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Cocker Breeders

Barrel Valley Cocker Spaniels

Joan  and Larry Kunkle        Shannon McCracken
Star Route Spring Church, PA 15686 HC 62 Box 158B Spring Church, PA 15686
724-478-3428  724-478-1195

Congratulations on your purchase of a Barrel Valley Cocker Spaniel.  We wish you many happy years with your new family member.  We have done the very best that we could to produce a puppy that will be healthy and happy.  We will try to be here always to help you in any way we can with any questions or problems that you may have.

Your puppy was bred with the AKC standard for the Cocker Spaniel in mind, to produce a puppy that conforms as closely as possible to the standard, in behavior, conformation and health.  Please bear in mind that no dog is perfect, but your puppy has been bred to conform as closely as possible to the standard of perfection.  The parents of your puppy have been carefully chosen to complement each other.

Your puppy has been raised in our home, where it can be properly socialized in a family situation.  He or she has had the vaccinations and parasite control appropriate to it’s age, and has been groomed several times to accustom it to the procedure.  Except for unusual circumstances, it will have been examined by a veterinarian, and will come to you with the health certificate, verifying it’s health at the time of purchase.

Some of the following are excerpts from “The Cocker Spaniel Puppy Manual” written by Judy Iby.  The rest is from our own experience, or gleaned from the Internet:

You probably realize that our Cocker Spaniels are special and that we really care.  Perhaps you are replacing a lost one, which speaks for itself.   Most Cocker owners would not have any other breed.  Cocker Spaniels are the most loving and forgiving of all.  They are almost human.  All they ask for is a chance to please their family.  We hope that you will enjoy your Cocker for many years to come.  Don’t forget, they are very versatile.  Not only are they loving companions, but they can hold their own in obedience, tracking, field work, therapy, agility and even have been used to search for drugs.  They are the ideal house dog.

The Cocker Spaniel is the smallest member of the Sporting Group but Cocker Spaniels have the biggest hearts!  They thrive on human companionship and try very hard to please their family.  Generally they have very merry dispositions, although some are reserved with strangers and are happiest with their families and familiar surroundings.  Most Cockers will bond with one adult in the family but will love everyone, including the children.  Cocker Spaniels are house dogs and will not tolerate being outside longer than a few minutes unless you are with them.

Cocker Spaniels are divided into three varieties (ASCOB, Black and Particolor) based on coat color.  ASCOB stands for Any Solid Color Other than Black, and includes all shades of buff, chocolate or chocolate and tan.  Black includes black and black and tan.  The more common Particolor colors are black and white, black/tan/white (tri-color), red and white, chocolate and white and chocolate/tan/white (chocolate tri-color).  The ideal height at the shoulders is 14” for females and 15” for males.  Females usually weigh 18-22 pounds  and males weigh 24-28 pounds.

The American Spaniel Club recommends that all breeding stock be checked for inherited disorders before breeding.  All Cockers over the age of two may be listed in the ASC Health Registry if they have been tested free of any of the commonly inherited disorders.  The eye exam is performed annually by a certified canine ophthalmologist.  You should expect to be able to see the current eye exams on the parents of your puppy.  This is not a guarantee that your puppy will remain unafflicted, but it should assure you that the breeder is making  a conscientious effort to avoid these problems.  Most likely your puppy is too young for such an exam to be meaningful, but in the future the breeder may ask to have  your puppy checked.  These tests help the  breeder to keep track of his/her breeding stock.  You may be concerned about these problems but nearly every breed has inherited faults.  Therefore it is wise to learn something about the ancestors of your puppy.

Possibly the breeder has selected a puppy for you.  You should not feel slighted.  Usually the breeder knows best which puppy will fit best into a particular household.  Some puppies will thrive with children and some will do better with an older couple.  If you have young children the breeder has probably cautioned you to monitor the children handling the puppy.  A young puppy needs time to rest and an older puppy will stay “wound up” with too much handling.

The breeder has probably recommended that you take your puppy to your veterinarian within so many days.  When you visit your veterinarian keep your puppy (and even older dogs) on your lap and do not allow them to sniff other dogs.  A puppy’s immunity is not well developed and therefore  he should be kept away from sick dogs.  Not only do sick dogs visit your veterinarian but many leave behind their fleas and other parasites on the floor.

You should receive a copy of his vaccination record along with a pedigree from the breeder.  Occasionally an AKC registration may be in transit.  Usually the maximum time for this should be 4-6 weeks.  It is now customary for many breeders to withhold the AKC registration until after you have your puppy neutered.  This assures the breeder that the puppy sold as a pet will not be used for reproduction.  There are many good reasons why the breeder requests this.  The Cocker Spaniel’s popularity is in the top twenty breeds.  Many years ago this caused indiscriminate breeding and nearly ruined the breed.

What we need is quality, not quantity.  Few people realize the expense and devotion that goes into raising the parents of the litter.  Raising a litter is also expensive and very time consuming.  It may be difficult to find the proper homes.

Secondly, and more important to you as a pet owner, is the importance of the health benefits from spaying and neutering.  Spaying/neutering pets at an early age, but never before at least six months,  will prevent the occurrence of virtually all tumors of the reproductive tissues.  Unspayed females are prone to mammary and ovarian cancer.  During their later years, they may develop pyometra (an infected uterus) which is life-threatening.  Intact males are susceptible to testicular cancer, perineal hernias, perineal fistulas and prostatic disease.  Usually the intact male or female will need to be neutered/spayed at a later age because of disease process and surgery is much harder on them if they are old or ill.  Both the intact male and female are likely to lapse in their housetraining - the female will piddle frequently before, during and after her heat cycle and the male is prone to marking territory (even in the house) if there is a female in heat around or if a strange dog or maybe even a person visits the house.  If you intend to show in conformation, spaying/neutering must be delayed until afterwards, since neutered dogs aren’t allowed to show.  They may, however, show in Junior Showmanship, obedience and agility.

Early spay/neuter, before six months of age, has been proven to be detrimental to dogs. While it is a shelter's only way of safe-guarding that the dogs will not be accidentally bred because of irresponsible or inexperienced owners, research has shown that it causes delay in the closing of the growth plates in the bones, producing long spindly legs with weaker bones and an increase in bone cancer in some dogs. It causes the dog to retain juvenile appearance, and inconsistent features that may lead to health issues in later life. It has also been shown to alter the temperaments in a negative way in some dogs. So, while we definitely recommend spay/neuter for pets not intended for breeding, our recommendation is that you be vigilant in preventing unwanted pregnancy until the optimum time, we feel at about a year of age, a little younger in males if they start "marking" in the house.

Cocker Spaniels usually have a life expectancy of 13-15 years or longer.  From middle age on (8-9) years of age, you can enhance your Cocker’s life by continuing to give him good medical care which may include an annual geriatric workup.  Your veterinarian can recommend a good diet which will contain less protein and be less stressful to the kidneys.

Puppy-Proofing The House
It is up to you, but the safest environment for your puppy is in its crate or under your constant surveillance.  Puppies will get into everything.  We have heard of puppies being electrocuted by biting into electrical cords, hanging themselves in the window blind cords, ingesting foreign objects which required surgical removal, drinking from toilets which contained cleaning chemicals, bloating from raiding the garbage can or dog food bin, drowning from diving into the swimming pool, and the list could go on and on forever.  You must learn to anticipate any trouble your puppy could get into.  Not only could your puppy harm himself, but your puppy could end his life through destructive behavior and it will be your fault.  The animal shelters are full of dogs that the owners gave up  because they were destructive.  All puppies go through chewing on anything and everything during teething, but unfortunately, some dogs never give up the habit.

Socializing and training
We cannot stress enough the importance of properly socializing and training your puppy.  We recommend strongly that you enroll your new puppy (as soon as vaccinations are complete) in a “puppy kindergarten” class, followed by an obedience class with a competent trainer. 

