To Buy or To Adopt?

For many dog lovers, the hardest decision isn’t whether or not to get a puppy, it’s where to get the puppy from. Should you buy from a breeder and bring home the perfect puppy, or adopt from the local shelter and save a life?

There’s a lot of arguments for and against both sides. Breeding increases the sheer number of pets in the world, when there are already too many homeless dogs being put down in shelters. On the other hand, adopting can eventually lead to unpleasant surprises, like ongoing health issues or problematic personality behaviors. But at the end of the day, bringing home a puppy or dog should be about finding the right fit for you and your family, and there’s not only one right way to bring home that perfect new addition.

Perfect Lineage


  • Known Background – When you purchase a puppy from a breeder, you know the puppy’s parents and lineage. This means that you know if your puppy comes from a healthy line without major medical risks or difficult behavioral tendencies. Buying a puppy from a good line means minimizing your chances of large vet bills and maximizing your chances of a long, healthy life.
  • The Right Breed – Dog breeds come with strong differences in personality and physical features. Whether you want an outgoing, energetic Labrador, a quiet, well-mannered Cavalier, or a hypoallergenic Poodle, choosing a breeder means you can choose your dog’s breed.
  • The Right Start – Purchasing from a breeder means you ensure your puppy has had a great start in life. You can make sure your puppy has been raised in a loving home or facility, well socialized and weaned at an appropriate age. The first few months of a puppy’s life are an important and sensitive learning period, so you can increase your chances of a well-adjusted adult dog.
  • BUT High Price Tag – A breeder’s puppy can easily cost you upwards of a thousand dollars. For many households that are already preparing for the long term financial costs of owning a dog, the initial price tag may just be too much.
  • BUT Finding a Reputable Breeder – This is the greatest danger of buying a puppy. Backyard breeders and puppy mills heavily outnumber reputable, responsible breeders that are dedicated to the health and prosperity of their breed. You could pay thousands of dollars only to end up with an inbred puppy rasied in the isolated conditions of a mill-like facility. When you a buy a puppy, it’s not as easy as just going to the store and picking out the cutest one. You’ll have to do a lot of research to find the right breeder, if you want all the benefits that come with buying a dog. (Read more about finding a good breeder.)

Save a Life


  • Rescue an Animal – When you adopt an animal, you could literally be saving a dog from a life on the streets or from a euthanasia list. Making room for a rescue animal in your home and heart could mean the difference between life or death for that dog. When you rescue, you’ll know that you saved your dog’s life.
  • Support for Initial Medical Costs – Most rescues and humane societies will cover some initial vet bills, including spaying or neutering, rounds of vaccinations and micro-chipping. These covered procedures could save you hundreds of dollars. Many times, your new dog or puppy will already come will all these vet visits behind them, so you don’t even have to worry about making those appointments.
  • A Proper Introduction – When you adopt a dog from a rescue, chances are that your future dog has lived in the loving home of foster parents. Because that dog has already lived as a loved pet, though temporary, you’ll get a good sense of what kind of pet they will be in your home. Foster parents will be initimately familiar with your dog’s personality and quirks, and you can hand pick your dog for their personality.
  • BUT Unknown Background – You may have no idea where your new dog comes from. You won’t know what breed or mix they are, where they were born, or how they spent their first few months or years. They may have a history of abuse or neglect. They may come from a history of poor hips or clinical anxiety, or they may have developed reactivity to other dogs or humans from experiences of abuse. These issues are not guaranteed, but you will have to take your chances.
  • BUT Limited Selection – When you decide to adopt, your options are usually limited to the dogs currently available at your local rescues. You may not have your pick of breed, size or age. Though they may be wonderful dogs and pets, if you have a very specific dog in mind, adopting may not be for you.














































Either way, bringing home a new dog is a wonderful memory and everyone in the household should be involved and as excited as you are. There is no good answer to the ultimate debate that is Breeding vs. Adopting, but there is need for both rescuing and responsible breeding. Whatever choice you decide to make, you can be confident that you are doing what’s best for you, your family, and your future dog.

The Fundamentals of Potty Training

pexels-photo-164543I recently worked with a client who could not get her two puppies potty trained. She did all the right things: taking them out often after naps, crate time, playing; rewarding them when they went; restricting their area to a small space. But still, the dogs went wherever and whenever.

Potty training is actually one of the hardest things we ask from a dog, and what’s more is that we usually ask it of new puppies who have never been trained before. It can be a really difficult and frustrating process for both the owner and the dog.

Potty training actually touches on a lot of the basics of general training. It’s often the first step you and your dog take in building a working relationship. From my experience with potty training cases and dog training, here are some tips.

