What Type Of Dog Should I Get and Other Puppy Tips
So you’ve brought your furry bundle of joy home to meet the rest of the family. The kids are over the moon. There are plenty of cuddles all round, lots of laughter and fun. You smile to yourself and acknowledge that your worries about buying a puppy were unwarranted. Everything will be fine. Later that night after the excitement has worn down and the final chores are almost complete you ask yourself, “What’s that smell?” You search everywhere for the source of that strange but familiar odour. The act of searching somehow makes you conscious of exactly what you are looking for!
What do you do now? Have you got a plan?
It’s late and after spending some time cleaning up you finally get to go to bed with the slight aroma of ammonia wafting through the house. The kids are asleep and you can finally enjoy some quiet time. Then from somewhere within the house (possibly the laundry?) you hear the heart pulling sounds of a little soul whining and crying and begging for your attention. Now the hard work begins.
Owning a dog can be an extremely rewarding thing to do. The companionship, loyalty and unconditional LOVE you get from a dog goes without saying. The added benefits of teaching your kids responsibility and other life skills is invaluable. The number one question that most people ask is what type of dog should I get?
However, as a dog trainer and canine behaviour specialist myself in a past life I also know there can be many hurdles along the way. It is for this reason that I asked Judi Buchan from ProK9 to join us in this latest interview. Judi was my dog training mentor many years ago and she is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to dogs.
If you or someone you know is looking at adding an additional furry member to their family then do yourself a favour and listen to the recording. Not only does Judi answer the question of what type of dog should I get but she gives some extremely helpful tips that will allow you to draw up an action plan that includes how to choose that puppy to preparing your home for its arrival.
Resources mentioned in the show:
Judi’s website ProK9
Pet Rescue (or check under individual state bodies):
I hope you enjoy the interview and feel free to leave any questions for Judi or myself in the comments section below.
PS. If you would prefer to read the interview, I have included the audio transcript below.
Warren: Hi everyone. My name is Warren Knower and I’m a photographer with Volare Photography. I just wanted to thank you all for joining us again for another episode of our podcast. So when I first started this series of podcasts, my main goal was to create a series of informative interviews on topics related to families and being in the business of photographing families, this was very important to me.
So that is why I’m really excited to be sharing this interview with Judi Buchan today. Judi is from ProK9 which is a dog training and behaviour consultancy business here in Melbourne and her knowledge about dogs is out of this world.
Not a lot of people would know this about me but many years ago, I used to be a dog trainer and also a behaviour consultant. I used to go to people’s houses to help them with their dog-related issues and during that time, Judi was one of my mentors.
So if you are looking at getting a puppy but deciding what type of dog should I get, I am sure you will get a heap of information out of this interview. Sit back, enjoy it and as always, if you have any questions for Judi, there’s a comments section down below. You can enter those questions in. I will get Judi to answer them for you and also you can head over to our Facebook page which is Volare Photography or you can follow us on Twitter and our handle there is @VolarePhoto.
Before we start the interview, I just want to dedicate this episode to my best mate Oscar. Oscar is a 12-year-old Golden Retriever who unfortunately and sadly I had to put to sleep just yesterday. The last four weeks have been pretty hard on everyone. Oscar developed cancer, oral cancer in his mouth and that rapidly spread to his rear legs and he had an ACL operation and that’s when they discovered the cancer in his legs.
We had his leg amputated, hoping that we could prolong his life but unfortunately, the cancer spread to his other back leg and by the weekend, he just could not walk. So Oscar, we all love you. We all miss you. I hope you’re all having fun up there in heaven, running around with all the other doggies and playing with your mum Ellie and thank you to everyone who has sent their support to us and wished us all the best. Yeah, thank you all.
So I’m joined today by Judi Buchan. Welcome Judi.
Judi: Hi Warren. Nice to see you again.
Warren: Excellent. Judi was my mentor many years ago. I used to be a dog trainer and behaviour consultant like Judi and to me, Judi was the utmost professional when it came to dog training. She told everything like it was, straight down the line. No holds barred and she was an absolute wealth of knowledge. So when I thought about doing a podcast about owning a dog and getting a puppy, Judi was the first person I thought of who would be a great source of information for everyone out there who’s looking for a puppy and trying to decide what type of dog should I get. So Judi, can you just give us a bit about your background?
Judi: Oh, from how far back? The early days?
Warren: From the start of the dog training, yeah.
Judi: OK. Well, I got into dog training originally when I adopted a dog that had some fear aggression issues. I worked a lot off instinct because I always worked with animals. I worked on instinct and some of the things that I did actually helped her.
But my curiosity went further than that and I decided that I really wanted to know why what I was doing was working and whether there was something else extra I could do to help this dog.
Warren: So basically, there was something in you that – rather than just a dog owner, there was something in you that really sparked that interest in dogs.
Judi: She was my inspiration to go further. Yes.
Warren: All right. What did that lead to? Obviously learning about behaviour consultancy.
