"Bark 'n' Scratch"

Volume II - Issue 16:  May 7, 2004
Published by:
Christopher Aust, Master Trainer

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In Today's Issue ...

=>  Just Visiting? Please Subscribe Here.  ->
=>  Christopher's Drool
=>  How Young is Too Young?
=>  Breed of the Week - Doberman Pinscher
=>  Recommended Stuff
=>  Justice for Spot

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Christopher's Drool

Hi Folks!

So, I take a week off to get ALL this work caught up, right? Well, it started out looking pretty good, and actually, I did get a ton done. On Sunday, I see a printer on sale. I think, “cool,” I've needed a new one forever and the one on sale did it all. You know, printer, copier, scanner, fax and excellent photo quality! Needless to say, I went and bought the darn thing.

So I get it home set it up and give it a test and it all looks great! I didn't have anything to print, but sat there waiting, in blissful glee, for the moment I had something requiring this wonderful piece of technology's gentle hand. As I slept, dreams of high-resolution photos danced in my head. (Okay, maybe it wasn't all that, but I was a guy with a new toy. I was excited.)

The next morning I fire up the computer and all I get on the screen is “Signal Error.” Now being computer challenged as I am, it may has well have said “Incoming Nuclear Missile.” Being a man, I did what any man, who has no idea about computers, does. I jiggled a couple of wires and stared at the thing for half an hour, waiting for it to telepathically send me the answer. When I was fairly sure no one was looking, I took it to the computer store.

It turns out my new printer caused my video card to freak out due to the software not being compatible, although no one seems to know why. Doesn't it figure? So the printer goes back to the store, I'm considering therapy, and if I send you anything by snail mail, it's going to look like crap for now.

Last issue, I featured the Sheltie as our Breed of the Week and received several comments about my stance on debarking. With the exception of one goose-stepping storm trooper from the Sheltie Mutilation Center, everyone was, as always, extremely polite even when they didn't agree with my position. I appreciate that.

When it comes to debarking, ear cropping and docking tails, I stand behind what I have always said. If it isn't necessary medically, I don't condone it. Every letter I got that disagreed with my position had the same resounding theme. Convenience. I heard every excuse, complaining neighbors, more dogs than legally allowed to have and my favorite, “her yapping was making me crazy!”

Only one person even bothered to ask how stopping excessive barking could be done. They all just basically want to say it couldn't be done. Most did agree if there were a way to train the behavior, they would favor that over surgery. They just wouldn't concede it could be done.

It is a sad chapter in the way the human has chosen to take care of his best friend. Unfortunately, until the masses rear their heads and say something about it, the practice will continue. The way I see it is, if God or whatever higher power you believe in, felt the dog was good with a tail, big ears or even a big mouth, then that's good enough for me.

Okay people, that's all for now. Keep the letters and comments coming. (Unless you're that Dog Nazi lady) :-)

I'm outta here!



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Dear Chris,

Our dog is going to be having a litter of pups in a couple of weeks. She is a registered German Shepard. This is the first litter we have bred so we are a little unsure of how to deal with the pups. We have had some people tell us it's not good to handle the pups for the first five weeks.

Is this a good idea? We want them to be fairly friendly and unafraid when people come to see them. What is a good age to start structured training? Thanks for the help!

D. Clarkston
Abiline, TX

How Young is Too Young??

As long as I can remember, I have been told, by nearly every trainer and breeder I have ever known, not to touch young puppies or to begin training puppies until they are at least three months old. It never really made sense to me but since I couldn't explain why, I didn't fight it.

When I was 19 and in the Air Force, I had to take a three-week vet tech course. It was designed to teach us emergency first aid when we were a long distance from a vet. While I was there, there were three female Belgian Malinois in the hospital that had given birth to litters a few weeks earlier. They were part of a program the government was exploring to determine if it was more cost effective to breed their own dogs, rather than buy them from vendors.

