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cave canem

considering owning a dog for the first time

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What info sources do you recommend?  I don't think we will buy a purebred animal.  There are mixes I like, but we are open to a mutt. 

I welcome any advice from those more experienced.

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No help here, but I can't help but be amused at your username associated with this thread topic. :laugh:

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20 minutes ago, cave canem said:

What info sources do you recommend?  I don't think we will buy a purebred animal.  There are mixes I like, but we are open to a mutt. .

A "mix" is absolutely a "mutt." 🙂

I don't know what info sources there could be for mutts/mixed breed dogs. Purebred dogs, yes, because there is a breed standard that deals with everything from size to color to general behavior. But when you get a mixed breed dog, it's a crap shoot, even if you know the parentage, because...mixed.

Most of our dogs have been mixed breeds, so there's that. 🙂

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We got our first dog from the Humane Society, and she was the easiest dog ever. Just very sweet, friendly, and eager to please. We went in looking for a much smaller dog than we ultimately chose. We spent lots of time visiting the shelter and talking to the volunteers. All of the dogs had been accessed and rated on several temperment and other factors. Because we were first time owners, we decided we wanted a family dog with all “A”s due to lack of experience. For our second dog, we were willing to look much more broadly. 

Personally, I wouldn’t get a puppy as a first dog, and I would focus on temperment more than any particular breed. Petfinder.com was quite helpful when we were looking for our second dog when we weren’t finding anything we wanted at our local shelter. Fidolove.com is another good site. People are looking to rehome their dogs and provide very detailed information about the dogs.

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https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/basic-training/

Basic dog care and training is the same for any breed. I agree with not getting a puppy as a first dog. I would get a year old dog that is housebroken and has some basic commands down. I would go through the Humane Society. They provide good resources as well. 

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Lots of websites are available to help you think through general characteristics of different breeds, Then find a mix for hybrid vigor (the health risks associated with purebreds can be diffused). Look into obedience training, for you and the family as much as the dog.

ETA: Puppies are easier than babies, so if you have the time to spend I wouldn't necessarily rule one out.

Edited by KathyBC

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FWIW -- I'm guessing when you say "mixes" you mean the intentionally bred mixes like Labradoodles or Maltipoos? It's fine IMO to differentiate, but technically they're just as much "mutts" as a Heinz 57 mix. And I'm not saying that to be snobbish--I have nothing against the purposefully bred mixes, and I know some who are truly incredible pets. A good dog is a good dog regardless of heritage (and in my very biased opinion almost all dogs are good dogs :wink:).

I don't have any good resources, but my standard advice to potential adopters is to try to forget about looks and focus on temperament/personality and energy level. Those are the things that make a dog very easy or extremely difficult to live with. You can learn to love the look of any dog, but it's difficult to impossible to learn to love a dog whose basic temperament or energy level doesn't mesh with you or your family. Realistically consider how active your family is, how much time they have to devote to training, etc. A family who likes to hang around the house and isn't active will do best with an entirely different type of dog than a family who wants a dog to hike and walk dozens of miles a week with them. I can't overstate how important it is to make sure you can meet a dog's physical exercise needs. And for many of them it's just as important, maybe more important, to be able to meet their mental exercise needs.

Also, look for the middle-of-the-road puppy or dog. The one who is neither overly outgoing or (on the other extreme) overly shy or fearful. Look for the dog who calmly observes and then comes to greet or join in. Those are the dogs who are almost certainly going to be easiest to live with. That said, it can be very difficult even for experienced dog people to get an accurate read on a puppy/dog in a shelter environment or at an adoption fair. In most cases you'll get the best info on dogs who have been in an experienced foster home for at least a few weeks.

