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At Merjuke we spend additional time and expenses that can be beneficial in terms of developing a puppy’s temperament.

Some of the pup’s temperament will be influenced by:

 

 

A lot of the pup’s temperament will be influenced by:

 

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Above: 5 day old sable female

A home can influence what their pup’s temperament might be like by:

 

Reputable GSD breeders usually strongly take temperament into consideration when choosing mum & dad.

 

However far fewer show line GSD breeders in the UKtake steps to optimise conditions in relation to:

 

 

This is because:

 

 


At Merjuke we do spend additional time and expenses that can be beneficial in terms of developing a puppy’s temperament.

 

This is because we feel that it is in both our pups, and the homes best interest to do this.

Genetics

 


We advise people to look at particular traits / drive within both the parents, and if at all possible any pups that they have produced. 

 

Webster’s dictionary defines drive as:

 

“A physiological state corresponding to a strong need or desire”

 

American Heritage College Dictionary states that they are:

 

“A strong motivation tendency or instinct related to self-preservation as a result of promotion of an activity towards a particular end”

 

The below are examples & very simple definitions of drives that you could ask about:

 

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What should I look for?



A GSD should be confident, and thus we do not recommend that people look for submissive parents. 


But at the same time we would recommend in the majority if not all cases that a novice should not take a puppy from 2 parents that are known to produce extremely dominant puppies, as they may lack the experience to counter any’ challenges’ the pup may throw their way.

 

A GSD should be easy to train, and thus strong social, food, prey, and hunt drives would offer an owner a lot of scope.

But we would not recommend a pup that was very strong in these drives for a home that was not prepared enough to utilise these drives.  This is because such a dog would become bored and more likely to demonstrate negative behavioural patterns such as howling, chewing, and even in extreme cases self-mutilation / tail chasing tendencies.  In addition to which such an intelligent dog would be more likely to attempt to become in charge of the ‘pack’.

 

High social dominance levels, defence & fight drives would be advantageous to those people wishing to train in protection within SCH and the PD stake in working trials, and of course for active police dogs.

But once again we would not recommend a novice / relatively inexperienced dog owned to get a pup from parents with high levels of these drives.

 

We would recommend that you also looked for a breeder that recommended that you did not choose your puppy until it was around 7 weeks of age.

 

If you choose a puppy from birth this puppy may not have a temperament that is suitable for your lifestyle.

 

This is because a pup’s nervous system and its brain’s ability to process environmental stimuli are not as developed as an adult’s nervous system is until it is at least 7 week’s of age.

 

At 7 weeks of age there are lots of indications about what a pup’s temperament may be like (Although it must be taken into account that any observations are exactly that and they do not set in stone what a pup may turn out like). 

 



 

How can I tell what a pup’s temperament MAY be like?

 


Ask a breeder about their thoughts on both the parent’s temperaments and drives.  Also do not forget that since mum is raising the pups she is more likely to affect the development of their temperament.

 

If the pups have been born, and they are 7 weeks of age ask ABOUT an individual pup’s temperament.

 

It is more advantageous if a breeder is extensively socialising or commencing basic training, as they will have more experience with the pup’s reactions to different situations.  Thus they will be able to give you a much more detailed over-view.

 

However LOTS of GSD breeders in the UKdo not do this due to time and expense related reasons.  Thus you may have to spend a lot more time researching and attempting to find such a breeder.

 

Ask for your pup’s puppy aptitude results.  These can be done around the pup’s 7th week birthday.

 

A pup with an overall score of 3 is usually the one most recommended for the average owner. 4’s suggest a more submissive tendency

2’s a more dominant tendency

1’s suggest that the pup has a lot of potential to be extremely dominant. 

 

I would recommend caution with both a 2 and a 4

I would recommend that only an extremely experienced owner should consider either a 1 or even worse a 5 (extremely submissive … it is harder to encourage confidence that it is to put in place boundaries / rules that help prevent dominance).

 

It must also be noted that the results from a puppy aptitude test do not guarantee that a puppy will end up like this. 

 

Instead puppy aptitude results show what a puppy is showing signs of right now, and thus what it may end up being like.

 

Lots of GSD breeders in the UK do not do puppy aptitude tests.

But I am sure that quite a few such breeders would consider doing a test on your request.

 

 



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In my croft: 3 weeks & 3 days old


1 dark masked black & tan male

1 black & tan female



Does Merjuke Provide This Information?

 


Yes prior to choosing your puppy we are happy to answer any questions on:

 

Mum & Dad’s temperament

Previous Puppies temperaments that mum produced (some litters will be mum’s 1st litter or a 1sttime crossing)

Predicted Temperaments

Observations made when extensively socialising & commencing basic training

Puppy Aptitude Results

 

By extensively socialising & commencing basic training we will be able to provide information on:




 



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Puppy in the womb

What the puppy experiences in the womb

 


A lot of experimental work with rats has been done to see if the affects of the prenatal environment can affect the development of the mind.

