Raising Puppies the Puppy Culture Way


I have been interested in the Puppy Culture program for several years now. My friend, Deb, let me borrow her DVD “The Powerful First 12 Weeks That Can Shape Your Puppy’s Future,” so I could watch the program prior to the birth of the pups. I watched it a dozen times, took notes, wrote a complete outline that I shared with my niece, Hailee, who would be my whelping partner.

Now for Riva’s litter I didn’t know about Puppy Culture but I was aware of Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) by Dr Battaglia. I did this with all the pups in Riva’s litter. This is a great method that has a lasting effect on a dogs ability to handle stress, it is also a great way of bonding with each puppy. When I discovered Puppy Culture I was delighted that the ENS is part of the program.

So on day three we started the ENS and continued it every day through day 16. It was fun to watch how each pup responded. Then we continued with each week of the program as it is laid out. My favorite part was obstacle training. I used an x-pen to block off the doorway to the outside, each one had to figure out they simply needed to walk around the barrier and they were outside. I only had one who took a little time to figure it out. It was hard to restrain myself as I watched her go back and forth and whine but I held out and she soon figured it out.

Using Jane Killion’s Puppy Culture Program I feel gave my pups a great start by building strong confident puppies that do not get overly anxious or stressed by things they encounter in life. Not to mention how much fun we had and what a great bonding experience.

As I had potential puppy buyers, family and friends visit the pups the one thing they all commented on was how confident they were. I think my biggest compliment came from my vet when they went for their first check up and vaccine. I took all nine but we only took three in at a time. My vet, Dr. McAllister, just could not get over how calm and relaxed they were. She commented “what great temperament, so well behaved”. While temperament is genetic it is also in how a pup is raised. I told her about the Puppy Culture program, she made a note of it in my chart as well as noting the temperament. The techs were pretty pleased as well, they told me of other breeders who would bring their pups in and just let them loose and they were all over the clinic, barking and carrying on.

We used different stuffed toys, baby items, a trash can lid (this served as my unstable floor), an agility tunnel, crates, noise makers, a kiddie pool with balls and many other things to provide daily stimulation. I didn’t do all the things I had planned but as I did this program I learned as well as the pups. So the next litter we will try some of the things I didn’t get to this time.

Did we do everything perfect, no, but we learn as we go. I am just so pleased with the outcome from using this program, I highly recommend it to any breeder.

Now for some fun photos.

Their first home.

Misty Shores Buddy X Maia Pups (7)Misty Shores Buddy X Maia Pups (9)

The girls!

Misty Shores Buddy X Maia Pups (10)

The boys!

Misty Shores Buddy X Maia Pups   ..

Our outdoor pen, I added more toys as we continued to get things set up.

Misty Shores Buddy X Maia Pups (2)Misty Shores Buddy X Maia Pups (4)All of the pups loved this big stuffed tiger!

Misty Shores Buddy X Maia Pups

This was great fun! One of the cheapest large activities I had for them. Two huge net bags full of these balls from a yard sale, $5 and the pool was $6. They would stand on the side and dive right in, chase each other around the pool and then jump in. Entertained them for hours!

Misty Shores Buddy X Maia Pups (3)Misty Shores Buddy X Maia Pups (13)Misty Shores Buddy X Maia Pups (1)Misty Shores Buddy X Maia Pups (18)Misty Shores Buddy X Maia Pups (20)

Misty Shores Buddy X Maia Pups (5)Introducing them to water.

Misty Shores Buddy X Maia Pups (22)Misty Shores Buddy X Maia Pups (23)Misty Shores Buddy X Maia Pups (24)Being a retriever breed we bring out ducks and wings to check for birdiness and see how pups react. I thought this still fell in line with Puppy Culture for introducing new things to the pups.

Click to watch 3 short videos

Puppies at Play

Puppies, Pool, Balls = FUN

We Love Water

Tina & the Brown Dogs

Pesky Pests

Once the pups were old enough they moved to the living room to their big indoor pen and we also had a big outside pen on the porch. The set up was nice as I had the pens set up on either side of each other with a door between to let them in and out.

The biggest struggle I had with the outdoor pen was with those pesky yellow jackets. They were everywhere, so I had to watch the pups with an eagle eye to make sure no one got stung. I tried several different things to get rid of them. I cut a whole in the top of a few 2 liter bottles and filled them with apple juice and cut apples with added liquid sugar. I thought for sure this would attract them and they would crawl inside and be trapped. I think I only had about 5 total between the three bottles that fell for that. So I sat on the porch with a fly swatter warding off these pests.

Then one day I noticed that there were a dozen or more yellow jackets trapped in a partial bottle of flavored tea someone had left sitting on the porch. This did not totally get rid of them but it sure did make it more manageable. I could not find the nest, so I continued to spray around the porch when the pups were inside, but I hate using chemicals so I had to be very careful to make sure the spray did not go up on the porch and it was dry before letting pups outside. I managed to keep pups from getting stung but I was not so lucky.

