Tag Archives: puppies

Rethinking Puppy Socialization

New puppy owners and breeders sending puppies off to their new homes will both benefit from the information in this excellent blog post by Lisa Mullinax.  Click on the title of the article to visit Lisa’s blog for more training advice!

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

June 30, 2015

Lisa Mullinax, ACDBC

Why does my dog have a behavior problem?  I TOOK him to puppy class!”

I hear this – or variations of this – a lot.  Like, all the time.  In fact, at least half the dogs in my aggression cases have taken a puppy class.  That’s way up from 10-15 years ago.

While more dog owners are aware of the importance of socialization than they used to be, the complex concept of socialization has been boiled down to almost useless sound bytes.  Online articles give generic advice like “Socialization is very important.  Enroll your puppy in a socialization class.”

I taught puppy classes for many years.  And I can say that even the best puppy class provides only about 5% of the socialization that a new puppy needs.

A puppy class is held in just one environment, with one group of people and one group of puppies. Imagine if a child were only exposed to two places – home and the same classroom – for the first 10 years of their life…they would not be a well-socialized child!  Socialization means exposing a puppy to many novel sights, smells, sounds, and surfaces, in as many different environments as safely possible, ensuring a pleasant experience in those environments, especially for (but not limited to) the first 14 weeks of their life, the critical period of socialization.

Basically, be prepared to come home from work and take your puppy on a safe socialization field trip to a new location every day for the first six weeks in your home.  After that, you can drop it to 2-3 days a week until your puppy is at least 5 months old.  Ideally, until your puppy is past the adolescent stage (approx 18 months old).

Seem extreme? I didn’t say these trips have to last for hours. They can be quick trips to the local grocery store parking lot or even sitting on a local park bench (keeping new puppies off the ground) for 10 minutes before heading home.  But you need to do something new every day.

Or, you know, you could wait 6 months and then spend $900 or more to hire a trainer to help you undo your dog’s leash reactivity or stranger-directed aggression.  Totally your choice.

Socialization prepares your puppy for life in your world, which frequently presents unusual and even scary situations.

What is NOT a socialization program:

  • Breeder/rescue having a lot of dogs

  • Having a “friendly” breed

  • Having a puppy who is already friendly

  • Having other dogs at home

  • Having other people at home

  • Introducing a puppy to one dog

  • Taking a six-week puppy class

Just because your puppy is currently friendly to dogs and people now, in your home, or in one or two environments, does not mean you don’t need to provide the same amount of socialization that a more reserved puppy needs.  Not if you want to ensure that your puppy remains friendly.

The more novel experiences your puppy has which result in a positive, pleasant outcome, the more prepared your puppy will be for his or her future life.

Contrary to popular belief, a puppy does not need to make contact with dogs and people for socialization to occur.   This is why you can still provide socialization without putting your puppy at risk.

DO’S AND DON’TS

DO:

  • Carry your puppy into dog-friendly stores (this doesn’t just mean pet stores – you’d be surprised at how many banks and non-dog retail stores are willing to help a responsible owner with socialization).

  • Be generous with rewards.  Cheese. Hot dogs.  Small little tasty bits of meaty, cheesy goodness that accompanies all new and potentially scary experiences.  No, your puppy isn’t going to get fat.

  • Watch new people from a distance – overly-exuberant puppies can learn that they don’t get to greet everyone just because they want to (impulse control – important life skill), and shy puppies can learn that the appearance of strangers does not mean a scary encounter.

  • Carry your puppy into the vet for non-vaccination visits, and the groomer (if your dog will require grooming) for a quick treat without the shampoo.

  • Expose your puppy to other dogs…from your car: Sit in the parking lot of the dog park and let your puppy watch the dogs come and go.

  • Fill a kiddie pool with water bottles, boxes, and other strange objects and let your puppy explore…then repeat this in different areas of your house, in your yard, even on your front porch (if you can safely contain your puppy and prevent him/her from getting on the front lawn).

  • Buy a fun playset with tunnels and tents from your local toy store.  Fill the tunnels with toys and treats to encourage your puppy to explore.

