Happy New Year!
Today, as I sit with a warm cup of morning espresso, watching the deer play in the snow, I am in awe of our beautiful world. I have always been an animal lover, and living where we have the opportunity to view nature and wildlife on a daily basis is a dream realized for this girl!
I wish you all a very healthy and happy new year in 2013.
My thoughts on understanding the dog psyche
I have been organizing the site this week, (as usual! I am obsessed with providing as much info possible for our puppy families---its the teacher in me! Anytime you go to check out the site and find it running slowly, I am probably working on an update!) and have added a wonderful new video to the Puppy Training Video area, from Cesar Milan. Be sure to check this out! He really shares some great info about how to train a puppy, and how to understand the way dogs THINK. I love his no-nonsense, laid back, attitude and how he stressed that dogs are NOT humans, they have different requirements. As humans, our reactions to dogs can actually cause them to become neurotic! We don't mean to do this, but I believe that many well-intended families are using the wrong approach to training or interacting with their new puppy.
Dan also explains that dog 'talking/growling' is NOT aggression, it is how they communicate, and he shows how to tell the difference! (can I just say how much I love this!??!)
Don't mess with Mamma (Habibi) Bear!!
He explains the nature of mamma dogs and how their protective instincts are not aggressive, but how they ensure their babies are safe. This is an important aspect of breeding that we take very seriously---to respect the needs of mamma. This is WHY we do not allow visitors before choosing day (we gauge this on the needs of mama too!). I take the needs of my mama dogs into consideration and some are more protective than others. I have found over the years, that each mommy dog has a different level of protectiveness. Some of our girls have no problem at all with visitors and actually love the opportunity to receive attention and show off her babies. Some girls are very nervous about strangers and their whole demeanor changes from the sweet loving girl we know, to shy, pacing and growling . Both reactions are completely NORMAL and expected. With each litter, this improves, but some girls take more time to accept the presence of a strange person around their little babies. When we have a mamma that tends to be more cautious of new visitors, we like to involve the visiting family in aiding her feel comfortable, that visitors are a good thing. We do this by having a calm environment during the visit, and allow family members to pet her and quietly talk to her. We ask that visitors with active children respect the needs of mamma too, and not overwhelm her with too much stimulus. Usually after a couple litters, most mamas will come to understand that visitors are a wonderful thing, but occasionally the hormones take over and some girls never really come around completely to strangers when they have a litter of babies in the house. These mammas are the ones that we love to have families come and visit during choosing week, so she can meet them and see them leave, without disruption. If families return on pick up day, I learned that it is best to distract this mamma so she is not further traumatized by seeing a stranger take her puppy away. If we have a family that wants to meet mamma, we recommend scheduling your visit during choosing week! Probably something most folks haven't thought about!
In this video, Cesar Milan brings home 4 new puppies and one is a miniature Schnauzer, a breed that we worked with closely for over 20 years, and have much experience with. Watch especially how he handles puppy biting, chewing and food aggression. These are some of the most common issues we encounter with families.
Cesar has the same philosophy as I do about temperament /personality coming before 'beauty'. In my opinion, when you are breeding quality dogs and understand how to pair the parents to compliment each other's traits appropriately, you will produce gorgeous offspring. (since I do not show my Habibi Bears, I have a different focus in producing my puppies; proper socialization, training and temperament are paramount in my breeding program.) I have owned many show quality dogs in my time, and a majority of them were socially inept, or had health issues. The rare few that were a complete dog in looks, health and temperament were the foundation of my Habibi Bear breeding program!
In the video, you can observe the typical purebred breeder's idea of the perfect puppy per breed standard (look) as opposed to personality. Many show breeders are somewhat blind when it comes to temperament, as they are looking for the next show stopper in the show ring when they choose the 'pick of the litter'. Of course, all our puppies are gorgeous and there usually is one or two in a litter that are the perfect example of my breed (choices I would make when choosing a puppy for breeding). Ironically, most families that are choosing a PET would never 'SEE' the difference, and often times are never drawn to the pick of the litter, in my experience. It takes a trained eye to see the qualities that exemplify a breed. Qualities that are not important to the average pet owner.
We are here to guide our families in the proper choices
For our puppy choosing, there is a little more than the cuteness factor. I try to educate all of my families about the importance of temperament and socialization, a concept that seems to be lacking with most breeders. All puppies are cute, and we feel it is most important to pick the correct temperament for your home. We encourage all families to take that into consideration over color. Our breed is very consistent in personality, but there are ingrained temperaments that need to be acknowledged in each puppy. The differences between puppies can be difficult for a family to determine by simply observing. There are many misconceptions about personality, and oftentimes a family will think they want one for all the wrong reasons. (Again, in the video, you can observe how the Lab Rescue mis-read the temperament of the two puppies offered to Cesar. Another perfect example of how people misunderstand the behaviors of dogs, or do not understand how to match the right temperament to the HOME.) Hey it's ok, you are in good hands, because this is MY specialty! This is where my temperament testing comes into play. Every home has different needs, therefore they require a different temperament to best suit their lifestyle. Many families would not be able to choose the correct puppy for their home by just meeting them in person for 30 minutes---it is impossible to get an exact reading on every puppy from one meeting, as they are all at different levels of alertness at different times in a day. Sometimes a family will be distracted by a color and talk themselves into believing that a totally wrong temperamented puppy is the one for them. In extreme cases, this can be less than ideal for some puppies, and we have to help guide the human family to the proper fit. (Ex. a shy pup in a home with very active kids and lots of noise is going to create a dog that is nervous and unhappy. Or an active pup in a home with seniors that specifically requested a mellow dog). We take all things into consideration while performing our testing. Since the puppies are familiar with my family, they react to us differently than they would a stranger and we have the opportunity to observe them at all times of the day. We use these factors as well as the information supplied by our families to help us in recommending the perfect puppy for every family.
In closing, my final thought is simply to respect your dog and his needs. Dogs are not people and need to be handled appropriately to be the calm submissive pet of your dreams. We always recommend puppy classes to help you succeed in proper training and most importantly, to build strong bonds with your puppy. Dogs require food, love, shelter and discipline---establishing ourselves as the pack leader is key. When all of these needs are met you will have the perfect family dog for years to come!!!
Love and Light,