I disagree with the idea that puppies are easier than babies so why not get one? Yeah, sure they're easier than babies overall and they grow up a lot faster. But it's a totally different commitment. No well adjusted parent thinks of dropping their infant off at the municipal shelter or of re-homing him, but I guarantee you it's a rare person who doesn't consider returning or re-homing a challenging puppy. Shoot, even very experienced people who get a puppy likely think "why did I get myself into this" somewhere in the first year or two (and it's probably quite common to wonder about it every single day, and multiple times on particularly trying days). I don't have anything against first time dog owners getting a puppy as long as they understand--and fully accept--that raising a puppy into a well mannered adult dog will almost certainly be a LOT more work than they ever imagined. Perhaps exponentially more work.

Edited by Pawz4me
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It is 100% temperament. As far as puppy vs adult dog if you’re adopting from a shelter an adult dog may come with behavioral problems which are what landed him in the shelter to begin with. A puppy would be more of a clean slate. If you’re adopting from a shelter spend some time with the dog play first. Hopefully the shelter workers will be up front about behavior issues. 

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We got our first dog a little over a year ago from an independent shelter in our area who is known for good adoptions. We went in wanting a goldendoodle or labradoodle, and ended up with a boggle (box-beagle) with some English hound and German shepherd that was about six years old. It was totally her personality that sold us. Very people-oriented, cuddly, and eager to please. She came housebroken, but had very little training. She's taken right off with the training and is easy to handle.

She was found by animal control by the side of the road with a bullet graze wound and was very underweight. She was in the county shelter for five months and then was transferred to the shelter we got her from. She's normal weight and is very healthy now. We got extensive notes from the shelter about her behavior, so we knew what we were getting. She's still a bit clingy and struggles when we're gone, but that's not uncommon with her breeds and having been a shelter dog.

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My only PSA is that a dog (or cat, or chickens) really has you tied down. I want to move overseas for a semester and...dog.  And the cost of regular boarding needs added to your vacation budget too 

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38 minutes ago, madteaparty said:

My only PSA is that a dog (or cat, or chickens) really has you tied down. I want to move overseas for a semester and...dog.  And the cost of regular boarding needs added to your vacation budget too 

Although it is possible to find alternative to boarding. We’ve been fortunate to have friends eager to take care of our dogs when we go on vacation, partly because they are so much easier than their dogs. It’s one of the big advantages of choosing based on temperment.

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I refused to get a dog until my kids were old enough to take a big part in caring for it.  Technically the dog is my son's dog, so I don't have to do much other than occasionally take him out if my kids aren't available (rare) or give him treats (he knows I'm the sucker parent, whereas he knows that DH is the fun parent).  We went with a rescue that lets you do a two week foster period, no problem to return the dog for any reason; we looked for ten months and tried and returned one dog in that time before finding ours.  But it was worth it because he is a wonderful dog and fits perfectly with our family.  We had a very short list of acceptable breeds, based on size and general overall temperament, and we also stipulated what was important (needed to be good with small kids and a large family as well as cats), and I highly recommend knowing what you want and being willing to wait for it.

 

But I hope you enjoy the dog when you find one!  I had never had a dog before and really didn't feel a need for one, but since my kids and DH wanted one, I was willing to give it a shot when I knew the bulk of the work wouldn't fall on me.  And honestly, I love the dog too.  Way more than I ever thought I would.

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15 hours ago, KathyBC said:

Lots of websites are available to help you think through general characteristics of different breeds, Then find a mix for hybrid vigor (the health risks associated with purebreds can be diffused). Look into obedience training, for you and the family as much as the dog.

ETA: Puppies are easier than babies, so if you have the time to spend I wouldn't necessarily rule one out.

 

5 hours ago, Pawz4me said:

 

I disagree with the idea that puppies are easier than babies so why not get one? Yeah, sure they're easier than babies overall and they grow up a lot faster. But it's a totally different commitment. No well adjusted parent thinks of dropping their infant off at the municipal shelter or of re-homing him, but I guarantee you it's a rare person who doesn't consider returning or re-homing a challenging puppy. Shoot, even very experienced people who get a puppy likely think "why did I get myself into this" somewhere in the first year or two (and it's probably quite common to wonder about it every single day, and multiple times on particularly trying days). I don't have anything against first time dog owners getting a puppy as long as they understand--and fully accept--that raising a puppy into a well mannered adult dog will almost certainly be a LOT more work than they ever imagined. Perhaps exponentially more work.

