Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Missouri Folks - The 2013 MCOA National Specialty is in YOUR state!

I just wanted to put a word out to Mastiff lovers everywhere that the 2013 Mastiff Club of America National Specialty is in Joplin, MO this year, May 13th - 19th, 2013. Good news for me is that’s barely a 3 hour drive.  If you are new to the breed or a long time Mastiff lover this is the place to meet, greet, mingle and make lifelong friendships as well as love on tons of Mastiffs for a whole week. 

Here is a link to the Specialty website that outlines the entire schedule: http://www.mcoa2013.com/schedule/
A few highlights are:
Monday Night: Puppy Fun Match
Tuesday Morning: Futurity/Maturity Show
Tuesday Afternoon: Breeders Cup
Wednesday Afternoon: Sweepstakes
Wednesday Night: Welcome Party
Thursday Night: Tournament of Champions
Friday Morning: AKC Dog Classes
Saturday Morning: AKC Bitch Classes
Saturday Night: Awards Banquet
Sunday Morning: Best of Breed Competition

And a few pics from last year...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tips and Methods to House Training Your Mastiff Puppy

One of the easiest ways to potty train a puppy is to simply pay attention and watch for signals. Make sure your puppy is always where you can see him when his is loose in the house. You may need to use baby gates or close doors to keep your puppy from wandering off and going potty in the house. When you notice the puppy sniffing around or if you see him start to squat, quickly scoop him up and take him outside.

After the puppy eats or drinks, take him outside to go potty immediately. A puppy will always need to go to the potty shortly after eating or drinking. Control when the puppy eats, as well. He does not require a full bowl of food available at all times. He should be fed on a consistent schedule.
When you take the puppy outside after eating or drinking, do not use this time to play. Simply stand or sit off to the side and wait until he finally goes. When he does what he is supposed to and potties make a HUGE deal out of it. Praise, treats, excitement, make sure he knows he did good. Additionally, every time the puppy goes potty or when you are waiting for him to go, use the word you want to associate with training him to go. For example, you might repeat, "Go potty, good boy! Good potty!" This will train him to understand what you want him to do, which is go potty in the designated spot.
Crate training is also imperative in house training a puppy, as well as teaching the dog a crate is a good thing. There’s nothing worse than trying to crate a 200lb dog that has never been in a crate before. Choose a crate that is large enough for the puppy to stand and turn around in; never use the crate as punishment, such as a "time out" corner. It should be a place where the puppy feels safe and comfortable. Take the puppy outside to go potty before putting him in his crate. He can be safely crated for three to four hours; puppies rarely use the crate as a potty and will learn to hold it while in the crate. Take him outside to potty as soon as you let him out of the crate. While you may feel like you are imprisoning him, puppies who are crate trained begin to appreciate the safety and security of their crate, and it becomes a safe place for them. I always give a tiny treat when they go in their crate and eventually turn it into a command the dog knows. When I say crate, the dog goes in the crate. It actually becomes quite handy.
Repetition and consistency are two key factors that will help your puppy learn to let you know he needs to go potty. Whenever you take the puppy outside to go potty, always take him through the same door and to the same area of your yard. This will help to train him to go to that door when he needs to go potty. I have also had luck in making your puppy sit before he goes through any door, anywhere. This teaches the puppy two important things: not to pull you through a door or run out of a door and secondly, to go sit down in front of a door when he wants to go outside. I prefer this to the bell on the door knob methods because some dogs simply ring the bell incessantly just to go out and play, which can get pretty annoying pretty fast.
If while training the puppy does have accident inside NEVER punish or scold the puppy unless you catch them in the act. Dogs don’t generalize and if you punish them after the fact they really don’t know what they are in trouble for. Other unacceptable behaviors that have been popular in the past are hitting the dog with a newspaper or rubbing his nose in the accident. These are not productive training methods and in my personal opinion would be considered abusive. 
On a side note if you have a dog that has been potty trained for a time and all of a sudden starts having accidents inside, the first step is a vet visit. The dog could be suffering from a urinary tract or kidney infection and not be able to control their bodily functions.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Considerations of a Puppy Buyer | Tips to Establishing a Relationship With Your Breeder

If I’m on the side of the fence of a puppy buyer, it’s all about me. If on the side of the fence of the breeder, it’s all about the puppy and it’s quality of life and safety. Where do we compromise?  Well usually as responsible breeder’s we don’t.

While responsible breeders do ‘sell’ you a product, a puppy, this is not one of those ‘the customer is always right’ situations. This is a living, breathing creature. Common sales practices and procedures do not apply. Here are my suggestions if you are looking to add a puppy to your home. 

A quality puppy is worth the wait.
Look for a breeder, not a puppy.  If you’re only search is for a puppy at a specific time, say next summer, you are severely limiting your options.  Many reputable Mastiff breeders only have litters once a year (or less).  You are far better off to find a breeder you are comfortable with, when they have a litter you will get your puppy then. Now this may sound like exactly what you don’t want to do, but puppies are not interchangeable.  Breeder #1 might have several litters per year, but they are more than likely in the business of dog breeding to make money.  Their dogs probably don’t have the breed specific health testing done and their dogs are less than stellar when it comes to conforming to the standard.  Breeder #2 only breeds for their next puppy, they have all the relevant genetic health testing done on their dogs, because they don’t want to pass anything on to a future generation.  Because their dogs are family they live in the house.  They only have a litter every few years because when breeding for their next keeper puppy they have to make sure they have room in the house for a new family member. If you take a puppy from Breeder #1 because they have puppies now instead of waiting 6+ months for a puppy from Breeder #2 then you have just done yourself a huge disservice.

