Finding the best reputable breeder and puppy

You have done your research and decided on a breed. The next big step is to find a reputable breeder. The best way is to find a  reputable and registered breeder is with the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme here.  Being a part of this scheme makes sure all the correct guidelines are followed and that puppies are happy, healthy, vaccinated and wormed and socialisation has already started before leaving the litter for their new home.

Don’t be put off if you find a breeder that has been rearing his puppies in a kennel or barn outside. It does not mean they have been neglected. Most good reputable breeders will keep the mum and her litter indoors for the first couple of weeks and then transfer them to a safe area outside where they will have more space to romp around. As long as they receive plenty of socialising and they are kept in a clean environment, the puppies will be perfectly well raised. You will find that most gun dog breeders always keep their puppies and dogs kennelled outside. However, if pups whether kept indoors or outside, are shut away and only getting basic care, they will not be ideal puppies to buy as they will not have had any essential socialisation and life experiences.

It is unfortunate that there are so many shady so called ‘breeders’ and back street dealings with puppies. There are some that will buy in puppies to sell on and the ‘mother’ dog you may be shown has nothing to do with them. Always ask to see the puppies with the mother while they are very young and see how they interact. This will also give you a good indication of how they will look as adults. Whilst some bitches will be quite happy for you to have interaction with their pups, up to 5 weeks old the mother will be very protective of her young and some may not be very happy to have visitors around. Some can get quite distressed or even snappy and if that is the case and the pups have to be separated for your visit, this does not mean the bitch has a bad temperament as some of the sweetest bitches can get very protective whilst pups are so young. If the breeder does show the pups and mother to you separately and then when you have left the litter, allows the mum to rejoin her pups so you can see she is the real mother, you can be assured that this is a good breeder who is considerate of the mum’s needs as well as yours. Don’t expect to see the father with the puppies as they are often separated from the litter as most usually the bitch will not want any adult dog near her young.

Choosing the puppy

When looking at a litter, a well socialised litter of pups will come bounding up to check you out and bounce around. If you are looking for a bold dog, the first one to approach you may be the one for you. But bold dogs don’t always fit with everyone and you will need the pup to fit in with the family. There may be one pup that will stay a little longer to interact with you on its own and often this is the one that has chosen you and the one you should go home with.

The pup who is sitting apart from the rest of the litter and observing you from a distance, may not be as shy as it appears. Often these are the more intelligent pups and maybe a good fit for someone that is looking for a close one to one bond and able to spend time to develop it. This pup may not be good for a big noisy family. The shy type or ‘thinkers’ can be demanding to train, but still make good dogs, so don’t dismiss this one if you can manage a clever dog.

However, a pup that runs and cowers and appears nervous of human contact, could be a difficult one to raise and perhaps better avoided unless you are up for a challenge and a skilled dog handler.

The saying goes ‘never choose the last pup’, but don’t worry, process of elimination means there will always be one left! That doesn’t mean it’s a bad choice, it just may not have been the right colour, temperament or whatever, for the other families. If you like the last pup and it likes you, don’t be put off because the other pups have gone first.

Good breeders spend a lot of time with their puppies and get to know each one well, so sometimes they will direct you towards a pup they think will fit well with your family.

For the first few weeks or until your pup has had all it’s vaccinations and the all clear from the vet to start the big experience outside, all you will need as a start is a crate, a nice comfy bed and blanket and a simple collar and lead. Don’t forget the toys, pups love to play and training can start straight away through playing and teaching them to sit, stay and fetch.

Most of all, enjoy your puppy, show him everything in the big wide outdoors – good socialisation is the key. They grow up so fast and it is such a fun time and the basis for a good all round happy adult dog.

If you require any other support or assistance in choosing your next puppy please contact us

Dog collars and how to choose

From April 2016 it became law to have your dog microchipped and also under the Control of Dogs Order 1992, there is a legal obligation for dog owners when in a public place to use a collar and tag on their dog, which shows the owners name and full address. As much information as possible on the tag is a good idea, even if the dog is chipped. Investing in a good quality dog collar is therefore a must.

If you use the traditional collar and flat lead to walk your dog, the best collar would be a leather buckle collar which is tough and weather resistant. A buckle fastening is the safest as the push, click type fasteners can snap or give way, particularly if your dog pulls hard on the lead. For dogs that swim and are in the water a lot, it may be preferable for a nylon collar which will dry out quicker.

Collars come in all shapes and sizes. For small and toy dogs, some owners like to dress up their pooch with bling collars and brightly patterned collars. Looking good can come at a price though and some collars are even available studded with Swarovski crystals which come with matching studded leads!

