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Hi everyone.


I'm new to this board, and sure have learned alot lately lurking about. I've got a few questions that I hope someone can help me with. First a little background. Last year I lost my beloved BC pal of 16 years. By far the best dog I've ever had.

My family and I have decided to get another BC. So, We've found a reputable breeder with 4 week old pups.

When I got my last BC she was 3 months old, so I have questions about a six week old pup.

1. What is the best food for a young puppy, and when do I switch to a more adult food?

2. When is the earliest I can begin obedience training? (I will do it myself).

3. When is it OK to start her on a leash? (gentle leader).

I did'nt have to deal with all of these things with a three month old before. Any help will be much appreciated.

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Hi Dan


Sorry to hear about you losing your previous BC - but 16 is a grand age to have reached.


I'm sure others will chime in - and maybe with different advice - but here's my 2c worth.


I wouldn't be wanting to get the pup before 8 weeks - or 7 at a stretch. IMHO, those couple of weeks with the mom and the litter are pretty important in a pup's social development - learning dog language, learning bite inhibition etc. (Mind you, if the pups aren't getting much socialisation with humans during those 2 weeks, then I'd go for 7 weeks.)


You will be 'training' that pup from the time you get it home - or else the pup will be training you :rolleyes: . Of course, the training you give willl be low key, and playing and positive. You'll find your pup will quickly pick up the basics - and the more you interact with the pup, and build the pup's focus, the easier it will be to teach the more formal obedience (and anything else) later.


Personally, I wouldn't use a gentle leader. IMHO, that's a remedial tool. If you get your initial training and focus right, you shouldn't need that. Having said that, I would get the pup used to a collar and leash very early on. A soft light collar should not cause too much trouble, especially if you associate it with good things for pups - like dinner, play etc. You can start accustoming the pup to a leash pretty soon too - in your own yard for starters. In an enclosed yard, and under supervision, I just attach a light lead, and let the pup trail it around. It soon becomes a non-issue. I do lots of practice of putting the leasd on (with treats/play) having a bit of a game, having the pup sit, take off the leash - then rinse and repeat.


I'll leave the food thing for others, except to say that I would stick with what the breeder has beendoing for the first couple of weeks, only changing over gradually. The pup will be somewhat stressed leaving the litter, and you might as well avoid adding to that stress by changing food straight away. When you do change, do it gradually, over a few days.


Be aware that a very young pup will not be fully protected against diseases such as distemper and parvovirus for several weeks, so you'll need to be careful.


Oh - and I always like to make several visits to my vet early on - first for a proper check-up - and then just into the office, if it's OK with them, for the pup to be fussed over, and come to think the vet's office is a lovely place to go. (ind you - my 2 love the waiting room -the consulting room is something else. :D

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Hi. Welcome to the boards and congratulations on deciding to bring in another BC. :rolleyes: First thing, a reputable breeder isn't going to release a puppy before the age of 8 or 9wks. The puppy really needs this time with the litter. As far as food, I think it depends more on the food you're feeding. I've, personally, never switched a puppy to an adult food before 9 months. I start basic obedience immediately, but on a very low level. A puppy's attention span is very short, so you don't want to overwhelm. Honestly, I can easily train mine at home, but I prefer a class setting, if possible, so the puppy gets the socialization needed around other dogs and people. If you're going to do it yourself, you're going to need to make sure the pup is getting exposed to as many new sights, sounds, people, other animals, etc. especially if you want this pup to grow into an adult that you want to take with you. If you don't do that, you may have a perfectly obedient pup at home, but then a wild child out in public. As far as the Gentle Leader, I love it, but it's not necessary unless you have a dog that pulls. There is absolutely no reason you can't train a young pup to walk nicely on a leash with a normal collar. My dogs rarely ever have collars on at home (they're microchipped, though), but when they came home as pups, I put regular collars on them immediately. This was for their protection (ID purposes if they got loose), but it, also, got them used to wearing a collar. Each time I took them outside during their housebreaking, I put the leash on them. Now, of course, they wouldn't walk on it yet, but that came with time. If needed, I carried them outside, sat them down, and then I would just walk away a little, and call the pup to me. That got them used to a leash. After a short time of this, they were all doing well on the leash. Our yard is fenced in, but I refused to allow them off leash out there until they learned the routine of going out and coming back in. Hope this helps some. :D

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Welcome! I am sorry to hear that you lost your old companion and am grateful that you had such a super dog that you are eager to share your life with another.


This is a terrific board to learn from and contribute to (even some folks I know who don't have Border Collies find it particularly civil and helpful). You have received some excellent advice (from opposite ends of the globe) so far.


I must concur that six weeks is, in my limited experience, too young. Seven to eight weeks is much more reasonable. I know there are people who disagree but I would tend to question a breeder that deliberately let pups go at that age without extenuating circumstances.


You are ALWAYS training so you can use the time your pup spends awake in constructive ways as well as in just-being-a-pup time. A young pup is ripe to learn the basics if they are taught well, understandably, and consistently. Anyone else that your pup has contact with will also be training him, whether they realize that or not, so make sure his experiences with others are appropriate. Be his advocate and don't hesitate to let someone know that something they are doing is counterproductive to his education and remove him from the situation if you need to do so.


A recall and the sit are two excellent and easily learned commands. So is "leave it" which is also a very valuable command. Use the "search" function at the top of the page to find relevant articles and then ask questions of your own to get feedback specific to your situation and experiences.


