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S20 Ep2

Dogs: The Early Years

Premiere: 11/11/2001

More than a film about humans' love affair with puppies, this program offers a practical perspective on the breeding, training and behavior of young dogs, along with advice on mistakes to avoid when choosing a puppy. The film also follows the story of a pup brought home to live with a puppy "socializer" to prepare him for his life as a guide dog.



Choosing a puppy isn’t child’s play, as NATURE illustrates in Dogs: The Early Years.
Puppies of any breed enchant and beguile us. But choosing one as a pet solely on the basis of its visual appeal can lead to a mismatch with unfortunate consequences for both owner and dog. Dogs: The Early Years presents an incisive look at the breeding, behavior, and training of humankind’s best friend, including useful pointers on how to avoid mistakes when selecting a puppy.

To choose a compatible puppy for a relationship that will last the dog’s lifetime, it’s important to understand the history of the breeds the prospective owner is considering. Viewers are shown, for example, that dogs bred for the outdoor work of hunting, tracking, herding, or retrieving are not wise choices for people seeking a quiet companion or a gentle playmate for their children. Besides helping viewers make informed choices about puppies, the program illustrates the importance of proper training — also key to a satisfying relationship.

Production Credits

Web Credits


Art Director




Production Artist

Production Assistance

Technical Director

Content Consultant

About the Writer

Sarah Birnbaum, an educational Web producer, shares her home with two cats, but admires every dog she meets.

Thirteen Online is a production of Thirteen/WNET New York’s Kravis Multimedia Education Center in New York City. Anthony Chapman, Director of Interactive & Broadband. Bob Adleman, Business Manager. Carmen DiRienzo, Vice President and Managing Director, Corporate Affairs.

Television Credits

Narrated by


Written by



Original Music


Assistant Editor/Research



Assistant Camera

Production Assistants


2nd Electric

On-line Editor

Sound Edit and Sound Mix

“Ave Maria”
by Johann Sebastian Bach
(arr. by Charles Gounoud)
Performed by Yo-Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin
from the Sony Classical release HUSH
Courtesy of Sony Classical

originally published by Rebo International B.V.
in The Netherlands,
author Esther J.J. Verhoef-Verhallen
ISBN l-55013-890-1

Special Thanks


The Puppy Breeders


Bichon frisees:


English springer spaniels:

Great Pyranees:


Jack Russells:




Series Editor

Supervising Producer


Associate Producer


Production Assistant

Production Secretary


Production Manager

Series Producer

Executive in Charge

Executive Producer

A Production of Middlemarch Films, Inc. and Thirteen/WNET New York

This program was produced by Thirteen/WNET New York, which is solely responsible for its content.


[gentle music] - [Narrator] We are programmed to love all small furry things, but, of all cute creatures on Earth, puppies hold a special place in our hearts.

No one ever said happiness was a warm squirrel.

Perhaps that's because a puppy, whatever its shape or size, is the promise of a future partner, as specialized in his talents and temperament as any lawyer or surgeon, bred to play with us, to work with us, or to protect us from harm.

- [Elizabeth] A puppy is a delicate, sentient little creature, which has been given to an alien species that it knows nothing about.

- [McCorkle] We're so smart, yet we don't go and learn what the puppy is thinking, but we expect the puppy to know what we're thinking.

- [Evan] Dogs are pack animals.

By their own intrinsic nature, they aim to please.

They want to please.

Even if you can get the puppy to learn one simple command, it really increases his sense of well-being.

- [Patricia] You know, I mean, I think my puppy loves me very much.

On the other hand, it may be self-interest.

- [Narrator] What do all puppies have in common?

How do their particular talents emerge?

What draws our two species together?

And what is so critical and so captivating about those early years?

[gentle music] [animals calling] [bright music] - [Announcer] This program was made possible by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you.

Thank you.

- [Susan] Oh, they're really cute, aren't they, Mike?

[dog barks] - [Narrator] Susan Boyan and her family have their heart set on a Border Collie, and they have come to Gene Sheninger's farm to find one, - Uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh!

- [Narrator] But adopting a puppy is often more than we bargain for.

- [Gene] Well, these are the puppies.

- [Susan] Oh, they're beautiful.


- [Gene] And these are typical Border Collies.

- [Jo] Mom, look!

- [Susan] Uh-huh.

- [Gene] Why don't you tell me a little bit about yourself.

Why do you want a Border Collie of all things?

- Well, actually they remind me of my dog growing up, which was a mutt.

My dog had the same markings and I think it might have been part Border Collie.

We just think they're really pretty dogs.

There goes my shoelace!

- This is kind of what you can expect.

They're not a very quiet dog.

- [Susan] Uh-huh.

- They are a very active dog, as you can see, so, as a puppy, they are really hard to live with.

You have to understand that these are herding dogs.

They are born and bred for the last 400 years to do one thing. [dogs growling] Shh, cut it out!

And one thing and one thing only, and that is to herd.

One of the problems you find with these dogs is that, as soon as their herding instincts kick in, they start chasing moving objects.

They love to go out there and run around with the kids, as if they were another part of the pack, but you can see them playing with each other.

