Welcoming a New Puppy- Part 2

This week we will talk more about introducing your puppy to walking on a lead and retrieving.

The first time you put a lead on your puppy be prepared for the puppy to fight, scream, and not want to move. However, if you follow the next few steps it should be smooth sailing. I start teaching pups how to walk on a lead when they are 5-6 weeks old. Yes, you read that correctly and yes it is possible. I begin by taking short, short walks around the room-not a mile long hike. I pick their feeding time to introduce walking on a lead (typically the lunch time feeding). I start by having them on my left side. It’s important to pick one side and stick to it. I use my left because I shoot on my right side. Let them smell the food, then call them to you while taking one or two steps forward. This part needs to be fun! Try saying “here puppy puppy puppy” in a baby voice. Once they have a taken a couple of steps, tell them sit while gently holding the food to their mouth and pushing back so it causes them to sit down. If I have time I will do the full feeding this way or if I don’t have much time I will do a few handfuls then make them sit down for the rest of the food. Remember to take it slow and don’t get frustrated. They are learning!

How to teach your puppy to retrieve:

Teaching a 4 week old puppy how to retrieve has to be one of my favorite things to do! Even if you don’t have a lab you can still use these methods to teach any breed how to retrieve. I have taught many different breeds to retrieve ranging from schnoodles to dobermans.

First and foremost I NEVER leave a puppy unattended with a toy because this is a choking hazard and it teaches them to chew on things when they are bored. I want toys to have rules and be super special for the dog. As I said last week, dogs are extremely smart but not smart enough to know the difference between their toy and your shoes, baseboards, etc. When starting out with a puppy I use a small squeaky ball in a small room with zero distractions. We start extremely close and slowly increase the distance. I will toss the ball right in front of them and tell them to “fetch up” once they have the ball in their mouth. Then I am praising them (petting their head) while my hand is on the ball, then say drop and throw the ball a few inches in front of their face. The number one thing when teaching a pup to retrieve is to ALWAYS praise them before taking away the ball. Imagine if I brought you something and you just ripped it out of my hand and walked away 😳. Pretty sure I’m not going to bring anything else to you. We have to let the dog know that by him going and getting the ball, he did exactly what I wanted and he did a great job! I may only get 1-2 retrieves the first time and that’s ok!! Take away the ball when the dog is still having fun so the next time you get it out they are super excited!!! If your dog is doing AWESOME retrieveing do NOT start adding a bunch of rules too soon as this will cause LOTS of problems in the long run. I get calls weekly about owners telling me how good their dog does retrieveing but has lost interest and this is most likely to the owner turning into a drill Sargent without even realizing it. The main objective when first teaching a puppy or dog to retrieve is to MAKE IT FUN!!!! I do not add any rules in the beginning other than they have to go get it then bring it back. Once they are doing this great for a couple weeks and retrieving at least 10 times perfectly, meaning they go get it, come right back, and they are NOT dropping the ball at my feet, then I will add on a rule or two. Think about teaching a kid how to play baseball. We don’t start with the major leagues, we start with T-ball then slowly add rules as they mature.

Teaching a dog any type of skill should be taught SLOW and always remember to take BABY STEPS. Don’t get into a big hurry!!! We need to make sure each step is perfect before we move onto the next step. We have to lay the foundation just like when building a house and then go from there, we don’t start on the second story and build our way down. Dog training should be fun not frustrating. Always shoot for having your dog a little better today then he was yesterday.

Welcoming a new puppy part 1

Congratulations on deciding to get a new puppy!!!! There are lots and lots of books, articles, videos, etc on what to do when getting a new puppy and that can be extremely overwhelming. I have put together a list of some tips on what to do when bringing home a new pup.

My number one rule when taking home a new pup is DO NOT take the puppy to places where lots of dogs are that you don’t know if the other dogs are vaccinated. If you need to take your pup to petsmart or the vet HOLD YOUR PUPPY and DO NOT let their feet touch the ground as this is where they could pick up something to make them sick.

Puppy tips:

-keep your pup on a schedule. We let the pups out every 2 hours starting at 6am-10:30pm.

-absolutely no food or water after 6pm as the more they drink during the evening the more they have to pee during the night.

-our pups sleep through the night which shocks most people but we don’t let them eat or drink after 6 and we don’t let them sleep from 6-10pm because just like a baby the more they sleep during the evening the more they will wake up during the night.

-your pup needs to be in a crate when you can’t supervise them. If you aren’t watching them then they are most likely doing something they shouldn’t be and you aren’t there to correct them. All of our pups are crate trained by the time they leave us and LOVE their crates. We want dogs to view their crate as their “safe place”.

-when your pup wakes up, they need to go to the bathroom. Barking does not get them out of the crate for any reason. If one were to wake up at 3am barking then we know they need to go out but we never open it when they are barking. I would say “no” and if they didn’t bark for half a second I’m opening it and getting them outside quick. It is very easy for pups to become “untrained” and start having lots of accidents if you don’t keep up with their routine

-ABSOLUTELY NO CHEW TOYS IN CRATES. You are setting yourself up for a blockage or choking hazard. Think of your pup as a newborn. We don’t leave anything in a crib with a newborn so why do we think it’s ok to do with a new pup?