Some breeds such as the greyhound, lurcher and whippet require special wide collars as they have such slim, delicate necks. These are usually made from nappa leather and come in a variety of colours and some have a pattern embossed into the leather.

During the winter months, making sure you are seen is vital so a high viz collar is a really good idea. Paws Plus One can supply high viz collars which flash to make sure road users see you and will keep your dog visible if off lead.

Collars for working dogs such as a German Shepherd, would invariably be a wide leather collar with a buckle due to the strength of these dogs. They can be plain or studded. Some dogs used in security or police work may have a collar with a handle attached to assist with training and also so the handler can quickly grab the dog where necessary.

Dog Collars and Leads

There are many types of dog leads and collars on the market and it is trial and error to find the right one to suit you and your dog. You may find you will need a particular type of lead for different activities and training. Training your dog to walk well and to heel on the lead is a lot harder than it sounds as many of you may have already found out!

The slip lead is a collar and lead in one. The slip loop goes over your dog’s head and should have a stopper to keep it in place. They are made in a variety of products, but usually rope or leather. It is best to get a fairly thick lead for your dog’s comfort. These leads are particularly favoured by the gun dog owner and those who live in rural locations for it’s ease of use, quickly put on and off for off lead exercise or working. It is not recommended for dogs that pull hard or for long distance walking with your dog. There is a right and wrong way to use a slip lead and the ring and leather toggle on the lead should be facing downward on the side you are walking your dog on, i.e. towards you on your right if you are walking your dog on your right. The slip lead should be placed above your dog’s collar and high up under his jaw so the lead does not get too tight and damage your dog’s neck or throat. Keeping it the right way will allow the lead to slacken off when not pulled and the dog is walking nicely to heel.

The retractable / extendable lead is a lead made up of cord or tape wound on to a spring loaded device within a plastic handle. It will extend or retract as your dog walks away and towards you and it is controlled by a button on the handle which acts as a lock to determine how much lead you want extended. Dog walkers like this product as it can give the dog more freedom to wander and sniff without being off lead. It can also be useful for countryside walks where there are cows and sheep grazing to keep your dog close without too much restriction. However, there are drawbacks to this type of lead :

a) You do not have so much control over your dog. The lead should be locked when walking by a road. You should never let your dog extend too far when walking by the road as given the opportunity he could run into the road into traffic. It also gives him the opportunity to jump up at passers-by or pull towards other dogs.

b) When extended it is easy to get tangled in bushes and around other dog walkers when two excited dogs meet!

c) The cord could snap, especially if you have a strong dog who suddenly lunges forward in full throttle after something interesting. The cord or tape in these products does get worn over time and more susceptible to breaking, so you should replace this item regularly.

d) Your dog gets used to pulling forward to gain extra ground and that makes traditional lead training more difficult to achieve.

e) When approaching other dogs, your dog pulling at the end of the retractable lead may give out the wrong signal as a sign of aggression and lead to confrontation.

f) The handle is big and bulky and may be dropped or pulled from your hand, especially if you have other items to hold. If your dog lunges forward quickly it can also badly jolt your arm and if you have a particularly strong dog, could pull you over.

The flat lead is a traditional lead of up to 6 feet long. They can be adjustable in length and clip on to a traditional collar or harness. Some leads have a shock absorbing ability by stretching slightly if your dog lunges forward.

The harness is said by some to be the best item to use if your dog pulls on the lead, but many trainers will disagree and will not recommend it. Their argument is that if you want a dog to pull a sledge, then put on a harness. The strongest part of the dog is its chest and that is where the strength to pull comes from. Using a harness is therefore encouraging your dog to pull and is little use in training against it. However, that said, many dog owners find that the harness is more comfortable for them to keep their dog in check and have to control without injuring the neck of the dog. Many dogs do not like wearing the harness as some products will chaff around the legs. If you do decide to use the harness, make sure it is a style that is well padded for comfort.

Traditional dog collars are probably the best option. A good leather collar with a buckle is hard wearing and safest. Try to avoid collars that have the plastic clip action as these can sometimes fail and come apart giving the dog the opportunity to escape.

Never use evasive collars that are designed to inflict pain when the dog pulls, such as the electric collars that give strong pulsation jolts or even electric shocks, choke or prong collar. These collars are horrific, unkind and can cause all kind of emotional and physical injury. The prong collar has spikes that will puncture the dog’s skin when pulled tight. Over time this can create scar tissue that has no feeling so the dog eventually does not react to it, as well as possibly displaying extreme anxiety and aggressive behaviour.

Always measure your dog’s neck before purchasing a collar, which should be big enough to fit two fingers underneath. Not too tight or too loose to slip over the dog’s head.