have juggled with temperament/health and soundness for years and have finally decided that temperament is #1.  Sitting close behind at #1.5 is health then soundness.  

Why is temperament #1?  No matter how gorgeous and correct a dog is; if no one can live with it, that's a fail as far as breeding.  Temperament should NEVER be pushed down as an afterthought.  If a breeder is breeding companion dogs then they should come from good companion parents.  Meaning that the puppies are going to be fairly easy for any prospective puppy buyer.  Are the parents friendly?  Are they biddable? Of course each breed has it's own version of friendly, friendly can be relative. 

Every person is different, every puppy is different.  Matching the correct puppy to their special person should be much like match.com  :)  Not with the creepy guy on the advertisements though, leave him out of it.  I hate seeing puppies chosen at birth, two weeks of three weeks.  You have no idea of what you are getting.  

If you want a good match as far as your next puppy, wait.  If the breeder wants you to choose quickly, move on.  If you have to take what comes out with regard to color, sex or deposit number, move on.  If your breeder does the matching through temperament and drive; make sure that your breeder is knowledgeable in doing that.  Perhaps puppies placed in previous litters can be given as reference, if you aren't sure.  

I know that Elsa was chosen perfectly for us.  I had to absolutely rely on my breeder to be my eyes because of distance.  I ask an insane amount of questions because I do temperament testing and I know what I am looking for.  Elsa fit like a glove in our home.  She came out of her crate saying "hey there, my name is Elsa," wagging like crazy and was happy to meet each member of our family, canine and human.  She is a lot of dog but I am a lot of Mom, we fit.  :)  

Finding your next canine match is worth all the research and work.  It is not easy and there is much to weed through.  My one top word of wisdom is to NOT purchase online when you choose a puppy by clicking on the pay button.  And if they are set up in the cutest little settings with flowers and stuffed animals that tempt you to buy, MOVE ON.  

Elsa and her breeder have set the bar high; but that's where it should be.  

Temperament testing and puppy placement

I was surfing breeder sites the other day; I was looking for something very specific for someone.  The information that I was looking for was how they raise their puppies.  So I rolled up my sleeves and dug in.  It doesn't take me long to figure it out; it's just a bit of looking around a site that gives you much more information than you would think.  The first thing I saw was pictures of week old puppies set up beside a basket full of flowers.  Red flag.  

A little more surfing around and I found the puppy contract.  Wow.  Let's just say it is not something that I would ever sign.  One of the big red flags was about placement of the puppies.  Puppy buyer must make their choice when the puppies are three weeks of age in order of deposit.  Boy this makes me cringe.  

At three weeks of age, there is no way to know who is who.  Oh sure you can go strictly by color and/or markings but that is all you can go on.  Even if you get to see them in person, you cannot tell what the puppies temperament or personality will be at that age.  Even the breeder can't tell what their puppies are like at two or three weeks of age.  

I've done a great deal of temperament testing in many different breeds and mixes and it is quite fascinating.  It is one of the things that I do that I absolutely love.  Seeing the differences in the puppies at seven weeks of age and talking to the breeder about their expectations and surprises after the test is intriguing.  So much personality and difference in such little puppies, I LOVE IT.  

Choosing puppies is not like choosing fruit from a basket; or at least it should not be.  I just talked to a person from a rescue group the other day for a client.  After discussing their protocol for puppy placement and matching owners to puppies; I have to say that I was highly impressed.  It was refreshing to talk to someone who "gets it."  

Just like the huge differences in humans; dogs are just as different.  There are folks who just pick a puppy and don't much care what the personality is like.  The dog may not really work in their home but they don't much notice.  I seen dogs that just coexisted within a home and I have worked with many people who juggle dogs from room to room because they don't "mesh."  

Each and every family situation is as different as people and dogs.  More attention needs to be taken when placing dogs into homes with existing dogs.  It is great when they get along great; not so much when they are a mismatch.  

