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What to look for in a breeder

We often get asked where we recommend purchasing a Wheaten. The truth is, we highly encourage rescuing a dog -- there are so many already in need of a home.  However, we understand that some folks have their hearts set on a Wheaten, and in those cases we encourage individuals to do extensive research to find a reputable, responsible breeder. Failing to do this diligence results in the abuse and neglect of dogs, pure and simple, who are forced to breed in inhumane conditions for their entire lives. Here are some tips on how to find a good breeder:

  1. Never buy a dog from a pet store. No responsible breeder would ever allow one of their dogs to end up in a pet store. Pet stores get their puppies from puppy mills, which perpetuate abuse and neglect of the parent dogs. And often pet store puppies have significant health problems. Learn more about the sad life of puppy mill dogs here.

  2. Visit the breeder and meet the puppy's parents. A responsible breeder will have the parents, or at the very least the mother, available to meet. The parents should be kept in the home, not housed in a shed or separate building. The dogs should be social, well-cared for, and groomed. If a breeder offers to meet you at a public place, or refuses access to his or her home because of "spread of disease" or "privacy," this is a major red flag. Reputable breeders will always allow you to see the environment in which the mother and puppies are raised first-hand.

  3. The breeder should be an expert on the breed. A good breeder will not breed multiple breeds, or mixes (such as a "Whoodles" or "Wheatenpoos"). He or she should be actively involved with local or national breed clubs or competitions, and will offer guidance about the breed. They will provide references from past adopters and veterinarians.  

  4. Health guarantee. A good breeder will provide you with a health guarantee and stand behind the dog's genetic health. He or she will not require you to use a specific veterinarian and will not remove the puppy from its mother until after eight weeks of age. A good breeder will require you to return the puppy at any time, should something not work out and will require that the puppy be spayed or neutered.

There are lots of other things to look for when considering a breeder. We recommend reading more information from these sources:

The Humane Society of the United States

The Puppy Mill Project

Dogs and kids

Dogs and Kids and Other Dogs

Because each pup is an individual, it's key to remember that each has their likes and their dislikes. Some dogs love other dogs -- as in cannot get enough romps in during the day or night -- while other dogs really just prefer people. Likewise, there are some dogs that, for one reason or another, find little kids to be frightening or annoying and want nothing to do with them. 


We always respect a dog's preferences when it comes to those they want to be around (or not around). And foster families get great insight into those preferences as they get to know their foster dogs. That said, there are many cases that dogs who love other dogs and kids can grow tired of them and need a break. Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to dog/kid and dog/dog interactions.

  1. R.E.S.P.E.C.T If a dog removes himself or herself from the area a child or another dog is in, respect that space. Never force a dog to interact with someone he does not want to be around. Do not allow a dog to pester another dog if the first dog is not reciprocating play. And do not allow a child to chase after a dog who has walked away from or avoided a child.

  2. Watch. Always, always, always, watch a dog's interactions with new dogs and children. If you can't be there to observe, put the dog in area alone until you can. 

  3. Not a pony or a step-stool. Dogs are dogs, not little horses to be ridden or steps to be stood upon. It may seem harmless or cute, but dogs do not like this kind of interaction. They may tolerate it because many dogs are very patient, but it's not worth tempting fate and, really, it's just not how dogs should be treated.

  4. Watch for signs of stress. Dogs who are uncomfortable will show you, if you look closely. There's the obvious tucked tail and low head, which is a very obvious sign that your dog is not enjoying the present situation. However, there are also small signs. A dog yawning and looking away, when he is not just waking up, is one signal of stress. Another is a dog flicking his tongue to his nose quickly. Lastly, a stressed dog will avert eye contact and may even raise a paw into the air (which some assume is just a trick). If your dog is interacting with a new dog or a child, pay close attention and we promise you'll see some of these behaviors from time to time. These mean it's time for a break.

What To think About when Adopting

So you'd like to get a dog -- how exciting! We'd love to help you find one who needs a home. Adding a new family member is a ton of fun, so much that sometimes we can get caught up in the excitement and forget to consider some important stuff. Here are some important questions to ask yourself when you're looking for the perfect pooch.