A dog is a pack animal and when you adopt a puppy, it becomes a member of YOUR pack.  In any canine pack, there is a “pecking” order, from the most dominant down to the most submissive.  Cocker Spaniels are not guardian dogs.  Their place is at the lower end of the dominance scale, below every living human being.  This is very important to prevent owning a dog that sees nothing wrong with using his teeth to correct those he considers to be his subordinants.  I suggest that you purchase a book called “Mother Knows Best”, by Carol Lea Benjamin, which you can find or order at any good book store.  This book teaches you to train your dog to fit into your pack in the same way as a good mother dog teaches her puppies.  You will learn many important training methods. 

Socializing Your Puppy
Emotional and social growth are just as important to your puppy as its physical growth
By Bardi McLennan

Why are dogs different? Why do some puppies grow to be the pets of our dreams while others just get bigger and more out of control? Genetics and environment both influence a puppy's emotional growth. The best dogs are the products of good breeding and early socialization.

Socializing is not just party time. The dictionary gives a very precise definition that works surprisingly well when applied to puppies. Socialize: to make friendly, cooperative or to put under group control. The aim of socializing puppies is to help them become friendly toward other dogs and people and cooperative within their families.
A cautious pup needs calm, gentle encouragement to investigate.

Home Sweet Home
When you brought your puppy into your home, it underwent its first real test of temperament - and what a whopper of an exam it may have been! Stop and think how many new things confronted that pup within a few hours: strange people (each with a strange voice and strange scent), a car ride, a collar and leash, stairs, carpets, maybe a slippery kitchen floor, new sounds, and maybe even a cat! How did your pup react to all of that? Curious? Intimidated? Terrified? Cautious? Too often problems begin when new puppy owners fail to look at the situation from the dog's viewpoint. When the dog fails to meet expectations, owners become resentful. They feel they offered the dog a great life, but all it wanted to do was hide under the bed.

Training Begins
You began training the pup the moment you brought it into your life, even if you didn't realize it. How you reacted and guided the pup through all those "first times" laid the groundwork for all future learning and training. It's important to allow a curious pup to investigate, but with supervision so it doesn't get into trouble. A pup that's cautious or intimidated by certain sights or sounds needs gentle and calm encouragement to investigate.

Prevention is always better than punishment for pups. To be socially acceptable, the pup must be housetrained and that means following an established routine. It means confining the pup to a safe, puppy-proof area where it can play happily without getting into trouble.

Training Your People
Friends, neighbors and relatives are sure to want to see the new puppy, which is an excellent opportunity for socializing. Ask these nice people to sit on the floor while they greet your puppy. Explain that the pup may feel threatened by the dominant posture of the upright human. Those arms and hands may be extended in love, but when they come down from a great height, they may be misinterpreted by the pup as a threatening gesture.

Ask children not to squeal or shriek, and not to wiggle their fingers at the pup. If you disregard these simple precautions, your pup could easily become submissive or aggressive - and the next family council could be called to try to figure out why!

For the elderly who can't manage the floor, put the pup in their laps with a warning not to let the pup jump or fall. A few minutes of quiet cuddling will do them both good.

To ensure that the pup's first experiences are positive, be sure that your "socializers" are comfortable with their roles. If people are tense or fearful, they will have a negative effect on the pup. Be sure that any canine visitors are free of parasites and have current vaccinations. If you are unfamiliar with a neighborhood dog, do not assume that it is good-tempered or that it will be happy to meet your wonderful charge. Planning is critical in executing your socialization program.

The dog is a social animal and the better we understand how it interprets the society into which we put it, the better we can keep our end of the bargain. Success means that the bond of a lifetime.

We recommend the “crate training” method of housebreaking, especially since it has other important reasons, other than just housebreaking.  A word first about crates.  There are two different types of crates you can use.  One is a metal or wire crate, the other is the plastic “airline” crate.  We recommend the plastic airline crate for two reasons.  The first is that in a wire crate, your puppy can catch its collar and actually strangle itself, or get its head through an improperly closed crate.  The second reason is that the plastic crate is more enclosed and more den like.  Since a dog is a denning animal, it should see its crate as its den or bed.  The crate should never be used for punishment, it should always be used as a safe haven for your puppy.  It is the place you can put your puppy when your friend/relative comes to your house with that out-of-control child who may torment your puppy into biting.  You know the kid I mean.  It’s easier to say that it’s time for the puppy to take a nap, than it is to have cross words with that friend/relative over their child’s behavior to your pet.  Any time that you take your dog in your car, the crate will be the same as a child car seat, keeping your puppy from harm in case of quick stops, or getting loose after an accident.  The crate is the perfect place to keep your puppy when you can’t be watching it, if you have to go away for a short period, or if you are involved with something where your attention will not be on the puppy.  All of the dangers mentioned in the “Puppy Proofing” section cannot happen if your puppy is safely resting in its crate.

The crate training method of housebreaking uses the puppy’s own instincts which were passed down from their ancestor, the wolf.  Wolf puppies are born in a den, a small, confined hole dug into a hillside.  The mother wolf, in order to keep her puppies clean, and to prevent the scent of a soiled den from attracting predators who would kill her babies, for the first few weeks, licks up the babies’ excrement.  After the puppies are eating solid food and able to toddle from the den to relieve themselves, the mother ceases doing this.  The puppies soon learn to keep their den clean to avoid attracting predators while the mother is out hunting.  We use this instinct to housebreak our dogs.  We confine the puppy in its den, the crate, when we can’t have our eyes on the puppy.  Almost all puppies quickly learn to keep it clean, if you take it outside often enough.  The crate should only be large enough for the puppy to lie down comfortably in.  You should purchase a small one when you first take your puppy home, then a larger one when the puppy is fully trained and grown to mature size.  The money spent will be well worth it.  You can purchase an acceptable crate from places like Wal-Mart, Big Lots for much less than at a pet shop, and they work just as well. You can check yard sales, thrift shops, etc. but be sure to sanitize a used crate well in case the former occupant had a communicable disease. One part Clorox to thirty parts water will kill even Parvo virus, just be sure to clean and rinse thoroughly.

At no time during puppyhood should your puppy be left in the crate for more than four hours.  This means that you may have to get up during the night to take it out to relieve itself.  Placing the crate right by your bed at night should let you know when the puppy cries to go out.  If you work away from home, if you can’t find someone to come to your house to take the puppy out, then you will need to make a larger area, with newspapers at one end to relieve itself on until you come home.  No puppy should be expected to stay in a crate all day, so plan what you will do. 

Every time you take the puppy out of the crate, it should be carried outside to its “potty place”, set down on the ground on lead, and you repeat whatever words you plan to use to let it know what you expect.  When the puppy produces the desired result, praise it to high Heaven, give it a treat if you wish, then, and only then, take it back into the house to be released to play or be with you. 

Your schedule should look something like this:

Upon arising, immediately take the puppy outside.  This doesn’t mean after your shower, or breakfast.  If you must dress first, do it quickly, otherwise, housecoat and slippers in the back yard is preferable.

Back in the house and keep the puppy with you while you go about your morning ablutions, or put it back in the crate.

Puppy’s breakfast. 

Back outside.  Some people like to take their puppy outside, every hour. 

Puppy’s lunch.  Then outside.

Take puppy out every hour or so, maybe more often in a very young puppy.  Puppy must be in the crate every minute that your eyes are not on him.  Signs that he needs to go out are circling and sniffing for a spot to go, or going off on his own away from the activity.  You must watch him for these signs.  He needs to be taken outside at the first sign that he needs to go.  If you find a place where  the puppy has made a mistake, do NOT punish him, unless you catch him in the act.  His memory is not long enough to know WHY his beloved pack leader is punishing him.  By the time he is about a year old, his memory will be about one minute long!  If you catch him in the act, then a loud “NO” and immediately taking him outside to finish is the best remedy.  It takes time for the puppy’s brain to develop to the point that it can make the connection of where he is not to relieve himself and where he is.  Once this happens, you have the hardest part behind you. 

