How Long Does It Take To Crate Train And What To Expect

Many first-time pet owners have misconceptions about why professional dog trainers recommend crate training for puppies and new dogs. Crates may look like scary cages to humans, but to dogs, they look like safe and snuggly places to retreat to when the rest of the world has you worn out.

Crates are a place a dog can go to get some alone time. Crates are also a tool to use when training your dog, and they’re a way to give your dog a place to call their own within your home.

There are also functional applications like using a crate for transportation and locking the dog in at night, so they stay out of trouble (and allow you some sleep). Not to mention, this also portrays that you can give your dog definitive structure and boundaries to follow.

Some people will misuse the crate, and in turn, the dog may view the crate as a confining place that is not comfortable for them to stay in. We’re not recommending anything like that here, and our goal is to show you how to use the crate the right way and use it to improve your relationship and ability to train your new puppy.

The benefits of crate training your dog are numerous. They seriously make life so much easier! Especially if you are house training a puppy.

Puppies are similar to babies, and they are just learning everything for the first time. Crates help young dogs establish boundaries around where it’s ok to do their business and where they need to hold it in. Dogs, as a rule, do not like to go in the same area that they sleep.

The crate is meant to be a safe environment for your dog. If your home isn’t effectively puppy-proof, your dog can get into all sorts of trouble. If you have food or some not-so-dog-friendly items out around your home, the crate is where you can ensure your dog is safe and out of harm’s way, particularly if they are not being monitored closely. Your crate is where you want your dog to be when you have lots of guests coming in and out of the house, and the doors are left open, workers working in and around your home, or you just need them out of the way so you can do some much-needed vacuuming.

Crate training helps establish good discipline in your dog, translating into the rest of their training routines like potty training and general obedience. Crates help demarcate what’s uniquely your dog’s domain as opposed to the rest of the house. This territorial separation can prevent them from engaging in destructive habits like chewing on furniture or other areas of your home like doors or baseboards.

A cozy crate helps your dog relax and let go of pent up stress and anxiety. Never use them as a form of punishment because we want our pets to have positive associations with time spent in their crates. Dog’s who learn to be comfortable alone in their crates are much less likely to experience separation anxiety when you need to leave them alone for a time.

If a dog and their crate are friends, it will be that much easier to get them to hop into it when you’re taking them to the vet or on a trip outside the home. If your dog’s not familiar with staying inside their crate already, they’ll be more likely to resist staying confined when you’re taking them on a long road trip or an airplane.

Choosing A Style Of Crate

Crates come in a few different styles; each has pros and cons.

There are collapsible crates that are great for transporting and fit easily into the car. They’re great for when you take trips to see family and friends and want to bring your doggo along.

There are also plastic airline crates, which, as the name suggests, are allowed on planes. These are necessary if you are flying-with-fido. They can also work for non-aerial usages, but then it becomes more a matter of personal preference.

Yes, some people do have multiple crates, even though they only have one dog. Larger breeds may outgrow their puppy crate and need a larger one as an adult, so unless owners give them away to others in need, they may have a stockpile going. Some crates do come with a divider panel that can be adjusted as a dog grows.

A good rule of thumb is that a crate should only be larger enough that a dog can comfortably turn around inside of it, stand up, and lie down.

Where To Keep Your Crate

There are a few conflicting opinions on the “right” place to keep your dog’s crate. The crate is meant to be a quiet retreat for your dog and used for sleeping; some believe it should be out of the way of the household activity, which means not in a social room like a kitchen or living room, but rather in a bedroom or unused space.

The other school of thought is to keep the crate closer to the “hub” of the house and allow your dogs to have some social interaction even while they are in their own space.

You can’t please everyone here, except those who recommend you have two crates for your dog! In this scenario, you’d own one crate that’s used strictly for sleeping and another for during the day. Not everyone has the budget to buy a second crate or the space to have another one out, so you’re going to have to feel out what might be the best solution for your pup.

Introducing Your Dog To The Crate For The First Time

Not all dogs form an immediate bond with their crates. Sometimes it takes several weeks to get used to it. Remember, your dog is going through a big adjustment period during the first days and weeks they’re in your home.

It’s ok to take this process slowly and take a step back if your dog becomes anxious or afraid. In general, from a dog’s first introduction to a crate to feeling complete comfort and familiarity, the process can take up to a month. Some dogs will immediately form an attachment to their crates, and others will be more hesitant at first.

When you feel your dog is ready, introduce them to the crate in an environment, they spend the bulk of their time. If you’re planning for them to sleep in a separate area, it’s ok to move the crate later. You don’t want your dog to associate the crate with isolation or being a punishment.

Make sure you have their daily rations available to you because you’ll need them as an incentive to explore inside the crate. Begin interacting with your dog in a gentle and friendly manner, don’t get them over-excited. You want your pup to remain calm during this process. Throw a few pieces of food near the crate, but not inside. Observe their reaction; if they go for the food, that’s great!

Praise them with a few pets. Next, toss some of their food into the crate, but not too deep inside. Just inside the crate door is fine. Make sure the door won’t accidentally bang closed if bumped. You want your dog to feel comfortable stepping in and out of the crate before we acclimate them to being in a closed crate.

If your dog shows signs of stress or apprehension at any point, stop progressing the training and wait until they become calm again. Then you can resume where you left off. Don’t force them to become comfortable all in one go. Be ok with stopping the session for the day.

As your dog shows positive signs stepping inside the crate, take the process a step further by closing the door for short periods.

This can be as short as 1-2 seconds. You also don’t need to lock the crate to do this. Just press it shut. Gradually increase the amount of time you keep the door closed while your dog is inside.

If your dog begins to whine or paw at the door, perhaps you need to decrease the time on the next go. But don’t open the door until they’ve stopped whining and pawing. You don’t want to reinforce those behaviors as effective for getting their crate back open. Wait until they stop, relax, and praise them as you open the door.

The next step in the process is to acclimate your dog to spending long periods in the crate without you in their presence. Follow the same process and close the door, but this time you can start locking it. Gradually increase your distance from the crate within the same room and maintain that distance for more extended amounts of time.

If your dog is responding positively, you can experiment with briefly leaving the room while they remain in the crate.

Be sure to follow the same guidelines as to when you started, be ready to reward your dog with their favorite treats or toys, and to put a pause on the process if they show signs of distress.

In time your dog should be comfortable in their crate for extended periods without you in the room. This is when you can begin crating them overnight and when you’re gone during the day.

A common pitfall here is falling into a routine before leaving for the day that your dog “figures out” and preemptively reacts to.

An example would be if you always grab your keys and put on your jacket before crating them and heading out the door. Your dog may realize that these are warning signs that you’re leaving for a while, and they’ll be stuck in the crate without you. We recommend that you vary the steps in your morning route to counteract a noticeable pattern forming. Crate them early in your routine, in the end, and the middle on different days, so they don’t hone in on any one cue.

Another good training technique is to get your dog’s mind onto something else as you’re leaving, so they don’t even realize you’re gone. Toys that you can conceal treats in, like Kong toys, are great for this as your dog has to work hard to get a nibble. This keeps them busy so you can slip out the door without a fuss.

By not making a big deal on your departures or returns, your dog doesn’t associate you leaving as a reason to get upset or anxious.

Troubleshooting Crate Training

Too Much Time In The Crate

Make sure you’re not leaving your dog in their crate for too long! Puppies should only spend a maximum of 4 hours at a time in a crate during the day. Overnight is ok assuming they are sleeping soundly. Dog’s need exercise and freedom to live healthy lives. If a dog is spending too much time in their crate, they can develop anxiety and other behavior problems like aggression.

If you find yourself needing to be away for long periods, hire a neighbor, professional dog walker, or enroll your dog in doggie daycare.

Excessive Whining

It’s common for dogs to whine a little bit while in their crates. Sometimes it’s a sign that they need a potty break, but if you’re walking them regularly and “know their rhythm” they may just be whining for attention. In the case of puppies, try to walk them before bed and let them relieve themselves. They may still wake you up in the middle of the night, and it’s a good practice to pre-emptively walk them until they grow older and can control their bladders more.