So how should it be done?  In my opinion this is how puppies should be placed.

- Deposit or interest placed on a puppy from a litter by potential buyer.
- Constant communication between puppy buyer and breeder or rescue person.
- Once puppies are born, potential buyers are notified that there is or is not "a puppy" in the litter for them.
- Photos, videos and communication about each puppy keeps buyers in the loop.
- Breeder gets to know puppies very personally over the weeks; thinking about which puppy would best suit which home and family situation.
- Buyer does not know which puppy will be theirs yet, just that one will be joining their family.
- Litter is temperament tested at 7 weeks of age.
- Breeder decides who would best fit particular homes at that point.
- Sometimes there is a choice between two puppies that would fit; breeder assists buyer in final decision.

This is my opinion on how it should be.  The general public has no idea how to choose a puppy; whether they are temperament tested or not.  I really think that temperament testing is important; but it is also just as significant if not more so, that the breeder know each puppy as an individual.  This I have found is lacking remarkably in many breeders.  

I always say that dogs are very simple creatures; that is once you learn how they learn, perceive and communicate with the world around them.  But they are also extremely complicated; each being so different than next.  Choosing the next member of your family should not be a blind decision made by coat color or pattern.  Nor should it be made by someone who has no idea how to choose.

Puppy buyer beware

I look at a lot of litters online.  I run several large FB groups where people post pictures of their puppies all the time.  I am sent links to breeder pages regularly; one click leads to others and I am looking at many puppies.  When I land on a new website; there are several thing that I immediately look for.   Adorable little bundles of fluff are nice to look at; but that's not what I am looking for.  I am looking for proof of health testing, where the puppies are raised, the food that the adult dogs and puppies are given and the above and beyond that the breeder does.  There is a whole lot more that goes into a cute batch of puppies; or at least there should be.  So buyer beware.

I am constantly researching dogs; not all poodles, I like to see who is doing what.  I get a lot of emails from people looking at puppies that ask "Sherri, what do you think?"  So when someone sends me a link to a breeder that they are looking at to get a puppy, I'm on it.  There are a few things that send up red flags immediately.  Back to back litters.  If you visit their "available puppies" page and see litters listed that were born June 1, June 10, June 12, July 4th, think twice.  What does this tell you?  It says that these breeders are pumping out dogs for money.  It also lets you know that the puppies will not have had as much time spent on them as they should have. 

Proof of health testing.  I ask or look for this always.  Many websites state "health tested" on their site.  But that can mean many different things to different people.  Health testing means that the sire and dam of the litter have been health tested for breed specific diseases.  They have tested clear and the breeder can and will show proof of it.  Going to the Vet for a health check is not health tested.

If a breeder does not health test, red flag.  There are several reasons for this.  1.  They are amateur and do not know about health testing. Those people who think it would be great to have a litter.  2.  They are cutting corners and saving their money.  3.  They do not put any importance on health testing.  I just read on a website the other day that a breeder does not follow the popular "trend" of health testing.  Hmmmmm, interesting way of getting around it.  No matter what the reason; you need to know if a breeder has health tested the sire and dam of your prospective puppy. 

Socializing.  What does this mean?  Again it can mean many different things to different people.  Do the puppies receive regular human interaction? Have they met many different types of people; both large and small?  Do they have stimulating toys to play with that are of different textures, sounds, sizes and shapes?  Are the puppies introduced to the great outdoors?  Do they live inside a home where all the action is?  Do they get to interact with adult dogs other than their Mother?  All very important questions.

What kind of food are the puppies fed?  What is the opinion of the breeder as far as nutrition?  What about vaccine protocol? 

