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Discussion Starter #1
Puppies are due in 14 days-sooner or later is possible of course. I'll be going to pick out my puppy 4-5 weeks later.

What I want - First time berner owner friendly. So I'm assuming laid back, confident puppy. Eager to learn, so more handler focused I guess. Have a child, so more tolerant puppy, but I guess that kinda ties into laid back. I realize puppies change and won't be perfect.

Breeder is very active in her litters. She posts videos and photos weekly if not daily. So you get to see how they play, eat and interact with each other from day 1. The breeder will be there every step of the way to help guide me in the right direction. However, I want to know what I'm looking at as well to help make the best decision.

So I need tips, advice guidance on what to look for in each puppy. What specific questions should I be asking the breeder about tlthe puppies?

I want to make some lists of questions and what to look for from day 1 so I'm as prepared as possible.
 

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Honestly, I'd just pick a puppy from the 'middle', temperament and behavior wise. They are almost certainly going to be very, very similar there unless there are serious outliers, but avoid the pushy, crazy bold puppy (if there is one) and avoid the timid, apparently shy puppy (if there is one) and you'll be gold. The LESS there is behavior that stands out in either of those sorts of ways, the safer you are.
 

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Agreed with CptJack - pick the middle of the road puppy and avoid the outliers. The quiestest puppy who is not very confident is probably not going to enjoy a house with small kids. The over the top confident pushy puppy is going to be more difficult for you to handle and work with.

Also, as far as I've seen, berners are not difficult dogs in general. It's not like the pushiest puppy is going to act like malinois, or the timid puppy is going to be a fear biter. They tend to be gentle and easy going so I think the majority of the litter will probably be a fine fit for you.
 

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Honestly, I'd just pick a puppy from the 'middle', temperament and behavior wise. They are almost certainly going to be very, very similar there unless there are serious outliers, but avoid the pushy, crazy bold puppy (if there is one) and avoid the timid, apparently shy puppy (if there is one) and you'll be gold. The LESS there is behavior that stands out in either of those sorts of ways, the safer you are.
:) I chose the "pushy, crazy bold puppy", but because I wanted a puppy that would transition easily into getting along with three large adult dogs and that is very comfortable traveling with me wherever I go on the weekends, including to festivals, fairs and such. Plus, "pushy, crazy bold" in the Great Dane world is probably really different than in the GSD world, for instance. I think there's a much smaller swing in terms of energy levels and personalities in Danes.

That being said, I think CptJack's advice is really sound for what you seem to be looking for :)

The few things to watch out for - if you arrive right after nap time, or right after meal time, the puppies are probably going to be a bit lazier and not so motivated to get up and move around. If you don't have a time set already, talk to the breeder about when the puppies are the most active and "themselves", versus when they may be crashing or just coming out of a deep sleep.

Make sure you interact with the puppies as a group, then perhaps talk with the breeder, pick out a few you really like or a few she recommends and take them and interact with them individually. That way you can assess their dog/dog interactions as well as their dog/you interactions.

I was personally very interested in how the litter I met responded to a loud, unexpected noise. Fortunately I didn't have to create one because one of the grandchildren did it for me by slamming a door - some of the puppies ran, some huddled in place and two were like "huh, that was weird" and then kept waddling around. While I wouldn't recommend overtly slamming a door, watching for reactions like that is a good starting point for seeing how a particular puppy may deal with new or unexpected situations.

I'm pretty sure that since your breeder is so involved in the litter that she will be able to easily point out the different puppies and their personalities to you - mine did the same for me :)
 

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I think we agree, middle of the road. While a shy or fearful pup may seem obvious, a confident pup may not be as clear.... You'd like a pup that comes up to you, but consider the next behaviors, does the pup interact with you, or get too distracted too easily, and leave just as quickly....
 

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Id go with the puppy you connect the most with with many/any specifics. Its great to have a check list but if the runt wasnt on your list and yet you have an instant connection, id go with that over anything.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all the suggestions guys.

Timid puppy will not be an issue. I feel no connection to thwm, I just can't handle that. I can barely handle my kid when she gets timid over something, and shes a little person I can bribe with ice cream later.

My biggest concern is not confusing confident, assured puppy with pushy, bold and rude puppy.

Pushy, bold, rude puppy doesn't work for me either. In my experience, that doesn't guarantee you will have a dog great in public to take everywhere. Which is what I want. Pushy and bossy could also mean reactive.

So I agree, middle of the road puppy. Confident enough to tackle new people and places, but not overly bossy that could lead to problems.

I've also thought about elrohwens point of berners are pretty much laid back all the way through. Even the most energetic puppy, in all probability will not be to much to handle like the most energetic Aussie would be. I do however, don't want to become to comfortable with that thought process and through all caution to the wind, yoi know. But I probably shouldn't panic to much.

