Picking a puppy is an exciting thing! However, way to many people pick a pup with their heart and not their head! A puppy’s cute eyes or sweet breath and the deal is sealed!
This is absolutely the wrong way to pick a pup even a pup that is just going to be a pet!
I have been asked many times by various folks how I pick pups for myself and for others! So I decided to write on this. The first thing I advice is sitting down and get to know yourself! What is your lifestyle? What is your personality? What do you want to do with the dog? Do you plan on getting involved in dog activities or do you only want a cuddle buddy? How big is your living space? How committed to activity and responsibility are you?
The next step is to research out what breed of dog you are interested in. The American Kennel Club has a great site on dog breeds! http://www.akc.org/breeds/complete_breed_list.cfm
If purebred is not what you are wanting there are often rescue associations that are devoted to that breed, a quick internet search is bound to give you results. There are many good mixed breeds at about every shelter in the county! Please find something suited to WHO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY IS! A good trainer can help any situation but if you get something that fits you from the word go you will be a much happier!
Most reading this site want to know what I look for in diabetic alert dogs. Over the course of the years of breeding dogs I have gravitated towards matching the best pup to their perspective owners who I have either spent a lot of time talking with or who have answered a detailed questionnaire. With the pups that I raise I have a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that go into each litter and I want people to have SUCCESS and I want my pups to have a forever home where they are wanted and loved! But I also have assisted many folks in finding their perfect diabetic alert dog from other breeds! Once again I get to know the people before I go look at puppies! But in my humble opinion you want for the most part to find a nice “middle of the road” puppy! A good breeder is going to have those mostly all of those kind of pups, but there are breeders who don’t have a clue what they are doing but are happy to tell you that is what their pups are. In the end all that truly matters to them is the money!
For a diabetic alert dog you want a nice “middle of the road” pup that has a good nose, You want a puppy that is very balanced in nature! You don’t want the pup that is dominant and bullying not do you want the pup that cowers in fear! You want a pup that wants to please you, wants to be with you, but yet at the same time is willing to explore and think for themselves. These are usually the pups that are curious but then they look back to see where you are. The foundation for a good diabetic alert dog is curious about the surroundings but isn’t totally afraid. They may pause, lean into it but they don’t hackle up not do they go find the nearest corner to hide in. I look for a pup that likes food rewards but isn’t trying to tear you hand off to get it. I also look for a pup that has good problem solving abilities. When I am evaluating a litter I look for the pup that figures things out, they may think on their feet or be pensive but I like a pup that will think! I also look for a pup that shows a good nose! I don’t mind them using their eyes but their nose is where the money is at in this field! The scent isn’t important but liking the diabetic is a bonus! From this point I then start looking for things that make the match to the person or family I am looking for. Slight differences in personality can help make the perfect in home. Sometimes a family needs a puppy that will fit them to perfection. Other times that need something that will change them to grow! Sometimes the size and the sex of the dog matters to families! You need to think about this! Strong willed of either sex is usually not a good idea if you are not into training! Males GENERALLY mature slower and take longer to pick things up when they are young! However, when they “get it”, they “have it”! Females GENERALLY are quicker about learning things. They usually put things together faster and they come into their bodies at younger age. However I have watched many a female dog decide that the only person she is going to listen to is the dominant male in the house! Usually this occurs when the male household leader is fairly strong willed and dominant while the lead female is more passive!
These are just a few of the things that I look at when choosing puppies! As someone who has been in the pup game for a while there is another situation that you always watch for. That is when a PUPPY PICKS IT’S OWNER! It doesn’t happen often but it does happen! When you are privileged to see this happen it will bring you to your knees! I have seen it happen 3 times in the roughly 20 years of being in the dog world! The first time a friend of mine brought his kids over shortly after puppies were born! These kids had been around my dogs a lot and the dam really liked them. One puppy (number 7 pup) in this litter literally would find the little boy from birth! He crawled the length of the whelping box when he was few hours old to get to Jaden. AS the pup got older, people would come by the house to see the puppies. This pup NEVER showed interest in anyone but Jaden! As soon as Jaden came in this pup was at the pens edge all excited for this little boy! When it came time to take this pup home, as I handed him and his parents the pup I stated, “ In all the years I have had puppies, I have never seen a puppy so strongly choose its owner. I don’t know what God has in store for you all on this journey but I am sure it is very special”. I never dreamed how prophetic these words would be. Just 3 short weeks later I received a phone call at 5:30 AM saying something was wrong! We met at the vets office and come to find out the puppy had ate a piece of green bar bait rat poison! This pup had to be euthanized. AS we were putting down the puppy all the adults in the room were a mess when Jaden pipes up “KC it is ok! God decided that he needed a new hunting dog and of all the hunting dogs on earth he choose my Ruffie as his new personal dog! When he gets done retrieving there he will come back!” Needless to say that caused all of us big strong adults to simply cry harder at the simple wisdom and peace of a child! Fast forward 3 years…another litter of pups from the same parents. Again they come over and again the number 7 male crawls clear across the whelping pen and nestles up against Jaden. Jaden is just sitting quietly and stroking this lil pup when he looks up and says “ See I told you all my Ruffie was coming back!” Ruffie 2 is still Jaden best friend and hunting partner! The 3rd time I saw a pup choose its owner was from the litter last March. The number one puppy was a homely lil thing! Honestly, bless his heart I called him “Fugly”. He had a big ole kink in his tail from where he was squished inside the womb with his littermates. His tail grew in the shape of his back legs! His eyes early on were able to look 2 separate directions at the same time! But this puppy was sound and the vets assured me he would grow into everything! K.M. and her family had decided they wanted a diabetic alert dog. K.M. came to my house to spend time with the pups and me when they were 3 weeks old! I watched this pup do everything he could to get her attention even at that young age. If she tried to hold one of the other pups, he would grab her socks, nip her toes, or tear at her clothes! She would push him away and he would come back for more! When the pups turned 7 weeks old I had them litter tested and all the choices were clear except the pup for K.M. She seemed to really want a different male than the one who choose her so I decided to send her out into the yard to work it out and see what happened. I left to go take care of some errands when my phone rang. It was K.M.s mother saying “they had been chosen”. I ask what that meant. She then explained that this pup had stole the show when he adamantly alerted on her while out in the yard…then he looked up her with the eyes of an angel in him as if to say “I TOLD YOU SO…I AM HERE TO PROTECT YOU!” Folks, sometimes you just don’t argue with Fate!
These are just a few of my thoughts on the subject of choosing a pup! Please feel free to contact me and ask more questions if you need to!