If you’ve eliminated bathroom-related reasons for their vocalizing, ignoring them is usually the best answer. You don’t want to give in to their behavior here because it lets them know that they will eventually get their way if they whine enough. This is also why we believe it’s important for your crate to be in a good and quiet space away from the activity in the house. When you do let your pup out, wait until they’re calm and making eye contact with you.

How’s crate training going for you and your puppy? Please contact us by writing a message into the bubble, and we’ll get back to you. If you want to schedule a training evaluation for your dog, drop us a line.

Helping Your Rescue Adjust To Life In Your Home

After a long search, interviews, tons of internet research, and asking friends and dog professionals for advice, you’ve finally found the rescue dog of your dreams! All you have left to do is sign the adoption papers and bring them home.

But you may be wondering, now what? What happens now that you’re a proud adoptive dog parent?

When shelter dogs are adjusting to life in a new home, we like to observe what’s known as the Rule of 3’s to track how they’re doing with the transition.

The 3’s are the first 3 days, the first 3 weeks, and the first 3 months.

The first 3 days are considered the “detox period.” This is a major transition for your rescue. The home environment is entirely different than their life in the shelter. It’s going to be much more welcoming, warm, and exciting for them.

At 3 weeks, your dog’s true personality starts to emerge. This may be when you first begin to notice behavioral issues. Many of these can be resolved with regular dog training, but if there are signs of deeper issues, it’s best to begin working with a professional trainer around this time to address them.

After 3 months, you and your dog are on the path to being lifelong besties. They should be fully comfortable in your home, their new routines, and leaving shelter life behind as a distant memory.

We’ll breakdown what to expect at each stage and make sure your dog’s adjustment period goes as smoothly as possible.

But before you welcome your new friend into your life, there are a few things you need to make sure you’ve taken care of, like dog/-puppy proofing, buying supplies, and planning out your dog’s daily routines.

We’ll walk you through all of that too, so you can ensure your dog has a great experience coming into your life and home.

Checklist: Is Your Home Puppy-Proof?

Before you bring your new dog home, make sure you’ve done a thorough job dog/puppy-proofing your space.

If you have young children and have already baby-proofed your space, you’re ahead of the game. You might find it’s a very similar process for our favorite companions. Even for older dogs who’ve lived in homes before, it isn’t easy to know how they will adapt to a new environment or if they have had adequate training beforehand.

Overall it’s best to be 100% sure you’re ready for business, so go through each room in your home and run through this checklist:

Pick up any small objects that could become the targets of opportunity for a dog to chew on or swallow. This means shoes, children’s toys, books, etc. Veterinarians report that their most frequent surgery is removing objects from a dog’s insides, so if you have things small enough to swallow on the ground or low standing tables, it’s best to tidy them up.

Hide any electrical wires hanging out in the open that a dog might get tangled in or be enticed to nibble.

Some houseplants are poisonous to dogs, so it’s a good idea to keep any hanging stems out of harm’s way.

If you have any outside space you’re planning to let your dog exercise in, then make sure it’s fully enclosed, there are no holes in your fencing, no areas they can easily dig under and that all gates are sturdy and secure.

Other To-Dos

Set up your dog’s crate in a quiet space like a spare room or your bedroom. Some new owners don't like the idea of keeping their dog in a kennel, but a modern crate helps to create an environment that provides your dog with a safe place to retreat when necessary. Locking the crate at night works to give your dog structure and discipline, which they need to balance out their new freedom.

There is a right way and wrong way to use the crate, and we get into more in-depth detail in the next blog in this series. To get started, look into the recommendations for your specific breed and determine what size crate would be appropriate. Many models can be adjusted in size as your dog grows too.

Remember, a crate is a positive place for your dog and you never want for your dog to view the crate as anything but their own little safe space.

Be ready with other necessary pet supplies like food and water bowls, leashes, poop bags, and of course, plenty of toys to play with and chew on.

The First 3 Days

Ok, so now you’re all set up, and it’s finally time to bring your dog home!

As mentioned above, these initial days are a “detox period.” Shelter life is tough for dogs. They don’t get the level of care and attention they do when placed with a family. It’s a big transition for them, and they’re going to need your support.

They’ll have tons more freedom to explore and new people to form relationships with. Compared to shelter life, they’ll be able to play and romp around as much as they want!

It’s an incredible time of joy for you and your first real chance to bond with your dog as a member of your family.

However, this time can also be overwhelming for your dog. The introduction of new people, stimuli, and routines can be too much for them, especially if your dog had an extended stay at the shelter and became used to that way of living.

It’s not uncommon for a dog to have irregular sleep habits during the first few days in your home. Some dogs may take frequent naps, and others might be balls of energy and unable to settle down. Others might have issues with their appetite and will be hesitant to eat or drink at mealtimes. They may get skittish and hide in their crate or under furniture. Some will have anxiety-related diarrhea or vomiting.

These behaviors are all completely normal and not necessarily a sign of deeper behavioral problems. For digestion-related issues, a probiotic may be helpful but consult your veterinarian for recommendations. We also recommend feeding pureed pumpkin or slippery elm as these can help soothe the majority of digestive related issues.

This is a time to be patient and understanding with your dog. There’s so much for them to learn and adapt to as they become comfortable in their new home. Each new sight and smell will be unfamiliar and can cause them to feel overwhelmed. It takes a long time for your dog to decompress from their shelter experience and come to feel safe with you.

Having a crate set up in a quiet area can give them that safe space to retreat to if needed. Some owners like to place a blanket on top of the crate to block some light and make it feel more like a den. Cozy blankets inside a crate also provide additional comfort, as do chew toys and stuffed friends. Allow your dog to access this area during the day by leaving the crate door open for them to come and go as they please.

Don’t worry if your dog is spending a lot of time alone during these first few days, don’t push them to socialize with you if they’re not ready. If your dog is hesitant, take a slower approach to introducing more elements of your home and family. Keep them from entering certain rooms and introduce them to new locations one at a time. You can also do the same with family members, so they have time to get to know each person individually.

Being prepared with a daily routine for your dog will go a long way to establishing a structure for them to adapt to.

Have a daily plan for you and your dog covering wake-up times, meals, and scheduled walks. Of course, additional potty breaks may be required, but as you learn each other’s internal clocks creating some scheduled times to relieve themselves begins to set a rhythm for your dog’s life.

You don’t want to fall into the habit of them being able to interrupt your schedule for theirs.

Create a daily time that you’ll set out meals for your dog. In the first few days and even weeks, they may not eat as soon as the food is offered, but given time to adjust, many dogs will become less food-shy. However, if your dog is disinterested in their food, that is okay! Dogs will never actively try to starve themselves and will choose to eat when they are hungry. If your dog chooses not to eat within the first ten minutes or so, pick the food bowl up and try again at another meal time. They will come around soon enough! Free-feeding or letting a dog graze takes a lot of our ability to engage and connect with them, not to mention; it is the leading cause of resource guarding issues & canine obesity.

Also, set aside some time for training on basic commands with their meals, as opposed to treats. This only needs to be 5 minutes or so to work on “sit” or “come” commands.

Additionally, be sure to give yourself and others in your family some time off from doggie care. This is for your benefit as well as your dog’s. Dogs need time to learn how to be alone in your space and to entertain themselves as well. It’s good for your dog’s sense of independence and is an integral part of their transition.

If you have to leave for work, do not make a big deal of saying goodbye or hello when you return. You want your dog to experience your comings and goings as no big deal and just a fact of life. Dogs prone to separation anxiety get nervous when their owners leave their presence, and we want to avoid triggering any in your pet.

If your dog gets hyper-excited when you return home, you don’t want to return their energy at that moment! It can be hard when they’re extra adorable, but you don’t want to reinforce this behavior as it can lead to issues down the line with separation anxiety.

Be ready to reward them frequently for properly following any aspect of your home routine. After training sessions and walks are great times to reward your dog with affections and some play time.

The first 3 days are a critical time for you and your pet, but follow this advice, and you should be off to a smooth start.

Introducing Your Dog To Children And Your Other Pets


If you have children, they’re going to be over the moon with excitement about the new family pet. If you grew up with a dog of your own, you could probably relate. Kids and dogs can form some of the closest bonds as they get to grow up together and explore the world.

