Ch 1: Before You Get Your Puppy


Congratulations on beginning your search for a puppy. Please take your time making your decision. Your puppy’s quality of life as an adult dog pretty much depends on his socialization and training during his first few weeks in your home.

Puppies grow up fast. One day you have a bumbling ball of fur and the next you have a raging adolescent. It is essential that you know how to raise and train a puppy before you get one. The first three months of their lives are a critical period for socialization and training, during which time they will develop the foundation of their lifelong behavior and temperament. You need to be aware of their developmental priorities as well as the basics of raising a puppy and teaching manners and obedience.

Additionally, you should put a lot of thought into which puppy to choose. When and where you get your puppy, the type or breed to choose and the specific puppy you pick, then check our shopping list and buy the necessary puppy training tools so your house is ready to welcome your pup.

Most of all, please take your decision to get a puppy seriously. Each year, several million dogs are abandoned, given to shelters and euthanized, almost entirely because easily preventable and utterly predictable puppy problems were allowed to develope into much more difficult to resolve adult behavior, training and temperament problems.

Please remember that every unwanted adult shelter dog began his life as a perfectly normal puppy. The time to rescue unwanted adult dogs is right now, when you are searching for, choosing, and deciding how to raise and train your puppy. Please, DO NOT CREATE YET ANOTHER UNWANTED SHELTER DOG!

Basically, dogs are abandoned or surrendered to shelters because they misbehave. Dogs misbehave (act like dogs), simply because no one taught them how to behave appropriately when living with people.

The sequence of events is predictable and much too common. A new puppy is given too much freedom and too little supervision. Not surprisingly, the puppy makes housesoiling and chewing mistakes. The puppy is confined to the yard, where he eliminates and chews indiscriminately and also learns other bad habits — digging, escaping, and excessive barking. Neighbors complain of the barking and the adolescent dog is confined to the garage or basement, which the dog destroys. In solitary confinement, the dog quickly desocializes and becomes fearful of people in particular and life in general. By six to eight months of age, the dog is surrendered to a shelter where the dog is confined to a cage. Shelter workers try to rehabilitate and rehome unwanted dogs. Some get a second chance, some don’t.

Please take the time to learn how easy and how enjoyable it is to train your puppy to be a sociable and mannerly canine companion, who will enjoy his entire life in his original home — yours.

Whether you choose a Chihuahua or a German Shepherd, a Dachshund or an English Bulldog, a Rottweiler or a Shih Tzu, a Boxer or a Golden Retriever, a Beagle, a Yorkshire Terrier, or a poodle, your puppy will still need to be socialized and trained. By the time you chose you puppy at eight weeks of age, the Critical Period of Socialization is nearly two-thirds over! And so, by the time your new puppy comes home, the urgency for socialization will be extreme.

Behavioral developmental may vary hugely from puppy to puppy at eight weeks of age. Some puppies are well socialized and confident, housetrained and chewtoy trained, and will happily come when called and sit, lie down and rollover. Other puppies are shy and fearful and have been taught no manners whatsoever. In the absence of basic kennel husbandry, puppies have learned to eliminate anywhere and everywhere, to chew anything and everything and to vocalize excessively, and this, of course, is how your puppy will behave when you take him home. You will be playing behavioral catch-up from the getgo.

Eight-week-old puppies should be well socialized, housetrained, chewtoy trained and have a good understanding of basic manners.

You have a choice and so, choose wisely. And when you chose your puppy, please give him the education that he deserves. Please review the hundreds of free dog training videos on dogSTAR daily before making your choice. You must learn how to raise and train a puppy BEFORE you get one.

Before you look for your perfect puppy, you need to know what sort of dog to look for, where to get it, and when to get it. An educated choice is generally far better than an impulsive puppy purchase. Additionally, you need to thoroughly familiarize yourself with canine developmental deadlines; they become urgent and crucial the day you select your puppy. Take your time to review dogSTAR, read books, watch DVDs, observe a number of puppy classes. Talk to owners at puppy class and discover what types of problems they are experiencing. New puppy owners are ruthlessly honest when describing their puppy's problems. But above all, test-drive as many adult dogs as possible. Then, make a thoughtful choice.

When choosing a puppy, you need to know how to determine whether his behavioral development and education are up to par. Assessing a pup's developmental and educational status depends on your education about puppy education.

Your pup's first month in your home is the most crucial developmental period of his life. This short, make-or-break period pretty much determines whether your puppy will develop into a well-mannered and good-natured companion that will bring joy to your life for many years to come, or whether your puppy will develop numerous, predictable behavior problems and grow up to be fearful and unfriendly. You prospective puppy stands at the crossroads and the course of your puppy's development and future quality of life is entirely in your hands.

Familiarize yourself with the common and predictable puppy problems, be aware of the timetable for their development, and make sure you are familiar with dog-friendly preventative measures and solutions, including the overwhelming importance of early socialization, confinement, and lure/reward training techniques.

It is vital that you know what and how to teach your puppy, before you get him. Your dog's future depends on it.

Adapted from BEFORE You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar

Your Education About Puppy Education

Sadly, the majority of puppies fail to live long enough to enjoy their second birthday. They suffer from the terminal illness of being unwanted — failing to live up to the expectation of the Lassie–Benji–Eddie dream. Instead they develop a number of extremely common and utterly predictable behavior, training, and temperament problems and are surrendered to animal shelters to play lotto with their lives. Many people blame irresponsible ownership for this tragic situation. I would simply cite lack of know-how. Most prospective puppy owners are simply unaware of the problems that lie ahead and unfortunately, they have little idea how to prevent or resolve them. Ironically, the demise of many dogs stems from novice owners following misleading, erroneous, and in some cases downright bad advice from out-of-date training books.

If you have your heart set on raising and training a puppy, do make sure you train yourself beforehand. Remember, it takes only a few days to ruin an otherwise perfect puppy. Without a doubt, the most important developmental deadline comes before you even think of getting your puppy — your education about puppy education!

Many first-time puppy owners are surprised when they discover their new companion bites, barks, chews, digs, and marks the house with urine and feces. Yet these are all perfectly normal, natural, and necessary doggy behaviors.

Your canine newcomer is just itching to learn human house manners. He wants to please, but he needs to be taught how to please. It's no good keeping house rules a secret. Somebody has to tell the puppy. And that somebody is you.

Puppy Pointers

Whether selecting your prospective pup from a professional breeder or from a family breeding a litter for the very first time, the criteria are the same. Look for puppies raised indoors around human companionship and influence — specifically around people who have devoted lots of time to the puppies' education.

