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Selecting a puppy

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Riverside David, Jan 18, 2019.


  1. Riverside David

    Riverside David PetForums Newbie

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    Hello,

    Our lovely blue merle Border Collie had 5 puppies at the end of November. They are ready to go to their forever homes now and 1 is sent to go to a forever home. We were so lucky with it, as the vet referred the buyer to us and lo and behold - the trainer I use, coincidentally is their neighbour - so I got a recommendation too! They lost their collie a few months ago, and was finally ready to find another after some months had passed. So we were so very lucky that our 1st sale was to such a great home!

    That is what I want for all of them of course. We are doing a buy back option on all of them. This is in no way to encourage - temporary homes or 'buy and try' puppies. It is more that things happen in people's lives - allergies, divorce, illness, etc, and my main point is to make sure that the puppies I bred do not go to a shelter, or ill-fitted home...ever. I love them all too much and as far as I am concerned, bias noted, they are the best pups in the world.

    So the male we are trying to select...For several weeks, the puppies don't necessarily display a character, as they are suckling, discovering, etc. Most say that 7 weeks is generally a minimum to character development. So we, at first, decided a male just sort of on looks and within the reason of no major 'character flaw'. So we had one selected, but are debating another now. I am no behaviour expert and this is sort of a 1st puppy experience. We got our girl at 2 yrs old, so didn't have the puppy experience there. Since then, another contends for my love. My concern is to pick one best suited for us, and also which are the best homes for them. So as these two are neck in neck with love, I am trying to now think - who can I give the best home to, and which one would be better suited elsewhere - and if elsewhere, where is that?


    So with the 2 competing males, they are wonderful. One (we'll call him P) is a just a bit of a baby really. He is boisterous enough, and likes to play with the others and us. But he has a stopping point earlier than the others, and likes to get away by a certain point. There is a very boisterous girl in there, and she takes his walking away or that he gives these doe eyed looks as incentive to play again, so jumps on him and tries to tug. He just doesn't fight, and will walk with her trying to play with him, pull him, etc. It is heartbreaking for me, so I tried to give him - and any others who want a reprieve - a section of their pen as 'alone time'. So I wouldn't categorise him as 'shy' but he is a little different than the others. We do lots of social things with them all - we've had a pram & a rucksack to take them out in at times (safely since they haven't been able to be vaccinated). They've gone to pubs, stores, christmas markets, pet stores, plus we have chickens, goats, birds and cats - so they have all had experiences, and none any more than another. When we feed the goats, I'll have one on my chest in the puppy rucksack so they are around large animals. But he is shier than the rest. So will be the one to go to the side of the pen, doesn't much like strangers holding him as much. He isn't bad with them but just seems a bit more uncomfortable and will look back at us. But his eyes are so amazing, I can't put an exact word on it. He has very soulful eyes, and he'll sometimes just stare at you. Maybe people think all dogs have soulful eyes, and I'd agree, but he is a little different. Maybe that is me anthropomorphising them!

    The other (We'll cal him C) is a little more people oriented and boisterous, still very sweet natured, but can give a little more in terms of play and standing up for himself. That's sounds too harsh on the other, as he does play and stand up for himself - he just gets to a moment, where almost like a parent dog just sort of tolerates it a bit? So anyway, with dog number 2. He is lovely, boisterous, playful. He seems to like when people pick him up, well as much as they do considering most of the time all the puppies want is to be down playing! In truth, he and the other contender play a lot together - I swear they have a competition and know this!

    So there are reasons to keep either one in my book, and I have struggled with which for the last week as I need to decide which to sell! So since I cannot figure out who is best for me, I thought - where is best for them? That's why I am writing! There is something nice about P that he has a laid back character, he connects with us with his eyes - and the fact that he needs protecting, well it calls to me. But are we the best home for him? I've read, and granted I am not an animal expert, that the shier dogs need more confidence - so would a single dog home be better for him with someone dedicated to his confidence, no other dogs to bully him when he gets tired of play. Is C the right match? He is more independent, but that has a counter in that there is less of that connection of the eyes for us with him (but understand that can change) but our dogs aren't working dogs, they are loved pets which go and do 'hobby' farming. So what is the best home for him? Will it be somewhere more active and taxing?

