top of page
  • Writer's pictureCarol Neil

Things I wish every person considering a new puppy or dog knew? Part 2

Updated: May 29, 2023

Let’s talk about where you may get your puppy from. In part 1 I discussed why it’s

important to know the breed/s of the puppy you are bringing into your home.

Now let’s look at where you might consider getting your puppy from.

We often think if we get a puppy, we are getting a blank slate and if we do

everything we know to be right, our dog will have no behavioural concerns. This

simply isn’t true. As I mentioned in last week’s article, there are 4 aspects that

contribute to creating our dog; learning, environment, genetics and self

(individual personality) or *L.E.G.S.. It is critical to remember that these things are

all happening starting in the uterus and ongoing after birth, including the weeks

they are on the planet before we welcome them into our homes.

For the most part, people will go one of two ways. A person might want a specific

dog breed or breed cross, and they begin their search for a breeder. As well,

people often love to adopt a rehomed/rescued dog and support a local shelter or

rescue. Both options are wonderful. I personally have had wonderful dogs from

both sources.

This week, we will look at how to choose a breeder. They are not all created


- It is vital to know that there are many so called “breeders”; whose only

concern and goal in breeding dogs, is making money and profit. Some of

these are referred to as backyard breeders and on the more extreme end,

are referred to as puppy mills. These are people who keep dogs in cages

their entire lives, solely for the purpose of repeatedly impregnating females

or using the males for stud purposes, until they no longer can use them.

These dogs produce puppies that are sold for greed and profit, and there is

absolutely no concern for the animals. The breeding dogs are often

malnourished and receive no veterinary care their entire lives. They are

anxious, fearful and in many cases, aggressive, due to genetics, lack of

socialization and horrible handling. Some even live in shock collars so that

barking does not bother neighbouring farms/acreages. The puppies

produced in these places have lifelong health and behavioural issues. The

heartbreaking stories I have seen come out of puppy mills are too many to

count. Unsuspecting and kind puppy guardians are often left with tens of

thousands of dollars in veterinary bills, dealing with severe behavioural

issues such as fear and aggression. It is not uncommon that these puppies

die or need to be euthanized under the age of two years from inherited

diseases. The dog guardian and their family is traumatized, when all they

wanted was a healthy, happy puppy.

***Here are a few red flags that can indicate puppy mill breeder:

1) They want to meet you somewhere with the puppy and do not allow

you to come and see the mother and your puppy before you purchase.

2)They often advertise on free and low cost platforms such as Kijiji and

social media. (Legitimate breeders will generally have a well presented,

clear and organized website and are happy to offer references from

previous clients who purchased their puppies.)

3) Puppy mill breeders often let their puppies go to their new homes before

they are 8 weeks of age.

4) They are generally offering puppies at a lower price in comparison to

other breeders in the area.

- The actual breeders we want to support with our business are breeders

who are in it for the good and love of their dogs and take in depth

questionnaires from their potential puppy purchasers in order to ensure

they are matching their puppies to the right home/family. They will want to

know things such as, have you ever shared your life with a dog before?

Who is, or will be, your veterinarian? Do you live in a home, apartment,

acreage, condo? It is important to ensure your lifestyle fits with their dog

breed. For example, a dog from working breeding lines will not thrive in an

apartment and possibly even a city setting.

- They will want to know if you have children and if so, how old they are. I

have often seen puppies quickly spiral into disastrous behavioural issues

when, now without their puppy siblings to play with to fulfill their natural

need to play bite, redirect onto running, screaming young children. I am

called because the children become terrified of the puppy, the parents

believe the puppy is somehow naughty or bad and should be punished, and

we then end up with a puppy spending all its time in a crate or being

scolded or punished, which results in a fearful anxious dog.

- A good breeder will have you sign a contract, often requesting that if you

are unhappy with your puppy, that you contact them as they will take the

puppy back.

- The breeder will let you come to their home/acreage and meet the

puppies, mom and possibly the sire, before you sign a contract and

purchase your puppy.

- I look for a breeder that will solely use (and often request of their puppy

adopters), positive reinforcement and force free training methods that do

not involve scaring or hurting dogs to teach them or thinking we need to

show our puppies/dogs that we are the boss or the pack leader. Countless

peer reviewed scientific studies have shown us over the past 50 years, that

correction, punishment, and dominance-based training approaches, cause

long term fear, stress and anxiety in dogs and are linked to higher

percentages of behavioural problems such as aggression.

- The good breeder’s primary concerns in choosing breeding stock is good

health and good temperament of the parents, and, the maternal

grandmother. Studies on aggression and behavioural issues show these can

be passed down through genetics and epigenetics (maternal grandmother).

- A good breeder will do medical testing on their breeding stock for genetic

health issues such as hip and elbow dysplasia, heart and eyes and offer

their puppy purchasers some form of health guarantee, such as

reimbursing veterinary costs up to a certain amount should certain genetic

conditions arise or you can return the puppy to the breeder.

- The ideal breeder has good knowledge of the first critical socialization

window in puppies (age 3 weeks to 12-14 weeks), and they are doing

ongoing careful, safe socialization activities and confidence building with

the puppies in their care. Note, “safe socialization” means exposure to

unfamiliar people, surfaces, sounds, objects, etc, in a way that the puppy

feels safe and has the option to observe and process and stay away should

they wish to, or approach and sniff and gather information in their own

timing, without the fear of someone petting them or picking them up. For

example, they may invite visitors over to simply sit on the floor or in the

yard and allow puppies to come and interact on the puppies’ terms.

- They ensure the mother’s environment is calm, happy and stress free. She

receives great nutrition and care. Studies show mothers who experience

stress, anxiety, fear and trauma while pregnant, often pass on these same

traits to their developing puppies.

- Ideally you want to choose a breeder who does not send puppies to their

new puppy homes before 9 ½ to 10 weeks of age; will not send puppies to

their new homes during their fear week (between 8 and 9 weeks of age);

will not transport puppies on an airplane, train, or vehicle cargo hold, alone

locked in a kennel which is traumatizing and is also linked to lifelong anxiety

and behavioural concerns.

Carol Neil of Soul2Soul Dog

CPDT-KA, Fear Free Certified Trainer, Family Dog Mediator

21 views0 comments


bottom of page