Do they temperament test their puppies and match to appropriate family.  This is a big one for me; and sadly very few breeders put emphasis on matching puppies.  Many let people pic as soon as they are born.  Others wait a couple of weeks but very, VERY few actually match puppy to home.    As a long time dog trainer and behavior specialist who does temperament testing; I know that each dog is an individual.  Picking a puppy like picking the nicest looking apple in the bunch is not the way it should be done.  A breeder needs to know their puppies; you cannot know them when they come out right away.  It takes time for puppy personalities to develop.  As far as I am concerned they should NEVER be chosen by color, sex or without knowing the dog inside.  Nor should they be picked as a first come first served.  The general public does not know how to pic a puppy for temperament. 

Official temperament testing is done when puppies are 7 weeks of age.  Whether a breeder does this or not is up to them.  But if they do not choose to temperament test they should at least know each puppy on a very personal level before placing them into the appropriate home.   

Deposits can be taken for "a puppy" in a litter.  Knowing what puppy you get should only come after temperament testing or at least at the age of 7 weeks so that the breeder can place appropriately.  Doing temperament testing and then letting people chose who they want is futile.  The general public will go with their first visual impulse.   

These are just a very few things that I look for.  If you are looking for a new puppy; educate yourself before looking.  If you are going to a breeder; learn about your breed and what tests you should expect the breeder to have done.  Even if you are getting a mixed breed; make sure that the person in charge of the puppies knows those puppies and can best match a temperament to your home situation.  

Knowledge is power.  


Just Dogs with Sherri update

Good Monday morning.  Last week was a very busy one with lots of great things happening.

#1 - I'm a Grandma; which is about the most exciting news ever.  Yep, a new Grandma to an adorable little man.

#2 - I got to visit with my sister and brother in law which is always a highlight in my life.

#3 - My dog related bohemian bracelets at Sherri Lynne Designs are really making a splash, and

#4 - I'm working on an exciting new project.

Oh and I got a new washer and dryer, woooohooooo.  :)

A busy week also brought with it some horribly hot weather.  That has meant out in the early hours of the morning and then hunkering down inside for the rest of the day.  I'm hoping that the horrid weather will break this week.   As a northerner I am not a fan of temps in the high 90s and into the 100s.  Give me a 65 degree day with a breeze, and I'm a happy camper thank you very much.

Elsa and I have been checking out some new, cool dog products that I hope to share over the next couple of months.  We love to try innovative dog products that make the whole dog/human relationship even greater than it already is.

I cannot believe how many puppies are out there right now.  With all of my FB groups I'm seeing a whole lot of new babies.  If you are one of the lucky ones who have a new canine family member, my book is a great addition.  Feedback for you and your dog is just for you.  It is also available on Amazon in both paper and ebook version.  As for us, we are hoping for a new canine addition in the new year, I can barely wait.

Just a short update for this morning, many, many, many things to get done today.  Have a great week.


Choosing puppies

Choosing a puppy is fun, but it is work if you do it right.  Much of the choosing dilemma can be reduced by a breeder who is in the know.  As most of you already know, I am a huge temperament testing advocate.  I do testing of litters often and find it extremely interesting.  The test puts puppies through different trials to see how they react.  I believe testing to be extremely important but one should also know how to read the results and between the lines.  I do a great deal of between the line result reading when I test myself.  As a behavior specialist this gives me more information than simply relying on the initial test. 

Another huge factor in choosing a puppy is a breeder who knows their litter.  A breeder in the know will take temperament test scores and the individual puppy personality within the litter into account.  These two factors will help to best place a puppy in the proper home.  There are many things to consider when adding a puppy to your home and communication with the breeder, rescue or foster is imperative.  

The first and most important thing is to choose a breed or mix of breeds that will suit your lifestyle.  I cannot tell you how many people got a dog because of appearance.  This can be a huge mistake.  Choosing a puppy because it is the cutest in your mind is not a good idea.  I am not a fan of breeders who just let puppy buyers choose who they want.  Most have no idea how to choose and go by looks alone.  When you visit puppies, they may be hungry, tired, just awake etc. etc. So there is no way to really know if you don't even know what to look for.  