DON’T

  • DON’T ever force your puppy to approach, enter, or interact with anything that they aren’t willingly approaching, entering, or interacting with.  EVER.  Shy puppies sometimes need multiple approaches to work up the courage to interact.  Don’t force it.  If you do, I might just show up on your porch and squirt you in the face with a water bottle.  No!  Bad puppy owner!

  • DON’T place your puppy on dirt or grass in public areas or in back yards where friends/family have lived for less than two years. That’s because viruses like Parvo can live in the soil for that long.

  • DON’T take your puppy to the dog park until they are at least 5-6 months old and have already been socialized to a variety of other dogs.  Dog parks are for socialized dogs, not for socialization.  Being charged, swarmed, knocked over, humped, and generally terrorized is definitely not a positive experience.

  • DON’T let well-meaning strangers overwhelm your puppy with enthusiastic greetings, invasive handling, or their own, special form of training that they claim to have gleaned from dog ownership.

  • DON’T let your puppy meet strange dogs you encounter in public unless you are prepared to embark on a significant behavior modification program.  Relying on a complete stranger to be honest and objective about their dog’s behavior is gambling with your puppy’s safety.

  • DON’T let your friendly puppy get away with murder in the name of socializaation. Part of socialization is learning how to interact with the world.  For confident, friendly puppies, that also means learning good manners around strangers and strange dogs.  Allowing a friendly puppy to treat the world like his mosh pit when he is little is going to make life super fun when he’s 60 lbs.

The best socialization program starts at the breeder or foster home, who introduces puppies to new sights, sounds, surfaces, and smells long before they come home with you.  This breeder provides a fun play area for her puppies:

ADOLESCENT SOCIALIZATION

Starting around 5 months of age, your puppy is going to freak out a little.  Part of this is normal adolescent behavior (oh, and has anyone told you that this is when teething really starts?), but adolescent dogs go through multiple and brief fear periods.  During this time, you’re going to need to renew your socialization efforts.

Here’s the key:  Listen to your dog.  If something is scaring your adolescent dog, the fear is very real to them.  Don’t force the issue just because you know it’s just a statue or garbage can.  Give your dog the distance they need to feel safe, then reintroduce the scary thing from a distance, accompanied by LOTS of great things.  This is where a good trainer can help you.  The goal here is for your dog to learn that a) scary things usually aren’t as bad as they seem and bravery is always rewarded, and b) they can trust you to keep them safe.

YEAH, IT’S A LOT OF WORK…BUT YOU ONLY GET ONE CHANCE TO DO IT RIGHT

Waiting until a puppy has received a full set of vaccinations to begin a socialization program is too little, too late! Socialization begins on Day 1 with you.  The first 8 weeks in your home should be devoted to teaching important life skills that you only get one chance to get right.

Don’t worry about “obedience” training right away, outside of a good name response and recall. A solid down-stay is not going to make for drama-free nail trims or prevent your dog from biting strangers.

Could you skip all this work and still end up with a happy, well-adjusted pet?  Maybe.  But that’s a big – and expensive – risk to take with a 15+ year commitment.

Could you do all this work and still end up with a dog with a behavior problem?  Maybe.  There are a lot of other factors that contribute to aggressive behavior, including genetics (trainers can’t fix your dog’s DNA) and learning history (if a trainer tells you to yank on your dog’s pinch collar every time he sees another dog, he’s got a really good chance of getting cranky when he sees other dogs).

Dog behavior is about risk assessment and management. My recommendations to my clients are designed to minimize the risk that their dog will develop a behavior problem in the future.  There are no guarantees – behavior is not static, it changes and adapts depending on the dog’s needs. Your job is to reduce the odds that your puppy’s behavior changes for the worse.

By doing all this work, you significantly minimize the risk that your dog will develop a problem that could jeopardize his success in your home…or even his life.  If this seems like more work than you can handle, you might not be ready for a puppy.  Check out your local shelter for a nice 4+ year-old dog.  There are no longevity guarantees no matter what age dog you get, so you may as well pick a dog who fits your lifestyle now.  10 years with the right dog for your lifestyle is far better than 15 years with one who doesn’t.