-don’t let your puppy bite or chew on you. People think this is cute at a young age but it sure as hell won’t be cute in a few months. By letting your puppy chew on your hand you are teaching them it’s ok to bite and chew on people. If you don’t want your dog to do it when it’s full grown, don’t encourage it when it’s a puppy.

-the earlier your pup knows what “no” means the better.

-we feed pups 3 times a day until they are 3 months old.

-I never leave food down for pups to graze because I’ll never know how much they are eating or when they aren’t feeling well.

-the amount of food you should feed them shouldn’t be a lot . Never follow what the bag says as their goal is to sell you more food. Food companies can give you a guideline but they don’t know your dogs metabolism, amount of activity, or environment it leaves in. If your pup is pooping all the time then that’s telling you, you are feeding them too much, so cut back a little.

Next week we will cover more on pups -introducing to walking on lead, retrieveing, and using feeding times as training times.

Have a suggestion for a blog you would like to see??? Email me and Ill see if I can make it happen ☺️

Why dog toys are a huge NO for me

This will definitely catch your attention but my dogs or any dog I train are not allowed to be left alone with toys. This is a huge NO for me. There are a few different reasons for this but the main one is I have seen too many customer dogs pass away from blockages from toys. My dogs and any dog I train are allowed to have a toy only when we are retrieving. I want the dogs to have rules with their toys just like any other game would have rules. I will give the dogs something to chew on a few times a week but ONLY when they are with me. If I were to leave the dog with the toy to chew on all day then essentially I am teaching the dog when they are bored to lay around and chew on things. Dogs are extremely smart but not smart enough to know the difference between your shoes, couch, baseboards, etc. from a toy. I always compare dogs to children and ask my customers if they would let their kids play video games all day long? Hopefully the answer to this question would be no. Dogs thrive on structure and rules just like humans.

Labs especially have a TERRIBLE name for being chewers and this is simply because they are taught to chew on things when they are bored. When my dogs are bored, they know to lay down and hang out. They know we will go play in a little bit but they don’t need to be doing something 24-7. It is human nature that tells us we need to occupy them all the time. Just like children, dogs need to learn to just sit still and be calm.

I often hear people telling me their dog was chewing on something so they gave them a toy to chew instead. Giving them a toy pretty much just rewarded your dog for chewing on something. I like to compare dogs to kids and this isn’t what we would do (hopefully) if we caught little Jimmy setting our house on fire. We wouldn’t give him a brand new Xbox because he was bored and wanted to play with fire would we?

I am not trying to scare you with this post but instead save dogs lives. Some of the best dogs I have had the pleasure of knowing have passed away to soon from a blockage that could of been prevented. Please be sure to supervise your dogs when giving them toys.

How old should my dog be before I fix it?

I get asked at least once a week when should I fix my dog? My answer is always to wait until the dog grows up. Our puppy contract states our pups are not allowed to be fixed until they are at least 18 months old but we recommend waiting until at least 2 years old. Dogs are fully mature when they reach 2 years old.

I completely understand why vets push you to fix your dog at 5-6 months old because irresponsible pet owners leave their dogs outside when they are in heat and that’s where unwanted pups come from. Responsible pet owners should have no worries about a dog becoming pregnant as long as they are educated about a dogs heat cycle. A female can go into heat as early as 6 months but typically I see dogs coming into heat at 8-14 months. When a dog comes into heat you will see some blood, MARK that down on your calendar as Day 1. Females will typically start accepting a male at day 10-15 but keep your dog on lock down for at least 4 weeks, just because you don’t see blood doesn’t mean the dog is out of heat! If you have a male dog around then you need to lock your female in a crate behind strong doors. I have heard of a dog climbing a fence and busting through a window to get to a female so beware. Let your female out on lead and keep other dogs away. Females will typically come into heat every 6-8 months, so it’s not a once a month thing. Females will NOT get pregnant if they are NOT in heat so just because a dog humps your dog doesn’t mean she is pregnant. Please be aware fixing your dog will NOT magically prevent your dog from humping, marking their territory, becoming aggressive, running away, getting cancer, or calming them down. Taking away their hormones at such a young age isn’t going to stop these behaviors. Dogs humping is a form of dominance and dogs that are fixed will still do this. Dogs marking, becoming aggressive, and running away are problems fixed with training. I know all of this because my first dog Buck was fixed at 5 months old because the vet scaried me to death telling me poor buck was going to do all this so I fixed him the next day!!!!! I was terrified!!!!! Fixing Buck at such a young age has always been something I have regretted doing but I like that I can show people the size difference in him and his relatives because he wasn’t allowed to fully mature before I took away his hormones. Buck unfortunately has problems due to fixing him early-arthritis and he can’t hold his pee for very long. There are actually a lot of studies and a lot more vets not encouraging owners to fix their dogs early due to health problems down the road. I would recommend fixing your dog if it will be outside all the time unattended but I would wait as long as you can if possible. Before fixing your dog do some research and talk to your vet about different options.