    We obviously like that P has this connection to us - he is making eye contact, he is asking us to pick him up when he is tired of playing with the others - this is nice for us as the type of dog people we are...but that can be misplaced if he needs more than that, and as we are a home of more than one dog now, it may not be right for him. C may seem like he is a better fit for a home of dogs, cats, chickens, goats, etc but is he the better one suited to another home because he is more independent? So I guess, as I am saying it, the question is - I want to care for P, but not sure if I am doing right for him? Am I seeing proclivities that are bound to change in either of them so to assess their being right now could be very temporary and not good logic for how to home them here or elsewhere?

    Would love to hear from experienced Border Collie people, or those with some experience in puppy character development - best homing practices.

    Many thanks!
     
  2. Linda Weasel

    Linda Weasel PetForums Senior

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    Not much advice, as such, to give. You’re obviously a caring and responsible breeder and doing everything you can to ensure they have the best possible start.

    The question may answer itself in that a prospective owner may come along who is perfect for one or the other of them.

    Have you tried taking each of them off on their own for a short time to see how he reacts to you one- to-one?

    It may well be that the one you think is less bold is just quicker to ‘get’ things and has already learned how to read the other pups better, and who to appeal to if things look to be getting out of hand. Will a pup like this get on better with the dog you already have?

    Give it a tiny bit longer and try not to over-think it. Lots can change in a week or two.
    I’m sure whichever one you decide to keep will become the dog you want.
     
  3. Riverside David

    Riverside David PetForums Newbie

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    I do take them off on their own for training purposes. So take them on their own into a room, play a little one-on-one, try some things basic command type things like sit and down (with hand gestures and words) - and they both take well to it. Neither seeming to be better at it than the other really - so far as I can see in these limited times and considering their age.

    Both will get on better with the dog we have as she is their mother - so there will be a bond with either of the lads I'd suspect. I do worry with the less bold one, if when he eventually socialises with other dogs if he'll be a target a bit. Being male, there is already an inclination in males to see other males as adversaries - so you want your male to be the right blend. Enough playfulness and unaffectedness (not a word but hopefully conveys the right idea!) that they aren't provocative to other dogs, especially males...but yet enough confidence to tell any other dog - I'm not bait! He is sometimes the former, but whatever the tipping point is - I don't know, but he becomes bait eventually. I'd say he is tired, and to some degree it'll be true. Though not 100% - there are times that he's newly up and about, but reaches his, as yet unknown, limit, goes off to the corner. The others see this as time to jump on him, so he goes walking around the pen with dogs hanging on him and looking a bit sorry for himself.

    It is so hard to describe as he isn't shy, he isn't even scared many times - but then there will be that moment of switch from super playful and bold to having his litter mates (1 or 2) unhappily hanging off of him. If we take any of them outside for exposure - sometimes with the rucksack it can only be one at a time, but usually when we do this - this is a real big deal to the rest. The one returning always gets a bit of telling off - they smell different, they got to go out - whatever goes on in puppy dynamics. Most can deal with the group being a nuisance for a few minutes, he'll find it more challenging than the others do. And when it comes to people, they all like being held by people but he doesn't, unless it is us. He isn't bad with it - just a look back at us to say, please take me back? Last night we saw the new owner for one puppy, and they were in a crate - he went to the back of it, while the others all went to the front for attention once she was giving strokes - he'll be curious so long as no stranger plans on touching him. And yet they've all been on the same experiences - out together, getting socialised in many places and experiences - so it's not for lack of experience so far to date.