  1.  How much exercise can you reasonably expect to give the dog each day? Young dogs and puppies have a lot of energy. And, even certain older dogs are ready to go full steam at a constant clip. These dogs greet each day as a challenge. If you're more of a couch potato, or work full time and don't want to take up running as a new hobby, it's important to evaluate whether a young dog is the right fit. Some dogs do great with a leisurely stroll every couple days, especially older dogs, so really think about the dog's energy and your lifestyle.

  2. What is most important to you when adopting a dog? Perhaps you want a cuddle buddy -- a dog who will relax on the couch and watch Netflix all day and night. Or maybe you really want a companion for your other dog. It's possible you would really love a dog who shadows you around the house -- even in the bathroom -- but it's also possible that could drive you a bit crazy and you'd prefer a dog with a little more independence. Each dog has its own personality. They really are all different. Really think about the traits you are looking and let us know, so we can find a great match.

  3. Where will the dog spend its days? The reality is, while we'd love to be stay at home dog parents, until we win the lottery we have to work all day. Think about where your dog will spend his or her time when you're away. We recommend crating dogs for at least the first few months until a dog earns some trust. Crates should be large enough for a dog to turn around in comfortably. Also think about where a dog will stay when the family travels. Some dogs don't do very well in a kennel environment and may appreciate a dog sitter to come to the house instead.

  4. Does everyone in the family want a dog? It's really important to us that each family member is on board with welcoming a new companion. Dogs are a lot of work -- we think they're completely worth every minute, but it's still vital that the entire family is ready to help with training, exercise, and, of course, cuddle time!

  5. What happens when you realize your dog needs some training? Even really well-behaved dogs benefit from training. It helps them bond with their person and learn more about the world. And then, there are dogs who really need to get the basics down -- no counter surfing is not ok! We believe all dogs should be trained with positive-reinforcement training, meaning that dogs are not punished (physically or mentally) when they make mistakes. There is a lot of information about positive-reinforcement training online, but we also highly recommend the Nebraska Humane Society's training classes.

We Just Adopted, Now What?

So your newly adopted pup is home... what do you do now? 


  1. Give your dog time to adjust. The "Rule of 3's" applies with dogs in new homes. It takes 3 days for a dog to start to come out of their shells. In 3 weeks, they will start showing you more of their true personalities, but it will take 3 months for a dog to really become part of the daily routine and know he or she is home. A dog you have for 3 days just won't show you exactly who they are right away. They may be less playful, startle more easily, or even avoid you a little. That's ok! You'll show them you are kind and safe as time passes. Learn more about dog adjustment here.

  2. Be patient with potty training. Dogs who knew to "go outside" in their foster home may regress a little in the new home. Remember to let them out often and reward outside pottying with a treat. They'll get the hang of it. Remember, punishing or yelling at a dog after they have already had an accident isn't going to teach them anything. More on potty training here.

  3. Give your dog quiet time and space. Patience goes a long way with a new pup, especially one who is more nervous. Let the pup come to you for attention, rather than forcing it, so he or she builds trust. Give your pup a safe spot like a dog bed or a crate, where everyone knows not to bother the dog if he or she needs a break. 

  4. Reach out to Midwest Wheaten Rescue if you have questions or concerns about your new pup. We are a resource to you!


  1. Invite over a lot of people. This is a hard one, because everyone is so excited to meet the new guy, but trust us, it's better to let the dog get to know the members of the home first. A dog will naturally be confused about what is happening and who all the strangers are, so letting the pup take it easy will help build trust.

  2. Leave your dog alone with other dogs or cats right away. Even animals who get along really well should be separated or crated when you're away. Unpredictable things happen and this is especially true when adding to the family. So don't take a risk -- keep everyone in their own special spot.

  3. Forget the routine! Dogs thrive when they know what to expect. So when bringing in the new kid, make sure to set a schedule for the first few weeks and stick to it. Wake up, potty time, chow time, walk time, etc. should be done in a consistent order so the dog can predict what is next. This will help immensely with potty training and your bond! 

New adopters
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