What You Need To Know When Picking A Puppy

By: Adam Katz

This was a last minute e-mail I sent to a friend in California, who contacted me only a few hours befote she was leaving to pick a puppy from a breeder she's been researching.

(EMAIL FROM ME, STARTS HERE)

Actually, everything looks really good - for a show breeder. And even better, what I really like is that she's doing things with the dogs (using them in commercials) - which to me, suggests that the dogs she's breeding should (in theory, anyway) have solid temperaments.

The only thing I really wasn't crazy about is the way her dogs look. I don't like the pigment or the luster of the coats. But really, that's more of a personal preference, as I'm not a show breed judge.

I also like that she gets the pups started with crate training.

The main test I recommend is that you should cradle the pup in your arms, so that its feet are up toward your chin, and its back is cupped in your hands. The pup should lie still, like a sack of potatoes and just gaze sweetly up into your eyes. If he won't let you turn him upside down, or won't stop squirming... throw him back and pick another one.

If he passes that test, the next one should be to pin him on his side. He might squirm a little bit at first but then settle down and let you hold him in that position... at least for 10-20 seconds.

And finally, find a metal bowl... or something that makes a lot of noise... like a ring of about 20 keys... and while the pups are playing, toss the bowl or object about five feet from the pups (the breeder won't like this, but ignore it, you're picking a companion for the next 15 years, and you want to make sure you get a good one! So don't ask permission... just do it!) Watch the pups. Good pups should run up to it to investigate. Weak pups will cringe and hide. Do not buy a pup that cringes and hides. If the dog just shows indifference, this is okay... but then I'm going to test to see if the pup is deaf or not. If he's not deaf (clap, or shake keys behind the pup, when he's not looking)... but he was still indifferent to the bowl drop... then the dog is still one I WILL consider.

This is really all you need if you're choosing a dog for a pet. You can also test his ball drive, but to be honest, for a pet that's just going to lounge around the house, a pronounced ball drive is unnecessary.

She seems like a good breeder, as far as one can tell from a web site. So, I'm sure she'll help you out. Just be honest about what you are and aren't looking for in a dog.

That's all for now, folks!
Adam

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