Judi: Yes. I actually did a course through National Dog Trainers Federation which was a fantastic starting course to give me the basis from the foundation that I led from, from there. Then after that it was research, seminars, workshops. You name it, as much as I can get to, to absorb all the information I could.
Warren: Yeah. That’s where I met Judi at NDTF. She was one of my tutors there and like I said, she was amazing. With your behaviour consultancy, do you go to people’s houses and …
Judi: It depends on what service people actually do want. Yes, if they have a problematic dog that requires something a bit more than our class obedience type situation, I do like to go to people’s homes where I can. I like to see the dogs in their own familiar environment and it gives me an opportunity to assess their relationship with the owners and from there, we discuss and ask questions about the behaviour problems to determine what the causes might be and from that, we can then plot and plan what strategies we actually need to put into place to improve them.
Warren: Great. In your experience, what’s the most common dog problem that you see, behaviour problem I should say?
Judi: Behavioural problem, I would have to say that the most common is probably – well, two, fear aggression and that usually stems from dogs not understanding what other dogs are about. They may want to interact but they’re concerned about it. The other one is over excitement at seeing other dogs.
Warren: Just hyperactive?
Judi: Hyperactive and they just lose it when they see other dogs. All they think about is getting to the other dogs and they forget who really is paying the bills.
Warren: You do all this as part of your business ProK9?
Judi: Absolutely, yes. That is the mainstream of what I do during the week.
Warren: Would you like to tell us about ProK9 and what you guys do there?
Warren: Where you’re based as well.
Judi: Yeah. ProK9 itself apart from obviously – my base doesn’t matter too much for people where I’m going out to see them.
Warren: Of course, yeah.
Judi: The mainstream work that I do is on the behavioural level but I have other services that I use to fit people’s requirements as much as I possibly can. One of those things would be a class situation. We run our classes on Sunday mornings and that runs from private grounds that we utilise down at Lyndhurst.
Judi: So that happens on Sunday mornings. Some people can’t make classes but they want to learn about obedience and because there might be shift workers and their shifts have changed. It makes it a bit too awkward, so ProK9 also provides the private lesson situation which quite often does happen down at our training grounds but it might be during the week at different times. If necessary I will go to people’s places for that but they do need to have the requisite room for us to be able to work.
Warren: And you train dogs from puppy school all the way up to experienced advanced training?
Judi: We have new puppy school about to start, yes. So we do that all the way up to the top and it’s really a case of how far do you want to go.
Warren: Yeah, fantastic. Now when I approached you, I called you up a couple of weeks ago and asked you about doing an interview for the podcast. I said to you, look, it’s coming up to Christmas and there has been a trend for people who get puppies and dogs for the children at Christmas time and I thought it would be a great topic to talk about because not everyone realizes how much effort goes into getting a puppy. But then you mentioned something really valid and you said, look, it’s not just Christmas time. It’s a broader issue. It happens throughout the year.
I thought yeah, you’re right. So what we’re going to talk today about is those bigger issues about owning a dog, about what you have to do to prepare yourself for a dog.
But just on the topic of Christmas and New Years and the months after that, what do you think are the biggest reasons why people abandon dogs and the RSPCA gets a huge influx of dogs?
Judi: The reason I think is you’ve got Christmas rush coming up. The idea for people in their minds is they think of the puppy as a Christmas gift and they lose the insight that they need to always hold on to, that a puppy is not a Christmas gift. A puppy is for life.
Judi: Fifteen years if people are lucky and I also think that Christmas time is a rush of everything else. Holidays are happening. Relatives are coming over or people are going off on holidays. They’ve got a plan for it. They’ve got all of this arrangement. They’ve got Christmas dinners to worry about and whether they’re going to their in-laws first and their outlaws second or vice versa.
In the meantime, they’ve got a puppy that they also have to be toilet training and setting the boundaries and the rules that the puppy doesn’t instantly know, doesn’t even instinctively know. So they’re busy with everybody visiting and things like that. It’s really not in general the most ideal time.
Warren: And then two weeks later when all this excitement is gone mid Jan, you’ve missed the big part of the puppy’s early socialisation and then you’ve got these issues.
Judi: That’s right. The puppy is toileted where it shouldn’t have toileted because people weren’t paying attention and that of course upsets some people, people then starting to realise after the rush and the novelty and the fun bit sort of like gone. They kind of go, oh, I thought it would be a bit easier than this. The reality sets in of the fact that they actually adopted whether they bought it or not. They’ve adopted a family member into their home.
I think the reality sets in and then people realise that yeah, they don’t have the freedom to go on the holidays they wanted or the cost factor of looking after the dog while they go on holidays. They didn’t realise that. It all compounds.
Warren: So hopefully by the end of this interview, we can give listeners some insight into these things that they should be thinking about before getting a puppy.
Warren: I mean owning a puppy, owning a dog or any animal is absolutely amazing and you get so many rewards. The benefit in your mind to owning a pet like for kids and families in situations.
Judi: Particularly for children because I would expect that adults would know this by that stage but particularly for children. It’s a wonderful way of teaching them responsibility. Obviously that does rely on how the children are brought up and structured because they need their boundaries too.