Around November I received an email from a gentleman regarding one of my blog posts I wrote about Maia getting in some trouble with yellow jackets, you can read about it here. He asked if I could take a look at an article about yellow jackets and link to it. I have read through this very carefully written and thorough article written by Candace Osmond. I sure wish I had this information back in August but I have it for the future. If you have a problem with these Pesky Pests, take a look at this article, it just might help you out!

Photo from article backyardboss.net/how-to-deal-with-yellow-jackets/

Yikes…what’s wrong with my dogs tail?

Sometimes having so much fun swimming has a price to pay!

The day after we returned from Lake Michigan I noticed Titans tail was limp, I knew immediately what the problem was.

You may have heard of “cold tail”, “limp tail”, “dead tail”, all of these are just different names for limp tail syndrome. When I googled it I also found it may be called “broken tail” or “sprung tail”. I have even heard it called “pump tail”.

You will see your dog hanging their tail down and not wagging it. Sometimes the tail may go out about 3 or 4 inches and then hang down, I think this is probably where the “pump tail’ name comes from as it looks like a pump handle. This affects the muscles in the tail not the tail bone and is quite painful but fortunately usually only lasts for a few days. It is unknown the exact cause but you may see it in dogs that have done an activity such as swimming or hunting where they use their tail a lot. It can also occur from cold water and very warm water baths.

Titan has had this one other time and I am pretty familiar with it so what I do for him is give him some Tramadol, which is a pain medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. I don’t need to keep him quiet as he doesn’t want to move around to much anyway. Anything that causes the tail to move or put any kind of pressure on it is very painful. Usually in 3-4 days he is much better. I don’t make him sit while his tail is sore as this just causes him more pain, so for those few days he gets freebies from obedience.

Here are a couple of photos I found online to show you what this looks like.

petsbest                       riverroadveterinary

                      Photo from petsbest.com                                      Photo from riverroadveterinary.com



I am not giving any medical advice or treatment recommendations for you and and your dog/s, you should always consult with your own veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.


Tina and the Brown Dogs

Why Is This Breeder Asking Me These Questions

Good breeders are passionate about their breed. They are knowledgeable about the breed, genetics, canine health and they are more than willing to share this knowledge with you. They spend hours and hours pouring over pedigrees, looking at potential stud dogs, acquiring all the proper testing for their breeding stock and providing them top notch care.

Once they have decided on that stud dog for their bitch, they spend time and money getting her to the stud dog. This can be local or they can travel across the country, at any rate time and money is invested in the whole process.

So when it comes to placing those sweet little babies they have invested so much time, energy and money in producing you can bet they are going to invest just as much time and energy in making sure you are the right person to become a guardian of their pup.

Breeders ask these questions to get a sense of who you are and how much you know about the breed and rearing puppies. It helps them to place the right puppy with the right people depending on your lifestyle, your needs, and what you want to do with the dog.

They want to build a rapport with you. This is going to be a working relationship for the lifetime of the pup.  So just as you need to be comfortable with the breeder you choose they need to be comfortable with you as well. And sometimes friendships form!

It really isn’t meant to be an interrogation but it can seem like it. Just keep in mind the purpose of the questions.

Here are some questions the breeder may ask you if you have shown an interest in one of their litters, these are in no particular order, so here goes…

Why do you want this breed?

The breeder wants to get an idea of why you are interested in their breed in part to make sure it isn’t a passing whimsy.

Tell me what you know about this breed?

Here’s where, if you have done your homework you can impress the breeder with your knowledge and they can clear up any gray areas you may have. But even if you haven’t it doesn’t mean they won’t sell you a dog they just want to see what you know already and thoroughly educate you on their breed. I personally am a research junkie and want to know as much as I can before hand if possible and then let the expert fill in any gaps.

Have you had any exposure to this breed?

The breeder wants to find out what experiences you have had with their breed. Have you owned one before, or do you know someone that has one. Have you interacted with the breed and what was your feelings about them.

Describe the ideal dog for you (and your family)

This is how they will be able to help you in the selection of a pup that will be a good fit with you and your family. For example if you tell them you are very laid back and like things quiet they will obviously not steer you towards the most exuberant out going puppy in the litter. Depending on the breed they may also suggest you look at another breed.

Do you consider yourself experienced in raising dogs?

The breeder wants to see how much knowledge you have in raising dogs so they can best help you with the rearing of one of their dogs. If you have never had a dog before they will  usually have suggestions on training; I gave extensive information in my puppy packet on socializing, house breaking, what to have when you bring the pup home, leash training, crate training, etc. And don’t be surprised if they tell you their breed is not for first time dog owners, because there are many breeds that are not. So again do your homework!

Do you live in a house or apartment? 

The breeder wants to know where you live so they know what type of dwelling the dog will live in because depending on the breed some dogs would not do well in an apartment or a place where they did not have a yard to exercise in on a regular basis.