They get rough with each other.

See how she's chasing him?

- [Susan] Right.

- [Gene] Well, that's what'll happen with the kids, If they run with a herding dog, the herding dog's gonna chase their heels and chew, and, at this size, it's not too bad, but when they reach 40 pounds, then it gets to be rather intimidating.

- [Susan] How do they get along with other animals?

Like, we have a cat.

- Well, they'll probably herd the cat.

They'll probably try to herd the cat.

If what you're thinking of is a dog that will sit by the the couch and watch TV with the kids and sit in their laps, no way.

These dogs will not be happy at all sitting quietly in your lap.

We can't even get the puppies to sit in in our laps.

- Well, I guess we'll have to look at some other kinds of dogs, maybe, huh?


- When people decide they want a puppy of a particular breed, it's usually because they've met a dog of that breed that they think is wonderful, or because they've been to a dog show, or they've read a dog magazine, and the dog just looked absolutely stunning to them.

Never, ever, ever pick a dog on the basis of what it looks like.

That's not a good reason to marry somebody.

It's an even worse reason to get a dog who is going to be dependent on you for guardianship for the rest of its life.

- Clumber Spaniel.

- [Karen] What you want to do is do your homework, and find out, if you think you like a breed, why you like that breed.

- Chihuahuas, I like, but your mother would never get a Chihuahua.

- Let me see. Let me see.

- [Karen] We selected every single dog breed we have on the basis of its behavior.

- [Pat] You like that dog, Jo?

- [Karen] So you really need to know what it is that you want.

If you don't want a dog that barks, because you live in an apartment, don't get a Beagle.

[puppies barking] If you need a silent dog, why on Earth would you get a dog that was selected to work as a large group of dogs that communicate over big distances using their voices?

[dogs barking] [gentle music] - That's the funniest looking dog I ever saw, a Chinese Crested.

Well, I don't think we'll get one like that.

- [Narrator] The animals we share our homes with have highly evolved behavior, designed for entirely different purposes than being petted or playing fetch.

Terriers were bred to root out small animals from underground burrows.

They're tenacious diggers and energetic barkers.

[puppies barking] A German tax collector named Dobermann needed a dog to protect him on his rounds.

He combined a dozen different breeds to create an alert, obedient, aggressive dog.

- [Pat] The Bichons. You like that one, Joanna?

Or is that one too puffy?

- [Jo] Too puffy.

- [Narrator] Though active as pups, Bichon Frisees grow into calm, quiet dogs.

They were bred to sit on the laps of medieval courtiers, who believed lice and fleas would jump from them to the Bichon's warm, hairy body.

- I like those two.

- I think those are, yeah, those are Labs.

'These are popular dogs.

'They're friendly and have a steady temperament.

'They're suitable for first-time owners.'

That would be us, right, Mike?

- [Narrator] Yet dogs bred for field, woods, or water, for hunting rats and rabbits, elk and lions, dogs that guard, herd, track, retrieve, or attack, are all of a single species.

Beneath the breeding, they all share certain basic behavior.

[peaceful music] [puppies mewling] At birth, puppies of all breeds exhibit the same simple instincts.

They huddle together for warmth.

They sleep 90% of the time, and they shiver in their sleep as their nervous systems develop.

[peaceful music] [puppies mewling] Born blind and deaf, puppies instinctively find the mother's teat.

They push with their forepaws in rhythm with their bobbing heads to stimulate the flow of milk, and they push with their hind paws to propel themselves deeper into the breast.

[peaceful music] [puppies mewling] - Between birth and the first six weeks is when the puppies are learning their hierarchy and socially how to interact with each other, litter mates and the mother.

They learn where where they are in their pack structure.

They learn how to play with one another.

So that's quite an education process for a puppy growing up.

[peaceful music] [puppies mewling] - The paradigm for most dog behavior is wolf behavior.

Dogs are known to have come directly from wolves.

They have no other ancestor than wolves, and they could be even called a kind of wolf, like a subspecies of wolf.

[peaceful music] [puppies mewling] - [Narrator] To understand puppies' behavior, we should know how wolves behave, and wolves are intensely social animals.

Their survival depends upon living and working as a group.

[peaceful music] Every year, the whole pack together raises a single litter of cubs.

Some stay with the young ones while others hunt to feed the group.

[peaceful music] Most animals hunt prey smaller than themselves, but wolves, working together, prefer to take down larger prey, which guarantees food for all.

[peaceful music] [bison grunting] Alone, apart from the pack, a wolf cannot hunt properly or raise its young.

[peaceful music] [wolf howls] - [Elizabeth] It's a very serious thing for a wolf to be alone, that is a dreadful thing for a wolf, and this is what puppies have in their hearts to remember from wolf times.

[peaceful music] Dogs are more social probably than we are.

They're the most social species that I personally can think of.

People think that dogs want sex, they want food, that this is what motivates a dog to do something.

No, dogs will forego all of that in order to be good group members, in order to fit into their group.

[puppies barking] - [Narrator] It is the social nature of dogs, their need to be part of the group, which makes them highly adaptable to human groups as well, not just as pets, but as partners.