Your puppy needs to be prepared for the clamor of everyday domestic living — the noise of the vacuum cleaner, pots and pans dropping in the kitchen, football games screaming on the television, children crying, and adults arguing. Exposure to such stimuli while his eyes and ears are still developing allows the puppy (with his blurred vision and muffled hearing) to gradually become accustomed to sights and sounds that might otherwise frighten him when older.

Avoid pups that have been raised in an outdoor run or kennel. Remember, you want a puppy to share your home, so look for a puppy that has been raised in a home. Basement- and kennel-raised puppies are certainly not pet-quality dogs. They are "livestock" on par with veal calves and battery hens. They are neither housetrained nor socialized, and they do not make good companions. Look for litters that have been born and raised in a kitchen or living room.

Choosing a breed is a very personal choice — your choice. But you will save yourself a lot of unnecessary problems and heartbreak if your choice is an informed and educated one. Choose the breed you like, investigate breed-specific qualities and problems, and then research the best way to raise and train your pup. Make sure you test-drive several adult dogs of your selected breed or type before you make your final choice. Test-driving adult dogs will quickly teach you everything you need to know about a specific breed. Test-driving adult dogs will also pinpoint gaps in your education about dog behavior and training.

Regardless of your choice, please do not kid yourself that you will get a "perfect" adult dog simply by selecting the "perfect" breed and the "perfect" individual puppy. Any puppy can become a marvelous companion if appropriately socialized and trained. And, no matter what the breed or breeding, any puppy can also become a doggy delinquent if not properly socialized and trained. Please make an intelligent, researched choice when selecting your puppy, but remember: appropriate socialization and training is the single biggest factor determining how closely the dog will approach your view of perfection in adulthood.

No matter your eventual choice — success or failure is entirely in your hands. Your puppy's behavior and temperament now depend completely on good husbandry and training.

Your puppy's living quarters need to be designed so that housetraining and chewtoy-training are errorless. Each mistake is a potential disaster, since it heralds many more to come.

Long-term confinement prevents your puppy from learning to make mistakes around the house, and allows your puppy to teach himself to use an appropriate toilet, to settle down quietly and calmly, and to want to chew appropriate chewtoys. Confinement with chewtoys stuffed with kibble and treats teaches your puppy to enjoy his own company and prepares him for those times when he might be left at home alone.

Short-term close confinement also prevents your puppy from learning to make mistakes around the house, while allowing your puppy to teach himself to settle down quietly and calmly, and to want to chew appropriate chewtoys. Additionally, short-term confinement enables you to accurately predict when your puppy needs to relieve herself, so that you may take your puppy to an appropriate toilet area and reward her for using it. The knack of successful housetraining focuses on being able to predict when your puppy "wants to go."

Without a doubt the most important developmental deadline comes before you even begin your search for a puppy: namely, your education about puppy education. Just as you would learn how to drive before setting off in a car, you should learn how to raise and train a puppy before you get one.

Some owners want heaven and earth from their pups; others only demand magic and miracles. Owners want the puppy to be perfectly well-behaved and to amuse herself when left at home alone for hours on end. And they assume the pup will magically grow up to act this way without guidance. It is simply not fair to keep house rules a secret from your puppy, only to moan and groan when she predictably finds doggy ways to entertain herself and break rules she didn't even know existed. If you have house rules, somebody needs to teach them to the puppy. And that somebody is you.

Luckily, dogs have their natural activity peaks at dawn and dusk, so many are quite happy to settle down and snooze the day away. However, some dogs are not. Some dogs are simply more active than others, and when left at home alone become exceedingly stressed and may destroy the house and garden in the space of a day.

Puppy owners are often surprised when their new puppy bites, barks, chews, digs, and decorates the floors with urine and feces. Yet this is what dogs do. How did you expect your dog to communicate? To moo? To meow? And what did you expect your dog to do to pass the time of day? Housework? To mop and clean floors and dust the furniture? Or to amuse herself reading books, watching television, or doing crosswords?

Many owners appear to be at a further loss when confronted by utterly predictable problems, such as jumping up, pulling on-leash, and expressing the boundless energy and exuberance accompanying doggy adolescence. Additionally, owners are incredulous if their adolescent or adult dog bites or fights. When dogs are undersocialized, harassed, abused, frightened, or otherwise upset, what do we expect them to do? Call a lawyer? Of course they bite! Biting is as normal an ingredient of canine behavior as wagging the tail or burying a bone.

Before inviting a puppy to share your life, surely it is only wise and fair to find out beforehand what you might expect from a normal developing puppy, which behaviors and traits you might consider unacceptable, and how to modify the pup's inappropriate behavior and temperament accordingly. Specifically, owners need to know how to teach the youngster when to bark, what to chew, where to dig, where to perform his toilet duties, to sit when greeting people, to walk calmly on-leash, to settle down and shush when requested, to inhibit his otherwise normal biting behavior, and to thoroughly enjoy the company of other dogs and of people, especially men, strangers, and children.

Adapted from BEFORE You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar

Developmental Priorities

The most urgent priority
is to continue socializing your puppy to a wide variety of people, especially children, men, and strangers. Well-socialized puppies grow up to be wonderful companions, whereas antisocial dogs are difficult, time-consuming, and potentially dangerous. Your puppy needs to learn to enjoy the company of all people and to enjoy being handled by all people, especially children and strangers.

The most important priority is that your puppy learns reliable bite inhibition and develops a soft mouth before he is eighteen weeks old. Whenever a dog bites a person or fights with another dog, the seriousness of the problem depends on the seriousness of the injury. Hence, the ease and success of retraining depends almost entirely on the dog's degree of bite inhibition. The reliability of your dog's bite inhibition determines whether you have a minor problem which may be easily corrected with a few safe, basic training exercises, or whether you have a serious and potentially dangerous problem which is going to be extremely difficult to resolve.

In a perfect world, you will successfully socialize your puppy so that he thoroughly enjoys the company and actions of all people, all dogs, and all animals. More realistically, though, accidents happen. Someone accidentally shuts the dog's tail in the car door. Someone runs to answer the telephone and accidentally treads on a sleeping dog's leg. A child runs and trips and falls on top of the dog while he is gnawing on a bone. When dogs are hurt or startled, their natural response is to snap, lunge, and even bite. Even wonderfully friendly dogs may feel inclined to protect or defend themselves when picked on by other dogs and people.

For example, when hurt or frightened a dog may snap and lunge at a person. But if a dog has well-established bite inhibition it is unlikely his teeth will even touch the skin. Or if there is skin contact, it is unlikely that the teeth will break the skin. The dog has caused no damage. On the other hand, if the dog has inadequate bite inhibition and his teeth puncture the skin, then you have a serious situation which may be difficult and time-consuming to resolve.

