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How to pick the perfect puppy for you

Bringing a new puppy into the family is a big adventure. This little fluffy bundle is going to be an important part of your lives for the next 10-15 years so it’s important to pick the right puppy for you.

Choosing a breed of dog

At Crufts 2018 there were almost 200 breeds of pedigree dogs on show. From teeny tiny Chihuahuas to great big Dogue de Bordeaux. There were short coats, long coats, different colours, different markings and very different characters. These were just dog breeds currently recognised by the Kennel Club. As well as pedigrees there are what is known as designer dogs. Deliberately bred crossbreeds with great names such as labradoodles, cockerpoos or pomskis.

When you go to pick the perfect puppy for you, it’s important to pick a breed whose size, shape and general temperament will fit well with your lifestyle.  Don’t fall in love with the fuzzy face on the internet ad until you have asked yourself some questions.

  • How big will this dog grow? Do I have room for him in my home, my car and my garden?
  • How much exercise will he need when he’s fully grown? Can I commit to all that walking – even in bad weather?
  • Do I have the time and the patience to train him and socialise him so that he grows into a happy healthy dog who won’t embarrass me in public?
  • Will his coat need a lot of care and am I able to either groom him myself or afford professional grooming services?
  • Does this breed have any inherited conditions? How can I reduce the risk of buying a puppy with hip, eye or elbow problems that could affect the quality of our life together?
  • Is my lifestyle likely to change in the next 10-15 years? We can’t always plan for changes but whatever happens in the journey of your life, you would like to think that your dog could travel alongside you all the way.

Finding a puppy breeder

A dog’s physical and mental health depends on lots of things. Not least of those are his genetics and what he experiences in the first few weeks of his life.

Health testing for puppy’s parents

Breeders of pedigree dogs are encouraged to have their brood bitches and stud dogs tested for inherited diseases like hip dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). If a pedigree dog is on your shopping list, do some research and find out what parent’s should be tested for. A responsible breeder who cares more about the puppy’s health than their own profits will have bred from healthy parents who are not likely to pass on inherited illnesses.

Suitable premises for breeding

No puppy should begin its life in filthy conditions, deprived of mental stimulation and opportunities for exercise and play. Sadly that’s exactly what happens for some pups. As a dog behaviourist and a dog trainer, I can promise you that pups reared in those conditions are likely to have problems adapting to life amongst humans.

If you suspect that the litter of puppies you have spotted in an advert come from a puppy farm, please don’t buy one. Instead tell a dog rescue charity about your concerns and ask them to check it out. You may think that by buying a puppy from somewhere like that, you are rescuing it from a horrible life. Wrong. You are filling the breeders pocket and encouraging him or her to breed even more pups to get even richer. You are also most likely taking home a dog who will have health and behavioural problems for the whole of his life. It’s not easy to be hard-hearted. Neither is it pleasant to be broken-hearted if things go wrong.

What to look for in a good breeder

  • The puppies are all bright eyed, waggy tailed and full of energy
  • Their bedding is clean and they are kept in an area that is light, bright, well ventilated and not too pongy. A litter of puppies has a distinctive smell but it shouldn’t be overwhelmingly strong, neither should the area smell of ammonia or decay.
  • Puppies have plenty of space to play in and a few toys
  • You can meet the mother dog
  • Mother dog looks healthy and is happy to greet you (if Mum is nervous or grumpy she may have passed those traits onto some of the pups)
  • All of the puppies have been (or will be) checked by the vet before they leave the litter. The law says that breeders should have puppies microchipped and vaccinated before they are sold on.
  • If the puppies have been reared in the breeders own home that’s fabulous. If they’ve been reared in an outdoor kennel take note of how they react to your voice, clapping hands and waggling toys. By the age of 4-5 weeks they should be curious about everything but not nervous. If they are nervous about new experiences, they may have been inadequately socialised.

Trust your instincts. If there is something about the puppy, the premises, the people or the parents that makes you feel uncomfortable. Don’t commit to buy. There are a lot of puppies out there and one of them is perfect for you. Believe me, you’ll know it when you find it.