Guide Dogs for the Blind, in San Rafael, California, has been breeding and training guide dogs for over 50 years.

They work with German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Labradors, large, good-natured, adaptable breeds, strong enough to lead and patient enough to wait all day for their masters.

- Oh, look at that pretty baby boy.

- [Patricia] We start to handle our puppies very soon after birth, and then as we handle, we stimulate, we begin to socialize them.

We start to nurture them. We touch them.

- [Vet] Goodness!

- They're going to be living with their handler 24 hours a day, so we want them to become very familiar and accustomed to the people that they're with.

- [Vet] Mhm, mhm.


Good puppy.

- [Narrator] By the time the puppies are weaned, at about six weeks of age, they are stronger and more coordinated.

Their vision has improved, and their faces and voices can convey a wider range of emotions.

Now, they're ready to explore the world beyond the nest.

The next six weeks is when the puppies are most open to new experiences.

[lively music] The Puppy Playground is designed to introduce the puppies to the strange shapes, smells, and textures of the human world.

[lively music] - We want to introduce these things to them right away, so that it isn't such a big adjustment when they're older, and so overwhelming.

They seem to take to it much easier when they're young.

The easiest analogy would be, for instance, a human trying to learn a foreign language, and you know how easily a child takes to a foreign language when they learn at a young age.

There's a lot less fear involved, they learn more quickly and more easily, and adjust much more easily than an adult does, and, with a dog, it's a similar scenario.

[lively music] - Come on.

- [Narrator] Guide Dog volunteers called Puppy Socializers put collars on the puppies for the first time, and get them comfortable exploring new terrain tethered to a human companion.

Stairs, that peculiarly human method of gaining altitude, are a special challenge.

- Let's go. We'll do it together.

Look at this.

- Let's lift you up.

How's that?

Come on, come on!

[trainer mumbles] - Just one step. Just one step.

Come on. Here we go.

Oh, good girl!

Good girl!

- [Narrator] When a puppy is eight weeks old, he is independent enough to leave his litter mates for good.

For the next year, he will live with a nurturing human family.

- [Trainer] Yes, you're very good.

- [Narrator] 10-year-old Missy is about to become a Puppy Raiser for the first time.

- Here he comes.

- [Family] Aw!

- [Sandy] He's really cute.

- He's cute!


- What's his name?

- This is Judson.

- Oh, Judson! - Judson.

- He's a Golden Retriever puppy.

- Oh, don't eat that. He was gonna eat that tissue.

Hi, buddy. - Hi.

- Okay, let's get his collar on.

Hold on real tight.

Now, in your puppy package here, you have all your supplies, your Heartgard, Frontline, and your puppy raising manual.

Now, remember, the ID tag has his tattoo, which matches his ears.

Here's Judson for you.

- Aw, hi, love!

- Now, they haven't been fed this morning, so, that way, when you travel, there's less chance of a stomach upset.

- Oh, that's good. - Okay.

- So he'll be ready for his food, and there is a measuring cup that you'll get with your bag of food as well.

- [Missy] Okay.

- [Guy] Just check with your leader and make sure that the feeding instructions are ready for once you get him home.

- [Sandy] Hang on so he doesn't fall off.

- Okay, so there you go. You're all set.

If you have any questions, make sure you check in with your leader and your advisor, and, of course, the puppy raising department is always here as well.

- [Sandy] Great. Thank you.

- There you go. Good luck.

Have a safe trip back home.

- [Sandy] Thank you.

- When they're handed over to the puppy raiser, the puppies are completely clueless as to what's about to take place in their life.

They haven't had any formal training whatsoever as far as obedience or housebreaking or anything like that.

They're still very much a little piece of clay.

- [Missy] Come on!

- [Narrator] Judson will live with Missy and her family in Arizona, and will learn to navigate in the mysterious, intimidating world beyond the Guide Dog campus, but he is still too immature to learn his job.

It will be another year before the Golden Retriever's legendary patience and self-control have developed enough for Judson to accept guide dog training.

- [Missy] Oh, that's a good boy.

- [Trainer] Lead to me.

Stand, lie down.

Lead to me.

Lead to me.

Come back. Come back.

- [Narrator] This Border Collie is being carefully trained for his demanding job.

- [Trainer] Lie down. Come back.

- [Narrator] But, before he could be taught, his herding instincts had to develop.

- Lead to me.

If you can imagine the one thing you've always wanted to do in your life, like play in the Super Bowl or ski in the Olympics, well, that's how a Border Collie feels every time he goes to sheep.

Wait, wait, wait, here, Bell. Here about.

Here about.

Come back, come back. There about.

Wait, wait, wait, wait, there about.

Good boy. You've got him.

When you breed certain qualities, it comes through in the genes, I would suppose.

It's like, why do babies want to crawl?

[Alasdair whistles] Time.

- [Narrator] Alasdair Mac Rae breeds champion Border Collies.

- [Alasdair] Steady. That's a good boy.

- [Narrator] In Old Gaelic, 'collie' is a term for anything useful, and his animals are supremely eager to be of use.

- [Alasdair] You did a good job.

