Buyer FAQ

Irish Doodle by McKenzie's Doodles

Picking Out Your New Puppy

At McKenzie's Doodles, we like to do all we can to make sure your experience in selecting a new puppy is as enjoyable and informative as possible. Once you have secured a puppy with a deposit and have choosen the litter you want, it is just a matter of waiting until the puppies arrive and are old enough to be taken to their new homes. To help you with the selection process, we post a number of photos on our website to allow you to become familiar with what each puppy looks like and how they mature along the way.

Puppy Photos

We begin by posting a group photo of the puppies within a few days after they're born. This will give you a general sense of the colors that are available in the litter. Then, when they open their eyes, at around 4-5 weeks of age, we post individual photos. This gives you a much more clear picture of what each puppy looks like and whether they are male or female. Finally, when they reach 6-7 weeks old, we post their final individual pictures. This is the best look at what you will be seeing about a week later, when you will make your selection and take your puppy home. Our photographer offers the individual puppy photos for sale at time of pick-up.

Pick-out Pick-up Day

At the weekend closest to the puppies turning 8 weeks old (which will be announced online, shortly after birth so you can make your plans) we schedule everyone to come out to select and pick up their puppies in one-hour increments, in order of deposit. This has proven the best way of doing things. A few years ago, some of our repeat customers might remember that we had a 'pick-out' day when the puppies were about 5 weeks, and then a 'pick-up' day at 8 weeks. With the increase in out-of-state customers, and to eliminate the time commitment involved in coming out twice, we decided that a 'pick-out pick-up' day at 8 weeks was a better way of doing things. It allows the customer to see what the puppies look like and what their coats and personalities will be like at 8 weeks which is a much better indication than at 5, and it is more convenient for our customers to make the trip only once instead of twice.

Your Appointment

Appointments are scheduled in the order the deposits are received. Customers that are having their puppy shipped will conduct their selection via telephone, and we will spend your time slot with you to provide any information necessary to make your selection. We will contact you well in advance as to the time you will need to come. We schedule everyone so that they have 45 minutes to play with and choose their puppy with no interference. Kids and friends are always welcome. :) Once you have chosen, you will receive your paperwork and we can answer any further questions you might have. You are then able to take your puppy home!

What to Bring When Taking Your New Puppy Home

This is always a question that is asked but the answer is much simpler than you might think. I suggest that you bring a towel or two, just in case of an 'accident' by the puppy, and someone to hold him/her on the trip home. You will likely have no shortage of volunteers for this job :) Most make it home without incident, but the towel will be ready in case they do not :) Puppies do experience some trauma when leaving their littermates. It is a bit of a shock to them and they need all the snuggling and reassurance they can get!

Putting them in a crate is too impersonal and you can expect them to howl all the way home. They are lonely since they are used to having multiple other siblings to play with at a moment's notice up until that time. When you hold them, or place them on the floorboard where you can reach them to reassure them, then the trip is less frightening to them. The close contact on the trip also allows for bonding to take place with the puppy, and whoever is holding them. This is a good thing. This helps prevent as much trauma as possible and actually secures his dependence upon you or your family right away.

What to Buy before Your New Puppy Comes Home

Many people want to buy collars, leashes, crates, etc., before they come to pick up their pups. We think this is a good idea and we recommend that you do not take your puppy into a pet store until they've had three rounds of shots. A good basic list of items to have on hand includes:

  • Adjustable Collar - they grow FAST and a small adjustable collar will expand with them for several months. Collar should be about 10" at its smallest and expand to about 15" - this will take them through about 6 or 7 months.
  • Name Tag - Petco and Petsmart have machines where you can engrave your pet's name and more importantly your contact information. This is a simple precaution that will give you peace of mind.
  • 6 Foot Leash
  • Food and Water bowls
  • Food Storage Bin - you will find that you're buying large 25 pound bags of food - a good plastic storage bin will keep the food fresh and convenient.
  • Good Quality Puppy Food - research these on www.dogfoodadvisor.com - we recommend something in the 4-star range.
  • Crate see section below on how to choose
  • 4-5 Inexpensive Bath Towels (put these in their crate, and just throw them in the laundry when they get soiled)
  • Several Types of Toys - recommend stuffed animal, ball, squeak toy, and rope toy. Your puppy needs stimulation and is used to playing with their littermates. Toys will help.
  • Slicker Brush
  • Chew Treats - Always have on hand something for your puppy to chew on, such as bully sticks, Busy Heartyhide, Merrick Bones - if and when your puppy chews on something they shouldn't, immediately exchange the item for one of these and tell them "NO - Chew on this instead!".
  • Training Treats - recommend Zuke's Mini Naturals