However, children need to understand boundaries for their new friends and how to be safe when interacting with them. Most dogs won’t bite without giving several warnings, so be sure your children know what to do if they encounter a situation where your dog gets too aggressive for them.

Make sure they understand that a dog is a living being and not a toy. They should never hit, pinch, or try to ride your dog, no matter the size difference between dogs and children.

Always supervise your children when they’re playing with your dog until they’re mature enough to be responsible. Dog’s are an excellent way to teach kids how to be responsible for themselves and others, but you should take care of your dog’s needs and make sure you advocate for them in the beginning.

It’s a good practice to introduce your children to the dog before you bring them home, so they’ve already made a first impression. When you bring the dog into the house, they’ll be seeing a familiar face again.

A few other pointers for child-dog harmony:

  • If your dog is anxious, give them a break from playtime with the kids until they’re at ease again.
  • Let your children know not to bother your dog while they’re in their crate. That’s the equivalent of being in their bedroom with the door shut.
  • Don’t let your children take your dog’s toys, and be sure to teach your dog that your children’s toys are off-limits too.

Other Pets

When introducing an additional pet into your home, it is a bit of a different process than when you had an emptier nest.

It’s a good practice to introduce your dogs to one another outside of your home first, preferably while walking together. When dogs can meet and interact side-by-side, it’s less likely to trigger anxiety or territorial behavior. Walking together also emphasizes their relationship as members of the same pack.

Allow them time to get to know each other and perform the ceremonial sniffing of the rear ends. This will go a long way to them acclimating to one another as housemates.

A slower introduction is best, and it’s ok to crate your new pup while your long-time dog is allowed to roam free like they usually do. Don’t change your older pet’s routine because of your new one. You may just have to pull double duty for a while until both pet’s schedules have synced up.

They may not necessarily become best friends, but you want them to at least get along without any issues.

If your other pet isn’t a dog, a lot of these same rules will still apply. If it’s an animal that remains in a cage or enclosed space, make sure your dog cannot harm them or interfere with their business.

The First 3 Weeks

At the 3- week mark, your dog is hopefully getting used to the routines you’ve set up for them for eating, sleeping, training, and potty time.

Now is when more of their real personality should start emerging.

This is also the time when behavioral problems will start making themselves known. Many minor behavior problems can be sorted out with some basic balanced obedience training. Still, if they’re showing signs of deeper issues, it’s best to consult with a professional for some more one on one assistance.

You should begin a more formal training process here and be clear on what boundaries you’ve set out for them. Do you want to allow them on the furniture? Will they keep sleeping in their crate or a doggie bed? Will you allow them unsupervised outdoors time? These are a few suggestions of home rules for you to think about.

The First 3 Months

After 3 months, this is when dogs have a real sense that they’re at “home” and not just on a fun adventure with a cool and caring human. You may still be dealing with some behavior issues, but you should have a training plan and support from a professional at this point. If not, be sure to correct that immediately.

What’s next?

Keep getting to know your dog and share your life with them. Make sure you take the time to make special memories and take pictures too.

If you have any questions or concerns about how your dog is doing during any part of this transition period, feel free to send us a message using the bubble below. You can also reach out and schedule a training evaluation with our team.

Best Practices In Selecting A Breeder When Buying A Puppy

Why Work With A Breeder?

Adopting from shelters and rescue agencies has become increasingly popular in recent years but, working with a reputable breeder is still the choice of many first-time and veteran pet owners.

Everyone has their reasons and factors to weigh when selecting the who, how, and where of bringing a new companion into their life, and it’s not fair to say one route is better than another.

Responsible dog breeders are not contributing to the population of dogs in shelters. The large pet population in shelters is mostly due to irresponsible and unchecked breeding from pet owners who either don’t spay and neuter or allow their pets to get pregnant and then don’t properly care for the pups.

Breeders are essential members of the canine world. Usually, people become breeders because they love dogs so much, and they want to take an active role in bettering the breed and creating solid, stable-minded dogs. Without breeders, we wouldn’t have a class of canine professionals who are experts on particular breeds and can provide records to attest to a dog’s genetic heritage.

Simply put, breeders can provide you with a purebred dog that’s healthy and ready to be trained and socialized. Of course, there are purebred dogs in shelters, but you can’t necessarily guarantee they will have any particular breed you are searching for. Not to mention, just because a dog is ‘purebred’ does not mean that a dog is well- bred, and may have underlying health issues..

If you are looking for a dog to fulfill a specific role other than just a beloved family pet, working with a breeder is absolutely the way to go. This goes for all manner of working and service dogs, including police dogs and performance dogs too.

It’s much harder to socialize a dog once they reach maturity, and even if you adopt a puppy from a shelter, they may have some genetic difficulties you won’t become aware of until later on.

A breeder can give you confidence in who your dog will likely grow up to resemble behavior-wise based on knowledge of their parents, grandparents, and older siblings. On the whole, dogs from a breeder are more even-tempered, stable- minded, and patient because they are raised consistently by a professional.

If you are interested in an uncommon breed or one that’s known as difficult to train, such as Shiba Inu’s, then a good breeder is going to be your best bet.

Beware Of Bad Breeders

Not all breeders are equal, and some unscrupulous people try to game the system by posing as trusted breeders, but in reality, they are raising dogs in unhealthy ways.

Many of these predatory breeders are breeding their dogs at home and selling the litters off quickly to make some money.

If you do a google search for “puppies for sale” plus your city, you’ll probably find some questionable operations. Other sites that allow for classified postings like Craigslist of  or Backpages are definite red flags and should be avoided.

Anyone who is advertising that they can deliver you puppies via the mail is also probably up to no good.

Top breeders have waiting lists of a year or more, so anyone who promises to put a dog in your hands within a couple of hours is almost 100% up to something shady.

One good rule of thumb to separate a lousy breeder from a good one is the ease at which you can gain information. Reputable breeders are honest, transparent, and responsive. They’ll answer your questions and ask plenty of their own. They care more about their dog’s health and safety than they do about making a profit from a sale.

Other red flags are breeders who give guarantees regarding a dog’s future behavior.

Guaranteeing a pedigree is one thing, but there’s no way for a breeder to reliably tell you how a dog will act later in life. This has more to do with how you train and socialize your dog, which’s on you as the owner. Be sure to question any unrealistic promises around a dog’s ability to become a service dog, show dog, or the like.

Be doubtful on offers to double up with a second pup.

It may sound counter-intuitive; two dogs are better than one, especially if they’re litter-siblings, right? Nope, it’s not true. Puppies who are adopted as siblings can develop co-dependent relationships and never gain independence from one another. Whenever they’re separated, they become fearful and unsure of themselves. Unless you are a highly experienced dog owner, most breeders will caution you against adopting two pups from the same litter.

What To Look For In A Great Breeder

Now that we’ve given the appropriate warnings about unsavory breeders, let’s discuss what separates a decent breeder from a genuinely great one.

A great breeder does more than just sell you a loveable puppy. They’re also your dog fairy-godparents, so to speak. They’ll be there for you in the beginning in case you have any questions about your puppy’s care and condition.

They should be able to provide you their recommendations on food choices, training regimens, and grooming care too.

Sure, you don’t have to take their advice, but you can let them be your starting point if you are just starting with a new breed.

Here’s a rundown of some traits you will find in exemplary breeders. Not every great breeder will meet all these criteria, but if you find a breeder that meets most of these and has no red flags, then you’re probably in good hands.

They Raise One Litter At A Time

Each litter a breeder raises takes an incredible amount of work. Raising one litter at a time is considered ideal, and raising more than two litters at once is a definite red flag. It’s unlikely this breeder can give each pup the attention and care they deserve. This could lead to dogs who are less than healthy and poorly socialized.

You Can Meet The Parents

Being able to meet a puppy’s parents gives you a look into who they might be as an adult. Often the male parent isn’t around, but you should still ask about them and see what information is available. If the parents are not available to meet, ask about other older siblings still in the breeder’s care.

The Dogs Are In A Comfortable Environment

This is a crucial one, puppies raised indoors are most likely to be exposed to normal home life versus those raised in outdoor kennels. Unless you plan for your dog to live outside, as many working dogs do, you’ll want your breeder to keep their puppies indoors. When dogs are indoors, it leads to more social interactions with each other and with humans too. The indoor environment matters as well; a cold cement floor isn’t as welcoming as an indoor space integrated into the household.

