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Donna Hill's

Service Dog Training Institute


Finding a Quality Breeder
(Part 5)

Golden retriever mother feeding her puppies that will be service dog candidates
Go back to PART 4

A Fabulous Breeder will also:

1). Do the Early Neurological Stimulation Program (Super Puppy Program) on the puppies between Day 3 and day 16.
Watch this video on ENS program.

2). Start house training as early as four or five weeks. The breeder provides a potty area within the puppies living area. Avoid the use of puppy pads as they can become a crutch that later has to be retrained. It is best to start potty training the proper way by putting a puppy on a feeding schedule and limiting freedom to when the puppy is supervised.

3). Start puppies on crate training or at least it is in their environment and they use it as a day bed. This may be in pairs or even singly as the pups get closer to going home.

4). Great breeders starting scent imprinting with your scent at about three to five weeks. They place some old clothing that you have recently worn is put into the whelping box with the litter so your scent becomes familiar to the pups. Each time you come visit, they get a stronger dose and are already very familiar with your scent by the time you take the puppy home. When your puppy comes home with you, your scent will be familiar and the process of changing homes will be less traumatic for him and he will bond more quickly and strongly to you. They may also send a blanket from the litter home with you so the familiar scent can mingle with your new scent the first few days-think security blanket.

5). During the socially sensitive period of approximately 4 to 12 weeks, a service dog puppy must be exposed other species such as cats, rabbits, birds, other dogs and any other animals that the dog is anticipated to come in contact with in the future. A great breeder gets a good start on this as well. Exposure in this period needs to be short and positive and occurs much more quickly than waiting until after the socially sensitive period has closed.

6). Take the puppies for car rides not only to the veterinarian but also just around the block to get them comfortable with vehicle travel.  This will likely be done in a crate with the other pups so when you take your pup home, he may not have travelled in a create alone.

7). Offer a rebate after you have the dog spayed or neutered or attending puppy classes or a breed instinct test. Check to see when the most appropriate time to spay or neuter is. For some breeds like Golden Retrievers, Labradors and German Shepherd Dogs, is is critical to wait until after physical maturity, or at the very least one year for male and 1.5 years for females or health problems are likely to occur.

There may be behavioural complications as well.

8). Competes in a sport of their choice, has titles on their dog(s) or has a job for their dogs to do. Therapy volunteering for example.

9). Has bred dogs who are successful in their fields (service dog, agility, search and rescue, tracking, conformation etc). Be aware that agility and search and rescue dogs have a much higher drive than assistance dogs.

10). Does their research on your specific needs for a service (or other) dog to ensure their breed and individual puppy will be the best match possible for you. They will need to know the type of tasks you will need, size of dog, physical sensitive and emotional sensitivity for example.The breeder may choose the pup for you, or let you help in the choice. If the breeder does not care which pup you take, this is a red flag. If they have been breeding quality pups for awhile, they will have a good idea the size, shape and temperament of their pups as adults than you.  (Unless you know significantly more about selection of puppies than the breeder does).

11). Ensure that you will use the training approach of their preference (i.e. positive reinforcement), follow the inoculation schedule they recommend, food type (kibble, raw or home-made) etc.

12). Provide a puppy information package that will help you to adjust the pup to her new home. (food sample, blanket or bed shared with litter, handouts or email links, free online books, socialization checklists etc)

13). Refer you to a trainer in your area who uses training approaches and tools they are comfortable with.

Additional Information:

You can see that quality breeders care about the health and welfare of the pups they produce. It is a very time consuming 24 hour a day job from the time the mother gets pregnant to the time the puppies come home with you, and long after that! They want to see you succeed as much as possible as it makes a good name for their kennel to produce healthy, well-adjusted adult dogs who are successful with the roles and jobs asked of them by their human families.

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