 

There is some evidence that mother’s that are highly stressed during pregnancy can produce young:

 

 

Other research shows that if mum is stressed during her 3rd term of pregnancy her pups can:

 

 

This is why it is very important to provide:

 

 


A reputable GSD breeder should do the above with their mums to be.

 



What should I look for?

 


You should ask what a breeder feeds. 

 

The breeder may be feeding BARF (bones and raw food), or a branded dog food such as Royal Canin, Arden Grange, etc.

 

A mum can also be given something to assist with her calcium levels when she comes to birth.  This can prevent Inertia & Eclampsia. In the last week of pregnancy until at least the 1st week of their pup’s life a mum should be given Welpi Dog Milk Substitute / Esbilac Milk.

 

If a breeder feeds Royal Canin they should put mum on a special pre-whelping food (Royal HT 42d) from day 1 of her season to week 6 of her gestation.  This is a specially designed food that has been developed to support embryonic development, help mum to prepare for having a litter, as well as being highly digestible, etc.  At week 6 of her gestation this would then be swapped to Royal Canin puppy food (Maxi baby).  This may be given alongside meat for taste if the breeder wished to spoil their girls more.

 

Not every breeder would give the foods designed by Royal Canin, and in a lot of cases this is because of personal choice.  We love the results that Royal Canin has proven with our dogs, and so we use it.  However it is a very expensive branded food, and it is this that puts off a lot of breeders using it.

 

You could ask the breeder if they wormed mum the week that she was in season, and if this was with a brand such as Drontel.

 

You could also ask the breeder if they ever give a special vaccination (this is given 10 days after mum sees dad, and again several weeks after her pregnancy is confirmed) which helps dad transmitting an infection that can lead to still birth or puppy fading syndrome. 

 

You could ask the breeder where mum will be living after she has been mated, and when she has her puppies.



Does Merjuke Take Steps To Ensure That Optimum Conditions Are Ensured?

 

 

At Merjuke:

 

Whatever stage our girls are in their worming schedule they are wormed with Drontel tables a few days before they are taken to dad to be (they are also wormed again every 2 weeks of their pup’s life up until 8 weeks of age; unless any homes have requested that the pups stay a bit longer in which case they get a final worming at 10 weeks of age with Drontel.

We feed Royal HT 42d between day 1 of their season to week 6 of their pregnancy, and then we feed Royal Canin Maxi baby dog.  Our mums also have tinned Pedigree nature’s best meat and fish added to this, and from week 8 of their gestation until the 1st week of their pup’s life we give Whelpi (provided by the vet) and Royal Canin milk replacer.

We often give the vaccinations to prevent puppy fading syndrome (touch wood not something that we have experienced.  This is usually given to girls who have visited a stud dog that has been used before on girls not owned by us, as the disease is a STD.  The vaccination costs around £130, and this is the reason for why not all breeders commonly choose to use it

Our mummies live inside, and they sleep in the bedroom until the last week of their pregnancy.  At this point they move into the living room, where they sleep either in or out of their whelping box, and we sleep on a camping bed beside them to maintain close contact with them. 

Our mums to be also get regular hugs; play time in our field and wood, and walks across our surrounding fields.  We try to keep / get their fitness levels up  in the first few weeks, and then we expose them to more moderate exercise in the latter weeks.  We also do not encourage them to jump over anything any stage of their pregnancy.


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What the pup experiences between day 3 & day 16

 


Studies have confirmed that there are specific time periods early within life when neurological stimulation has optimum results.

 

The 1st period occurs between day 3 and day 16 of the puppy’s life.

 

During this window of time the pups are limited to:

 

 

Studies have shown that if the pups are exposed to the aforementioned stimulations the pups can display the following advantages (please not that genetics & congenital faults can influence some of these areas to a point in which the above would be unable to influence them):

 

 

In a simple problem solving tests using detours in a maze the non-stimulated pups became:

 

 

Whereas the stimulated litter mates became:

 

 

Further studies confirmed that the non-enriched pups (even of a superior pedigree) when given free choice:

 

 

As opposed to the enrichedpups that:

 



What should I look for?

 


You should look for a breeder who exposes their pups to a programme that was developed by the American military which was deigned to improve the workability of dogs which studies proved to result in the aforementioned results.

 

However you will have to spend additional time looking for a GSD breeder in the UK who does this. 

 

This is because a lot of GSD breeders do not follow the programme, as it takes a few minutes per pup per day, and so as there is no demand for it, even though it could be in the pup’s and therefore a home’s best interests for it to be done, a lot of breeder’s can not be bothered to spend this additional time.