Similarly, dogs with well-established bite inhibition never cause damage when fighting with other dogs. The problem is minor because your dog is simply squabbling in a socially acceptable manner. On the other hand, if your dog ever hurts another dog or another animal, you have a major problem and resolution is unlikely.

Bite inhibition must be established in puppyhood, before eighteen weeks of age, since it is difficult to instill bite inhibition in an adolescent or adult dog. Learning the skills and techniques to ensure your puppy develops a reliable bite inhibition and an ultra-soft mouth is the primary reason for you to attend off-leash puppy classes. Your puppy needs to play with other puppies. Playing with adult dogs at home or in the park is simply not sufficient.

The most enjoyable priority of dog ownership is to accustom your well-socialized, soft-mouthed puppy to the world at large and prevent the development of predictable adolescent problems, thus assuring that he remains well-socialized and soft-mouthed. Remember, your dog will only remain sociable if he continues meeting and greeting unfamiliar people and unfamiliar dogs every day. Meeting the same people and dogs over and over is not sufficient. You want your dog to practice the art of meeting and getting along with strangers, not simply getting along with old friends. Consequently, regular walks with your dog are as essential as they are enjoyable.

Your life is about to change. You are about to enjoy all the joys of dog ownership — long, energetic, or relaxing walks, trips in the car, afternoons in the dog park, picnics on the beach, plus so many enjoyable organized doggy activities.

Here are your puppy priorities listed in order of urgency and ranked in terms of importance.

1. HOUSEHOLD ETIQUETTE - from the very first day your puppy comes home. Housetraining, chewtoy-training, and teaching your dog alternatives to recreational barking are by far the most pressing items on your puppy's educational agenda. From day one, employ errorless management teaching programs, comprising confinement schedules plus the liberal use of chewtoys (Kongs, Biscuit Balls, Squirrel Dudes, and sterilized longbones) stuffed with kibble. Simple behavior problems are so easily preventable, yet they are the most common reasons for people's dissatisfaction with their dogs and the most common reasons for dog euthanasia. Without a doubt, behavior problems are the #1 terminal illness for domestic dogs. Teaching household manners should be your number one priority the first day your puppy comes home. #1 Urgency Rating — Household etiquette is by far the most pressing item on your new puppy's educational agenda. If you want to avoid annoying behavior problems, training must begin the very first day your puppy comes home. #3 Importance Rating — Teaching household etiquette is extremely important. Puppies quickly become unwelcome when their owners allow them to develop housesoiling, chewing, barking, digging, and escaping problems.

2. HOME ALONE - during the first few days and weeks your puppy is at home. Sadly, the maddening pace of present-day domestic dogdom necessitates teaching your puppy how to enjoy spending time at home alone — not only to ensure your pup adheres to established household etiquette when unsupervised, but more importantly to prevent your puppy from becoming anxious in your absence. Normally, these go hand in hand because when puppies become anxious, they tend to bark, chew, dig, and urinate more frequently. From the outset, and especially during his first few days and weeks in your home, your puppy needs to be taught how to entertain himself quietly, calmly, and confidently. Otherwise he most certainly will become severely stressed when left at home alone. #2 Urgency Rating — Teaching your pup to confidently enjoy his own company is the second most urgent item on his educational agenda. It would be unfair to smother your puppy with attention and affection during his first days or weeks at home, only to subject the pup to solitary confinement when adults go back to work and children go back to school. During the first few days and weeks when you are around to monitor your puppy's behavior, teach him to enjoy quiet moments confined to his puppy playroom or doggy den. Especially be sure to provide some form of occupational therapy (stuffed chewtoys) for your puppy to busy himself and enjoyably pass the time while you are away. #4 Importance Rating — Preparing your puppy for time alone is extremely important both for your peace of mind (i.e., preventing housesoiling, chewing, and barking problems), and especially for your puppy's peace of mind. It is absolutely no fun for a pup to be over-dependent, stressed, and anxious.

3. SOCIALIZATION WITH PEOPLE - especially before twelve weeks of age but forever thereafter. Many puppy training programs focus on teaching your puppy to enjoy the company and actions of people. Well-socialized dogs are confident and friendly, rather than fearful and aggressive. Show all family members, visitors, and strangers how to get your puppy to come, sit, lie down, roll over, and enjoy being handled for pieces of kibble. Living with an undersocialized dog can be frustrating, difficult, and potentially dangerous. For undersocialized dogs, life is unbearably stressful. #3 Urgency Rating — Many people think that puppy classes are for socializing puppies with people. Not strictly true. Certainly puppy classes provide a convenient venue for socialized puppies to continue socializing with people. However, puppies must be well socialized toward people before they attend classes at twelve weeks of age. The time-window for socialization closes at three months of age, and so there is some urgency to adequately socialize your puppy to people. During your pup's first month at home, he needs to meet and interact positively with at least one hundred different people! #2 Importance Rating — Socializing your puppy to enjoy people is vital — second only in importance to your pup learning to inhibit the force of his bite and develop a soft mouth. Socialization must never end. Remember, your adolescent dog will begin to de-socialize unless he continues to meet unfamiliar people every day. Walk your dog or expand your own social life at home.

4. DOG-DOG SOCIALIZATION - between three months and eighteen weeks of age to establish reliable bite inhibition and forever after to maintain friendliness to other dogs. As soon as your puppy turns three months old, it is time to play catch up vis-a-vis dog-dog socialization, time for puppy classes, long walks, and visits to dog parks. Well-socialized dogs would rather play than bite or fight. And well-socialized dogs usually bite more gently, if ever they should bite or fight.#4 Urgency Rating — If you would like to have an adult dog who enjoys the company of other dogs, puppy classes and walks are essential, especially since many puppies have been sequestered indoors until they have been immunized against parvovirus and other serious doggy diseases (by the very earliest at three months of age).#6 Importance Rating — It is hard to rate the importance of dog-dog socialization. Depending on the lifestyle of the owners, dog-friendliness may be an unnecessary or an essential quality. If you would like to enjoy walks with your adult dog, early socialization in puppy classes and dog parks is essential. Surprisingly, though, very few people walk their dogs. Whereas large dogs and urban dogs tend to be walked quite frequently, small dogs and suburban dogs are seldom walked. Regardless of the desired sociability of your adult dog, dog-dog play and especially play-fighting and play-biting during puppyhood are absolutely essential for the development of bite inhibition and a soft mouth. For this reason alone, puppy classes and trips to the dog park are the top priority at three months of age.