Looking for a breeder instead of a puppy also gives you the opportunity to make a personal connection with a breeder.  You can be sure both parties share the same criteria, goals, and expectations from a breeding. If the breeder you have chosen ends up not having a litter any time soon or the breeding doesn’t take, the worst that could happen is you form a great relationship with an experience mentor. They can refer you on to other breeders with the same morals and goals you are looking for in a breeder and dogs that produce the same quality or physical appearance and temperament that you are looking for.

The next item to note is that you should expect to wait for a puppy. I would say it’s rare to wait less than 6 or 8 months for the perfect puppy for your family, sometimes a year or better. Would you rather get a puppy today with no background or that doesn’t quite fit your family? Or wait to get matched up with a puppy that will mesh will with your situation.  In the long run you will always wish you picked the later.

Waiting when you want something so bad is hard,
but in the case of a quality puppy it's worth the wait.
When contacting a breeder for the first time make sure to introduce not only yourself, but your family and current pets, as well as provide some background as to why you want a puppy and how you’ve come to the conclusion that the Mastiff breed (or whatever breed) is right for you.  Be sure to include any relevant experience with the breed you may have or what research you have done on the breed to prepare your life and family for a new addition. It is also a good idea to explain what your plans are for this puppy.  Do you just want a family pet with a stable temperament; do you want a dog to show, a service dog, a therapy dog?  These items will greatly increase the breeder’s ability to determine if what they have to offer with their line of dogs will be the best fit for your family. 

On the other hand, if you shoot a breeder an email that says, “Hey, I see you sell Mastiff puppies, how much do they cost?” they are likely to trash that email and not respond.  You have to remember while you are purchasing a puppy, they are adopting out one of their babies.  I look at this almost more of an interview process with a purchase option for approved homes than a sales situation.  If you do come across a breeder who will sell you a puppy with little to no background knowledge of you as a purchaser, you should run!  If they aren’t screening homes, they have no real interest in what becomes of that puppy.  That means in a year when you need support and help with your puppy you will likely get no help.

If you have gone through the steps above and end up with the breeder telling you no, ask why.  If they believe your home, family or life style won’t fit well with a Mastiff you should revisit why you wanted a Mastiff to start with.  If you want one because they look cool, but want a dog that can jog 10 miles a day with you, the Mastiff is a poor choice.  If you want a Mastiff because you want a big dog, but don’t like drool, the Mastiff is a poor choice, etc.  You get my point.  If you are told no by several breeders you need to reevaluate your wants and needs and be honest with yourself about what kind of dog would fit best with your family.

When the cute puppy above turns into this
slobber monster are you prepared?
If you decide you are happy with a breeder, but also like an alternative breeder and are on their waiting list too, be honest.  Let each breeder know, there is nothing worse than calling someone who you have been corresponding with for months about their ‘perfect puppy’ only to hear that they got a puppy last week from so and so.  It’s okay to be on more than one waiting list, just be honest with both breeders so a puppy somewhere doesn’t get shorted on a quality home.  I don’t want to turn someone away because I have more puppies than homes only to find out ½ of those homes got a puppy from somewhere else and didn’t tell me. Also note that many Mastiff breeders are longtime friends or at least acquaintances. All breeders know the other breeders. If you come to Breeder A and are a complete failure in their opinion as a suitable home… then you go to Breeder B for a puppy, they are going to know.

So the day has come, you have been approved by the breeder, you talk once a week about the upcoming litter… now the puppies are here!  First thing you want to do is come and see them.  Who wouldn’t want to see the babies?  Well, don’t get to upset, because you probably aren’t going to get to for some time.  It is important for breeder to keep their newborn puppies in a clean germ free environment until their first round of shots (at minimum).  I know you want to come see how adorable they are when they are only a week old, but the risk of you bringing in some unknown pathogen, a parvo cell that you picked up off the sidewalk, a corona virus you got from the park yesterday on your shoe, or any other illness, virus or germs is too high.  Even if you don’t have pets the risk is still too great.  A good breeder will keep potential buyers up to date with pictures, but don’t expect to get to visit the puppies until closer to 7 or 8 weeks of age.

Also don’t expect to get to pick out your puppy.  Some breeders are more picky about this than others, but if you want the blue boy puppy for a service dog and he is standoffish and aloof he’s just not going to be the best fit.  If you want a puppy to be your first show dog and you pick a puppy deemed as “pet quality”, then you are doing yourself a disservice and setting yourself up for failure.  The breeder has been hand raising these pups for 2 months.  By this point in your breeder/buyer relationship you should trust them to guide you to the best fit puppy for your family.

All that being said, it is important to remember that a the breeders responsibility is not to make you happy, it’s to ensure each of the lives they helped bring into this world get the best chance to have a happy healthy life with the optimal environment to thrive.  A breeders responsibility is to the breed itself, bettering the breed, protecting the breed.  Just remember that the rewards of waiting to be matched with the best fit puppy far outweigh the frustration of waiting a few months to add a new family member to your household.