- [Narrator] Today, Alasdair tries out some of his young puppies for the first time.

- [Alasdair] Okay, this is Tap.

Tap is about five months old.

His mother won the Nursery Finals in Scotland, and his father is an excellent breeding dog, and this is just the start of the first group of youngsters that we've really got off him, so we're quite excited to see how they're gonna develop.

- [Danai] Tap, Tap, come on.

- [Narrator] This is the first time Tap has ever been introduced to sheep.

[sheep baaing] - [Alasdair] He's not showing any interest in the sheep at all.

In fact, he's carrying a stick, which means he's not really serious yet.

I'm just looking at him there. He's still just playing.

He's not really interested.

He's never really acknowledged that the sheep are there.

Now, what we want to do is we want to try to get him a little bit excited.

So there he goes, a little chase.

Oh, what are these?

Are they here for fun?

What are these things?

[sheep baaing] Sh, sh, sh, sh, sh.

Now, she's trying to get the sheep move a little faster to see if that'll excite him a little bit.

Do a little hoo-hoo!

[Danai trills] So I guess Tap's not really very interested.

We probably could do this for about 10 minutes, and if he just didn't turn on at all, then we'd put him away and maybe try him next month, when he's six months old, because he's not turned on.

He'd rather carry sticks and mess about.

When he turns on, a stick will be the last thing that he'll think of.

All he'll want to do is work sheep.

He won't want petted. He won't want biscuits.

He won't want anything. He'll just want sheep.

Okay, Danai, we'll try his sister.

Okay, this is Becky.

- [Narrator] Tap and Becky are from the same litter.

Becky, too, is meeting sheep for the first time.

- She looks as though she's showing a sign of interest there.

She went to the end of the thing and there she goes.

You see she's got off, and she'll start waving her tail when she gets excited.

See that? Yee-hoo.

Now she's back, and she's going around the sheep quite nicely.

So this is promising.

She's had no training whatsoever.

What she's doing now is totally natural.

That's what she was bred to do.

This is what we'll be breeding them for centuries to do.

[sheep baaing] You'll see, Becky, she's a little bit more mature than Tap.

She's working better, and often, as in humans, the girls often mature a little faster than the males do.

Just because Tap's not doing this doesn't mean to say he's gonna be any better or any worse than Becky.

All it means is that he's just not ready to show his his natural instinct yet, his natural working ability.

And now she's settling down now and she's bringing the sheep nice.

Look at that. She's looking at the sheep.

She's not running.

She's not throwing her tail anymore. Look.

She's just glancing around a little bit, and now she's walking, and this is the good stuff now.

This is when the instinct is starting to set in, and once it sets in, you'll find that she'll hold her tail down and she'll lower her head and start creeping in the classic Border Collie pose, but she's not really doing it just now, and that'll come in probably about another month or two months.

When we get them doing it better and better, then we'll start using that to train them.

We'll make them lie down and say, 'Well, if you lie down, we'll let you work the sheep again.

'If you don't, we don't let you work the sheep.'

So we just use the natural instinct and the natural ability, like Becky's shown here, to train them.

She's really finished on a good note, and, for a young dog, finishing when they're happy is important, and if they're happy doing something that you're happy with, then that is a great place to finish in.

- [Narrator] In a matter of months, when these puppies become old enough to train, Alasdair will begin to mold their maturing instincts, but they will require another two years of intensive training before they have fulfilled the potential of their breed.

- [Alasdair] That was good, Danai. Well done.

- [Narrator] Instead of going to a breeder, the Boyans have decided to try to find a Lab or a Lab mix puppy at their local shelter.

[dogs barking] - [Employee] Here we go.

Here's the puppies over here to the left.

- Oh!

- [Employee] Take a look at it, little Lab mix puppies.

They're all different colors.

They're gonna be a nice short-haired, medium-size breed.

- [Susan] Uh-huh.

- [Jo] They're really nice.

- [Susan] You have any guess of what the other part of them is?

- [Employee] Well, the little black and white one there looks kind of like a pointer, so they could have some pointer in them.

- [Susan] Uh-huh.

- [Karen] Socialized and healthy puppies can be found at both good shelters and good breeders.

- No nibbling!

- That's a female there, that black and white one.

- What you're looking for is an environment that is stimulating, where they care about the animals, where they recognize the individuals in the group are individuals, where they give them quiet time, they have active play, and they've taught them some things.

That can occur in a shelter, it can occur in a private home, it can occur in a rescue organization, or it can occur at a breeder.

- [Employee] You guys have to see which one you wanna take outside.

We'll take it outside and visit with them.

- [Jo] But that one's a boy!

- I know.

- [Employee] The pretty yellow one?

- [Jo] I like the one with the black spots and the little ears.

- [Mike] How about the white one, the white one with the yellow?

I like the yellow Lab mix.

- [Jo] I like the black one, too.

- [Susan] They're all so cute.

- [Pat] They are. It's gonna be hard to choose.

[dogs barking] - We try to keep people from walking through the shelter and falling in love with the first puppy that captivates them.

When people come in looking to adopt a puppy, they don't often think about that the dog is going to grow up and become big.