5. SIT AND SETTLE DOWN COMMANDS - begin anytime you would like your puppydog to listen to you. If you teach your dog just a couple of commands, they would have to be Sit and Settle Down. Just think of all the mischievous things your puppydog cannot do when he is sitting. #5 Urgency Rating - Unlike socialization and bite inhibition which must occur during puppyhood, you may teach your dog to sit and settle down at any age, so there is no great urgency. However, because it is so easy and so much fun to teach young puppies, why not start teaching basic manners the very first day you bring your puppy home, or as early as four or five weeks if you are raising the litter? The only urgency to teach these simple and effective control commands would be if ever your puppy's antics or activity level begin to irritate you. Sit or Settle Down will solve most problems.#5 Importance Rating - It is difficult to rate the importance of basic manners. Personally, I like dogs that can enjoy being dogs without being a bother to other people. On the other hand, many people happily live with dogs without any formal training whatsoever. If you consider your dog to be perfect for you, make your own choice. But if you or other people find your dog's behavior to be annoying, why not teach him how to behave? Indeed, a simple sit prevents the majority of annoying behavior problems, including jumping-up, dashing through doorways, running away, bothering people, chasing his tail, chasing the cat, etc., etc. The list is long! It is so much easier to teach your dog how to act appropriately from the outset, i.e., to teach the one right way (e.g., to sit), rather than trying to punish the dog for the many things that you think he does wrong. Regardless, it would be unfair to get on your dog's case for bad manners if he is only breaking your rules that he didn't even know existed.

6. BITE INHIBITION - by eighteen weeks of age. A soft mouth is the single most important quality for any dog. Hopefully, your dog will never bite or fight, but if he does, well-established bite inhibition ensures that your dog causes little if any damage. Socialization is an ongoing process of ever-widening experience and confidence building that helps your pup to comfortably handle the challenges and changes of everyday adult life. However, it is impossible to prepare your puppy for every possible eventuality, and on those rare occasions when adult dogs are badly hurt, frightened, scared, or upset, they seldom call a lawyer or write letters of complaint. Instead, dogs customarily growl and bite, whereupon the level of bite-inhibition-training from puppyhood predetermines the seriousness of the damage. Adult dogs with poor bite inhibition rarely mouth and seldom bite, but when they do, the bites almost always break the skin. Adult dogs with well-established bite inhibition often mouth during play, and should they bite, the bites almost never break the skin because during puppyhood the dog learned how to register a complaint without inflicting any damage.Bite inhibition is one of the most misunderstood aspects of behavioral development in dogs (and other animals). Many owners make the catastrophic mistake of stopping their puppy from mouthing altogether. If a puppy is not allowed to play-bite, he cannot develop reliable bite inhibition. Pups are born virtual biting machines with needle sharp teeth for one reason only — so that they learn their bites hurt before they develop the jaw strength to cause appreciable harm. However, they cannot learn to inhibit the force of their bites if they are never allowed to play-bite and play-fight. Bite inhibition training comprises first teaching the puppy to progressively inhibit the force of his bites until painful puppy play-biting is toned down and transformed into gentle puppy mouthing, and then, and only then, teaching him to progressively inhibit the incidence of his mouthing. Thus the puppy learns that any pressured bite is absolutely unacceptable and that mouthing is by and large inappropriate.#6 Urgency Rating - You have until your puppy is four and a half months old, so take your time to ensure your puppy masters this most important item in his educational curriculum. The more times your puppy bites in play, the safer his jaws will be as an adult since he has had more opportunities to learn that biting hurts. If you are at all worried about your puppy's biting behavior, seek further advice from a Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT) and enroll in a puppy class immediately, so that your puppy may redirect many of his bites towards other puppies during play sessions and so develop stellar bite inhibition.#1 Importance Rating - Bite inhibition is of crucial importance and by far the single most important quality of any dog, or any animal. Living with a dog that does not have reliable bite inhibition is unpleasant and dangerous. Bite inhibition must be acquired during puppyhood. You must fully understand how to teach your puppy bite inhibition. Attempting to teach bite inhibition to an adolescent or adult dog is often extremely difficult, dangerous, and time-consuming.

Adapted from BEFORE You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar

Choosing Your Puppy

Choosing a puppy is a very important decision, and everyone who lives in the household should agree before any puppy is brought into the home. If the puppy is to truly become a member of the family, then all family members will need to be involved in training. Before you choose your puppy (usually at eight weeks of age), you need to know:

· How to evaluate and select a good breeder

· How to evaluate and select a good puppy and specifically, how to assess your puppy's behavioral development.

Also, you must keep in mind that there are no perfect puppies. In this chapter we recommend giving careful consideration to where, when and how you choose your puppy, but please remember, any puppy you pick will need to be trained if you want to live with a well-behaved, friendly and mannerly dog.

In preparation for household living, the litter of puppies must have been raised indoors and around people and not in some secluded backyard or fancy kennel. If raised in kennel-isolation, your prospective puppy's social and mental development is already likely to be severely retarded and sadly, you will be playing catch-up for the rest of her life. Your puppy will require remedial socialization and training for a long time to come.

By eight weeks of age:

· Your puppy should already have been handled by many people, especially men, children, and strangers

· Your puppy must have become thoroughly accustomed to a home physical environment, especially to all sorts of potentially scary noises

· Your puppy's errorless housetraining and chewtoy-training should be underway

· Your puppy should already have a rudimentary understanding of basic manners. At the very least, your puppy should come, sit, lie down, and roll over when requested.

Make absolutely certain the puppies have been raised indoors in close contact with people who have devoted lots of time to their education.

If a dog is expected to live in a household with people, obviously she needs to have been raised in a household with people. Your puppy needs to be prepared for the clamor of everyday domestic living: the noise of the vacuum cleaner, pots and pans dropping in the kitchen, football games screaming on the television, children crying, and adults arguing. Exposure to such stimuli while her eyes and ears are still developing allows the puppy (with her blurred vision and muffled hearing) to gradually become accustomed to sights and sounds that might otherwise frighten her when older.

There is not much point in choosing a puppy that has been raised in the relative social isolation of a backyard kennel, basement, barn, or garage, where there is precious little opportunity for interaction with people and where a puppy has become accustomed to soiling her living area and yapping a lot. Puppies raised in physical seclusion and partial social isolation are hardly prepared for household living, and they are certainly not prepared for encounters with children or men. Backyard- and kennel-raised puppies are certainly not pet-quality dogs; they are livestock on par with veal calves and battery hens. Look elsewhere! Look for litters born and raised indoors — in a kitchen or living room.

If you want a companion dog to share your home, she obviously should have been raised in a home, not in a cage or a kennel.