Breeders should guide prospective puppy buyers.  They should communicate extensively to make sure that the buyers get the best puppy for their family.  Perhaps a puppy buyer may not be a good match for a particular breed or mix of breeds; breeders need to communicate that as well.  They should share the good and bad about their puppies with prospective buyers.   

Communication is huge, both with breeders and potential buyers.  People who are interested may have a long list of questions; that's a good thing.  Questions mean that the buyer cares, a good thing!  If a breeder is not willing to freely share information, move along to the next.  If a breeder is pushing their puppies, move along.  If a breeder does not make you feel warm and fuzzy about your purchase, move along.  

Above all, listen to your gut.  That extra sense that tells you right from wrong, listen to it.  Looking for a puppy to add to your family is serious business.  Find a breeder, rescue or foster who is up to your standard.  Anything less is less.  Dogs deserve the best.

Simba, Lucy's new brother.

Introducing, Mr. Simba.  

You all know Lucy, Elsa's friend?  Simba is Lucy's new little brother.  Here she is teaching him about the ball; how it is hers and he is never to touch it.  

She does love her ball, especially a new one.  

Poetry in motion.  

The things we don't see unless stopped in time.  

Look Mom, no paws.  

Little man spots me crouched down with my camera.  

Living up to his name.

Some steps seem very big when you are only 8 weeks old.  

Prize possession.  

Following big sisters lead.  

Honestly, how cute is he?

Such a little man, but not for long.  

Simba with his new Mom.  

Small things tucker out little boys.

 A great dog in the making. 

Growing up-dog

Penny, don't get much cuter.

Aren't puppies amazing?  They are adorable, never met one that wasn't.  But puppies are a lot of work and as much as we love them; we often want them to grow up.  We long for a day when we no longer need to worry about our home or possessions any longer due to them being chewed up by the puppies that we love.  How long does it take to grow up?  When are they considered an adult and no longer a puppy anymore?  Every dog is an individual; so how long it takes to mature can vary drastically from one to another. 

My opinion on age of maturation is around 2 years.  Some will be less, while others may be much older before they mature.  I am speaking about behavior maturation, not physical; which is different for dogs as well but a topic for another blog.  Typically around the 18 month mark you can start to see some different behaviors.  Things like not so much patience with unruly puppies.  All of a sudden your puppy doesn't seem like such a puppy anymore; they are growing up. 

Many people call their dog to be a puppy for many years.  This is often the case due to excuses for bad behavior.  I see it often, the puppy card is played when their dog exhibits some undesirable behavior.  But we cannot play that card for long as they will grow up and become an adult that will be expected to behave accordingly.  There is a big difference between a puppy and a youthful adult.  Each stage of a canines life comes with it's own behavior expectation.  Using the puppy card when your dog is not a puppy is just failing to address an issue. 

They may bark more, seeming to become a bit territorial.  New behaviors can pop up like defiance; pushing or testing the waters as they mature.  Your puppy is becoming the dog that they are going to be.  That takes a lot of work and depending on their life experience to that point will factor on the final product.  But once they hit that age of maturity; it doesn't mean that they are done.  Life happens and they will continue to change; like us as they get older and live through new experiences. 

A big shift from puppy to adult can be seen in the student become teacher scenario.  Your puppy, the young and immature will learn from older dogs; but that soon changes as they hit the age of maturity.  All of a sudden they become the teacher who will guide and discipline the younger.  This can be a time of firsts; when you hear "he's never done that before" from owners.  Some dogs change a great deal from puppy to adult.  There are very few dogs who keep their puppy ways about them; the not a care in the world attitude of a puppy.  Our dogs rely on us to show them the way; the direction to take as they immerge into adulthood. 

We are all aging, even that adorable little puppy that you just brought home.  The one that you want to grow up right now; but once they do, you wish that they were still a puppy.  We are all going in the same direction; although our dogs get there faster than we do.  There is so much to pack into the puppy stage; so much to teach to those little sponge heads.  In a blink of an eye your little puppy will be a fully mature dog.  Are you ready?