Sunday, March 30, 2014

Let the adventure begin! It’s great that you’ve decided to open your heart and home to a dog. This chapter walks you through some of the things you may want to consider and plan for during the early days of introducing a new dog into your life. If you’re prepared for the transition, you’ll be better equipped to deal with the ways that it can affect both of you.
As with many topics, there can be a difference in how homecoming relates to the puppy versus the mature dog. When I refer to a “mature dog,” I mean over a year old, while “puppy” means anything up to that age. One year is the generally accepted cutoff for puppyhood, even though puppies of very large breeds can take twice that long to mature and will act like puppies until about two years of age. Unless you see either the term “puppy” or “mature dog,” then any other reference—pooch, pet, dog, canine, companion—applies to dogs of all ages. Some of the topics you’ll find in this chapter include:
1.  The emotional aspect of bringing the dog home
2. Practical suggestions about the homecoming and preparations for it, including a basic gear chart
3.  The puppy’s first days at home, including puppy-proofing; the puppy layette; and special tips on the pup’s first night
4.  Sleeping arrangements for now and later
5. Introduction to other dogs including planning ahead for the introduction; the logistics of the meeting; possible fighting; temporary loss of housebreaking

6. Introduction to cats and children
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Classic obedience lessons utilize a lot of leash work. Dogs must be trained to obey and follow, which generally involves a lot of ordering about and corrections for misbehavior. It’s serious stuff. Not so with trick training and other adventures like agility and flyball. These activities depend on an invisible leash — a strong tie that brings you together in a flow of excitement and trust, like a coach guiding an eager athlete. Are you concerned about how your dog will handle the freedom? I will walk you through the basics and guides you toward the freedom of off-lead control. In this section, I give you an overview of trick training and some things you can do to get started today.
Figuring out who’s teaching who
The first thing you need to explore is your relationship as it exists now. Does your dog look to you for direction, eager to follow you and learn new things? Or does your dog’s schedule look something like this:
  Paw for attention: Promptly at 7 a.m.
  Bark at the window: 1–3:30 p.m.
  Scratch at the door: 8 a.m., 3:30 p.m., 9 p.m.
  Steal socks and get the family to chase me: 4 p.m.
If your dog’s day is one long human training session, all hope is not lost! This is a sign of a smart and clever dog; he’ll be easy to train. At the moment, though, he’s training you.
Trying lessons without words
Dogs learn in ways that are both simple and complex. Dogs are so eager to earn rewards and attention that it’s amazingly easy to teach them simple things. Get five super-savored treats or a toy your dog loves to play with, and then try the following lessons.
Heeding the four-paw rule: All paws on the floor
Stand upright in front of your dog and wave the treat above his head. If he jumps for it, lift the treat up and look to the sky. If he scratches at you frantically, wear a trench coat and completely ignore your dog. When he pauses, reward him immediately with the treat or toy. Repeat this five times in a row, three times a day. My hunch? In three or four days, your dog will hold still when you offer him treats and toys. Give it a try!
Sitting for a toy or before dinner
Try this wordless lesson, building on the preceding four-paw rule. Wave your dog’s toy or hold his dinner bowl above his head and wait. Don’t look at or talk to your dog if he jumps or barks at you. Ignore him so he understands that these behaviors will not work with you. No sirree! Be patient with your dog and keep your eyes peeled for success. The moment he sits, reward him immediately. If he stands calmly, position him or maneuver the toy or bowl above his head so that he moves into a sitting position himself.