This little puppy here is probably gonna become the size of this one in the background, and it's very different trying to manage a dog this size from managing a dog this size.

A pup, you can pick her up when she's misbehaving.

When they mature and become 80 pounds, there's no way you can just lift them up and put them away.

[puppies barking] Matching the right puppy with the right family is really what it's all about.

The last thing we ever want to have happen is for a family to return a dog.

We are looking for a lifelong match and a happy match.

- We'll have a little playtime outside with them.

- Whoa!

[upbeat music] - [Susan] Oh, hey.

- [Jo] Puppy!

- [Pat] What a good girl, huh?

- [Susan] She's so cute.

- [Pat] He's a little wild one.

- [Susan] Yeah.

- How do I hold him?

- [Employee] Just like that.

- [Pat] That one, I like that one.

- You're gonna make them dirty.

- [Susan] You're such a cutie.

- [Jo] Can't we just take all of them?

- [Susan] Hey there.

- [Mike] Here, puppy, puppy.

- [Pat] What do you think, Sue?

I can see that Michael likes the yellow one and Joanna likes the girl.

- [Susan] I know.

- I like the girl too.

I don't want Michael to be miserable either, though.

That's the hard choice. - I know, I know.

- Personality-wise, Mike, I think this dog- - Oh, she's kissing you.

- [Pat] Is a lot friendlier.

This dog is more of a people person, I think.

- Are you a good girl?

- [Jo] But we still have to find a name.

- [Pat] Well, maybe Chloe.

That's one of the names we were thinking of.

- [Employee] You get the puppy to the vet and get it on the right schedule, and, you know, then, when he's older, get him his license, when he has his rabies shot.

She, I keep on saying he. She.

And she's spayed, so you don't have to worry about that, when she's older, you know, and don't forget obedience school.

They do have a puppy obedience school to go to.

- [Susan] She's probably never had a collar on her before.

- [Employee] No, so she probably won't walk in that, so somebody could carry her, and here's all your paperwork and information on obedience school and crate training.

- Okay.

- [Employee] Okay?

- Stay.

Come on.

- Come on, Chloe, come on!

Come on. - She's not coming.

- [Jo] Come on, Chloe!

- Come!

- [Jo] Chloe, here, Chloe! Here, Chloe!

- Oh, don't hurt her.

- There she goes.

I'm not. I'm not pulling.

Now she's coming.

Here she comes.

That's it. Come on, we're going for a walk.

Yeah, she learns pretty quick.

- [Narrator] Chloe now begins the daunting task of adapting to her new-found family.

- So we wanna just face Chloe about face, very gently.

There we are.

Now, this vaccine should be repeated again in about three weeks.

There we are.

- It's okay, Jo. Don't worry.

- [Susan] You're okay. Good girl.

- [Pat] Chloe, good dog.

- [Susan] Good girl.

- It's all right, Chloe.

- It's fine, Joanna.

- It's okay, see?

- [Evan] Oh, that was lovely.

- Okay.

- Good girl! Good girl!

- [Susan] Okay, and you know what else we wondered about?

See her tail, the end of it is sort of fluffy?

Is that the way it's always gonna be, or is that like a puppy thing?

- No, that's permanent.

That's a little curlicue there.

I think that's delightful, like one of those Alfalfa hairdos.

- Yeah, I didn't know if it was like a puppy thing.

- Right, no, that's not a puppy thing.

- [Susan] That's her tail, huh?

- [Evan] That's a Chloe thing.

- Oh, how cute.

- If I had a message for a new puppy owner, it would be that a puppy is a delicate, sentient, little creature, which has been taken from its mother and from any circumstances that would be, to it, would be normal, and given to an alien species to be raised by aliens that it knows nothing about, whose ways it doesn't know, and who will have expectations of it that it's not gonna be able to meet for a long time, and a puppy takes a long time to mature, just like a baby does.

[peaceful music] We don't understand what we ask of a puppy when we take it from its mother.

The equivalent in human beings would be you take a baby from its mother and give it to a pack of wolves.

The baby must live in a hole in the ground, in a den.

It must eat from the ground and drink water from puddles.

It must eat wolf vomit.

It must learn to kill animals with its mouth.

If a person survived that, they would be an international wonder, but any dog is expected to do that, to make an adjustment of that nature.

This is what we ask when we take a puppy from its mother.

[peaceful music] [upbeat music] - [Narrator] Judson has become the newest member of Missy's family.

He has left the dog world behind and has to learn his place in the human pack.

- There is a tendency of dogs to take as their leaders whoever was there before.

So, a puppy coming into a new household looks up to those who are older than it is or who are predecessors.

- Good puppy!

- This is why dogs accept the leadership of humans.

We are the established in the home and they come to us.

Rank is critically important in any social creature, and is very, very important to wolves and dogs.

It's important because the high-ranking wolves of a pack get to reproduce.

It will be their litter that is raised.

They get to keep the den. They get to be born in the den.

Another thing is that the high-ranking animals will get the majority of the food.

If they kill something, the high-ranking wolves eat and the low-ranking wolves wait, and this can be a question of life and death in the winter, which is the time of highest mortality for wolf pups.