Well first of all, that's not exactly what I said.

And second of all, no one else brought home their new baby, got no sleep for weeks on end, had no idea what to do with all the crying and thought, "What did I get myself into?" Well shoot. 

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1 hour ago, Frances said:

Although it is possible to find alternative to boarding. We’ve been fortunate to have friends eager to take care of our dogs when we go on vacation, partly because they are so much easier than their dogs. It’s one of the big advantages of choosing based on temperment.

I don’t have enough friends 😂

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We got our first ever dog less than a year ago and now we have two and have become die-hard dog people!

i knew I had very particular desires and I listed those out for myself first:

- doesn’t shed, not smelly or overly drooly, fairly easy to housetrain, small (we have a 7 pound Cornish Rex cat and didn’t want a dog that would hurt or scare her), doesn’t require so much exercise or is overly crazy.

Then I started searching based on those criteria. This web site is pretty good:

https://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/reviews/toypoodles.html

spoiler alert - we ended up with toy poodles and we Love them so much! Including a picture of our babies, because I’m a totally obsessed doggy mama now!

FF69763E-4595-4279-B4E8-92C8037E88DE.jpeg

05AB6F91-5654-4553-855C-5AEE108B3216.jpeg

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2 hours ago, KathyBC said:

 

Well first of all, that's not exactly what I said.

And second of all, no one else brought home their new baby, got no sleep for weeks on end, had no idea what to do with all the crying and thought, "What did I get myself into?" Well shoot. 

You're right, I did misconstrue what you said. And I apologize for that!

But I did it in my haste to make the bigger point of -- puppies really are hard work, and too many people totally under estimate how hard. No doubt it seemed particularly important because I'm currently dealing with someone who seems almost at the point of losing it because her ten week old, very recently adopted puppy is shredding puppy pads. When you work in rescue you learn to expect it, but . . .  . Sigh. What did she expect???

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I suggest you start by analyzing your own needs, abilities and resources.

1)  You will want a breed or breed combo and individual dog suitable for a novice owner.

2) assess space and finances etc to help determine size dog.  Similar for energy / exercise level ..   is someone a daily 5 mile runner and wants dog company  or  do you need a dog who could do with short outdoor walks and playing fetch in living room?  Similar for barkiness desired...   ability for cohabitation with other pets, small children as needed, and so forth ...  a lot of happiness with dogs has to do with compatibility between dog and people...  

3) assess any issues like type of fur you can handle (allergies? If so that’s why a lot of people gravitate to doodle mixes; burrs that would be difficult in curly doodle fur, hot/cold dry/wet environment ; grooming time and abilities available 

4) find a veterinarian to have after getting dog and to help you determine a dog to get (our  current dog came via our veterinarian putting us in touch with dog that met our needs who needed a home). 

5) find a trainer to help you after getting dog and to help you determine a dog to get

6) start preparing your home for a dog (or puppy proofing if you decide on puppy) — leash, dog bed, cover throws for furniture, crate, food and water bowls...   sort of like getting ready for a baby, but usually not as much needed ... except if fencing / dog door is needed to give an off leash outdoor space

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2 hours ago, happypamama said:

I refused to get a dog until my kids were old enough to take a big part in caring for it.  Technically the dog is my son's dog, so I don't have to do much other than occasionally take him out if my kids aren't available (rare) or give him treats (he knows I'm the sucker parent, whereas he knows that DH is the fun parent).  We went with a rescue that lets you do a two week foster period, no problem to return the dog for any reason; we looked for ten months and tried and returned one dog in that time before finding ours.  But it was worth it because he is a wonderful dog and fits perfectly with our family.  We had a very short list of acceptable breeds, based on size and general overall temperament, and we also stipulated what was important (needed to be good with small kids and a large family as well as cats), and I highly recommend knowing what you want and being willing to wait for it.