After five repetitions, surprise — he won’t bark or jump —he’ll sit automatically! Good dog. Good person. You make a great team.
Copyright © Sarah Hodgson – Originally appeared in Dog Tricks and Agility for Dummies 2nd ed by Sarah Hodgson

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Combative play gets more intense among siblings, which helps develop a ranking order within the litter. These interactions have a lasting effect and help shape a puppy’s permanent personality into a dog who falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of timid, even-tempered or overtly aggressive.
Puppies do best in adapting to their new homes if they are removed from their litters between eight and twelve weeks. The benefit of this is that you avoid developing a puppy with a personality extreme from the effects of a dominance order from rough play—other littermate(s) dominate him into subordination—which is not helpful to living with people. It is for this reason that researchers have determined that when people are socializing puppies, the dogs should be removed from the litter to be handled (see below, under “Fear-Imprint Period”).
  Staying with the Litter Past Twelve Weeks of Age
Puppies kept in a kennel by a breeder until they are twelve weeks and older can suffer from “Kennelosis” or “Kennel Syndrome.” Staying too long with his littermates can be a problem for a dog who is naturally shy. Staying with the litter past twelve weeks can actually have a downside for any dog: even three weeks past this time can result in dogs that lack confidence. This was proven by a study of guide dogs for the blind, which showed a disproportionate failure rate in those puppies who were left with their litters past twelve weeks: the dogs did not have the self-confidence to make independent decisions necessary to protect a blind person, who might give a command that could endanger him.
Being kennel-bound also means the dog has missed her socialization period with people: she will never really learn to fully identify with humans. Kennel Syndrome can also make a dog unable to handle stressful situations later in life. These dogs will most likely develop a general fearfulness of strange environments and new situations and be overly excitable or overly withdrawn. You can eventually overcome some of this deficit, but it takes patience, persistence and buckets of time and love.
Puppies that remain in the litter from the twelfth to fifteenth weeks develop into a dog pack, with their positions and a dominant-subordinate pattern established. If a puppy who is naturally not as strong and assertive as her littermates stays in the litter during this period—and if the others bully her and force her into a subordinate position—she may develop a shyness that will stay with her for life. To avoid the problem of chronic shyness in an adult dog, steer clear of any puppy who remained with the litter past sixteen weeks of age.
  Eight to Twelve Weeks Is the Fear-imprint Period.
This period is an especially sensitive stage of the puppy’s growth: it is called the “fear-imprint” stage because if the puppy has a frightening experience now, the circumstances leading up to the scare will become deep-rooted, with the fear often staying with the dog for life. For this reason you should avoid even the possibility of the puppy having traumatic experiences during this month. During this four-week fear-sensitive period, most puppies (and especially those that are particularly sensitive to new and “scary” things) should stay home, rather than run the risk of encountering something especially spooky. That may sound extreme, but whatever frightens a young dog during the fear-imprint period may very well frighten her for the rest of her life, so you might want to give her the extra measure of security by staying on familiar turf.
These four weeks are usually a puppy’s first weeks in her new home. Stay home and let her continue to play with you, your family and friends, and whatever dogs you already have that are the puppy’s new pack.