Judi: But to teach the child the responsibility of care, the responsibility of the puppy’s well-being and training and things like that within the child’s capabilities of course. That depends on age. So certainly responsibility is one of the foremost things that I think of.
It also of course lends itself to companionship. So there’s a two-sided thing to responsibility, there’s the joy of it, but there’s also the flipside, the responsibility. But responsibility should also be a joy even though it is an obligation.
Warren: Absolutely, absolutely. Like you said, I mean when one of the premises of getting puppies for the children, for the kids, what advice would you give parents to keep the child involved with bringing up that dog as it gets older and the kids start wanting to do other things, like play on the computer instead of looking after the dog.
Is there any advice that you can get the kids to be more interactive? Also what age is a good age to get children a pup?
Judi: With the age question, I think that’s an easier question for me to answer at this stage. I would – this is generally speaking. I would recommend roughly around about 10 – between 10 an 12 years old because then you’ve got a child …
Warren: When you say 10, are you talking about for a child to show responsibility? But you’re not ruling out the younger children.
Judi: No, no, no. So say the eldest child is 10 but they might have younger children. The eldest child then has got the capability and the attention span to make the child capable of being able to concentrate and understand the sense of responsibility, being able to do things. Obviously the older child too who’s responsible for that dog can assist with the training and the supervision of that puppy for the sake of the younger children as well.
Warren: So are you saying that if a family has a three-year-old, it may not be a great idea to bring a puppy in at that time?
Judi: It may not. They’ve got to give it serious consideration. Every family is different. Every family’s situation is different. How busy they are in their lives is also something they have to take into account. So you might have parents that have lots of free time and they do have a three-year-old child but because the parents have got that free time, they’re able to spend that time dedicated towards supervising the child and helping the child learn and spending the dedicated time they need for that as well as looking after the puppy.
Judi: Other parents don’t have the luxury of that time and of course that means that they need to be able to work with a child who can reason with them.
Judi: I think that’s what it kind of comes from.
Warren: Yeah, terrific. What about other considerations that parents would need to make – talking about the right conditions at home, the space, things like that?
Judi: Yes, you need space. You’ve got to look into whether your work schedule allows for the time that you actually need. You need the right fencing so you’ve got – that all should be done before the puppy gets home. It should be all set up first. You need to have the right environment. Are you looking at an inside/outside dog? If it’s outside, does it have the shelter that it requires? If it’s inside, can things be set up where you’ve got some management control until such time as that puppy has learned what those boundaries of what it can do can’t do? So, all those things need to be considered.
Warren: You have to be ready for the distraction that the puppy can cause as well.
Warren: They’re not angels, are they? Not in those early stages.
Judi: To pups, they are angels. It’s more that the concept of living in a human home is so foreign to a puppy and we have to understand that, that the puppy is not born knowing that it shouldn’t chew on the table leg or chew a shoe or something like that.
Warren: Or digging the garden.
Judi: Things like that. So we need to make sure that we’re able to satisfy the puppy’s mental stimulation that it needs but also manage the area for those times when we can’t supervise so the puppy can’t learn the things we don’t want it to learn.
Warren: Absolutely. OK. What about getting an older dog? Where are the benefits in getting an older dog? In terms of bringing an older dog into a family with a young child, is there any risk involved? I mean I know the answer to this. But where do you sit on that?
Judi: OK. Ideally, like I think an older dog can be a really good option for people particularly if they have somewhat less time dedicated towards a puppy who needs constant supervision for toilet training and everything else.
Of course if you’ve got young children, remember that the children are learning at the same time as the puppy. So you really got to teach both at the same time.
An older dog generally speaking has gone through a lot of that or hasn’t got that puppy energy that’s looking for trouble. So getting an older dog, you quite often can see more what the character of that dog is going to be like. You’ve seen what you’re getting but I am generalizing.
Judi: Because obviously people going for an older dog, they are perhaps going to a shelter and a shelter environment is not the same as a home environment so they may not see certain things.
For that reason, I often recommend people actually go through rescue groups because when they go through rescue groups, the older dog that has been fostered has been in a family environment with the rescue group and they can then pass on to the potential owners what that dog is like.
Warren: That’s a great advice. Would you be able to provide some resources for our listeners to go into that later on?
Judi: Certainly. Later on we could add that.
Warren: What I can do is I can add those links to the website.
Warren: To the bottom of this blog post and if you’re looking at getting an older dog through a rescue situation and that would be the first place to head to.
Judi: It’s not to say that don’t get through a shelter. I mean there are a lot of people out there that have adopted from a shelter and it has been a real success story. But it’s just one of those things, some added advantage if you’re not sure it’s an added advantage to get through …
Warren: I guess through a shelter you don’t get to see the history of the dog. Why was it given up in the first place or things like that?
Judi: It could be a stray or something like that. Nobody even knows where it came from.
Judi: So that is a possibility.
Warren: And you’re not seeing it in the home environment so you don’t know if you’ve got another pet dog, what it’s going to react to and things like that.
