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Choosing a Puppy

So you decide that you want a dog.  You have researched the breeds and made your decision on a breed that will suit your lifestyle, budget and experience but where do you find a good breeder and a good litter?

There are few places you definitely should NOT go and those are sites like preloved and similar, where people advertise puppies, dogs for re-homing and all manner of other things free of charge.  You should not go to a pet shop (yes there are still a few that sell puppies) nor should you go to a kennels advertising lots of different breeds.

There is the Kennel Club Puppy Finder site which tells you of litters available but you should also exercise caution here as there are Kennel Club Assured Breeders and those that can just pay to advertise a KC registered litter.  The Assured Breeder Scheme does give you a little more peace of mind but not masses.  The KC being the KC only enforce rules that benefit them and there are still puppy farmers and prolific breeders who have attained KCABS status.

In my opinion the safest place to go to choose a puppy is to the breed clubs themselves.  You can usually be assured that people that are members of the breed club and have registered their litters with them are really focused on producing the best of the breed.   They will only be able to register their litters on the breed clubs puppy list if they have followed the rules set out by the club and these are usually much stricter than those set out by the KC.

Once you have found a litter then go along and see them before you even think of bringing one home.  You need to feel like your breeder is assessing your worthiness to take one of their puppies and you should feel comfortable with the breeder.  Do you feel you could call them if you had a problem?  Do they seem knowledgeable about the breed?  Do the puppies look happy and playful? 

The breeder should have the KC registration documents there ready to go with your puppy and they should also have you sign an agreement that covers what to do if you can't look after your puppy amongst other things.  Many breeders now endorse the pups pedigrees so that you cannot breed from them without the breeder lifting the endorsement.  This is a safe guard to ensure that people aren't cashing in on the dogs that they buy by breeding them for nothing more than the money aspect but be sure to ask about this.  Also your breeder should provide you with a information on feeding, worming and general routine of the pup and food to take home to tide you over until you can get the puppy more.

If you are looking for a crossbreed puppy then my advice here is much the same, stay away from the free ads and the ads in the local paper for some odd mix or another but instead of the KC you should contact local rescues first.  They have puppies and young dogs looking for homes as well as older dogs and by getting a crossbreed from a rescue you are helping to halt the supply and demand culture of over breeding.

Choosing a puppy is a mine field, you know the trouble that I have had with our KC registered puppy and it's easy to say listen to your head not your heart but when you get there and see the puppies your head can shout all it likes, your heart will be the one that makes the final decision, just try and be sure that it is the right one.

Ehren UpDate plus Playbiting and House Training

Morning all,
I know you have been waiting for the next instalment but I had a brain freeze and couldn't log in to my blog account.  Hopefully that has now been resolved and I won't have problems in the future.  I am dog trainer not a tech wizard and find many things technical beyond my understanding.

I have changed the spelling of our pups name for those who missed it - Ehren means Enlightened, mountain of strength and she really is.  She has been symptom free since last Sunday and has gained a kilo this week so we are hopeful that recovery is on the cards.  She finished her medication Friday and will go back to the vets next week for more blood tests to see if her counts have levelled out and she can be vaccinated.  We still have no diagnosis of what was wrong which is concerning but at least she is better.

One of my team expressed their disappointment in me buying a sick puppy but until Ehren had something to eat there was nothing to cause any concern.  Jim and I went on the Sunday to check out the litter and I went back on the Monday to see her again with a friend who has more knowledge of 'shape' than I do, none of us saw anything concerning until Ehren was fed.  I would say to you all that I did make a mistake as I purchased a puppy without insurance and from a breeder who had no idea about anything.  My knowledge has helped in a lot of ways because as soon as we saw something was wrong I was at the vets and because of my relationship with my vet they didn't mess around, we saw a specialist the same day.  Without that knowledge it is quite feasible that Ehren and her 2 affected litter sisters would have died but it never helped us avert the upset we have been through the past couple of weeks and the battle I now have to get recompense from the breeder. 