Once the puppy has the idea, you can hang bells from your doorknob and encourage the puppy to go to the door and ring them with its paw, or you can make it an exciting thing to bark at the door when it wants to go out.  Your dog may use more subtle means to let you know it needs out, like nudging your hand or dancing around in front of you.  Try to have your dog learn a way to let you know its needs, or it will simply find a spot and do the deed where you don’t want it to if you are not paying attention to when it may need to go out.

Just remember that your puppy’s brain cells are not sufficiently mature to be completely housebroken until it is about four months old.  This is important.  You may have a dog genius who figures it out almost immediately, but it may take quite some time, especially if his schedule is disrupted because you must work for a living.  Be patient.  Be consistent.  Be ever alert.  Once your puppy makes your home its den, and sets out to keep it clean, you have it made.  If a formerly housebroken dog backslides into accidents, if more training doesn’t help, have him checked for intestinal parasites, which can cause a disruption of bowel movements, or kidney/bladder infections for urinary incontinence.

Good Luck!

Grooming and Health Care
I’ve combined these two, because they are connected in many ways.  First of all, make sure that you have regular veterinary check-ups with the veterinarian of your choice.  Make sure that you find one who you trust as you would your child’s pediatrician.  Your puppy needs a series of vaccinations against the most common diseases affecting dogs.  By the time the puppy has left me, it will have had one or more vaccinations, depending on the age of the puppy.  Many veterinarians are following the protocol advised by modern schools of veterinary medicine of a series of vaccinations as a puppy, a booster at one year of age, and every three years thereafter.  This has been determined to prevent some autoimmune diseases in susceptible dogs.  Rabies vaccines, of course, do not fall into this classification, and should always be kept up to date.  Some people have a titre test done on their dogs to ascertain the need for specific vaccines to be administered.  If you do choose to pass on annual vaccinations, please be sure to schedule an annual check up anyway, to be certain that your dog is healthy.  Each time you take your dog to the veterinarian’s be sure to take a stool sample to be tested for worms.  Worms can cause weight loss, digestive upsets and poor coat condition.  Severe infestations can actually cause the death of your dog.

Be sure to get your dog’s license.  The state of Pennsylvania requires that all dogs older than three months be licensed and have proof of current rabies vaccination.  A license can be obtained at your county courthouse, and at various other places in the county.  They are available after December 1st for the new year.  If you live in another state or country, check with officials in your area.  Fines are very high for non-compliance.

One of the most common problems in Cocker Spaniels is ear infections.  Ear infections are also the cause of many children being bitten by Cocker Spaniels.  Those long ears are the first thing that is pulled by small children, and after a few times of those aching ears being hurt, some dogs will snap out in fear of being hurt.  So please keep up with the dog’s ear care.  Check your dog’s ears a couple of times a week to make sure that an ear problem is not starting.  Signs are odor, redness, swelling or discharge.  Scratching or frequent shaking of the head are signs of discomfort in the ears.  At the first sign of any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your veterinarian.  He may prescribe antibiotics or special drops or cleaner.  Keep a good ear cleaner on hand and have your veterinarian or breeder show you how to clean them.  In a nutshell, you raise the ear over the head, pour ear cleaner into the ear, squish the base of the ear gently around to allow the cleaner to reach all parts of the dog’s ear, allow him to shake out the excess, then gently clean out the remainder with either a Q-tip or cotton ball.  Ear cleaner can be purchased from your veterinarian or a pet supply store.  A mixture of 50-50 vinegar and water will also work.  For the recipe for a homemade, inexpensive, very effective ear cleaner known for many years by experienced Cocker breeders contact us.

In addition, the accepted Cocker clip helps to maintain ear health.  The face and the upper third of the ear is kept shaved.  This allows air to circulate to the ears.  The Cocker Spaniel’s low hanging ears make a perfect incubator for bacteria and yeast infections, moist, dark and warm.  By keeping your dog clean and clipped, you have a head start on preventing ear, eye, and skin infections.  The Cocker clip is not for looks, it is for health. You may think that your Cocker looks cute when it is all hairy, but you are risking health problems, your groomer probably charges less than a veterinarian will for infections caused by neglecting this important part of Cocker ownership.

To maintain the Cocker’s coat, you must keep it brushed frequently with a slicker and a pin brush.  A metal comb run through the coat will find any tangles you have missed.  Toenails need to be kept short.  We recommend that you learn to do these things yourself, even if you plan to have your dog professionally groomed, because toenails and brushing need to be done more often than clipping the hair.  Anyone who purchases a puppy from Barrel Valley is more than welcome to come back and we will teach you how to clip your dog yourself.  If you have time, we can give you a crash course before you take your puppy home, and are willing to help you learn.  That way, you will always know exactly how your dog is being treated by the groomer.  You will be the groomer.  If we can learn to do it, so can you.  The choice is yours.  A very basic grooming guide is included here to help you with clipping your dog.  You should accustom your puppy to regular brushing and clipping from a very young age to make it easier for you or your groomer.

We use a special grooming table with a grooming arm and noose to groom on.  If you choose not to purchase these items, a suitable substitute is to put a rubber bathtub mat on your clothes washer, with a leash attached to the ceiling.  Your dog will usually respect this and not try to get out of being groomed.  Your washer is usually at a good height for you to work also.

We train our dogs to lie quietly on their side while we do what is called “line brushing” which means that we start at the top and gradually brush through each hair, brushing it upward, section by section.  If you regularly keep your dog brushed out, this can be done in a few minutes.  This way, you can find any matted hair or sores or rashes which could appear on the dog’s skin.  We use either a slicker brush or a metal pin brush for this job.  If you find a tangle, you can use the slicker brush to carefully brush out the tangle, before it becomes bad enough to have to be cut out.  Even big mats can be picked out if you are patient.  The chest, underarms, belly and insides of legs are the usual trouble spots, so if the dog is lying down this makes your job easier.  I find that the Doggy Man pin brush, purchased from KV-Vet Supplies, works as well to brush out mats as a slicker. Shannon prefers the slicker, so whichever you are most comfortable with is fine.

The toenails can be cut at this time, also.  By just cutting off the tips of the toenails, they can be kept short.  It is cruel and inhumane to allow your dog’s toenails to grow so long that they curl into a circle or into the dog’s pads, or have to twist to the side so the dog can walk.  You and your dog can learn to do this.

After your dog is fully brushed out, it’s time to clip him.  There are several brands of clippers that work well, the two most popular are Oster and Andis.  They can be ordered from pet supply catalogs for about half the price of buying them in a pet store.  They last a long time and the blades can be sharpened.

To begin, using a #10 blade, clip the top one third of the inner and outer surface of the ear leather, against the growth of the hair.  Then clip the hair on the face and cheeks, forward, toward the nose.  And across the back of the skull, a strip about one inch wide beginning at the occiput, the bump on the back of the head, leaving a tuft of hair on the top of the head, which you will thin with thinning shears to blend in with the shorter hair you have clipped.

Leaving a strip of hair running down the back of the neck, you will, in the direction the hair grows, clip the hair from the sides of the neck to the line of the shoulder blade, and the front of the neck down to the point of the chest bone. 

The hair on the back can either be neatened with thinning shears, a stripping blade, or in a pet, you may want to use a #4 or 7 blade of your clippers.  The hair on the tail should be the same length as that on the back. 

Using your scissors, trim the hair from the bottoms of the feet and bell (cut the hair in an upside down pyramid) the lower leg hair up to keep your dog neat and not tracking in mud or dirt. 

With practice your dog will look great, and remember that mistakes grow out fast.  Good luck!

Some common health issues in your new puppy
Diarrhea:  When you take your new puppy home, it is not uncommon for diarrhea to occur due to the many changes in his environment; different water, a new family, changes in his activity, and stress.  A little looseness in bowel movements can be normal, if the puppy is still eating, drinking and playing.  The stress of moving to a new home can activate the development of roundworms which are very common in puppies.  During the first six months, have the stool checked often by your vet for worms, and treat appropriately.  Your puppy will have been wormed several times before it leaves here, but they are very susceptible to worms during their puppyhood.