The low-ranking ones die, so rank means reproduction and it means food.

[wolves growling] Dogs with other dogs are continually sorting out who is who for dominance, for rank.

Rank is critically important.

Any two dogs who come together will immediately know who is the high rank and who is the lower rank.

A high-ranking dog puts his tail up and that's a sign of high rank.

Another sign would be a dog rolls over and shows its stomach and maybe urinate a little bit.

This is the subservient dog saying to the dominant dog, 'I am just a puppy.

'I'm acting like a puppy.'

This is the way a puppy acts in the presence of an adult.

'To you, I am just a baby and I am not a threat at all.'

[peaceful music] - If you don't assert yourself as a leader, then the dog will either find another leader, be it another animal or another person in the house, or more logically and more often than not, the dog becomes the leader of the pack itself, and then the dog will train you.

[peaceful music] - The hardest thing to teach Judson was to wait for his food.

He loved his food.

We eat before them. They eat after us.

We tell them when they can eat.

That shows them that we're dominant.

[peaceful music] Sit.

They're not allowed to get on our beds.

They sleep on the floor next to us.

Good boy.

When the blind person gets them, they can let them sleep on their bed or whatever, but the dog still knows that the visually-impaired person is dominant and is their master.

[peaceful music] [vacuum whirring] Good boy.

They wear green coats and it says 'Guide Dogs for the Blind,' and they have to have that on wherever they go.

When I put the jacket on, it tells the dog that it's working and that it needs to behave.

You can't let the guide dog get away with as much stuff as you can with a pet.

Good puppy.

- [Narrator] Missy's mom Sandy has raised guide dogs before.

- [Sandy] Our dogs pretty basically go with us everywhere.

- [Missy] Not for you, Jud.

- They go to work. They go to school.

We do outings where we'll go take bus rides.

We'll go to the airport.

We'll take them through the metal detectors and different things that they're gonna experience in their lives so that, when they go back to their guide work training, they aren't having to work on both the guide work and now introducing this dog to a new place.

- [Missy] Oh, watch your tail.


- [Sandy] Our hope is that we're sending back a dog that has been exposed to so many things that something new is just nothing to the dog, that, no matter what the circumstances, no matter what new is introduced to him, that they accept it as something casual.

- [Stranger] Here, puppy.

- [Missy] Oh, sir, he can't have it.

He's a guide dog. Sorry.

- [Stranger] All right.

- Sorry.

- [Sandy] You know, a lot of people will see the dogs and see them out in public and see how well-behaved and how calm they are, and they want their own dog to behave like that.

- [Narrator] We can't all raise our puppies with the care that Missy and Sandy lavish on Judson, but, without a reasonable amount of care, they are likely to end up like six-month-old Dennis.

[dogs barking] - Dennis is very high energy.

He wants to go outside, and so he's trying his best to to get out there.

He's very smart.

He's actually figured out that the gate opens with the wire chain, so he's trying to finagle that, so, you know, if he was in your home, he's gonna be trying everything he can to get to where he wants to be.

Dennis is still a puppy. He's just six months old.

He's just now a big puppy and he's testing everything.

Although we don't know very much about Dennis's background, my guess is that he was brought home as a cute little puppy, and it was adorable when he was pulling on your shoe strings and romping around the house, but then, when he got a little bit older, he became a handful.

He obviously wasn't socialized. He wasn't trained.

He doesn't have any manners.

He needs to know who's in charge, and he has no idea right now who's in charge.

I think he's a lovely dog, and he will make a wonderful pet for someone, but it's just gonna take somebody who will make that commitment to Dennis.

It's gonna take a saint.

[dogs barking] - [Narrator] We pay a heavy price for dogs we do not socialize.

Last year, two million children were bitten by dogs.

[dogs barking] - [Elizabeth] One of the things that I've always felt is very sad is that people think that love is enough, and love is just the beginning.

It's really surprising how many people do not spay or neuter their pet, and the dog gets outside and ends up having a litter of puppies, and the family thinks it's really cute, and the pups get a little bit older, and they can't find people to adopt them, so they end up bringing them into the shelters, so we get a fair amount of puppies that way.

I don't think people would ever let their dogs mate if they knew how many animals are being euthanized each year because there just simply aren't enough homes.

[dogs barking] - [Narrator] It's estimated that, every year, three million dogs and puppies are destroyed.

Dennis, however, found his saint.

He is adjusting well to life in his new home.

[dogs barking] [upbeat music] - It's okay.

- [Narrator] After a year with Missy's family, Judson has become the calm, reliable dog he was bred to be.

- Good boy.

- [Narrator] He has learned that he must ignore all distractions and concentrate on the commands of his human partner.

- [Missy] Good boy.

[machines beeping] It's okay. Good boy.

- The puppy that comes to us is like a brand new baby.

The dog that we send back to the school is a dog who is ready to go into that harness and start training.

- Let's go over that way. Good boy.

When Judson came to us, he was a little bit timid, but, afterwards, he was very confident.


If we kept him another month, there would be nothing we could do to make him a better dog.

