owners of Standard Poodle Puppies
7 to 12 weeks
The above warning
helps you to start to see the world as a puppy. Hopefully, you have
looked long and hard to find the right character in your new canine
companion. His family tree is brilliant with individuals of strong
breed character whom have led faithful and outstanding long lives with
their owners; his sires have proved themselves as breed champions with
legendary wins in conformation and performance tests. You found a
breeder with the attitude about breeding dogs that you found ethical; not
just a producer of "mantel piece ornaments", or one who is
"in it for the money".
So, you met the
parents of your puppy or at least the mother, and they were of the
character you hope to develop in your new friend. Don’t be alarmed
if the sire lives some distance, perhaps even a continent away; it is the
better breeder who utilizes the world’s pedigrees. The
mother should be a nurturing jewel of a lady. You asked to see her
off lead in an open unfenced area. She listened respectfully to her
owner and played gently with your children. That’s the type of
willingness of cooperation that you wanted in your new puppy.
Perhaps the mother is also a national winner. That is not as
usual. The most important thing is she is loving and stable.
She instills her temperament in the puppies as she nurses them for six
weeks. Please be concerned about a puppy completely weaned earlier
than 5 weeks. They may have intestinal or emotional hurdles to
overcome. Often puppies weaned too early may develop allergies to
the types of food to which they were weaned. I have an excellent
natural diet which I let my puppies begin eating at 4 weeks. I let
them have this in addition to their mother’s all-important milk.
At 49 days of age,
the day of awareness according to Dr. Ian Dunbar, animal behaviorist and
veterinarian of Berkeley, CA, I recommend the litter be temperament
tested. This procedure should be done in an unfamiliar location and
performed by a stranger. This is a great day. All the
litter’s buyers are invited to join me 46 miles inland and to the north
of the pup’s birthplace to watch and learn as each puppy has his 15
minutes of new found fame, attention and accomplishment. A seasoned
dog handler gives the test. In the case of the litters I raise, it
is the great dog interpreter, Marjorie Hudson of The Chosen Dog in
Escondido, CA. The test is officially called a Puppy Personality
Profile. It is an insight to the pup’s mind on that very day.
Results are recorded by all that attend. I encourage all new owners
to attend the litters’ special day. The knowledge of these
recorded behavior traits is useful in achieving the minor modifications
desired when the puppy goes to the new home. It is a wonderful
understanding for the buyer.
Puppy is confident
and curious. He is bold, yet sensitive. He comes from a long
line of outstanding "best friends" that the breeder was happy to
tell you stories about as they showed you pictures and health test
reports. This new little friend is very proud to be your new pet and
that attitude is what you capitalize upon to help you in training.
Understanding an intelligent, well-bred puppy’s outlook is your first
assignment in learning to allow this bond between man and dog to evolve
respectfully. You watched his temperament testing and you know about
his desires and fears. He is canine, a pack animal. You are
now the pack leader. Big responsibility if this is to go without a
lot of mistakes! Second important lesson: the puppy’s mistakes are
YOUR mistakes! My pups generally test with an excellent response to
voice requests. It is important to talk to your puppy. Vary
your tone, to the point of exaggeration, to reflect the meaning of the
communication. Bark your displeasure and coo your praise. Not
until dogs are much older do they understand individual words. At
this age, tone is your key
The second biggest
mistake new owners make after bringing the cutie home is letting the puppy
run around everywhere. Never would I allow a pup to leave the
kitchen the first few days unless he’s directly on his way
outside. If you would like my formula for no mistakes in the house,
read on. You must be fair in training your puppy. Some pups
hold grudges and give you another hurdle in training. This trait is
usually reported during the temperament test. Other pups take or
require more instruction or correction. You will be able to tell
from your results how much pressure to apply. Reward with love, and
for monumental accomplishments, FOOD. My favorite trainer, Joanne
Griffin of Camera One Canine Actors here in San Diego recommends, "Play
for 5 minutes, train for 5 minutes," and keep alternating, especially
when the pup is young. This sets the mood of training as a fun time
with the owner. But at 7 or 8 weeks of age what the puppy has to
learn are the basic house LAWS. Your pup will have no problem
understanding his own area if it is strictly defined. Remember you
are setting the rules that are to be followed (or ignored from time to
time) for the next 10 to 15 years. So please be strict the first few
months so your adult dog is a pleasure and comfortable in anyone’s
home. A few slips of following the guidelines will be setting your
pet up for a few slips of the laws in the future.