The pups and moms lived in an indoor kennel where they were handled daily by veterinarians, trainers and techs. While everyone was concerned the pups were being over-handled, there was no disputing the pups were actually extremely well adjusted, learned at an accelerated rate and were very confident.

From that time on, I handled every puppy I ever bred and have trained puppies that were not even weaned as a practice. Now I don't recommend going in right after the pup is out of the womb and telling it to sit. I don't think that's practical. There are some basic steps to follow, but I am certain you will find your puppies will be well adjusted and happy.


Keeping the environment the puppies are exposed to clean is one of the best things you can do for the health of your new puppies. As soon as momma gets up to go outside the first time, clean out the bed where the puppies are. Put in fresh towels or blankets that have been washed in hot water and bleach only. This is to “sterilize” the towels and prevent laundry detergent from irritating the puppies.

Just as the bedding needs to be clean, so do you. Wash your hands before and after handling the puppies or their bed. When the pups are less than three weeks old, it would also be advisable to rinse your hand in rubbing alcohol as well. This will help to prevent any of the goodies we may have picked up from affecting the puppies while their immune system is gaining strength.

Your yard also needs to be kept puppy safe. Make sure your lawn and patio are free of fertilizers, weed killers and bug spray or poison. Pick up any small objects a puppy could choke on. Put barbeque supplies away or up high where the puppies can't reach it.

Handling, Socialization and Training

Week 1

Leave the pups alone for the first week. There is a lot going on developmentally and they have just been through quite an ordeal being born. This will also decrease any anxiety mom experiences from your handling of her pups. It is okay to stroke their heads at this point, but keep it to a minimum.

Week 2

When the puppies reach two weeks old, each member of the family should take a few minutes each day to hold the puppies. They should hold the puppy close to their body and gently stroke the puppy in long, slow strokes. Talk to the puppy in a low whisper while doing this. The ideal time to do it is when momma is outside going to the bathroom.

Week 3

Continue to hold the puppies as you did in week 2. At this point, the puppies should be more active and walking around. You should now start to take them out and allow them to move around the house a bit. Momma will keep them herded into one area. Lie on the floor and talk to the puppies with a high pitched baby voice. Gently clap your hands together and call them over to you. Try to entice them to snuggle up in the crook of your arm or next to your leg.

Week 4

At four weeks old, they should start going outside when momma goes out. They should be kept out of direct sunlight and monitored at all times. Allow them to smell all the different odors and explore the new territory. Talk to them with the baby voice again and try to get them excited. Encourage them to come over to you and make sure you praise them up if they go potty outside.

All the family members should hold each puppy at 10-15 minutes each per day. This should be quiet time where they are simply loved on and stroked. During this time, the puppies are learning the family's scent and forming a bond.

This is also when you should start to introduce the “sit and come” commands to the puppies. This is not hard core training here, just the introduction. Keep it light and fun. If the pup doesn't pick up on it right away, don't get frustrated, just keep plugging along.

To teach the puppy to come, take them in a large room where there are no other people or dogs. Set them on the floor and call them over to you. Repeat the word “Come,” several times to familiarize the puppy to the command. Teach the puppy to sit in the conventional method. Remember to keep it fun and give them lots of praise.

At the end of the week, put collars on the puppies.

Week 5

At week five, momma should be spending more time on her own and the puppies are getting pretty active. This is when they should have their “Sit and come,” worked on and fine-tuned. Work on these commands for a couple of minutes several times a day.

You also want to start to introduce them to the leash. The easiest way to do this is just put it on the puppy when they are outside. By now they should be used to the collar so they shouldn't do the fish flop on the ground. Go to the end of the leash and tell them to come while you continuously move backward. After a few feet, stop and praise the pup.

You also want to start to put them outside every couple of hours so they can have the opportunity to potty. Praise them up extensively when they doodle outside. Really make a big show of it and love them up.