Finally, if your puppy’s veterinarian insists that your puppy stay indoors until they are “fully vaccinated,” find a new veterinarian who is up-to-date on the importance of puppy socialization.

And if a veterinarian or a member of their staff tells you that you must physically manhandle, pin, roll, or shake your puppy to establish dominance, pick up your puppy and RUN out of that office as fast as you can!

Tube Feeding Puppies

Over twenty years ago a I co-bred a litter with good friend of mine who handled the whelping of our eight Gordon Setter puppies . Everything went smoothly at the birth and they were all plugging along, doing great and gaining weight when out of the blue, four days after giving birth, the dam became critically ill. An emergency call and wild ride to the vet revealed that Eclampsia had struck, and in addition to being life threatening for our bitch it created the need to completely take over the feeding of those eight newborn puppies, the dam could no longer nurse due to this condition. Without tube feeding, this litter’s chances of surviving and thriving would have been fairly slim. Bottle feeding eight puppies around the clock and all by oneself was not an option. Tube feeding only means by which my dear friend could save those babies.

And that brings us to to thanking Barbara Manson for sharing this excerpt on tube feeding and for bringing this topic to my attention, it’s something I hadn’t thought of in awhile, but it certainly should be given space here, so here we go!

Tube Feeding Puppies

The following is an excerpt from the book, Feeding Dogs and Cats by Mark L. Morris Jr. DVM, Ph D and Lon D. Lewis, DVM, Ph D.  Copyright 1984, Mark Morris Associates, Topeka, Kansas.

Tube feeding, for most people, is the easiest, cleanest, fastest, safest and most preferred way to feed orphans,  An infant feeding tube (available from many hospitals, pharmacies or pediatricians), number 8-10 French, or a small male urethral catheter can be used.  Once weekly, mark the tube 75% of the distance from the nose to the last rib.  This is the length necessary to just reach the stomach.  If more is inserted, when withdrawn it will frequently come back doubled, possibly damaging the esophagus.  Attach the tube to a syringe, aspirated the amount of formula needed and expel any air aspirated.  Open the mouth slightly, and with the head held in the normal position (not flexed upward or downward) gently pass the tube to the mark.  If an obstruction is felt before you reach the mark the tube is in the trachea.  If this is not the case, slowly administer the formula over a two minute period to allow for gastric dilation.  If resistance is felt, stop.  It probably indicates the stomach is full.  With these precautions, regurgitation rarely occurs.  If it does, withdraw the tube and do not feed any more until the next scheduled feeding.  For the first few weeks of life after each feeding, burp the animal (just like an infant) and swab the genital area with moistened cotton to stimulate deification and urination.

Below you’ll find more resources, including websites with photos to help guide you, simply click the colored links to go to there.  This is also where I ask other breeders if they have techniques or advice about tube feeding that can be shared with others to help round out this information? Please use the comment section to add your thoughts or if you’ve got more detail to add than can be shared in comments feel free to send me your notes or an article at gordonsetterexpert@gmail.com and I’ll get it published on here.

Many thanks to talented photographer Susan Roy Nelson for the peek-a-boo photo!

Free Ad Space for Gordon Puppies, Adults, Litters

As the Gordon Setter Expert audience has grown tremendously, so has the amount of email that I get from people who are searching for quality Gordon Setters from responsible breeders.

To simplify the process where I connect those who are searching for Gordon Setters, with those who are searching for good homes, I’ve created this FREE listing – that’s right, you may advertise to sell your Gordon Setters for free, right here on this site! If you have a puppy, a litter, an adult or are planning a breeding this free service is the perfect value! I’ll be happy to include your photos and pedigree too.

I’ve set a few parameters to ensure I am working with responsible breeders who are invested in the preservation and promotion of the Gordon Setter breed, and you’ll find the rules and restrictions regarding this listing service by visiting the pages below.