Cherry Eye:  Many breeds, Cocker Spaniels, Beagles, Basset Hounds, St. Bernards and others, are prone, because of the shape of their eyes, to develop what is called Cherry Eye.  This is when a little gland in the inner corner of the eyelid pops out of the little socket it usually resides in.  It is unsightly, but is not a veterinary emergency.  Often they are caused by playing hard, stress, irritation from dust or weeds, etc. They are common around the time your puppy is getting his adult teeth also. They are not a sign of poor breeding, though some lines have more than others due to the shape of the eye.  Sometimes they can be put back into place by putting a drop of contact lens saline or ophthalmic antibiotic ointment into the eye and using the pad of your finger or thumb to gently massage it back into place.  If this doesn’t work immediately, then take your puppy to your veterinarian, who may try medicine first, and if that doesn’t work, it may be necessary to repair it either by removing it, or tacking it back into place.  This is another reason for keeping the hair groomed out of the eyes, since the hair can cause irritation which can cause cherry eye.

Puppy Pyoderma:  Some little girl puppies squat right down to the ground when they urinate, allowing the urine and bacteria to get on their skin.  This can cause irritation which can develop into a staph infection.  If you notice this in your puppy, begin by washing and drying the area frequently, and applying an antibiotic ointment to it.  If the condition does not clear up or worsens, please seek veterinary care.  If it spreads into the vulva, it can develop into a vaginal infection or urinary tract infection.  If the puppy begins straining to urinate, or urinates more frequently than you feel is normal, seek veterinary care. 

Dandruff:  Mites are found all over the world.  They grow on your skin, and on your puppy’s skin.  For the most part, our immune system keeps them in check.   Puppies between the age of 6-18 weeks of age, often don’t have fully developed immune systems, so they can’t keep up with the growth of things like mites.  The mites burrow under the skin and reproduce.  The white flakes you may see on a darker colored puppy are usually from mites.  Unless the skin appears to be infected, you can help your puppy keep these mites under control by giving them a couple of baths, several days apart, with a good flea shampoo.  Once the puppy’s immune system matures more, it should be able to control these mites with no treatment from you.  Any skin problem, for the life of your dog, which smells bad, has a discharge, bleeds or causes excessive itching should be treated by a veterinarian.  Some things you can treat yourself, some you need professional help with.

Ear Mites:  Ear mites are very common in Cocker Spaniels, they love the warm, dark, moist area .  Using an ear cleaner containing a mitacide will keep them under control.

The following are articles gleaned from web pages on the Internet which you should find helpful:

Establishing Yourself As Pack Leader
Whether you have just adopted a young pup or an adult dog, you have many things to teach your new companion. You want your dog to be loved, trained and lively, but not spoiled, a robot or uncontrollable. Dogs can be naturals at learning manners and commands, particularly when you understand a key aspect of their nature. Dogs are social, pack-oriented animals. Your dog will respect a strong, clear, fair leader. If you fail to establish this position for yourself, your dog will feel obligated to try to take the position of leader himself.

The Alpha role
In a natural state, dogs would live their entire lives within the closely structured social order of their pack. While young, they would begin to learn the workings of the pack's social system and, as they grew, begin to establish their place within the pack's dominance hierarchy. Dominance, submissiveness, leadership, obeying others--these are all concepts that are understood by every dog. These are all concepts that you must understand as well if you are to relate to your dog in a successful manner.

Each pack has a leader, an individual who is dominant over all other pack members. In wolf society, this individual is called the "alpha". This is the member who makes the decisions, who must be obeyed. This is the individual you must be in your dog's eyes.

Steps to establishing your role as Alpha
Professional trainers know that it is a waste of time to try to train a dog without first establishing themselves as alpha to the dog. Every dog needs a leader to listen to and adore. Without this leader, a dog will feel lost and unstructured. If you do not take the role of alpha, your dog will be forced to take the role himself. Here are some steps to establishing your role as the alpha. Notice that these involve both behavior and body language--two types of communication that your dog will understand.

1. Always praise your dog as if you own it. Put your hands firmly on the dog. Hug the dog. Pat him so that your hand gets warm from the contact. Do not praise him in a timid way.

2. Praise warmly, well and quickly. Do not drag out your praising of a working dog. Do not fawn over the dog just because he did one sit-stay.

3. Reprimand fairly and quickly, then forgive. Don't hold a grudge. When you put your hands on your dog, do it with confidence and authority. Hands on does not mean hitting. Hands on may mean a collar shake, a leash correction, a surprising assist into a sit or down. Do it quickly and with authority. Then when you have made the dog do exactly what you want--once--give him a hug. That's alpha.

4. Make the dog obey on the first command. Don't get into the habit of repeating yourself. A dog's hearing is significantly better than yours, and you can bet he heard you the first time.

5. Give commands only if you can follow through, and make sure you always follow through. If the dog is running across the park to meet another dog, do not yell "come"--if he decides not to obey, you have no means of correcting him. Once he accepts you as the leader, he will stop and return to you--because he will have learned that leaders are to be obeyed.

6. Give permission. Give it for what he is about to do anyway as long as it is okay with you. This does not mean you say OK when you see your dog steal a plate of cookies. This means you do say OK when your dog is about to get into the car for a ride with you, eat the food in his bowl, go out with you for his afternoon walk. It means that in a subtle way you are teaching your dog to look at you for approval and permission instead of making decisions on his own. Remember--the better behaved the dog, the more freedom and fun he can have.

7. Deny permission. Monitor your dog's behavior. Teach him some manners. Even if you like him to walk on your couch and coffee table, he shouldn't behave that way in other people's homes. When you take him to the lake, he should wait for permission to swim. It may be too cold some days or there may be too many young children swimming.

8. Do a sit-stay. This is an easy way to reinforce your role as alpha. Put the dog in a sit-stay for five to ten minutes. For particularly dominant dogs, make it a down-stay an even more submissive position. If he's a wild animal and he doesn't know the meaning of the word obedient, all the better. When he breaks--and he will--put him back. If he breaks 14 times, put him back 14 times. At the end of ten minutes, the dog knows you're alpha. He knows that anyone who holds his leash can call the shots. And this is with no yelling, no hitting, no electronic stimulation, no leaving him in the kennel or garage for three days, no nothing. Just a sit-stay. Easy and effective.

9. Be benevolent, but tough. Act like a top dog. Tough but loving. Always be fair and never get angry. Dogs understand what's fair and what's not.

10. Be a model to your dog. The top dog behaves with dignity, surety, confidence, authority, intelligence. This will help your dog to be calm himself.

11. If you have more than one dog in your home, you decide the "pecking" order within the dog pack by routinely feeding the "top" dog first, giving that dog bones first, etc. Make the others wait for their turn. This is another means of exerting your authority. Your dog will be happier.

You may think that this system is just being too controlling and not "fair" to the dog. Actually, by being consistent in your handling and in your demands on the dog, you are being fair. He needs structure--to understand what you want and what his responsibilities are. What is truly unfair is giving up a dog because of behavior problems--problems caused by lack of structure and guidance that were the owners' responsibility to give. Unfortunately, animal shelters are filled every day with these dogs. Firm, loving training will keep you and your dog happy--and keep you together.

Submissive Urination
Just like people, dogs have individual personalities and traits. Those dogs with submissive temperaments are usually good choices for first time dog owners or families with young children. Submissive dogs do not present the problems that some dominant personality dogs do. However, they can exhibit a trait that is a problem to some people. When approached or looked at by a person or even another dog, some dogs will urinate uncontrollably. This is termed submissive urination. The submissive wetting dog is not deliberately misbehaving but is responding due to excitement, apprehension or even fear. The dog is reacting on an emotional level to something in the situation that produces extreme feelings of submission. If you appreciate this, you can deal with the problem without getting angry or upset. Well controlled emotions are essential for the correction of this behavior.

