How we raise our puppies

I believe Shepherds are a breed that should have it all... health, temperament, soundness, working ability and breed type.
We've set high goals for our breeding program. A lot of thought, careful planning, and intense research goes into each breeding. We do everything possible to ensure that our breeding will produce puppies that are genetically sound.

We take sending new puppies into this world very seriously, and strive to do our best in providing the ultimate in care for our new additions from the time of conception! We are selective in our breeding process, It is our #1 goal to produce healthy, genetically & physically sound puppies, with trainability and temperament and consider the health of the puppies to be of the highest importance. We choose each pairing for a breeding only after hours of researching pedigrees to analyze the health, structure and temperament in the ancestors of the potential breeding partners. So whether your shepherd is to be a show, obedience, agility or family dog, each litter is produced with the same goals in mind. I feel very strongly about having the appropriate health clearances on all dogs used for breeding. Please see my page on health clearances to learn more about the health clearances we do on our dogs, and to learn a little about what diseases we test for. Our goal for each breeding is to improve the breed.  We must  honestly evaluate the bitch as to her strengths and weaknesses. We consider what positive traits she has to offer and what traits need to be improved upon. Our goal is to select a stud dog who will hopefully improve upon her weaknesses.

Our breeding dogs are not a business asset to us, they are members of our family. All of our dogs live in the house, and we whelp and raise our litters in the house as well. Keeping the litter in our home with us ensures they are in a safe, secure, climate controlled area, and allows us to easily keep dam and pups under careful observation. As the pups age, it also affords us the opportunity to expose the pups a variety of normal household sounds and activities on a daily basis. Each puppy is given lots of individual care, love, and attention. Daily contact and stimulation is important to the neurological development of young puppies, therefore, each one is handled and socialized extensively.

Shortly after birth, the puppies undergo the Avidog Early Scent Inroduction program, and also the BioSensor/Early Neurological Stimulation program. Both of these programs are done once a day with each puppy, from the ages of 3-16 days old.
The Early Neurological Stimulation is a series of 5 brief exercises done with the puppies. Puppies raised with ENS (which takes less than a minute per puppy per day), for the rest of their lives will have stronger heartbeats, stronger heart rates, an adrenal system that moves faster when they need it, more resistance to disease, and better tolerance/resilience to stress. The Early Scent Introduction another way of stimulating the neurological system. But this program focuses on stimulating the puppies sense of smell. The ESI program helps develop interest in scenting, the ability to detect scents, and the ability to follow scents. See my pages on Early Neurological Stimulation and Early Scent Introduction for a full description of these programs!
Puppies are also exposed to sound socialization. They are played from day one the ‘Sounds Sociable’ CD containing a whole variety of noises, and is designed to provide a wide exposure to the sounds a dog may experience during their lifetime.
We also utilize techniques from the Puppy Culture program, which starts pups off on a great path to learning. This program includes early toilet training, body awareness, environmental enrichment, early socialization, problem solving puzzles and games, emotional resiliency exercises, anti-aggression protocols,  beginning basic manners and clicker training.  As a breeder, I have an opportunity to make a dramatic impact on your puppy. 
My efforts to include the essential elements from birth until the puppy goes home with you,
lays the foundation for your new family member’s emotional stability and learning. 
I have followed many of the recommendations that you will see on Puppy Culture….
now you can take over where I left off to socialize and train the most amazing puppy!
Please see my Puppy Culture page for more information on this program!


Puppy Culture DVD

To help make sure we cover all the bases, we have always followed Pat Hasting's "Rule of Sevens". With the extensive socializing we do, our pups are always way beyond the minumum!
In the "Rule of Sevens", by the time a puppy is 7 weeks old it should have:
Been on 7 different surfaces, such as: carpet, concrete, wood, vinyl, grass, dirt, gravel, wood chips, newspaper, etc.
Played with 7 different types of objects, such as: big balls, small balls, soft fabric toys, fuzzy balls, squeaky toys, metal items, wooden items, paper/cardboard items, milk/soda jugs, etc.

Been in 7 different locations, including: front yard, backyard kitchen, car, garage, laundry room, bathroom, crate, kennel, etc.

Been exposed to 7 challenges, such as: climbed a box, climbed off a box, gone through a tunnel, climbed up steps, climbed down steps, climbed over obstacles,
played hide and seek, gone in and out of a doorway with a step, etc.

Eaten from 7 different containers: metal, plastic, cardboard, paper, china, pie plate, frying pan, etc.

Eaten in 7 different locations: crate, yard, kitchen, whelping box, laundry room, bedroom, x-pen, etc.

Met and played with 7 new people, including children and the elderly.

