BRINGING HOME A NEW PUPPY
It is very exciting to get a new puppy and to be able to bring him or her home.
Often people are not aware of how challenging this process can be. It is important to plan for the arrival of your new puppy to avoid frustration, damaged items and to provide the safest possible environment for your puppy and family.
Spending a few hours to puppy-proof your house and to insure the proper introduction of the puppy to the home will set the tone for your relationship with the puppy.
While there are several things that you need to consider, one of the first aspects of bringing a puppy home is to have the correct supplies. In addition to the supplies, you'll need the right attitude to work with the puppy, a space that is designed for the puppy to stay in, as well as a schedule for feeding and exercise.
Before bringing your puppy home it is important to have all the basic supplies to make the puppy feel at home. Talk to the breeder or the previous owner if it all possible, to determine what type of food the puppy was eating and any special dietary requirements that the breed may have. The basic supplies are:
·A good book on puppy health, care and training methods. Check with your breeder to see if they have a particular book or author that they recommend. If the puppy has begun a training method, make sure that it continues as much as possible with the already established commands.
·A wire or plastic dog crate that is the correct size for the puppy that you have purchased. A small dog will require a
smaller crate than a larger dog, naturally.
·A sturdy puppy pen to keep your puppy safe and sound with a cosey bed, food and water and lots of toys to play with, plus an area where paper is laid down for toilets.
·A special puppy collar that is of a soft fabric or woven material. The collar should have a buckle fastener and should not be too tight for the puppy’s neck. You should be able to easily insert two fingers between the puppy’s
neck and the collar. If you cannot, the collar is too small and a larger size will meet to be purchased. A good lead will also be needed when walking the puppy. Many people use a retractable lead to make walking the dog much easier.
·Purchase an identification tag that can be put on the caller. A puppy purchased from a breeder may already be microchipped or tattooed with identification. While this is an excellent way to identify the dog, it is also important to have an easy to read tag in the event that the puppy wanders away or becomes lost. Make sure your phone number and name is on the tag.
·You will also require any grooming supplies that the dog may need. A shorthaired dog will require a simple brush, comb, or soft cloth, but a longhaired dog will require more grooming, and you may wish to purchase clippers to be able to trim the coat.
·To keep your puppy busy and entertained when you're not able to play with them, it is important to get some puppy toys. They should be soft cuddley toys or hard plastic and without any parts that can be chewed and swallowed by the dog. Remember, if the puppy has toys to play with they will be less likely to chew on household items.
·You will need to have good quality dry puppy food ready when the puppy arrives. Ask the seller what type of food they have started your puppy on, and begin feeding that at your home. You can then gradually change over to a different kind of food, by combining the new food with the old food until the puppy adjusts. This will prevent sudden shocks to the puppy's digestive system that could result in diarrhea or other stomach concerns.
·One stainless steel or heavy plastic bowl for water and one for food. Make sure that you buy a bowl style that cannot be easily tipped over. Puppies will need clean water at least twice a day. Some people choose automatic
dispensing feeders and water bowls. While this does make it easier for the owner, it is not essential.
·If you have stairs in your house or you would like to keep the puppy confined to one area, you may wish to consider purchasing baby gates. These can be used to prevent the poppies from being able to enter or exit different rooms of the house.
·You may also wish to consider purchasing a spray-on no-chew product. These can be purchased commercially from any pet store. If you wish to use a homemade spray, you can mix one part of apple cider vinegar and one part of water. Be careful with this spray as it may cause discoloration to furniture. It is also important to test the commercially available products prior to spraying.
Just like having a new baby in the house, it’s important to make sure that the home environment is safe for the puppy. Puppies are very inquisitive by nature, and often get into all kinds of things around the house. Even something as simple as a cord hanging from a set of draperies can be a safety hazard for small puppy. It can become wrapped around the puppy’s neck, or stuck in the puppy's teeth. When puppy-proofing your home check the following:
· Pick up all strings or cords. A small string can easily be swallowed by a puppy and cause digestive problems if it becomes wrapped up in the intestines.
· Remove all small objects that the puppy may swallow.
· Check houseplants to make sure that they are not poisonous. If they are, remove them to a room or area that the puppy does not have access to.
· As much as possible, keep electrical cords away from the areas the puppy is in. If the cords cannot be removed, try treating them with a no-chew spray or rub them with laundry soap to make them unpleasant to the taste.