As far as looking for a puppy that's more handler focused for training, is there anything particular I could look for? Or is it kinda a toss up?
 

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You really can't tell much about a puppy's personality at four weeks. I wonder why the breeder is letting people pick at that age?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
You really can't tell much about a puppy's personality at four weeks. I wonder why the breeder is letting people pick at that age?
I know this isn't "false", but I, in my experience haven't really found it "true" either.

I've dealt with 2 breeders that picked puppies as well between 4 & 5 weeks, and both were spot on with the puppies personalities. My first breeder I dealt with, I was worried about the 4 weeks thing, when I talked to her she told me when you have been doing it as long as she has, you get a sense about what the puppies are, and she has never been wrong, maybe slight changes, like.... i thought she may enjoy cuddling more, but that's about it.

My mom, years ago had to choose and take home her pit bull puppy at 5 weeks when her momma jumped the fence and got hit by the car and stopped dealing for the babies ( I was a kid, I don't know details, just know she had never done it before). Lucy, was pretty much the same adult dog as she was at 5 weeks.

So for me, I've never really noticed much of a difference. Only slight changes.

I talked to 5 people that have past puppies from this breeder and they feel very confident about the breeders description of the puppies, they said they grew up to be exactly that.
 

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I don't know if you'll be able to tell how handler oriented the puppy is at 4-5 weeks. You can tell some things, but possibly not that since they aren't as active or interested in toys yet. The way I have tested handler focus is to just put the puppy down in a new space and see what they do. Do they come to me if I make noises and pat the ground? Do they want to interact with me? Or are they happy exploring everything and couldn't care one bit if I were there or not? The nicer show pick female in Hazel's litter was like this - so independent that she really didn't care if we were around or not. She's a fine pet, but not what I wanted for sports. Another female was even more handler oriented (she was the run and had been hand fed a lot, which probably contributed to this) but she didn't like playing with other puppies much (a problem for a dog who has to live with Watson) and she had some conformational issues that made her unsuitable for agility. But it was pretty easy to rank them on how much they wanted to interact with people

I do think the breed totally matters. For my first Welsh I went middle of the road, because I didn't know what to expect and what I could handle. For my second I picked the most high energy, outgoing, confident, pushy female of the litter and she is a perfect fit for me. I have met berners who were higher energy and kind of hyperactive, but most have been really calm and gentle, so I think even a puppy at the more energetic and pushy end of the spectrum is going to be manageable, but I think with your current needs the middle of the road puppy who is interested in being with people will be best.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I don't know if you'll be able to tell how handler oriented the puppy is at 4-5 weeks. You can tell some things, but possibly not that since they aren't as active or interested in toys yet. The way I have tested handler focus is to just put the puppy down in a new space and see what they do. Do they come to me if I make noises and pat the ground? Do they want to interact with me? Or are they happy exploring everything and couldn't care one bit if I were there or not? The nicer show pick female in Hazel's litter was like this - so independent that she really didn't care if we were around or not. She's a fine pet, but not what I wanted for sports. Another female was even more handler oriented (she was the run and had been hand fed a lot, which probably contributed to this) but she didn't like playing with other puppies much (a problem for a dog who has to live with Watson) and she had some conformational issues that made her unsuitable for agility. But it was pretty easy to rank them on how much they wanted to interact with people

I do think the breed totally matters. For my first Welsh I went middle of the road, because I didn't know what to expect and what I could handle. For my second I picked the most high energy, outgoing, confident, pushy female of the litter and she is a perfect fit for me. I have met berners who were higher energy and kind of hyperactive, but most have been really calm and gentle, so I think even a puppy at the more energetic and pushy end of the spectrum is going to be manageable, but I think with your current needs the middle of the road puppy who is interested in being with people will be best.
Thanks. I didn't think there would be to much to see as far as handler focused. I guess I'll just look for the puppy that shows more interst in me than everything else.

And ya, after you pointed that out. I'm not as nervous about picking the right one. I guess my biggest concern is, this is my first large breed. Largest dog I've ever owned was 70lbs. So I just want to make sure I get that puppy that's going to be easier to handle/train. Hyperactive people obsessed, and pushy would pull me off my feet in seconds. Lol. Granted I know alot of it will be training and socalizing. But still, I want my best bet, thst will be more forgiving of mistakes I make.
 

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Thanks. I didn't think there would be to much to see as far as handler focused. I guess I'll just look for the puppy that shows more interst in me than everything else.

And ya, after you pointed that out. I'm not as nervous about picking the right one. I guess my biggest concern is, this is my first large breed. Largest dog I've ever owned was 70lbs. So I just want to make sure I get that puppy that's going to be easier to handle/train. Hyperactive people obsessed, and pushy would pull me off my feet in seconds. Lol. Granted I know alot of it will be training and socalizing. But still, I want my best bet, thst will be more forgiving of mistakes I make.
Have you ever worked with/around horses?

