Q. What are Guardian Homes? A. Most of our dogs live in Guardian Homes. This means that our dogs have their own families that they live with full time. Guardian dogs only come back to our home for health testing, breeding, raising puppies, and the occasional vacation. We have two Cobberdogs (Beatrix and Mizpah) that live full time with our family, although we often have more dogs from our breeding programme staying in our home.
Q. Do you have older puppies or adult dogs available for sale? A. No. Our breeding dogs are all moved into their own guardian family at a young age where they have a permanent home unless they are required for breeding or raising puppies. Our puppies are placed with their families at 8-9 weeks of age. It is possible to have a puppy stay on with a trainer for basic training and socialization, but this is at significant extra cost and must be arranged in advance.
Q. Where are your puppies raised? A. All of our puppies are raised in our home. We have pens set up in our main living areas. Our puppies spend time supervised individually and as a group in different areas of our house so that they can learn to be comfortable in new indoor environments. We do make sure puppies are used to visiting the outdoors (every hour during the day once puppies are walking confidently) as it helps to fast track their potty training and it is important for their socialization to the wider world. A lot of our pictures are taken outdoors simply because the lighting is ideal.
Q. Are your puppies potty trained? A. No. But they have a super head start~! Our puppies go outside about every hour during the day once they are walking confidently (weather and temperature permitting). We see that all of the puppies are only pooping outside by about week 7. We see that puppies have no pee accidents in our house (they are going outside or on rare occasion are using their potty station) by week 8. IF families are consistent with following our puppy potty training advice that we provide, they will have a reliably potty trained puppy very quickly.
Q. Are your puppies crate trained? A. Yes and no. We introduce our puppies to an open crate in their pen for sleeping at week 3-4. We add great toys, chews, treats, and stuffed Kongs to the crate throughout the day to condition the puppies that crates are great. By week 7 puppies are having naps in the morning and/or afternoon in a closed crate. At first they have crating sessions with a buddy and we gradually move to individual crating. By week 8 puppies are sleeping in closed crates overnight from 10-5am (on rare occasion we may have to let them out overnight to pee, but it's not common). IF families are consistent and positively following our crate training advice, they will have a puppy that is comfortable being crated in their new home quite quickly.
Q. Are your puppies trained before going home? A. No. Training is an ongoing process throughout a dog's life. We do introduce our puppies to the concept of training and spend time working with each puppy individually. Our goal is that puppies are confident being independent and away from their litter, are excited to learn, and are able to focus on people for positive guidance. We follow Puppy Culture Protocols. Our puppies know how to take treats and are introduced to a marker/clicker. They have learned to 'sit' for attention and are introduced to 'sit', 'come', and following. Please remember that we only have about 3 weeks where puppies are developmentally able to work on formal training exercises, and we have a whole litter to work with rather than focusing on one individual puppy.
Q. Can we visit? A. Please visit our visit policy page here: https://www.cobberdogsontario.com/visit-policy.html. We do not welcome interested families to our home. We do our best to set up an open house for reservation families to visit with the litter. And we post lots of pictures and videos on our Facebook and Instagram so that you can see what our home environment looks like and how we raise puppies.
Q. Are your dogs a good fit for individuals with allergies? Can we visit to test our allergy reaction? A. Please have your allergies verified by an allergy test with a physician. It is important to know if you have a true dog allergy and its severity before looking to add a puppy to your home. No dog or breed is allergy free. Even a dog that does not shed will have dander, saliva, and secretion proteins that an individual with dog allergies could react to. We do test our parent dogs to ensure that they have coats that are as low to non shedding as possible. The genetic testing and results of our dogs coat tests would be the same as for other non shedding breeds like the Poodle, the Shih Tzu, the Havanese, etc. A short visit may not give you an accurate idea of how your allergies will respond to sharing your living environment full time with a dog. Some individuals have no reactions to our dogs on brief visits, but have severe symptoms once a dog is sharing a living environment. Other individuals may react to our dogs during a quick visit, but may adapt once a dog is in their home. The best option is to stay with or to dog sit for friends and family that have reliably non-shedding dogs to see how your allergies respond over longer intervals.
Q. Can I be on your wait list? A. We do not maintain an ongoing wait list. Our reservations are litter specific and we will only open a reservation list when the litter of puppies has safely arrived. This means that we have a limited reservation list for each litter and families will know who the parent dogs are as well as our best estimations of the size of puppies, the timeline for homecoming, and what colours and genders are present.
Q. How long is your wait time? A. We currently see that families wait about a year for a puppy from our programme. The wait could be longer or shorter mostly depending on how nature's realities line up with our plans. For example, the wait time could be longer if all of our girls comes into heat at once (we prefer to only have one or two litters at a time), a female doesn't get pregnant, or we have a small litter of puppies. If we have a litter with a large number of puppies the wait could be shorter. We only have 1 or 2 opportunities to breed a female dog each year. Spring and summer litters always have more interested families in available reservations. We also see more interested families waiting for miniature or small medium puppies. We usually have shorter wait times for winter litters. Please refer to our website page 'Available & Upcoming Puppies': https://www.cobberdogsontario.com/available--upcoming-puppies.html.
