The Dog Blog by Linda Labonte

What a beautiful world it would be if everyone had the heart of a Dog.

The Dog Blog by Linda Labonte - What a beautiful world it would be if everyone had the heart of a Dog.

Treatment of Puppies: There is always a fun way.

I have given birth to 100’s of puppies over a couple of decades, not all mine as often other breeders ask me to help them with deliveries and through their first few weeks of life. Puppies are amongst the cutest, funniest most loving creatures on earth. They’re  all naturally fun, confident, invincible, trusting, unbelievably clean and just love people. No matter the breed, size, color, sex they all born with this naïve view of the world.

Our responsibility as breeders is to enhance these traits so they go to their new homes with as pristine view of the world as they were born. I have developed a keen understanding of puppy behavior and still am challenged by each litter I encounter to spend a huge number of hours with them to this end. I find this part of my job so rewarding.

What is even more rewarding is seeing a puppy come back after a few months or a year with these natural puppy traits even more enhanced by the owners. This is when I know I have really done my job. I have found a good home with people who know or have learned how to properly care for, play with and love a puppy.

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to insure every puppy gets placed in such a home. You can ask questions, do background checks, offer free training, but you just cannot ensure you have found the right people for your puppy.

You can lead a horse to water but you cant make him drink.

As rewarding as the successes are, these failures are devastating.

Too often people don’t take the time to understand how to communicate with their puppy. They become forceful, stern, frustrated and in too many cases outright abusive to a puppy. When you understand how a happy and confident a dog should be, it is very easy to see when a dog is depraved like this. I have watched many dogs from their cradle to their grave, they never lose confidence or spirit naturally.

I can’t help but to cry for the depraved puppy. All of the immaturity, naivety and playfulness not longer exists. Some people mistake this for a well behaved puppy. Well the sad news is this is always false, it is a puppy who lives in fear, a puppy who’s imprinting is embedded by fear and a puppy who will never be a dog. Often this puppy by the time there are a year old can become quite unpredictable.

You might say all dogs are unpredictable, and all dogs can bite. I can say with certainty, this is not true, I have never had a dog bite someone, not even my protection trained dogs or my dual purpose police dogs will bite without my queue or will bite the wrong person. I have trained thousands of dogs, and could tell you with certainty the dogs who are not predictable. I do however, understand where this impression comes from, it is because the vast majority of dogs have their control work done through force not play, many of these dogs become unpredictable. So the answer is yes, many dogs are unpredictable, but its not natural, they were made that way.

This heavy handed obedience we do to our puppies is completely unnecessary, causes problems, is harder on you, makes your dog harder to train, constant retraining is always necessary and it will be a daunting task to build the trust back should you decide to stop it one day. There are so many much better ways to get better results more quickly, less costly, if we would only stop this inappropriate behavior towards our puppies.

I can prove it, as without fail at 8 weeks my puppies will sit, laydown, play chase, search with their nose, and even better, completely house trained (at my house). I do this by getting them to like dog games and playing with them.

If we all could only realize that taking time to learn to communicate with your puppy through love, play and things they understand, is the easiest, and most rewarding way to have a spirited dog who understands the boundaries of living with your family or working with you.

Please treat and train your puppies with love and play, learn about them, it could become the most rewarding experience you can imagine.

Selma Police K9 Missing – Please Help – Reward Offered

Update – Jin has been found! Thanks for your help.

WTSB Headline News

1090 AM ~ Smithfield, NC

Selma Police K9 Missing Selma PD Jin
Selma Police are searching for their police K-9 who went missing over-the-weekend. Jin, the departments K-9, disappeared from her handler’s home on Rody Street in the Pine Level city limits late-Saturday.  Jin was later spotted in the same neighborhood but failed to return home.

Police believe Jin escaped from her pen and was not stolen.

Selma Police Chief Charles Bowen asks citizens in the area to be on the lookout for Jin and if she is spotted to contact Selma Police at 919-965-8189 or dial 911.  Chief Bowen said Jin is a black and tan German Shepherd weighing about 60 pounds.

Although Jin is trained as a police K-9 she is not considered to be dangerous to the public.

Chief Bowen said the department is offering a $500 reward for Jin’s safe return.

Dog Training Tip #2– Basic dog communication.

