Our puppies are born and raised in our home where they receive constant supervision, support and care for both mother and her babies. This affords them exposure to all the normal sights and sounds of a typical household from day one.
We have quite an amazing process in matching our puppies to their new families. Once puppies are born and we know what we have, we send another round of questions to all of our families on the wait list asking for more details about their family, if there are any special needs issues, what each person would look for in their ideal puppy/dog, the kinds of activities they would see doing with them and what they would hope a dog would bring to their family. Training begins on day 3 after birth with Bio Sensor (stimulation of puppy through 5 timed exercises). We then graduate to sight and sound stimulation at 14 days of age, with potty training beginning around 3 weeks of age. We kick into high gear with introducing pups to every surface they would ever stand on, walks outside, weaning from mom and beginning to eat puppy food. We continue each day working on potty training, touch of all parts of their body, trimming nails, bite inhibition, grooming, sitting before they get their food, coming when called: “Puppy, Puppy, Puppy”, and lots of play time with litter mates in our developmentally appropriate play area filled with stimulating items for them to explore and to challenge their balance, tracking instinct and giving their muscles and mind a work out. Also during this whole time, they are inside our home being loved on and held, but also adapting to all the household sights, sounds, and smells, vacuum cleaners, washing machines and dryers, car rides, vet visits, doorbells, NPR and TV, 7 grandchildren ranging in age from 2 years and up. They are some of my best trainers! We also visit the local nursing home with a very strict socialization time with the elderly, wheel chairs, walkers, canes, and a variety of new sights, sounds and smells. Vet health checks come at 7 weeks along with their microchips being inserted.
At 7 ½ weeks we take our pups to the Family Dog Training and Behavioral Center where our dog trainer Kelly Spencer, a certified Professional Dog Trainer and evaluator for AKC’s Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dogs International administers the puppy evaluation and temperament testing. The Puppy Evaluation, one which we learned in a two day workshop through Avidog University is extensive and amazing! You can check it out by going to Avidog.com and reading about the APET Puppy evaluation. This is the best evaluation we’ve found for assessing puppies for temperament. It requires several adults to setup the testing area and to administer the puppy evaluation. Each puppy is tested by Kelly, who is a stranger to the puppies, has never met them prior to testing. This is important as the assessment requires the testing be done in a space the puppies have never been in and interaction with a person they have never met. Each pup is tested individually for a variety of traits; Activity focus, Assertiveness –Dog, Assertiveness with people, Biddability, Courage, Energy level, Eye contact, Patience, just to name a few. There are 21 test components with 33 traits measured. Please see the video below of our trainer Kelly Spencer administering the APET to one of our puppies. We take all the information we've learned through the assessment process and add that to the information we have from each family, their application and preferences and information gathered on what their ideal dog would be like, what they want to be able to do with your dog, etc. Then add all the information recorded on each pup from the time they were born till assessment time and then we contact each family on our waiting list in order of deposit and tell them about the pup we think will be the best match for them. It's an intensive process, exhausting really, but we love it! Puppies go to their forever homes at 8 weeks of age.
Throughout these 8 weeks of growing we take weekly photos of each pup as well as group shots and videos; write about what they have been doing the past week and post it to our Cottonwood Labradoodles website and Facebook page. Because these pups are raised inside our home as are our adult dogs, we do not allow visitors in an effort to keep them safe from the spread of disease and to keep up with all the activities and time required for raising them.
At Cottonwood Labradoodles we strive in providing the appropriate socialization and experiences to help develop each puppy to become a valuable companion and family member. Currently we follow trainer Jerry Hope’s puppy development, imprinting and training exercises outlined in his book “The Breeder’s Guide to Raising Superstar Dogs”. Studies show there are critical periods during a puppy’s development where we can provide neural stimulation exercises beginning as early as 3 days of age. The puppy exercises come from a program called “Bio Sensor” and was developed by the U.S. military’s canine program and found to enhance their overall health. For additional information on critical developmental periods see www.cesarsway.com.
Our trainer, Kelly Spencer, administering the APET to one of our puppies.