View Full Version : Re: Choosing The Right Puppy

28th April 2010, 10:53 PM
I have been looking for some months for a cavalier puppy or older dog to live in our family.

We all adore cavaliers and we have regularly looked after my friend's 8 year old female cavalier for the past few years - she is gorgeous and we all adore her. I have been in contact with the Cavalier club and have also joined, but am looking for a companion who we can take everywhere with us just like the cavalier we look after. When we owned a cavalier a few years ago however, he was very hyperactive, shrieked all the time when we took him out of the house in spite of puppy training and became dominant aggressive as he reached adolescence. As I have children we had to rehome him with a very nice couple without kids but obviously this experience was very traumatic and we still miss him terribly.:(

I am very wary about getting a puppy again as I am concerned that the same thing might happen again(although we found out later that the breeder was a puppy farmer and the pedigree was false). I am aware that it is not just breeding that affects a dog's temperament - it is also upbringing, but our children are not particularly noisy or active, they are sensible round dogs and we always made sure our cavalier had his own space and was never disturbed in his bed or his crate. I have been on the rescue list for some time as I felt it would be nice to give a dog a home and also we would be able to see if he had a calm temperament but it is hard to find a rescue dog who is going to be ok with kids and many dogs in rescue would not be happy in that situation.
We even went to look at some pups from a renowned breeder with an excellent pedigree but I was horrified to find that the dad of the puppies, who is a very successful show dog, growled at my children even though they entered the room quietly and did not touch him. Obviously in spite of the fact the pup was gorgeous, we did not even consider buying him - the breeder said the dad was not used to children but in view of our previous experience I did not want to risk it. Also you often can't even see the dad if the breeder has used a stud dog, which is often the case.
Please can anyone advise on this - we desperately want a cavalier again but want to do it the right way this time. Thanks.

29th April 2010, 12:27 PM

I am sorry you had such a difficult situation with your previous cavalier. This can be a breed that is very closely bonded to its owners and will be quite upset when left but it sounds like the dog you had had a few issues from any number of possible reasons, from basic temperament to needing further ongoing training -- often puppy training alone isn't enough to produce a calm, controlled adult dog and dogs generally need reinforcement through weekly practice and always benefit from adidtional, rewards-based (no 'corrections and leash jerk) classes :). Some dogs are just very hyper and overexcited when outside and owners can accidentally reinforce this by punishing the dog or taking the dog away from whatever causes the wailing -- which tells the dog that it was right to be overly worried, in dog logic! I know how frustrating this can be as I have one overeactive dog to other dogs on walks. It takes a lot of time and patience to work with such dogs --but any dog can end up like this depending on personality, level of early socialisation, lack of broad socialisation on an ongoing basis, accidental reinforcement of the unwanted behaviour etc. The term 'dominant aggressive' is really no longer used however as true dominance aggression is extremely, extremely rare (and generally requires the dog to be put down!) The concept has been discredited as has most of the theory around that kind of analysis now, though it lingers on unfortunately with a few trainers (unfortunately some that get major TV shows :( ). What you most likely had was a dog that 1) had few self control skills and 2) was anxious and expressing that in a lot of unwanted anxious behaviour. Both those things take time to address. :thmbsup: It may be too overwhelming to manage that kind of dog and then rehoming I think is indeed a better solution. :flwr:

A lot of course also depends on the individual dog and temperament etc. You likely are right that it is not good that the sire you saw growled at your children -- some dogs of course may have had bad experiences with kids and this can be hard to rectify if they don't then get regular time around kind children (one of mine was not socialised to kids when young and growls at younger kids and two of mine do not like to have children reaching for them at all, yet are stable, happy dogs -- I just don't have many kids around to set a good example so very hard for me to work on this with them).

The best starting point for a great dog is a health focused breeder (see the section on 'buying a puppy' in the Library section) -- every breeder I have come across that places a premium on healthy breeding has well socialised, happy dogs. But then, the rest is really up to the family to get that self-controlled adult dog. A great set of FREE guides for doing this are the well known trainer Dr In Dunbar's books Before You Get Your Puppy and After You Get Your Puppy, which you can download free of charge now at his site, www.dogstardaily.com (he made them available to help prevent the problems that tend to cause dogs to end up in shelters. The 'After' book is a great resource for owners of dogs of ANY age too!

Then: I am sure Margaret C or Nicki will see your post and might have some recommendations for good breeders with litters from truly health focused breeders. :) Rescue dogs actually are often a great family dog as they often come from a family home. Also you might consider watching small ads for people rehoming their adult pet cavaliers as if you want an adult family oriented dog that you can go meet first -- this might suit a lot better than the complete unknown of a puppy. I recommend this to many families as often people need to rehome a family dog and do not wish to go through a shelter.

29th April 2010, 08:26 PM
Hi Karlin,
Thanks for your reply - it has been very helpful. I have already started reading your recommended links thanks, very useful for training - I want to make sure it works out this time.

I have still got my name down on the rescue and regularly scan the local ads for older dogs but I have been warned that people often do not tell the truth about the reason for rehoming their dogs and that some are unreliable in temperament. Obviously the rescue is great as the people who run them tend to assess the dogs and are very helpful, wanting them to go to the right home. The problem is that I have been on the list over a year and I think it is not often the right dog comes up for our situation.

I would be very grateful if anyone has any recommendations for good ethical and health conscious breeders as there are so many out there who breed purely for profit - some guidance would be great.