After focus and bonding you should start communicating with your dog in very simple ways. Remember the 3 c’s of dog communication – clear, concise and consistent. With the 3 C’s in mind choose a way you can let your dog know when you liked a behavior using a consistent trigger as soon as the behavior is observed. The sooner the better.


If done correctly this will never happen!

This is why clicker training works, the click provides an easy way to get a consistent sound at a consistent tone for a consistent length of time. I don’t like clicker training because you always have to have the clicker with you. I find this is not practical or in many cases possible when living with a dog day in and day out. When trying to train your dog and good behavior is observed, not having the trigger with you can confuse your dog. I much prefer to use the voice as it is much harder to loose your voice, you otherwise always have it with you, and it is unique in this world.


The drawback of the voice, is that we all have emotions, making it hard to produce a sound at a consistent tone, length etc… but I find this is something achievable for most people with practice (without the dog at first). You really have to be conscious of what you are doing, respond with proper tones and don’t let emotion get the better of you. The most common trigger words people use are ‘yes’ and ‘ok’. It doesn’t matter what you use though, as long as you stick to the rules.

After you mastered your voice it is quite simple to show your dog that this is a reward word. Classical conditioning works on even us humans. Just say the word, then reward your dog. Do this over and over again. If you are consistent , very quickly the dog will associate that word with getting a reward. Do it in many environments so the dog knows it applies everywhere.

So what you have now accomplished is you can very quickly tell the dog a reward is coming, and indirectly that their behavior pleased you. This is a critical part of training and should not be short cut in anyway. It is the foundation of communication with your dog. As your bond grows you will learn that your dog lives to please you. Now all of the sudden you have a clear, concise and consistent way to tell the dog you are pleased. Together you will become experts at communicating in a very positive environment and your bond

Dog Training Tip #1 – Focus

The early stages of your relationship you really need to get your dog to focus on you as the center of life. This starts quite simply. When spending time with your dog, you must make sure the training time is free from distractions. You must be able to focus on your dog.

Complete focus on your dog invites the reciprocal – your dogs undivided focuses on you.

Obedience Training

This is so important in the early stages of training. What this focus on each other does is strengthens your bond, allows you to pick up on the subtleties of each others communication, make training fun for the dog. One of the first things you will find out is you dogs attention span (it will be short – but this understanding helps you). The dog will start learning your cues which becomes very important later when you try to do things together.

For our games you need motivators. Good breeders provide dogs with positive motivators (we usually use balls or tugs for motivators as they love things that move – called prey drive). They should send the dog home with these motivators or a favorite treat as a motivation. If not any food usually works for puppies provided you have not just fed the puppy.

Game 1 – Teach the dog to look into your eyes. Just bring a finger up to your eye. The dog will follow the finger because they love to watch things that are moving. As soon as the finger gets close to the eye you will make eye contact. Right away say ‘yes’ or whatever your trigger word is (click of you a clicker trainer) and reward with you motivator. Eventually work the word ‘look’ into this exercise when you point at your eyes.

Game 2 – Teach the dog its fun to be close. Put the motivator 3-4ft away from you. Draw it into your body so the dog chases it close. Say yes and reward the dog. Eventually work in the word ‘here’ or ‘come’ in with this exercise. They will love to come to you after this.

You should take the opportunity when the dog is close to love your dog up. This touching will add to the joy of the time and make your dog want to play with you even more. You cannot love your dog too much, this is true for any dog, whether companion, service, police patrol, or guard dog. They are social animals and love to be loved and play with people they trust (even as geriatrics they love to play if they have complete trust).

End of Tip #1 Focus, focus, focus 

The next tip will talk about using triggers to establish initial basic communication with your dog.

How a Dog Breeder, a Blind Man, and a German Shepherd Changed the World in 1929

I just wanted to share this story with everyone as it is a little known fact about American history.

“In the early twentieth century, those without sight were marginalized members of society. They had no job options and no mobility, and had to rely on the kindness of someone who might lead them or help them with whatever needed to be done.

A series of circumstances on two continents was to change all that…..”

How a Dog Breeder, a Blind Man, and a German Shepherd Changed the World in 1929

Drinda’s Find

This is a story about Ed and Marsha and their new German Shepherd Dog Drinda.


