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New Puppy Owners

New Puppy Owners

Congratulations on the arrival of your new puppy. Owning a dog can be an extremely rewarding experience, but it is also a large responsibility. We hope this handout will give you the information needed to make some good decisions regarding your puppy.

What type of play behaviour should I expect from a healthy puppy?

It is very important that you provide stimulating play for your puppy, especially during the first week in its new home. Stalking and pouncing are important play behaviours in puppies and are necessary for proper muscular development. Your puppy will be less likely to se family members these activities if you provide adequate puppy safe toys. The best toys are lightweight and movable. Any toy that is small enough to be swallowed should be avoided.

How do I discipline a puppy?

Disciplining a young puppy may be necessary if its behaviour threatens people or property, but harsh punishment should be avoided. Hand clapping and using shaker cans or horns can be intimidating enough to inhibit undesirable behaviour. However, remote punishment is preferred. Remote punishment consists of using something that appears unconnected to the punisher to stop the problem behaviour. Examples include using spray bottles, throwing objects in the direction of the puppy to startle (but not hit) it, and making loud noises. Remote punishment is preferred because the puppy associates punishment with the undesirable act and not with you.

When should my puppy be vaccinated?

There are many fatal diseases for dogs. Fortunately, we have the ability to prevent several of these by vaccinating your pet. In order to be effective these vaccines must be given as a series of injections. Ideally, they are given at about 6 to 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age, but this schedule may vary depending on your pet’s individual needs.

The core vaccination schedule will protect your puppy from several common diseases: distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza virus, parvovirus, and rabies. The first four are included in one injection that is given at 6 to 8, 12, and 16 weeks old. Rabies vaccine is given at 12 to 16 weeks of age. There are two other optional vaccinations that are appropriate in certain situations. Your puppy should receive a kennel cough vaccine if a trip to a boarding kennel or groomer is likely or if it will be placed in a puppy training class. Lyme vaccine is given to dogs that are likely to be exposed to ticks because Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks. Please advise us of these needs on your next visit.

Do all puppies have worms?

Intestinal parasites are very common in puppies. Puppies can become infected with parasites before they are born or later through their mother’s milk. The microscopic examination of a stool sample will usually help us to determine the presence of intestinal parasites. We recommend this exam for all puppies. Even if we do not get a stool sample, we recommend the use of a deworming product that is safe and effective against several of the common worms in dogs. Additionally, some of these internal parasites can be transmitted to humans.

There are lots of choices of dog foods. What should I feed my puppy?

Diet is extremely important during the growing months of a dog’s life. We recommend a VETERINARY RECOMMENDED NAME BRAND FOOD made by a national dog company (not a generic or local brand) and a diet made for puppies. This should be fed until your puppy is about twelve to eighteen months of age, depending on its breed and size. We recommend that you only buy food that has been certified by an independent organization and is complete and balanced.

Feeding a dry, canned, or semi-moist form of dog food is acceptable. Any of the formulations is acceptable as long as the label stated that the food in intended for growth (or is a puppy food), and is “complete and balanced”. This means the food is nutritionally complete and meets the needs and growth and development. Dry food is definitely the most inexpensive.

Canned foods are a good choice to feed your puppy, but are considerably more expensive than either of the other forms of food. Canned foods contain a high percentage of water, and their texture, odor, and taste are very appealing. However, canned food will dry out or spoil if left out for prolonged periods of time; it is therefore more suitable for meal feeding rather than free choice feeding. We enjoy a variety of things to eat in our diet. However, most dogs actually prefer not to change from one food to another unless they are trained to do so by the way you feed them.

Commercials for dog food can be very misleading. If you watch carefully you will notice that commercials often promote dog food on the basis of TASTE. Nutrition is rarely mentioned. Most of the “gourmet” foods are marketed to appeal to owners who want the best for their dogs; however, they do not offer the dog any nutritional advantage over a good quality dry food, and they are far more expensive. If you read the labels of many of the gourmet foods, you will notice that they do not claim to be “complete and balanced”.

How often should I feed my puppy?

There are several “right” ways to feed puppies. The most popular method is commonly called “meal feeding.” This means that the puppy is fed at specific times of the day. A measured amount of food should be offered four times per day for five to twelve week old puppies. What is not eaten within thirty minutes is taken up. If the food is eaten within three to four minutes, the quantity is probably not sufficient. Puppies fed in this manner generally begin to cut back on one of those meals by three to four months of age and perhaps another one later. If a certain feeding is ignored for several days, it should be discontinued.

“Free choice feeding,” means that food is available at all times. This works well with dry foods for some dogs. However, other dogs tend to overeat and become obese. If there is weight gain after the optimal size is reached, this method of feeding should be discontinued.

How do I housebreak my new puppy?

Housebreaking should begin as soon as your puppy enters his new home. How long the training must continue depends on both the puppy and you. Some pups learn sooner than others. Your dog wants to please you. But a puppy’s memory is short, so your patience is important. A home with a poorly trained puppy is not a happy home for you or the puppy.

The puppy’s bed may be a box, open at one end and slightly larger than the puppy. If the bed is too large, the puppy may defecate or urinate in a corner rather than go outside. If the bed is smaller, the puppy will do its “business” outside rather than soil its bed. Enclose the bed in a small area, such as a laundry room. Cover this area with newspaper to be used at night, or when your pup is left unsupervised.