Oh, easy. Good boy.

Judson was a great dog.

He was very loving.

You're attached to him a lot, and then you have to let him go.

- [Narrator] Tomorrow, Judson and Missy will part.

Judson will return to the Guide Dog campus, where experts will teach him the specific skills he needs to do his job.

[gentle music] Anyone who takes on the task of training a puppy must understand how dogs learn, and dogs learn like their ancestors, the wolves.

- One of the remarkable things about wolves that I don't think many people appreciate is that they're very gentle, caring instructors of their young.

They share this care and aggression is the exception, and, in fact, what you will generally see is one wolf being a little pushy, the other wolf turning around, and sort of going, gr, and the original wolf backing off.

What it does signal is this social structure that's a set of rules that specifies how you behave in certain circumstances and when you've stepped over the line, and we see exactly the same thing in dogs.

Look at these two.

This little tiny poodle, this little 15-week-old poodle, is actually initiating and controlling all the play with this much older Border Collie, who's five months of age.

And you can see that Daphne's getting down in that little play posture, and the puppy says, 'Wait a second, that's rough for me,' and withdraws.

Now, she's against the wall.

She'll fight Daphne back if she has to.

So what Daphne's learning is how to play appropriately with a small dog.

If she hurts that puppy, that puppy will shriek, and, at that point, the Border Collie will stop.

And what dogs do is it's exactly like what we do.

They go through a process, good girl, of trial and error.

So what happens is that they'll try a bunch of different things, and they'll see if they work, and what you see here is that they're learning that, if they make a mistake and grab the other dog, the other dog won't play with them.

This is how dogs communicate, and we've got to begin to recognize what's normal for them and actually co-opt that and incorporate it into how we interact with them.

[puppies barking] - [Narrator] The best time to begin obedience training is just after the puppies have had their shots, at around 10 to 12 weeks old.

- Okay, raise your hand if your puppy is biting your fingers and you're not happy about it.

Okay, it's one of the biggest problems with having a puppy is that it's fun to play with them, it's great, but once they start using their teeth in play, which is normal puppy behavior, it's not really that much fun anymore, like what's happening to me right now.


And this puppy has got really, really strong jaws and very sharp little razor puppy teeth, okay?

So it's very important that we very quickly teach this dog and every other dog here in class that using his teeth on human skin is a big no-no.

The way I'm gonna explain to Winston that I don't like him chewing my skin is very simple.

I am not gonna get mad at him.

I am not gonna grab his muzzle and tell him, 'No, you stop it.'


Because if I were to grab at his muzzle and tell him no and grab his face, there's a chance he might start to learn that hands reaching for him means he's gonna get corrected, and that's where you start to get dogs who do this sort of stuff when hands reach toward them.

I don't want that. I want a friendly dog who likes people.

So, instead, what I'm gonna say to him is, if you bite at my hands, if I'm playing with you and you start to bite, ow!

That really hurt. Game's over.

You don't get to play with me, okay?

If he keeps biting at you and you can't get him to stop by just pulling your hand away and saying, 'I'm not gonna play with you,' then I would say it's time for the puppy to have a time-out, where I would just put him away in his crate or his long-term confinement area, let him relax for five minutes, and then try and play again, okay?

What you'll find is, usually, with most puppies, within a week or so, they really start to get it that the only appropriate way to play with you is to use their mouth gently on your skin.

Okay, now we're gonna talk a little bit about basic obedience.

Can I borrow your puppy? What's your puppy's name?

- Cosmo.

- Okay, so Cosmo is gonna be my demo dog.

What we're going to do is stick a little bit of food in front of this puppy's nose, and I'm gonna hold it in my hand closed so he can't really get at it.

I'm gonna lift my hand up and back to get him to sit, and slide it down to get the down, and if I want the puppy to stand, I'm gonna slide my hand up and forward.

So let's, everybody, put a little bit of food on the tip of your puppy's nose, and Sue and I will go around and help you.

Your puppy shouldn't be getting a big piece of food here, okay?

We're just using this bit of food to lure the puppy into the position.

Once he's in the position, you can use the food to give him just a little bit of a lick as a reward.

Slide your hand down.

Keep your hand still. Keep it on the ground.

Just keep it there. She'll go down in a second.

Just wait. Let her see the food a little bit more.

There you go. Beautiful.

Give her the food. That was really, really good.


- What we're really asking the puppy to do is to make adjustments for our liabilities, to make adjustments for our inability to have a decent sense of smell, for our inability to feel things in the same tactile sense, for the fact that we're not anywhere near as good observers as they are.

[puppy barks] The very fact that that puppy can now respond to words and and can identify things, when you ask a word, bring me your ball, bring me your teddy bear, go get your leash, get the paper, I mean, you should be really impressed, because, in fact, the dog is giving you olfactory signals all the time and you're not doing the appropriate sniff things, yet your dog has learned an entirely different language.

They deserve some credit.

- Okay, you guys, one of the most important commands you can teach your dog is to come when called.

What we're gonna do is we're gonna have each owner go up to that end of the room, and these are the rules of the game.

You get to call your puppy once. That's it.

