Picking the Right Puppy – Life, Love, and Laughter with Dogs
We are finally adding a second permanent dog to our ever-changing pack. This Saturday I will be picking up our new eight week old Australian Cattle Dog puppy. After much deliberation we have decided on the name Mick, a good strong Aussie name. That is of course assuming we don’t realize at the last minute that he actually looks more like a Will, Cash or Body (other names we have been tossing around).
Taking a new puppy from their eighth week through their twelfth week is a daunting task for any new owner and I find myself feeling the same anxiety, anticipation and excitement that I go through on a daily basis with my clients. In this stage, known as the fourth stage of the critical period, the work suddenly changes hands from the mother dog to the new owner. I am responsible for my puppy trusting the world around him. The process is different for every puppy because they each have their own unique personality and temperament.
On my first visit to meet my little male I was looking at temperament first and foremost. When I held him down on his back I was looking for him to wiggle for a moment, lick my hand and relax with gentle acceptance. When I blew in his face I wanted to make sure he wouldn’t growl or nip at me. I also wanted to watch him with his litter mates and make sure he hadn’t already picked up any bullying or cowing tendencies. He passed with flying colors.
If any of you are in the market for a puppy remember to perform some version of a temperament test. Matching the right puppy with the right owners is one of the most important parts of the whole process.
Besides my glowing temperament review of my soon-to-be pup there is one little behavior quark that I noticed right off the bat. He is BY FAR the most vocal of the bunch. His number one goal in life is to be held and cuddled and if he isn’t getting that then he lets you know! A definite case of “he wants, what he wants, when he wants it,” a saying that I use all the time in lessons to describe demanding behavior.
He will learn quickly that in our household he will get ignored and eventually corrected for demanding barking whereas sitting politely and quietly will get him lots of yummy affection, belly rubs, and ear scratches. This is operant conditioning at its simplest. Operant conditioning is simply the use of consequences to modify a voluntary (operant) behavior. I will keep you posted on how quickly he learns this lesson.
On a side note…Millie has found her new forever family! They made it official last Friday. I’ll miss that sweet girl.
-by Annie Bailey, co-owner of FabDogz, professional dog trainer and behaviorist, member of the APDT and lover of all dogs! All questions and comments are greatly appreciated!! annie [at] fabdogz [dot] com
By Annie B. Bond, the best-selling and award-winning author of five healthy/green living books, including Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers Press, 1999), Home Enlightenment, Clean & Green (1990), and most recently True Food (National Geographic, 2010 and winner of Gourmand Awards Best Health and Nutrition Cookbook in the World). She has authored literally thousands of articles and was named “the foremost expert on green living” by Body & Soul magazine (2009).Picking the Right Puppy – Life, Love, and Laughter with Dogs,