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Frequently asked questions
How does your program raise the puppies?
Our program integrates the "Puppy Culture" program, and other positive reinforcement techniques. The extra care we put into each puppy requires us to keep our somewhat program smaller and utilizes Guardian Homes to insure that we can spend the extra time needed to work with, invest in & love our puppies. All of our puppies are raised in our home with us and our three children (who are very dog savy). We have been trained and specialize in Puppy Imprinting and Positive Reinforcement Training. We are a small breeder who performs Early Neurological Stimulation, ESI, Enrichment Effects, safe early socialization, sound protocols & other age appropriate games and exercises and early training and puppy imprinting. Here are a few examples of what this looks like...
The puppies are whelped and raised in our home while we work, clean, live life and homeschool our three children. They are exposed to real life sounds and situations. (once their ears open, we also work on other common sounds that can make a dog uneasy like...thunderstorms, fireworks, traffic, vacumns, etc.) The nursery area includes a whelping box, as well as all the necessities for both litter and breeder. From birth to about four weeks of age, we stay in the nursery with the pups over night. During this critical period, the puppies are monitored around the clock. The whelping box has puppy rails (to prevent pups from being suffocated by their dam) that are removed after two weeks and replaced with a small potty area. The puppies begin housetraining as soon as they start to walk.
Early neurological stimulation (ENS) has been proposed to enhance the natural abilities of dogs. ENS involves subjecting puppies aged between 3 and 16 days to mild forms of stimulation leading to “stress.” When tested later as adults, these same animals were said to be better able to withstand stress than littermates who were not exposed to the same early stress exercises.
Early neurological stimulation involves five brief stress exercises.
-Head Up Position
-Head Down Position
Once the litter turns seven weeks old, we welcome visitors and puppy play dates by appointment only. Families are shown how to safely handle the puppies, as well as age appropriate interactions. Families are requested to take precautions before arrival and once you arrive at our home. The puppies receive an abundance of socialization opportunities and experiences weekly, until they leave at 8+ weeks of age. New puppies owners will be given activities, guidance and direction on how to continue with the puppy's socialization process up to 12 weeks.
Transitional period begins when the puppies eyes open and ends when they first startle upon hearing a sound. During this period:
Pups begin eliminating on their own
Pups begin walking (around the same time they begin eliminating on their own)
Pups start lapping
Pups become interested in mush
Pups begin vocalizing (barking/growling)
Non-verbal communication begins, such as tail wagging
At three weeks of age, puppies develop a startle response yet have no real fear response. The lack of fear and quick recovery to being startled provides a small window of opportunity to exercise the puppies’ recovery muscles without worry of fear imprinting. Beginning this week, the puppies are exposed to a variety of sights, and sounds intended to exercise their startle recovery, including but not limited to: a hand clap, dropping metal bowls, starting a vacuum cleaner, dropping books, shaking a marble-filled bottle, loud laughter, children, a chorus of barking dogs, and dropping a new toy into the weaning pen each day.
During the third week, pups are separated from their littermates for short periods of time with individual time. This individual handling helps encourage the puppy’s bond with people, as well as aids in preventing future separation anxiety. Brief one-on-one time with our family (or other trusted helpers that come to bring in a different face, like our parents or adult siblings) creates a positive association that will help them adjust when they leave for their new homes.
Although our puppies begin getting bathes and nail clipping from one week old as needed, which we incorporate partial towel drying and blow drying, along with brushing. We begin using an electric tooth brush to softly place all over the puppies, to ready them for the vibrations and sounds of grooming. Beginning at three weeks of age, puppies are groomed regularly. As young pups, this involves nothing more than a few minutes of brushing daily and weekly nail trims and bathes with both towel and light blow drying. As puppies mature, about six to seven weeks old, they will be introduced to the grooming table, high-velocity dryer, Dremel nail grinder, nail clippers, and assorted combs and brushes and even a sanitary groom. We start early as this breed has to get use to grooming life.
At four weeks of age the puppies move into a larger weaning pen. The larger pen provides an area where the pups can run freely at any time. The exercise will help them grow strong and fit, and will help reduce friction in the litter. The weaning pen incorporates a large “potty area”, beds, training crates, an adventure box and more. The remainder of the weaning pen is covered with whelping pads, which provide both traction and absorbency.
An adventure box is an innovative piece of equipment that helps puppies become confident and stable adults. The interactive activity center encourages puppies to experience different textures, shapes and sounds, providing both physical and mental stimulation.
The adventure box is loud. Objects are placed strategically to generate the maximum amount of sound with the least amount of effort. The pups “self startle” during play and eventually become immune to the continual clanging.