So, if your dog's name is Fido, it's, 'Fido, come,' okay?

It's not, 'Fido, Fido, Fido, come,' and the reason for that is because, in an emergency, we want a dog who comes to us immediately when we call them.

So we don't want to get them in the habit of thinking that we're gonna give them 10 or 15 tries, okay?

So you're gonna come up here.

Show him the toy. Show it to him.

Squeak it. Let him see it.

So, squeak it.

Let's see if we can get it to squeak.

[toy squeaks] There we go, and then run backwards.

Oh, he's got it! Oh no!

Okay, go ahead, and now call him. Yup.

- [Owner] Dondon, come!

- Yay, good job! Very good!

Get a hold of him. Get a hold.

Good. Really good.

Okay, ready? Call.

- [Owner] Rowdy!

Rowdy! Rowdy!

- [Andrea] Okay, stop, stop. What was the rule?

- I could only call him once.

- Yes, okay, so come show the puppy you have something good.

Be careful running backwards. Don't trip.

Do a little run backwards.

Okay, ready? And call.

- Come! Rowdy, come!

- Good job! Yay!

Good. Nice.


All right, let's try it with Chloe.

Okay, ready? You're gonna run backwards.

Ready, and call.

- Chloe, come! Yay!

- [Andrea] Encourage her! Encourage her!

- Chloe, Chloe, come on!

- She said, 'This is more exciting.'

Okay, so let's try it again.

You're you're only gonna go a little ways back, okay?

And call.

- [Pat] Chloe, come. Come.

- [Andrea] Yay! Good job!

Very good.

Okay, let's, everybody, let our puppies go play.

[crowd chattering] Okay, you guys, it was a good class.

I hope you enjoyed yourselves.

I want everyone to do lots of homework this week.

Have lots of fun.

Make sure to practice most importantly on socialization.

- Good boy. Yes, you are.

- [Narrator] For six months, Judson has been training at the Guide Dog campus.

For the past four weeks, he and his future partner, Shelley Rhodes, have been working together, learning to function as a team.

- [Shelley] Right. Good boy.

- [Narrator] Today is graduation day for both of them.

- [Shelley] Let's go, buddy. Let's go.

That's a good boy.

- [Narrator] Missy and her family have come to town for the event.

- And Judson's tail is already wagging.

- [Narrator] She and Judson have not seen one another since he began his training.

- Hey, Jud.

He has gotten so big. Can you believe how big he is?

- [Shelley] He's the second largest dog in the class.

- [Sandy] Is he really? He was such a nice dog to raise.

- [Shelley] Was he?

- [Sandy] Yeah, just awesome. I'm so happy that you got him.

- [Shelley] You're gonna make me cry.

[group laughs] - [Missy] Judson was kind of confused, because he loves Shelley, but he loved us, and so he didn't know what was going on and he was very confused.

- I remember you!

- [Missy] But I think he was happy to see us.

He probably thought he was coming home with us again.

- [Shelley] He's been really, really quiet all day, so.

- Hi, Jud, bud. How are you, bud?

How are you?

- [MC] And it's my great pleasure to congratulate the graduating class 606.

[crowd applauds] - [Narrator] The handing over of the leash marks the official beginning of Judson's new life with Shelley.

- Okay, our next graduate, Ms. Shelley Rhodes of Corey, Pennsylvania, received Judson, a male golden retriever, raised by Missy and Sandy Allsworth, of Mesa, Arizona.

[audience applauds] - I want to thank Missy and her mom for giving me the best buddy I could ever have.

Now, on a winter day, when I want to go out, I can, because dogs don't get stuck in snowbanks like canes do.

[audience chuckles] In my small town, I'm the only blind person, and so when I walk down the street with a white cane, it's really odd and people stare and everything, but now I have this guy and it'll be wonderful.

[audience applauding] Good boy, buddy. Yeah.

- First of all, I'd like to thank the Guide Dogs School for giving me the opportunity to co-raise Judson with my mom.

[Missy sniffles] Judson traveled cross-country with my family, and, everywhere he went, he was surrounded by people because of his good behavior.

As a matter of fact, my brother called him a chick magnet because most of them were girls.

[audience chuckles] To Shelley, I wish you luck and safety, but, more importantly, love and companionship with Judson.

[audience applauds] I was happy but sad, because, you know, this was the last time probably I'd be seeing him, and so I was really sad about that, but I was happy because she has a wonderful dog.

[upbeat music] - [Photographer] Woo, woo, woo!

Very good, all right!

All right, perfect.

- [Narrator] Puppies learn from us, but they also teach us.

One of the principal pleasures of raising a puppy is learning to think the way they do.

Viewing the world through their eyes shows us ourselves from a new perspective, and reveals our own quirks and foibles as the unique behavior of the human species.

Our world widens when we see it through a puppy's eyes.

- Chloe, come!

Sit. Sit.

[upbeat music] [peaceful music] [singer vocalizing] [puppies mewling] - [Alasdair] That'll do.

- [Announcer] This program was made possible by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you.

Thank you.

[bright music] [puppies barking] [upbeat musical jingle]


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