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A bit of background. I had a standard poodle years ago. He was a nightmare, but we loved him. We didn't get him until he was around 18 or 19 months old, and by that time some serious damage had been done to him. He was anxious all the time, had serious separation anxiety ( would destroy crates, seat belts even if left for a minute, toys, would try to jump through windows), and he could be aggressive towards people he didn't know. I always felt so anxious walking him because he was so unpredictable. One the up side he was good with the family, and had super sweet moments when he could relax. I really want a different experience this time around. I know there are no guarantees with anything, but wondering if anyone has any advice on how to raise a well rounded dog. Is dog daycare a few days a week for socialization a good thing or a bad thing? ( I had been thinking this may help to expose dog to many situations/dogs/people). Is there anything to look for when looking at the puppies that might indicate an issue ( although it may not be up to me I think the breeder has input as well). I currently have a small dog and a cat, but I am not all that worried about that part of it, they will all adjust and are used to other dogs.
 

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Standard poodle puppies are challenging for the first few years. I think the first thing you'll need to do is wrap your head (and heart) around that so all that all the normal puppy and adolescent stuff doesn't frighten you.

Peggy got off to a rocky start and I became positively obsessive, analyzing her every move, look, and sound. If I'd not had people talking me down, I think it would have ended badly. And I don't want that to happen to you.

So what does that mean?

Above all else, start with an excellent breeder—ideally one who will let you meet and spend some time with the dam and sire. I loved Peggy's parents, so picturing them helped me a lot. But our breeder made some questionable breeding choices, which stoked my fears.

You want total confidence that you are getting a well-socialized, genetically sound pup, with a temperament that's been hand-picked for you.

So assuming you're happy with your breeder, time do some reading. I recommend this book:

Before and After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, and Well-Behaved Dog: Dunbar, Dr. Ian: 8601200633603: Amazon.com: Books

It's also available online for free, in two parts:



But I think the book is an excellent resource to have on hand. Reading it beginning to end while you've still got so much time to process it will do wonders for your confidence. It will help prepare you in just about every way, and it's designed to prevent all the things you're currently so afraid of. (Which is a good thing, by the way. Just as long as you channel those fears into educating and preparing yourself, like you're doing, rather than letting them consume you. Poodles are so sensitive. You want yours to know you're happy, capable, and confident.)

As for doggy daycare, you have no control over what goes on there. Your puppy might get picked on all day, every day, which will fundamentally shape his personality and future doggy interactions. You want to be there for your puppy's early socializing activities, to ensure they're positive, above all else, and to let your puppy know you've got his back. Quality not quantity! But all of this is explained much better by Dr. Ian Dunbar. :)
 

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There is some super helpful new-puppy info here:
It's currently free, but I'm not sure for how long.
If you are on Facebook, the Pandemic Puppy Raising Support Group is run by some great trainers and has all kinds of resources and even Units to go through on nearly any topic you might think of.

As far as doggy daycare, it's 100% dependant on the person(s) running and monitoring it. Someone who is not very knowledgeable of dog-dog behaviour and body language, could miss a situation that scares a young puppy and be the catalyst for reactive behaviour. No PetSmart daycare please, at my clinic we see injuries from there several times a year.

If you get to visit the puppies and have some choice, one thing to look at is recovery. So dropping a set of keys for example, that startles the pups, but they should not continue to cower or hide but get over it relatively quickly. Do be aware that if the puppies are in a fear period, they may overreact and not show a true representation.
Hopefully your breeder does good socializing (check out Puppy Culture for a good example- and consider purchasing the video for yourself once puppy is home as well).
I've always had large dogs myself, and always felt that they were easier to handle, but I would say my Spoo has actually been quite easy. His biggest issue is that he is not as confident as he could be- we are working on that- and that he is a little too attached to me. Not to the point of separation anxiety though.
 
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