Judi: Yeah. Normally the shelters and the rescue groups are pretty good that way and they’ve at least had dogs with other dogs so that they can assess to a certain extent what that dog might be like with other dogs and people and things like that. So they can give a rough idea but the dog that has been through a rescue group living in a family environment that probably already has another dog and maybe a cat and maybe some children, those sort of people can actually then explain what that dog has been like.
Warren: All right, fantastic. It’s great advice there. What about the breed? I know a common question is, what type of dog should I get? How do people go about choosing a breed that’s right for them and getting all the information that they need to get that correct breed?
Judi: OK. One of the first things that I actually do recommend to people is not focus on what they like a dog to look like.
Judi: First focus on what their lifestyle …
Warren: That is a hard thing for novice dog owners to do because they look around. They see a popular breed or a cute dog and they go, “I want one of those.”
Judi: Yes, exactly. Then they pick the breed for what the breed looks like without realising what the dog is actually going to behave like. So if they concentrate on what their lifestyle is, write some notes down on how much time would they be able to envisage that they could exercise and train the dog for everyday, what sort of budget they need. So that can dictate whether they get a big dog or a little dog because obviously a big dog will eat more. A little dog will eat less, so it will be cheaper. Also exercise can be different for a little dog because obviously the further you go, the more steps the little dog is taking in terms of physical exercise.
Physical exercise is not the be all and end all. In fact it’s not even the most important. It is important. It’s well up there but mental exercise – but in terms of which sort of dog, do they want to spend the time grooming? In which case if they don’t, rule out long-haired, fluffy dogs. You want to go for a short-haired dog.
Warren: Owning one, I know exactly what you’re talking about.
Judi: Yes. You’ve got to be able to spend that time. So you got to work out what suits your lifestyle. Are you the sort of person that you’re running your business from home? So you’re sitting a lot. You need the sort of dog that has got the type of character who’s really just happy to be around you but just as eager to jump up when you’re ready to go for that run or that exercise or that jog or whatever the case may be.
Warren: What about a family with a newborn or someone who’s just a toddler, starting to walk, things like that? Are there particular breeds that like say herding dogs would maybe be not so …
Judi: Look, to be quite honest, I don’t like to categorize that much because you’ve got breeds. You’ve got individuals within breeds and there are many quite perfect working style dogs that fit within that family environment. So that’s a really big …
Warren: Generalisation, yeah.
Judi: Yeah, a huge one and I don’t like to generalise that much but you would want the sort of dog that is potentially a bit softer, tolerant because if you’ve got a toddler, that toddler – as the toddler is walking, going past the dog, might grab at the dog. You don’t want a dog that’s sort of like so touchy and sensitive that the dog is going to turn around and say, “Get your hand off me,” whereas other dogs will kind of like tolerate a bit more and they will look around and kind of like, “What are you doing?”
Warren: Terrific, yeah.
Judi: So there’s a different attitude. So I’m sorry that I can’t give that distinct breed but it is the sort of thing that you want to – once you’ve narrowed down your lifestyle to sort out what dog will suit, tall, short, long haired, short-haired character-wise as in, “Do I want a lazier dog?” Not that any dogs are really, really lazy except for greyhounds. Re-homing a greyhound, adopting a greyhound, brilliant. They’re the fastest.
Warren: Adaptors to a home environment.
Judi: Oh, absolutely. They love their couches.
Judi: So that’s really good. But you want to read into these. Suit your lifestyle and then work from there as to OK, out of the dogs that suit that lifestyle, then you narrow it down to the dogs that you like the look off, out of that list.
Warren: OK. So unlike people, looks are last.
Judi: Absolutely. Yes, absolutely.
Warren: I shouldn’t say that. Personalities relate to people. I mean people love each other for their personalities, don’t they?
Judi: Exactly and I think that enhances the person’s look anyway.
Warren: That’s right, that’s right.
Judi: So yeah.
Warren: What about crossbreeds?
Judi: Crossbreeds, you will get crossbreeds at shelters for example. I’ve got nothing against – I don’t particularly like dogs being purposefully bred as crossbreeds.
Warren: You’re talking about those dogs that are bred for let’s say lots of hair, low allergies, things like that.
Judi: Well, you’ve got to be careful with that. That’s another big probably topic in itself and with those crossbreeds, that might be put out there for that purpose, like low allergy, no hair shedding. Quite often that’s the cross with the poodle. I’m sorry folks but it doesn’t really work out that way because genetics don’t – when you cross one with another, it doesn’t mean you’re going to get the best of both sides.
So you might have some of that litter that do shed – some shed a little. Maybe one or two won’t but you’ve got no guarantee. So crossing for that – that’s why it didn’t actually – the guide dogs for the blind, they were the ones who thought about crossing the poodle with the Labrador, hoping that they would achieve a low allergenic dog for people who had sight issues.
They realised it didn’t work. Consequently it didn’t sort of take from that point of view but it became very trendy. That’s where the cross has happened. Until they actually stabilize that breed and a crossbreed becomes a breed in itself, takes quite a lot of generations.