1. Start RIGHT by starting SLOW

Once potty training goes south, it’s much more difficult getting back on the right track 655590276_5f3fc27476_bthan other types of training. There’s a lot of other factors surrounding potty training, it’s not just you, your dog, and your treat. There’s the simple reward of relieving themselves, then there’s environment, the smells from old urine spots that dogs are naturally attracted to, the understanding that a certain environment is okay to potty in, and previous memories.

So it’s best to start right by starting slow. Take baby steps with potty training. Increase areas the dog is allowed to roam in by inches. Increase the time between potty breaks by minutes. And always, watch them like a hawk. Too often I deal with cases where the owner gave their puppy too much free roam, too quickly. By the time they’re seeking professional help, the puppy is two years old and there’s is so much ingrained and instinctive habits that we have to train against.

2. No relieving inside

dog-1694209_960_720With all training, you want to control the environment. With potty training, that’s difficult because you can’t control when the dog needs to potty and where he might choose to do so. Sometime there is no rhyme or reason to where they chose to relieve themselves.

The best solution is to restrict their area. If they have a “usual” spot, don’t let them have access to it. Make their free roam space small, until they are potty trained within that small space. Then increase, rinse and repeat.

If they do start to relieve themselves, pick them up immediately and carry them outside (or to the potty pad, whichever you are potty training with). Always interrupt them when they are relieving themselves. Don’t reprimand them, make the move as matter of fact as possible. If they do relieve themselves outside after the move, reward them. Soon they will realize that they can’t pee in peace inside.

3. Yes, you can ask to go outside

For many dogs, this lesson comes naturally. Once they learn that they can’t pee inside, they will seek out areas where they can pee when they have to go. Dogs adopt systems like scratching at the door, coming and looking at their owner, whining and barking. All of these are communications that the dog naturally developed, because he understands that he can’t potty inside.

I recommend teaching potty bells simultaneously to potty training. It helps speed the process along, because they can learn to ask to go outside the same time they are learning they can’t relieve themselves inside. (I recommend potty bells, but this is just a convenience for us owners. I personally find it easier than listening to my dog whine. The purpose of the bells is exactly the same as any of the natural signals your dog might adopt.)

The key with this system is that you have to take the dog outside. This is especially important in the early phases when the dog is testing it out. Responding to him quickly and consistently is the best reward for this step of potty training. Dogs can quickly learn to abuse the signal. Puppies will ring the bell, go outside, then immediately want to play or go on a walk, rather than potty. Though this may happen, it’s crucial to respond to each signal when you are first teaching potty training.

If you find that your dog will not ask to go outside, it’s likely that he has not yet learned that he cannot relieve himself inside. He will not seek out outside for potty, because he can just potty inside. It’s easier and more convenient to the dog. 

4. Watch for signs

pexels-photo-57627If you’re having trouble predicting when your dog will need to go, watch for these common signs:

  • waking up from a nap
  • after being removed from his crate
  • sniffing around or walking to their usual spot
  • after or during play time
  • for puppies, 15-30 minutes after they drink water
  • going out of the room, or otherwise seeking a more secluded spot

Don’t lose hope! Some dogs pick it up much faster than others, but it’s never too late or impossible. If you have been struggling with potty training issues for a while, and are about ready to give up, please reach out to your local professional trainer. Sit Stay and Beyond is located in St. Louis, MO and we would be happy to help. Don’t let potty training drive a wedge between you and your dog!


Help, My Dog Jumps on My Guests!


Clients often come to us with behavioral problems like barking out the window or jumping on guests. And they’re often surprised when we recommend a basic obedience trainingThey ask, “How will teaching “sit” fix this?”

First of all, basic training establishes simple cues like Sit, Down, Leave It, Come Here, and Place (going to his bed and staying there). These cues can easily be used to solve a myriad of behavioral issues with house manners. For example:

  • The doorbell rings and your dog gets very excited. You ask him to Place, and he sits calmly, across the room, while you answer the door and invite your guests inside. He does not leave his bed until you close the door, get everyone settled in, then release him from the cue.
  • Guests try to greet your dog and he tries to jump on them. You ask him to Sit, and he plants his bottom down and politely receives petting and greeting from your house guest. He gets up again when you release him from the cue.
  • You drop a piece of food on the ground while cooking. You ask your dog to Leave It, and he walks away. He does not try again to eat it.

Secondly, basic obedience lays a strong foundation for all training, including behavioral issues. It establishes an understanding between you and your dog that:

  1. You will communicate clearly to him what you’d like him to do
  2. He will derive greater happiness (rewards) following your requests than his own desires

What this means is: Your dog will understand what you ask and will follow the cue. You will not have to say the cue multiple times. You will not have to yell. You will not have to worry about your dog not listening.

Basic training lays the foundations of a well-trained dog, and house manners are very much a part of good dog behavior in today’s world. Learn more about our manners and obedience training here.