Selecting and Raising a Conservation Dog Puppy with Laura Holder

In this episode of K9 Conservationists, Kayla talks to Laura Holder of Conservation Dogs Collective. They chat all about puppies! 

Episode suggestion: Stay curious by being more “dog”! For 90 seconds a day, find joy in little things and slow down!


Call to action: Update your Amazon Smile to benefit K9 Conservationist! 

What are the pros and cons of getting a conservation dog as a puppy?

  • Pros: Having a dog from a puppy gives you more control over their learning and getting them started on detection related development early
  • Cons: It is a huge time and monetary investment. There is also no guarantee they will end up working as a conversation dog.

What are you looking for when looking for a breeder?

  • It is a good idea to interview breeders
  • Look for physical health, how the dogs are kept, titles, bred for related work (service work, police dogs, hunting, etc.)

How to pick a puppy from a litter?

  • If the breeder doesn’t pick for you, it would be best to see some video of the litters, see if the breeder knows about Puppy Culture, etc. You can do an obstacle course, puzzles, etc.
  • If your breeder is selecting, ensure they know what they are looking for. 
  • Be cautious about shelter puppies, as there are so many perks to working with a reputable breeder

What are some games would you play with puppies to get them started on the conservation detection line of work?

  • Basic puppy socialization is important!
  • Sprinkle in a little bit of nosework such as food scatters and snuffle mats!
  • Keep things easy to start, they are just puppies!

What about games for a pre-teen puppy? 

  • They have a higher attention span, so you can increase the difficulty of your nose games 
  • Barrier challenges are good to start at this age 

What games can we play with teenage detection dogs?

  • They are still young, so it’s important to know they will still have “difficult” days
  • You can increase the difficulty even more and introduce physical aspects to the challenges

How do you manage your goals and expectations for your puppy?

  • Your puppy will never be perfect, neither will you. Mistakes will happen and that’s okay!
  • Working with a professional will help set you up for success
  • Be your puppy’s advocate
  • Be humble, don’t wear rose coloured glasses
  • “Everything is a phase; whether it’s good, whether it’s bad, whether you’re thrilled with what you’re seeing or devastated.”
  • Know when to really dig into something or when to just let them ride it out

It is absolutely okay if raising a puppy is not your thing.

Patreon Question: How can I be productive in developing a conservation or good scent detection puppy while dealing with puppy brain and waiting for maturity to hit? Are there certain signs that you can see early on a potential conservation prospect puppy? 

  • Try as best as possible to expose and positively influence the puppies experience out in the world
  • You’ve got time
  • Signs to look for are dogs that are motivated to engage with the environment with and without human induced reinforcers

Links Mentioned in the Episode:

Where to find Laura:  Website | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest


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