It is important that all contact with humans—including social visitors and service providers—be positive experiences. Avoid giving any corrections or reprimands to the puppy in these early weeks. Under no circumstances should you hit or even threaten to strike the little pup. Physical punishment of a dog is never a solution to a problem with a dog of any age, but it can be especially harmful at this stage of a puppy’s development.
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Before the pups are weaned at seven weeks, they need to be handled by people. Puppies not exposed to people from five to twelve weeks of age will have over-socialized with dogs and under-socialized with humans. This is called the “sensitive period” for dog-human bonding. Dogs that do not meet people until after the socialization period can be antisocial, hard to train and spooky. Some dogs will never be able to react normally to people throughout their lives; others may even develop a lifelong fear of humans if they are not properly exposed to us during these critical weeks.
  Physical Contact with People
In order for puppies to adapt to living in human families, people should touch them starting at five weeks—but only for short periods. It is extremely important that the affectionate handling by  people only happen once a day, briefly, so that the puppy can remain with her litter the rest of the time. This ensures that she will be well adapted to both people and other dogs.
The delicacy of timing and intensity of these human interactions with puppies are two of the many reasons that puppies born in huge breeding facilities are at a distinct disadvantage: “puppy-mill puppies” do not get these important benefits.
  The “Sensitive Period” Cannot Be Made Up Later.
Once gone, that five-to-twelve-week window is gone forever. The loss of the individual development that comes during this period is probably going to leave a dog with behavior problems. It is believed that environmental circumstances explain most canine behavior—that means that the nature vs. nurture question falls heavily on “nurture” where dogs are concerned. Experts do not believe that a puppy’s personality problems can be inherited or that a puppy’s genes determine his temperament—his character is shaped by the environment he grows up in, particularly during this crucial sensitive period. A pup’s temperament is not “written” in his genetic code. Puppies are known to copy their mother’s behavior; they may mimic a growling or overly assertive mother, but the undesirable traits they mimic can be unlearned.
Between Three and Eight Weeks a Puppy Needs Exposure.
During these weeks a puppy needs to be exposed to a wide variety of things that she will encounter later when she has left her canine family. Puppies from mass-production breeders have no prayer of being shown potentially frightening objects and noises. With a responsible breeder you can hope that the litter has been exposed to stimuli such as vacuum cleaners, aerosol sprays, children, mail deliverers, cats, vehicle noises, etc. This exposure should optimally continue up to twelve weeks of age and then on into the juvenile period.
  Taking a Puppy Home at Around Eight Weeks
A puppy taken home at eight to twelve weeks has the best chance of fitting right into the new human family he is joining. By sixteen weeks it is already a more difficult transition, and eight weeks is considered the prime time—a puppy has the best chance of becoming a well-adjusted adult dog at this age. Human socialization begins during the end of the canine socialization period. During this time any good breeder knows the importance of handling the puppies frequently, showing them that contact with humans is a pleasurable event. Handling also lowers the puppy’s level of stress with new sensations and experiences, which helps prepare him for stressors in later life.
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

Sunday, March 16, 2014

                You will find that several of the following stages in the puppy’s growth will overlap, which reflects the different ways that individual dogs mature. The information is a roughly chronological look at the stages that puppies go through and the issues they experience as they grow.

Learns how to regulate strength of bite, how to socialize with other dogs and establish a pecking order—and has a positive experience with human contact.

Teeth cannot yet be used for tearing meat, chewing bones or any adult activity—but they are needle-sharp and can get her in trouble with other dogs.

Play, play-fighting and biting teach a pup how hard to bite to cause pain. Hearing a littermate’s yelp of pain when she bites his ear teaches her she has bitten too hard. Getting bitten in return teaches a puppy what that pain feels like. A puppy’s jaw muscles are weak and underdeveloped at this stage, and this period is when she learns how to regulate her strength of bite.

Puppies need to stay with littermates during this period to become well-balanced dogs. By the fifth week, they move together as a group. This is the beginning of pack behavior as adults.

Between Four and Seven Weeks the Puppy’s Brain Is Growing.
      At an incredible rate. By seven weeks the brain is transmitting adult brain waves and a puppy is capable of learning by example, and will often mimic its mother and littermates.

  Weaning Starts in the Sixth Week.
By the sixth week weaning begins: the mother refuses to let the puppies near her breasts and threatens them when they try to nurse. To back the puppies off, the mother usually gives a low warning growl. If a puppy does not respond to her warning, she snarls at him and makes piercing eye contact. She may stand over the puppy, who by now is usually lying on his back, squealing. The next time she growls, he’ll respond immediately. This is how a puppy learns the meaning of discipline. Especially with a puppy of dominant character, the mother needs to discipline him properly at this point or he’ll grow up to be a nightmare for his future owners. By the seventh week, the puppy is weaned. It is at this critical point that humans need to enter the picture and “socialize” the puppies.

Puppies Taken Away Early from Their Mothers
                “Puppy mill breeders” are guilty of removing pups from their litters sometimes as early as four and five weeks of age in order to send them to the brokers who handle their dispersal to pet shops all over the country. These little creatures are subjected to stressful transportation conditions and at least two changes of environment when they are shipped first to dog dealers and then to a pet shop. The unsuspecting buyer does not stop to realize that in order for them to find that puppy in a pet store at eight weeks of age the little pup had to be taken away from his mother and litter at a much-too-young age. And what the buyer does not know is that these dogs have never learned how to be dogs—that by leaving the litter so young they’ve missed out on the essential canine socialization period. This means they often can’t get along with other dogs; they can also be hard to train because they didn’t receive their mother’s discipline in the critical early weeks.

