First, pick the litter. Then, pick from the litter.
You’ve considered the options and chosen to get a dog through a breeder. Now what? No matter what breed of dog you’ve chosen, it cannot be stressed enough that picking the litter is more important than picking a puppy. Although we’ve got some tips here for picking a puppy, it’s very hard to determine the kind of dog a puppy will become by simply observing the puppy.
On the other hand, the litter says a lot! Checking out the parents will give you a lot of clues about what their offspring might look like when they grow up, chatting with the breeder can tell you a lot about the kind of health checks that will determine the puppies long-term health, and visiting the early environment and observing puppy socialization can tell you volumes about the dog a puppy will grow to be.
If you pick a litter from an experienced breeder who has bred a healthy, well conformed female dog to a social and well-trained stud then the chances are that all of the puppies in the litter will develop into happy, healthy, and trainable dogs. Unfortunately, every single breeder will try to convince a potential buyer that their particular litter of belongs to this elite category of a well-planned breeding of excellent partners. Listen critically to the sales pitch and try and read between the lines of what the breeder may be saying.
Will I get to choose my puppy?
This is a great question to ask your breeder. Some breeders will pick a puppy for you or give you a choice of only a few of the dogs in the litter. Breeders of purebred dogs often reserve the “pick of the litter” as a potential show prospect.
is a common practice among breeders of show dogs and working dogs. These breeders want to get to know their puppies and then match the puppies with appropriate families (and send well-suited dogs on to advanced training programs). You should never feel like you are having a puppy “forced” upon you without reason, but the breeder should be able to explain why they think a certain puppy would be the best match for you or your family.
Although puppies are not fully ready to leave their litter until they are about 8-12 weeks, a puppy’s personality begins to emerge at 5-6 weeks. The hours your breeder spends with the puppies helps the breeder become much more familiar with their character and personalities than you could ever be in the few minutes you’ll spend with the litter when you visit.
What if there aren’t many puppies left?
Don’t be scared off by a litter that seems “picked over,” with only one or two, 12 or 14 week old puppies left. Many times, the very first dogs to be released to homes are either 1. the dogs who are picked as show dogs (picked by buyers who want to participate in conformation dog showing) or 2. those who are obviously not show dogs (the first to be culled from the litter and sold to waiting buyers who are not looking for show dogs). The remaining puppies might be marked as “borderline” show perspectives (so the breeder can watch how their structure develops) and kept with the mother as they develop a little more.
The advantage of finding yourself taking home one of these puppies is that, being borderline show-worthy, they’ll have excellent conformation and will have had an extra few weeks with their mother, which helps puppies learn pack hierarchy (so they can recognize YOU as alpha), dog socialization (so you won’t be embarrassed at the dog park!), and learning basic puppied-life skills like house-training via social learning from their mother.
Resist the Lure of the Puppy that “Picked You”
If the breeder gives you the opportunity to choose your puppy, resist grabbing up the first pup that rushes up to you — it’s fun display of boldness may be the sign that it’s the litter “bully” and prone to dominance or aggression.
On the other hand, avoid the pity that might draw you to the quiet puppy in the back. A puppy who shies away from new people and new things may develop into a shy (and potentially, a fear-aggressive) adult dog.
Instead, you should evaluate your expectations for your puppy and choose accordingly: are there young children or elderly people in your home? A quieter puppy who loves to cuddle might be the right pup for you. If you are looking for a jogging partner with a knack for obedience, the puppy who trots along at your heel and responds well to gentle correction may be the right pup. If you’re looking for an agility partner, dock dog, or frisbee fetcher, the puppy who bounds after a tossed ball or toy and displays a strong toy-drive or instinct to retrieve could be the best fit.
Remember to choose a breeder carefully and once you’ve selected them, trust their opinion in matters related to your puppy. They’ll know their puppies’ strengths and weaknesses much better than you. If you chose your breeder well, you’ll enjoy any puppy that ends up in your home.
How to get your new dog to stop whining
How with a brand new puppy that won’t stop whining? Dogs whining constantly can be incredibly irritating, so teaching them to stop whining ASAP quickly becomes a priority. There are several ways to get your dog to stop whining.
The best way is, unfortunately, also the slowest way: Ignoring your dog when he whines and rewarding him when he is quiet. This reward pattern is a good way to get your dog to stop whining for good.
Never punish your dog for whining- negative attention is still a type of attention and many dogs will whine just for the “reward” of being scolded.
Instead, continue on ignoring your dog while they whine, and when they eventually quiet, even for just 15-30 seconds, praise them! Gradually extend the amount of time they have to be quiet before they receive a reward, and when the dog is quiet for a few minutes, then reward them with the attention they wanted originally.
Remember that it is completely normal for new puppies to wind the first few nights away from their litter and their mother. You can buy all sorts of puppy toys that contain a heartbeat, or put your puppy to bed with a hot water bottle to simulate littermates, but your puppy will need to grieve the loss of their litter, and that may mean a few nights of whining. Try not to overreact or to coddle the puppy, instead, spend lots of time with your puppy socializing, training, and getting used to each other. By breeding, by nature, and by separation from their dog family, your puppy is primed and ready to attach to you and it’s new family, and will happily fall into the rhythm of your family within a few days.
Lindsayanne is a professional artist, writer, and serial-DIY-er with a knack for solving problems creatively at home, in the studio, out in the garden, and even online. Learn more about Lindsay, her training, and her background here.