I've used a Gentle Leader and, as much as I think certain training tools have their place in some situations and with some handlers and dogs, proper leash training should bypass the very behavior that the Gentle Leader (and other anti-pull items) are used to avoid. Remember that many training "shortcuts" don't solve the problem but just eliminate or control the visible symptoms. Good, fair, consistent, and intelligent training are a better approach than a physical tool to get the behavior you want for your dog's basic manners.


I believe a pup can be started with gentle leash training at seven weeks of age (and the idea of a collar with ID right from the start is excellent), with the pup mainly dragging a light lead and/or walking along with you on a loose lead (keep your pace brisk to keep the pup moving along). If the pup stops and struggles to fight the restriction the lead imposes (as they often do), you can stop and be still until the pup stops pulling and fussing, and then encourage the pup to come along with you and proceed. It will take patience but there isn't much that's nicer to walk with than a pup/dog that's a pleasure on a lead.


There is a lot of differing opinion on feeding. Many dog foods are heavily based on grains and lower quality ingredients, even some that cost quite a bit of money. There are many foods that are excellent quality (and you will find plenty of threads on this topic with a search) but basically folks will advise you to avoid brands found in supermarkets or discount stores (like Wal-Mart), Science Diet, and any form of "economy" dog food.


Some people here never feed puppy food but rather just a very good quality adult (or all life stage) food and many put their pups on adult food at about three months of age. Others do feed puppy food longer or even for up to a year, but I think a general consensus would be about three months. This is assuming the use of a very good food, of course. I personally like Innova, Eagle Pack, and Canidae. Others will, I am sure, recommend their favorites.


Socialize, socialize, socialize (but with care until the pup has had at least two sets of vaccinations)!!! Do take the pup to the vet right away for vaccinations and a well-puppy exam, and also to accustom the pup to the vet's office - don't just take the pup for shots or, guess what, the pup will not like to go there. I make a point to take my pups anywhere and everywhere that I can, get anyone I can to touch and pet them nicely (and even give them treats, if appropriate), and especially to make "social calls" at the vet office, where they get treats and lots of attention and loving from the staff, so the vet's office is a place they enjoy.


A well-conducted puppy class is wonderful, one that involves good basic obedience training techniques, supervised socialization with other pups and other people, and good gentling exercises (preparing the pup for grooming, vet checks, solid and liquid medication administration, nail clipping, etc.). I see you want to train your pup yourself (terrific!) but a good puppy class is one of the best investments you will make in terms of time and money - it will help you learn the basics of good positive training and will provide supervised socialization that is essential to your pup's education.


Very best wishes!

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I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your good old dog. In his 16 years you must have taken very good care of him. Congratulations on the soon-to-be-yours puppy, and have lots of fun with her!


I don't have any advice, but hey Sue, if I ever get a puppy I hope I can find your marvelous post!

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Hi Dan,


I recommend you read Ian Dunbar's Before You Get Your Puppy, which is available free for download here.


Your questions are good ones, but the importance of properly socializing a puppy with both dogs and humans cannot be overemphasized, so make sure you include that in your training plan right at the start. Dunbar will provide you with lots of information and instruction on that subject.


More from Dunbar on people socialization here.

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Hello Dan,


I am sorry you lost your old fellow, but I also envy you as I have personally never had a dog for 16 years. What a wonderful life!


You've gotten wonderful advice here, but I will just repeat my take on things. First of all, a reputable breeder would NEVER let a pup go at 6 weeks. The next 2 weeks with the dam and littermates are VERY important for the puppy's education regarding behavior with other dogs, for one thing. A very high percentage of reactive dogs were taken from the litter at 6 weeks.


Some breeders NEVER use puppy food, and I have been advised by my vet not to keep a pup on puppy food any longer than to the 6 month birthday. Puppy food encourages bone growth, and if a pup is still on the food after 6 months, the bones may grow too fast and cause orthopedic problems. In an active, athletic breed such a Border Collies, this could be a serious problem.


By all means start puppy training right away, but take classes if at all possible. The socialization and experience of being in a class with other people and dogs is very good for your pup. I once did my own training at home because there were no classes in my immediate area, and I regretted not driving the extra miles for the entire life of that dog. She was never comfortable around other dogs, and a class situation when she was a pup would have gone a long way toward solving that problem. I also find that having another person watch me work with my dog can be very enlightening. They notice things that we aren't aware that we are doing. I teach obedience classes, and all my dogs go to classes taught by other people. And I learn something new every time. I have also learned by training multiple dogs over the years that the methods that were successful with the last dog may not work with the new one. Dog training requires imagination more often than not!


You should leash train right away, even beginning with the pup just dragging a leash around the house with supervision so the leash doesn't get caught on anything). The Gentle Leader is indeed a tool meant to solve a problem, so start out with leash training and don't use the GL unless you have a problem. There will be times when you have to use a leash and collar, and if you have relied on a GL exclusively you will have a problem.


Kathy Robbins

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Thank you everyone for your advice. I will leave the puppy with her mom to 8 or 9 weeks. And also start with simple leash training. I will have many more questions before I bring her home. I cant wait.

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Hi, I am also new to this forum. I have a beautiful, healthy, and happy BC named Alex. She will be 3 on April 3rd. I certainly hope that I have my beloved friend for 16 years or more. I switched Alex to adult food @ 6 months. She eats Nutro. I got her @ 6 weeks and 2 days old. According to some of the research I have done that could attribute to some of the aggression problems I have had with her. Good luck with your new best friend.

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