· Keep the puppy confined to the puppy run or puppy safe room when you are not home or able to watch the puppy.
If the puppy has been living with its littermates and mother up to this time, it will feel lonely coming to a house where it is an only dog. Try having a hot water bottle, stuffed toy or ticking clock in the puppy run with the puppy.
Using a puppy run will really help the puppy feel that this is a space of its own, and will help you be able to confine the puppy at night or when you are not home. In addition, you may want to place a piece of clothing that you have worn in bed with the puppy. This will allow the puppy to adjust to your scent.
The best way to have a positive attitude when bringing your puppy home is to be knowledgeable. Read a book; ask friends, breeders, groomers and veterinarians any questions you may have before bringing home the puppy. The internet offers many suggestions and breed specific information for preparing for a puppy.
Schedule walks, exercise, feeding and play times as much as possible. This will help your puppy adjust, plus it will also make sure that the puppy is cared for properly. If there is more than one person caring for the puppy, make sure that everyone is using the same schedule and methods. In addition, take the puppy for a complete medical check up as soon as possible.
At birth, puppies cannot control their body temperature, cannot eliminate waste from the body without stimulation from the mother licking them. Nor can they see or hear. They are born with a strong desire to suck from the mother, and they can smell, taste, and sense by touch. They are able to cry to signal hunger, fear or cold. A puppy will double in weight in the first week of life.
At approximately 12 days after birth the puppies’ eyes will start to open. They are always born with blue eyes, and the puppies are very sensitive to bright lights at this time. Slightly before the eyes open, at about day 10, the puppy’s ears will open and they are immediately able to hear.
Weeks 2-3 are known as the transitional stage. The puppy is now able to recognize his or her littermates and knows the mother dog. It begins to learn to recognize humans in its life between weeks 3-4. The puppy will also start to notice and respond to loud noises and negative events, so it is important to make sure that there are few if any stressful events in the puppies’ life at this
From birth to 7 weeks it is important the puppy stay with the mother and the litter. This is the time the puppy learns about how to be a dog, how to communicate with other dogs, and how to respond. This is the very beginning of the socialization period, and helps the puppy to understand how to interact with other dogs and how to respond to correction.
The puppy learns that biting a littermate results in being bitten in response, and that crying will get a response from the mother dog. The puppies will play together, and begin to chew and mouth objects in an attempt to understand their environments.
The puppies should not be handled excessively or removed from their mother and littermates for more than 10 minutes at a time. They may become anxious and fearful if they are separated for longer than this.
Avoid punishing the puppy at this time, and focus on rewarding for positive behavior and appropriate response. Expect housetraining mistakes to be frequent at this time due to the small size of the puppies bladder and their developing muscle control.
Week 8 – Month 3
The period from 7 to 12 weeks is called the Socialization Period. This is the time to introduce the puppy to as many new positive experiences as possible. Their nervous systems are developed at this time, and they are able to learn about the world around them, including humans, other animals, and new experiences.
This is the best time to change environments with a new puppy, as they will quickly adjust and will form bonds with people easily at this time. The Fear period occurs with the socialization period. This is the time when the puppy begins to register fear of situations that cause pain or discomfort. The puppy will cower or hide from loud noises or harsh voices, and it is important to not punish the puppy at this time.
Every effort should be made to avoid any fearful situations at this time, as it can lead to difficulties in training or adapting to new environments for the life of the dog. The puppy will respond to praise and rewards, and will require constant contact and interactions with family members.
Month 3 – Month 4
At this time the puppy is trying to determine who is the master, him or you. The puppy will be challenging to deal with at this time, and may be seen as difficult to work with. This developmental time for the puppy is similar to the toddler stage for humans.
The puppy may start to want to play fight or bite at you, and it is critical to stop this behavior as soon as it starts. A direct and sharp ”No“ command, followed by lack of contact or interactions for a few minutes will usually correct the problem.
It is important to be firm and positive when working with the puppy in this stage. They need to understand that the human is dominant and that they are to obey. This can be done very gently and positively, and does not require negative training methods or harsh punishment.
Avoid involving the dog in games that encourage fighting or aggressive behavior. Even a game of tug-of-war can be interpreted by the dog as a show of dominance and may quickly escalate.
4 to 8 months
This stage is the independent puppy stage. The young dogs want to be on their own to explore, and many books refer to this as the ”Flight instinct period“. The puppy will want to get out on his own. He or she may not come when called, and may ignore commands that previously were responded to.