An essential ingredient of puppy husbandry is regular (several times a day) handling, gentling, and calming by a wide variety of people, especially children, men, and strangers. These exercises are especially important during the early weeks and especially with those breeds that are notoriously tricky when handled by strangers — that is, several Asian breeds, plus many herding, working, toy and terrier breeds — in other words, most breeds of dog!

It is so important that dogs enjoy interacting with people and being hugged and handled, especially by children, men, and strangers. Early socialization easily prevents serious adult problems.

If you want a cuddly adult dog, he needs to have been cuddled regularly as a puppy. Certainly, neonatal pups are pretty fragile and helpless critters; they can barely walk and they have a number of sensory constraints. But they still need to be socialized. Neonatal pups are extremely sensitive and impressionable, and this is the very best time to accustom them to being handled. Neonatal puppies may not see or hear very well, but they can smell and feel. Of course, neonatal and early puppy socialization, being of paramount importance, must be done gently and carefully.

The puppy should be fully desensitized to sounds before he is four weeks old. Likewise, his housetraining program should be well underway, his favorite toy should be a chewtoy (stuffed with puppy chow), and he should happily and eagerly come, follow, sit, lie down, and roll over when requested. If these are not so, either your puppy is a slow learner or he has had a poor teacher. In either case, look elsewhere.

If You Really Want a Challenge

If you really want to set yourself a housetraining challenge, buy a three-month-old puppy from a kennel or pet store window littered with shredded paper and straw with no specific toilet area. This puppy has been trained to eliminate anywhere, anytime. And that's exactly what she will do when you get her home. You'll be cleaning up urine and feces for a very long time!

Adapted from BEFORE You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar

Training:  Choosing Your Puppy

Which Type of Dog?


There are many considerations when choosing a puppy, including which breed or type, and the optimal age of acquisition. Obviously, you want to choose a dog that is best suited to you and your lifestyle. Rather than listing my preferences, I will discuss some of the more important guidelines.

First, please do not kid yourself that all you have to do is select the "perfect" breed and the "perfect" individual puppy and he will automatically grow up into the "perfect" adult dog. Any puppy can become a marvelous companion if appropriately socialized and trained. And, no matter what his breed or breeding, any puppy can become a doggy delinquent if not properly socialized and trained. Please make an intelligent, researched choice when selecting your puppy, but remember: appropriate socialization and training is the single biggest factor determining how closely the dog will approach your view of perfection in adulthood.

Second, seek advice from the best sources. Common mistakes are to take breed advice from veterinarians, health advice from breeders, and all-important behavior and training advice from veterinarians, breeders, and pet-store personnel. The best plan is to seek training and behavior advice from trainers and behavior counselors, health advice from veterinarians, breed advice from breeders, and product advice from pet-store personnel. And if you really want to know what's going on, check out a local puppy class and chat with the owners; they'll give you the cold, hard facts regarding what it's really like to live with a puppy.

Third, seek advice from several sources and evaluate all advice carefully. Apply the common sense principle: does it make sense to you? Is the advice relevant to your family and your lifestyle? Whereas most advice is sound, some can be irrelevant, hypocritical, preachy or questionable. And occasionally, "advice" can be just downright bad.

Example 1: One breeder told a couple they could not buy a puppy unless they had a fenced yard and one of them was home all day. Yet the breeder herself had no fenced yard and her twenty or so dogs lived in crates in a kennel a good forty yards away from her house and any hope of human companionship. Duh!?!

Example 2: Many people are advised not to get a large dog if they live in an apartment. On the contrary! As long as they receive regular walks, large dogs make wonderful apartment companions. Compared with smaller dogs, large dogs often settle down better and bark less. Many little dogs exasperate owners and neighbors by being active and noisy, and running amuck and treating apartment furniture like an agility course. Smaller dogs make wonderful apartment companions, however, so long as they are trained to settle down and shush.

Example 3: Many veterinarians advise that Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers are the best dogs with children. All breeds of dog can make good companions for children, provided that they have been trained how to act around children, and provided that the children have been taught how to act around dogs! Otherwise, all dogs — including Goldens and Labs — are likely to be frightened and irritated by children, or excited and incited by their antics.

Remember, you are selecting a puppy to live with you for a good long time. Choosing a puppy to share your life is a very personal choice — your choice. You will save yourself a lot of unnecessary problems and heartbreak if your choice is an informed and educated one.

In reality, though, people seldom pay heed to well-meaning advice and usually end up choosing with heart instead of head. Indeed, many people end up choosing a dog along the same lines as they might choose a lifelong human companion: based on coat color, conformation, and cuteness. But regardless of the many reasons for selecting a particular puppy — whether pedigree, conformation, cuteness, or general health — the success of the endeavor ultimately depends almost entirely on the pup's education regarding appropriate behavior and training.

Adapted from BEFORE You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar

Another great way to find the dog of your dreams is to use the Dogtime matchup.

Training:  Which Type of Dog

Mixed Breed or Pure Breed?


This decision is a personal choice that only you can make. The most obvious difference is that pure breeds are more predictable in terms of looks and behavior, whereas each mixed breed is utterly unique — one of a kind.

Regardless of your personal preference for attractiveness, attentiveness, and activity, you would do well to consider general health and life expectancy. By and large, due to lack of inbreeding, mixed breeds are healthier genetic stock; they tend to live longer and have fewer health problems. On the other hand, at a pure-breed kennel, it is possible to check out the friendliness, basic manners, general health, and life expectancy of several generations of your prospective puppy's forebears.

Which Breed?

A Border Collie or a French Bulldog? A Golden Retriever or a Belgian Malinois? I am strongly opposed to suggesting breeds for people. Recommending specific breeds may sound like helpful and harmless advice, but it is insidiously dangerous and not in the best interests of dogs or of dog-owning families. Advice either for or against specific breeds often leads owners to believe that training is either unnecessary or impossible. Thus many poor dogs grow up without an education.

Breed recommendations often lead unsuspecting owners to believe that once they have selected the right breed, there is nothing more to do. Thinking they have the best possible breed, many owners suffer the misconception that training is unnecessary and so don't bother. This, of course, is when things start to go downhill.

Even more disturbing, when certain breeds are recommended, other breeds are automatically being advised against. "Experts" often suggest that certain breeds are too big, too small, too active, too lethargic, too fast, too slow, too smart, or too dumb, and therefore too difficult to train. Well, we know that regardless of helpful "advice," people are probably going to pick the breed they wanted in the first place. But now they may feel disinclined to train the puppy, feeling that the process is going to be difficult and time consuming. Furthermore, owners may rationalize their negligence by citing any one of the pack of convenient excuses listed above.