  Sick Puppies Up to Sixteen Weeks Old Also Suffer.
            If a puppy gets ill between birth and the fourth month he can wind up with some of the negative behavioral changes associated with restricted early socialization. Puppies that are sick in their early development, especially during the normal socialization period of ten to twelve weeks, show more aggression, fear of strangers and children and separation-related barking than dogs who remain healthy.

  Some Breeders Sell Puppies at Six Weeks—a Big Mistake!
            The puppy at six weeks still needs time with her mother to learn how to respect authority, and time with littermates to learn how to interact appropriately with other dogs. It is disturbing to informed dog enthusiasts to learn of supposedly responsible breeders letting puppies go immediately after weaning. The assumption is that they must be doing this for economic reasons (they want the money sooner) or for their own convenience (to have two fewer weeks of feeding, cleaning up and dealing with inoculations and other medical issues). In any case, information about the developmental growth of puppies has been around long enough that a professional breeder should know better than to send puppies out of the nest at six weeks—and they should know that they are doing the puppy and its new owners a disservice.
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Nobody has to teach a dog tricks or go the extra mile to explore new adventures. No one needs to get involved in agility or other activities with their dog.
After all, training is time-consuming, sometimes costly, and requires incredible  patience and understanding. But if you’ve chosen to go this extra mile,I know that your relationship with your dog is a special one. Your dog is a special gift to you, and you have chosen to give back to him.
As you progress in your training, you’ll find out more about your dog: how he thinks and what he likes. You’ll gain insight into the way your dog learns and better understand how to shape that learning process, from the length of the lessons to the various teaching approaches. You’ll discover how to reward and encourage your dog in fun, engaging, and constructive ways.
Why teach your dog to do tricks? After all, he’s not joining the circus anytime soon. The answer is simple: Most dogs will jump at the opportunity to perform for fun, praise, treats . . . almost anything! Dogs are active by nature and love to do stuff — just jiggle your car keys or utter the word W-A-L-K if you don’t believe me. Tricks give your dog the chance to release his inner,  audience-starved vaudevillian, expend pent-up energy, and use his innate dog
skills — jumping, barking, sock-stealing — in positive ways.
A well-trained dog also serves as an ambassador for us all. Whether you’re just clowning around in your living room or putting on an act at a local fair, the work and time you devote to your dog shines through wherever you take him. Sure, your dog may never star in a commercial or show off his routines at the local Elks Club, but that doesn’t rob you of one undeniable fact: If you love your dog, he’s a star. And the size of your star is not measured by how many people share your pride; it’s measured by you. When I listen to my friends and clients talk about their dogs, I feel the warmth in their hearts, and when I see the dog face-to-face, I already know that dog’s worth.

Copyright © Sarah Hodgson – Originally appeared in Dog Tricks and Agility for Dummies 2nd ed by Sarah Hodgson

