Pick­ing proper pup para­mount pri­or­ity

Albuquerque Journal - - FETCH - Each week Dr. Jeff Ni­chol makes a short video or pod­cast to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at dr­j­effni­chol.com. Dr. Ni­chol treats be­hav­ior dis­or­ders at the Vet­eri­nary Emer­gency & Spe­cialty Cen­ters in Al­bu­querque and Santa Fe (505-79

Shar­ing your life with a great dog is like any im­por­tant re­la­tion­ship. Start out on the right paw and ev­ery­body has a shot at suc­cess. Be­hav­ioral re­search shows that pup­pies do bet­ter if they stay with their moth­ers and lit­ter mates un­til at least age 5 to 7 weeks.

Pick­ing the right breed is im­por­tant, but re­mem­ber that pup­pies are unique in­di­vid­u­als. You’ll want to pay at­ten­tion to the dif­fer­ent tem­per­a­ments within each lit­ter you con­sider. They’re not ap­pli­ances that roll off an as­sem­bly line. I rec­om­mend first choos­ing the racy ap­pear­ance of your shiny new dog — that’s the breed. Then care­fully sort through the ap­pli­cants.

If this is go­ing to be your dog, you will need to be the puppy picker. Dogs re­spond dif­fer­ently to dif­fer­ent peo­ple, so don’t al­low a breeder/lit­ter owner to select your soul mate. Stand firm on this point. A puppy who re­acts fear­fully to one per­son may be re­laxed with an­other. Choose your own dog, even if you have to travel to Pough­keep­sie to do it.

Do you just love pup­pies? Well, me too. But if you’re go­ing to make a wise, life­time choice you’ll need to keep calm, sit down, shut up, and watch. Do you want an in­de­pen­dent spirit or a snug­gle bunny? Is each puppy mind­ing his or her own busi­ness or are they con­fronting each other? A happy puppy who plays well with oth­ers will want to be part of a so­cial group — like your fam­ily.

Next, ob­serve the in­di­vid­u­als. Who’s push­ing and shov­ing (you know, not keep­ing his mouth to him­self)? Is any­body nip­ping and yap­ping at the other guys if they step out of line? I sug­gest men­tally elim­i­nat­ing this one, un­less you’ll en­joy an eter­nity of ne­go­ti­at­ing with a dog. For­get about gen­der. An in-your-face per­son­al­ity or a love bug can come in ei­ther fla­vor.

If you’re like me, you’ll find some­thing en­gag­ing and beau­ti­ful about each con­tender. But you’re tak­ing only one. Trust this method and don’t adopt a puppy un­til you find the one who is best for you.

I can make this eas­ier. Go to Face­book.com/dr­j­effni­chol to watch my video, “Pick­ing the Great­est Puppy for Your Life.”


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