Some people like to rank order breeds in terms of supposed relative intelligence, citing Border Collies and Golden Retrievers as being smart and Bassett Hounds, Coonhounds, Irish Wolfhounds and Afghan Hounds as being not so smart. Certainly, analyzing differential responses to cognitive tests and puzzles is interesting, but generalizing about breed intelligence can have sad repercussions. For example, a Border Collie owner didn’t bother training their puppy because they thought it was so smart that training was unnecessary. And an Afghan Hound owner didn’t bother training their puppy because they thought it lacked smarts and that training would be impossible.

Breed is a very personal choice. Choose the breed you like, investigate breed-specific qualities and problems, and then research the best way to raise and train your pup. If you select what others consider an easy breed to raise and train, train your pup so that he becomes the very best individual — an ambassador — of that breed. And if you select a breed that some people consider difficult to raise and train, train him, train him, and train him, so that he becomes the very best example — an ambassador — of that breed.

Regardless of your eventual choice, and certainly once you have made it, success or failure is now entirely in your hands. Your puppy's behavior and temperament now depend completely on good husbandry and training.

When evaluating different breeds, the good points are obvious. What you need to find out are the breed's bad points. You need to investigate potential breed-specific (or line-specific) problems and to know how to deal with them. If you want to find out more about a specific breed, find at least six adult dogs of the breed you have selected and talk to their owners at length, but most importantly, meet the dogs! Examine and handle them; play with them and work them. See if the dogs welcome being petted by a stranger — you. Will they sit? Do they walk nicely on leash? Are they quiet or noisy? Are they calm and collected, or are they hyperactive and rambunctious? Can you examine their ears, eyes, and rear end? Can you open their muzzle? Can you get them to roll over? Are the owners' houses and gardens still in good condition? And most important, do the dogs like people and other dogs?

Learn what to expect, because when your eight-week-old puppy comes home, he will grow up with frightening speed. Indeed, in just four month’s time, your pup will develop into a six-month-old adolescent that has gained almost adult size, strength, and speed, while at the same time retaining many puppy constraints on learning. Your puppy has so much to learn before he collides with impending adolescence.

In terms of personality, behavior, and temperament, please be aware that dogs of the same breed may show considerable variation. If you have siblings or more than one child you probably appreciate the incredible range of temperaments and personalities of children from the same parents. Dogs are similar. Indeed, there may be as much variation of behavior among individuals of the same litter as there is among dogs of different breeds.

Environmental influences (socialization and training) exert a far greater impact on desired domestic behavior and temperament than genetic heredity. For example, the temperamental differences between a good (educated) Alaskan Malamute and a bad (uneducated) Alaskan Malamute or between a good Golden Retriever and a bad Golden Retriever are much greater than temperamental differences between a Golden and a Malamute with an equivalent experiential and educational history. A dog's education is always the biggest factor determining his future behavior and temperament.

Please make sure you fully understand the above paragraph. I am not saying training necessarily has a greater effect on dog behavior than genetic heredity. Rather, I am stating quite categorically that attaining a desired domestic dog behavior is almost entirely dependent on socialization and training. For example, dogs bark, bite, urine mark, and wag their tails largely for genetic reasons — because they are dogs. The frequency of their barks, however, the severity of their bites, the location of their urine marks, and the enthusiasm of their tail wags depends pretty much on the nature of their socialization and training. Your dog's domestic success is in your hands.

Movie DogStars

EddieWhen selecting a breed, don't be duped by celebrity dogs appearing in films or on television. These dogs are highly trained canine actors. In fact, Lassie has been played by at least eight different canine actors. The dogs are acting, and often the requirements of their role mask their true breed and individual characteristics. This is no different from Anthony Hopkins playing Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs and C. S. Lewis in Shadowlands — two very different roles, and both of them completely different from what we may suppose is the real Anthony Hopkins. It's acting, and in a sense you need to teach your puppy how to act — that is, how to act appropriately in a variety of domestic settings, such as the living room and the park.

Eddie (Moose) appears to be calm and controlled on the set of Frasier, because "Moose the Active" was trained to be calm and controlled to play the role of Eddie. Moreover, Eddie's endearing television demeanor and his acquired social savvy, charming manners, and acting skills have successfully overcome his original delinquent disposition. Why not hear about the real Moose from Eddie’s trainer, Mathilde DeCagny?


Adapted from BEFORE You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar

Another way to find the right dog for you is to use the Dogtime matchup.

When to Get a Puppy


Aside from the obvious answer — not before you are ready — the time to get a dog is when you have completed your doggy education. And when the pup is ready.

An important consideration is the age of the pup. Most puppies change homes at some time in their life, usually from the home where they were born to the homes of their new human companions. The optimal time for a puppy to change homes depends on many variables, including his emotional needs, his all-important socialization schedule, and the level of doggy expertise in each household.

Leaving home can be traumatic, and limiting the pup's emotional trauma is a prime consideration. If the puppy leaves home too early, he will miss out on early pup-pup and pup-mother interactions. And since the first weeks in a new home are often spent in a doggy social vacuum, the developing puppy may grow up undersocialized toward his own kind. On the other hand, the longer the puppy stays in his original home the more attached he becomes to his doggy family and the harder the eventual transition. A delayed transition also postpones all-important socialization with the new family.

Eight weeks of age has long been accepted as the optimal time to acquire a new pup. By eight weeks, sufficient dog-dog socialization has taken place with mother and littermates to tide the puppy over until he is old enough to safely meet and play with other dogs in puppy class and dog parks. Yet the puppy is still young enough to form a strong bond with the human and canine members of his new family.

The relative level of doggy expertise in each home is a vital consideration in determining whether the puppy is better off staying longer in his original home or leaving earlier to live with his new owners. It is often assumed that breeders are experts and owners are rank novices, so that it makes sense to leave the pup with the breeder as long as possible. A conscientious breeder is usually better qualified to socialize, housetrain, and chewtoy-train the puppy. When this is true, it makes sense to get the puppy when he is older. (In fact, I often ask novice owners whether they have considered a socially mature and well-trained adult dog as an alternative to a young pup.)

This of course presupposes the breeder's superior expertise. Unfortunately, just as there are excellent, average, novice, and irresponsible owners, there are also excellent, average, novice, and irresponsible breeders. With the combination of an experienced owner and a less-than-average breeder, the puppy would be better off moving to his new home as early as possible, certainly by six to eight weeks at the latest. If you feel you are a qualified puppy raiser but the breeder will not let you take your pup home before eight weeks of age, look elsewhere. Remember, you are searching for a puppy to live with you, not with the breeder. In fact, you might be better off looking elsewhere anyway, since a less-than-average breeder probably produces less-than-average puppies.