I had no problem holding back Atlas, Loki, Shenzi and Little Dog (about 480 lbs) when they tried to take off after something (no choke/prong collars) because of my experience with horses. I can't imagine I'm *that* much stronger than most other women, so I think that controlling a larger dog is about body posture, knowing the correct way to hold back a lot of weight, and never being caught off guard :)
 

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Yes. I grew up around horses. I find them different though. I find them more sensitive to pressure points, where as a dog will continue to pull until he is gagging and foaming. And 2. If a horse REALLY wants to go somewhere, a hundred some pound person is going to be hard pressed to stop them. Horses minds work differently I feel.

I do agree, body posture and not being caught off guard are a big deal though. I know even Royce, who was only 70lbs would have been hard to hold had I not had a good grip on the leash and held myself correctly.
 

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Yes. I grew up around horses. I find them different though. I find them more sensitive to pressure points, where as a dog will continue to pull until he is gagging and foaming. And 2. If a horse REALLY wants to go somewhere, a hundred some pound person is going to be hard pressed to stop them. Horses minds work differently I feel.

I do agree, body posture and not being caught off guard are a big deal though. I know even Royce, who was only 70lbs would have been hard to hold had I not had a good grip on the leash and held myself correctly.
Yes, controlling a horse's head versus controlling a dog's neck makes it slightly harder for the horse to pull straight forward than a dog, for sure. I don't know, I guess I never worried about walking large breed dogs because I did turnout at a barn with around 70 horses, so to make it faster, I'd walk four horses at a time. After dealing with four 1,300-1,500 lb warmbloods, my dogs don't seem like a big deal :) So my perspective is probably just different than most people's, and perhaps based on insanity (I'd never recommend someone try to walk four horses of any size at once, it was sheer stupidity on my part).

I guess I meant that it's just about body awareness - I see so many people walking their large breed dogs with their arm extended straight out, their shoulders forward, etc. It's much easier to control with shoulders back and the arm in an "L" position, so if the dog takes off, you have a few buffers before you're actually being pulled off of your feet :)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Agree with you in that for sure. I guess I'm just nervous. Even though Berners aren't exactly known for reactivity and such.
 

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I also grew up with horses, and have walked 4 polo ponies at a time, but I still find dogs to be pretty different. Watson is <50lbs but when he pulls or lunges at full speed it is hard to hold him back and not comfortable. I can do it of course, I stand and walk properly and I outweigh him by a lot, but it's exhausting and hurts my shoulders. So I can totally see not wanting to deal with that in a dog who weighs more than twice as much.
 

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I also grew up with horses, and have walked 4 polo ponies at a time, but I still find dogs to be pretty different. Watson is <50lbs but when he pulls or lunges at full speed it is hard to hold him back and not comfortable. I can do it of course, I stand and walk properly and I outweigh him by a lot, but it's exhausting and hurts my shoulders. So I can totally see not wanting to deal with that in a dog who weighs more than twice as much.
Exactly. 100+ lbs lunging, prepared or not will be difficult and not to mention scary to myself and others.

So want to put the odds in my favor, by choosing the puppy least possible to because a reqctive hell hound, not that I see many berners becoming that way. Lol.
 

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Exactly. 100+ lbs lunging, prepared or not will be difficult and not to mention scary to myself and others.

So want to put the odds in my favor, by choosing the puppy least possible to because a reqctive hell hound, not that I see many berners becoming that way. Lol.
We had a female in a recent obedience class who was like that. She was young (around a year), but she was the craziest berner I've met. Sweet as pie, but lunging to get at the other dogs and people and just kind of all over the place. Basically just like Watson at that age but way bigger. lol
 

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We had a female in a recent obedience class who was like that. She was young (around a year), but she was the craziest berner I've met. Sweet as pie, but lunging to get at the other dogs and people and just kind of all over the place. Basically just like Watson at that age but way bigger. lol
A while back I was helping with a Santa Paws photo shoot and a woman and her daughter came in with an adolescent ridgeback and they were just ALL. OVER. THE. PLACE. It was so blatantly obvious that they really had no control over this dog and could not handle it at all.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Exactly. Crazy berners do pop up. There is this guy on the Berner forum that was telling people that if you don't have hours to spend exercising them, then not to have them. I kinda freaked out, cause even the breed club Web page says 30 minutes a day, and almost everyone says their berners are pretty much slow moving couch potatos (after puppy hood of course). Turns out this guy just has really crazy berners and believes they are like that. Lol.

But anyways, yes, I don't want to be the girl, being dragged out of my jeep at the vets office, while he lunges around excited everywhere. Lol.
 
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