What do you need when getting a Puppy?

K9 Education at it’s Best

I’ve often had clients that have come to me for behavioural training & advice say “The pet shop said that this piece of equipment or this product will help with training my puppy”

This breaks my heart as more than often I have to tell them that I disagree with what they’ve been told previously & therefore “wasted” money on products i don’t believe was sold to them with a true understanding of canine psychology & behaviour. From this point I find my self saying “Shops are in business to SELL things to you! I am in the business of training & modifying your dogs behaviour”.  Yes there are some wonderful, educated & honest staff in shops, however these are a rare breed.

So due to requests, we are posting the following.

What do you need when getting a puppy?

Firstly research your breed & their requirements as all breed can vary in behavioral traits, an example of this would be an Australian Cattle Dogs – Blue Heeler vs a Beagle. What are those dogs bred to do & how may that effect your interactions with it & the lifestyle you wish to lead. An irresponsible “breeder” can be like trusting the old “a used car salesman” & may only tell you what you want to hear.

Bedding

Some people choose to spend a lot of money on beautiful designer bedding for their dogs, go for it if you have the money. However, your concerns should lie with the comfort of your dog. So if blankets from the opp shop keep your dog warm, your up holding your end of Canine Guardianship, care & duty. After all your dog isn’t going to care if it just chewed up a $200 pretty dog bed or three $1 blankets from the opp shop.

You have the duty of care to provide an area protected from Wind, hot/cold elements of weather & clean drinking water

Collars

The earlier your dog get used to wearing & having their collar handled the better! Yes all puppies scratch at a new collar however it is the law that your dog must be wearing a collar & they do get accustom to wearing them.

It is equally important to have your dog comfortable with having its collar touched, grabbed & manipulated. If your dog was ever to be wondering the street, the collar is the first thing a local neighbour would grab when trying to keep your dog from wondering onto a road.

Cat collars ARE NOT suitable for those of you that own small dogs. These put your dogs at risk of chocking or slipping free of the collar.

Collars need to be assessed for strength & weight bearing limits. EG, there’s no point in purchasing a collar if the clip/buckle will break under the slightest strain. Remember the only thing that may be between your dog and a car traveling at 80kms is the collar & lead. So invest wisely & make sure your equipment is fitted safety & securely. (We have a client who walked into a major pet store (prior to working with us) near their holiday home to purchase a “Better training aid/device” to walk their dog. This piece of equipment was sold to them after the staff  “fitted” it to their dog. They walked out of the store & almost immediately the dog was free of the equipment, ran onto to the Nepean fwy & was clipped by a car. luckily he survived, however this is not an acceptable risk. Invest in quality.

Leads 

When looking at dog leads, remember it may be the only thing that stops your dog from running in from of a car. There are SO many shops selling dog leads now of such poor quality & consumers are putting their dogs life at risk.

These are just some of the leads that are not acceptable.

  • Chain leads give the owner a perception of strength, however the majority that are sold are poorly made from inferior product. Chain lead also inhibit the ability to shorten your dogs lead safely & comfortable as there is only 1 handle.
  • Leads that are way to short restrict free movement for your dog. If you’ve ever experienced a seat-belt locking up on you, imagine how uncomfortable this is for your dog, not to mention a dogs opposition reflex that will kick in if the dog is constantly restricted via a leash
  • We see a lot of “rope”leads with plastic buckles. These leads are notorious for giving the handler rope burn. The strength of the clips are inferior & you can not see how the lead is secured under the plastic buckles. What could happen if the plastic breaks & is this plastic treated for UVA damage that can make is brittle & even more likely to shatter?
  • Retractable Leads are a NIGHTMARE. I cant tell you how many dogs I see up to 7 meters ahead of their owner & when they have to regain effective control of their dog (effective control of your dog is required by law), you see the owner using the handle like a fishing rod, trying to reel their dog back in. I have had a dog run out in front of my car whilst on a retractable lead as the owner had NO control of the direction the dog went when it was 5+ meters ahead of him. You can not instantly shorten a retractable lead. Due to their bulky handle, you can not see the mechanics or condition of the moving parts within the handle. What would you do if the so called “brake” failed? Retractable leads encourage & reward your dog for pulling on the lead……. The more it pulls, the further ahead the dog can go. Most owners combine these types of leads with Harnesses which is a double whammy. I was working with Zooka when the local whippet that is walked on a retractable lead started to approach, again 5-7 meters ahead of its owner. Despite my firm requests for the owner to regain control of the dog & due to this appalling piece of equipment the owner was unable to gain control of their dog, yet continued to walk towards Zooka & myself. Knowing the anti social behaviour of this dog, I chose to walk out onto the road in order to protect my dog. As a dog owner, you are its guardian. By Law you must have your dog under effective control. Retractable leads do not empower you to have this.
  • Elastic leads or leads that have a spring/bungee are almost as disastrous as retractable lead

Leads should be comfortable to hold at any point & length, not just at the handle. Make sure the material wont cause damage to your hand if your dog was to pull or lunge out. You should be able to check all fastenings for quality & general wear & tear. Brass clip are ideal.

Look at your lead as an investment, not only for your dogs safety but for the many years of comfort when using it

Crate Training

Teaching your dog to willing go to their crate can be an invaluable part of owning a dog. I liken a crate to an indoor kennel. When your train your dog correctly to go to it’s crate, it can be a fantastic way in which to control your dog & be sure it’s safety. An example of this would be when someone breaks a glass in the house, you simply tell your dog to go to it’s crate whilst you clean up the area thoroughly, then when it’s safe, you can verbally release your dog. Crates also a provide safe place for your dog to sleep, travel, assist with toilet training + many more situations & behaviours. We also recommend crate training as this can make visits to the Vet & or Groomer less stressful as your dog will be accustom to going into a crate. Crating a dog is a necessary way of travel for many dogs, especially for families that relocate interstate regularly eg: Army families etc.

Quality Toys

Quality toys do not come from a $2 shop or similar. Be sure that any toy you purchase for your puppy is safe & doesn’t turn into a choking hazard. investing a little extra cash on quality toys can save you a small fortune in constantly having to replace the cheap nasty toys not to mention vet & surgery bills should your dog ingest something it shouldn’t.

Puppy School

PLEASE read our notes Critical Period. Be sure to ask the qualifications of the instructor running the puppy school before you enroll.  With so many poorly run classes now operating be sure to do your research. here are some questions you may wish to ask.

  1. Is the instructor qualified?
  2. Where did they get that qualification from & is it government accredited?
  3. How much experience has the trainer had with puppies?
  4. How is the socialisation aspect of the class run? (be aware of the off lead free   for all)
  5. What age dogs to you take?
  6. Do you take all breeds of dogs within this age group? (they should as your dog will be exposed top many breeds over its life time)
  7. Will my dog be welcomed & apart of class if it is disruptive? (do not settle for being told that your dog much always stay on the outside of class as it’s “aggressive” or to “disruptive”! A correctly run Puppy school should with an experience instructor should use this opportunity to assist you & your puppys needs. If it’s about the instructor “looking good” in front of everyone, find another puppy school! Or you very well may end up with a bigger & more mature dog with the same behavioural issues. The sooner & earlier you get assistance with your puppy, the better).

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