A common housebreaking technique is creating a “scent post”. A scent post is created when your puppy has an “accident.” The problem becomes one of locating the scent post in the place you want it. To create a scent post, leave a smear of stool from the last “accident” or wet paper on the clean paper in the place you want it, and coax o scoot the puppy to that area. The same is true of an outside scent post, but without the paper, in an out-of-the-way place in the yard.

The first thing in the morning, the puppy should be scooted to the scent post. This is so he can learn his way to the door and the scent post. Let him sniff about. The moment he has relieved himself, pat him on the head and immediately bring him into the house. Do not let him play about. The toilet period and play period should be definitely separate in the puppy’s routine.

The puppy should then be fed. In a short while, the puppy will become uneasy and walk in circles sniffing at the floor. The puppy should then be scooted and coaxed to the post as quickly as possible. This routine should be repeated every hour or two throughout the day, especially after meals and naps.

There will of course be some “accidents” in the house. Never let one of those slip by unnoticed; punishment five minutes after the offence is too late. Scold (not whip) the puppy and rush him to the scent post. Scrub the area of the mishap thoroughly until the odour is gone. Positive reinforcement of proper urine and bowel habits is just as important as properly applied discipline. When your puppy urinates or defecates in the correct place, spend several minutes stroking and praising him.

How do I insure that my puppy is well-socialized?

The socialization period for dogs is between four and twelve weeks of age. During that time, the puppy is very impressionable to social influences. If it has good experiences with men, women, children, cats, other dogs, etc. It is likely to accept them throughout life. If the experience is absent or unpleasant, it may become apprehensive or adverse to any of them. Therefore, during the period of socialization, we encourage you to expose your dog to as many types of social events and influences as possible.

What can be done about fleas on my puppy?

Fleas do not stay on your puppy all of the time; occasionally, they jump off and seek another host. Therefore, it is important to kill fleas on your new puppy before they can become established in your house. Many of the flea control products that are safe on adult dogs are not safe for puppies less than four months of age. Be sure that any flea product you use is labelled safe for puppies.

We will provide you with age and weight-specific flea control products that are safe for your pet and highly effective at keeping your pet flea-free. There are newer products available that prevent heartworm disease as well as preventing fleas.

My puppy seems to be constantly chewing. Why does this occur?

Chewing is a normal puppy behaviour. Almost all of a puppy’s 28 baby teeth are present by about four weeks of age. They begin to fall out at four months of age and are replaced by 42 adult (permanent) teeth by about six months of age. Therefore, chewing is a puppy characteristic that you can expect until about six to seven months of age. It is important that you do what you can to direct your puppy’s chewing toward acceptable objects. You should provide puppy-safe items such as nylon chew bones and other chew toys so other objects are spared.

Can I trim my puppy’s sharp toe nails?

Puppies have sharp toe nails. They can be trimmed with your regular fingernail clippers or with nail trimmers made for dogs and cats. If you take too much off the nail, you will cut into the “quick” and bleeding and pain will occur. If this happens, neither you nor your dog will want to do this again. Therefore, a few points are helpful:

  • If your dog has clear or white nails, you can see the pink of the quick through the nails. Avoid the pink area, and you should be out of the quick
  • If your dog has black nails, you will not be able to see the quick so only cut 1mm of the nail at a time until the dog begins to get sensitive. The sensitivity usually occurs before you are into the blood vessel. With black nails, it is likely that you will get too close on at least one nail
  • If your dog has some clear and some black nails, use the average clear nail as a guide for cutting the black ones
  • When cutting nails, use sharp trimmers. Dull trimmers tend to crush the nail and cause pain even if you are not in the quick.

Why should I have my female dog spayed?

Spaying offers several advantages. The female’s heat periods result in about two to three weeks of vaginal bleeding. This can be quite annoying if your dog is kept in indoors. Male dogs are attracted from blocks away. Your dog will have a heat period about every six months.

Spaying is the removal of the uterus and the ovaries. Therefore, heat periods no longer occur. In many cases, despite your best efforts, the female will become pregnant; spaying prevents unplanned litters of puppies.

It has been proven that as a female dog gets older; there is a significant incidence of breast cancer and uterine infections if she has not been spayed. Spaying before she has any heat periods will virtually eliminate the chance of either. If you do not plan to breed your dog, we strongly recommend that she be spayed before her first heat period. This can be done anytime between four and six months of age.

Why should I have my male dog neutered?

Neutering offers several advantages. Male dogs are attracted to a female dog in heat and will climb over or go through fences to find her. Male dogs are more aggressive and more likely to fight, especially with other male dogs. As dogs age, the prostate gland frequently enlarges and causes urinating and defecating. Neutering will solve, or greatly help, all of these problems that come with owning a male dog. The surgery can be performed anytime after the dog is six months old.

Can you recommend something for pet identification?

The latest in pet identification and retrieval is microchipping. This tiny device is implanted with a needle so that the process is much like getting an injection. Veterinary hospitals, humane societies and animal shelters across the country have microchip scanners used to detect the presence of a microchip and your cat’s unique identification.

A national registry assists in the return of microchipped pets throughout the United States and Canada. We strongly recommend that all pets be microchipped.