They Do Two-Way Interviews

As stated above, great breeders want all their dogs to end up in good homes. As you interview them, they’ll also be interviewing you to make sure you’ll be a good fit. They’ll take the time to get to know you and what you’re looking for in a puppy.

If possible, they’ll want to interview each member of your household and then select which specific pup from their litter will be the best match for everyone.

The Parents Are Over Two

It’s not recommended to breed dogs who are under the age of two years old. These dogs are still technically puppies themselves, even if they have reached sexual maturity. It’s not easy to get a proper temperament assessment on dogs that are still growing themselves.

Some breeds can be successfully bred younger than 24 months, so inquire for more information when discussing with a potential breeder.

They Won’t Sell A Puppy Before 8 Weeks

The eight-week rule is a guideline followed by all responsible breeders. Before eight weeks, puppies are too young to leave their mothers and litter-mates. When dogs are taken from their birth family early, studies have shown they are more likely to exhibit problem behaviors later in life, including fear and aggression.

If a breeder is serious about their business, there is no reason why they should ever be in a rush to sell a newly-born pup.

They Always Health Test

One of the reasons people are attracted to breeders is because of their confidence that a dog purchased from them will be healthy until they reach an advanced age. Please do your research on the breeds you’re interested in and ask your breeder about what health testing they perform on their dogs. The American Kennel Club is a great resource to get started here. Also, ask breeders for vaccination records to know what’s been done and what’s left on the list. A reputable breeder will be transparent about a dog’s health records.

They’re Expensive

Breeding dogs is a business, and supply and demand play a role in determining purchase prices. If a breeder has been successful over many years, they’ll have built a strong reputation for their litters and will have a waiting list that might be full for 2 or 3 litters. This also allows them to command higher prices since their dogs are in demand. Expect to pay a deposit to get your name on their list; this is also a good practice for them to weed out people who aren’t serious about becoming pet owners.

They’re Transparent And Knowledgeable 

A breeder spends the bulk of their time dealing with their dogs, raising their litters, and making sure each dog is well cared for. If you have questions about any aspect of their breed or how to care for them, your breeder should know the answer.

If you’re concerned about what health issues the breed is prone to experience later in life, they should be able to provide you with advice and resources.

They should be open and upfront about their business, practices and willingness to provide you with references of customers to talk to if you want an unbiased opinion.

They Specialize

A breeder should specialize in at most two breeds. If they claim to be a serious breeder but have more than two breeds they deal in, this is a major red flag.

They Will Take A Puppy Back 

When you purchase from a breeder, you hope it’s going to be a perfect fit, and you’ll be with your puppy for years to come, but there’s always a possibility that life can change rapidly. Your health might change, you might fall upon unexpected hardships, etc., and the best option might be to return your dog to the breeder. A genuinely great breeder will be willing to do this; it’s the last resort measure, of course, but taking a dog back is preferable to seeing them go to a shelter or into another tough situation.

They Can Prove A Dog’s Lineage

This is a crucial aspect, after all, you’re working with a breeder to purchase a dog of a specific breed. But even within a breed, there are variations of traits that can be more prominent. The prominence of particular characteristics is a factor when looking at dogs that serve as family pets but also as working dogs. German Shepherds are a great example. The progeny of a working Shepard versus a family pet Shepard would show higher energy levels, focus, and drive. They might be more than your family is prepared to handle unless you have experience with dogs from working lineages.

How To Find Your Breeder

Ok, we’ve gone over the red flags to avoid, as well as what to look for in a rockstar breeder, now how do you actually find them?

One way to go about it would be to ask for referrals among owners of the breed you’ve shown interest in. You may not know any of these folks personally, or perhaps their breeder was less than trust-worthy, but they still love their dog. These are the things you have to consider when asking around. Hopefully, you’re part of a trusted community of dog owners, and you receive some promising leads. Dog owners are generally very helpful and friendly, so it can’t hurt to go over to your local dog park and meet some people.

Asking dog professionals may prove to be a better starting point. You can ask local veterinarian offices, trainers, and groomers. Well-known breeders are likely to have relationships with these other professionals, and word gets around about who’s excellent and who to avoid.

That said, there isn’t anything wrong with doing your research online and getting in touch via email or a contact form. You will have to do your due diligence and test them against the criteria we’ve listed here, but that’s part of the process, no matter what route you take.

If they’re legitimate, they’ll hold up to your scrutiny, and you can take the process further from there.

When searching for a breeder, there is no need to rush. Take the time to educate yourself on the breeds you are interested in and which breeders will make the most sense for your budget, timeline, and location.

If you’re having any challenges in making your selection feel free to contact us in the bubble below, we’d be happy to chat and give you some advice. Also, you can sign up for a training evaluation with our team.

Understanding Dog Temperaments And What They Mean For Adoption

A temperament test is a series of assessments that evaluate a dog’s behavior in different situations and their reactions to various stimuli. They then are assigned a temperament profile. Most tests take their scores and turn them into profiles like easy-going, independent, fearful, or aggressive. Other tests like the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test rank dogs with a numerical value 1-6.

This temperament testing process helps dog care professionals understand the animals in their care and works to ensure they’re adopted by an owner that’s well suited to their behavioral type.

As a new-adopter, you should know any potential adoptee’s temperament before you finalize your paperwork.

A dog’s health and personality are much more important than their sex, breed, or size when determining if you can provide them with the right home.

Most shelters will perform temperament tests on their dogs shortly after arrival. This is to keep all their files on dogs organized and identify which dogs pose the highest bite risk.

Another purpose of temperament testing is to reveal the true personality of dogs who are currently experiencing stress or depression due to the recent changes they’ve experienced as they came into the shelter environment. Moving and being separated from former owners is hard on dogs as it is on humans.

Keep reading to learn more about the four main temperaments found in dogs and what they mean for you as a potential pet owner.

The Four Major Temperaments


Most dogs, fortunately, fall into this personality type, and easy-going dogs are considered the lowest bite risk and the safest to adopt. They are easy to get along with and generally friendly. They are more social with the family than dogs with independent temperaments and are more likely to be comfortable in new environments and around new stimuli and stressors. A dog with this temperament will not be expected to have many issues that an introductory balanced training class could not resolve.

This profile corresponds to “3’s” and “4’s” on the Volhard test. Dogs with more “3” scores than “4” score are usually higher-energy dogs that will need ample exercise.


Independent dogs are typically quieter than their easy-going counterparts. They are content with being on their own for large portions of the day. Dogs with this personality are typically disinterested in directly interacting with humans or other dogs. If your dog will be around the house most of the day and not expected to be cuddled by anyone, then an independent dog may be right for you. Many senior dogs in shelters can fall into this category.

Independent dogs typically earn 6’s on the Volhard test.


A dog with a fearful temperament may not exhibit anxiety all the time. But these dogs do show some fearful or nervous behavior under certain circumstances or when they become triggered. They may even show fear-based aggression. Shelter staff know to be on the lookout for these types of dogs, but there’s still a large chance that fear aggression can get overlooked or misdiagnosed. If a dog is more withdrawn, skittish, guarding resources by snapping or growling, or presents tense body language when approached, these are likely signs of fear-aggression. This dog has a higher potential for biting and may be taken off the adoption list in some shelters. If you find a fearful dog, be prepared to invest in additional behavioral training, have patience, and be in for a long haul approach to caring for this dog. Don’t adopt a fearful dog if you are not truly ready to handle the commitment.

Many balanced trainers enjoy working with fear-aggressive dogs because they can have some of the most remarkable transformations. A fear-aggressive dog isn’t necessarily a dog you want to overlook, but preferably one that you must accept that you will need to invest time and money looking for a professional balanced trainer. Some of our favorite dogs that have been through our Board & Train program originally struggled with fear-aggression.

This puppy likely would score several 2’s and 3’s on the Volhard test and may prove too challenging to work with for newbie dog owners.