I also added my own variant of making sure the puppies have been exposted to at least 7 loud/potentially scary noises, like doorbells, banging pots and pans, gunshots, fireworks, heavy street traffic, crying babies, screaming toddlers, loud action movies on the TV, etc
 About 3-4 weeks of age, our pups move from the private whelping den to the weaning pen in our main living area, socializing and playing with other dogs, new people, and generally being underfoot getting exposed to the sights, sounds and smells of a normal home environment

We do try to keep visitors and activity around the pups to a minimum until after the 4th week, at which time the pups eyesight and hearing are up and running smoothly, and the pups are aware, active, mobile and starting to realize there is a whole new world around them to explore. After this milestone visitors are welcome, and between friends, family members and neighbours the pups typically receive several visits a week. Customers on our puppy waiting list often come to visit too. By the time they go to their new homes, the pups have already met dozens of people of all different ages.


On top of the constant parade of human visitors, our pups are well socialized with dogs as well. In addition to spending time every day with their dam, once they are old enough the pups also get to interact with our other dogs. This provides not only additional playmates, but also important lessons for them in canine social behaviour, communication and manners. Our pups are introduced to our cats who love to visit the puppies from birth.
 Our pups are also exposed to just about every possible facet of normal household activity.  This means that from the time their senses develop enough to allow them to do so, they see, hear and smell people, dogs, cats, lawn mowers, the TV, stereo, the vacuum, pots and pans banging around in the kitchen and the overly loud and obnoxious spin cycle on the washing machine.
Socialization is key to the continued success of our puppies.  We take them to places like Schools and cafes they are introduced to every surface:  ceramic tile, wood flooring, linoleum tile, grass, dirt, gravel, stairs very small ones. Our home is very chaotic at times so they get used to the hustle and bustle of everyday living as they live among a family home.
Once the pups are fully mobile and aware, they begin taking forays outdoors and throughout the rest of our house on a daily

basis. Inside they get to run around on a variety of flooring surfaces (vinyl, hardwood, carpet) and play tag and peek-a-boo over and under the furniture. They raid closets whose doors we forgot to shut, knock over the waste basket, splash about in the dog water bowl in the kitchen, try to figure out how to negotiate the stairs,  pull the blanket off the bay window and the clothes out of the laundry baskets, and confront large, noisy things like dishwashers and washing machines up close and personal.
Outside, they follow us everywhere they chase one another round the lawn, under the bushes, around the trees. They dig in the dirt, They enjoy beach trips exploring the sand dunes, drift wood and watching the waves. Basically, they act like typical puppies, exploring their world with joyful abandon and enthusiasm while gaining confidence, and even more curiosity, with every new experience.
 Both in their puppy enclosure and strewn throughout the house they have access to a plethora of balls, kongs, stuffy toys, squeaky toys, nylabones, tug ropes and most every other dog toy imaginable. Watching them play together is not only enjoyable, but insightful as well. As they chew and carry and shake toys, run and chase and scuffle with one another, we are able to observe additional valuable information about each pup's character and temperament.
Of course, we don't just sit back to watch them play. We interact and play with them often too, both together in groups and individually.

At around 5 weeks old, we start crate training after they've gotten some exposure to crates, we also begin taking them for short car rides (in order to get to the beach) a few times a week in order to accustom them to vehicular travel. As with the rest of crate training, we start with 2-3 pups together in a large crate and over time work up to pups being by themselves each in its own crate.
By the time they are 7-8 weeks old they are used to spending a few hours each day crated alone and have been on several car rides of varying durations. While it would certainly not be accurate to say our pups are fully crate trained or seasoned road travellers by the time they go to their new homes, important steps in the right direction have been made.

Our puppies are usually ready to go to their new homes at 8-9 weeks of age. Puppies are socialized with other dogs, cats and children, and are started on basic

obedience, crate-training and housebreaking.

All our  puppies Will


be seen with there mum

Dogs NZ registered to their new owners
Vaccinated, vet checked & microchipped
Be wormed and protected against fleas;

have started toilet training

A start made on crate training by us; and, more importantly, training on how to achieve it at your home;
raised as our pets, around children and cats and in a clean loving environment


Before puppies leave our care they are:-
raised as our pets, around children and cats and in a clean loving environment
Dogs NZ (NZKC) registered to their new owners
Vaccinated, vet checked & microchipped
Wormed regularly,
Puppies also go home with Shephaven Puppy Booklet and puppy pack with the following detailed information:
DogsNZ (NZKC) Certificate of Registration & Pedigree
Photos of sire & dam;
5-generation pedigree;
Copies of sire & dam Hip/Elbow results;
Buyers agreement
Feeding chart;
Information on raising a puppy until the age of 12 months;
Vaccination Certificate;
Toy and Blanket and many other things to help them in there new home
Lifetime support for you & your puppy/dog