So taking on a crossbreed dog, don’t think that you will get the best out of both. You might actually get the elements of each that you don’t really want.
Warren: OK. So that’s great advice. Now we’ve come up with what breed we want to get. We’ve gone through your list. We’ve decided on the breed. Now we’ve gone through the looks and we’ve chosen one. Where is the best place for people to find that breed and purchase a dog? Do they go through breeders?
Judi: My recommendation is yes, you’ve decided on a breed. You know what you want. Go to your Google or a dog forum and look up dog breeders of that particular breed.
Warren: In every state, they’ve got the Kennel Council. Victoria has one…
Judi: They have got the Kennel Council. They can go through there for contacts for different breeders and what have you who are registered breeders.
Judi: Those breeders are obliged by their membership to the Canine Council to breed well and for the best health as possible.
Judi: You want to read into the dogs because certain breeds do have inherent health issues that the breeders may be trying to breed out of but might be particular to that breed and you want to be aware of that. It doesn’t mean that you don’t take them on but you need to have your eyes open.
Go through to a breeder because then you can view the parents of the dog or at least one of the parents. By seeing the parent of the dog gives you some idea of what personality that dog has got so you’ve got some idea of what personality your puppy might carry through. If you get an opportunity, some breeders will have the parents of the parents and that’s great to be able to see a lineage or at least ask the breeder what that ancestry is about.
Warren: And what stage after the puppies are born should you be contacting that breeder, visiting the kennel? When you’re there, what do you look for in the kennel to see what – that gives out a good vibe and also with the litter themselves, which puppy do you look for? Is it the one that’s coming towards you with ears popped up? There are a lot of personalities within those pups.
Judi: It depends on what you’re looking for to answer that last question first as to which puppy should you pick. If you’re someone like me, a trainer, and I wanted a high energy, something with a bit of drive, I actually picked a pup that was very driven. But that puppy may not suit …
Warren: For our listeners, can you explain driven and drive?
Judi: Drive is the dog’s natural instinct whether it be to chase after a toy, to really – I don’t know how to give that explanation any better but to drive, the energy levels are high, very strongly-driven, won’t give up on getting a toy. Some people don’t want a dog that’s that hard-driven. They want a dog that’s a bit soft up. Maybe a little bit more laidback. For the general pet dog person, maybe that has children, I would recommend have your child, take your child over, because the child is a part of choosing that puppy and select the puppy that yeah, does come over to the child but doesn’t behave too boisterously.
Judi: Yeah, exactly. So it seems where the child and the puppy actually get on with each other.
Warren: What about the one in the litter that holds back and is at the back of the queue and a little bit shy, timid? What would your recommendations to – he might be the cutest of the litter and many parents and the kids would go, “Oh, look how cute he is. He’s so little and a bit shy.” What do you think …
Judi: I really think for the – again, I’m talking about general pet dog, people with children, and they just want – they want their puppy to be a family member, a general family member. I would say go from middle of the road. The one that’s holding you back, I can’t tell from here sitting on this side of the microphone. Is that puppy holding back because it’s frightened? In which case it will need additional specialised training. So that’s why I say go for the middle of the road, the dog that has got a bit of confidence. It’s not over the top with the confidence where he’s bouncing on everything and being too pushy. But also has just that nice, quiet confidence that will blend well with your children’s personality, with what you want for your home.
Warren: Great. Generally with breeders, they release their dogs about eight weeks. At what age would you be looking at these traits in the dogs? Four weeks? Five weeks before you make that choice?
Judi: I would say look, really the breeder is the best one to speak to because they know their pups. They know their pup’s parent. They will be able to actually probably direct the person as to which puppy would be the right one for that family and that’s what a good breeder is about. But generally speaking, I would say that you start to begin to see personalities around about six weeks of age.
Warren: Six weeks.
Judi: Yeah. You don’t pick them up at six weeks but you can at least start to identify. Generally eight weeks is when you pick up the puppy because prior to that, it’s very good for puppies to have that additional time opportunity to play with each other and learn about playing. So we don’t want to take them away from their litter too quickly.
Warren: Great. That’s some great advice. Now Judi, I’m going to ask you a question. I know you can – you will go on for ages. What about puppies from pet shops? What’s your opinion on those? I mean to be honest, I used to walk through shopping centres and I would see lots of pet shops with the window, clear windows, all the puppies and rabbits in there. I’m not seeing as much of it anymore, which is a good thing. So what’s your opinion on puppies from pet shops?
Judi: For a couple of reasons, I don’t – I’m not really a fan of puppies in pet shops for the puppy’s sake because while they’re spending days or weeks in the pet shop, they’re generally housed in those small Perspex boxes. They miss out on a lot of socialization from a contact point of view and from learning about the world because they’re not getting out and about.
From a person’s point of view, I don’t like pet shops being in windows because it usually tugs on the heartstrings, which of course is what the pet shops do rely on.
Judi: That’s why they’re in the Perspex boxes in the first place and it encourages people to buy on a whim and you don’t buy a puppy – or any pet for that matter but you don’t buy on a whim.
