Ideally, every potential pet owner would go to a caring breeder and have a shiba puppy or any other puppy of their choice carefully matched to them by an intelligent, people-wise, and puppy- wise breeder, who would then offer to be of help and counsel for the life of the dog. This happens sometimes, but often owners procure a pup from a bad breeder or a pet store that just doesn’t care. There is no attempt made to match the right pup with the right person, and buyers may have no outlet except a disgruntled or inexperienced employee who hangs upon them when they call to ask for a shred of advice.
Part of the problem stems from the original environment in which the puppies were born. Pet store puppies are often, but not always, conceived on “puppy farms” in a Midwestern state (Kansas and Nebraska come to mind immediately) that has very lenient regulations concerning the raising of puppies. Such establishments are commonly called “puppy mills.”
Puppies that get a start in puppy mills are often shunted from pen to pen and are sometimes weaned prior to the fourth week so that the mother doesn’t have a chance to act as an Alpha and establish basic rules of cleanliness. As early as the fourth or fifth week these pups are often crated and in the air on their way to a pet store so that they will arrive for public display at their cutest age – eight to ten weeks. Their sales potential is then greatly enhanced, but their house-training potential is greatly diminished in most cases.
During the time they are with their mothers they are clean enough, but the mother is removed too quickly (often to dry her up milk-wise and get her ready for another litter). Because of this the pups never have the benefit of her guiding hand (paw) for socialization and house-training purposes. After the separation from mom, these puppy mill “children” are often caged in substandard holds, often with flooring that either allows them to mash their stools and urine or allows it to drop through the wire to the ground. Depending on the arrangements made, the airline flight can be harrowing, often involving hours of time with the pups reclining in their own stools. It’s not a good start for a puppy, especially in the area of house- training.
When the pups arrive at the pet store, they are often kept in cages in a back room and then deposited in window display areas to encourage impulse buyers. The finely shredded paper might be provided, or, in some stores, drainage systems or trays may be installed beneath the display pen, but the pups inevitably defecate, urinate, step on and play in their waste. The buying public sees only cute puppies cavorting and playing in seemingly clean shredded paper, but underneath the paper are packed down piles of stools and urine. Even if the pet store operator changes the paper several times a day, if even one stool is spread around when pups play, the resulting message to the pups is not one of the necessities of keeping their area clean.