Anyone who is thinking of buying a puppy should be sure that they come with free insurance that the breeder should activate when you collect them, they should also come with clear information sheets about feeding and worming routine to date and from a breeder that has a care for the pups and not the cash.  I have perpetuated the cashing in on the sale of pups which I am ashamed of and though not puppy farming its not really much better when all they were concerned about was making money. 

If you are looking for a pedigree puppy then go through the breed clubs, not the KC Puppy Finder site as I did and if in any doubt walk away because once that puppy is in your arms and out the door then they are yours and though good sense says you should return them, your heart won't allow it.

In herself for the most part Ehren is a normal, naughty puppy who plays and runs around and falls over and generally loves life.  Not knowing what was happening has been traumatic all round and because of this Ehren has turned into a bit of a brat.  She has been spoilt already with time and attention not only because we were watching her constantly for signs of pain or collapse or even to see if she was still breathing but we were working on her housetraining and looking for signs that she needed to 'go'. 

Ehren is a very bitey puppy.  She has the eyes of an angel but the lock of a pitbull and when she is in one of her moods it has been difficult to manage.  Some of it I have put down to the fact that she has been in pain with whatever has been going on with her (I am a new puppy mummy after all and have to make excuses for her behaviour) but some of it I put down to the fact that she is a puppy with no idea about bite inhibition. 

Now, I tell all you new puppy owners to find a noise and a pitch that interrupts the behaviour and to praise the puppy when they let go.  Ehren has had other ideas about this even though I keep reminding her that this is how Mummy makes her living and it would be helpful if she would comply!  We have resorted to giving her a toy and leaving the room or putting her in her crate for a little down time when she gets really over the top.  Her biting is getting better very slowly and there are just a few times a day when it is really bad such as when we first get up in the morning (she hasn't seen us all night) and when she has been left for a while, which of course to any puppy feels like days even though she has the other dogs with her.  I am going with a bit of ignoring at these times and just walk with her into the garden so she can do her business and this seems to temper it a bit and lets the initial over-excitement die down a little.

Whilst I am battling with the biting and my arms currently look like I have taken to self-harming, she is clean as a whistle and asks to go in the garden and has done since day 2 of being with us.  I have no accidents in the house and I know in a way I am luckier than most as I have time to spend with her and a very small house but it is vigilance and persistence that has also ensured I am not mopping up puppy pee every 5 minutes.

We have adhered to my mantra of taking her in the garden as soon as she wakes up, when she has been fed and when she has been playing and any time in between that we think there is a chance she will pee or poop and we have waited with her to see if she will go.  I am covered in gnat bites from the night time garden visits but I have a puppy that is clean indoors.  As soon as she squats down to do her business we give a verbal command of 'wee wee's and lots of verbal praise when she has finished and she is well on her way to squeezing out the littlest pee on command.  At least she read the part of my booklet about housetraining and I don't need to re-write that!