Warren: And it pretty much goes against everything you said in the last 20 minutes about knowing the background, knowing the breed, knowing what your lifestyle is like.
Judi: Exactly. You don’t know anything about history of health, whether that puppy – that puppy – I’ve known of people who have picked up puppies and they’ve come out of the pet shop ill.
Judi: So you don’t know any of that. You don’t know the background as you say of the parentage. So it really is a bit of Russian roulette hit and miss and it’s not a good way to start a family off because remember too, if we’re thinking about children in the house. You bring that puppy home and it turns out it’s not suitable for one reason of health or behaviour or both. That puppy will go break the kid’s heart. You don’t want to do that. You want to really give serious consideration to the one you’re choosing because you really want that puppy once it has got your heart, to be able to share your heart with it for the rest of that pup and dog’s life.
Warren: Yeah, that’s a great segue into my next question is preparing your home. Can you give us some tips on the best thing that parents can do or anyone can do to prepare their home for a puppy, either puppy-proofing or whatever.
Judi: Yeah, puppy proofing is really necessary for those times when you can’t supervise. A puppy does have to learn that certain things got to be around the house but you need to be there to supervise so that you can train your puppy away from destructive chewing on things he shouldn’t be destructively chewing.
So yes, you might want to think about baby gates too. Restrict access to rooms. Puppy pen, so that when you do need a little bit of quiet time for yourself or work time or whatever the case may be, maybe puppy is tied at sleep time. You can put puppy in a puppy pen. Crate training is a real bonus but it is to be remembered as a crate that is a training aid. It is not something you just shove the puppy in and leave him and that’s where he stays until you’re ready.
It’s something you use for training but all of those things as management. The garden as well is something if you’ve got precious plants. You might want to barricade that off. Keep them separate. Allow access to a small amount of garden so a puppy can start to learn under your supervision what he should, shouldn’t do.
Warren: I’ve got an amazing story. My dog Oscar when he was a pup, we had our first veggie patch and he would only eat the cherry tomatoes. He would just go into the veggie patch. We had it protected with chicken wire and everything but he was getting there somehow and just pick off the …
Judi: Very selective.
Warren: Selective. Pick off the cherry tomatoes. He used to love them, yeah. I know exactly what you’re talking about.
Judi: Yeah. So you’ve got to be prepared that destructive chewing, puppies, dogs, their mouth is their equivalent of our hand and they will explore with their mouths. That’s how they learn about things and if they learn to do it, then it can become a bit of a habit. So we’ve sort of got a supervised manage and when we can’t we’ve got to put something up that will do that job for us while we’re absent.
Warren: You mentioned appropriate fencing, appropriate shade once you’re at work.
Judi: And shelter from the wind, from the cold, from the heat, all of that and of course, abundant supply of water goes without saying, whether it be indoor or outdoor. But all of those things for the pup or the dogs, well-being, comfort, all of those basic things need to be thought of first.
Warren: OK. The issue of training, I mean it’s a topic all of its own from puppy socialisation all the way to training the older dog. But can you summarise how important is training especially puppy preschool, socialization and then taking that training further into adulthood?
Judi: OK. Puppy preschool itself I think is very important for those who have never gone through raising a puppy before. Puppy preschool to me, one of the most important facets and this is sort of a bit contrary to what the general public might think puppy preschool should be about. It’s about having access to an instructor who knows their stuff.
They really should be people with a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge because this is such a critical period of your puppy’s life that you get it wrong and those areas could last for the rest of the puppy’s life.
So you want access to an instructor who can tell you about how to do proper toilet training, how to deal with mouthing, chewing destructiveness, jumping up, all those sorts of things, how to actually start training your puppy into recalls but at the right level for the puppy’s age because we don’t go into full blown obedience training while the puppy is so young. He has got the attention span of a gnat.
So the instructor has got to know all about that and be able to talk with the people that come there to give them this knowledge to take with them, so that they can apply it in their home. Yes, the instructor also should be able to show people how to do the basic beginnings of teaching puppy to sit, manners at meal time, all those sorts of things. So sit, maybe the semblance of getting the dog into a – the puppy, to learn how to drop, just at least the basic beginnings.
Obedience training isn’t really quite that important for the younger dog but it’s a lot better if new owners do start it early while the puppy is a bit easier to manage.
Warren: Just like anything, get the foundations right.
Judi: Yes. But it’s the rules in the household, how to teach the puppy that you do deserve the respect that you want from the puppy, that you will set rules, boundaries. What those rules, boundaries should be so that for later on, when you – a lot of people go, “I love my puppy jumping up on the couch. It’s really, really wonderful to have a cuddle.”
That’s fine. I’m not one for saying don’t ever let your dog up on the couch. But if you don’t structure rules to teach the puppy when it can and when it can’t, when you sit on the couch and you’re wearing your finery because you’re going out to some high ball, some real classy thing and you’re in your fine stockings and your best clothes. If you haven’t taught the puppy rules, it’s not the puppy’s fault if he jumps up with his dirty feet and rips the stockings or whatever the case. So you got to know ahead of time.