Cause of submissive urination
Submissive urination has its roots in a puppy's early experiences with its mother. The mother is a very dominant figure to a young puppy. She also controls his elimination for the first several months of his life. By the time the puppy is several weeks old, the mother is prompting elimination by merely approaching him and nosing under his flank. Most dogs outgrow this puppy elimination response as they mature, but some dogs retain this response to urinate, particularly under stressful conditions. When excited, intimidated or fearful, the submissive urinater will resort to the puppy response of emptying his bladder.

Control of submissive urination
First, identify the things that trigger the dog to urinate. Often it is your homecoming, when you scold the dog, when you lean over the dog or when you approach or face the dog. The first step is to remove any signs of threat at those key times when the dog wets. By modifying your behavior, you should be able to get the dog to stop wetting. The time required will be anywhere from a few days to several months, depending on your skill and the severity of the problem.
If the dog wets when you approach, then do not approach. Instead, crouch right down and turn your side toward the dog. Avoid direct eye contact. Let the dog approach you. If the dog appears calm, pet him lightly under the chin. If petting produces wetting, try it again in a few days. Avoid talking to the dog in the situations that produce urination. As the dog's confidence builds, you can begin to add words spoken in a gentle, soft tone. Try "good dog". After a few days of this routine, ask the dog to "sit" and then tell him "good dog" when he complies. If this stimulated wetting, withhold it for a few days and then try it again.

Run through the situational training at least several times a day. For instance, if your homecoming produces submissive urination, follow the above outline described, then go out and come in immediately again...then again. This desensitization should help eliminate the behavior over a period of time. As the dog gains confidence, see if you can approach him in a standing position instead of a crouch. Let the dog's reactions tell you how to behave. If you see that tell-tale squat start in the back, back off a step and start over until you can again proceed.

Involve others in the program. Have family members or friends go through the same routine as described above. When several others have gone through it with the dog, it will greatly benefit the permanency of the correction. If backsliding occurs, just start over again at the beginning. Correction should only take a few sessions. Throughout the program, be patient and understanding. Your dog can sense your mood and will react to it accordingly.

Additional tips
1. Scheduling. The submissive dog will be more secure when he knows what to expect. Put him on a regular schedule and stick to it. Feed and exercise him at the same time every day.

2. Consistency. Be consistent in your expectations of the dog. Always treat him fairly. Make sure everyone in the family does the same.

3. Don't get angry. Submissive urination is an involuntary response to fear or excitement. He's not "getting even" or trying to annoy anyone. Being calm and ignoring it works much better than yelling. Be calm and reassuring but do not baby the dog. This can cause wetting too.

4. Obedience training. Once the dog has rudimentary control over his bladder, he will benefit from obedience training.  Obedience training can give the submissive dog more confidence in himself and will help reduce the incidence of submissive urination.

Crate training
Crate training has long been accepted by professional trainers and veterinarians as one of the quickest and least stressful ways to mold desirable behaviors in dogs. Although many new dog owners initially reject the idea of using a crate because they consider it cruel or unfair to the dog, a crate helps to satisfy the dog's denning instinct while being the answer to many problems faced by dogs and their owners.

What is a dog crate?
We recommend the commonly available plastic "airline carrier". Plastic is easy to clean, lightweight, and doesn't squeak like the metal crates do when the dog moves inside them. They are generally more comfortable than a wire crate, and make the dog feel more secure. Crates come in a variety of sizes proportioned to fit any type of dog. It's just big enough for a dog to stand up, lie down and turn around in. Its purpose is to provide confinement for reasons of safety, housebreaking, prevention of destructive behavior, or travel. The crate is a place for the dog to be when no one is around to supervise. It is the dog's bed and sanctuary.

Why use a dog crate?
Correctly and humanely used, a crate can have many advantages for both you and your dog
Can enjoy peace of mind when leaving your dog home alone, knowing that nothing can be soiled or destroyed--and that she is comfortable, protected and not developing any bad habits.
Can housebreak your dog quickly by using the confinement to encourage control, establish a regular routine for outdoor elimination, and prevent accidents at night or when left alone.
Can effectively confine your dog at times when she may be under foot (i.e., when you have guests, at mealtimes), over-excited, or bothered by too much confusion or too many children.
Can travel with your dog safely and be assured that she will more easily adapt to strange surroundings as long as she has her familiar "security blanket".

Your dog...
Can enjoy the privacy and security of a "den" of her own, to which she can retreat when tired, stressed or ill.
Can avoid much of the fear, confusion and anxiety caused by your reaction to problem behavior.
Can more easily learn to control her bowels and to associate elimination only with the outdoors.
Can be spared the loneliness and frustration of having to be isolated, in the basement or outdoors, from indoor family surroundings when being restricted.
Can be more conveniently included in family outings and trips instead of being left behind alone.

Because dogs are highly social animals, it is important that they are indoors much of the time, even when you are not home or are sleeping and can't interact with them. Your dog needs to feel that she is a part of the family, and that feeling of belonging comes from being included in family activities and living in the house even when her family may not be there. A crate allows you to leave her in the house when you are away, or unable to supervise her. If she were to spend large amounts of time outside, she would very likely start to exhibit problem behaviors such as barking, digging, fence jumping and chewing. These problems can be avoided by keeping her inside and making her an integral part of the family.

Use but don't abuse
Confinement in a dog crate is not recommended for a dog who must be frequently left alone for extended periods of time, such as all or much of the day while you are at work or school. Four or five hours while you go shopping, or overnight so you can sleep without having to worry about what the dog is doing is fine. If the dog must be left for longer periods of time, she should be confined to a larger area, such as a basement, secured room or exercise pen. Crate or no crate, any dog constantly denied the human companionship she needs and craves will be lonely and will find ways to express anxiety, depression and stress.

Crate specifics
Crates can be obtained from most pet supply stores, some department stores, or you can check the newspapers to see if you can find a used crate at a lower cost. The cost of a crate may seem expensive at first glance, but remember that it will last for the lifetime of the dog. Also compare it to the cost of losing furnishings and carpets to a dog's unrestricted behavior.

Your dog's crate should be just big enough for her to stand up, lie down and turn around in. If your dog is a puppy, you will need to estimate her adult size and buy a crate that will be big enough for her as an adult dog. Then put cardboard boxes and replace them accordingly. To size a dog for a crate, stand the dog next to the crate. The top of the crate should extend two inches above the dog's shoulders. The end of the crate should be two inches from the dog's rump. Perfect fit.

Introducing the crate
Place the crate in the most often used room in the house, such as the kitchen or family room. At night, move the crate into your bedroom. Make the crate as comfortable as possible, with a blanket or towels for bedding. Leaving the door open, try to coax the dog into the crate using a phrase like "Get in your bed". Place a treat in the crate and praise the dog when she goes inside to get it. Let her leave immediately if she chooses. Spend time by the crate, talking to the dog and petting her as long as she's in the crate. Stop this attention when she leaves the crate.

Once she seems comfortable going in and out, close the door with her and some treats inside. Stay with her, talk to her, and give her treats if she seems nervous. At first, confine the dog for short periods. If she whines while in the crate, do not let her out. If you do, you have just taught the dog she can get her way by being vocal. Wait until she becomes quiet before releasing her. As she begins to positively regard the crate, the time periods can lengthen. Soon the dog will find comfort and security in her "den".

Crate training a dog takes anywhere from 30 minutes to a week. Puppies usually accept their crate quicker than adult dogs, but with persistence and patience any dog will soon view the crate as a secure and safe haven. Although not an answer for all behavior problems or a substitute for your personal time spent training the dog, a crate will help your dog form positive behaviors and become an important member of your family.

Confining Your Dog
Confining your dog is a reality of modern life. It is never appropriate, in this day and age, for dogs to run loose. Besides breaking the law, loose dogs become lost, are hit by cars, are easily stolen, injure or kill other animals, damage property, chase joggers and bite children. As a responsible guardian, it is your obligation to provide your dog not only with a safe and secure environment, but with ample exercise and stimulation as well. A securely fenced yard is one aspect of fulfilling the responsibilities. For those of not fortunate enough to have a fenced yard, the need for active supervision and involvement on your dog's activities is even greater.