Puppy will need to be kept on a leash when outside of the yard, as they may decide to ignore commands to return. It is important to deal with this immediately, perhaps through a puppy training class. In human terms this is the adolescent period for the dog. There will be an increased need to chew and the permanent teeth will come in. The puppy, if a dominant type dog, will continue to try to become the leader in the family.
Small children should not be left without supervision with puppies at this age as they may jump or even bite in an attempt to show dominance. A puppy at this stage may also begin to show sexualized behavior, and it is important to isolate the puppy from any other dogs that have not been spayed or neutered.
Plan to have your dog spayed or neutered at this time as well, to prevent unplanned for litters now or in the future.
6 to 14 months
This is the second fear imprint stage. The dog may appear to be shy or unwilling to try new activities. With extra positive rewards and time this stage will pass. The puppy now looks like a mature dog, but they are still a puppy at heart. They love to play and socialize with other animals and family members.
The puppy will have lots of energy at this time, so it is important to provide exercise and socialization activities. Often people choose to take their young adult dogs to an obedience training class to enhance their skills.
Keeping active with your puppy will continue to build the bond between you and your pet. Staying positive and rewarding good behavior will keep your relationship happy and enjoyable. Continue to socialize your puppy throughout the states of development and into adulthood to develop a calm, happy, well-rounded dog.
For the rest of the dog’s life there will be a consistent behavior pattern. You may notice that there are issues that arise and have to be dealt with by retraining or reinforcing existing training. Generally, there should be no extreme behavior changes if the animal is well cared for and checked regularly by a veterinarian. Changes in environment may cause a regression in behavior,
but a little extra attention and care at this time will usually resolve the issues.
Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting time, and the start to a wonderful relationship. Making sure that you have everything you need for the puppy at the house will get this relationship off to a positive and rewarding start for both of you.
PREPARING TO BRING HOME A GROWN CAVALIER DOG
Bringing home a full-grown dog does not need quite as much attention to detail as bringing home a puppy. A grown puppy will most likely be completely house broken, and will be trained to be in the house and behave appropriately. It is important to not take this for granted, however.
Talk to the owner or to the rescue shelter workers and find out how the dog has behaved in the shelter or at the home.
PREPARING YOUR HOME
If you have other pets in the home it is important to make sure that they are kept separate from your new puppy until you can properly socialize the animals. This is important if you have dogs or cats, as you want their first contact to be positive and free from fighting or chasing.
In addition you may wish to dog-proof your house until you get a clear idea of how the animal will behave in your home. Remove any chewable or leather delicate items until appropriate behavior in the home is clearly demonstrated. Remember that this is a new home to the dog, and they will be excited or stressed, and may revert back to puppy-like behavior for the first few days.
Check for electrical cords, items hanging off tables and food items that may be tempting to dogs to chew on. Once the dog has demonstrated that it is able to behave in the house these items can be returned to the room.
It is important to talk to your children about the new dog. Children will naturally want to pet and play with the new animal. The dog may not be used to children, or may need time to adjust before being introduced to kids and other family members. Avoid over exciting or stimulating the dog for the first few days. Keep the people interacting with the dog to a minimum to allow them to get used to the house and their new family.
WHAT TO EXPECT
When you first bring your new puppy to the house, make the experience positive. Have all the basic supplies in the house and establish an area for the dog within the first few hours. Plan to have the dog examined by a veterinarian within the first day or two.
For the first week to two weeks, expect the dog to be slightly nervous and
uncertain of commands. You may note that females tend to be more anxious and male dogs will be more aggressive at this time. It is important to quickly establish that you are the master, and reward all compliance in a positive manner.
Spend extra time with the dog, and ensure that they are walked, exercised and fed on a regular basis. Follow breeder or veterinarian-specific information on any special dietary needs they may have.
After the second week, the dog should have adjusted to the new home and family. At this time you may find that there is some re-training needed if the puppy has bad habits that have not been corrected. Taking the dog to a trainer or a dog obedience class is an option to correct these issues.
Re-training is often harder than the original training, so it may be necessary to get some professional help. Research a good obedience trainer in your area, or ask for recommendations from the rescue shelter, veterinarian or individual you obtained the dog from.
