PROPERLY CARING FOR YOUR NEW PUPPY
Raising a puppy is similar to having children in that you must be consistent in their rearing. Below are a few suggestions to help you enjoy your pet. Please call us if you have any questions in rearing the new addition to your family.
1. Feed your dog a high quality food, designed for puppies. The smaller breeds of puppies should be fed puppy food till 9?12 months of age, while the larger breeds should be fed their puppy food till they are 18 months of age. We recommend feeding 3 times a day before 8 weeks of age, and twice a day after this age. After 6 months of age, once a day feeding can be used, but we prefer to see twice a day feedings for most dogs (see #2). We prefer a dry dog food. It will help clean the teeth if no water is added. Puppies under 6-8 weeks of age should have a soft food given to them. For the large breeds of dogs we recommend the diets formulated for these growing puppies and/or to not allowing them to become overweight. We see no problem with giving rawhide chew bones (but the chips can sometimes “catch” in the throat). We do not recommend any bones that can splinter, such as ribs, pork bones, bird bones, T?bones, etc. The solid cow “knuckle bones” are fine for some dogs.
2. An animal will bond to a person better if she associates her food comes from that person. A growing dog usually will eat about 1 cup per 10# of body weight daily, while a grown dog will eat only 1/2 this amount. You can also feed a dog the amount of food she can eat in 15?20 minutes, twice a day. We do not recommend routinely feeding “ad-lib” (leaving the food out) because this will lead to obesity in most dogs.
3. Spaying or castrating your dog is recommended after 6 months of age. We prefer to wait until the permanent canine teeth are in, if possible. Castrating will decrease the male’s chance of testicular cancer, prostate infections, perianal tumors, etc. Spaying a female before a year of age, will decrease her chance of mammary cancer, uterine infections, etc. A neutered animal has less tendency to roam (and get hit by a car, get lost, etc). Nipping and aggressive males should be neutered at an early age, such as 6 months. Large breeds of dogs should wait till almost a year of age before they are neutered, and maybe up to 18 months maximum. Each breed is different, and there is a difference in females versus males; female are usually spayed at an earlier age than for the male castration. Please ask us if you have any questions on neutering your dog. The average neutered pet will live longer than the non-neutered pet. Neutering does not make a pet fat and lazy. For the feeding reason in #2, most owners overfeed their pets after they are mature at 6?18 months of age. Mature animal’s bodies are not growing and they also exercise less. In a similar comparison, remember when you turned 25 and had to watch your weight?
4. Do not allow a pet to start a habit that you do not want her to have when she is grown. This includes jumping on people, chewing on shoes and other bad habits. A dog cannot tell a “good shoe or sock” from her play socks or shoe toys. When saying the word “NO”, be stern. An animal has an attention span of only a few minutes. It will not help to discipline an animal for something she did 5 minutes ago. You must catch a pet “in the act” to effectively discipline her. To call a puppy to come to you, then discipline her for destroying something, urinating in the house, etc, will only confuse the dog. You called her, she came as you wanted and now you are telling her she just did something wrong? Beating a dog is not the way to correct a bad action. Saying NO, and meaning it, is all that is needed. A mild swat on the rear is possibly the only physical discipline occasionally required. To comfort a dog while she is scared or has been doing something bad will only reinforce the bad behavior. Praise a scared dog when they have relaxed. Pet and praise your dog when she is good and periodically during the day. A nightly walk, which is giving the dog attention, will correct most bad habits such as digging and getting out of the yard. Dogs are like children in that they want attention & exercise and will sometimes do “bad things” to have you notice them. It is best to socialize the young puppy with your children, babies and different adults while she is still a puppy. This helps your pet accept new people more readily as an adult dog. If you make the dog go outside when the baby is in the room you will only cause the puppy to associate that the baby is punishment. The dog will develop a jealousy, like older children will, if you pay attention to the new baby and forget to give quality attention to them. (If you have a problem, ask the veterinarian for advice). If you are having problems, or are unsure of your pet, then it would be a good idea not to leave the baby and pet alone.
After 6 weeks of age expose your new puppy to sights and sounds as she is growing. This slow exposure and praising while she remains calm will help reduce future problems to her being fearful from noises and other similar incidents. We do not advise removing a puppy from the litter for adopting if she is under 6-7 weeks of age.
5. Animals do not have the power to reason. Making a dog climb back into the yard, because she got out, will only show her that you approve her climbing the fence. Reprimand them if they are caught in the act of doing something wrong and reward them when they have behaved properly. You only have to say “NO!” to reprimand a dog.
6. Puppies do not like to urinate or defecate where they sleep. By reducing the sleeping area and confining the puppy to this area, you will help house train the puppy. Take her out first thing in the morning, last thing at night and multiple times during the day, especially after playing or eating. Praise the puppy after she has properly gone to the bathroom. If you have any problems, we have more information regarding this training. We do not recommend paper training unless you plan to continue having the dog eliminate by this method after she is an adult. The average dog only needs to be bathed every month or so, although puppies and some working dogs need to be bathed more often. We recommend a pet shampoo if routinely shampooed. A pet’s skin is two pH units different than a human’s. Brush your dog’s coat before and after bathing, and don’t forget the cotton ball in each ear. To train a dog to enjoy hair brushing use treats and eventually get into the habit of brushing them briefly each day before meal time. If they are good and then get fed they will enjoy this needed procedure, and if they fight then do not feed them for 15 or so minutes.