Warren: Yeah. It takes me back to when I was learning about training and all that. There would be a section where you would teach a dog how to bark and I would think, “Why would you teach your dog how to bark?” because when you can control your dog to bark, then you would have a command to stop your dog from barking.
Judi: That is quite possible and some people use that. It’s not always the way to do it with some dogs because some dogs get such a buzz out of barking that you can teach bark as well. It further encourages but he might not listen to the quiet commands.
So sometimes it can be misconstrued by the dog as you’re encouraging. So it’s not always for every dog but yes, it is one way of teaching your dog not to bark.
Warren: And just quickly, with puppy schools, most vets have them. You would recommend going to your local vet?
Judi: A lot of vets have puppy preschools running and the thing that I do recommend to people, you need to ask what do those people know? What about the instructor? What experience? What’s their background education? Did they get a formal education in dog behaviour specifically where you know that they’re being dedicated to a course that does teach them about behaviour in particular?
You want to have knowledge of how well is that puppy preschool structured. What numbers in the puppy preschool? Because you don’t want to have a whole gamut of puppies and one instructor is trying to get around to everybody but can’t, so limited numbers of puppies.
You want to have knowledge of what topics will they cover to educate you about and you want to have knowledge that that instructor knows different ways of being able to teach dogs or puppies how to sit and how to do obedience so that if you strike a problem with one because it might not be a suitable method for your puppy, that instructor has got another way of doing it.
Judi: So be very careful. It is an important part of the puppy’s life.
Warren: Yeah, really good advice. Now just coming to an end, but just talk to me about the cost. Most people don’t realise how costly it is to own a pup. There are so many costs involved.
Judi: Yeah, and the actual cost I couldn’t sort of say in a dog format.
Warren: But would you like to categorise what – what are the things people are up against?
Judi: That they’re going to have to spend their money on. Again, depending on what dog they get but if they’ve got a long-haired dog, they might have to consider grooming, regular grooming costs.
Warren: Professional grooming.
Judi: Professional grooming. That might be a possibility. They might do their own grooming in between but periodically the dog might need clipping or a more professional grooming done. So they’ve got to take that into account.
Feeding is another one which is going to be a forever constant. So feeding the dog, taking into account big, small, how much you want to spend on that sort of stuff and you want to look at not cheap food because it fits your budget. You work on the dog knowing that it fits your budget to be able to get him premium food, high quality. I personally like whole raw meal feeding. That’s my favourite.
Warren: I do the same, yeah.
Judi: Yeah. But if you’re not going to go for that, not that I necessarily go for the commercial foods, but you want top of the range as close to natural as you can possibly get and of course that will be the more expensive ones. So that should be something they factor into their budget as a definite must.
Dog toys, dog mats, the equipment they will need for training, the things that I mentioned before, the dog crates. You will need different colours obviously as the dog grows, all that sort of thing. I’m just thinking off the top of my head.
Warren: There’s also pet insurance….and Vet bills.
Judi: Pet insurance is great, absolutely. Yes, Vet bills, you definitely need to allow for them because things will happen during the dog’s life. I mean I hope none of them are ever serious but you never know and you’ve always got to have some buffer zone for it or take out pet insurance from the moment you pick up that puppy. Do not wait until you strike a problem. Do not wait until you strike a problem and then try for insurance because it will not cover that problem.
Warren: Absolutely, yeah.
Judi: Take it out at the beginning because a lot of people, when they strike, it’s bad enough that they have situations where it’s something really devastating and it’s a major surgery that their dog actually requires. It’s bad enough that people are going through the heartache and the worry of that without also having to consider the expense of it as well.
Warren: Yeah. I mean I’m going through something similar right now and just to have the ease of that money issue taken away and you can just think solely about the welfare of your dog. That’s so comforting.
Judi: It makes such a big difference. So I certainly do sort of suggest to people it’s worthwhile considering.
Warren: All right. Great, Judi. Now before we finish off, have you got like a top five things people should do before getting a puppy?
Judi: Yes, I do. I had mentioned to you previously it was very hard to come down to only five but certainly one of the top five – in the top five would be consider your current financial position.
Judi: You don’t want to be, “I can just afford this dog,” on the basis of nothing going wrong. There will be registration fees and I didn’t mention that before, micro chipping, things and that.
Warren: Of course training fees.
Judi: Training fees, all that sort of thing will need to be taken into account and you’ve got to sort of make some allowance. If they’re not needed, great. That’s money still in the money box that you can use for something else. You need to take into account available time for training so you’ve got to put in time for that dog to cover things such as not only the physical exercise that the dog needs but even more importantly – not so the physical should be abolished at all.
The dog needs physical but very importantly mental stimulation, teaching tricks, training. All of that is mental stimulation. Dogs that are under mentally stimulated, they’re the ones who usually look for trouble.
Warren: They’re your clients.
Judi: They are my clients, yeah. General care and well-being needs. You’ve got to consider the breed of the dog. Can you fit all of that in? So available time for all of that. Does the dog that you’re looking at or even having a dog or a puppy, does it suit all the members of the family and the home that you live in?