Picking your perfect puppy from the litter

You’ve chosen your ideal breed of dog and found a breeder you can trust.  Now it’s time to decide which puppy from the litter is going to be you companion for the next decade.

Gender issues

Should you choose a bitch or a dog? Personally I don’t think that one gender has a bearing on a dog’s character. If you have no plans to breed from your puppy in the future, forget what it’s underneath looks like.  Look for a personality that you could love.

Temperament matters

If this is your first dog, you might be tempted to make your selection based on markings, ear size, facial features or some other aspect of its appearance. That could be a mistake.  Your puppy’s future will largely be defined by amount and the quality of the training and socialisation you put in. A poorly trained dog is a pain in the backside – no matter how good looking it might be. So choose a puppy whose personality appeals to you.

Do you like the bouncy bossy one who stamps on his litter mates to get your attention? He’ll most likely try your patience by pushing the boundaries. If you like that sort of challenge and won’t give up – he might be the one for you.

What about the quiet observer who sits back from the rest of the litter and thinks hard about whether or not he should join in? He might try your patience by being fearful of new places and faces. Socialising him will be an interesting, sometimes frustrating but ultimately rewarding process. Do you have the time and patience?

Help with decision making

A good breeder will know the individual personalities of his or her puppies and will be able to advise you. They will be more interested in finding the right home for the pup than in getting it sold and out of the door.

My advice would be take someone with you who understands dogs and knows a little about your lifestyle. Asking a child to choose a puppy is a bad move. Leave the children at home and make the decision for them.

If you’re still not sure, then why not ask a dog behavioural expert to come with you and offer independent advice?


A good breeder will give you the option of returning the dog for a refund if he or she doesn’t suit your home or family. Normally, you only have a week or two to make your decision. So there are a couple of things you must do within a day or two of bringing your new puppy home.

When you get puppy home

That’s a big subject and I’ll write about it in another blog but there are two things to do as soon as possible after buying a new puppy. Before you build a strong bond with him or her

  1. Visit the vet for a puppy health check and
  2. Find out about puppy training classes in your area. Training is not just about learning commands, it’s about introducing your pup to the big wide world. And the sooner you start, the easier it will be.

Helpful articles

Pedigree puppies are listed for sale on the Kennel Club website. There’s also a lot of information on this site about breed characteristics, puppy health

KC questionnaire to help you find the right breed and the right puppy for you

Puppy training classes in Surrey


Making dog walks fun for all

How to take the misery out of walking the dog and turn it into a fun experience for everyone

Taking your dog for a walk is not only essential for his and health and wellbeing, it’s a pleasure. Or at least it should be. Unfortunately, for many dog owners, “walkies” is a chore, hard work, embarrassing, painful or a combination of all those things.  It needn’t be that way. The experts at CK9 Training are here to help make walking the dog into a fun experience for everyone.

Exercising the dog is a pleasure when your dog trots along beside you with a nice loose lead and his focus on you.

Pulling on the lead

It’s a real misery when your dog pulls so hard on the lead that you are dragged along and he sounds as though he’s choking. Loose lead walking is an important skill that you and your dog can work on together.

First of all you need to figure out why your dog is pulling so hard – after all, it can’t be comfortable for him. So what would take away his urge to run like the wind with you dragging along behind him? Is he afraid of something around him and trying to escape from it? Does he think that the destination is better than the journey?

At CK9 we don’t believe in rough handling a dog or any cruel methods of persuading him to slow down. We think you need to offer him a really strong incentive to walk nicely. And that’s the whole ethos of our reward-based training methods. With the right training methods and plenty of practice, most dogs can learn not to pull on the lead….even seniors.

Why not phone the CK9 team for a chat? Together we can work out the best way to help you and your dog to walk comfortably side by side.

These puppies are learning to greet new dogs nicely. It’s important that your dog knows how to behave around others of his species. He needs to know when it’s OK to play and when the other dog wants to be left alone.