Important Note

* When taking the pup to a pet store, any store, or the vet, it is always wise to carry them at all times. This is because they have had only one set of shots at this time and dogs with full immunity will be tracking all sorts of diseases in on their feet. This does not harm them but can harm the young pup that is just beginning to build its own immune system now that it is away from mom. Once they have had their three sets of puppy shots you will not need to worry about this.

How to Choose a Crate For Your New Puppy

Choosing the right crate is actually much more important than you might think. The rule of thumb for those choosing to crate train their new puppy is, 'only big enough for the puppy to stand up and turn around in'. This may seem cruel or restrictive to some but it has its purpose. If you fail to meet these requirements, you are likely to fail at crate training the pup. Your puppy will be approximately 10 pounds when you bring them home, and you can choose a crate accordingly.

Plastic vs Metal Crates

There are crates that are designed to grow with your puppy. These are good choices and are more cost effective as the puppy grows at a rate that can often require that you replace his/her crate every 3-4 weeks in the initial stages of training. I do, however, usually recommend the hard sided crates whenever possible. I have found over the years, that the solid sided crates do make the puppy feel more secure and safe than the open barred ones. Many dogs graduate out of their crate as far as housebreaking but still prefer to use them as a 'safe house' when they are not in the mood to socialize and need to rest. The other possibility is to get the open barred crate and use a covering of some sort to give them a sense of safety until they have gotten used to all of your noises and activities and have become secure in their surroundings. Either way, the most important thing to remember is the 'rule of thumb'. I have seen families have a terrible time training their puppy, causing frustration to them as well as the dog simply because they did not believe the size of the crate mattered! See section on 'How to Crate Train Your Puppy'.

How To Crate Train Your New Puppy

Crate training a puppy for the purpose of housebreaking them is my method of choice. It is a simple method that, if done right, secures a puppy's potty habits from an early age and sets a standard of behavior they do not forget. The method is simple, but it is time consumming in the beginning. I cannot stress enough, however, how great the rewards are! There is nothing better than a well trained dog! The beginning is foundational to their whole life so it is of great importance. This is why I like to know ahead of time if someone is going to be home to do the work required before I send a puppy home. I want my customers as well as my puppies to have a great experience and the initial efforts are what set the stage. A well trained dog is like GOLD and everybody wins. That said, the Doodle is one of the fastest learners in dogdom. They have the setter/retreive side that is so eagar to please you and the poodle side that has the brains to back it up :)

Why it Works

To crate train your puppy, you will use their own natural instincts to your advantage. The biggest of these instincts is NOT to soil where they eat or sleep. They will do all they can to prevent this from happening. When you are starting out, this will be in their crates. The reason the size of the crate is so important is that you need to use this natural tendancy to your advantage. IF you should try to give them more room than recommended, they will use their sizable intellect to figure out that they can soil when they want to if they just do it up front and then move back and away from it. This is NOT motivational. You will also be dismayed by the fact that they almost always do it in the front of the crate and they have to walk through it to get out...not a happy thing! If, however, they have the described restrictions, they will do all they can to 'hold it' until they get out of their sacred sleeping spot before they do their business.

Setting the Stage

The first thing you will teach your puppy is that they can 'hold it'. Up until this time they have relieved themselves as they desired, whenever they desired and wherever they desired. They have had no reason not to. Now it is your job to help them discover their ability to hold back the urge until the proper time and place has been reached. When you first bring your puppy home it is going to resent the crate and just want to be out with you doing what it has always done, play, eat, drink, poop and pee. It is up to you to get control of this in a kind and clear way.