Don’t worry about losing this message, just remember that you can go to the Gordon Setter Expert “Home” page any day and simply click the header at the top of the page that reads “Place an Ad – Puppy, Adult, Planned breeding”.

Want to see what your ad might look like? Click here

Place an Ad – Puppy, Adult, Planned Breeding

Gordon Setter Future Litter (Planned Breeding) 

Gordon Setter Puppies

Gordon Setter Adult

I’m certainly hoping Gordon Setter breeders and owners will find this service helpful, that’s all I’m here for, to help!

Don’t forget – you can also list your Stud Dogs here for free!

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Photograph by Laurie Ward

What to Expect: Introducing a Puppy to Your Adult Dogs | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

If I were to tell you that in my family, growing up with 4 brothers and sisters, we got along famously all of the time, never argued, never bickered, never hit or tattled, shared our toys and our treats, shared love with mom and cuddling on the couch and never, ever, said a bad word to each other or argued bitterly I’d have a nose the length of Florida!

Raising dogs, like raising kids, does take patience along with a common sense approach if you want to create a happy household, and this is especially true when bringing a young puppy into the fold.

Whether you’re the new puppy  owner, or the breeder who wants to provide the new puppy owner with sound advice, the article by Karen Pryor “What to Expect: Introducing a Puppy to Your Adult Dogs” is right for you. Simply click the highlighted article title to go there to learn.

If you have other advice or strategies or helpful links please share them with us in the comment section as our aim is to provide an in-depth guide to help new owners and breeders.

Thanks for joining us here, till next time…Sally

Photo (Elfie) by Sarah Armstrong

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

What to Expect: Introducing a Puppy to Your Adult Dogs | Karen Pryor Clicker Training.

First 48 Hours for Newborn Puppies

As I understand it, the two most pressing hazards we face as breeders, to keeping our puppies alive in the first 48 hours would be cold (chilled) and dehydration. After those two the next hazard to life is lack of nourishment. Now, I’m always open to learning new tricks, so if there is anyone who can offer me insight into something more pressing that I am overlooking as vital in this 48 hour time-frame, we all want you to step forward to chime in here, my purpose is to provide the most comprehensive advice to breeders, and your addition to this article may save another Gordon Setter puppy. Please, please don’t be shy!

The first thing I reach for, and the best tool in my breeder toolbox, to address the hazard of dehydration (and nourishment) is advice given by Anne Serrane in her book “The Joy of Breeding Your Own Show Dog”  and that is her recommendation to use a Puppy Glucose Solution. The ingredients of this solution and the method of delivering it via an eye dropper fit four vital needs of the newly born puppy. The first is to assure that the puppy stays well hydrated, the second is to give the puppy a boost of energy with nourishment that is less foreign to his extremely sensitive digestive system, and the third to teach the puppy to swallow and suck. The fourth need is some assistance to preventing chill, and the solution can help avoid chilling by providing a warm liquid to the pup’s internal organs. Warming this solution to body temperature by holding it close to our body or in our hands, this solution, when swallowed, will provide some warmth for the puppy internally. I store my Puppy Glucose Solution within reach during whelping by sitting it in a container of warm water so it holds that warmth between uses. Yes, you can choose to use other re-hydration techniques like the injection of Ringer’s Glucose-Saline fluid or tube feeding a milk replacement, but neither of these techniques meet the need to help that puppy learn to swallow and suck, and the replacement formula delivered by tube is often too foreign for the (less than 48 hour old) puppy to properly digest. I avoid the use of milk replacement formulas in the first 48 hours whenever possible as these can cause more stress for the puppy instead of help.