Plan to spend as much time as possible with your puppy. This is pleasant for you and the dog, and a strong bond will form over the weeks and months that follow. Many breeds respond better to one owner, and it may take longer for the bonding to occur. Be patient and positive with your new dog, and you will soon have a friend for life
DIET AND NUTRITION BASICS
Not all dog foods are created equal, and not all dogs’ needs are the same when it comes to nutrition. It is important to understand what type of diet and nutrition is best for your breed of dog. If you consider this logically, it only makes sense that a housedog, would have different nutritional requirements than a working dog such as an Australian Shepard. Knowing some basic diet and nutrition facts will help you determine what type of a diet is best for your dog.
OMNIVORES NOT CARNIVORES
There is a misconception that dogs are only meat-eating animals called carnivores. This could not be farther from the truth. In fact, most dogs enjoy vegetables and some types of fruit as much as they seem to enjoy their dog food. Dogs require many of the same vitamins and minerals as humans to be healthy and maintain shiny coats, good teeth, bones and muscles, as well as keep energy levels up.
WHAT ARE THE DIETARY NEEDS OF A DOG?
Dogs require a variety of foods that include all the building blocks of life, including:
· Amino acids
If you notice that your dog has any skin conditions, hyperactivity, listlessness, or poor coat quality, you will need to examine the label of the food that you are currently feeding. A veterinarian can advise you on the proper amounts of the dietary elements that your puppy may need.
You should avoid foods that contain primarily corn or wheat, by-products or excessive amounts of chemical preservatives. To check if your food has more cereal components than protein, soak the dry feed in water for 20 minutes. If the feed becomes mush, it is mostly corn or wheat.
In addition, check the protein content of the food. A less active dog will need a lower amount of protein, with the base being about 21%. The more active the dog is, the higher the amount of protein that is needed in the diet. Puppies and pregnant females will require special diets to deal with the stresses that their bodies are going through.
Many diets are available for dogs, including the raw food diet. Just as expected, this diet advocates that feeding of raw meaty bones, raw vegetables and some offal. There are commercial diets available that encompass this diet, and many breeders and vets recommend the raw diet for active dogs and dogs in training.
Since it is difficult for most individuals to carefully control the amount of protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that their dog consumes in a day most people use a commercially prepared food. A good commercially prepared food will have all the vitamins and supplements needed for a healthy diet.
WHAT NOT TO FEED YOUR DOG
It is important to avoid feeding your dog excessive amounts of ”human food“ in the form of table scraps or little treats. While your dog may gaze longingly at you while you are snacking, it is in the dog’s best interest to avoid these morsels.
Dairy products such as cheese and yogurt may cause diarrhea in lactose intolerant dogs. A dog’s diet should never exceed 10% of the total amount as table scraps or human food. In addition, never give a dog human vitamins or supplements as they can cause health concerns.
Cooked bones of any kind can easily splinter in the dog’s mouth and cause damage to the gums, throat, and lining of the stomach and digestive system. In addition, the bones can lodge in the throat and cause severe damage. Raw meaty bones are the best for dogs, and should be removed when the meat is removed.
Raw eggs may cause salmonella, or decrease the rate and amount of absorption of biotin - leading to poor quality coats and hair problems in adult dogs and puppies.
Salt may cause electrolyte imbalances and dehydration in dogs. It should be eliminated from the diet as much as possible. Onions and garlic contain sulfoxides and disulfides that can lead to anemia in dogs.
Avoid feeding your dog cat food or any other type of pet food. Cat food is designed for cats, and they have different dietary needs than dogs. Cat foods tend to be higher in sugars and proteins, and this can cause complications for dogs as they age.
Raw pork, lamb or rabbit should not be fed to dogs. These meats can contain various diseases such as tapeworms that can be fatal to dogs if not treated. In addition internal meats such as liver and kidney should only be given to dogs if it is organic, as there may be toxins concentrated in these organs.
Do not feed your dog candies or chocolates. Candies contain high amounts of sugars that are not healthy for dogs. Chocolate consumption can cause toxicity in dogs that can be lethal, even in small doses.
FEEDING YOUR DOG
Going to the pet store to pick a brand and type of dog food can seem particularly overwhelming when you walk down the aisle and see the dozens upon dozens of varieties of foods available. If you take the time to read the labels and understand the basic needs of your dog, you will find that there are only a few feeds that meet your dog’s needs.
During a dog’s lifetime, the feeding requirements will change. A puppy should be fed at least three times a day until it is four months old. A young puppy must be fed more often, because it has a smaller stomach and is growing at a very fast pace.