Drinda was a very fast learner and when she came home from the breeder she was pretty much house broken and did some basic obedience. She is a very spirited young dog with lots of energy and curiosity. As time went on she grew attached to Ed and hung around him more and more. They did all sorts of fun things together like play ball and tug, but most important they loved each other. One day, after Drinda had been in her new home for about six months, she wouldn’t leave Ed alone. Drinda kept nudging him in the neck.


This persisted for several days. Then Ed went to the doctor for a checkup and mentioned it to him.  A few days later a biopsy diagnosed Ed with cancer in the neck. It was located in the exact spot Drinda was nudging. Ed is now in the hospital being treated for his cancer. We all are praying for his well being. Drinda is now at my kennel and she is missing Ed a whole bunch.

Come home soon Ed.

What is the Solution to Enforce Breeder Ethics

As stated previously dog breeding should be regarded as many other professions. Professional associations have often worked to ensure ethics and add credibility in other professions and it should with breeders.

One thing that is for sure, what the AKC breed specific clubs are doing is not working.

Another thing that has been attempted in varying degrees of success is the USDA’s efforts to license breeders and inspect breeding kennels.  I am very skeptical about this working for two reasons

  1. It does little to educate breeders or the public of ethics and breeding best practices.
  2. It gives the public the perception that all breeders are being inspected and must be following some sort of ethics, when indeed this has proven not to be true with the current regulations.

What if we looked at the USDA’s license program and modified it to make sure breeders are educated and there is a method to educate the public through professional associations. The licensing procedure should follow:

  1. Complete a standard Fundamentals of Breeding (FB) written examination, which tests applicants on breadth of understanding of basic breeding principles
  2. Complete a written examination testing the applicants knowledge of breeding ethics.
  3. Require prior experience working with other accredited breeders for a given amount of time.

In addition to this the licensees are given the power by the USDA to say what the standards and best practices are for breeding as well as determining the ethics of breeding going forward.

This will inherently have licensees form professional breeders association(s) so they have more impact on the profession.

I believe this to be the best solution as if follows the models of other successful professional organizations such as professional engineering, legal and medical professions.



(as a result, we will have more of this – happy mom, happy babies, happy owners, happy breeders)






In conclusion, the atrocities that occur everyday to dogs, their caretakers and people like me in the business of breeding are truly not representative of the times we live in. We should know better, we need to do something about this now.

Why the AKC will not Act as a Definitive Professional Breeder Organization

As stated in my previous article, ethics are the forefront of many professions like engineer, medicine, mechanics, etc.. and they all have professional associations to ensure these ethics. There is a need for a professional breeder organization to sanction ethical breeders and reject those with bad practices.

One might think that the AKC is the obvious choice for this given their Mission Statement.

The American Kennel Club’s Mission Statement: 

  • Maintain a registry for purebred dogs and preserve its integrity.
  • Sanction dog events that promote interest in, and sustain the process of, breeding for type and function of purebred dogs.
  • Take whatever actions necessary to protect and assure the continuation of the sport of purebred dogs.

AKC ‘s Objective:

  • Advance the study, breeding, exhibiting, running and maintenance of purebred dogs

There are three obvious problems preventing the AKC from being an authoritative body.

  1. The AKC has been given no authority judicially to solely maintain a registry of purebred dogs in the United states. Unlike many countries such as Canada where Canadians have the Animal Pedigree Act that protects animal registries and owners of animals, the AKC survives on reputation only.
  2. The AKC is accountable to no one but its own reputation. Most national breed registries are members of the International FCI which governs registries throughout the world and guarantees standards are followed so each country can trust the other countries registry. The AKC is not an FCI member and is not bound by the FCI standards. They often choose to create their own standards separate from those of the FCI.
  3. The AKC’s only recourse against a bad breeder is to disqualify its dogs from registration as a purebred animal. This is in conflict with their need to grow their membership base for their own survival.

So in short, although it is in the AKC missions to prevent bad breeding, they certainly will not survive if they become the police of the very people they depend on for survival. The growth of their membership base is a key focus for the club to the point the club has lost sight of its mission a bit. (for example they now allow mixed breeds to register and compete in their events).

For a definitive professional breeding organization to be successful, we have to look outside the AKC, or we need to look for an outside authority to help solve the AKC’s conflicts in achieving its mission.