Our New Addition

So after sitting down and deciding that we wouldn't take on another pup in the near future I promptly went out and got a longhaired Weimaraner puppy. 
It seemed like fate when I saw the pictures of her on a friends time line and then our fun day was cancelled because of the flooding and I actually managed to convince Jim that it was the right decision as well!
Ehren joined out little family on Monday 26th August 2013 and I was totally smitten.  She is a lovely, balanced and brave little girl and seemed to wander in here like she owned the place.  The others have taken to her really well but we have had a bit of a journey so far.
On Tuesday morning I noticed that after Ehren had eaten, she went up on her tip toes and lost all co-ordination, I thought it was the shock of wading through one of Colin's monster morning pee's.  Gave her a cuddle and popped her in her bed for a little while and she seemed fine.
Jim took her to work as I had a job to go out to and he fed her mid morning and the same thing happened, only worse, she was totally unable to stand and then began to limp afterwards.  We thought that I had over fed her and she had wind or something.
This went on after every feed so she was due for a vet check and her first jab so on Wednesday so got the earliest appointment I could and took her food with me so the vet could see exactly what happens after she has eaten.  They were quite shocked and concerned and suggested that we see a specialist immediately.  Our vet called the specialist and as she was only in Corringham she said she would pop over and have a look.  She ruled out a shunt but felt there was definitely something serious wrong and referred us to another specialist the next day.
Me being me had to ask questions and the answers I got were really worrying and heart breaking.  She had only been with us a couple of days but she had already stolen our hearts and I know in these sort of scenarios the best course of action is to return a sickly pup to the breeder but I could no more return her than give one of the others away.
When I spoke to the breeder she had noticed similar behaviour in one of the other bitch pups in the litter and took her off to the vet, she didn't feed her pup at the vet and it was the little runt of the litter and her vet suggested a change of food would solve the problem.  When I explained what our vet had said she was very concerned. 
Ehren's fourth day with us was spent at another specialists being poked, prodded and pulled about.  Having more bloods done and still no answers.  A few things were categorically ruled out but no firm diagnosis so we still didn't know if Ehren would survive, if she would die in her sleep or what was going to happen.
The other bitch puppy that the breeder still had came down with the same symptoms so now all 3 of the bitches were affected but still none of the dogs.
We had medication for Ehren and started feeding her every 2-3 hours so try and alleviate the symptoms a bit.
Saturday night we ended up at the emergency vets as the poor little one hadn't poo'd in 24 hours and was in some real distress.  She had to suffer the indignity and discomfort of a finger up her bum to help her.
Sunday was our fun day and Ehren seemed brighter and the symptoms after feeding were definitely getting shorter.  By Sunday night we had a normal puppy, no signs of the co-ordination problems, no falling over and happy and playful but she still wasn't pooing.
Normal puppies eat, pee, poo, play and sleep.  It should be like clockwork, what goes in must come out in waste products and energy but that wasn't happening so Monday afternoon I had another chat with the vet and she is now on a laxative as well as her meds.
The blood results for her are very concerning as she has incredibly low white cell and globulin counts which means she has no immune system.  The vets and the specialists are baffled as to why and it is now a waiting game to see if anything else comes up from other blood tests and if after the medications the symptoms return and the blood counts level out.  They do not think it is an infection because none of the dog puppies have been affected so they still think it is something that they have developed in vetro (in the womb).  Time will tell but at the moment she is a normal, happy and very naughty puppy.
As someone who earns a living telling new puppy owners how to behave around their puppies my friend has suggested that I fill you in with the problems that I have with Ehren and how I get over them.  It has been 9 years since I had a pup as young as Ehren and I truly had forgotten how time consuming and how much hard work it was.
So now that I have filled you in on the Ehren's background I will share my puppy raising problems and tips.
More tomorrow on how we are dealing with her biting and her tantrums at bed time.

My dog barks at the TV!!

A few of you mentioned that your dogs bark at the TV if you are watching an animal programme or something with dogs in it.  Now I am not sure if it is true but I heard that the switch over from analogue to digital makes it easier for the dogs to see what is on the TV so this could be why there has been an increase in dogs watching the telly.

There are a couple of simple commands that you can teach your dog that will help sort this annoying issue and allow you to watch 101 Dalmatians in peace.

The Quiet Command

This is relatively easy to teach and has more benefits than just stopping your dog barking at the TV, if they bark at the door, people walking past or odd noises, then your quiet command is a wonderful tool to add to your dog’s repertoire.

You will need some tasty treats, a DVD or TV programme that you know will make your dog bark and some patience. 

Put the treats in your pocket so the dog isn’t distracted by them and then put the programme on.  As soon as your dog barks pop a treat in their mouth and at the same time give your quite command, I tell mine ‘thank you’ rather than quiet but any word will do.

Be prepared at all times when your dog barks to pop a treat in their mouth and give your quiet command.  Repetition is the way with all training.