After four months of age it is recommended to decrease feeding to twice a day. Some adult dogs only require feeding once a day, or may be given free choice food if they are outdoors or are not over-eaters. Any changes in feeding should be closely monitored to determine the effect that they are having on the overall health of the dog. Fresh water should always be available for all dogs and puppies.
Regularly scheduled feeding will help with housetraining as well. A schedule of feeding means a schedule for toileting.
WET VS. DRY
The first decision that you have to make is whether you are going to feed wet, dry or a combination of wet and dry foods. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of food.
Wet food is often more palatable for dogs of all ages, and can be particularly important to feed when your puppy is very young or your dog is very old. Dogs with dental or intestinal problems may need to be fed wet food at least for a short period of time on recommendation by a veterinarian.
Most breeders and vets do not recommend a diet of only wet food, as it does not have the same fiber and consistency as the dry food. Dogs that are fed only wet food often have issues with producing excessive amounts of gas and needing to go outside often to defecate.
Dry food is often rather unpalatable to a dog, particularly if they have previously been fed a diet of wet food. Increasing the amount of exercise and mixing a small amount of wet food in with the dry will gradually allow them to switch over. If a dog is on a diet of dry food, the food acts to clean the teeth and promote healthy digestion.
When feeding dry food, it is important to make sure the dog has free access to clean water at all times. Make sure that the major ingredient in the dry food is not corn, corn meal or wheat, as this is largely filler that will swell up in the dog’s stomach when the food is consumed.
Check that veterinarians or breeders approve the food that you are using. This is usually indicated on the dog food bag. Your local veterinarians will be able to provide a list of premium dog food brands available in your location.
In addition in both wet and dry foods, check to make sure that the food contains the balanced nutrients your dog needs. It will need to have carbohydrates, proteins, essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins.
By feeding this food based on the recommended serving size for your dog you can be assured that your dog is getting their basic dietary needs met. If your dog seems to be hungry or is not eating all the recommended amounts of food, always check with your veterinarian and adjust the amounts if necessary, based on the vets advice.
SCHEDULED FEEDING VS. FREE FEEDING
Once you have decided on the type of food you will be feeding, you then need to decidehow you will feed. While, as the human, you may have a preference the final decision is really up to the dog, many dogs require a scheduled feeding. This simply means that the food is presented to the dog for up to twenty minutes and then is removed, whether eaten or not. This is a good habit to get in with indoor dogs, as it helps plan for exercise breaks and trips outside.
Free feeding is used for many dogs. It is simply placing an automatic feeder or bowl of food out for the dog, so they may access exercise choice of when and how much to eat. This is a good way to feed if the dog is not a glutton, or if there are dogs that get along well together.
If you have a dominant dog, it may prevent other dogs from accessing the feed, or may eat until it is stuffed to prevent others from getting any food! This is unhealthy for both the dominant and the submissive animals. Avoid feeding dogs together if they are in anyway aggressive towards each other.
HOME COOKING FOR YOUR DOG
If you have the time, there are some great home recipes that you can make for your dog. This allows you to ensure that your dog is getting fresh, high quality foods that are prepared in a clean environment. It is difficult to calculate the exact nutrient balance, however, so dry or wet premium quality foods should be used to supplement the home cooked items.
There are many different recipes for home cooked dog meals. Most include the following:
· Beans (any variety)
· Beef (lean)
Any combination of the above can be added to a crock-pot, covered with water and allowed to simmer. This mixture is cooked until soft and then allowed to cool. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and then discarded. The meat is usually ground or cubed before cooking. Remember to avoid using onions, mushrooms or garlic in the food as this can cause a reaction with some dogs.
In addition, many home made dog food recipes call for brown rice or oatmeal to be added. This may be done, but do remember these should constitute the smallest amount of the total ingredients, not the largest.
If you don’t have the time to make your own food, or are concerned about your dog eating a balanced diet, it is best to purchase premium brands of dog food. These brands are usually a little more expensive than the store ”ownlabel“ brands, but provide balanced nutrition for your pet. In addition, they contain all the supplemental vitamins and minerals that are essential for a healthy dog. Some premium brands of dog foods include:
All dogs will have a preference for the kind of food that they like. Most of the premium dog food manufactures offer different sizes of bags, and even samples. Check with your local pet store, vet or breeder to see if any samples or coupons are available for a trial of a food before buying a large quantity of an expensive food only to find your dog hates it!