Q. Can I request a specific gender or colour? A. Every litter is a surprise. We can't control what genders appear, although we can make educated colour predictions based on the parent dog's genetics. Reservations are specific to each litter and we only open a reservation list once puppies have safely arrived, so if the litter doesn't have the colours or genders you are hoping for you can opt to wait for another litter. We do have puppy preference forms that each reservation family receives that are specific to the litter so that you can tell us your preferences for gender, colour, and coat type.
Q. What colour are your Cobberdogs? A. The colours in each litter will depend on the colour genetics of the parent dogs. We often see brown, cafe, parchment, black, brown and white parti, white, white rose, blonde, and blonde rose. On occasion we could have gold, silver, or brown and tan phantoms. We do not have red at this time.
Q. What size are your Cobberdogs. A. We are focused on raising medium sized Cobberdogs. We could have miniature or standard sized puppies depending on the parent dogs of the litter.
Q. What is puppy matching? A. We conduct socialization testing with our trainer around week 7 and then match our puppies to their families. Socialization testing is a great way to provide us with more information about a puppy's adult characteristics. We also spend time each day with each puppy while they are with us so that we know their personalities and how they cope with challenges. For example, we will be able to see which puppies are more outgoing and which are more reserved. We want your family to have the best experience with a new puppy, so we match each puppy's temperament with your family and lifestyle. We do have a short questionnaire that each family will fill out about their lifestyle. We also ask families to tell us their top preferences for gender, coat type, and colour based on the characteristics of the litter. Temperament and character are our recommended priorities in pairing a puppy and a family, but we do take into consideration your preferences for colour and gender.
Q. Why do you do puppy matching? A. Matching puppies to their families is the most fair way to do puppy selection AND it results in the right puppy ending up with the right family. There is no 'first pick' or 'last pick' since every puppy and every family is given equal consideration. Puppy pick is only a fun concept when you have the first pick!!! We spend time with each puppy individually and we see their character and behaviour, this means that we are the most informed to make the final choice about which puppy should go home with which family. Visits are not long enough to give you an accurate understanding of a puppy's character- the most outgoing puppy could be fast asleep while the most reserved puppy could be busy romping with the other dogs. We also have families with special circumstances (ie. children with special needs or a desire to participate in therapy training) who are looking for specific qualities in a puppy which requires our diligence as breeders to screen and evaluate puppies to meet the needs of their family. We also have families from far distances who would be unable to participate in a 'puppy pick day' and we want to make sure they are treated fairly. And on occasion we could be keeping a puppy for our breeding programme or selecting a puppy for another breeder which would necessitate careful selection for confirmation, health, coat type, colour, and temperament. Your puppy's personality will evolve as they grow up in your family's dynamic, but we think it is important to find the puppy that best fits with each family.
Q. What do you look for in an application? A. We look for a general understanding of canine behaviour and puppy rearing. If you are looking to bring home your first dog we like to see that you have pet-sit dogs for family and friends to ensure that bringing home a canine companion is the right long-term decision for your family. Pet sitting is also a good way to test allergies for an extended period of time. We would like to see that families have done their homework and are happy to make recommendations on books and other puppy rearing resources. Please be sure to research and understand the critical socialization window for puppies. We also like to see that you have explored your local options for veterinary services, grooming, and positive reinforcement training and socialization classes. What happens in the first 3 months of a puppy's life has lasting consequences on its adult behaviour so we need to know that families are prepared to hit the ground running with training and socialization the moment a puppy comes home. We want the addition of a puppy to your family to be a forever success.
Q. Do you ship puppies? A. We prefer not to ship our puppies although it is possible for international families. If a puppy needs to travel we ask that families make arrangements to drive or fly out and accompany their puppy. Accompanying your puppy dramatically shortens their journey and we like that a puppy accompanied by a passenger stays safe, secure, hydrated, fed, clean, and provided with emotional support and reassurance. With our commitments to our dairy farm, work, and raising puppies we are not always able to drop off puppies or accompany puppies on flights. All costs of shipping or travel are the responsibility of the puppy's family. We are not responsible for the potential for loss, injury, or illness as a result of travel. Please research airline pet policies in advance as many will require a puppy to be older before allowing them to fly.
Q. We live outside Canada, can we bring a Hillmeadow puppy home? A. Yes, but we would prefer that you seek out reputable breeders that are closer in location to you if possible. International families are responsible for contacting their government organizations concerning the details of pet importing. Please do so BEFORE contacting us or applying for a puppy. Many countries may require a puppy to have its full vaccines and proof of vaccine efficacy before allowing the puppy to cross the border. This means that the puppy would have to remain with us until it is a minimum of 16 weeks old. Puppies that remain with us past the litter's take home date will begin one-on-one puppy training and early socialization at an additional cost per day for boarding and training. We will not allow a puppy to stay on without early socialization and training as it is not in the puppy's best interests. This includes crate training (including overnight trips outside to do their business), potty training, bite inhibition, leash familiarization, lots of early socialization experiences, and some basic obedience. Depending on our availability, puppies may be sent to stay with a reputable trainer. We are not responsible for researching and applying for import, nor are we responsible for the cost of any additional medical or travel requirements for import. The United States does not require a puppy from Canada to have its rabies vaccine to cross the border so a puppy could go home at the same time as its littermates; however, many airlines have pet policies that limit the flight of puppies until they are over 12 weeks of age.