How to pick the right trainer for your dog?

Picking a method of training for your puppy or dog can be a big decision. There are hundreds of different ways to train a dog and even more trainers. How do you find the right one? Below’s a few questions to ask yourself when deciding:

Are you wanting to train the dog yourself or send off to a trainer?

If you are wanting to train the dog yourself, make sure you are consistent and have help from a pro. If you are wanting to send off your puppy for training, make sure you can see the dog often during training and you aren’t required to leave the dog for months at a time (for basic obedience). I always tell people 10% of my efforts will go towards the dog and 90% goes towards the owner. That’s why we require owners come visit their dog at least twice in the month for “owner training.” Unfortunately, dog training isn’t like going to a mechanic, where they just fix the problem and then it’s good to go. Dog training takes time and patience. They need rules and structure just like kids.

Does the facility or trainer have reviews listed on Facebook or google?

A local trainer recently made news for not taking care of dogs. This trainer didn’t allow reviews on his Facebook page. This is a HUGE RED FLAG. It’s possible they might have a good reason for this policy. But if I had to bet it is more likely than not because they don’t want others seeing complaints and their prior customers’ bad reviews.

What kind of methods does the trainer use?

100% positive reinforcement, shock collars, treats, etc? I’m not going into these methods and why some work and some don’t because that’s a whole other blog post in itself. Just be weary of different methods. Do you want to depend on electronics or treats? Or would you rather build trust & a relationship with your dog?

At Southern Pro, we don’t train with shock collars or treats. We train by speaking the dog’s language & teaching owners how to communicate with their dog.

Can you see the trainers dogs?

If the trainer can’t show you their “end result” then that is another huge red flag. If the trainer’s dog lacks basic skills and doesn’t impress you, then how can you trust them to train your dog?

Always make sure you can see where the dog will be staying. Will your dog be housed outside in the elements? Who will be watching your dog at night? If there’s a fire or break-in, how long will it take the trainer to respond? At Southern Pro, we live onsite but there aren’t many trainers that can say the same.

Be sure to ask the trainer how much time your dog will get worked on a daily basis.

Also, ask whether you can call the trainer with questions after you pick your dog up or will they charge you extra for this.

Southern Pro might not be a perfect fit for everyone. And that’s fine. We want what’s best for your dog. We are more than happy to recommend other trusted trainers who might be a better fit for you. If you have any other questions about trainers or how to pick one, please feel free to shoot Haley an email haley@southernprokennel.com or give us a call.

Buying a puppy??

I have been getting a lot of questions recently about what to look for when purchasing a puppy. I have put together some questions to ask the breeder. If your breeder can’t answer these questions, then something isn’t right. Just because a puppy cost thousands doesn’t mean it’s a well bred dog. Here are a few questions to ask when picking a breeder:

-can you meet the parents?

-can you see where puppies are being raised?

-how early are the puppies weened?

-do parents have any certifications? Hip/elbow, eye, dna testing, etc.

-when can you take your puppy home? 1 month? 2 months? 3 months? 6 months?

-does the puppy come with a guarantee (most breeders give a 24 month health guarantee)?

-if you can’t keep puppy for any reason will the breeder take their puppy back?

-how many litters do they have a year?

-will the breeder help with any training or recommend a trainer?

-have they been wormed every 2 weeks?

-have they had a round of shots?

-do they come with AKC/UKC registration?

-did a vet check your puppy before leaving the breeder?

These questions can be applied to any breed. If you are paying more than $500 for a puppy, I highly recommend all of these questions be answered. If you need help finding a breeder or are unsure of what to look for send me an email. I would be glad to recommend a great breeder or answer any questions you might have. Instead of supporting a bad breeder think about adopting from your local shelter.

December 2018

This month is going to be a busy one and we can’t wait to celebrate Christmas with the dogs! We are busy working on Paw Print ornaments for every dog that steps foot in our kennel. We started the ornaments the week of Thanksgiving and we will do this until New Years. I started making ornaments for the dogs last Christmas and made 89. This year we are already well on our way of doubling that number!!!! We are up to 51 ornaments so far!!!!

We have new trainees starting this week and we will be posting weekly and hopefully daily videos of one dogs progress!!! I picked Ruger to take videos of him because he is a 1 1/2 year old German Shorthair that came by the kennel a month ago and was pulling his owner inside, jumping up, and spastic. Im excited for everyone to see his progress this month!! I’m very excited about this and hope to get better at making videos!!! I’m also extremely camera shy so hopefully I can learn to suck it up and just do it! Stay tuned for more exciting things happening this month and what’s going to be happening in 2019!!!