So moving on, prepare this 5% Glucose solution just prior to whelping and store in a dropper bottle:

  • 1 TSP Kayro (Corn) syrup
  • 4 TBL boiled water
  • few grains of table salt (sodium chloride)
  • few grains of salt substitute (potassium chloride)

Then follow the simple instructions ont how to use the Puppy Glucose Solution and give your puppies a faster, stronger start by Anne Serrane from her book “The Joy of Breeding Your Own Show Dog”

This resembles a Ringer’s Glucose-Saline fluid but, of course, cannot be used for subcutaneous or intravenous injection because it is not sterile. Store the solution in a dropper bottle. As soon as a puppy is dry and breathing normally, weigh it on a gram scale and give it five or six drops of the solution for each 100 grams of body weight. It is best to administer the glucose drop by drop on its tongue and not introduce it directly into the stomach by tube. By giving it on the tongue the swallowing reflexes are being developed. Make sure the puppy has swallowed each drop before the next is given. Usually even the weakest pup will accept it gratefully. Then put the puppy with it’s dam for stimulation and warmth. Every four hours weigh the puppy, record the weight, and repeat the glucose, increasing the amount if the puppy wants it, to as much as a full dropper or more for each 100 grams of body weight, until the puppy shows signs of gaining weight. Then offer it to the puppy every eight hours until it is 48 hours old. It should not be forced to drink it. Usually even the smallest puppy will begin to take hold and nurse strongly with good suction at the end of 24 hours, and will reject the glucose, indicating it is getting sufficient energy and nutrition from its dam. You can tell when its suction is getting stronger for, suddenly, the puppy will close its mouth around the dropper and suck all the solution from the tube.”

It takes a good deal of patience and practice with newborn puppies to get them to accept this liquid from the eye dropper, you’ll need to learn how to get the puppy to open his mouth to accept the eye dropper, but once you both get the knack of it the pup will stick out his tongue for the dropper and eventually suck the liquid right down!

It’s so simple and such a great boost. It’s like a puppy power shake!

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Photo by Sarah Armstrong

 

The Puppy Play Ground

Debbie Slaski Bjerkestrand Play groundWhat a superb idea and so inexpensive! Our friend Debbie Slaski Bjerkestrand of Orlando, Florida shared this photo of her DIY Puppy Adventure Box along with details on this fun place.

Raising a healthy, well socialized and well-adjusted litter is very hard work. This idea of stringing textured items from PVC pipe to keep the puppies minds active and engaged while exploring their environment is perfect for raising puppies who blend right in to their new families. This is what “Buy From a Breeder” is all about, not just the time and energy we put into raising our pups, but more importantly the care we take to ensure they have a terrific start to their long life as a family pet.

All the details can be found on the Avidog website which offers you an option to purchase the Puppy Adventure Box fully outfitted or you can purchase the Adventure Box naked and add your own items at home. For DIYers like Deb (and me) the site also offers free step by step instructions for building this yourself.

This link will take you to Avidog Puppy Adventure Box | Puppy Activity Box.

Thanks so much for sharing Deb, don’t forget to share pictures of puppies at play!

Sponge Feeding Newborn Puppies – Great Idea!

Sponge Bob Square pants here we come!

Be sure to thank Pat Larson for sharing this handy tip for supplementing newborn puppies. Often those new babies refuse bottle feeding and many breeders feel a bit squeamish about tube feeding – OK – well, maybe that’s just me. I am a big baby when it comes to the need for tubes, I’d rather eat dirt. But now, thanks to Pat I have another trick up my sleeve that works, and will be much easier on the puppy’s delicate digestive tract.

Start your engines and head on over to the make-up aisle of any discount store where for a buck or two you can pick up a pack of what will soon become your disposable nipple and bottle replacements – make-up sponges.

Pat cut the tips of these triangular-shaped sponges down to a size that fit the puppy’s mouth, (mimic the nipple size of the dam) then she soaked the sponge in puppy formula and with a bit of patience helped the pup learn to suck from it. She said it works great, so great that once you get the pup started nursing they take to it so well they will nearly pull the sponge out your hand with their grip. When both you and puppy are working well as a team you’ll be keeping the sponge full of milk while the puppy sucks by using a syringe to inject milk from the opposite end.

Included below is a link to a YouTube video that demonstrates the technique. But wait, don’t leave us before sharing what you recommend as a milk replacer when feeding puppies? Use the comment section below for your suggestions, sharing is caring you know.

Wishing you all the best with those Gordon Setter babies!

Sponge Feeding a Newborn Puppy