Reacting badly to other dogs

Unless you have ever tried walking a dog who reacts badly to other dogs, it’s hard to understand what it feels like. You are forever on the alert, getting ready to avoid the canine on the horizon. You are tense – even before you leave the house. You walk at unsociable hours to try and avoid meeting other dog walkers. It’s not nice but believe it or not, it can get better. All you need is help from somebody who understands how dogs think and what makes them react in certain ways.

You’ll notice I’ve used the term “reacting badly”. Not every bad reaction is one of aggression. Some dogs are very afraid of other members of their species. They might react by showing fear – tail between the legs and running away if they can.

In some cases, your pet may get in a muddle by being too friendly and too exuberant with other dogs and get snapped at whilst saying hello.

Socialisation not only teaches dogs how to live in the human world. It teaches them how to behave around other dogs too. Puppies learn much of their doggy body language whilst still in the litter with their brothers and sisters. But that learning needs to continue once they join their human family.

If you and your dog are experiencing problems when meeting new dogs there are some training techniques that can help. For safety’s sake they’re best practiced with expert supervision though.

Talk to a dog behaviourist for advice before you start trying to correct reactive behaviour.

Poor recall

I can still see that video in my head. Remember Fenton chasing a herd of deer through Richmond Park while his poor owner shouted and shouted for him to come back.

It’s so important that your dog can enjoy free time off the lead but be trusted to come back the second you call him – no matter what else is going on around him. Good recall could save a dogs’ life.

Recall can be taught at home. Often the dog will respond brilliantly in the house or in the garden but as soon as he’s distracted by big world sights and smells he switches his ears off and ignores his owner.

Training is brilliant for recall. Just like lead pulling, it’s about teaching your dog that the reward for behaving well is so much better than any alternative. Fenton’s deer chasing will have given him a rush of endorphins (a bit like the feel-good factor we experience from a physical exercise like playing sport). That endorphin rush made his behaviour self-rewarding. So there’s a strong possibility he’ll want to do it again. IF Fenton knew there’d be a fab reward for returning to his owner – that video might never have been filmed.

A tactical approach to recall training – even in a seasoned non-listener – can bring speedy results. And a qualified dog trainer can help you achieve that.

Jumping Up

It’s great to meet a friendly dog. I love it. But I don’t appreciate having muddy paws landed on my clean work clothes uninvited. And I don’t like that “ooooofffff” moment when a hefty pooch jumps on my tummy before I’ve braced. Neither do I like seeing dogs jumping on small children.

A dog walk should be a sociable event. It’s great to stop and chat, to let people admire your pet and when your pet greets them nicely you feel sooooo proud. If you’re battling to persuade Fido to put all four paws on the ground, it’s not easy to make conversation and the dog walk becomes arm-achingly disappointing. Don’t let that happen

A dog can still make new pals without making a nuisance of himself or hurting anyone. He just needs to learn to curb his enthusiasm. We call that impulse control and there are a number of ways to teach and reinforce it. Your friends and family can help you to practice the techniques and your dog will enjoy the mental stimulation of learning new ways to say “hello”.

Resolving problems and enjoying your dog walking

When you have a calm, polite dog by your side, you feel awesome. When other people pass compliment on his manners and his temperament you feel even better. No dog is perfect, but any dog can improve and the team at CK9 are here to help you do that.

Call us – tell us what it is about your dog’s behaviour that spoils your walks together. We can help you to overcome problems so that you can really enjoy time spent with your canine companion.

Contact CK9 Dog training

Helpful Information

Training walks for adult dogs

Training and life skills for puppies

Dog behaviour consultations

How you and your dog can work together to make better life for both of you

Following on from our last blog posted in the run-up to Crufts 2018, I’m proud to report that CK9’s Chantal, Splash and Savannah had an amazing day.

Chantal and Splash also took 2nd, 3rd and 4th places respectively in the three classes they entered as part of the medium ABC competition. Fabulous work!

That sort of success is the result of a really close working relationship between dog and owner. In this blog, we’re going to look at how a close relationship benefits dogs and their owners in everyday life and how dog training classes can help build that relationship.