Weeks 6-8

The puppies should be doing fairly well with their commands and walking on leash. You will want to continue the previous exercises only, now, you can start to be more consistent and firm about the commands. When I say firm, I mean they have to follow each command every time you give it. Consistency starts now.

You also want to start to expose them to all kinds of different people and environments. Take them to the park or a friend's house and allow them to explore and be played with by other people. The important thing is they get introduced to as many different situations as possible. This will build their confidence and make them feel more secure with change.

I also strongly recommend the puppies be taken outside or on short car trips individually. This will also increase their confidence and help them adjust more easily to their new home and separation from their siblings.

In the wild, puppies begin to learn almost immediately after they are born and are taught the necessary life lessons by nearly all the members of the pack. I believe by interacting with domesticated puppies at an early age you can avoid many of the problems associated with puppyhood. It also gives your dog more confidence and the building blocks necessary to be good canine citizens.

This article may be republished using the following attribution box:
Copyright ©2004 Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies
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Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our life whole.

~ Roger Caras ~

Mail Bag

Hi Chris,

As usual, loved the issue (http://www.master-dog-training.com/archive/042304.htm).  I was very interested in the segment on rescue remedy and working with the shy dog (doing sheltie rescue this is somewhat common and I recently have been working with 7 from a situation which caused major stress in the dogs due to under-socialization) and was already planning on sharing your article.

Even better, your breed of the issue was Shelties!   Thank you - job well done.  I can't wait to see what you come up with for the Paws for Change Foundation - if I can help, I will.

Leslie M.

Hi Chris

How's the Net gig coming? Enjoyed your latest issue and just thought I'd tell you so. I always feel better when I let the boys love me and no matter how busy I get they always have time for me. Dogs give true love with no judging involved; they just love you 100%.


Hi Chris,

Read your article on a Sheltie board I am a member of. Thanks for taking a stand on debarking. It is so common in the “Sheltie World” and it makes most of us sick to death. Unfortunately, most of us don't dare say anything to prevent being “shot.” Thanks for stepping up. You have inspired many of us to do the same. Bravo!

Name Withheld


Doberman Pinscher
Doberman Pinscher

Louis Dobermann, a German tax collector back in the 1860's, probably understood the need to have a large protective dog at his side. It is no wonder, after several trips through a lawless land, he decided to construct a watchdog, bodyguard and companion to protect him on his journeys.

It is believed they are a cross of the German Pinscher, Rottweiler, Beauceron, and English Greyhound which is accredited with giving the Doberman Pinscher, name of it originator (shortened by one “n”) its stream-lined appearance. It became an immediate success when it was first presented for show in 1875.

The no-nonsense, powerful stance of the Doberman is not one you quickly forget. Their well-defined chest leads into a trim, muscular neck. Their rear, slightly shorter, legs are lean and powerful making them incredibly fast at a full run. Their coat is tight, slightly hard, short and easy to maintain. They generally come in black or black and tan. You will also find fawn, red and blue-gray. Most clubs will generally not admit white markings. Occasionally, the breed will produce albinos.

Their eyes are dark brown/black, although ambers do occur as well, with an intelligent and whimsical expression. Their teeth should be well set and meet in a tight scissor bite. Their ears are usually cropped and their tails docked. I've spoken enough this week on this so I will only say this…(You didn't think I would say NOTHING, did you?) J

If you have ever seen a Doberman that wasn't “altered,” you will know what I mean. Their ears are rather long and floppy, almost like a hounds ears. Their tails are fairly long. They almost have the look of a jovial sidekick rather than the authoritative enforcer after they have been altered. Seems a waste to loose that “sidekick” expression.

They range in height from 24-28 inches (61-71cm.) at the withers and weigh from 65-90 pounds (29-41kg.) They have a life expectancy of 11-13 years. They are generally healthy dogs, but there are a couple of things to look out for.