I will give my idea’s on possible solutions in a future article.

Dog Training as an Inspiring Activity

Dog training is about you learning, how your dog responds to different stimulus, and how the dog communicates reactions and wants back to us. Every dog is very unique in the intensity and method it responds to each thing that stimulates them.

They have much different senses then humans and see things from a completely different perspective. I encourage every dog owner to learn how to think abstractly about the dogs point of view. It is through this abstract thinking that the real trust bond forms with your dog.

Dogs have a sense of smell we cannot even comprehend, they see things not in the same way we do. My dog can catch a Frisbee better in the pitch dark then in light, yet he doesn’t seem to see detail the same way I do. They are not great judges of distance when something is coming straight at them. They can multi task with their hearing often pointing their ears in different directions.

It is through the details of this understanding and learning that I find my clients are truly inspired. Through this inspiration comes a spirited confident and willing companion that enhances your experience wherever you go.

Ethics – The Need for a Definitive Professional Breeder Organization

I have encountered several terrible even gruesome situations caused by unethical breeding of the German Shepherd Dog. All breeders should abide by the following code of ethics and all buyers should question their breeder about their practice to make sure they are conforming to these ethics. A lot of trouble and heart ache comes from unethical breeding.

My proposed code of ethics for breeders of all dogs:

I. Encourage bitch owners to breed only if they have facilities, time and resources to adequately care for a litter and upon strong evidence of the possibility of finding suitable homes for the resultant litter.

II. Refuse stud service to any bitch I consider in poor health, physically or mentally unsound, or lacking the necessary breed characteristics as set forth in the Breed Standard (German Shepherd Dog).

Before or at the time of breeding, an exchange of pedigrees and hip and elbow X-ray information must be made.

III. Allow one repeat service where a bitch has failed to conceive after being bred to one of my studs, if the stud is still in good health and available, and at such time and place as mutually agreed upon by the owner of the bitch and myself.

IV. Breed my own bitches only when I have a definite goal for improvement of the breed in mind, never permitting them to produce three consecutive litters unless breeding consecutive litters is recommended by a veterinarian. I fully understand that I am responsible for keeping and/or finding suitable homes for the resultant puppies.


n_03dog(GSD at breeding kennel suffering from tick fever and physical abuse)






The facts are, it costs a lot of money to properly breed and care for a litter of puppies and their parents.

1. You need several acres of land – without this land you will end up with problems with neighbors, animal control, family member and have overweight and unhealthy dogs.

2. The bitch needs care at least 2 years before you can breed her, she needs health test so you minimize your chance of spreading hereditary diseases. All of this costs thousands of dollars and I didn’t even mention the purchase price of the bitch, or what do you do when she retires, you have to care for her through her old age. You most likely will not be able to rehome her in her old age –vet bills are highest at this stage in life. I won’t even mention the atrocities I have witnessed on how unethical breeders solve this problem.

3. With the sire you have three options, artificial insemination, hiring a stud or purchasing and raising him. All of these options are over a thousand dollars to do them ethically.

4. You need TIME. You need time for a relationship with your bitch and maybe the sire. The German Shepherd is a loyal and social being, it needs love and attention on a daily basis. Once the litter is on the ground, it is very important you learn how to imprint your puppies for success at their new homes. This takes 100’s of hours over a minimum of 8 weeks.

with an untreated broken leg and suffering from heart worm disease.(Another commercial kennel’s dog with an untreated broken leg and suffering from heart worm disease.)





An ethical breeder is losing money on any German Shepherd puppy that costs less than $1000 – these costs vary by breed.  You really need to be very careful to avoid a lot of heartache. This is a 12 year relationship (for the German Shepherd Dog) dog owners are committing to, it is more than a Christmas or Birthday present, it is a living relationship and needs careful consideration for many birthdays and Christmas’.

The fact is,  breeding is not unlike any profession or trade, there are ethics that need to be followed to ensure equitable transactions. However, breeding dogs unlike most professions/trades lack a credible governance body that certifies a breeder is ethical.

Currently the AKC is the only body with enough authority in the United States to take on this task. My next post will be about why the AKC do not and will not. Just think of all of the of the legislation that could be set aside of breeders had ethics. Accountable breeder ethics would save lives, money and a whole lot of heartache.