Yesterday I went to a breeders’ seminar at Croft Veterinary Hospital in Cramlington. The main draw was a lecture on puppy development, which proved to be a rich and positive walk through a puppy’s developmental needs between birth and 12 weeks. We covered oodles of excellent information such as the handling of very young puppies, socialisation, habituation, enrichment, and the use of aids such as sound therapy and aDAPtil. The rest of the day was interesting and informative, and focussed on the screening of breeding dogs for eye problems, hip and elbow dysplasia. The screening programmes were explained and their strengths and weaknesses dicussed openly, with an overwhelming argument for using these programmes despite their limitations. I was able to translate some of the information and apply it meaningfully to our rat breeding initiative (breeding to improve longevity by selecting to reduce end of life illness). It is really good when learning fuels our own personal experiences and shapes (or clarifies) the road ahead, but I think that learning is a pleasure in its own right. The final lecture was all about stud dogs and artificial insemination in the breeding programme. By then I was tired and ready to go home, but it was a very practical talk for the 99% of people there who were actually breeding dogs.
Favourite quotes from the day:
“Adequately stimulated puppies develop superior co-ordination, have higher sociability, have better problem solving ability and are less fearful in novel situations.”
“Introduction to solitude is often overlooked – puppies need short, controlled periods of being alone – omission predisposes to separation anxiety.”
“What we want to address is the genotype (the bad genes) but what we have to inform us is the phenotype (how the dog’s hips appear on x-ray).”
“Abnormal versus normal isn’t really relevant, what matters is how something affects function and the well being of the dog.”