Adapted from BEFORE You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar

Training:  When To Get A Puppy

Where to Get a Puppy


Whether selecting your prospective pup from a professional breeder or from a family breeding a litter for the very first time, the criteria are the same.

First, look for puppies raised indoors around human companionship and influence. Avoid pups raised in an outdoor run or kennel. Remember, you want a puppy to share your home, and so look for a puppy that has been raised in a home. See Choosing Your Puppy: How To Select A Good Breeder

Second, assess your prospective puppy's current socialization and education status. Regardless of breed, breeding, pedigree, and lineage, if your prospective puppy's socialization and training programs are not underway well before eight weeks of age, he is already developmentally retarded.

Adapted from BEFORE You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar

See Choosing Your Puppy: How To Select A Good Puppy

Training:  Where To Get A Puppy

Puppy vs. Adult


Before rushing ahead and getting a puppy, it's a good idea to at least consider the pros and cons of adopting an adult dog. There are certainly several advantages to getting a pup, the foremost being you may mold the puppy's behavior and temperament to suit your own particular lifestyle. This, of course, presumes you know how to train and have the time to do it. Sometimes you might not. And so in a lot of ways an adolescent or adult dog with a Kennel Club obedience title and a Canine Good Citizenship Test may make a more suitable companion — especially for a two-income family whose members barely have the time to get together as a family themselves.

Additionally, a two-year-old (or older) adult dog's habits, manners, and temperament are already well established, for better or for worse. Traits and habits may change over time, but compared with the behavioral flexibility of young puppies, an older dog's good habits are as resistant to change as their bad habits. Consequently, it is possible to test drive a number of adult shelter dogs and select one free of problems and with an established personality to your liking.

Adopting an adult dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization can be a marvelous alternative to raising a puppy. Some shelter and rescue dogs are well-trained and simply need a home. Others have a few behavior problems and require remedial puppy education in adulthood. However, other dogs have significant problems, such as generalized fearfulness, that will require months and months of dedicated rehabilitation. Some dogs are purebred; most are mixed breeds. The key to finding a good shelter or rescue dog is selection, selection, selection! Take plenty of time to test drive each prospective candidate. Each dog is unique.

If you still have your heart set on raising and training a puppy, do make sure you educate yourself beforehand. Only search for a puppy after you have learned how to raise and train one. Remember, it takes only a few weeks to ruin an otherwise perfect puppy.

Please ask yourself, “Where do shelter dogs come from?” All shelter dogs were once perfect puppies that were abandoned or surrendered because they developed annoying behavior, training, and temperament problems, simply because their owners did not know how to train them.

The sequence of events is utterly predictable: too much initial freedom and too little supervision and education all but teach a newly acquired puppy to chew household articles and eliminate in the house. In the owner’s attempt to manage these common and foreseeable problems, the puppy is relegated outdoors, where he quickly becomes de-socialized and develops other annoying habits, such as barking, digging, and escaping. After spending day after day in social isolation, the puppy is so excited when asked indoors that he enthusiastically runs around, barks, and jumps up to greet his long-lost human companions. Soon, the overly rambunctious pup is no longer allowed indoors at all. Either he is captured by animal control after he escapes from solitary confinement, or neighbors complain about his excessive barking and he is confined to the garage or basement — usually only a temporary measure before the now unwanted adolescent dog is abandoned or surrendered to a shelter. And he is barely six months old.

All behavior, temperament, and training problems are so utterly predictable, and so easily preventable. Even most existing problems may be resolved fairly easily. Education is the key.

Adapted from BEFORE You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar


A good place to search for the right dog for you is the Dogtime matchup.

Training:  Puppy vs. Adult?

How to Select a Good Breeder


A good breeder will be extremely choosy in accepting prospective puppy buyers. A prospective owner should be equally choosy when selecting a breeder. A prospective owner can begin to evaluate a breeder's expertise by noting whether she ranks the puppies' mental well-being and physical health above their good looks. Assess several factors:

· whether your prospective puppy's parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and other relations live to a ripe old age

· whether the breeder's adult dogs are all people-friendly and well-trained

· whether your prospective pup is already well-socialized and well-trained, i.e., evaluate the breeder’s socialization and training program.

Basically, this breeder is under the impression the dog is so dumb he can not tell the difference between two simple instructions such as "Sit" and "Stand." Look elsewhere. Just because the breeder is prepared to live with dogs that haven't even been taught to sit does not mean to say you should! Also, if the puppy hasn't even been taught basic manners, there are probably many other things the breeder has failed to teach.


The single best indicator of general health, good behavior, and temperament is the overall life expectancy of a kennel line. Long-lived dogs advertise good temperament and training, since dogs with behavior and temperament problems generally have short life expectancies. Check to see that your prospective puppy's parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and other relations are still alive and healthy, or that they died at a ripe old age. Conscientious breeders will have telephone numbers readily available of previous puppy buyers and of the breeders of the other dogs in your prospective puppy's pedigree. If the breeder is not eager to share information regarding life expectancy and the incidence of breed-specific diseases, look elsewhere. You will eventually find a breeder who will accommodate your concerns. Before you open your heart to a young pup, you certainly want to maximize the likelihood that the two of you will be spending a long and healthy life together.

Meet The Parents

Meet and test-drive as many of your prospective puppy's adult relatives as possible. Friendly dogs are self-apparent when you meet them. Friendly dogs are living proof of good socialization by a good breeder.

Beware the breeder who is only willing to show you puppies.

A good breeder will take the time to see how you get along with adult dogs before letting you anywhere near the pups.

A good breeder wouldn't let you leave with a puppy if you didn't know how to handle an adult dog, which your puppy will be in just a few months. Make sure the breeder teaches you how to handle and train her adult dogs.

You want to evaluate as many adult dogs as possible from your prospective puppy's family and line before you let a litter of super-cute puppies steal your heart. If all the adult dogs are people-friendly, well behaved and well trained, it is a good bet that you have discovered an exceptional breeder with exceptional dogs.

Assess Socialization & Training Program

Observe: Are the puppies being raised indoors?

Is there a specific doggy toilet in the puppies' living area?

How many piles and puddles are in the toilet versus on the floor? This will offer a good indication of where the puppy will eliminate if she comes to your home.

How many hollow chewtoys (such as Kongs, Biscuit Balls, Squirrel Dudes, or sterilized bones) stuffed with kibble and treats can you see in the puppies’ play area?

Ask the breeder:

To demonstrate the puppies' basic obedience skills, for example, to come, sit, lie down, and roll over

How many people have handled and gentled the pups daily?