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Does Merjuke follow a programme that takes advantage of the above?

 


Yes we do.

 

Our pups are exposed to the programme that was developed by the American military which was deigned to improve the workability of dogs which studies proved to result in the aforementioned results.

 

Personally we like to give our pups and puppy owners any advantages that we can.

 

However small they may be, and this is why we carry out the amount of research that we do prior to breeding.

 

Since the above is scientifically backed up with results from research I would hope that you would agree that it is to your and your pup advantage that it comes from a breeder that follows such a programme.

How rich & stimulating its environment is prior to 8 weeks of age

 


The first 12 weeks of a pup’s life are a critical period in terms of its brain & nervous system developments.

 

“Mild stresses early in life influence the adrenal-pituitary system, fine tuning it to respond to a sensitive and graded manner later on in life rather than in an all or nothing fashion”

 

According to EEG readings pups that undergo mild stresses early in life:

 

 

Puppies are wary / fear (to different degrees) the unknown, and so exposure to the unknown is a mild stress.

 

Plus

 

Research has also shown that the more cognitively stimulating a pup’s environment is the more it stimulates the cognitive parts of its brain which further helps towards:

 

 

Also as pups do fear the unknown the more that they see (etc.) whilst with the breeder the greater the chance will be that they will fear less, recover quicker from ‘scary’ items when with living with their new home.


What should I look for?

 

 

You should look for a breeder who has knows above the above results, and who has taken steps to ensure that their pup’s environment is as stimulating as possible.

 

For example the puppy should have been exposed to different:

 

 

It is not until the pups are between 12 – 14 days that their ear canals are open

It is not until the pups are 3 – 4 weeks of age that their hearing has characteristics of older animals (ironically it is around this age that the pups also can right and orientate itself in an adult like manner). 

At 10 – 15 days of age the pup’s visual system should be functioning. 

At 2 weeks of age the pup’s response to light and moving objects Is rather weak, and it is not until 4 weeks of age that it is similar to that of an adult. 

At around 7 weeks of age a puppy is supposed to be able to have a similar ability to sense different stimuli (i.e. sight and sound), and ability to process sensory information as it will as an adult.

 

You should ask specifically how the breeder has attempted to maximise exposure to different stimuli that would stimulate different senses in their pups.

 

These should not only just sights (etc.) seen around a breeder’s home, but also around a more generalised environment (for example a town and a farm are 2 different environments in which the pup will be exposed to some totally different conflicting sights, and sounds, etc.)

 

However the majority of UK GSD breeders will NOT do this.

 

This is because this takes a lot of time, and some additional expense.  The public in the UK generally do not request it, as for they commonly do not realise how beneficial this can be for both the puppy and themselves, and so the breeders only do what is expected of them / minimum work.

 

At Merjuke we do not think that this is in the pup’s or their home’s best interests to not extensively socialise our pups, and so we do spend a LOT more time and additional expenses doing this.

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Does Merjuke Provide A Stimulating Environment?



Yes we do.  We spend a LOT more time doing this with our pups.

 

This is one of the reasons for why we have so much interest in our litters, why our litters are usually over confirmed prior to their birth, and why people travel all over the country just to have a puppy from us.

 

Homes who have done their research, or homes who have just learnt this via reading the information that we provide can see how it is in their and the pup’s best interests to go to a breeder whom does this, and when looking for such a breeder they unfortunately often struggle to find another GSD breeder who has other similar aspects to us who also extensively socialises their pups.

 

We:

 

Follow the programme developed by the American military

 

Here are some of the stimuli that our pups are exposed to:







Smells: Smell By the time the pups are 2 ½ weeks of age they have been exposed to a verity of smells from the kitchen & bathroom & fireplace including food such as oranges, garlic, onions (etc) soap, toothpaste, and bath bubbles (etc) and coal and wood (etc).  When they are older they will be exposed to more outdoor smells such as grass, dried leaves, etc.

Touch: By the time they were 2 ½ weeks of age the pups have been exposed to our hands & clothes, and they have been on carpet, a mattress, tiles, lino, bubble wrap, wood, plastic tray, metal tray, stone fire-place, leather sofa, cushions, vet bed & blankets.  When they are older they will be exposed to grass, mud, woodland floor, gravel, sawdust, straw, and water when they have their first bath.  They will also be encouraged to run through a fixed and closed agility tunnel, and they will be introduced to an agility see saw.

 

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Vibrations: The pups are exposed to indoor items such as hover & tumble dryer, and a 1st bath combined with being dried with a hairdryer.  They are also placed on a yoga board that rocks up and down (this also stimulates a see-saw action which a dog will need to be used for if a home is interested in agility.  They will also be introduced to an agility see saw, and they will go in a car a few times.