The best situation - a fenced yard
A securely fenced yard is the best way to provide a healthful and safe environment for your dog while allowing her the freedom to exercise and be outdoors. A fenced yard will protect your dog from the dangers of running loose. Fences will not, however, keep your dog entertained or provide obedience training, exercise your dog, take her for walks or provide the stimulation necessary for her mental health. Because of the highly social nature of dogs and their dependence on their human "pack", it is best if your dog is not left alone outside when you are not home. Being alone when you are gone may produce feelings of insecurity and cause the dog to attempt to get out of the yard to locate you. Or she may become bored and escape in an attempt to find something to entertain her. In addition, barking tends to increase when a dog is left alone, since she is more aware of potentially threatening sounds.

When deciding on the type of fence to construct, first check local ordinances for any restrictions and also check with neighbors along the boundary lines as to the type and height of fence to be constructed. Probably the best fence for a dog (although the most expensive) is six feet of solid wood. Wood looks attractive, prevents excess barking at distractions, is difficult to climb over and serves as a barrier to sound and wind. You do need to be cautious regarding the type of preservatives used on the wood, as some can be toxic to dogs if ingested. Chain link fencing is durable and strong, although it can be scaled by some dogs who find the holes just right for climbing and does encourage barking at passing distractions. When choosing a type of chain link, pick one that has holes small enough that a nose or paw an not become stuck. In addition, round or diamond shaped holes are better than square ones at discouraging climbing.

Securing your yard
To ensure that your fenced yard is secure for your dog, special attention needs to be paid to gates and the bottom and tops of fences. Gates should be checked on all sides for gaps that a dog can squeeze through or become stuck in. Latches on gates should higher than the dog can reach, and are even more secure if fitted with a lock. Some dogs will attempt to jump over a fence, especially one under five feet in height. While small areas can be covered with chain link or plastic panels, large yards can be secured by installing extender panels at a 45 degree angle on the top of the fence. If the dog is using a corner of the fence to get over, sometimes this can be stopped merely by securing a piece of wood over the top of the corner. Since more dogs dig out under fences than jump over them its a good idea to install the bottom of the fencing in a shallow trench, then fill in the trench with cinder blocks, large stones, railroad ties or concrete. This should discourage even the most enthusiastic digger.

Enriching your yard
Even a small yard can be modified to provide your dog with a healthy environment. Ample amounts of clean, fresh water should be available at all times. Clean, warm bedding (washed often) should be offered in an insulated area protected from the elements if the dog is ever to be outside when you are not there to supervise. For dogs that must spend significant amounts of time outside alone, a wide variety of toys should be provided. For safety's sake, toys should be large and made of durable materials. A good combination of toys to have is: a large, indestructible ball, a big rope toy, Nylabones and hard, rubber chew toys (such as Kong toys). For maximum use, rotate toys so that your dog doesn't become bored with particular ones.

Kennel runs
Prefabricated chain link dog runs are available for purchase, ready for easy assembly. Although convenient and inexpensive for humans, these dog runs are not adequate for a dog that must spend a significant amount of time outdoors. They are good for house dogs that need a spot to relieve themselves while you are busy getting ready for work and can also be used to give a house dog access to the outdoors through a dog door. For those with limited space and long working hours, a dog run can prove helpful.

The most important feature of kennel runs is shape, not size. Long and narrow is preferable to square as square encourages the dog to walk in a circle and this leads to quick frustration. A long, narrow run encourages exercise, although the dog will still spend most of it's time sitting by the gate, waiting for someone to open it. Although they have their place, kennel runs do not take the place of a daily walk and exercise gained through play and training.

Electronic fences
One method of confinement that is on the increase is the electronic fence. The lure of this method is cosmetic, in that you do not need to build a fence that you would otherwise not choose to build. An electronic fence consists of a wire buried in the ground around the perimeter of an area marked to contain a dog. The dog is then equipped with a collar having a box that responds with electronic shocks once the dog comes within a predetermined range of the unseen "fence".

There are severe problems associated with electronic fences. First and foremost is the humane issue of confining a dog through the use of aversive electrical shocks. In addition, if a dog is momentarily distracted by an outside stimulus, such as another dog or a cat, it may run through the barrier before responding to the shock. The dog is then stuck on the wrong side of the "fence" and will not enter back into the yard. Dogs with an adequate pain threshold will leave the yard despite the shock they receive. Since other, free-roaming dogs do not wear the electronic collars, nothing prevents them from entering the yard and attacking the resident dog. Humans can also enter the yard, and nothing will prevent someone from stealing the dog if so inclined. Lastly, the shock a dog feels from an electronic fence can produce behavior problems. The shock may be associated by the dog with the stimulus causing the dog to charge the fence, such as a jogger running by, and the dog may then develop an aggressive attitude towards all joggers since they are seen as the ones who caused the pain to occur.

Chaining - not an option
A stationary chain to confine a dog is sometimes used as an alternative to allowing a dog to run loose. Although better than becoming lost or being hit by a car, chaining is not a workable long-term solution in a dog's eyes. Chaining a dog for any significant period of time is almost certain to produce severe behavioral problems; such as aggression, hyperactivity, excessive barking, excessive digging and even self-mutilation. Since chained dogs also tend to constantly pull on their chains, they can suffer from muscle strain or even inadvertently choke themselves if they become wrapped around an object. In addition, chained dogs suffer from stress, boredom, and loneliness due to their confinement.

If no fenced options are available, the only workable choice for tying a dog is by using a cable run. This is long cable strung between two trees or similar objects. A pulley with a chain or leash is attached to the cable. The dog is able to run back and forth along the cable and has movement from side to side. This set-up is available from pet-supply stores or through mail-order catalogs. Look for a strong cable, quality metal fittings, a spring on the trolley to cushion the shock of the dog's movement and at least a 15 foot lead. When deciding where to locate the cable, be aware of possible dangerous situations, such as any object that the dog could become caught on or wrapped around. Tying a dog out in any situation is acceptable only if it is 1) short term (15 minutes at most) and 2) supervised during use. A dog should never be left on a chain of any kind when no one is home.

Developmental Stages of Puppies
0-7 weeks
The developmental tasks of this period all involve learning appropriate social behavior with other dogs. Interactions with mother and siblings teach bite inhibition, appropriate submissive and attention-soliciting behavior, attention-receptive behavior, and general confidence with other dogs. Orphan puppies and single-pup litters are at a disadvantage when it comes to learning how to be a dog among dogs. Some of these lessons can be learned later (though how late is "too late" has not been clearly determined) under carefully arranged and supervised conditions. Orphan puppies, especially those bottle-fed from a very early age without mother or siblings, make very problematic pets without knowledgeable remedial behavior shaping.

7-8 weeks
Ideal time for going home. This is the very best age for forming strong bonds with people. Puppies are mentally mature enough to adjust to changes, and to begin their training in manners. Research on this critical period has even pinpointed an ideal day for going into a new home: the 49th!
Note from Joan:  This statement is very true if the puppy has been raised as a kennel dog, away from human interaction, however, if the puppy has been home-raised, and well-socialized, it will adapt to a new home at any age.

8-10 weeks
Sometimes referred to as the "fear period", the puppy is especially impressionable now. Object-associations formed during this period leave indelible imprints. It's vital that the puppy have as many positive experiences with people, other animals, and novel situations as can be arranged. It's equally vital to avoid painful or scary experiences until after 11 weeks. Those mildly unpleasant experiences that can't be avoided (like puppy shots) should be turned into positive ones by your reaction: always "jolly up" a scared puppy by laughing, praising the puppy, and treating the event as a game. Never give the appropriately human empathetic response of soothing reassurance, as this convinces the puppy that it must be really awful since you're upset too!