    I was thinking the same as you with regard to the perfect owner coming along a bit too. But I'd have to put both up for sale, and then sort of decide based on who came along but it would seem to me, that P would maybe do better in a single dog home, be more 'pet' than working dog as his nature seems to indicate? Whereas C would do better in an active home (not that he is hyperactive, just the border collie character is all). The girls in the litter are the most active compared to the boys!
     
  4. niamh123

    niamh123 PetForums Senior

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    OMG no real advice from me,but wow It's a pity that not all breeders were the same as you good luck with your decision:)
     
    Riverside David likes this.
  5. Riverside David

    Riverside David PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you so much! I try to do best by them, as I love them very much...but I am still a novice in many respects! I am sure that I probably overcompensate for where other breeders probably have innate knowledge from so many years! : )
     
  6. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

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    @Twiggy might be able to give some help here - but what about getting someone in to look at your pups that knows the breed?
     
  7. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    Perhaps turn it on its head. What is the other family like. What do they want to do with their dog, dog sports ? Are they training minded? Do they have lots of visitors of have kids. Do they want a dog that's going to be in to everything the family is doing or be happy if the dog wants to take himself off away from them when he wants to.

    And also how would you answer these questions?
     
  8. Jamesgoeswalkies

    Jamesgoeswalkies PetForums VIP

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    How old are your puppies?

    When homing pups we do the best we can to match our puppies characters to their new owners - generally by the time a pup is ready to leave at 8 weeks you have a pretty good idea as to how bold or energetic they are or whether they would suit a quieter home. I find individual characteristics come to the fore as soon as they can move around and push for the nipple lol

    It sounds as if you have one confident outgoing male and one less confident, maybe quieter one. Only you can choose which you think suits your lifestyle. And as I said, finding homes is always about trying to match up owners so ask lots of questions and I am sure your dogs will get lovely new homes.

    J
     
  9. Riverside David

    Riverside David PetForums Newbie

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    Hiya,

    Well that is sort of why I was writing on here. I, in a less than experienced role, can only speculate. I said in the 1st message, if I love them both equally - then maybe the question I need to ask instead is what is the best home for them, and if so what is that home. So I am trying, with the experience of others and my feeble attempt to assess their natures, trying to find what is the best home for them - with us, or somewhere else. I suspect that it takes years of experience to achieve that to any perfection. I asked a trainer and she suggested a behaviourist she knows but unfortunately they are a bit snowed under at the moment.

    So the idea could be to put both up for sale - see who comes forward as a possible home. But to know who comes forward with the best home, well I'd have to know what is the best home for their characters. I can only really speculate - that's sort of why I asked people on here with BC experience or puppy development/home matching qualities to assist where I may not have the experience. So the hope is to get them to the right home - one of them with us of course.

    So am trying to do exactly what you propose - to ask the question, not which one i'd choose, but which one is best with us, or elsewhere. So where is the best home for them.

    If you are asking what do 'we' need - well we are more of a pet home, with a it of hobby farming. So we need a dog who is loving and connected, as we enjoy that. We also have other animals - goats, chickens, another dog - so they need to be able to handle themselves with confidence. We do get visitors sometimes so a friendly dog is good, we also live on a lane where there are dog walkers coming by/through often - so if we're out sort of working, then they need to be that blend that gives them assertiveness - without aggression or passivity. We've had a female dog, so generally speaking it is a little easier with females. They aren't seen as competition to males, and most often not even to females. But males naturally feel competition with other males - so we'll need one who won't provoke others, and won't seem like bait to bully either.

    So trying to answer you question but uncertain which direction you're asking it - do I know our needs to answer those questions, or would I know the answers for another potential home. I can assess us fairly well but to know the right home match to puppy, well that does take time and experience which I am trying my best with information, reading, assessing the puppies character (and mind you most aren't that developed until at least 7 weeks and they've only just turned 8 weeks), and asking experts as much as possible - I'd suspect that is the best most of us can do.
     
