How we raise puppies
We live in upstate New York in a green urban neighborhood and we're a big family. Life here is never dull nor terribly quiet, and our dogs and puppies interact with all different sizes and shapes of humans and animals. Puppies here are loved and handled from birth, with respect, gentleness and plenty of hand sanitizer. As a result, we get to know each puppy for its individual characteristics. Appropriate playing, enthusiastic retrieving, imperative bite inhibition and other important experiences are ones our puppies get from early on.
We don't dock tails or dew claws anymore, since these are entirely aesthetic surgeries. We believe that at one time, docking tails proved whether neonatal puppies were affected by a once-common bleeding disease much like hemophilia - one that has a conclusive DNA test today. Tail docking now is banned in Europe and Australia, and there is no medical necessity for it. Undocked tails looked odd to us at first, but now it seems silly to cut off tails. They are very expressive. Also, if we are ever to breed good intact tails, we have to know what they look like without docking! Like tails, there was once a legitimate reason to remove dew claws. Retrievers' "thumbs" were traditionally docked to prevent them ripping in the field, but most poodles aren't ever in heavy brush. Besides, poodles are supposed to have "bracelets" at the wrists, a pom of hair that keeps them warm while swimming and protects their thumbs from catching. Owners should always tell groomers if their poodle's dew claws are intact.
We believe strongly in calming signals to communicate with dogs, especially with so many people in our family. Excitable puppies and adolescent dogs alike respond beautifully to these cues, which are usually a surprise to the humans just learning them. Dogs who are intuitive about people make better pets and have better lives. People who understand dogs and their signals are better trainers and happier with their pets. We want our dogs to have long happy lives with their people.