8-16 weeks
Puppy kindergarten classes teach the owner how to teach and the puppy how to learn! Make sure all training sessions are fun and successful. Take advantage of the puppy's dependence on you and strong desire to be near you to teach him to be reliable on "come".  A puppy should have at least two "puppy shots" before being exposed to strange dogs at a class.

Never punish a puppy, for any reason, if he has come to your call--or come to you at all! In fact, avoid trainers/training techniques which rely on punishment. Get the puppy out into the world and expose him to as many new things and different ages, sexes and races of people as possible. Always make sure you can control the situation so the experiences will be positive. Have the puppy on a leash so that you can intervene if anything threatens or frightens him.

4-6 months
This pre-adolescent period is characterized by the gradual increase of independence and confidence. The puppy will venture further and further from you side, motivated by his own curiosity and increasing confidence in the world. Continue training, in a class if possible. Begin incorporating distractions into your practice sessions. Take the puppy with you everywhere! This period is very important in cementing a bond strong enough to withstand the trials of adolescence (right around the corner!) Make certain your puppy is spayed or neutered by 6 months. There is absolutely no reason to allow the disruptive effects of sex hormones to complicate his/your life!

6-12 months
Even with the best preparation during puppyhood, things will be "hairy" from time to time during this period. The puppy/young dog's needs for stimulation, companionship and activity are very high, and his tolerance for boredom and inactivity are low. This is the period in which sexual maturity is reached in unaltered animals. Owners will experience "testing" behaviors reminiscent of human teenagers. Avoid situations in which the dog's occasional lapses of obedience could have harmful results--like off-leash work in an unsecured area. Continue to provide safe opportunities for vigorous play and exercise, and safe toys to occupy teeth and mind when he's confined. This is not the time to expect "model" behavior.

12-18 months
Somewhere during this period, your dog will reach emotional maturity: sooner, with small breeds, and later for large dogs. At that time, dogs with tendencies toward dominance will begin to assert themselves, hoping to raise their status in the "pack" (your household!) This behavior occurs within a structure of familiar relationships and only when the animal is approaching emotional maturity. Living with a dominant dog does not mean that the owner must "conquer" the dog, or give up attempts to control him. But challenges from the dog must be recognized immediately and taken seriously. Punishment is not the appropriate method of dealing with this, and is likely to provoke a dangerous response. Consult a competent behaviorist whenever the first warnings of dominance aggression manifests itself.

Dealing With Fleas

This problem used to be a huge one, but thanks to new advances in flea control, your dog doesn’t need to have fleas.  We recommend the use of either Frontline or Advantage, both of which you can get from your veterinarian.  Both are topically applied products which kill fleas quickly, but are not dangerous to either you or your dog.  Frontline is effective for one to three months and has the advantage of remaining effective through both baths and being rained on.  Frontline also is effective against ticks.  The initial cost seems high, but these products are well worth it, and help to prevent skin and coat problems from flea-bite allergies.

House Training Your Dog
Check out a quick and easy guide to take the mystery out of house training offered by Academy of Canine Behavior, Bothell, WA (206) 486-9567.

There are three different general categories of house training:
Basic house training--This applies to establishing an allowable toilet area for puppies or older dogs that are new to your home. Problems can include both urination and defecation.
Submissive wetting--This relates only to urination that occurs when greeting or disciplining, or if the dog is highly excited.
Marking--This can include defecation, but is more commonly a urination marking problem. Both male or female dogs can display this behavior. It is only seen in dogs that have reached puberty.
If your dog has a problem with submissive wetting and is older than four months, or if your dog is displaying marking behavior, we would suggest you contact us for an evaluation. The evaluation will help determine why there is a problem. There is no charge for this service.

House training
If you are committed and prepared from the first moment you introduce your new puppy or dog to your home, it should take about two weeks to achieve appropriate house training behavior.
If you have a puppy or dog that has already developed a bad habit in house training, new reliable behavior will take at least six weeks to establish.

Always make sure there are no medical problems complicating issues. Any type of urinary tract infection or intestinal upset makes house training difficult at best. Some medications can also interfere with the process.

Diet can be very important. Some foods can make it more difficult to house train a dog.

Toilet areas can be as general as an area outside, or as specific as a litterbox. You must have a clear idea, however, of what is an acceptable toilet spot before you start educating your dog. And yes, your dog can be trained to use only a specific corner of the yard if you are willing to take the time to train your dog to that level of understanding.

Your attitude is probably the most important ingredient in the formula of house training. You are taking your puppy or dog through a process of education. He does not know that it is wrong for him to use your carpet as a toilet. His mother never told him. It is not pre-programmed into his genetic coding. It is your job to help him understand the whole concept. Do you speak "dog"? He doesn't speak "people". This language barrier is best conquered with patience and understanding.

Create a schedule
1.You are creating a schedule for your dog. Create one that is convenient for you! 2.Do not feed your dog free choice meals while establishing a house training schedule. Keep all meals on a predictable schedule. Snacks and treats should be kept to a minimum while setting a schedule. And avoid any "rich" foods that could upset the bowels of your dog. 3.Establish a bed time and waking-up time. Try to stick to these times as close as possible. 4.Young dogs need a lot of nap times; make sure the schedule provides for these. Keep in mind, the dog will need to be taken out after all naps. 5.Anytime the dog has been emotionally stimulated (i.e. badly scared or frightened, a very rowdy play session), she may experience the need to eliminate. 6.Most dogs will be able to "hold it" for eight hours during the night within two to three days, but day time schedules have a lot more variables. Pay attention, supervise and educate your dog and you will establish a daytime schedule you both can live with.

Supervise in the house
1.If you know where your dog is at all times, and what he is doing, you can catch him before he makes a mistake. 2.If he starts to make a mistake, firmly but calmly say "No" and take him straight out to the toilet area. Do not yell at him or chase him. 3.If you are busy and cannot totally supervise your dog, put him in a contained area where he won't make a mistake, or tie him to a doorknob in the area you are in. 4.If you are sitting watching TV or reading, have the dog with you or on a leash. This way, the dog cannot wander into another room and make a mistake. Before you relax, give your dog some of his toys to play with, so that he learns that being with you is pleasant.

When supervision is not possible (gone to work all day)
1.Provide a small area to contain the dog in (e.g. a small bathroom with all temptations removed, a fenced-off corner of the garage, or a crate). 2.Do not leave food or water with the dog, and do not load the dog down with "doggie cookies" just before you leave. 3.If you are gone for more than eight hours, it would be good to find someone who can go in and give him a drink and a chance to relieve himself.

Take your dog out
1.Take your dog out to the desired toilet area and stand quietly while the dog investigates the area for the right spot. This is not play time! Do not distract the dog by trying to talk him into "hurrying up". Three to five minutes is the length of time you should give the dog. If he doesn't go in that time, return him to the house, contain him another half hour, then try again. 2.When he does start to potty: quietly and calmly praise him while he's in the process of going. Use the word you have chosen for this (e.g. "good potty"). 3.When he is finished you can praise him with more enthusiasm. 4.Learn your dog's habits. Some dogs need to "potty" two or three times per outing. Urination is often followed by defecation. 5.If the weather is foul and you are not happy about having to take your dog outside, it is very important not to let him sense this. You may create a dog that doesn't like using the outside as his toilet in foul weather. 6.While you are learning your dog's individual habits, take him out when he wakes up, after he has eaten and after all play sessions.

When you catch the dog in the act
1.Quietly, but very firmly say "No". If you must add volume to get the dog's attention, clap your hands. 2.Help the dog get outside to the appropriate area. Follow the preceding instructions for taking the dog out. 3.Clean the mess with an odor neutralizer or an odor killing product. The dog's sense of smell is much better than ours. If it smells like a toilet area to the dog, he will continue using that area for a toilet.

If you find a mess later
1.Realize that the dog wasn't properly supervised. 2.Put the dog on a leash and calmly bring her to the scene of the accident. Keep the dog to your side, not in front of you, while the dog is watching, quickly and very firmly scold the potty. Do not scold the dog. 3.Blot up some of the urine on a piece of paper, or pick up some of the stool with a tissue, and take it and the dog out to the appropriate toilet area. Place the paper with the potty on the ground and with the dog watching, praise it for being in the right area. Then leave it there. 4.Clean up the remaining mess as previously described.