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


If you like the idea of saving a dog that has been abandoned or given up by his original human family, consider going to your local shelter (what used to be called the “dog pound”). Animal shelters are filled to bursting with “orphans,” and there are some wonderful mixed-breed dogs there (“Heinz dogs” they used to be called, when Heinz advertised its fifty-seven varieties). Since Labradors are the most popular dogs in America—twice as popular, in number, as the next most-owned breed—many of the mixed-breed dogs you meet will probably be some part Lab, which  can be a nice piece of any “combination dog.” Unfortunately there are also a disproportionate number of Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes in the shelters, because these volatile, powerful and dangerous dogs have often not been neutered and have been permitted to run free.
People may ask or you may wonder, “Why take on a problem dog—someone else’s problem?” The answer is that many of those dogs are not at fault and many of them have been abandoned because of changes or complications in their people’s lives. People change their minds about dogs when they find out how much trouble and work it is to raise one well. People get divorced. They move. They get sick. They have financial problems. Someone in the family becomes allergic. There are more reasons than you can think of that people no longer can care for their dogs—and many of them have nothing to do with the dog herself
Choosing a Good Animal Shelter
There are many versions of animal shelters—there’s the gloomy old run-down building and there’s the clean, new cheerful facility, but just as important is what the staff is like.
᾵ Are they pleasant and welcoming?
᾵ Does the staff or volunteers seem interested in helping you find a pet, or do they make you feel like you’re just interfering with their job?
᾵ Do they have a trainer/animal behaviorist who evaluates and socializes dogs to make them more adoptable?᾵ Is there some kind of veterinary care readily available?
᾵ Does the staff seem dedicated to the animals and interested in what they are doing, or do they seem burned-out and disinterested, waiting to punch a time clock?
᾵ If they give you a questionnaire and then ask you questions, do you feel you are being harshly judged or encouraged to adopt?
 In order to have a positive experience when making a decision, you need to feel you and the other humans are all on the same page: working to find a home for one of the orphan animals. If you feel you are being given the third degree, or the atmosphere is adversarial, you should feel free to leave and look for your dog elsewhere. And if you feel strongly enough about the treatment you received, consider telling the people at the shelter that one of their dogs has missed a chance at a loving home because they made you so uncomfortable. Maybe they’ll be more pleasant to the next person.
 ♦ Picking a Dog at the Shelter
Here’s a simple way to pick out a dog from all those heartbreaking faces “behind bars” at the shelter: walk past the rows of cages. Stop when you see a dog that appeals to you; if the dog comes up to the door to sniff your hand and greet you, that’s a good sign. Dogs locked in cages in a shelter are emotionally deprived, so when human contact is offered they should gravitate toward it. On the other hand, some dogs need more leeway in judging their caged response because they might have a personality that is more depressed by institutional living. If you were in their place, wouldn’t you like to get the benefit of the doubt?
Some dog trainers have their own “mini-tests” of shelter dogs, but they get complicated and require experienced judgment. Here is something you can try before you even take a dog out of her cage to get useful feedback: while speaking gently and encouragingly to the dog, move your hand back and forth slowly in front of her face. A well-socialized, outgoing dog will follow your hand. A dog that jumps or barks at you or retreats to the back of the cage is a dog with problems—and therefore not worth considering. That may sound too harsh as a rule of thumb—to eliminate a dog because of an apparent personality flaw (probably caused by whatever she’s already suffered in life)—but you need a firm resolve to find the best adoptable dog and enjoy a positive outcome. Many animal-lovers identify with the least lovable or most problematic candidates for adoption, but (being one myself!) I’d suggest that you not be so softhearted that you wind up soft-headed! Why create a nightmare for yourself or rob another more well-adjusted dog of a chance to share your life? For every damaged/neurotic/unpredictable dog, there are so many sweet-natured candidates who have had sad pasts of their own and are every bit as worthy—if not more so—of the wonderful life you are offering.

 ♦ Background Information about Adult Dogs
If a dog does have problems, you should know that most dog problems can be overcome (outside of serious aggression, which may result in having to put a dog to sleep). Most behavior problems in dogs are the result of mistakes by people—cruelty, neglect, ignorance and/or violence by the previous owner. But it may also be that those dogs were puppies who were not well-socialized by greedy, unscrupulous breeders—and that they were then bought by innocent people who did not know the responsibility involved in successfully raising a dog.
The current estimate is that three to four million dogs are euthanized every year in the United States. These dogs are often put to sleep after they are returned to the shelter more than once, having gone through the stress of not being able to adjust well to several homes—where those families suffered, too, trying to deal with the dog’s problems and then making the painful decision to give up
There are several areas of personality and behavior that it’s helpful to know about ahead of time when considering a dog past puppyhood. The more you know about a dog you are considering adopting, the better you can anticipate if she will be a good fit in your life. The only problem is that with most dogs that are up for adoption there is either no information, or the facts are unreliable.
Below is a quick assessment of some things to keep in mind when determining the reliability of whatever information may be available.

