Puppies: choosing

Choosing and Testing Puppies
Your Purebred Puppy, advice you can trust. – link

Don’t let the puppy choose you. You may have been advised by well-meaning friends to let a puppy choose YOU, i.e. the one who comes to you first or seems to like you the most. This usually results in all the bold and pushy puppies (who are often difficult to raise) being taken first, while the gentle puppies (who usually make calmer pets) wait politely in the background.

Most families make a mistake by letting the most brash, forceful puppies choose them. Sure, these little dynamos are a blast to play with for an hour at the breeder’s. But they can drive you crazy if you have to live with them 24 hours a day. A puppy can love you without being suited to you all — and a puppy can be perfectly suited to you without launching himself immediately into your lap. Give each puppy a fair evaluation.

Evaluate the litter as a whole
Your first look should be at the litter as a group. If there are four puppies and three of them are running away or staying at arm’s length or woofing suspiciously at you, I’m sorry to say your visit is over. No, you shouldn’t buy the fourth puppy. The chances are too great that shyness or distrustful nature is in his genes, too, and simply hasn’t caught up to him yet.

And don’t let a breeder laugh off his puppies’ timidity with assurances of, “Oh, they just haven’t been handled much.” Lack of socialization means laziness or ignorance on the part of the breeder. You do not want a puppy from a lazy or ignorant breeder. If he doesn’t socialize properly, who knows what else he screwed up?

Puppy Evaluation
Choosing a puppy the right way. Use this nine step evaluation. – link

Shy puppies can become shy dogs
Puppies who hide or tuck their tails or shrink away from you are not safe choices as pets. Don’t try to convince yourself that you can “bring them out of their shell.” You don’t know what’s going on in these puppies’ genes. Shy puppies can become shy dogs who may snap defensively at anything that startles them.

Normal puppies will be…
They will be friendly, curious, trusting. They mill around your feet, tug at your shoelaces, crawl into your lap, nibble on your fingers. After a while, they may stop playing with you and begin wrestling with one another. You can tell a lot about the individual puppies by the way they interact with their littermates.
1. Which ones are strong, outgoing, bossy, noisy?
2. Which ones are quiet, submissive, gentle?
3. Which ones grab all the toys and win the tugs-of-war?
4. Which ones seem delicate or picked on?
5. Most families do best with a pup who is neither boss of the litter nor lowest on the totem pole.
Look for good-natured, middle of the road pups who don’t growl or grab or bite, but who DO Join In and hold their own.

Clap your hands gently, snap your fingers, jingle car keys, shuffle your feet, whistle softly, cluck your tongue.
1. Which pups are interested?
2. Which ones come over to investigate?
3. Which ones are apprehensive?
You want an alert and confident puppy. A nervous puppy who is afraid of sudden sounds or quick movements will not do well in a busy household. A puppy who is completely oblivious may be too dull, too independent, or unhealthy.

Evaluate individual puppies
Next, ask the breeder if you can see each puppy who is available for sale, individually. Ask him to remove the other pups. You want to see how each puppy reacts[/color] when he is away from his littermates. Sometimes a puppy who seems bold when “his friends are backing him up” will become uncertain or anxious on his own. Or sometimes an energetic puppy will calm down when not being egged on by the others; given your undivided attention, he may become quite the lap-sitter.

1. What is his general expression and body language?
2. Does he keep his tail up or mostly down?
3. Is his tail wagging, even hesitantly?
4. When you talk to him, does he look at your face?
5. Does he cock his head and listen to you?

3. Stages of puppy behavior
Developmental Stages Of Puppy Behavior. Touch, taste, hearing, smell, people, noises, bite, play, explore, house training, fear, experiences, curiosity, social skills, training, ranking, pack member.

Although feeding time is important to your pup, it’s also vital to include petting, talking, playing and gentle training in order to help your puppy build good “people-skills.” Well-socialized doggie mothers are more likely to have well-socialized puppies. Puppies “feed” off of their mothers’ calm or fearful attitude toward people.

Puppies are usually weaned at six or seven weeks, but are still learning important skills as their mother gradually leaves them more and more. Ideally, puppies should stay with their littermates (or other role-model dogs) for at least 12 weeks.

Puppies separated from their littermates too early often don’t develop appropriate “social skills,” such as learning how to send and receive signals, what an “inhibited bite” means, how far to go in play wrestling and so forth. Play is important to help puppies increase their physical coordination, social skills and learning limits. Interacting with their mother and littermates helps them learn “how to be a dog” and is also a way to explore ranking (“who’s in charge”).

Skills not acquired during the first eight weeks may be lost forever. While these stages are important and fairly consistent, a dog’s mind remains receptive to new experiences and lessons well beyond puppy-hood. Most dogs are still puppies, in mind and body, through the first two years.

GENERAL guidelines for the stages of puppy development.
0 – 2 weeks = Neonatal
Most influenced by their mother.
Touch and taste are present at birth.

2 – 4 weeks = Transitional
Most influenced by their mother and littermates.
Eyes open, teeth erupt, hearing and smell begin to develop.
Beginning to stand, walk a little, wag, bark.
By four or five weeks, sight is well-developed.

3 – 12 weeks = Socialization
Puppies need opportunities to meet other people.
Four to six weeks most influenced by their littermates and are learning about being a dog.
Four to 12 weeks influenced by their littermates and also people. They’re learning to play, including social skills, inhibited bite, social structure/ranking and physical coordination.
Three to five weeks becoming aware of their surroundings, companions (dogs and people) and relationships, including play.
Five to seven weeks developing curiosity and exploring new experiences. They need positive “people” experiences during this time.
Seven to nine weeks refining physical skills/coordination (including housetraining) and full use of senses.
Eight to ten weeks they experience real fear — when puppies can be alarmed by normal objects and experiences and need positive training.
Nine to 12 weeks refining reactions, social skills (appropriate interactions) with littermates and are exploring the environment, spaces and objects. Beginning to focus on people. This is a good time to begin serious training.

3 – 6 months = Ranking
Puppies need opportunities to meet lots of other people. Hundreds of people.
Influenced by “littermates” (playmates now include those of other species).
Beginning to see and use ranking within their pack, including humans.
Teething (and associated chewing).
At four months they may experience another fear stage.
A prime time to expose the pup to all sorts of sounds, objects, people, places, things, etc. Caution! Do so gently!

6 – 18 months = Adolescence
Most influenced by human and dog “pack” members.
At seven to nine months they go through a second chewing phase — part of exploring territory.
Heightened exploration of dominance, including challenging humans.
If not spayed or neutered, beginnings of sexual behavior.