 

Sounds: Day to day sounds in the house such as the TV, phone, kettle, washing machine, vacuum cleaner, sounds made when interacting with them such as using your voice at different levels (including shouting loudly next to them), drumming on the floor, squeaky toy, plastic bag flapping (first rustling and then really banging as it is flapped hard), SCH clatter stick hitting floor gradually louder and louder, metal spoon hitting pan, metal keys being dropped. They also have a sound CD. When the pups are old enough to go outside they will also hear cows, sheep, pheasants, hens and turkeys, birds, and often real gun shot (we are next to a pheasant shoot which is only 100 / 200 meters or so from where the outside puppy pen is situated which the pups are only placed in for an hour or so whilst being under observation).  They will also hear sounds in a farm, a town on a busy market day, a bus and train station, a busy super market car park, as they will be carried in a specially designed puppy bag where people will NOT be allowed to touch them.  Puppies often quickly acclimatise to sounds on a sound CD, but they often react differently when encountering the same sound and certain motions (such as something loudly dropping beside them as opposed to a loud bang going off from the TV).  So putting sound and sight socialisation aspects together can be essential for their socialisation.  It is not until 4 weeks of age that it’s response to light and moving objects is similar to that of an adult, and it is because of this that we do not take full visual advantage of combining loud audio stimuli with visual stimuli until the pups are around 4 weeks of age.


 


Tastes: They are given a verity of foods including Welpi dog milk substitute, scrambled freshly laid eggs in goat’s milk, probiotic goats milk yoghurt, wild organic honey, organic Heinz baby rice, pedigree professional puppy porridge, Aberdeen Angus beef, premium lamb, fresh fish slowly fried in a tiny bit of organic butter, Royal Canin maxi baby dog professional soaked in spring water from a borehole, pedigree puppy tinned meat, fresh apple, fresh carrot, liver cake, hot dogs, bones, and dog treats, and silly things like your fingers and fresh grass.


Sights: When the pups are younger they have different items placed in their puppy box.  They will go on several car journeys, and they will also be carried (in a specially designed puppy bag where people will NOT be allowed to touch them) around a farm, a town on a busy market day, a bus and train station, a busy super market car park.  The aforementioned above stimuli in a lot of circumstances also produce a lot of different sights, as does showing them chickens, turkeys, sheep, cows, and horses (we also have wild pheasants, rabbits and deer in the garden alongside squirrels and a wide verity of birds including an owl at night, an occasional sparrow hawk, and a buzzard in the field in front … although the pups often don’t really see the birds of prey they will hear them alongside the foxes and badgers that visit on a night).  We have our own private land include private woodland, and so the pups also get a chance to play in a verity of environments.  We obtained this property because it was perfect for our dogs and our pups.

 


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We also often:

 

Work on good manners with nail clippers, being bathed, and dried with a towel and hair dryer

Take them on several car journeys to help with the prevention of car sickness

Inspect them all over (teeth, mouth, eyes, ears, feet, toes, and tails) to assist with prevention of aggression / good manners.

Put them in a crate at least once over night to assist with crate training / prevention of separation anxiety

Take them outside to the toilet upon waking, after bed, and after meal or individual play times assisting them with house training (paper trained puppies are being trained to wee on paper inside as opposed to house trained pups which are taught to wee only outside).

Being played with … a verity of toys of different materials including a big bunch of metal keys (if they are interested in them that is)

Hand feed the pups which can help with bite inhibition and teach them to associate food with hands (assisting luring them and training them), as well as further stimulating their brains.

Teach them here (we use an informal “BBBB” command so that it does not conflict with a home’s existing commands; lure them into sit and down positions.)

Introduce them to agility items.

Put a lead and collar on them as part of lead and collar training

Introduce them and encourage calm behaviour and discourage barking or chasing of livestock including sheep and cows and hens and turkeys.

We encourage them to interact with both ourselves and their environment

They of course get a lot of individual cuddles and love

 

In the past we have trained recalls as soon as the puppy can stumble around using puppy milk as a reward, and we have trained sit commands as soon as a puppy is eating solid foods.  But this can come down to the pup’s lines, etc.

 

All of the above takes a lot of time per puppy. But all of the above is in our pups and their home’s best interests.

 

All if not even the majority of the above is also rarely done by GSD breeders in the UK (some may do certain aspects such as using sound CDs, etc.).

 

A lot of show kennels also raise their pups exclusively outside.  This can affect house training, as the puppy does not see anything special about being outside.

 

Our pups spend the first 3 – 4 weeks in our living room, and then they sleep in a specially designed puppy ‘room’ which is enclosed in my kitchen extension (home of my washing machine, fridge freezers, dishwasher, etc.).  When under supervision they also spend some time in an outside puppy pen which has a lovely adult sized Wendy house for them to go in and out of, and then spend either one on one time inside with me, or they come in with all of their siblings and mum. 

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