᾵ What behavior issues does the dog have?
᾵ How does he behave around other dogs?
᾵ Has he lived with or around cats (if applicable)?
᾵ How about his interaction with children? (This is good to know even if you have no kids, since children may be part of your extended family or come with visitors.)
᾵ What is his energy level?
᾵ Does he have any health problems—or if he’s a purebred, are there health issues specifically connected to that breed?

Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner


Just as a high-priced dog does not mean you are getting a better animal, neither is a low-priced dog necessarily a bargain. It is fair to surmise that a breeder must be cutting corners if she is selling puppies at below the going rate. A responsible breeder spends time and money to do genetic testing to eliminate the risk of congenital defects being passed along from his breeding stock—it is expensive and time-consuming to protect the next generation. So if puppies are priced below market value, that breeder cannot be spending what she needs to in testing a puppy’s parents.
If you need one reason to buy a purebred puppy from a private breeder, it is for honest genetic testing. BYBs generally do not know much about the importance of genetic testing, much less make it a rule to do so. A pet store may claim that the breeder/supplier of the puppy has paperwork “proving” that the puppy’s parents are genetically clear of defects, but one would be naive to think that in wholesale breeding operations with upward of 1,000 dogs, every breeding pair has honestly been x-rayed and otherwise tested, or that documentation cannot be easily forged, copied, etc. Forgive the cynicism, and my apologies to the one-in-a-million backyard or wholesale breeder who genuinely has followed testing guidelines, but this book has to be the “watchdog” for the all the dogs and owners out there.

Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner


There is a small number of breeders who have overpriced their puppies, seemingly for no reason other than that they can! Their “what the market can bear” attitude may strike you as a touch unethical, but these breeders do well. The fairly pathetic fact is that there are people who actually want to brag about how much they spent for a dog—or believe that if a dog is priced higher it is somehow a better animal. There are greedy breeders with slick Web sites and good sales techniques who can command astronomical prices for their puppies based on their claim that their line of dogs is competing in field trials instead of ring shows, the kind we usually see on television.
But unless you are a hunter or shepherd yourself, why would you need a dog from a line that has been pumped up to compete in the field? Some of these breeders may claim that their Labrador or Border Collie is “smarter” than those bred for the show ring, but the truth is that field dogs are not necessarily smarter: what they are is “higher drive”—meaning more motivated to work. Therefore these field dogs often make worse pets, because they are bred to work long hard hours in the field and there just isn’t enough for them to do in the family life in a modern home
Why are people paying $1,300 and $1,400 for Labrador Retrievers when Labs are the single most popular and readily available dog in America—and like any non-rare breed should cost  around $500 from a private breeder? Unless you’re looking for a potential show champion, why would you pay more than twice the going rate? Is it a status symbol to overpay and brag about it—or is it that theory that anything that costs more must be better?

Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner


“Pet quality” versus “show quality” would alter the price, but that’s not relevant when you consider that most puppies are going to be pet quality. All it takes is a few white hairs or an ear that doesn’t sit at the precise angle and there’s no chance of stardom for that pooch in the show ring.
Steer clear of a breeder who justifies a high-priced puppy by saying, “She’d be twice as much if she were show quality.” (Well, obviously—and if I were Venus Williams I’d be playing at Wimbledon—but what’s that got to do with anything?)
Beware breeders who sell females at one price and males at a lower price—the quality of each dog is what should determine the price, not the gender.
It is common practice to pay in cash or with a cashier’s check; it’s unlikely that anyone will accept a personal check.
There are a few cases where there are legitimate reasons that puppies are more expensive. For example, English Bulldogs are a breed that requires artificial insemination (meaning everything that humans go through for infertility treatments) to reproduce. In addition, the puppies then have to be delivered by cesarean because of physical limitations. The price will be higher because the cost to the breeder is so much higher. $1,000 or more is standard.
Do not attempt to negotiate—each breeder has a set price based on what the breed generally goes for, or even what the market will bear. Obviously, you can try to negotiate if you insist, but it’s considered an offense to the breeder. A dog is not viewed as a car. And even if a dog were a commodity, would you try to bargain for the price of a dress in a store? Would you try to negotiate the price of a meal in a restaurant?

