About Our Breeding Program
I believe Tollers are a breed that should have it all....health, temperament, soundness, working ability and breed type. Any less, and you will never have the perfect dog.
At Tollwest we've set very high goals for our breeding program. A lot of thought, careful planning, and intense research goes into each breeding here at Tollwest. We do everything possible to ensure that our breedings will produce puppies that are genetically sound.
It is our #1 goal to produce healthy, genetically & physically sound puppies while still preserving the breed's natural hunting abilities, instincts, trainability and temperament. 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 Toller is to be a show, obedience, agility, hunting 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.
We take great pride in producing high quality puppies. We attend seminars/workshops on the art & science of breeding dogs, including ones by canine reproductive experts Myra Savant Harris, and Robert Hutchison. Our litters are whelped and raised as part of the family, and 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. Tollwest dogs are NEVER housed or raised as kennel dogs!
We set up a private separated area in the house for the “Puppy Nursery”, this gives the new mom some privacy away from the other dogs, while making it easier for us to keep the nursery area at the ideal temperature, and to control the lighting to gradually increase the light level as the puppies eyes open.
Shortly after birth, the puppies undergo the Avidog Early Scent Introduction 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 - very important in a hunting or working dog! Please see my pages on Early Neurological Stimulation and Early Scent Introduction for a full description of these programs!
We also utilize techniques from the Puppy Culture program, which starts pups off on a great path to learning. This program includes early potty training, body awareness, environmental enrichment, early socialization, problem solving puzzles and games, emotional resiliency exercises, anti-aggression protocols, beginning basic manners and clicker training. Please see my Puppy Culture page for more information on this program!
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, basement, 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, basement, 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 exposed 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
I also utilize a lot of methods from Julie Daniel's Baby Genius and Empowerment courses, to help encourage bravery and confidence in a variety of situations, and to teach the puppies more ways to earn reinforcement from their people.
By 3 weeks of age, our pups move from the private whelping den to a 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. They get used to regular family house noises and occurances, like the TV, radio, vacuums , banging pots and pans etc. They also go for car rides to visit a few fun new places.
They are weaned to a varied diet that includes a raw diet, some kibble (Purina ProPlan is our preferred kibble) and also a bit of canned food added in sometimes for variety.
They have a complete health exam by an veterinarian before leaving to their new homes, they come with a health exam sheet from my vet, as well as an offer for 1 month free insurance through Trupanion. They receive several deworming treatments while they grow (although I have not seen any worms in years, I want to keep it that way!). Puppies are microchipped with a CKC microchip (which will always lead back to me as the breeder) and have their first Parvo/Distemper vaccine before leaving.
Our puppies are usually ready to go to their new homes at 7-9 weeks of age. Puppies are extensively socialized with other dogs, cats and children, and are started on basic retrieving (including introduction to goose wings and pigeons), obedience skills and marker/clicker training and shaping games, leash training, crate-training and housebreaking.
We perform temperament testing, instinct and working drive testing, structural evaluations (including an independent assessment by a canine physiotherapist as well as assessments by other breeders) on our puppies, prior to placing them in their new homes.
We are members in good standing of the Canadian Kennel Club, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club of Canada and Canadian Scent Hurdle Racing Association.