Some temperament tests label this behavior type as dominant or over-confident, but it’s the same overall profile. Aggressive dogs feel the need to defend their territory and attack other humans and animals. They may also resist being touched or refuse to follow basic commands. Shelters usually ID these dogs quickly, so if you’re working with a responsible shelter, it’s unlikely you will find them in the general adoption population. For the average family, aggressive dogs are not going to make good pets. They require a knowledgeable and dedicated owner that is willing to seek out training and to give them a chance at having a quality life outside of a shelter facility.

Aggressive dogs score 1’s on the Volhard exam and show a strong desire to act dominantly. They are best left to highly experienced trainers to adopt.

These are the basics of the four major temperaments that are tested for. Every dog is unique, and any particular dog may not fall neatly into one of these categories.

What A Good Temperament Test Looks Like

A good temperament test should be able to measure a dog’s reaction to situations they’re likely to encounter while in a typical home environment.

It should test things like:

  • How long it takes for a human to get their attention.
  • How they handle direct eye contact with humans.
  • How they react to being pet and other touches like mild pressure foot pinches.
  • How they react to a human attempting to play with them.
  • A dog’s reaction to food.
  • Reactions to receiving and having toys taken away.
  • How they react to other dogs or cats.

It’s certainly possible that even a good temperament test can get it wrong on a particular dog or that a well-adjusted dog might rate poorly on aspects of a test on a given day. What happens in these cases depends on that specific shelter or rescue organization’s policies and the testing criteria they use.

One key area that shelters don’t test for is a dog’s reaction to children. A dog with a negative reaction would pose a risk to any child involved, so the other aspects of a temperament test will have to suffice as an indicator.

Other Issues With Temperament Tests To Be Aware Of

One of the issues shelters run into with temperament tests is that they’re not using the same criteria across the board. Each shelter uses the criteria they think works best. If tests are not administered consistently within a shelter, then it’s hard to trust their assessments.

Another problem is the challenge presented by the shelter environment. Most dogs are dealing with some degree of stress while in a shelter, and they might react to testing entirely differently than they would then in a home.

Despite these issues, the wide use of temperament tests is a positive thing. They work to find aggression and other behavioral issues that a dog may have and prepare their next family to anticipate and address those behaviors. This reduces the potential for a bad homing experience for both dog and owner.

Not all shelters  know how to provide temperament testing forto all of their dogs, and if you’re interested in volunteering with your local shelter, this might be an area that you can help out.

What Testing You Can Do

The more information you can gather about a dog you’re interested in, the better an adoption decision you can make. Even if your shelter or breeder has conducted temperament testing, you should ask if you can spend time with the dog in different environments to judge how they react.

Ask if you can take the dog home for an evaluation. Some shelters will ask you to sign some paperwork and put down a deposit before they allow you to take a dog home.

Not every shelter will agree to this, but if your home is already prepared with doggie-basics for a short-term stay, this can be a massive benefit to you. It will give you the chance to see how a dog’s personality changes in this new environment and allows you to present them with different stimuli.

Ask if you can spend time together in a meet and greet room at the shelter or on a walk. Observe the dog throughout the process. If they become nervous or resistant when you come close, that’s a warning sign of a fearful temperament.

Ask the shelter what information they have about the dog’s past home environment for any clues to how they might behave down the line.

If you are going to conduct your temperament test, formally or informally, here’s what to look for with each personality type. Compare your findings with what the shelter is telling you, and if anything feels off, ask questions until you are satisfied with the answers.

Quick note, for most of the criteria on any temperament test, an aggressive dog will respond poorly and dangerously. It’s unlikely you’ll find yourself in a situation with an aggressive dog due to the screening shelters do upon intake, but just in case a dog you’re interested in has some aggressive tendencies we’ve included their responses. They’re also a useful comparison to draw to the other major profiles.

Being Alone Together

If you are allowed to have some alone time with the dog (still supervised, of course), you will observe how they react when given a chance to focus on you.

Allow them time to get comfortable in the room before trying to engage them.

Happy/Easy-Going Dogs

A happy or easy-going dog will come right over to sniff you and or act excitedly in your presence, wagging their tail and looking to be pet.

Independent Dogs

Independent dogs will maintain a distance and may not appear too interested in you at all. They may decide to come to say hello, but they will act aloof to your presence.

Fearful Dogs

Fearful dogs will be hesitant to greet you and may actively avoid you. They may cower in a corner and hold their tail down between their legs.

Aggressive Dogs

This dog would enter the room barking and lunging forward, possibly barring their teeth. It’s unlikely this will be the case since aggressive dogs typically are removed from general shelter populations. However, in this scenario, you will want to stop the visit immediately and speak to the shelter staff about the dog’s behavior.

Reaction To Sound

Test the dog’s response to noises, including your voice. Speak to them in different tones from high-pitched baby talk to normal speaking to a louder than normal voice. Drop your keys on the floor to test their response to a sudden loud sound.

Happy/Easy-Going Dogs

These dogs will not be startled by your voice, and they enjoy being spoken to. They will likely draw closer to see what you are trying to communicate. They may be surprised by you dropping your keys, but they will quickly realize there’s no danger and go to sniff them.

Independent Dogs

Independent dogs will listen to you when you speak but may then choose to go back to what they’re doing. They won’t be bothered by loud noises.

Fearful Dogs

Fearful or nervous dogs will be most interested in your high-pitched voice but won’t approach you. They will likely be afraid of your loud voice and will back away when you drop your keys.

Aggressive Dogs

An aggressive dog will attempt to lunge toward you or bark at you. Aggressive dogs will likely get upset when you drop your keys and may bark at them.

Reaction To Touch

If you believe it safe to do so, cautiously touch the dog in an area, they’re most receptive. Make sure to move slowly and not to startle them. Begin by turning to your side and not addressing the dog directly, allow them to sniff you, and offer them a treat. Slowly begin to pet behind their ears or on their back.

Be sure to respect the dog's boundaries if they show any form of fear, nervousness, or aggression. If you are looking at getting a dog from a shelter, it is unlikely that the rescue will allow these kinds of dogs to interact with anybody until they have a bit more control over their behavior.

Happy/Easy-Going Dogs

A happy or easy-going dog will enjoy the attention and physical touch! They will wag their tail excitedly and be eager for more.

Independent Dogs

An independent dog might engage with you and allow themselves to be pet, but probably not for too long. It might feel like you’re getting more out of the situation than they are! They might decide that petting time is over and go back to their own business.

Fearful Dogs

Fearful dogs may be resistant to being touched and will avoid eye contact with you. Their tails will remain down and between their legs.

Aggressive Dogs

If a dog you’re interacting with has shown any signs of aggression, it’s not a good idea to attempt to touch them. You shouldn’t continue the test with this dog as they will not be a good fit for adopting.

Reaction To Play

The next test is to attempt to play with the dog by throwing a toy.

Happy/Easy-Going Dogs

Don’t be surprised that a happy/easy-going dog will be delighted to play with you.

Independent Dogs

Independent dogs often enjoy playing on their own, and if you throw a toy, they might not bring it back to you. It’s possible they won’t show much interest in the toy at all.

Fearful Dogs

Some fearful dogs won’t be interested in playing with you. Others will show interest after spending enough time with them. This depends on the degree of their fears and what triggers them.

Aggressive Dogs

Don’t attempt to play with an aggressive dog.

Walking Together

If your shelter allows, take the dog for a short walk. Observe them as you move to put on the leash. While walking together, try to pass by other people, cars, bicyclists, and other animals to imitate the typical walk you would go on around your home.

If your dog is pulling on the leash, this isn’t necessarily an indicator of temperament but could be overall inadequate leash training, so don’t worry about it too much.

Keep in mind, many of these behaviors can be easily and quickly addressed within a training program. It’s not that these dogs are “bad”; they do not understand what they are doing or what we want them to be doing. That is why training is all about communication; developing an understanding of expectations - and leash training is no different.

Happy/Easy-Going Dogs

Easy-going dogs are excited by walks and exploring new environments. They may pull on the leash when they see a person, pet, or other things that excite them. They will happily greet others and remain enthusiastic.

Independent Dogs

Independent dogs will typically not cause a fuss when you’re putting on a leash, but they won’t be overly excited for a walk. They will most likely not be too interested in other people, pets, or cars in the environment. They may not enjoy being petted by strangers either.