Dog breeds that are not yet recognized by the AKC, or are only recently recognized in this country, may cost more. Once again, this is understandable, since it is costly for breeders to import breeding stock from the country of origin in order to eventually build up good breeding stock here. There are any number of breeds from Switzerland, France, China and Tibet that will take years to build up to the level of popularity that previously foreign breeds (for example, the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Shih Tzu or the Chinese Shar-Pei) have developed in America.

Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


The idea of giving a puppy a few simple tests has gained popularity in the dog world. The best known series of tests is called “Volhard testing,” named after the couple who standardized their own testing techniques to identify a dog’s personality. However, there are any number of similar canine tests aimed at the same goal: devising a yardstick to be a reliable predictor of a puppy’s current and future personality.
The reasoning behind such tests is the practical purpose of finding out a puppy’s “dominance level,” or how headstrong he is by nature. An extremely bold dog is going to be a handful to train, while at the other end of the spectrum the very shy puppy—who can be startled by his own shadow—will be difficult to train for different reasons. The tests also give a sense of a puppy’s level of interest in people, which will affect his trainability and how easily he’ll become a member of your family
Age for Testing
           Seven weeks—forty-nine days to be exact—is considered to be the ideal age for a puppy to be evaluated away from the litter. Except for a small amount of learned behavior, a seven-week-old puppy is thought to be a clean slate, meaning that testing at this time is supposed to give a true reading of his nature.
Take a moment to watch the whole litter without interacting with them. Are most of them uncomfortable with you being there—are they barking or running away? That would be such a bad sign that you should just walk away from the whole litter, since it indicates that this is a line of breeding that turns out suspicious dogs or that this breeder hasn’t socialized the puppies. In either case, it makes it an uphill situation for you and that puppy—and why load the dice against yourself going in?
 Puppy-testing Scenarios
            There are many variations on how puppies may respond to any of these “pop tests,” but I include only two ends of the spectrum: anything in between is your judgment call. But in the case of very dominant or very submissive dogs, you can predict that they will behave almost the same way in every situation. The independent dog will ignore most of what you’re doing and go her own way; the very shy dog will tremble, pee and/or cringe submissively. Avoid both these extremes, because otherwise you could have a lifetime of extra effort dealing with the simplest issues. You can try some or all of these experiments, but don’t get too serious about them. Unless a puppy is consistently off the chart at either end of the spectrum (in which case you have to hope there’s someone out there who will love her), you can do a fine job raising any puppy.

           Common wisdom is that you should avoid any personality extremes in a pup: not the laid-back puppy, but not the most forward and pushy one, either. Other than that, try some of the little tests that follow—“Pop Tests for Pups,” you might call them—and see which appeals to you as a way to get to know a puppy quickly.


Males are:
• larger
• more dominant
• more likely to fight and roam
• less moody
• better workers
• do not come into season
• less expensive to neuter

Females are:
 • smaller
• less dominant and defiant
• less likely to fight
• less likely to roam
• moodier than males if not spayed (they come into season twice a year)