You need to be quick and get that treat in before the barking takes up their excitement level so it must be within the 2-3 barks.  You must keep your voice calm as well, no matter how annoying you find their barking, if you start shouting they will think you are joining in.

You are rewarding the quiet and not the barking because when the treat goes in the dog stops barking and that’s when you are giving your command.


The Settle Command

The settle command will teach your dog to go to their bed or a designated area and lie down until released.  As with the quiet it has lots of other benefits such as when you are eating, when visitors come in to the house and when you just need them to settle down for a bit so you can get on with something else.

You will need some more tasty treats, their bed or a mat to mark where you want them to go to and a low distraction environment.   

When your dog is mooching about, treats at the ready, lure them to their bed/mat and into a down, as they lie down give the command settle or bed or whatever you want to use and reward them.

Initially you will be bending down and luring the dog into place, do this a few times and then start standing up and waiting for the dog to work out what it is you expect them to do.  Most dogs will offer the behaviour that they have just been rewarded for so be patient, be quiet and wait for them to move to their bed.

Don’t let them get frustrated though, if they are looking at you all confused and offering other behaviours such as sit or paw or some such then go back to luring them into position. 

Gradually move further away from the mat so the dog learns to move from different areas to the designated spot.

Remember to reward them for staying position and to give a release command so that you are the one deciding when they get up and not the dog.

These two simple exercises should give you the control to watch the TV in peace

How an Animal Communicator helped Anya

As you all know, last month I lost my gorgeous longhaired Weimaraner, Anya.  She was 11 and a half years old and had hemangiosarcoma, a type of cancer that affects the liver, spleen and kidneys.  The condition is terminal and although there can be some measures taken to extend life these are invasive and hard for the dogs in question and will only add weeks to their time, not months or years.  My view has always been that quality of life over-rides quantity, and that was my view with Anya and it was thankfully supported by my vet.

It was a heart-breaking time, knowing that my beautiful girl would not be with me for much longer and I feared not knowing when it was the right time to let her go.   Of all the dogs I have had the pleasure of sharing my life with I think Anya was the closest to me both emotionally and physically.  When we lose a dog or know that it is going to happen it seems to be the norm to start looking at old photos, rekindling forgotten memories or enjoying good ones but when it came to Anya there were none.  I do not have one picture of her as a puppy and very few throughout her adult years and that is because in all those years she was never more than 2 feet from me, my constant shadow. 

Those that know me know that I have a strong belief in the natural and holistic, I love Reiki and Animal Communication and all things spiritual and this is where I turned for help with Anya.   I am lucky enough to have a dear friend who is a wonderful animal communicator and I asked her to help me.  I needed to know that my girl wasn’t suffering and I needed her to know that when she was ready to go she would need to shout loud because the thought of being without her was more than I could bear.

Anya’s time came so much quicker than I wanted but I knew in my heart it was time for her to go but as I made the call to the vets she seemed to perk up and your head gives you false hope, it argues with your heart, it tells you that maybe she will get better and go on to old age but your heart knows that your head is wrong. 

I asked Gabriella to connect with Anya and it was the connection on the last day of her life that has allowed me to accept without any doubt in my mind that Anya was ready to end her fight.  I cannot thank Gabriella enough for her support in that last month of Anya’s life, some of you may not believe that animal communication is valid or helpful but I can tell you it is.  Gabriella has not only helped me with Anya but it was her that alerted me to Colin’s sore mouth which was causing him pain and resulted in 5 rotten teeth being extracted, she has helped me confirm things about the dogs that I deal with to make sure I wasn’t reading their needs wrong and she has helped me understand that what makes me so good at what I do is not just learned but it is a natural connection that we all share with animals.

So if you are curious about Animal Communication or Reiki then you really should come along and meet Gabs at one of her surgeries that she offers free of charge at Completely K9 on Canvey.  See how Animal Communication can help you connect with your pet, not just for the sad times but for a better understanding of them.

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