Judi: So take that into account. Also when you say narrow it down to thinking that you might want a particular breed, have you thoroughly researched that breed to know all the characteristics that come with it? Also research the breeders because different breeders, I mean if you go for a registered breeder, great. There is some way up there. So you want to check out your breeders and make sure that it suits what you’re looking for as well. Do you want the dog to be willing enough to wait for it and not rush out just because it’s Christmas? That is a key.
Warren: Or you’re at the shopping mall.
Judi: That’s right. If you kind of thought no, this dog must be for Christmas and no other time, then I’m sorry. I would be suggesting you’re rushing into it. So take that onboard as well.
Warren: Totally agree.
Judi: You need to also always bear in mind and consider that the pup you get is going to grow into an adult dog. It will not be a pup for very long. It’s going to grow very, very quickly and that dog is going to be with you if you’re lucky for at least 15 years. You’ve got to think 15 years ahead of yourself. How old will you be? What is your energy level going to be like? How old will your children be? Will they still be at home?
So those are some of the things. As I said, the list could go on but that’s what I have to narrow down to top five.
Warren: That’s amazing. That’s great. Well, listeners, if you haven’t got something out of this interview, I will be very surprised. Like I said, Judi, she’s absolutely amazing.
Look, Judi, if people want to find you, what’s the best way to contact you or to learn about what you do?
Judi: Two ways. My website is probably the best way to go. That way, you can view what services we provide and make contact through that and it also has our telephone number and that address is www.ProK9.com.au.
Warren: And you’ve got your email address, contact phone number there.
Judi: You can contact through the website, yeah.
Warren: I normally tell people that if they do have questions to ask and they can either put some comments in the blog post, this blog post or on Facebook. Would you be happy to come back and answer any of those?
Judi: Look, more than happy. I do warn the listeners though that some of their questions might seem simple questions from their point of view but maybe hasn’t fed me enough information for me to give a qualified answer in which case …
Warren: Get on the phone.
Judi: Get on the phone because I can then tease out the information that I need to then give better answers.
Warren: Right, right. Also your trainings are at Lyndhurst you said.
Warren: On Sunday morning.
Judi: Sunday mornings, yeah.
Warren: And yeah …
Judi: If they contact me first though, because we do set an absolute maximum number of dogs per instructor. So the ratio is kept quiet low. The only way I can guarantee that is I need to know what people are coming before they come.
Warren: Sure. OK.
Judi: So I can make sure I’ve got sufficient instructors on the ground.
Warren: With the people at the moment who may have some behavioural issues with their dog, do you travel to all suburbs in Melbourne or …
Judi: Very much so, yes. It sort of extends itself that if I have to go too far, obviously with the time I have to spend in the car and the petrol, the expenses, sometimes there are cases where I have to add on additional travel expenses. But I’ve gone Daylesford. I’ve gone Moe. I’ve gone fair distances.
Warren: That’s a long way.
Judi: Yeah, I have done that at times.
Warren: And those consults go for an hour?
Judi: The consults or behavioural consults actually go for two hours.
Warren: Two hours, OK.
Judi: Two hours. So we cover quiet a lot. People certainly get a lot of information and assistance for the service that they’ve chosen to take up.
Warren: And that information is on the website.
Warren: All right, guys. I would just like to say thank you so much Judi. You’ve been amazing today and like I said before, if someone hasn’t got anything out of this, they’ve probably got their ear muffs on. So guys, if you’re definitely looking at getting a puppy for your kids or as a family, another member of the family, listen to what Judi has to say and really do your research and that would be my take-home message. Do your research.
Warren: Find out what your lifestyle is like and make some choice decisions there.
Judi: Yeah. Just hasten slowly.
Warren: Yes, exactly.
Judi: It’s the best way to put it. Hasten slowly.
Warren: Well put, well put. All right. Thank you once again Judi.
Judi: Thank you very much Warren and to everybody, I hope you’ve taken something out of this. In the meantime, have a merry Christmas and a safe New Year.
Warren: Thanks so much Judi. Take care. Bye.
Judi: See you.
Warren: Wow! What a great interview there. Thank you so much Judi, an interview packed full of information for anyone out there who’s starting to think about getting a puppy or an older dog to add to their family.
If you have any other questions for Judi, like I always say, head over to our comments section and you can enter them there and I will get Judi to answer them for you. Also you can add those to our Facebook page as well.
If you’re also looking to train your dog, you’ve got a dog already, you really can’t go past Judi’s expertise. Like she said in the interview, she runs training sessions at Lyndhurst on Sunday. If you are in a location that’s a little bit farther away, give Judi a call anyway and I’m sure she will put you on to some good training schools right near your location.
So that’s it. Thank you everyone for a great year. We would just like to say thank you from everyone at Volare Photography for making this year such a great year. I hope you all have a great Christmas. Enjoy the holidays with the family. Enjoy the New Year. Stay safe and we really look forward to bringing you more of these interviews in the new year. So take care and good-bye for now.
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