Kennels and crates are recommended for confining puppies and keeping them out of trouble. Allow the puppy to receive treats and sleep in her kennel to associate that a kennel is her room and not a prison. Purchase a kennel size you can use for traveling when she is full-grown. After she is house trained remove the top of the kennel (as the top should nest underneath), this then turns the kennel into a bed for her.
7. A puppy should be vaccinated against the various diseases, as advised by the veterinarian. We recommend the vaccinations at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age. Yearly vaccinations are then required for the next couple of years, then every 1-3 years depending upon the vaccine. A stool sample, to run a fecal for parasites, is also indicated. We recommend a fecal sample to look for roundworms & hookworms, which are parasites which can affect children. Call us if you are concerned about this potential zoonotic problem. Feces of all pets should be picked up frequently. If you do not have a rectal thermometer we recommend that you ask us for one and how to use it. Taking an animal’s temperature is very important for the owner when wondering if they are sick.
You should be aware of a parasite transmitted by mosquitoes. It is a disease called heartworms. A blood sample needs to be taken to determine if your dog has this parasite. Once the dog has signs of the disease, treatment is not very effective. We prefer to prevent the disease with a daily or monthly medicine that is fairly inexpensive. A routine deworming will not prevent or remove heartworms. We recommend testing and the preventative for heartworms. Call us for advice before you travel with your pet as there are other diseases to be concerned about, pending where you are going.
8. A dog will make a much better pet if she is taken to a puppy training class, no matter what her age. The humane society, the parks and recreation department, private individuals and others teach these classes. There are kindergarten classes for socialization and teaching the initial obedience commands, and obedience classes for the 5-6 month old puppies. These earlier age classes are especially recommended for feisty, hard to teach puppies. We recommend the 6+ month classes as a minimum, even if the dog did well with the younger puppy kindergarten-type class. These training classes are not only for the puppy, but also for the owner, as they become bonded better and understand each other’s needs. Playing a tug-of-war game with a dog is not advised anytime, especially is she if of a breed with aggressive tendencies. Dogs should not eat from the table or in the same room as people, nor should they sleep on top of the owner’s bed. If you have a dog with any aggressive tendencies please contact us, especially if you have children. It is best to always keep “all four paws on the floor” to reduce bad habits and behavioral problems.
We recommend you have your dog on a leash anytime she is outside your house or yard. This not only keeps your pet from running away, getting hit by a car, etc. but it also protects your dog from getting in dog fights. All dogs should wear a collar, with an identification tag, at all times. The collar should not be so loose that it can come off; two fingers under the collar is just right. Choke collars are okay for some dogs in training, but they should not be left on the dog all the time as they can catch a ring going over a fence and have a fatal consequence. If you desire to have a microchip identification implanted into your puppy, we can do this easily when we perform the neuter operations.
Should you have any problems with your dog, please call. We can help with behavioral issues before the annoyance becomes a problem.
GIVING TREATS TO YOUR PET
Providing treats for your pet will enforce the bond between you and your pet. This is especially true with dogs. Dogs want to please their masters, hopefully you will help fulfill their need by giving them a chance to earn their treat. We recommend that when you give a treat to a pet you ALWAYS let them earn it. Even if it is a simple sit, or down, roll-over, etc. commands. When we work and earn our rewards, we feel better; pets also want to earn their treats. All family members should periodically ask the dog to sit for a treat, especially children.
After the puppy has learned to sit for a treat, you can make her sit before feeding her. Ask her to “stay”, and then say “OK”, “release”, “go eat” or some other release command. You’ll have to start out quickly at first, and then slowly teach her to “stay” for a little longer period each week. Keep the commands to one word and one syllable if possible. Dogs learn quicker if the command is simple. “Sit down” should not be used; it may only confuse the puppy. All members of the family should utilize the commands the puppy has learned AND USE THE SAME COMMAND WORDS. How many times have we seen a puppy run out onto the road after the owner laid the leash down to pick up something they dropped?, etc. BY TEACHING THE PUPPY TO SIT AND STAY YOU MAY SAVE HER LIFE SOME DAY.
Teach the puppy to “come”. When she comes to you properly, reward her. After she gets this idea, then ask her to sit in front of you after coming, before she gets her reward. The next step is to use your arm to signal her to come, as if you are signaling a friend to come see you. Hold your right arm at your side and say “come” while bringing your arm up and across your chest, almost touching your left shoulder.
Ever thought about teaching her to go down when coming towards you? The hand signal is started with your right arm at your side, then your hand is raised straight up (circling slightly behind your back), then reaching out and forward the arm is brought down while stating the command “down” (or “drop”). Keep your hand pointing to the ground until the dog drops. Slightly bending down may be helpful for you and her to know she is to drop. Why hand signals? Has your dog ever been loose and you called her to you, and then realize a car is coming and you want her to stop before she crosses the road?