 

But I hope you enjoy the dog when you find one!  I had never had a dog before and really didn't feel a need for one, but since my kids and DH wanted one, I was willing to give it a shot when I knew the bulk of the work wouldn't fall on me.  And honestly, I love the dog too.  Way more than I ever thought I would.

 

I know a family that volunteered at a shelter, and ended up with one of the dogs after around half a year of learning about dogs and dog care via the volunteering.  

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6 hours ago, hshibley said:

It is 100% temperament. As far as puppy vs adult dog if you’re adopting from a shelter an adult dog may come with behavioral problems which are what landed him in the shelter to begin with. A puppy would be more of a clean slate. If you’re adopting from a shelter spend some time with the dog play first. Hopefully the shelter workers will be up front about behavior issues. 

Not necessarily.  In fact, in the 3 years I worked in a shelter, we didn't see this all that often.  Often times, it was someone who had housing insecurity and couldn't have a dog in their new place.  Sometimes it was a breeding dog rescued from a puppy mill (who often needed a very quiet, laid back home with a ton of patience.)  Or it was a stray.  Or it was a family who didn't have the time to train a puppy and they rehomed him when they had enough.  Essentially, what they brought to us was a large puppy who needed training, but was often on the tail end of the puppy energy.  I'll take an adult dog with a few behavior issues that can be handled with training over a puppy who, by the very nature of being a puppy, has a ton of behavior problems that will take a ton of patience to outlast.  To me, puppies are like very destructive toddlers.  I love them, but they are exhausting.    

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3 minutes ago, Pen said:

 

I know a family that volunteered at a shelter, and ended up with one of the dogs after around half a year of learning about dogs and dog care via the volunteering.  

This is how we ended up with our dog.  Dd wanted a dog, but oldest child didn't so we worked at a shelter instead.  We ended up fostering a dog and kept him after we wore down the oldest.  

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10 minutes ago, dirty ethel rackham said:

Not necessarily.  In fact, in the 3 years I worked in a shelter, we didn't see this all that often.  Often times, it was someone who had housing insecurity and couldn't have a dog in their new place.  Sometimes it was a breeding dog rescued from a puppy mill (who often needed a very quiet, laid back home with a ton of patience.)  Or it was a stray.  Or it was a family who didn't have the time to train a puppy and they rehomed him when they had enough.  Essentially, what they brought to us was a large puppy who needed training, but was often on the tail end of the puppy energy.  I'll take an adult dog with a few behavior issues that can be handled with training over a puppy who, by the very nature of being a puppy, has a ton of behavior problems that will take a ton of patience to outlast.  To me, puppies are like very destructive toddlers.  I love them, but they are exhausting.    

Exactly. And good shelters will be very up front about any of the issues the dogs have. They want to match the right dog with the right owner so the dog has a forever home. They will not recommend a dog with difficult behavior problems to new owners. Good rescues are the same way. Our second dog was from a rescue and came to use after being fostered for several weeks. We knew she had some issues that we could handle because we knew exactly what we were getting into because the foster parents described her completely, and we went through a thorough application process. 

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Yep. Puppies are a lot of work. We have a high energy four month old puppy right now. She chews and tries to play with everything. Nothing is safe! I’ve caught her carrying off my phone. She brings in chunks of dirt/roots/sticks from the yard and tries to eat them on the couch. We have to keep all bedroom and bathroom doors closed and keep her gated in one area of the house... and that’s while we are home with her. If we leave she is in her crate. Luckily she was super great about potty training. And she’s super cute. 😉

All that said, there is something so special about that bonding time with a puppy. There’s nothing quite like like puppy snuggles and puppy squishiness. It’s such a short period and I’m already feeling sad that she will be full grown soon. 