If renting, are you allowed pets?  May I contact to verify? 

The last thing the breeder wants to happen is for the person to take the dog home and then call to say “we can’t keep the puppy because the land lord said no animals”. I would think that anyone who has cleared it with their land lord would not have a problem with giving the breeder permission to verify.

Where will the dog be housed?

Will the dog be kept in the house, will you be raising them as part of the family. Will they be kenneled outdoors, if so do you have proper housing for them, shelter from the elements will it be a combination of both? Do you have a fenced yard, if not how will you contain the dog? How many hours a day will he be left outside or at home alone? Every breed is different and some thrive better out doors and some don’t.  These are all very important to the breeder because they want to make sure you have the proper environment for the dog.

Does anyone in your house have allergies to animals? If yes, to what and how severe? 

The breeder wants to make sure the dog is not put in a situation where they will be returned because of this. When you are looking for a dog and you have allergies or someone in the household does please consider that may be a potential problem if the allergies are severe.

Do you have children? If yes, what are their ages? 

Some breeds are not as good with children as others so knowing some facts about the breed before hand will help you to determine if this is a breed you should consider and if you are not sure the breeder will help you with that. Don’t be surprised if the breeder wants to meet your whole family and watch them interact with the pups. They may also ask what the children’s roles will be and how will they be instructed on interacting/caring for the dog.

Do you have other animals?  If so what kind?

There may be some breeds who do not get along with other dogs or cats or same sex may be an issue. High pray drive in some breeds may be a problem if you own birds, ferrets, etc..

Are you interested in a male, female, no preference? 

This is just a very general question and for me I never had to ask because the potential buyers always said right up front what they wanted.

Do you plan to spay/neuter your dog? 

Many breeders have their expectations spelled out in the contract and at what age they expect the dog to be altered if required. It is very important for you to go over the contract very carefully with the breeder to make sure it is something you are going to be able to live with and abide by. Express any concerns with the breeder, some may work with you and some may not. If you can’t come to an agreement with the contract it is best to move on and find a breeder whose contract you can live with. Breeders have a contract in place to protect the puppy, themselves and you.

How many hours a day will your puppy be left alone? 

We all have to work but the breeder wants to make sure you are able to provide adequate care for a very young pup. Young pups need to be taken out fairly frequently to potty because their little bladders can only hold it for about an hour to every month old they are after 12 weeks of age, before that they have no control. If you are going to be gone for long periods of time every day for your job maybe now is not the right time for a puppy. Dogs are social creatures and need their human companions for more than a couple hours a day.

Who will be the primary caregiver?  

To me this is one of those questions that if I hear “oh the kids will do everything” I would not feel comfortable with that, depending on the age of the children. Having the kids be a part of care giving is great but being the sole care givers is usually something they are not ready for.

What activities are you interested in sharing with your dog? Companion, Hunting, Obedience/Rally/Agility, Conformation, Hunt/Field Tests, Service Dog, Breeding  

This will assist the breeder in helping you with the right puppy for your lifestyle and the activities you want to do with the dog. They have been with the pups since birth and know the personalities of each one so they can place them in the appropriate homes.

Do you plan on attending obedience classes with your puppy? If no, how do you plan on training your puppy? 

An inexperienced dog person would benefit from classes and the breeder will be able to explain this to you and what type of training the dog will need. If you are experienced in training, great, however getting the puppy out to socialize will help them, and the breeder wants to know how you will do this. In fact for some breeds, such as Chesapeake’s, socialization is a must!

Have you considered an older dog / rescue dog instead of a puppy? 

After speaking with the breeder in length you may realize you really don’t have time for all the training required for a puppy, and an older dog might be a better fit. Generally older dogs are already house broke and may have some basic obedience, sometimes breeders have older dogs available. There are plenty of wonderful older dogs in shelters and rescues that would love to have a forever home, so don’t get hung up on a puppy if you aren’t ready for one. Puppies are a lot of work so be prepared for the long haul!

There are many more questions that a breeder may ask but this gives you an idea what you may be asked and why. I have said this countless times, good responsible breeders take the homing of their puppies very seriously and they put the welfare of the pups first so don’t take it personally if they tell you they don’t have any pups that meet your needs. It doesn’t hurt to ask them for recommendations for other breeders if this happens. You can move on with the confidence that you have talked with a very responsible breeder.

As the puppy buyer you should be prepared with questions for the breeder as well, do your homework. You can read about how to Be A Smart Puppy Buyer here

I hope this helps you in speaking with breeders. So good luck if you are in search of a new pup!

Be A Smart Puppy Buyer

Where Do I Start

When you decide you are going to buy a purebred puppy you need to do your research on the breed or breeds you are considering. You will invest a great deal of time, money and research in purchasing a quality purebred puppy from a responsible breeder that will fit your lifestyle and family. Whether you want a family companion or a dog you can compete with, arm yourself with knowledge.
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