Human and dog: The perfect mutual relationship

Have you ever wondered why of all the animals that existed at the same time as our most ancient ancestors, it was the dog who we invited to live and work with us as part of our families? OK, so cats sometimes live with us, horses work with us but dogs are the ones who form the strongest relationships with humans.

I don’t have a definitive answer for you I’m afraid. There are several theories but no proof. However nobody can deny that when dog and human work together (like Chantal Splash at Crufts), they really do work well together.

Dogs protect our homes, they listen to our troubles, they can be trained to rescue us, find drugs, alert us to illnesses, guide the blind, comfort the sick – the list goes on…..In return, we offer our dogs a safe place to live, regular meals, mental stimulation, protection, veterinary care and companionship.

Building a relationship that you can both enjoy

Even though we have lived with dogs for thousands of years, we’re not always good at helping them reach their full potential. Sometimes, through inexperience we misunderstand our dog’s needs and that can lead to unwanted behaviour.

I’ll wager that you don’t have to work too hard to think of a dog who does at least one of the following

  • Gets upset when left alone
  • Pulls on the lead
  • Is aggressive towards other dogs
  • Barks like crazy when anyone passes to close to “his” property
  • Has to be walked at night because he reacts strongly to dogs or people
  • Behaves badly in the car
  • Doesn’t come back when called
  • Takes food from the table – or worse – from children’s hands

I’m 100% sure that each one of those dogs has an owner who loves him dearly and would share more experiences with their canine chum, if only they could be confident of a more positive experience.

At CK9, we want to share our experience with you to help avoid and overcome those behavioural problems that hamper the relationship between you and your dog.

Busy dogs are better buddies

I know that dogs don’t think in exactly the same way as humans, but I’m going to use human behaviour as an analogy to help put my point across.

When people are bored, they are often slightly antisocial. I’m not just thinking teenaged vandals, I’m thinking grumpy old men who only want to watch telly and snap when disturbed; I’m thinking toddlers making their own entertainment and creating havoc (sometimes dangerously). I have friends who become introverted and depressed when they’re bored and lonely. I have other friends who become hyperactive when bored.  All of those human traits can be applied to dogs too. Whilst dogs need some “down” time during the day, they also NEED on mental stimulation.

In zoos they practice what they call “enrichment”. You might have seen it on telly. To help keep the animals physically and mentally healthy, the keepers will create activities that emulate natural behaviour and keep the animals occupied. Things like hiding food around the enclosure so the animal has to discover it. Or bringing in new vegetation or toys for them to investigate.

Enrichment is important for dogs too and there are lots of ways to do it.

How to keep a dog’s mind active

You don’t have to be young and super-fit like Chantal to keep your dog busy. Just taking him out for a short walk will give him plenty to think about.

For starters, listening to your instructions and behaving well will occupy quite a bit of his intellectual capacity. Once he’s trained to walk on a loose lead, you’ll think he’s doing it automatically. He is. In the same way as you control a car without conscious thought but your brain actually uses quite a lot of energy in the process.

You see the world very differently to your dog. You use your eyes and ears to work out what’s happening in that very moment. Your dog uses his eyes to a certain extent and his ears a lot more than you do.  He can hear a LOT. He also uses his super-efficient to nose to learn things like who’s walked that way in the last 12 hours, what they had for dinner and who was with them. A short walk for a dog offers so much more than physical exercise.

If your dog is particularly intelligent – and most of them are – a short walk is OK but he wants to be stretched so much further. He wants to observe, learn, think, make choices and most of all, he wants to be a good dog. He wants to please you. You can enrich his life by giving him opportunities to do all of those things.

Training classes improve life quality for dogs and owners.

We’ve talked about dogs who have already established bad habits and whose activities are limited because of that.

We know that some owners feel they could have a closer relationship with their dog if Fido was better behaved.

We’ve also talked about enrichment and touched upon how it can satisfy a dog’s thirst for knowledge, relieve boredom and therefore help prevent bad habits.

So now, if we pull all of those factors together, it’s not hard to work out why dog training could help dogs and their humans work better together.

For starters, a dog behavioural consultant can show an owner how to help his dog “unlearn” unwanted behaviours and discover how to be a good dog. It can open up a whole new world for dog and owner.