An event marker is something that is used to mark a desired behavior at the instant it occurs. Common markers are audible, such as a clicker or verbal cue. In order for the marker to have value, we need to change the way the puppy feels when he hears the click or cue. The goal is to create an association in the pup’s brain between the marker and a "treat". This is accomplished by presenting the marker and immediately following it with a treat. With enough repetitions, this pairing of marker/treat will change the way your puppy feels about the marker. This process is often referred to as “charging the clicker”.
Once the marker is charged (or "powered up"), the pups are ready to learn how to offer behaviors. A shallow box is placed on the floor, and we wait for voluntary interaction with the box. The goal is not to get the pup to do anything, in particular, but to teach the puppy to offer a behavior of any kind. We click anything at all that the puppy does with the box – look at it, touch it, step in it. It doesn’t matter if the puppy touches it by accident, we still click and treat. We want to teach the puppy that they will be rewarded for offering a behavior.
At four weeks of age, the puppies are allowed outside for the first time if the season and weather permits. The pups have access to toys, age appropriate play equipment, shelter, water, and their dam. The play area for the puppies, is protected from other strange dogs coming in and bringing our puppies diseases. The puppies are always closely monitored when they are outdoors.
The puppies enjoy daily outdoor exercise beginning after five weeks of age. The puppies are only denied their outside playtime when temperatures are to hot or cold, or it is raining.
The pups are closely monitored while outdoors and are promptly brought inside if there is a change in weather, or if the pups appear uncomfortable for any reason.
Teaching puppies to ask for something (manding) is a critical communication skill. By default, puppies will attempt to ask for something by jumping up or pawing at us. The very first lesson taught to the puppies is the concept that if they want something, they can ask for it, or mand, by sitting. This is accomplished by presenting a cue, the presence of a human, and then clicking and treating the puppy for sitting. The goal is to change the cue of a human present to mean sit instead of jump up. Manding gives a puppy a voice, so she can “speak” and express her needs. This is one of the most empowering life skills you can give any social being, the gift of communication.
At four weeks of age, the pups are introduced to challenges that build their problem-solving skills. They are motivated to overcome obstacles, are challenged by puzzles, experience new textures and flooring, and are introduced to novel objects daily. Below is a sampling of the challenges presented to our puppies.
Food is set behind a barrier. The puppy is shown the food, then placed on the other side of the obstacle.
An x-pen is placed on the floor and covered with a tarp. The uneven surface helps prepare the pups for walking where footing is unsteady.
A puppy play tunnel is placed in a doorway. The pups must travel through, or over, the tunnel to enter/exit the puppy room.
Pups are encouraged to cross textured mats. A novel tactile experience helps prepare the pups for navigating strange surfaces in the future.
A children’s wading pool is filled with 200 balls. A dozen small treats are added to make the experience more enticing.
The puppies are presented with age and size appropriate challenges, such as climbing over a hurdle to get outside.
At five weeks of age, the puppies are introduced to targeting. The purpose of this exercise is to keep the pups thinking while encouraging them to continue to offer behaviors. Similar to their introduction to offering behaviors [at four weeks of age], a novel item is presented, and they are reinforced for any interaction. The puppy is rewarded for looking at or touching the object.
When the puppies move out of the weaning pen at four weeks of age into their new larger pen, they are introduced to crates. For the first couple of weeks, the doors are clipped open and the pups are free to use them as they like, often napping in the crates by choice.
When the pups are about five weeks of age (depending on litter developement progress), the doors are closed for brief periods during the day. They are given a yummy treat or chew item to enjoy while confined to their crate. Once the puppies begin eating solid foods, they will begin staying in their crates at night to ease the struggle when they go home to their forever homes. By eight weeks of age, the puppies willing run into their crates for their meals. At this age, they are crated contently for extended periods and should be able to sleep for up to 5-6 hours through the night if not all through the night.
At six weeks of age, the puppies are introduced to miniature agility equipment. The goal is not to teach the pups agility, but have them learn valuable life skills. The dogwalk is a small platform with ramps at either end. It teaches puppies to be confident when navigating up and down slopes, as well as standing on and crossing elevated surfaces. The teeter and wobble board get the pups used to being on something that moves under their feet. The chute is a barrel with a tube of fabric attached to it. The chute teaches the pups to walk under and through obstacles, and to accept things covering their heads.
When the puppies are six weeks old, they are taught the concept that attention (eye contact) is a behavior that will be rewarded. The first step is to click and then treat (reinforce) any glance towards the eyes or direct eye contact. Once the pups comprehend that eye contact will be rewarded, the criteria for reinforcement is increased by adding duration, distractions, and different locations.
