Standard  Poodles
World Class Blacks
La Jolla, California

Julie Borst Reed
and
Kirk S. Reed
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The Dapper Dog
By Tiara

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Puppy Comes Home
By Julie Borst, breeder

For owners of Standard Poodle Puppies

7 to 12 weeks
Puppy needs 20 to 22 hours of sleep to grow and develop his body and mind. This is the number one neglected aspect of raising our precious new friend. It is often why uninformed owners have a puppy exhibit ill temper; the aggression can be due to sleep deprivation. Think about how you feel when you don’t get your proper sleep.  Now place yourself in an environment where it is difficult to communicate to another species . . . Oh no, they just let the neighbor kid alone with you!  I believe you get the idea. Well, you take a breed or line of dogs that is strong-willed and ZAP, the puppy nips to express that it just wants to sleep!  Unfortunately, many of the pets you pay with your taxes to have euthanized at the county animal shelters became "nasty" dogs because an uninformed parent used the puppy as a living "child entertainment center".  Please pass this reasoning on to anyone you know who is considering a new puppy.

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.

Puppies are selected on traits that best meet their new owner’s needs.  The order of selection is previously determined.  In cases of families with small children (under 45lbs.in weight), the puppies tested best for that situation may be placed with them and hence are not actually available for open selection.  In all my experience as a breeder of pure-bred dogs since 1976, this method of matching owners with their "pick" is by far the most successful and gratifying.  I was pretty good on my own directing and helping people with their selection of what is to be their companion for the next 10 to 15 years.  In fact, my percentage over the years is to the high side of 95% placement success.  Since my "A" litter here in California 1991, I have placed a greater emphasis on performance competition as well as conformation.  At that time I began temperament testing the litters.  Since the "K" litter in 1995, I have had each litter evaluated by The Chosen Dog.  My percentage rate is now at 100% placement satisfaction.

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

A special note must be made here as recommended by Dr. Dunbar, "avoid names that begin with s, sh, or hissy sounding tones."  In nature, these sounds mean danger.  Snakes hiss, cat’s hiss even people say shhhh when they want an action to stop.  That’s what you communicate to "Sassy" or "Chanel."  There are successful pets by these ssss sounding names, but could they have been even better not having to overcome this handicap?  The puppy looks at you timidly as you are calling him to come, but you keep saying that sssss sound.  "Samson come, Samson it’s ok, Samson come,"  yet all the time you look like a nice person.  The puppy remembers you feed it, but it better just urinate to show submission so you know it’s not a threat and you can stop saying that sssss sound!  In further training the commands to sit, stand and stay (as well as the politically incorrect "shut up") will all be that much more work for your puppy to decipher from his own name.  Actually, you should only use your dog’s name with a command when you want an action to be performed. "Jake sit, Jake shake," would be correct. "Jake stay," is incorrect.  In this case you may ask for the dog’s attention, praise the eye contact, then give the command firmly, "stay."

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.

12-14 weeks
Puppy should be staying "clean" all night and most times between outdoor exercise and relief.  If you have had no mistakes so far, you may start one room at a time rewarding your puppy for perfect pack behavior.  Your "cave" is to be respected and a slow introduction to each room is key to maintaining respect from your adoring pup.

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 non-contact requests.

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.

Investigate the 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.

14-16 weeks
This time is the most open to learning your dog’s mind will be to learning in his entire life!  Whomever your pup meets, whatever he experiences good or bad, will be remembered his entire life.  Never board away from you at this critical time.  You need to train and introduce good new things these 2 weeks.  Be consistent.  At no other time in your dog’s life will his brain be capable of absorbing so much.  Make certain to spend a lot of time during these irreplaceable 2 weeks with your puppy . . . BECAUSE at 16 weeks everything shuts down!  The deciduous or milk teeth begin to shed and you’ll be lucky to maintain things you’ve taught the pup AND keep his mouth happy.

16-20 weeks
It’s here! Teething. Do not stress your pup now.  Keep everything simple and give him lots of bones to chew.  I do not recommend introducing new lessons.  Work only on what your pup knows already.  Insist only on maintaining house manners, lessons already learned and keeping the teeth on HIS playthings.

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 process.

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 months
Teenage begins.  Hold on to your training once again until the "testing" of your limits by your puppy settles down -- oh, at about 14 months of age.

14-16 months
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.

"Puppy Comes Home"
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