Step 1 - Early Morning

First person up in the morning, take the puppy straight out! You may have to carry them for them to make it as they are not used to holding it and they will be ready to burst. Take the puppy outside to the spot that you want them to use when they relieve themselves. Try to stay consistent with this if you want their waste to stay in a restricted area. Until they have had their full three sets of shots it is best to restrict their outside time to your yard. After that they can go most anywhere for walks. Praise them heavily whenever they do their business. Use their names when praising, not when scolding.

Step 2 - Feeding Time

The next step is to feed them, and take them back outside! Whoever controlls the food, controls the poop. Within minutes of eating solid food, the puppy's food from the previous meal is now ready to be expelled....almost immediately! Always plan to take him out as soon as he is through eating! Watch him do his business, praise him, and bring back inside.

Step 3 - Play Time and Crate Time

At this time, you can leave him out in a restricted area to play. Give him about 30-40 minutes and then PUT HIM BACK IN HIS CRATE. Make the total of this time, play time and crate time around 2 hours total. Do NOT take him out at the end of his play time. He needs to be in his crate where he does not want to soil after playing so he will learn to 'hold it'. When he is out playing, he has no motivation to hold it, but in his crate he does.

Step 4 - 2 hour cycles

At the end of the 2 hours, take the puppy back outside. Watch them do their business and then bring them in. If it's feeding time, feed them and TAKE THEM BACK OUT. Watch them relieve themselves again and then bring them in for play time. As described above, let them play in a restricted area for about 20-40 minutes, then BACK IN THE CRATE. After a total of about 2 hours, do it all again. It will quickly move to longer times out and longer times they can stay in their crates without soiling.

Step 5 - Night Time

In the beginning you should expect to have to get up with them in the night to take them out so you will need to place their crate near someone's bed. This allows you to give them reassurance by your presence and to hear them when they tell you in the night they need to go out. This often is only for as few as a couple of days to perhaps 4-5 nights. After that they realize that they would rather sleep and they can wait until morning :) At the evening meal, try to feed them by 6 pm. This will not be an issue once they are solidly trained but until then it gives the meal time to move through them so they can eliminate it before being put in their crate for the night.

Step 6 - Adjust the Timing

This is the basic pattern to follow. You will just judge by his success or failure if the timing is right or not. If he is responding, broaden his times a little at a time until he is finally safe to be out for hours playing. By the time he is 4 months old he should be able to be trusted out for several hours at a time and in his crate without soiling for 8-10 hrs at a time (mostly at night, these are VERY social dogs and should not be crated unless it is necessary and for as short a time as possible). By six months, most have the run of the house. Be careful, dogs are sneaky. They learn fast that you do not like them to do their business on the floor or inside so they will sneak off into a secluded part of the house to do it....dont let them outsmart YOU!

Using the bell

One other idea that works well with these very smart dogs is 'the bell' . This is a bell or set of bells that you can hang near your door for them to ring when they need to go out. Every time you take them out, take their paw and ring the bells. Eventually, they will ring them themselves. Word of caution: they are very smart and figure out that they can go outside anytime they ring the bell, this has to be monitored to prevent owner abuse :)

special considerations

There are certain non negotiables that have to be considered. First, a puppy will need to relieve himself EVERY time he/she eats, first thing in the morning (and I mean FIRST thing) and the very last thing at night before being put in his/her crate for the night. That said, he will need to pee even more often. The puppy needs to have water available to him at all times throughout the day to stay hydrated. This will mean frequent trips outdoors to pee, but should still be able to live within the 2 hour crate training cycles. Food is different though and can be controlled. When you put his bowl down for him to eat from, let him eat what he will. If he wanders off, pick it up, he is done. He will eventually realize he had better eat or it goes away. Do not offer it to him again until next feeding, then do the same.

Final Thoughts

This process is very time consuming at first but, as I mentioned before, the rewards of a well trained dog are hard to measure! Hang in there, before you know it, you will have a golden puppy that you are greatly enjoying and that everyone is very impressed with.