As far as dogs in general, I’d plan to bring a dog home at a non-busy time when there will be people in the house most of the time. It will help with bonding and building trust if you don’t leave the dog alone much. 

Also, think through the logistics of having a dog in the house. Where will the dog sleep? Will you use a dog door or train the dog to tell you when he needs to go out? Where will the dog stay if you leave during the day? In a crate/certain area of the house, etc.? Is your yard safe for the dog to be in unsupervised? How will the dog get daily exercise?

If you are adopting from a rescue/shelter, also keep in mind that sometimes dogs are quieter/more reserved in a loud or busy environment and might act differently once you have them at home and they have relaxed a bit. Also, breed does matter in terms of temperament. We are partial to a certain breed and all three of the dogs we’ve had have been that breed and have had very similar traits - submissive, playful, love to snuggle, don’t bark a lot, very attached to their people.  And if you look up their breed you’ll see these are traits they are known for.  So I’d definitely research breeds and pick a handful that sound like a good fit for your family, and note breeds that sound like they might NOT be the best fit, then keep that in mind while you look.

Owning a dog is a lot of work, but once you’ve become dog people, it’s hard to imagine a home being a home without (at least) one.

 

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1 hour ago, Pen said:

 

I know a family that volunteered at a shelter, and ended up with one of the dogs after around half a year of learning about dogs and dog care via the volunteering.  

If the shelter wasn't over an hour away, yeah, we would probably volunteer there.  The kids would love that so much!

 

We found the shelters to be up front about any known concerns as well.  As someone else said, they want the dogs to find a forever home.  Visiting the dogs and maybe playing with them at the shelter, and then talking to the shelter people, might be helpful; it was to us.  They knew what we wanted and called DH when they had any possibilities, because good dogs can go really quickly.  I think ours had only been there a day or so.

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3 hours ago, Pawz4me said:

You're right, I did misconstrue what you said. And I apologize for that!

But I did it in my haste to make the bigger point of -- puppies really are hard work, and too many people totally under estimate how hard. No doubt it seemed particularly important because I'm currently dealing with someone who seems almost at the point of losing it because her ten week old, very recently adopted puppy is shredding puppy pads. When you work in rescue you learn to expect it, but . . .  . Sigh. What did she expect???

I can top that. My son works at a vet clinic and they had a kitten there that needed a home. A woman adopted him and then returned him because, and I quote, 'his poop was really stinky". 

Yes, she returned a cat because his poop didn't smell good. Um, what did you think poop was going to smell like?!?!?!?! You want a pet with odorless poop get a hamster!

3 hours ago, dirty ethel rackham said:

Not necessarily.  In fact, in the 3 years I worked in a shelter, we didn't see this all that often.  Often times, it was someone who had housing insecurity and couldn't have a dog in their new place.  Sometimes it was a breeding dog rescued from a puppy mill (who often needed a very quiet, laid back home with a ton of patience.)  Or it was a stray.  Or it was a family who didn't have the time to train a puppy and they rehomed him when they had enough.  Essentially, what they brought to us was a large puppy who needed training, but was often on the tail end of the puppy energy.  I'll take an adult dog with a few behavior issues that can be handled with training over a puppy who, by the very nature of being a puppy, has a ton of behavior problems that will take a ton of patience to outlast.  To me, puppies are like very destructive toddlers.  I love them, but they are exhausting.    

yes and no. I've had more issues with separation anxiety with dogs I got that had already had other owners. Dogs I got at about 8 weeks I've had no issue with. The adult rescues and the 12 week old puppy rescue (that had already been in SIX other places before my house) had separation anxiety of one degree or another, I think because they really HAD experienced people leaving and never coming back. Not to mention the 12 week old had learned to poop and pee IN the crate because they left him in there 8-10 hours a day. Sigh. Couldn't use the crate to potty train him because of it...he'd walk over to the crate and go in it when he had to pee!

