Puppy FAQ

1. What are the signs I should look for in a healthy puppy?

Healthy puppies should have: clear, bright eyes, ears that are free of discharge and odor, noses that are clean and moist. Mouths should have pink gums, be free from sores and have pleasant smelling breath. There should be no swelling, parasites, or discharge from the anal area. The puppy should not appear lame or have obvious problems with movement. Watch the puppy to see how they react to different situations and interact with their world. If a puppy is very fearful or aggressive with visitors, buyers should beware that this puppy may have temperament problems in the future. Ask the breeder if they provide a written health guarantee, vet records and health certificate. If a breeder administers temperament tests to their litters, ask to receive the results of the test related to your puppy.

2. Why can’t I choose my own puppy? At what age can my puppy come home?

Please remember that this is a rare breed and there are still only a limited number of puppies born each year (only a few hundred are produced in the US per year). Purchasing a rare breed puppy is not at all like buying a puppy from a popular breed where there are literally hundreds of thousands of puppies produced annually. Thus, when you purchase a Chinook, the breeder will tell you what puppy will be coming to live with you, you do not get to choose.

For any litter, breeders have a list of potential owners. Each potential owner has a different desire related to gender, workability, and pet/show quality. Breeders balance the interests of everyone on their list to try to make the best placement decisions. Most breeders try to place about half of any litter in breeding/showing homes. The other half will be placed as pets. Breeders will first evaluate puppies for conformation in relation to which puppies will go to breeding homes. Once the puppies are split into breeding/pet quality, puppies will be placed based upon their temperaments related to the potential homes. For instance, a dog with a strong will who is very active would do better in a working home than with a quiet couple who wants a couch potato.

Puppies are ready to leave their mothers between eight and ten weeks of age. In many states, it is illegal to sell puppies less than eight weeks of age. Regardless of what breed of puppy you buy, beware if the puppy is less than 8 weeks old – this can cause temperament problems in the future.

3. What are dewclaws and when/how are they removed?

Dewclaws are nonfunctioning fifth nails that are located on the ankle of dogs.

Chinooks have front dewclaws; they should not have rear dewclaws. Dewclaws do not have to be removed, but if they are not, you should watch dewclaws carefully as they can grow into the foot, break, or get caught in blankets, rugs, etc. Some breeders choose to remove them when the pups are only a few days old. If this is an important issue to you, remember to ask the breeder if they remove dewclaws.

4. What supplies do I need for a new puppy? How do I puppy-proof my home?

Supplies puppies need: a collar with an identification tag, leash, brush, comb, nail clippers, tooth brush, hard rubber chew toys, stainless steel dishes, a crate, bedding, and nutritious puppy food.

To puppy proof your home, carefully examine your living space. All puppies will chew practically anything, including electrical wires. Use a crate or baby gate to contain your puppy when he is not under direct supervision. Keep syrup of Ipecac or hydrogen peroxide on hand in case of accidental poisoning.

5. How do I introduce a new puppy/dog to my family and other animals?

When introducing a puppy/dog to family members, do so carefully and positively. Try to remain calm and assure the new puppy/dog that people are friendly. Children are naturally excited when a new puppy comes home. You really need to keep your children calm when they first meet the puppy to avoid the puppy from being afraid of the children. Remember that puppies nip and that children naturally want to play with puppies. You have to be consistent with both the puppy AND the children in ensuring that this behavior is controlled.

Chinooks usually have no problems getting along with other types of animals. When introducing a puppy or dog to another animal do so in a positive way. Let the animals see each other from a distance to start with. Then slowly let them get closer and smell each other. If this goes well, allow them to initiate play but never leave them alone together unless you are absolutely sure they will not act aggressively towards each other, or that a larger dog will not unintentionally hurt the puppy.

6. Why is socialization important and how do I socialize my puppy?

All puppies have what’s called a fear or imprint period between ages 10 and 14 weeks. During this time, the dog is learning how to react to various new stimuli. There is a theory that during this period, if a puppy reacts in fear, and the fear is reinforced, the dog may always react in the same way throughout its life. For instance, if the puppy hears thunder, is afraid, and the owner picks up the dog and comforts it, the dog learns that responding to thunder by fear is good. Instead, an owner should pick up a toy and play with a puppy during a thunderstorm, to have the puppy associate play and fun with the loud noise. While this is a primary reason for safe, positive experiences during this early time, puppies also have to learn to adapt to various situations as they mature. Thus, exposing them to children, other friendly dogs and new surfaces, places, sights and sounds helps them to learn how to react to new situations. During the first 8 months of a dog’s life, the owner should expose the pup to many activities, places, people, sights, sounds, and most important, different surfaces for them to walk on. During all new exposures, the dog should be praised for good behavior and fearful behavior should not be reinforced.

7. When should I take my puppy/dog to obedience training? How do I stop inappropriate behaviors (whining, barking, jumping up, chewing)?

Take puppies/dogs to classes immediately after you get them and again when they are between one and two years old. Positively enforce good behavior and redirect or ignore bad behavior as much as possible. Use appropriate correction as needed such as a scruff shake.

8. At what age do Chinook puppies teethe?

Teething occurs between three and five months old. Puppies will go through a serious chewing phase during this time. Soft fleece toys, rope toys, and lightly wet, frozen towels help with teething. Dogs may go through another chewing phase between one and two years of age.

9. What is the best way to housebreak a puppy/dog?

Puppies are not neurologically developed enough to be potty trained until they are 4 months old. When accidents happen, scold the accident only if you catch them in the act, and take the puppy/dog to outside immediately. Praise them when they eliminate in the proper location. Make sure you clean up any indoor messes with proper cleaners or the animal will smell where they last went and repeat the accident.

10. At what age is it appropriate to spay/neuter my puppy? What are the benefits of spaying/neutering?

When you bring your puppy in to see your personal veterinarian for his/her first exam, follow your vet’s advice about appropriate age for spaying/neutering. Spaying and neutering lowers some risks of certain cancers, prevents accidental breedings, and cuts down on roaming and aggressive behaviors. Please remember that Chinooks are placed under contract. If you have agreed not to spay/neuter your dog to allow the dog to be bred, you should not spay/neuter your dog without express permission of the breeder.