There’s much more to dog training than repeating “sit” and “stay” commands. Once a dog has grasped the basics, such as his name and the recall command, he can go on to learn so many more ways to make use of his instincts and abilities… and so can his owner. In fact the whole family can get involved.

In time, if they want to, dog and owner can go on to do more advanced training that will really impress the other dog owners in the area. If you don’t feel like negotiating an obstacle course, you can relax with your dog at Doga (dog yoga). Really stretch your dog’s brain with agility training and scent training – entering competitions is entirely optional. Your dog doesn’t understand the concept of rosettes. He just wants to make you happy and he can do that just as well at home as he can in the show ring.

If you want to learn more about the different ways you can enrich your dog’s life and make your own life so much better at the same time, why not take 5 minutes to explore the possibilities on our website? Or better still, phone us for a chat and we can help you find classes or workshops that you’ll love.

You may also like

Helping dogs with serious behavioural problems

Dog training walks in Surrey – a great way for dogs and owners to socialise safely

CK9’s Chantal is competing in Dog Agility at Crufts 2018

Crufts is hailed as the world’s biggest dog show and this year it takes place at the NEC Birmingham between 8th and 11th March. CK9’s very own Chantal Karyta and two of her dogs will be competing in the ABC Dog Agility class in the Main ring at Crufts on Friday 9th March.

This is not Chantal’s first time competing at Crufts, in fact it’s the fourth consecutive year for her and six year old Sheltie Savannah. Splash, also a sheltie is just 3 years old and although this will be his first visit to Crufts, he’s no stranger to the show ring.

What is ABC Dog Agility?
Dog agility is an amazing sport. It’s a great way to develop a strong bond between dog and handler and it helps both to keep fit mentally and physically. It involves the dog, guided by his or her handler, completing a series of obstacles against the clock. The obstacles include jumps, tunnels, a seesaw, weave poles and an A frame and dog walk.

The really difficult bit about dog agility is that the dog must be off lead and all treats and toys are banned from the show ring. Neither is the handler allowed to touch any of the obstacles. The dog-handler team are completely reliant on voice commands, body language and hand signals. The speed of the course requires amazing communication skills and fantastic co-ordination from dog and handler. It’s pretty challenging!

The ABC in ABC Dog Agility stands for “anything but collies”. If you’ve ever watched dog agility on TV, at a dog show or at events like the Surrey County Show you will probably have spotted that Border Collies are particularly adept at this sport.

The Border collie is bred for working on difficult terrain and responding quickly to commands usually at quite a distance from the handler. Those qualities, along with their high energy and flexible bodies are all perfect for dog agility. However, that doesn’t mean that other breeds don’t enjoy agility too. It just means that border collies are unfair competition for them.

To make the competition fair, organisers have devised classes for agility that allow dogs to compete on even terms. In the ABC category, the dogs are classified according to size. Chantal’s shelties are in the medium class.


How Do You Get To Compete At Crufts?

Crufts is equivalent to the FA Cup Final. It’s only open to teams who have proved that they can compete to the highest possible standard. Every dog and every handler at Crufts will have spent the preceding 12 months competing at regional shows to prove that they are among the elite.

Teams like Chantal and Splash will have trained together a lot before entering competitions. It’s all about the relationship between dog and handler and of course, like any other sport, it’s practise, practise, practise.

Get involved with dog agility

Any dog and any handler can enjoy dog agility. You don’t have to reach Crufts standard to have fun. You don’t even need to enter competitions to benefit from the sport.

If you’re lucky enough to live within easy driving distance of one of our classes – join up and come along. All we ask is that your dog gets on well with other dogs and with people and that he comes back to you when he’s called. All of the other skills and commands will be taught at class.

Visit Crufts 2018

More about dog agility classes in Surrey

How Dog Training Can Help You Bond with Your Dog

Training your dog is about more than just teaching them to behave; positive dog training infinitely improves the relationship between dog and owner, strengthening your connection and ensuring a bond for life. So how does compassionate dog training help to improve the bond between a dog and its owner?

Teenage child with border collie

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