So yeah, he came with some baggage, sigh. 

Part of me wants our next dog to be an 8 week old puppy because of that. 

The other part of me would rather rehab the behavior problems than deal with getting up to take a puppy out every 3 hours, lol. That side of me is winning. But, I'm experienced now in rehabbing behavior problems. And I'm already up at night with a toddler. I can't take any more sleep disruption. 

2 hours ago, lovelearnandlive said:

 

As far as dogs in general, I’d plan to bring a dog home at a non-busy time when there will be people in the house most of the time. It will help with bonding and building trust if you don’t leave the dog alone much. 

 

Be careful with this....from day 2 at the latest I advise leaving the dog for brief periods, because too often you get the dog, stay home for a week or two, and then the dog freaks out when you finally do leave it alone because it hasn't had a chance to get used to it. Separation anxiety in the making. Especially if the dog has been re-homed a few times already. 

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I have not read the pp's so please forgive me if this is a repeat! 

I highly recommend getting a dog from a rescue organization that uses foster  families for dogs. You get in real time, on the ground insight about how the dog actually is in a home!! Even if your personal proclivities don't match up with the foster family's, just by talking to them, you'll get a GREAT feel for how the dog behaves.

As an example... 

We got our dog from a rescue. He was living with a foster family. When they first brought him over to meet us, the man went on and on about how you can tooootally stick your hand down thr dog's throat while playing and he won't bite you. LOL **not** our style, but I did take his point. In reality, my then-ittybitty little kids could crawl all over him and pull his ears, touch his food: whatever! and the little guy wouldn't even look sideways at them. All thumbs, way up.

It's simply not the same with any dog that hasn't already lived in a family. 

*I* feel perfectly confident taking chances on an untried puppy. And, with only older kids, I feel great about any shelter dog that we would choose. But I am telling you, with any kind of "extra" circumstances...either first dog or you have babies or a fragile cat or something... dogs that have lived with foster families are amazing!

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3 hours ago, Ktgrok said:

Be careful with this....from day 2 at the latest I advise leaving the dog for brief periods, because too often you get the dog, stay home for a week or two, and then the dog freaks out when you finally do leave it alone because it hasn't had a chance to get used to it. Separation anxiety in the making. Especially if the dog has been re-homed a few times already. 

 

Totally. I didn’t mean never leave the dog alone, but rather that the times when the dog is alone at first are short and total time spent in the crate each day is low until trust is built. 

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5
7 hours ago, OKBud said:

I have not read the pp's so please forgive me if this is a repeat! 

I highly recommend getting a dog from a rescue organization that uses foster  families for dogs. You get in real time, on the ground insight about how the dog actually is in a home!! Even if your personal proclivities don't match up with the foster family's, just by talking to them, you'll get a GREAT feel for how the dog behaves.

As an example... 

We got our dog from a rescue. He was living with a foster family. When they first brought him over to meet us, the man went on and on about how you can tooootally stick your hand down thr dog's throat while playing and he won't bite you. LOL **not** our style, but I did take his point. In reality, my then-ittybitty little kids could crawl all over him and pull his ears, touch his food: whatever! and the little guy wouldn't even look sideways at them. All thumbs, way up.

It's simply not the same with any dog that hasn't already lived in a family. 

*I* feel perfectly confident taking chances on an untried puppy. And, with only older kids, I feel great about any shelter dog that we would choose. But I am telling you, with any kind of "extra" circumstances...either first dog or you have babies or a fragile cat or something... dogs that have lived with foster families are amazing!

Getting one's hand inside the mouths of young puppies (regularly and often) is the single most important part of a puppy's education. Sounds like this foster group knows what they are doing.

Personally, I'm a person who wants to shape and train a puppy's behaviors and would not rely on anyone else to do the job. That said, these people seem like they know what they are doing based on this nugget of information. 

Bill

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