Fearful Dogs

Fearful dogs will avoid the leash, and they may move away from you and cower in fear. Be careful when attaching the leash, as this could trigger an aggressive response, including a snap or bite. Move slowly, and if they show signs of anxiety, don’t proceed further without talking to a shelter staff member. While walking with a fearful dog, they may become easily triggered by stimuli in the outside world. Use caution and consider bringing a shelter staff member with you.

Aggressive Dogs

Don’t attempt to  take an aggressive dog for a walk.

Reaction To Other Animals

If it’s possible, ask if you may observe the dog you’re interested in with a second dog to see how they get along with others. This is important if you already have pets at home or have friends or family who bring pets over occasionally. If you have a cat, ask if it would be possible to observe the dog with one as well.

Happy/Easy-Going Dogs

Happy/easy-going dogs will try to play with other animals in most cases.

Independent Dogs

Independent dogs will sometimes play with others, but they mostly prefer to be on their own.

Fearful Dogs

Fearful dogs may actively hide when around other animals. They may also become self-protective and bark as a warning.

Aggressive Dogs

Aggressive dogs will likely bark excessively and perhaps even charge at other dogs. A responsible shelter would not allow an aggressive dog to play with others.

Use this guide as a jumping-off point when speaking with the staff at a shelter or rescue organization. Ask them about what temperament testing they conduct and what documentation they have available. See if you can run your own informal evaluation on any dogs you’re interested in.

If you have any additional questions about temperament tests, please message us in the bubble below or sign up for a training evaluation.

Stressed trying to find the right dog breed for you? Here’s what to consider.

There are few things in life more exciting than bringing home a new pet. Dogs and puppies especially, bring so much joy and love into our lives that they’re sure to energize your entire household.

But before you jump into signing any adoption papers, you should consider what type of dog or puppy is right for your family. It’s no small decision!

Having a pet is a lot of responsibility. Before you decide on becoming a pet owner, you should take time to research the different dog breeds and narrow your list down to a few that might be a good fit for you and your family. 

You must also decide whether to adopt from a rescue or purchase a dog from a breeder. 

Where your dog comes from matters, and it can lead to an entirely different experience for you as a pet owner.

There’s no right or wrong answer here per se, but by educating yourself on all the significant factors involved in the decision, you can make the best choice for your family and ultimately lead to the happiest home for you and your pet.

Adopting A Puppy Or An Adult Dog?

Raising a puppy versus bringing an older dog into your home requires different degrees of time and commitment from everyone involved, including you, your family, and your pet. The training required will depend on your dog’s age, breed, and past experiences. Training a dog is not one-size-fits-all.

Every dog is unique, and there could be other unforeseen issues in play affecting your future pet. To outline the significant differences and provide you with some information to get you started, we are only speaking in generalities here regarding how dogs and puppies behave. 

Puppies have tons of energy and will require you to be very hands-on in their training. They’ll be learning everything for the first time, from house-breaking and using a crate to walking on a leash and being comfortable with guests and other strange situations. 

An older dog who has previously been homed may acclimate faster to living with people again. With any luck, they have been trained on some doggie behavior basics by their past owners. 

Before making a final decision, consider that there are always more older dogs in need of adoption than younger ones. 

Many of these dogs have been previously homed but are no longer with their original owners due to any number of reasons. They can make excellent pets and just need a new loving family to give them the chance to do so.

If you decide on a puppy, be prepared to handle the time and care commitment, including the late-night and early morning walks, the inevitable accidents, and additional time spent on socializing your dog into your home and world.

What’s Your Space Like?

Another consideration is how much space do you have? Do you live in a small apartment or a large house? 

It’s no fun to try and house a big dog in a tiny living space. Of course, you can make it work! In cities, owners need to take their dogs on frequent walks or trips to the local dog park. Wherever you live, dogs need some freedom to roam and move about in their environments. 

The size of your dog is a factor connected to the size of your space, as well as your dog’s general energy level. Puppies will almost always be more energetic than older dogs who have calmed down over the years.

There’s also the matter of what breeds and other restrictions your landlord or apartment board will allow. You should know what restrictions apply to you before you start meeting dogs and having conversations with shelters and breeders.

Part of being a responsible owner is making sure your home will be a good long term fit for your pet.

What’s Your Budget?

It’s no secret that pet-related expenses can add up, so you must consult your budget before making an adoption or purchase decision. When purchasing from a breeder, the price-per-pooch can range from several hundred dollars up to the thousands for less common breeds.

When adopting, there’s still medical-related costs like vaccinations and spay/neuter costs. Many rescue organizations also require a donation to help with their overhead costs.

There are also a few often-overlooked financial factors like the size of a dog when they reach maturity. The larger the dogs, the more food they generally eat, so make sure you’re aware of how those costs will affect your monthly budget. Farmina and dogfoodadvisor are great places for people to research the best food for your dog’s size, age, and weight.

Should I Adopt A Rescue Dog?

Whether or not to adopt a rescue is one of the most significant elements of choosing the right dog. 

Many in the animal advocacy community are 100% pro-adoption and will tell you never to purchase a pet from a breeder or store. 

Between 6 and 8 million dogs and cats are brought to shelters each year, and unfortunately, about 50% of them are euthanized—[Source: Humane Society].

However, the other 50% are adopted by families looking to provide them with a loving home for life. When you adopt a rescue dog, you can take pride that you are saving a life, and this may be an important lesson you want to share with others in your life.

Getting a dog from a breeder can help your family know what to expect when choosing the breed based on temperament and genetic behavioral traits. It’s best to avoid puppy mills and backyard breeders though.

If you’re looking into adopting from a shelter, there will be no shortage of dogs to choose from. 

You are likely to find dogs of all breeds, sizes, and ages. Over 25% of the dogs in shelters are purebreds, so if you’re looking for a specific breed, it’s likely that you’ll be able to find one if you contact enough shelters.

Getting to know a dog in a shelter environment isn’t easy. Dog’s often aren’t comfortable expressing their real personality due to the sheltered lifestyle.

Shelters are typically crowded places, and dogs spend most of the day in their cage. If there’s a dog you’re interested in, ask if you can take them to a larger play area for a meet and greet or even on a short walk together. 

Once they’re away from all the other dogs, they may reveal more of themselves, and you can see if there’s any chemistry.

When looking for dogs at shelters, you run the risk of falling in love with a dog that might be more work than you’re prepared to handle. 

Shelters don’t always have accurate information about what a dog has been through before coming to them, and a dog might need more hands-on training and TLC than your lifestyle can accommodate at the moment. It can be a tough situation to navigate, so we want you to go into it with your eyes wide open.

If your shelter dog does exhibit aggressive behavior, contact Alpha Instincts and we can point you in the right direction as far as dog training goes. 

How To Get To Know A Shelter Dog

The first step to getting to know a shelter dog is to pay close attention to their behavior as they go from environment to environment. Do they relax when you take them to the play area? Do they tense up around certain people? Do they jump or bark easily?

This is just your first impression, of course, and likely not their true personality, but they might reveal some important clues to who they are at heart.

Ask the staff to tell you more about any dogs you’re interested in and see if you’re allowed to take them into a larger area. Ask them about the dog’s history and health status and if they’ve performed any temperament testing. 

If it’s possible, take a short walk and see how they loosen up when 1:1 with you.

Many dogs go overlooked in shelters, and for whatever reason, they’re not getting much interest from potential adopters. But most of these dogs will transform into amazing, happy, healthy pets when given a chance with a loving owner and are provided with the training that they deserve.

You can also inquire about fostering before committing to a full adoption, because even a neutral meeting space will not tell you what your top pick is all about.

Be Careful of Premature Spaying & Neutering

Shelters are advocates for early-spay/neuter (sometimes as young as 8 weeks old) which can drastically affect a dog’s growth - mentally & physically. Early spay & neuter has shown to create fear, aggression, torn CCLs, early-onset hip dysplasia, etc. Paying the higher price for a breeder usually reduces the likelihood of needing a larger budget for medical bills down the line.

Purchasing From A Breeder 

When working with a breeder, there are several advantages over shelters, and many people still opt to go this route when buying a pet. Breeders build and maintain their businesses based on reputation and quality service. Quality breeding can involve proper early-socialization, health & genetic testing, elbow/hip tests, pre-potty training, pre-crate training, desensitization to certain stimuli, as well as other advantages.