Keeping your pup in
the kitchen is fair training. You have given strict
boundaries. Everyone in the house knows it. Your spouse
respects the law; the children respect the law. And if no one breaks
the law your pup will be content in his new home. Only adults are in
charge of making certain the pup’s schedule is kept. They are the
ones that take him to the outdoors for relieving himself. Remember,
I said this is how we make no mistakes. Everyone likes to gather in
the kitchen and kitchens usually are not carpeted. This is why I
recommend this central, high use room. People do not gather in the
laundry room or the spare room in the basement. That is why the
kitchen is fair. Children can play with the puppy in the puppy’s
space while a parent prepares meals, etc. Taking the pup to another
room (say to watch television) one night and not the next is asking for a
lot of howling. Taking the pup every night in to another room is
asking for your first accident. The puppy is too young and you can not
watch television and the bottom end of the puppy at the same time.
The goal here is no mistakes. The puppy is sleeping a lot at this
age and if he is wide awake perhaps you could adjust his schedule so he is
going to sleep as the household winds down for the day.
For my pups I
recommend an exercise pen made of strong gauge wire at least 32’ high
and having a door. Set this in a corner of the kitchen, giving up
about 4’ by 6’ to your new project. This is temporary and useful
for about the first 6 to 8 months. Remember – no mistakes.
House law number 2 is never, I said NEVER, lift the puppy over the top of
the exercise pen! Make certain your spouse knows this law, that the
children know this law and that Aunt Matilda visiting from Canada knows
this law. If the pup is shown just once this new way out you
might as well fold up the spacious pen right there and then. And
then training just became unfair. Second choice is the dreaded crate
training method. My pups are too smart and sensitive to enjoy living
in one of those things. So, make certain everyone knows the LAW.
Always use the door to put pup in pen or to take him out.
Have the pen set up
before the puppy comes home. Also you may have his food made and
waiting in the fridge. You may warm it to room temperature when he
gets there. Nothing will make a pup in a new situation more
comfortable than you having control over his space and showing it to him
(everything set up) and the aroma of his food being gently warmed and
served will be just what a puppy needs. Ahhh, sigh, he’s home.
Thinking like a puppy some more, make certain that half the exercise pen
is covered in newspaper for his toilet and the other has a nice blanket,
lots of toys, a hanging water bowl and a spot to place the food.
Once he has eliminated on the papers and has become a bit calmer, give him
his food near his bed. Tell him calmly how proud you are to welcome
such a fine intelligent member to the pack. As a reward for "pottying"
in the right spot (I say, "Go potty on the papers – good
puppy") give the pup his first food reward in your pack. As he
is checking this food reward by licking and nibbling say some low tone
encouraging words. Go ahead and cover the urine or feces with a
sheet or two of paper. Knowing that all this is ok will make him
comfortable and relaxed. Taking him to the back yard to
"potty" may be useless these first few days. An important
notion: a new area to explore is to be used as reward for understanding
the laws so far. If each area is introduced slowly and only after
the first room is understood, you will be well on your way to bragging
"no mistakes!" Do not rush the process.
This has been a
detail of the first 7 to 12 weeks. As you get closer to 12 weeks you
will note the pup stops defecating in his exercise pen between walks
outdoors. Then, the urination will be more controlled as well.
Some house training manuals say to regulate the amount of water for the
puppy. I believe fresh, clean purified water (not conditioned by
water softener or chlorinated) should be available at all times.
Please feed and water from stainless steel dishes. For the water I
recommend a galvanized 2-qt. bucket held by a 3 or 4-inch double snap to
the side of the exercise pen. Catalogs that carry the pens will have
these buckets available. The snap you will need to buy at the
hardware store. The water being held to the fence this way prevents
the bucket from spilling the water everywhere. If the pup spills his
food he can eat it off the floor; if he spills his water, besides being a
big mess, he is without water. Studies show that dogs prefer water
cool (not cold) and 3 to 5 inches deep in their pail.
