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  • Con Slobodchikoff, Ph.D.
    Slobodchikoff is President and CEO of Animal Communications, Ltd., specializing in pet behavior problems and in educating people about the behavior of animals.
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July 09, 2009


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As a trainer/breeder, I've never allowed people to pick their own puppy. I explain to them that walking into a litter of puppies for 15 minutes, it is impossible for THEM, (assuming they're first time dog owners) to understand what they're seeing in a litter of playing puppies. The one that seems the most "laid back", might be an alpha female who's ready for a nap, and the one that seems the most hyperactive and rambunctious might actually be my most laid back puppy who just woke UP from a nap! Breeders SHOULD know their puppies well, and if they don't, you have a lot more questions to ask. I can pick out the alpha puppy in a litter within 24 hours of their birth (often sooner, if it's a strong puppy). My litters are usually sold before puppies are even born. All my puppy families understand that I will match their puppies, and if they have a preference for male vs. female they should find another breeder. I prefer to match based on the characteristics of the puppies, and not by gender. I have yet to have a family come to me and say "this puppy does NOT fit our family!" Instead, even 3 years later they say, "This dog is exactly as you described her as a 4 week old pup!" By the time the pups are 4 weeks old, I have a pretty good idea which family they're going to. I have had one case where I gave the family their deposit back, because I just didn't have a puppy that fit what they were looking for. However, a breeder friend of mine did, and they were happy with the puppy they got! At 6 weeks, I announce on my website which puppies went to which families. It's a fun week, and if the family has kids, they're so excited to start thinking about names! When the puppies go home ( 8 1/2 weeks) we take a family picture to put on the puppy's web page. My puppy families live the entire process. I'm not doing anything wonderful, or amazing. Maybe a little more than most breeders do, but that might be the OCD in me coming out. LOL

Alessandro Rosa

I think that first we narrowed in on breed. We live in an apartment in a city and wanted an energetic but easy going dog that was small enough for an apartment and was able to rest during the day.

Then we thought about the future and wanted a breed that is generally good with children and other animals. We also wanted a breed that was known to be hardy and had a longer than average life span. This helped us to settle on a Beagle. It was the original breed I had been thinking of and the research reinforced that idea.

We then tried to find breeders, but had a difficult time finding one that would sell to us, as we both worked and didn't fit their "Family Values" idea of what a household with one of their creations should be. It didn't matter how devoted a parent we would be to this puppy. They were perfectly happy to sell us their retired show dogs or dams, even though they lived their entire lives in a kennel, no matter how well kept it was, but a puppy, who is much more adaptable and who could be much more easily socialized to living inside full-time, no way.

We started to look at the shelters and rescues and eventually found a litter of 4 9-week-old boys that was given up by a breeder that was not able to sell them and couldn't afford to keep them. We contacted the rescue on Friday and after reviewing our application and a telephone interview, they agreed to let us adopt, but we had to be at their open adoption on Saturday morning. We drove overnight almost 700 miles to be there when the rescue opened Saturday morning for their open adoption. The four Beagle boys were brought into the shelter as they had been staying with the volunteers to avoid kennel cough and we got to observe the four of them. Two of the boys were obviously shy and didn't come around as much. One seemed driven and overly aggressive with a squeak toy.

And then there was Darwin. He seemed confident but not overly, he played with his brothers and came to us. He was excited about a tennis ball in the room but wasn't absolutely obsessed. He was also the largest of the four boys. I picked him up and held him in my lap for a little while and then gave him to my fiancee to hold as I went to fill out the adoption paperwork. When I came back up into the room where he was his tail started to wag enthusiastically when he saw me and I knew I had made the right choice.

I do have to say that the first month of having a puppy was definitely a challenge, and there were several times I questioned my decision and realized what the breeders were trying to caution me of. But then something happened and Darwin became my dog. It was as simple as that. The mistakes, the leash pulling, the insane vet bills, the not sleeping enough didn't matter. He was my dog; not some used up breed stock or show hound who was past their prime. He was mine. He started to understand me and I started to understand him. He just turned six months old yesterday and I am already starting to miss some of the puppy craziness as he settles into being a well-behaved dog. I love every day that I have watched him grow and explore his world. It breaks my heart when he is scared of something or whines when I get ready to leave in the morning; It warms my heart when he does a full body wag when he sees me, when he curls up next to me when we sleep at night, when we share daddy/puppy chew toy time (I hold a rawhide or Bully stick for him to chew on while he cuddles with me) or seeing the joy he has when playing with other dogs in the park.

So that is my story on how I choose my puppy.


I ask the breeder/caregiver which of the pups they would keep if they had to keep one, and why. If it's reasons that I like ("she's a gentle soul" rather than "he's so cheeky"!), I'll tend to favour that pup. Although I do assess character as best I can by visiting more than once. I never get purebreds, always mongrels, and usually rescue pups. Love 'em!


If you are looking for a puppy maybe you should take a look at
You will find some details about most dog breeds and advices to choose the perfect dog for you

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