Did you ever wonder how a dog performs unique tricks such as getting your slippers with a simple voice command? Have you ever witnessed a service dog piloting a blind person through a crowded venue flawlessly in spite of all the obstacles placed around it? Or, have you seen a hunting dog in action waiting for the guns to fire an internal Pavlovian response to frantically jump in cold October water to retrieve their master’s duck? If you have ever observed any of the above scenarios, you can thank a breeder and or the service dog trainer whose dedication to helping others has no rival.
A reputable breeder starts with dogs that have the finest blood lines and proven track records in regards to temperament, performance, intelligence, and the most desirable physical characteristics. It is all these attributes in combination of formal recognition by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFFA) that contribute to the best possible outcome for both the breeder and the buyer of the puppy (more on the AKC and OFFA shortly).
So, some ask, when does training start for dogs that can do the special tasks of perhaps being a companion to a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) person, or a special medical companion for a severe diabetic? Well, several months after date night at the kennel, the puppies are born, and are surprisingly ready for training just a few days after they are born. For the first two weeks, while they are blind, and deaf, future service dogs will undergo intensive sensory exercises on a daily basis. Training includes walking on different textures, whether it is wood, porcelain, masonry, grass, mud, carpet, or even sewer grates. They are then exposed to all manner of aromas. Everything from perfume, deodorant, burning wood, cooking, garlic, cleaning solutions, and all types of spices. Noises of vacuums, fans, dryers, washers, lawn mowers, cars, music, singing, foot traffic, rain, and anything else you can think of. Some breeders take the extra step of cradling the puppies in cold half frozen towels, and then release them after a short period, to their warm mothers, which allows them to learn the sensations of cold and hot.
All of these exercises take place so that it enhances their sensory perception at an earlier age, and builds confidence in their ability to carry out new tasks as they get older. It also places them at a distinct advantage if they are to be trained as service dogs, because once their eyes and ears are opened, they have already become exposed to many environments at a young age, and they display this through their fearlessness, and their ability to socialize in any situation with either people or other dogs. This early stage sensory training, combined with their blood lines makes them the ideal choice for someone who will train a service dog. Odds are if you own a service dog, this is the type of training they received, and you can be confident that the service trainer had the pick of the litter. Only the best and brightest can be service dogs.
So, if you are looking for a service dog, hunting dog, or a show dog, it is advisable that you go to a reputable breeder who has a genuine seal from American Kennel Club (AKC). If you go to a breeder that does not have this recognition, then you should stay away, because your puppy may not be the breed you asked for, or have some kind of health issue that was not revealed; such as hip dysplasia. If you’re not sure if the breeder is AKC approved, contact AKC to double check their credentials. Also, you may want to contact the OFFA which keeps records of all blood lines of all breeds. This will help relieve any doubt you have about the breeder’s claims in terms of hip and elbow dysplasia, amongst other common ailments.
Your expectations as a buyer should be the following:
1) Make sure the breeder is officially recognized by AKC
2) Double check with OFFA concerning health issues listed above
3) Insist that your puppy is microchipped before purchase
4) Establish with AKC if the blood line has past champions of any caliber
5) Your puppy should come with a guarantee
Lastly, if you desire to be an owner of one of the yellow lab puppies as featured in this article (see pictures above) you will not be disappointed. These particular lab puppies come from the number one female in all of North America in terms of champions attributed to her lineage. Her name is Snowbear and her descendants can be found at Ridge View kennel in Ohio. But wait there’s more. The collars adorning those incredibly cute puppies can be found here.