  10. Riverside David

    Riverside David PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you! They've just turned 8 weeks. To be honest, this proclivity of P's hasn't been apparent till of late. I wouldn't have said any were more or less bold/confident which is why we sort of selected on a look as they were all evenly placed with lovely natures, playfulness, etc. He is such an odd one though as he isn't shy, or lacking in confidence a lot, it's just some tipping point or situation I cannot detect, other than the fact he tires early than the others but that isn't always. We noticed today when one of the girls comes up to play and bite his ear, he does a mouth bite which doesn't connect. So when he is maybe tired - he just gives a snap to say no, but to not engage, he doesn't bite back - just does the mouth snap instead. When he was suckling, he was one of our biggest boys (still is - in fact he and C compete for largest!) so he was always in there getting to a teat, and often before or more than others. So like I said, to say he isn't/wasn't confident hasn't been the case. I'd say he is an old soul. That might be the best description - a little old before his time, or maturing faster than the others.

    So trying to match up best for us but that is uncertain - we will have semi-active lives. Not 'working dog' lifestyle but enough that they'll need confidence to not be afraid of a goat (though we're afraid of them sometimes! : ) j/k) but we also like the laid back dog. Our girl is really the perfect blend. She is active, up for anything any time, wants to work if we need her to, and at the same time is chilled and relaxed - so not obsessed as some BCs can get. So I like both of them for these reasons - they are both active and both chilled at times too. P chills 1st, then C chills generally next. The other 3 puppies are bouncing around like nutters still! But if they get bumped into during the fray, well C will get up and give chase, whereas P will just lay there and hope that they'll leave him alone.
     
  11. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    Haha. P sounds like me, an introvert who has only so much tolerance for socialising then wants a bit of peace and alone time to recharge his mental energy. C sounds more extrovert and happy to be involved and gets energised from activity and company.

    I guess what I was trying to get at given P has a threshold for being dog social and will take him self away or not participate once he has had his limit would this behaviour affect the way your family live their life. Would you want a dog to be sociable most if the time with dogs and humans or would you be happy if he is the sort of dog who takes himself away when he wants some peace and perhaps doesn't hang out with the family all the time. Off course he's only 8 weeks so that may change.

    For me he would be the perfect dog as he sounds like he would be happy to be by himself but join in when there was stuff to be getting on with. The border collie I looked after was like this. Friendly but not a cuddle monster. Loved doing training and getting on with "jobs" but happy to take himself off when there wasn't much going on.
     
    #11 kittih, Jan 18, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2019
  12. McKenzie

    McKenzie PetForums VIP

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    I’m not saying it doesn’t matter but...

    There were two boys in the litter of puppies that my friend and I were getting a boy puppy from. The breeder gave the naughty, noisy puppy to my friend who works from home and lives rurally. She gave me the calm, content puppy since I work full time and the pup would need to spend more time without me.

    Fast forward 2 years and my friends naughty noisy puppy is sooo laid back, enjoys a lazy stroll, while my calm content puppy is a total loon who needs to be part of everything that’s going on.

    By all means do your best at selecting but they are going to change and develop and be shaped by their new home, whatever choice you make.
     
  13. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    I'm hopeless at choosing puppies and usually let other people pick for me.

    There are puppy tests you can do which helps a bit but if my memory serves me correctly the pups need to be about 5.1/2 weeks old so these are probably too old now.
     
  14. Burrowzig

    Burrowzig PetForums VIP

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    When I had a litter, I decided pretty much on the night they were born which was my keeper. Then, as the weeks went on, I fell so much for another that I was torn. Fly was the lively, lithe agility dog that was the main purpose of the litter. Flossie was so calm, sweet and kind (and beautiful) I thought I couldn't let her go.
    So I kept both, and it's been brilliant. They get on so well, and with their mum, and the other dog I had who has since died. They gave each other confidence (Flossie was very scared the first time I took her to a training class on her own, spent the time trying to hide under the chairs), Fly was OK on her own. So I took them both, And Flossie was fine. Now 4 1/2, they are still close but each is fine without the other. Flossie has turned out to be the better agility dog, too - more drive and power!
     
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