Puppy Owner Guidelines(2009)
1) Those planning to ship a puppy should be aware that most airlines (except for Continental) impose weather quarantines during hot weather.
2) Maintaining and caring for your dog with quality no/by-product dog food is of great importance to producing a healthy, high performance, long-lived dog. This is especially important between the ages of 3 months and 14 months while the skeleton develops. By using mixes tailored for large breed puppies fed in quantities limited according to the product directions (products the equivalent of Nutro's Natural Choice Large Breed lamb based Puppy Chow as well as chicken based, Innova Large Breed Puppy or Solid Gold WolfCub Large Breed Puppy-- all without corn or by-products & with proper calcium/phosphorus ratios to minimize hip and skeletal problems), one minimizes the possibility of arthritis and hip dysplasia. PetSmart sells the quality "Blue" line that offers a "large breed puppy" mix, but that does not seem to have the Phosphorus and Calcium proportions balanced, so we, for instance, will use that mix up to the age of 3 months, but not thereafter (on the other hand, their Blue Wilderness adult mix with 42% protein, while expensive, looks like a real winner. Let me also add that while ample exercise is essential for this breed, it is important to avoid falls and high jumps affecting the legs and hips (puppy body falls are not really a problem) before the bones have set at about 14 months.
3) One of the issues we have observed with puppies is their desire to eat greens; in fact they have destroyed a small section of our garden, eating daylilies, strawberry plants, beebalm plants, etc. To help deal with this, we have chopped up a small amount of fresh broccoli and carrots and added it to their chow. This has reminded us of an temporary problem we had with ZhaZha when she was developing. One day she just went over and ate a giant fresh dog stool--Yachh! We immediately called our vet, who told us this is called coprophagia, and suggested it might be caused by a lack of fresh greens in her kibble. You can bet we went out immediately, bought some broccoli and carrots and started adding it to her kibble. She never repeated that icky coprophagic action again--thank heaven.
4) Speaking of diet, the need to carefully ration your dog's food intake cannot be, in our opinion, be overemphasized. We believe that, next to improper training, overfeeding is the most common way to ruin a potentially good versatile dog. When your neighbors, with their little fatties, fret over being able to make out your dog's ribs, you just have to "take it". Small Munsterlanders (like some humans) are especially lithe and trim during their second year, but after 3 years of age with inadequate feeding control they can develop the equivalent of the look of the middle aged couch potato and will have performance equivalent to their looks.
5) One of the most tragic, and unfortunately all-too-common, health misfortunes that can befall a dog is serious arthritis, brought about by hip dysplasia. Although there are a few breeds not susceptible to hip dysplasia--but having other issues--hip dysplasia, while uncommon, is present in Small Munsterlander Pointers and anyone concerned with the gene pool should test their dog for hip dysplasia. There are several tests available throughout the world, but the one that is generally available and is most reliable is the Penn-Hip test developed at the University of Pennsylvania. In the judgement of most dog orthopedists, this test is far superior to the OFA test that is still accepted by many breed clubs. Although there is data that one can test as early as 9 months, we feel that it's wiser to wait and have the dog Penn-Hip tested between the ages of 12 and 24 months (See FAQ on Penn-Hip site).
6) While there are other alternatives, we recommend enrolling your puppy as soon as possible in a puppy socialization class to help it become comfortable in the presence of strange dogs. They already have plenty of knowledge on socialization with friendly dogs (their littermates). We personally suggest enrolling in a puppy class taught by Megan-Kate Colwell . We just put our dog (#1) on a waiting list for a class starting about 7/15.
7) There are many books available for training dogs in obedience, and a few are dedicated to versatile dogs. In understanding the nature of training and testing a dog in NAVHDA (North American Versatile Dog Association), we recommend that you obtain NAVHDA's "Aims-Programs-Test Rules", which can now be downloaded at the NAVHDA website. Maybe the best book devoted to versatiles (although somewhat focused on Wirehairs) is "How to Help Gun Dogs Train Themselves", by Joan Bailey. She now has a follow-on How to Have the Best Trained Gundog. While not focused on versatiles, we also like the free training library at the website Dobbs Dogs . We also like the more general book "Dog Training for Dummies" by Jack & Wendy Volhard (either edition) & the clicker training books Reaching the Animal Mind and Click for Joy that can be found along with other material at http://www.clickertraining.com, but which are cheaper on Amazon. There are two clicker books on gundog training, neither of which seems to be very highly regarded, Clicker Gundog and Positive Gun Dogs . On the other hand, if you can afford them, the new George Hickox training schools do use clicker training, and George is one of the finest gundog trainers in America.
Finally, I want to make special mention of a classic book on dog behavior, For the Love of a Dog by Patricia McConnell from which I sent an excerpt to Adelhaus folks. This book has a special place among dog books in that a real professional helps explain how a dog functions in terms that are meaningful to all of us.
8)For treats, there are lots of alternatives, but one of the best & most reasonably priced (although you have to cut it up) is Natural Balance dog rolls.