However, purchasing from a breeder usually entails higher expenses than working with a shelter. It’s a business like anything else and to do it properly costs the breeder’s time and money. 

You’ll still be on the hook for all the medical care, training, and supplies, so it also affects your total budget. Most breeders will include the first two rounds of vaccinations before pick-up, however.

Another advantage of breeders is that you can be confident your dog is 100% purebred. Just make sure to follow up with your breeder about any specific health problems your dog may be prone to and what to be on the lookout for. 

It’s also important to do your doggie due diligence and make sure you’re working with a legitimate breeder and not a puppy mill. 

We’ll go into much greater detail in an upcoming article, but here are a couple of points to keep in mind:

1. The Breeder Treats Dogs With Love And Care

It seems obvious, but in a shady operation, they do not see their dogs as living beings that each require individual attention and love. Puppy mills see dogs as just products and profits waiting to be cashed in on. You will be able to tell this right away on your visit from how they treat their dogs and how they are kept.

2. The Breeder Allows You To Visit Onsite

If you aren’t allowed to visit where a breeder raises their dogs, and they only communicate over the phone or internet, that’s a sign that not everything is above board in their operation.

3. They May Not Have A Litter Available

A responsible breeder will not always have a litter available for sale. Litters are usually born in the fall and spring. Conscientious breeders make sure not to over-breed their dogs. They should have a waiting list available, and for popular breeders, their wait might be over a year.

4. The Breeder Interviews You

If your potential breeder interviews you regarding your ability to care for their pups, then that’s a good sign of the care they have for their litters and shows a commitment to place them into healthy home environments. Always answer their questions honestly when it comes to the level of care you will be able to provide your future pet.

5. Your Dog Will Always Have A Home

A responsible breeder will have a contract in place to ensure that their dogs will not end up in a shelter if it is no longer a good fit for the family. The dog goes back to the breeder and is rehomed from there. 

Dog Temperament

Every dog is unique and has its personality, likes, dislikes, and overall temperament. Choosing a dog with a compatible temperament is very important, especially if you are raising the dog around small children. Some dog breeds are not known to be as child-friendly, while others are widely regarded to be excellent family dogs. 

Remember, these are just generalizations to be mindful of and not specific recommendations. Dogs of any breed can be a great fit for your home and family - however, a Malinois isn’t likely to be the best fit for a young couple busy in their jobs, with young children around too. 

Whatever breed of dog you end up with, make sure to spend time socializing him or her with your family and children so they can become full members of your household.

Do You Have Allergies?

Allergies are going to be a deciding factor for some families. If a member of your household or extended family has pet allergies, it may limit your options when it comes to breeds. Fortunately, dog allergies are less common than cat allergies, but pet dander can still be an issue.

It’s not necessarily a dog’s fur that causes the allergic reaction but the combination of dried skin cells, proteins, and saliva that gets into the environment when a pet lives among humans. 

Hypo-allergenic dogs breeds are an option, but be sure to check if the specific breed is actually hypo-allergenic. Not all poodles are hypo-allergenic, so it’s best to be sure before bringing the dog home.

Other Considerations

Long or Short-Haired Dog?

Hair length can tie into the allergy conversation, as hair and shedding can aggravate the symptoms of pet dander. But shedding on its own can be bothersome to some people. Long-haired or fluffy dogs typically require more frequent trips to the groomers to keep their coats in top conditions. 

Grooming standards aren’t created equal. For example, doodle breeds (and other high maintenance breeds) need to have higher grooming budgets. Make sure to allocate time to take them to be professionally groomed.


Some dogs have a lot to say and need to say it loudly and often. Other dogs are much more soft-spoken. How much barking can you and your family tolerate? Do you have adequate outside space to let your dog sound off? Also, we recommend you consider your neighbors and how a loud pet might affect their quality of life. Be considerate!

Other Pets

If this isn’t your first 4-legged pet, consider how you’ll handle compatibility issues between your new puppy and your long-time pet’s personalities. Plenty of dogs and cats share homes and get on cordially or even become close friends. When in doubt, ask Alpha Instincts for any advice as far as compatibility goes.

Of course, if you need any additional support while deciding on how to find your dream puppy feel free to send us a message in the bubble below, we’re happy to chat. You can also sign up for a training evaluation with one of our team members.

Throughout the pandemic, many dogs in need have found their forever home, but creating a space where they can enjoy outside can be difficult if you live in an apartment. Apartment patios are a great space for pets to explore the outside world from the comfort of your home, and can even become a sanctuary for your furry friend. So whether you are looking to create a space for your dog in Denver, CO, or helping your pet adjust to their new home in San Diego, CA, here are apartment patio ideas for dogs, straight from the experts. 

Create a potty section with artificial turf

Artificial turf or even live sod on your balcony makes potty breaks in an apartment super easy, but keeping it smelling fresh can be a challenge in such a small space. We recommend cleaning your dog's balcony potty with a natural enzymatic cleaner that destroys odor safely from inside out. Make sure you avoid cleaners with added fragrances as they can overpower our dogs' sensitive noses. - Porch Potty

Dog-proof the railings to keep them safe

Safety is the number one important factor to keep in mind when preparing a balcony space for your dog. We recommend buying a set of sandbags in order to securely place a chew-proof leash away from the edge or railing. Pairing that with an outdoor bed and a small piece of turf to practice potty training is the perfect combination of safety, training, and comfort. - Crafty Canine Club

Add dog-safe greenery for your dog to enjoy 

Turn your balcony into doggy heaven by adding some greenery that your pooch can munch on! Chamomile, marigolds, basil, lemongrass, sprouts, rosemary, etc. are all excellent choices to bring some life to your concrete escape and provide your dog with something to sniff and add to chew on. Adding nutrition to their diet and possibly yours… if you like sharing with your pup. - Wild Child Dog Training

A few rules to go by when creating an apartment patio for your dog

When creating an outdoor patio for dogs there are a few rules to live by:

  1. Safety. Stay outside on the patio/balcony with your dog until they learn safety rules (no climbing over, squeezing through rails, or jumping after squirrels). Privacy fence panels are great ideas for the mischievous pup. Keep tables on the side furthest from the railing, even the most well-behaved pup may not be able to resist the urge to chase the wildlife.
  2. Bring a little nature in. Plants that make the area safe for your pup and beautiful for you are a necessity to bring nature to your balcony/patio. Daisies, azaleas, and daffodils are beautiful but toxic if ingested. Stick with sunflowers, marigolds, or camellia flowers to add pops of color. If you enjoy edible gardens, rosemary, dill, thyme, and more are safe for dogs and provide pleasant scents for you both. 
  3. Make a space just for them. A corner for them to enjoy the weather with their favorite bed, their favorite toy to keep them occupied, and never forget the water. Ceramic bowls are great for hot days to keep the water cool. - INN the Dog House 2

Keep your dog comfortable throughout the year

Create a comfortable space for your dog to catch some rays. We offer vet bedding designed to keep your dog cool in the summer and warm during chillier seasons. Lennypads will also make a great addition – they are highly absorbent, reusable potty pads perfect for a patio or balcony. Lastly, consider installing a dog door so they can go inside and outside as they please with your supervision. - Lakeside Products

Disguise Fido’s bowls as decorations

If you have a smaller space, your pup’s food and water bowls may be at risk of being knocked over. A plant pot with a heavy lid can easily be converted into a secure ‘cookie jar’ for your dog’s treats, and your pup’s water bowl can be placed inside an appropriately-sized planter or pot. This simple solution gives these items a secure base and adds a decorative touch to your patio or balcony. - Nature’s Advantage

Furnish your balcony with the basics

Mock fencing can be used along your patio to ensure that your dog does not fall through the balcony bars. Additionally, adding non-toxic plants to a potting bench, and a patio rug is a tasteful way to add dimension to your space. Turf can be added to a small area of the patio for an eco-friendly and reusable alternative to replace potty pads. - Alpha Instincts Dog Training

Create an area in the sun and the shade

If your balcony has sun and shade, create a resting spot for your dog in both areas. Some dogs love to lay in the sun, others don't, but many like to go back and forth. So make sure you have comfy spots for them in the sun and in the shade. - Zen Dog Training