Punishment vs. Correction
While both punishment and correction are forms of negative reaction to a dog's behavior, they are not interchangeable training methods. Unfortunately, many dog owners rely on punishment rather that correction. And again, unfortunately, most dogs never understand what the punishment is for.

Example 1
Behavior: Dog gets into the garbage.
Desired Behavior: Dog stays out of the garbage at all times.
Punishment: Human comes home, sees garbage all over the kitchen, drags the dog into the kitchen, severely scolds the dog and hits him while explaining that the dog should not get into the garbage.
Result: Dog is afraid to see the human come home, still gets into the garbage as it is a fun, rewarding activity and dog does not associate the garbage with the scolding.
Correction: Human sees dog in garbage and scolds dog and/or scruff shakes dog immediately. After the short correction, the human gives the dog a command he can do well (sit, down, etc.) and then praises the dog for obedience.
Result: The dog will associate the scolding and scruff shake with the action of getting into the garbage if timed properly. Dog will continue to enjoy the human's return.

Example 2
Behavior: Dog gets on the couch.
Desired Behavior: Dog is to get on the couch only when invited.
Punishment: Human yells at the dog and spanks him when the dog is discovered on the couch without permission.
Result: When the dog is lying on the couch and sees the human approaching, he runs. When the human is not home, the dog continues to take long naps on the couch.
Correction: When the dog attempts to get on the couch without permission, the human says in a firm voice, "Off" and gently pulls the dog off the couch by the collar. The dog is then asked to sit. When he complies, he is praised by the human. The human also teaches the dog to get on the couch when invited, using a command such as "come on".
Result: The dog learns he is not to get on the couch without an invitation, but is given a task (sitting) that is constructive and that brings forth praise from the human. This serves to maintain a positive relationship between the two. By also learning to get on the couch in response to a command the dog begins looking to the human for an invitation rather than inviting himself.

Example 3
Behavior: Dog gets on the couch.
Desired Behavior: Dog is never to get on the couch.
Correction: When the human leaves the house, he covers the couch so that the dog is unable to get on the couch--chairs upside down work well --or the dog may be placed in an area without access to the couch. When home, place balloons under the seat cushions of the couch. If the dog attempts to get on the couch, these pop and startle him, causing him to get off the couch. Another way is to place duct tape, sticky side up, on the tops of the cushions. This sticky surface is disagreeable to the dog and he jumps down. These methods should be used only when you are home, to eliminate any chance of injury to the dog.
Result: The dog learns to avoid the couch because of the scary noise that it emits or the uncomfortable surface it presents when he sits on it. Since this behavior is not dependent on interaction with the human, the dog will learn to avoid the couch even when the human is not home. Hopefully, the human has provided some place just as cozy as the couch for him to sleep in and call his own.

Using correction
The purpose of each of these reactions is to teach the dog something. It's important to remember that you will never teach your dog nothing. In other words, he will always learn from you whether you realize it or not. This is why it's important to realize what you are teaching the dog by your actions. You may be teaching him the wrong lesson without knowing it. Anger has no part in any teaching process. If you remember that this is an educational process for the dog it may make it easier not to "fly off the handle". (Yes, we do know what it's like to come home after a long day at work only to be greeted with the house full of garbage!)

However, correction alone is not enough to create a well trained dog. It does not teach a dog what to do--just what not to do. Remember that you need to teach the dog what you want as well as what you don't want. Show him the desired response. Once the response makes sense to the dog (he starts to react to the command about 50% of the time) it is time to use a correction when he fails to respond. Needless to say, every time the dog starts to respond, he should be praised.

Bringing Your New Dog Home
Dog trainers and behaviorists believe good habits can be easily taught (and bad habits broken) from the very first moment you arrive home with your newly adopted dog. Follow these simple steps and you and your canine companion will be well on your way to a long and happy life together.
1.Before you take your new dog into the house for the first time, show her where her toilet area will be. Don't take her away from this area until she has gone to the bathroom. While you're standing there, holding the leash and waiting for her to "go", don't talk to her. This is not the time to try to talk to her into "going". When she does go, quietly praise her while she's in the act. Use the word you'll be using for this process. For example, say, "good potty, good potty."

2.When you enter the house, make sure that you go in the door before the dog does. In the canine world, leaders always lead.

3.Keep the dog on a leash and give her a tour of your home. While doing this, teach her the rules of the house. If, for example, you don't want her on the furniture, now is the time to let her know. If there are certain rooms she will not be allowed in, let her know from the very beginning. If the dog has had any obedience training, stop in every room during the tour and ask her to do something for you. This may be as simple as asking for a sit. Or, if she knows more ask for a down. If all she knows is how to shake hands, ask her to do that in each room. The idea behind this is to let the dog know that you have the right to ask her to do things for you in her new environment.

4.After the tour of the house, take her back out to the toilet area to see if she needs to go again.

5.Next, give her a tour of the yard. Do this on a leash. Again, ask her to do something for you in various areas of the yard. Its' very easy for dogs to get the idea that they can do anything they want in the yard. Help the dog learn from the beginning that she still has to mind, even if she's outside.

6.Take the dog to the area where you and she will be spending the majority of your time, for example the living room or family room. (When you take her back into the house again, don't forget to go in the door first!) Find something sturdy to loop her leash on (doorknobs usually work best) and tie her to it. Then go sit down away from her. If she starts pitching a fit, ignore her. Don't' even look at her. When she's quiet, look at her and talk softly to her, praising her for being such a good dog. She needs to learn that quiet, good behavior will get attention.

7.The first time you feed your dog, even if you simply give her a dog treat, make sure you eat something before she does. And make sure that she is aware you're eating. After you have finished your treat, offer her something. But first, it's important to ask her to do something for you. Asking her to sit would be just fine.

Keep in mind that from the moment you bring your new dog home she is learning the rules of your "territory". It's up to you to help her understand what you want.

And, most of all, remember that we are here for you, to help you with any problems which arise.  Don’t hesitate to call or e-mail us.   And we especially love to get Christmas cards from our babies with photos!

Joan Kunkle - 724-478-3428 - barrel/ or
Shannon McCracken - 724-478-1195 -

Health record:

Your puppy was examined on_______________________ by Dr. James Fox, DVM, of Apollo, PA, 724-478-4800. Your veterinarian has my permission to call Dr. Fox with any questions he/she has pertaining to either my breeding practices, or this particular puppy.  The health certificate is enclosed with the other paperwork on this puppy.

Your puppy has been de-wormed on the following dates, with the following wormers:
_____________  with ______________________.          _____________  with ______________________.
_____________  with ______________________.          _____________  with ______________________.
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_____________  with ______________________.          _____________  with ______________________.
_____________  with ______________________.          _____________  with ______________________.

Your puppy was vaccinated on:
_____________  with ______________________.          _____________  with ______________________.
_____________  with ______________________.          _____________  with ______________________.
_____________  with ______________________.          _____________  with ______________________.
_____________  with ______________________.          _____________  with ______________________.
_____________  with ______________________.          _____________  with ______________________.
_____________  with ______________________.          _____________  with ______________________.

The initial puppy vaccination were given to you puppy by the breeder.  The labels from the vaccine is attached here so that your veterinarian can see the exact vaccine that was used and administer the appropriate further vaccinations that he/she deems best for the health of your puppy.  Every veterinarian is different and I recommend using whatever vaccination protocol he/she feels is best for your puppy.  I prefer to give 3 shots  spaced 3 weeks apart.  These are usually administered at the approximate ages of 6, 9 and 12 weeks followed by a booster at one year.  I follow a 3 year schedule for adult vaccinations.  And the puppy will also need to have rabies vaccinations usually on the 3 year schedule.  Discuss all options with your veterinarian.