canine behaviour and dog training

Finding a puppy

Looking for a ‘puppy’ is not really the right angle, on this.

It is better to look for a breeder.


Because, when you buy a 7-8 week old puppy, you are buying a dog which already has a history of experiences in those 7-8 weeks.

The puppy’s socialisation period begins when eyes open at a few weeks’ old.

A good breeder can do so much to ensure puppies grow up to be well-adjusted to the world.

You are also buying the puppy’s genes. The temperament, personality and health of the parents are important.

Set yourself up for success from the start and choose a good breeder.
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Need advice on choosing a puppy?

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A puppy from Jersey or the UK?

DogWorks often receives emails from people in Jersey, who would like a puppy without going to the trouble and expense of importing one from the UK.

Unfortunately, prioritising the nearest and soonest-available puppy, is not usually compatible with sourcing a well-bred puppy from a responsible breeder.

This is all about avoiding 1) health issues and 2) behaviour problems.

So it is worth a little bit of extra effort and expense, now - to save you a lot, later on.

There are reputable breeders in Jersey, of course. But, like all reputable breeders, they are unlikely to be churning out puppies constantly.

So you will probably either need to look further abroad, or to wait…

Avoiding health problems

Health issues are not just a concern for pedigree dogs.

Even if you want a cross-breed, health is something you need to know about.

Why? Well, to give an example: Labradors and poodles both suffer from hip dysplacia, as breeds. As a result, a labrador X poodle (labradoodle) will have a similar risk of hip dysplacia as a pedigree dog of either breed.

Which means that both the labrador and the poodle should be hip-scored before breeding, just as with a pedigree mating.

The health issues which some breeds suffer from, can be excruciatingly painful - as the series Pedigree Dogs Exposed showed us.
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Health testing

Step 1) Use the Kennel Club Assured Breeder recommendations to find out which health tests are recommended for your breed.

Step 2) Ensure that the parents of your puppy have had the necessary tests. (Not your puppy, s/he will be too young!) You can ask the breeder, OR…

Step 3) Find out the Kennel Club registered names of your puppy’s parents.

Step 4) Put them into the Mate Select tool for their health test results.


COI stands for Coefficient Of Inbreeding. What’s that, then?!

All you need to know (really) is that the lower the COI, the better - because the less inbred a dog is.

Step 1) Find out the Kennel Club registered names of your puppy’s parents.

Step 2) Put their names into the Mate Select tool for COI calculation.

Step 3) Ensure that the result is lower than the average for the breed (which will also be displayed).

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Quizzing a breeder

1) Why have you bred this litter?
Is it a deliberately planned mating? An accidental mating? Is the intent to produce show dogs, or dogs for a dog sport? Or just to have ‘one litter’ from the family pet? Is the agenda to make money?

Given the number of unwanted dogs and puppies in the world, there needs to be a strong reason to deliberately produce more.

Making money; showing children the miracle of life; letting a family pet have one litter before spaying - none of these are sufficient reasons. A good breeder only breeds to better the breed.

2) Have you carried out the recommended health tests for the breed?

If you know the Kennel Club registered names of the parents, you can find this out for yourself, as described above. The results should be at or below average.

3) What is the COI of the proposed mating?

Again, you can find this out for yourself if you know the parents’ KC registered names.

4) At what age can I collect the puppy?

This should be at 7-8 weeks old. Try not to collect your puppy any later than this. You have only a limited amount of time for socialisation, and the later you collect, the less time you will have.

5) How often do you breed litters?

Read the breeder’s website, look at old adverts, google the breeder, and find out how many dogs they own.

How much of an ‘event’ is a litter of puppies, in this household? Breeders who breed many litters a year, tend to have more of a ‘conveyor-belt’ approach to the production of puppies: All their physical needs might be met but, emotionally, something is lacking.

6) As yourself: How much is the breeder ‘vetting’ me?

A ‘good’ breeder really cares about the homes which puppies go to. Deciding where to place a puppy is the last thing a breeder can do, for a puppy, and the single most important decider of that puppy’s future as well!

A breeder who asks no questions is placing puppies in homes which may not be suitable and probably just wants your money.

Welcome the breeder who questions you, and question them in return.
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7) Where will you rear the puppies?

A puppy which spends these early weeks in a kennel outdoors, with limited stimulation, is not being set up to cope with the world s/he will later live in.

Puppies generate mess, and many breeders will want to house them in an outbuilding or kennel. A ‘good’ breeder will recognise that it is worth putting up with the mess, to enable the puppies to be raised in the thick of family life.

Take a look at the enriched environment provided by the breeders in these video clips.
8) What is the temperament of the mother (and father, if available)?

If the mother growls or shows any fear of you, when visiting - walk away. Fear can be passed on from mother to puppies - both genetically, and as a learnt behaviour - and fear is the biggest cause of aggression in dogs.

9) Ask yourself: Is the breeder keen to stay in touch, after I take the puppy home?

A ‘good’ breeder will be open to a long-term relationship with puppy-buyers. She will welcome photos and news of your puppy. She will be available for help, support and advice on breed-related issues.

10) Who will decide which puppy I will get? When will this be decided?

Ideally, puppies would not be assigned to new owners until they are collected - or shortly before - when their personalities are better known. But many breeders want deposits and commitment from buyers shortly after birth, so they know their puppies have homes.

If you get to choose your puppy, choose a confident puppy which approaches you keenly and is happy to explore.
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