• more sensitive to people’s emotion

Monday, March 3, 2014


• Anyone carrying it out testing should be a complete stranger to the puppies.
• The tester must be convinced about carrying out the activities that follow and truly feel he understands what he is doing.
 • The test area should be a room unfamiliar to the pups.
• The test time should be when the puppies are at their most active.
• Puppies should be tested individually so that the results aren’t skewed by the confidence-boost of having littermates there.
Test #1: Hold the puppy in your arms.
Demonstrates if the dog welcomes social domination.
Bend over and closely caress from the puppy’s scalp right down to the top of his shoulders. The dog’s head, neck and shoulders are prominent locations: whenever 2 dogs meet, the higher-ranking one will frequently place his paw or chin along the withers (the ridge between the shoulder bones) of the other.
An excellent puppy will most likely not object to this. He may whine, shake or maybe restrict for a moment, but he’ll chill out and in some cases lick you.
The dominating pup will probably object to your dominant stroking of him—he may possibly roar or try to hop on you. He may panic, wrestle or stay still and not snap out of it.
 Test #2: Pet the pup but do not carry him: communicate graciously.
Methods with regard to interest and desire about persons. Does he delight in person fondness adequate to function for it in training?
Bend down, clap both hands, but do not speak to to the puppy right away—just observe. an apt puppy will come right over, will remain with you, wagging his tail. A dominating pup might attack at you or stroll away disinterested.
 Test #3: speak to the puppy to you: stoop down, clap your hands,
whistle, tone motivating.
Bend over; open your arms for the most inviting posture. A perfect puppy should come over with tail wagging, self-confident, and happy. A domineering puppy may possibly overlook you, or arrive directly at you and nip, leap or throw into you when she gets there.
 Test #4: Will he pursue you?
Stroke the puppy, leave, then observe how quickly he comes after. An ideal puppy follows you.
A superior puppy ensues, but so tightly that he gets underfoot and might even attempt to attack at your feet or garments.
 Test #5: support the puppy off the floor: support your hands beneath his belly.

What does the puppy conduct when she has hardly any control and you have complete influence? Carefully raise her a few inches off the floor and retain the posture for 15 seconds.
An ideal pup struggles slightly, then calms in your possession.
A superior pup will certainly wrestle and attack and may bark, whine or attempt to chew your hands.
 Test #6: sit back and support the pup on her back in your lap: caress her tummy, talk reassuringly. What is her response to getting softly subdued?
a perfect pup will challenge quickly then rest.
A superior pup will certainly thrash close to to get away her back and might vocalize or attack.
 Test #7: locating. placed the puppy on the ground, obtain her interest by waving a ball or squeaky toy, and then move it along the ground. Create excited, stimulating, “Come on girl!” sounds to deliver it back.
An ideal puppy will run after the thing, play with it and perhaps even carry it back to you if you clap your hands and whistle. She’ll allow you to get it away without having too much resistance.
A dominating pup will follow the thing and lift off with it, neglecting you when you attempt to recall her. If you make an effort to bring it back she won’t give up it and may roar.


Simply, this can be a awful concept that appears decent. One puppy at any given time is about everything any family members can efficiently civilize. And when 2 puppies are undesirable, 2 from the same exact litter is usually a whole lot worse mainly because, although the notion seems comfortable and fuzzy, you might run the chance of acquiring 2 dogs who never truly shape up. Littermates connect extremely closely, if you decide to acquire a pair of simultaneously it can be a continuing struggle to obtain their attention, make them focused on you rather than each other, and maintain them right from inciting each other straight into “illegal actions.”
           Inquire people with twin babies what exactly it’s like to possess a couple of tots in the “terrible twos”! Except with dogs, the horrible twos can last the entire 2 years right from when you purchase them right up until about their 2nd birthday—generally discussing, little dogs leave from puppyhood for about a 12 months. However the bigger breeds have at, the very least 2 yrs to completely mature. 2 pups at the same time can be a formula for tragedy and devastation: if you believe one puppy can perform a number on a chair cushion, you have certainly not viewed 2 proceed at it from opposing corners!
          If you would like 2 dogs, the next best option is always to initially obtain one puppy and pay attention to molding that dog right into a charming partner who values the boundaries you set on his community. You can find one more puppy soon after about 2 years—most specialists tell definitely not to purchase a 2nd dog any sooner than the 2nd birthday celebration of the 1st pup, considering that he's going to be rising into adulthood by that age.
The 1st dog reveals the basics to the younger one, who will discover through example. Convert your first puppy into a outstanding role model and acquire 1 / 2 the task out of nurturing the 2nd pup.