9) There is one special comment I'ld like to make about early training of Small Munsterlander Pointer puppies. Most humans are visually oriented, and it's easy to assume that to be true for your puppy. However, in almost all the SMP puppies I've dealt with this is not the case, and visual intelligence doesn't develop sometimes for months (for ZhaZha it was over a year before she would start to look at scenery out the car window rather than just stick her nose out the window). So, for instance, you can throw food on the floor for them, but if there is no motion or sound, they "don't get it". Even with motion it is not detected when it is in their periphery. I can't tell you how many times ZhaZha would start into a bush after a rabbit, who would conspicuously run out the other side. She never figured out the visual cue, she was totally absorbed by the smells. So, when you train your young dog, expect that they are experiencing almost everything through their nose, their ears, and their sense of touch. It takes a long time for a SMP to look you in the eye, not just because you are the pack leader and that might be considered a challenge, but because up close you are just a scent attached to a blur. They have to figure out that the person they see at a distance (dogs are far sighted) is still there when they get up close. So, be patient, think of your dog as "visually challenged" and train for the nose (and ears); I think the better the nose the greater the disparity between sight and smell.
10) Now that Joe's is out of business in the Pacific NW, I don't know a really good local source of dog training supplies (if you know one, please email me). Aside from the everpresent Cabela's, here are four internet sources that we have found to be very good:
Dobbs Dogs Store, Gundog Supply, Lion Country Supply, Scott's Dog Supply, Altmoor Kennels (for e-collars)
Lucky II Launchers are at Gundog Supply.
11) We highly recommended that you make contact with an accessible NAVHDA chapter that offers a good training program, and to participate in that program. A lot of the emphasis in NAVHDA is on the owner training his own versatile hunting dog.While there is considerable debate among dog owners as to whether to train your own dog or use a professional trainer, experience with a NAVHDA chapter will help you make that decision.In any event if you decide to train your dog yourself, the key is patience and consistency.
12) Concerning the NAVHDA NA test, there is a 16 month upper limit beyond which the dog cannot receive a numerical prize (only a pass-fail). Because of the scheduling of these NAVHDA tests (especially in certain parts of the country), it will sometimes not practical to carry out an NA test after hunting season until late Spring 2010, at which time the dog will be well over one year of age which can conflict with training schedules in some cases.
On the other hand, running a trained dog in "Natural Ability" is an oxymoron sometimes done by owners who, then, never proceed beyond the NA test to the detriment, in our opinion, of both the integrity of the test and the breed. Waiting until after late Spring to start field training can be a poor choice, not only because of the more limited field training time available before the fall hunting season, but because waiting that long can go beyond the optimal time to start the dog in serious field work. On the other hand if the dog shows a significant lack of maturity, pushing the whole testing schedule back may be in the best interests of the young dog.
Even though training in neither required nor advisable for an NA test, we suggest that you: a) expose the puppy to pen-raised or wild game birds in a "field search" context at least twice before the test; b) to provide the puppy with the opportunity to track a pheasant (flight-feathers removed) at least twice before the test; c) to give the puppy ample exposure to retrieving hand-thrown bumpers from the water (8-10 feet out is ample) before the test; and d)carefully condition the puppy to gunshots to prevent possible gunshyness before the test. These puppies have been noise conditioned from birth by banging pans at feeding time. We have made use of the Lucky Dog II dummy launcher with scented dummies (using game bird scents) as one excellent device for this noise conditioning because of the blank .22 caliber shells that can be used along with exciting retrieves (after the puppy is motivated by thrown dummy retrieves). We really encouraged that you expose your dog to wild game during the 2009/2010 hunting season, but we do not encourage to use the puppy as a functional hunting dog, particularly not shooting over a point where the dog moves before the flush. We consider the purpose of such exposure during this first season to be to develop a desire to hunt and not as field training or production of "birds in the bag". Field training is best begun, in our opinion, after the conclusion of the first hunting season.
13) The Utility Test is generally agreed by knowledgable versatile dog trainers to be the real yardstick as to the quality of a versatile hunting dog and, thereby, its potential for breeding. In its homeland, Germany, the key breeding test for this breed is the HZP, which is roughly equivalent to the UPT (Utility Preparatory Test). The UPT test seems to be much less popular in NAVHDA than the corresponding HZP test in Germany. Perhaps it is not considered "proper" in Germany to bypass the HZP, whereas, since you can repeat the UT test, anyway, folks just bypass the UPT in NAVHDA.
14)In developing your dog to be a valuable hunting dog, it is important to expose your dog as much as possible to wild birds. Many dogs only trained on pen raised birds will cause wild birds to flush wild, since a dog can approach a pen raised bird within a very few feet (even inches). This can lead to the dog breaking point and just retrieving a planted bird. Only after the dog knows that it cannot catch the bird by lunging at it or chasing it will you be able to have a reliable pointing dog (and be able to hunt with other hunters who don't want their dogs spoiled).
15) As of the summer of 2009, Small Munsterlander Pointers are eligible to run in AKC hunt tests. We encourage everyone to try their hand at this slightly different venue than NAVHDA (especially lacking in water work). The far greater availability of AKC tests offers all of us a chance to meet other trainers and work our dogs on birds (albeit pen raised as is also the case with NAVHDA).
16) You may find it useful to read the general observations on the Small Munsterlander Pointer Breed found on the SMPCA site. On that same web page can be found other useful information such as breed history and breed standard.