How many children, men, and strangers have trained, and played with the pups daily?

Have the pups been exposed to loud and unexpected noises, such as adults shouting, children crying, television (male voices shouting and screaming on ESPN), radio, and music (Country, Rock, and Classical—maybe Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture)?

For a progress report on the litter's ongoing errorless housetraining and chewtoy-training program.

Remember: You are choosing a pup to come and live in your home and adapt to your lifestyle, so please make sure the puppy has been prepared for domestic life in general and is suitable for your lifestyle in particular.

Beware of statements like:

"We haven't taught the puppies to sit because they are showdogs." or "He's the scaredy-cat of the litter."

Certainly in any litter individual dogs will display different tendencies toward approaching strangers (you), but no eight-week-old puppy should be scared to approach people. Any shyness, fearfulness, or tendency to avoid people should have been noticed and dealt with as early as four weeks ago. The shy puppy should have been supersocialized. A single scaredy-cat puppy in a litter indicates that the breeder has not been vigilant in assessing day-to-day socialization. There are most probably other good puppies in the litter, but I suggest that you be vigilant when assessing their socialization status.

Adapted from BEFORE You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar

How to Select a Good Puppy


When choosing the puppy, it is so important that all family members agree. You want to select the puppy you all like best, and you want to select a puppy that likes all of you. Sit down quietly as a family and see which puppies make contact first and which ones stay around the longest.

You want to select a puppy that likes you and enjoys being hugged and handled (restrained and examined). You want to select a puppy who is socialized, confident, housetrained, chewtoy-trained, and obedience trained.

Social Attraction

For years it was dogmatically stated that puppies that approached quickly, jumped-up, and bit your hands were totally unsuitable as pets, since they were aggressive and difficult to train. On the contrary, these are normal, well-socialized, eight-week-old puppies, which are simply saying hello in true puppy fashion without the benefit of manners. With some very basic training to redirect the pup's delightful exuberance, you'll have the fastest recalls and the quickest sits in puppy class. Also, puppy biting is both normal and absolutely necessary. In fact the more dogs bite as puppies, the softer and safer their jaws in adulthood.

I would be more concerned about puppies that were slow to approach or remained in hiding. It is completely, utterly, and absolutely abnormal for a well-socialized six- to eight-week-old puppy to be shy when approaching people. If the puppy acts shy or scared, then without a doubt he has not been sufficiently socialized. Look elsewhere. If, however, you really have your heart set on taking a shy puppy, only do so if each family member can coax the pup to approach and take a food treat. A shy puppy represents a substantial time commitment, since he will need to be hand-fed kibble every day from a variety of strangers. To rehabilitate this pup, you'll certainly have your work cut out for you during the next four weeks.

Make sure the puppy quickly and happily approaches all family members.

Handling and Gentling

Your prospective puppy should feel thoroughly at ease being handled by strangers — you and your family. Handle each puppy to see how he enjoys being cuddled (gently restrained) and stroked and massaged (examined) around his neck, muzzle, ears, paws, belly, and rear end. Your puppy should relax like a rag doll. If the puppy struggles, see how long it takes for the pup to calm down.

Make sure all family members handle the puppy.

Sound Sensitivity

Exposure to a variety of sounds should commence well before the eyes and ears are fully opened, especially with sound-sensitive dogs, such as herding and obedience breeds. It is quite normal for puppies to react to noises. What you are trying to evaluate is the extent of each pup's reaction and the pup’s bounce-back time. For example, we expect a puppy to react to a sudden and unexpected loud noise, but we do not expect him to go to pieces. Judge whether the puppy reacts or overreacts to sounds, and time how long it takes for the puppy to approach and take a food treat (the bounce-back time). Expect immeasurably short bounce-back times from bull breeds, and short bounce-backs from working dogs and terriers, but be prepared for longer bounce-back times from toys and herding breeds. Regardless of a dog's breed or type, however, excessive overreaction, panic, or extremely lengthy bounce-back times are all proof of insufficient socialization. Unless successfully rehabilitated, such pups may become extremely reactive when they grow up.

Evaluate the puppies' response to a variety of noises: people talking, laughing, crying, and shouting, a whistle, a hiss, or a single hand clap.

Household Etiquette

If the puppies have no available toilet and the entire puppy area has been covered with sheets of newspaper, the puppies will have developed a strong preference for going on paper and will need specialized housetraining in their new home. Moreover, if there is no toilet and the entire area has been littered with straw or shredded paper, the puppies will have learned they may eliminate anywhere and everywhere, which is what they will do in your home. The longer the puppy has been raised in these conditions, the more difficult she will be to housetrain.

Try to observe the litter for at least two hours and pay attention to where each puppy eliminates and what each puppy chews.

Basic Manners

Evaluate each puppy's response to your lure/reward training attempts using pieces of kibble or chewtoys as lures and rewards. Make sure each family member trains the puppy to come, sit, lie down, stand and rollover.

Singleton Puppies

Most pups have adequate opportunity to play with their littermates during their first eight weeks. Singleton and hand-reared pups have had insufficient opportunity to play (play-fight and play-bite) and therefore teaching bite inhibition is a top priority. If you select a singleton puppy, make sure you enroll in a puppy classes as soon as your puppy reaches three months of age. Play and socialization are essential for puppies to develop and maintain a soft mouth.

Adapted from BEFORE You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar

Shopping List For a New Puppy

Once you have completed your doggy education, it is time to shop for your prospective puppy. Many training books, pet stores, and dog catalogs display an awesome and confusing array of doggy products and training equipment. Consequently, I have listed a number of essentials with personal preferences in parentheses. 1. Books and DVDs about puppy behavior and training (instructions for use) 2. Dog crate (Vari Kennel), and maybe an exercise pen or baby gate barrier 3. At least six chewtoys to stuff with kibble and treats (The Kong Company’s Kong and Biscuit Ball, Premier’s Squirrel Dude and Football, and sterilized long bones are the best.) 4. Doggy toilet (Construct your own — turf in a litter pan) 5. Water bowl (Only buy your pup a food bowl once he is socialized, well-trained, and has impeccable household manners.) 6. Dog food (dry kibble) During his first weeks at home, make sure your puppy receives all food stuffed in chewtoys, or handfed as rewards for socialization and training. 7. Freeze-dried liver for men, strangers, and children to win your puppy's confidence and as rewards for housetraining 8. Edible Chewies 9. Interactive Toys 10. Plush (squeaky) Toys 11. Martingale collar, leash, and maybe a Gentle Leader (Premier Pet Products)

Training:  Shopping List