When you go for a walk, it is customary for the dog to walk at your left side. If she is running ahead of you gently pull back and say “back” or a similar command. We recommend a dog to be on a leash whenever you are on a walk. It’s the law in most localities and the requirement is for the safety of the animals as much as for other people, wildlife, etc. The command to “leave it” is important to teach her not to pick up an item, eat another pet’s food, start to chase something, etc.
Roll over, stand-up and turn around, fetch the newspaper or slippers and other tricks can be taught to your dog. Teaching requires time and patience. It only takes a few moments each day to add to the existing commands to teach her a new trick. Your dog wants to learn new commands and earn a reward to please you. You don’t always have to give food as a reward, a simple “good dog” and a pet will also do. Once a pet has learned a command, a simple praise is all that is needed; with a treat periodically to keep her stimulated and reinforce that everything is not always done in a specific sequence. We recommend you continually enforce your pet to sit and stay before each feeding; she’ll enjoy it. By teaching her these simple tricks you will establish dominancy and control over her, reduce canine aggression, and reinforce a close friendship bond between you and her. If you find she is doing things for reward and attention, without you asking her, please stop by for our wanting attention handout.
It is important to continue these commands throughout her lifetime. She will enjoy the attention and pleasing you. When you feed her make her sit, stay and then wait a moment after placing food in her bowl before you release her.
The Staff at the Nelson Road Veterinary Clinic
Raising children and puppies is a very similar process; be gentle and guide them by praising them when they have done something correctly. There are many basic steps to ensure that a puppy will become a pleasant member of the family.
Have him sit for a treat or vitamin at least 2x a day. Before feeding him make him sit and stay for a few seconds, then release him and say “ok” or some other command.
Be consistent in your directions. Do not allow one member of the family to say sit, while another says sit down. Sit is better and a simpler command. Is it down or lay or lay down? Down is best. Come is better than come here. Our treat handout describes the hand signals we strongly recommend teaching all dogs. For some hard to teach dogs we may recommend using the oral and hand signals at the same time when starting to teach a new command. When giving commands say his name at first to get his attention, such as “Rover, sit”. If you have more than one dog the use of his name is very important.
Do not allow a puppy to do anything you do not want him to do as an adult. The rules as a puppy should be the same as you wish him to have as an adult. This includes sitting on the couch, eating from the table, chewing on items, etc. By allowing him to do something now, such as chewing on your hand, you will only confuse him later when you decide he cannot do the same behavior.
If a puppy is not responding, do not keep saying the same command over and over. Come here, come here, come here is such an example. Be sharp and to the point, such as “Rover, come”. If he does not come, and he realizes you are calling him, then go back to step one and use the leash keep him under control. Pull him in gently when saying the command the second time. He must learn commands before you can have him off a leash, even in a fenced dog park, etc.
Be realistic that for a puppy it takes time to learn. Training sessions should only be about 5 minutes or less per month of age. A six month old puppy realistically will get bored after 20-30 minutes of any session. One can repeat the session 2-4 hours later, if need be. Always reward a puppy for good behavior, even if it is only a pat on the head. When he has been outside and not crying, then reward him by saying “good boy” when allowing him back inside. Teaching a puppy to eliminate properly is a similar process, as described in our puppy care and elimination training handouts.
We strongly recommend puppy training classes for all dogs. If less than 6 months of age the class is mostly a socialization process. All dogs need to learn to get along with other dogs. These training classes not only teach your dog to become a great companion, but also these sessions will help him bond to you. The local parks and recreation, humane society and others listed in the phone book are good sources of puppy classes. The average puppy you can train with just a neck collar and leash. Rarely do you need a pinch collar, or a chock chain yet a head halter may be needed for some. Body harnesses are rarely indicated unless there is a medical breathing condition. One should be able to walk a dog with just the leash attached to their little finger, and if not then the chest harness and/or the retractable leash should be left at home. We do not recommend the retractable leashes for average use with a puppy and/or walking a dog in your neighborhood; a 6-8’ leash is preferred. Retractable leashes do not teach a dog any limits, and later they usually are more difficult to train and/or they can become the “out of control dogs” that we see as adults.
Exposing your puppy to new sights, sounds and feelings will help him not be afraid as he grows up. This should be done in a positive manner, with a reward after he shows no signs of being afraid. We recommend you periodically lift his ear and clean the outside with a cotton ball, use an old toothbrush and brush it around in his mouth for a few times, brush his skin, and especially hold one of his paws for a few seconds before feeding him IF he was good. We strongly recommend to hold his paw and trim only 1/16” or less of one toenail at a time before giving a treat. By rotating paws and toenails it will take a couple weeks to trim his nails initially, yet in the long run this simple process will help him from developing an aversion to having is nails trimmed, etc. We have more specific handouts on the above 4 examples if need be. If you are having problems please call us for advice. There are many books and internet sources available for raising a puppy; over time training methods have the same gentle basic directions. We have a simple book called “Super Puppy” available at the clinic.