Beginning at six to seven weeks of age, the puppies are introduced to car rides. The process begins by acclimating the pups to being crated in the vehicle with the door open. Once they are comfortable in the crate, the doors are closed and immediately opened. The pups are given a treat, and the doors are closed for 30 seconds, then a minute, then two. The next step involves closing the doors and starting the vehicle, and reinforcing calmness. The final step entails travel. The first trip is very short. Trips are gradually lengthened, being careful to ensure the experience remains a positive one for the puppies.
Aptitude Test - 7 Weeks (49 days) Puppy Temperament testing is performed. This is when we allicate puppies to thier new families!
Up until now, the puppies have responded to a “puppy call.” A puppy call is generally a high-pitched repetitive call, “Puppy-puppy-puppy!” The puppy call is used to call the litter at mealtimes. Because the puppy call is paired with food, it becomes a powerful conditioned reinforcer. [A conditioned reinforcer (i.e. puppy call) is anything that is paired with a primary reinforcer (i.e. food) in a way that ingrains the conditioned reinforcer with the impact of the primary reinforcer.] At seven weeks, we add the cue “come” to the puppy call, “Puppy-puppy-puppy! Come!” Because the recall cue is paired with the puppy call, it becomes equally compelling. Gradually, the puppy call will be faded, and all that will be left is the recall cue. Once puppies are named by their new owner, we begin usuing their new names.
This is just a few examples of what your puppy will be working on here at the Read's. We are always staying up to date on the latest research and protocols to continue raising our puppies with excellence and puppies with purpose!
How much are your puppies and what is included?
The adoption fee for our ALCA registered puppies are $3000. The non-refundable Application Fee of $500, will reserve your spot in a available litter...leaving a balance of $2500. The adoption fees for puppies over four months of age, rehomed puppies, breeding prospects are set on an individual basis.
Where are you located?
We are based out of Northeast Tennessee...Johnson City. We are the only registered Australian Labradoodle Breeder in the East Tennessee Region. We are a little over an hour from Knoxville, TN, forty-five (45) minutes from Asheville, NC and 20 minutes from Bristol, VA.
Do you ship your puppies via airlines?
Do you give a health warranty or guarentee?
We provide a two-year health warranty on genetic disease that significantly impairs the life of the dog (as determined by at least two veterinarians). We guarantee that your new puppy will be healthy at the time you receive him or her. Your puppy will have received his or her first vaccinations and de-worming treatments as appropriate for his or her age. In addition, the puppy will have passed a physical examination by a certified Veterinarian shortly before we release him or her to you. We will include the puppy’s examination results along with his or her complete medical records. Your puppy's parents have went through & cleared Genetics testing, hip, elbow and patella testing through OFA, PennHip, eVet Diagnostics or AVA, as well as OFA eye exam, heart exam & prcd/PRA from Optigen. (If we are flying your puppy to you via air cargo, the puppy will have received another medical examination shortly before being shipped.) You will need to make an appointment for your puppy to be examined by your licensed veterinarian within 72 hours of his or her arrival, according to the terms of our warranty.
Dogs that we breed go through an extensive panels of tests that clear them of genetic issues and then are carefully paired before they are bred. Should a serious genetic issue be discovered within the first two years, we will pay the vet expenses for treating that issue up to the purchase price of your puppy or will replace your dog with another puppy.
While we expect our puppies to remain healthy and to live long lives, canine health is dependent on environmental factors such as a healthy diet, exercise, safe living conditions, and regular veterinary care for vaccinations and other treatments. Love, attention, and proper training are also critical to your dog’s well-being. We expect that you will provide these critical components to your dog‘s long-term health.
While we do ask that you take your puppy to your veterinarian within the first 3 days after receiving him or her, please let your puppy relax into his or her new home at a gentle pace. Too many visitors, car trips, and other excitement can be overwhelming to a young pup transitioning and could disrupt the careful socialization that has been conducted up until that time. Very importantly, although your puppy will have received age-appropriate vaccinations when you bring him home, please proceed cautiously when you take your puppy out in public until he or she has completed the complete series of puppy shots. Young pups are at risk to the parvovirus, which can stay dormant for years in the ground and is not killed by most common disinfectants. We recommend that you carry your puppy into the veterinarian’s office and hold him or her for the duration of your visits, due to the possibility of parvovirus or other diseases being tracked in by other animals.
You will receive the Purchase & Health Warranty Contract after you have been approved or upon request.