Dedicate a space on the balcony just for your dog

You can start with a cute artsy-looking dog tent (covering almost half the balcony) that can really spruce up your balcony and also double-up as a fun and safe house for your dog. Put a comfy bed that stretches a little over the outside of the tent. Place a few colorful favorite toys to keep them active. Dress up the water bowl in a corner to match the tent. Place some safe plants like peppermint, rosemary, camellias, or anything your fur buddy likes or matches the artsy theme. Finish the setup with a dirt-free grass wee pad that absorbs urine & controls odors. While we focus on the theme, ensure to dog-proof (proper railing) the entire space. Can’t wait to chill with my mate on a lazy Sunday afternoon. - PawSpace

Add dog-safe plants that you can use too

One way to elevate your patio space while creating an enriching environment for your pets is through doggie-safe plants. Herbs like rosemary, parsley, oregano, and peppermint engage your dog's need to explore with their senses in a safe way while simultaneously beautifying your space with greenery. As an added bonus: you can use these herbs in everyday recipes, too. - Pampered Pet Resorts 

Try all-natural potty pads

No one wants unsightly plastic pee pads on their balcony for everyone to see. Try an all-natural dog potty pad made from real bark. The Bark Potty is like a dog park in a box, so the natural outdoorsy smells will compel your dog to "go," while keeping the rest of your balcony clean. - Bark Potty

Use an umbrella to add shade to the space

It is very important you have shade on your balcony on hot summer days. You can set up an umbrella to give a partial shade so your doggy can cool off when needed. You don’t want your dog barking at people and dogs passing by, so consider covering the street view if you think it might be an issue. Set up some plants which are dog friendly and maybe a small swimming pool if you have enough space for it. - K9 University Chicago

Create a doggy garden 

While there are many awesome ways to turn your apartment patio into a space your dog will love, our favorite idea is creating a doggy garden. Spruce up your balcony with a fenced-in area featuring artificial grass or hydroponically-grown grass. Then, add everything your pup needs to feel at home—a comfy doggy bed, some pet-friendly greens (sprouts are a great, healthy option), or even a portable dog pool if they can’t get enough of the water. - All Paws Express

Waterproof your balcony 

Your loyal companion is entitled to an outdoor space of their own— somewhere that’s safe and accommodating for sun naps and fresh air. Here are our favorite ideas to transform your balcony into a doggie haven; waterproof dog bed and furniture with washable covers, cooling turf, faux grass or disposable potty pads, upgraded water bowl, and most importantly: coverage for railing gaps that’s been approved by your building management. Gone are the days of Fido not living his best life. - Team Tapper

Designate an area for your dog to cool down

Dogs love to have that spot on the balcony to soak up the sun and then a place to hide from the sun when they need to cool down. Making a spot for sun and shade is perfect and this can happen with an umbrella or some kind of dog house or table where your pup can find a shady spot to move to. - Warren London

Add synthetic grass 

Give your dog a nice place to relax by using synthetic grass in your home’s outdoor living spaces. Not only does it feel cool and comfortable like conventional grass, but EnvyLawn grass also has anti-microbial additives keeping your furry family friend clean and safe. A perfect place to relax, do their business, take naps, and it looks great too. - EnvyLawn

Incorporate balcony furniture to keep your dog safe

A turf pee pad for preventing accidents would be the most appealing to the eye, blending well into a nice outdoor space. If the balcony has banisters, for safety it’s important that there is a blocking object to prevent them from trying to squeeze through. For this purpose, although chicken wire can be used, plants may be a more aesthetic way to achieve the same objective. It's also important that there aren’t any high objects which can be used as a platform to jump from. If you want to keep a bed outside, it’s best to use a tepee, as the pointed top will stop the most adventurous. - Hepper

Alabama Dog Training

Alpha Instincts Dog Training

When it comes to potty training, while we do not directly address this in our program, we know all the tips & tricks to help you get started and help you avoid puppy pads completely!

1. Remove the Puppy Pads: If you are using these, they actually teach your dog that it is perfectly acceptable to go to the bathroom inside. By putting these pads on your floor for "potty needs", whenever they touch that similar flooring with their paws it creates an association in their brain that it is okay! This applies to how she feels about the kennel for the time being.

2. Potty Training Schedule: Your pup, at this age, needs to be taken out on a leash every 2-3 hours, around the clock for starters. As they get better, you can extend that to 3-4 hours. We do this on-leash because it shows the puppy there is a difference between "potty time" and "play-time", and they get less distracted.

3. Do not punish your puppy for accidents, they are still exploring the world and still learning. If you punish your dog, rub their nose in it, etc. they will just start to be sneakier or develop excitable or submissive peeing tendencies. If we keep an eye on them, accidents are less likely to happen because the body language they demonstrate is usually telling. If you notice a puppy starting to have an accident, pick up your puppy and take them immediately outside, and reward them heavily for finishing outside with food from their meal. Consistency is key!

4. Kenneling is absolutely necessary. A kennel should only be big enough for them to walk in, turn around, and lie down. Any extra room/space will give them the ability to create a "potty corner". Dogs should be kenneled whenever you are unable to pay attention to them, overnight, and whenever you're not home. This will help with accidents, as young dogs are no different than toddlers! If we do not watch them, they're bound to do something they are not supposed to! If kenneling isn't an option for you, you can attach a leash to your belt and keep a close eye on your puppy at all times!

Alabama Dog Training

Alpha Instincts Dog Training

Alabama, the Yellowhammer State, is a fantastic area to visit, with many breathtakingly gorgeous cities, villages, and sights to see! Here is a selection of 15 stunning images of this magnificent state. Enjoy these top Alabama tourist attractions:

Huntsville Botanical Gardens

The Botanical Gardens in Huntsville provide visitors a tranquil setting in which to relax and unwind.

Visitors can stroll around the flower displays, forests, and wildflowers.

Make a point of visiting the Garden of Hope, which is devoted to cancer sufferers and their families.

Cheaha State Park

Cheaha State Park is located in the counties of Cleburne and Clay.

The park is truly breathtaking and brimming with natural beauty.

Talladega National Forest, which boasts Alabama's highest peak, surrounds the park.

Chewacla Falls

Chewacla Falls is located in Chewacla State Park and is a great place for a family outing.

The park's centerpiece is Chewacla Lake, which offers a variety of activities such as fishing, swimming, and boating.

Mobile's Downtown

Mobile, Alabama, is a lovely city in Mobile County. It is densely packed with art museums and other performing arts venues.

The city is well-known for hosting the country's oldest carnival.

Florence, AL

Florence, Alabama, has a population of about 40,000 people and is located in the northwest region of the state.

This small town is well-known for the tourism events that it hosts each year. Every year, visitors rush to this town to enjoy the W.C Handy Music Festival.

Fort Payne Depot Museum is located in Fort Payne, Alabama.

Fort Payne was built in 1891, at a period of high mining activity in the town.

The structure is now a museum containing various Native American artifacts.

The edifice is a sight to behold, especially the round tower that rests in one of its corners.

Gulf Beaches

The Gulf Shores of Alabama are a great area for relaxation, enjoyment, and adventure.

With white-sand beaches and breathtaking sunsets, you'll never want to leave.

The sand is composed of quartz grains that have been washed down from the Appalachian Mountains over thousands of years.

Martin's Lake

Lake Marin is a massive 44,000-acre lake. It has a shoreline that is over 750 kilometers long and is densely forested. The lake is a reservoir created by the construction of the Martin Dam.

People who wish to camp, water ski, or go boating flock to the area.

Birmingham, Alabama's Magic City historical structure

Shades Creek's historic mill was built in 1926. The mill had fallen into disrepair by the year 2,000.

Mike Franklin and John Parker erected a new wheel, which has transformed the facility into what it is now.

Perdido Bay

Perdido Bay is a coastal lagoon with barrier islands and an entrance located near the mouth of the Perdido River.

A barrier system used to restrict tidal flow can be found near the pass's entrance.

Alabama's Wetumpka

This bridge, which was erected as a Federal Aid Project in 1927, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

In 1989, the bridge was modified to support only one line of traffic, and in 1991, the bridge was closed to traffic and a new one was constructed alongside it.

Alabama Dog Training

Alpha Instincts Dog Training

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