First, let me touch on the albinos I mentioned. While they are extremely cute, you must be prepared for a lot of work and possibly high vet bills as well. They are said to have a number of genetic disorders.

They are subject to blindness/poor vision, severe photosensitivity, extremely high risk for skin cancer, neophobia, poor temperament and heightened aggression and shortened life. Buying one of these little guys means a serious commitment and it must be considered carefully.

In general, the breed itself has a couple of medical, but mostly avoidable, issues to be aware of. They can suffer from hip dysplasia, congenital heart disorders, Von Willebrands disease (inherited) and cervical spondylitis. Special care should be taken when feeding and exercising due to the breeds' tendency to bloat.

While some may disagree, I don't think the Doberman should be an apartment dog. They need at least an average yard to run and play. Beyond that, they need quite a bit of exercise on a regular basis.

The Doberman has been bred to be fearless, intelligent, incredibly strong and loyal. They are alert and constantly aware of their surroundings, they are also capable of impressive feats of stamina. Their gate is elegant and long.

The Doberman Pinscher is a highly intelligent working dog and must be treated as such. They require extensive exercise and human contact daily to remain healthy physically and spiritually. Remember, this dog was designed to be a human protector and companion. Often, when they aren't getting the exercise or being paid enough attention, they can become dominant and aggressive out of frustration.

They are affectionate with family but need to be socialized to other animals and people from a very early age to curb their natural instinct to protect against the unknown. They should also have a structured pack order in place when they are very young. Basic obedience should be introduced as soon as a new puppy comes into the home. They will do well with respectful children.

Everyone in the family should be involved with training and handling this dog. This eliminates jealousy between the dog and other family members who may not be active in the dog's life. This should be done with any dog, but it is particularly important with the Doberman Pinscher. They need to feel closeness with all family members. You also need to ensure your training is love based and not heavy handed.

The Doberman will excel in most competitive working dog competitions. They are excellent obedience, agility and police work competitors. They excel in competition and are fierce competitors. They have also been used as assistance and therapy dogs.

I do recommend a Doberman be at least three years old before beginning any agility or extremely athletic competition. This will give the dog a chance to fully mature and you can have their hips and back x-rayed to be sure they are free of conditions which could worsen if the dog begins heavy exercise.

The Doberman is an excellent dog for the individual or the family if you are willing to give them the time and love they deserve. Research the breeder or rescue you get the dog from and get references. Insist on meeting both parents when buying a puppy to see their temperament.

All and all, the Doberman is a good choice for a companion or partner. Either way, their cute (when not altered) faces will warm your heart.

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Joke of the Week

Justice for Spot

A young man was delighted to finally be asked home to meet the parents of the young woman he'd been seeing for some time. He was quite nervous about the meeting, and, by the time he arrived punctually at the front door, he was in a state of gastric distress.

The problem developed into one of acute flatulence and half way through the canapés, the young man realized he couldn't hold it in one second longer without exploding. A tiny fart escaped.

“SPOT!” cried the young woman's mother to the family dog, lying at the young man's feet.

Relieved at the dog having been blamed, the young man let another, slightly larger one go. “Spot!” the woman again cried.

“I've got it made,” thought the man to himself. “One more and I'll be fine.” So he lets loose with a really big one. “Spot!” the woman shrieked, “Get over here before he craps all over you.”

* To submit your joke to us: Joke@Master-Dog-Training.com

Thank You For Reading!  Have a Terrific Week!

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The Legal Mumbo-Jumbo

The BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter is published by Christopher Aust Copyright © 2004 All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without the express written consent of the publisher or contributors.

We accept no responsibility for your use of any contributed information contained herein. All of the information presented in BARK 'n' SCRATCH is published in good faith. Any comments stated in this newsletter are strictly the opinion of the writer or publisher.

We reserve the right to edit and make suitable for publication, if necessary, any articles published in this newsletter. We reserve the right to publish all reader comments, including the name of the writer.

Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies

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