Always take puppy out
to "Go Potty" every 2 hours (at the least) when pup is out of
his pen. Share some evenings with the puppy. Have puppy lay by
your side quietly as you read or watch television; play a little fetch in
the family room, or help you add a web page about him to THE RING OF
POODLES. If he’s been trustworthy, let him now venture to a NEW
room with you! All the time you should tell him that he has earned
your trust. Tell him, "I trust you now in this new room –
follow me." Do not enter rooms with the puppy that you wish to
be dog free. And make certain the behavior you allow him to carry
out while you are watching TV (or reading, etc.) is going to be what you
will put up with when he grows another 50lbs! Remember to be fair in
training to build trust.
Now is a great time
to introduce basic obedience. My line of poodles trains easily with
food reward. I have never seen this method have problems with the
dogs that I produce. It does have critics but those critics aren’t
training my poodles! So, I speak from experience – FOOD WORKS!
A puppy kindergarten
class with minor agility aspects would be nice for you to attend if you
have found the best class possible in your area. Not the closest,
not the cheapest, but the one that the top dog sport competitors are
sponsoring or attending. This takes a bit of research and maybe some
driving will be involved. It is worth the extra effort to learn from
the best right from the start. You’ll learn the proper footwork and body
language to help train your "blank slate." Keep it simple,
fun-fun-fun, and non-demanding. Don’t go too fast. Learn one
command thoroughly before going to the next. It is good to take your
pup along to strange places. Be cautious about letting him sniff
around dirt and shrubs where other dogs may have defecated. Do not
let your puppy sniff other dogs and vice versa. Your puppy is most
vulnerable to viruses and disease at this age. Just explain to other
dog owners that you are being intelligently cautious! Pick your
puppy up off the ground if another owner doesn’t respect your
Skip the puppy
kindergarten "classes" where they believe that letting all the
pups run together in a free for all is teaching them important
manners. Some pups may need that -- not yours. You were smart
to locate a puppy to buy that stayed with its mother and litter through
six weeks of age. Your puppy learned important lessons then.
Not in the midst of a bunch of pups of questionable backgrounds all on
different vaccination schedules.
course instruction. Puppies should be kept on lead, with a buckle
collar with focus on their owners. Each is learning and focused, NOT
sidetracked by a riot of pups running loose and out of control. And
NOT corrected sharply on a "choke style" training collar with
strict Hitler-like criteria to be met. Look for a calm, well-run
class with lots of food reward.
Your pup’s spirit
is already high and happy. He is well adjusted, daring and
enthusiastic. Your mission is to maintain that spirit and guide it
under your control. CONTROL is GOAL when I train my poodles.
This method at this age has produced first place winners in agility for
me. Dependable obedience is achieved with a smile from your dog.
Dogs love to have guidelines and boundaries. Dogs appreciate being
gently guided by strong, kind hands.
A note about teeth:
remember when you shed your deciduous teeth at age 6 or 7? Twisting the
tooth around until it came out. Bothered by the next one coming
loose or the new one coming in. Well, your pup thinks about his teeth a lot
right now. You can help the proper alignment of the bite by
encouraging the top incisors to come out first. If the upper
permanent teeth are coming in to place well before the bottom incisors
they will hold the bottom ones in better position. If they come in
simultaneously, there may be a crashing of the upper and lower permanent
teeth. Instead of meshing nicely (the top slightly over the bottom
teeth – like your own) the bite could become undershot or wry.
It’s good to be aware of this uncommon malady that could be prevented
with a little encouragement of the upper incisors to loosen first.
Pushing gently with your fingers is all that is necessary to help the
Most owners don’t
pay that much attention to the teeth. If you have read this far you
are not just another average owner! Dental problems are rare in a
strong line of poodles like mine. And now I just gave you something
else to fool with these weeks!
At about 8
Good age to consider option for neutering (ovariohysterectomy for females / castration for males) if necessary
In addition, serious training of several times per week will make a willing star performer of your great dog.
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