posted 07-30-2003 07:11 AM
Caring for a new puppy
Bringing home a new puppy is can be such a joyous event. To keep it as such, your new puppy will need special care and attention over the next several months.
Unless the puppy is a stray, find out from the breeder, kennel or shelter what brand and type of food has been fed up until this time. Sudden changes in diet can cause digestive upsets so make sure you start your puppy out on the same food as he or she has been getting. If a change is to be made, space it out over the course of a week. The first two days feed 75% of the original food and 25% of the new. The next two or three days feed in 50/50 increments. Towards the end of the week switch to 75% new food and only 25% of the old and finally end by feeding only the new type of food.
If you don’t live in the same area and use the same water supply as where you get your puppy, it is recommended you get a gallon or so of water to switch over in the same manner as described above. Different levels or lack of chlorine, fluoride and other components can also cause upset stomachs.
New owners must remember that young puppies have no more control or concept of potty training than a young child. In the early days of ownership, housebreaking is a hit and miss proposition. Many owners find it easier to confine the puppy in a crate, utility or bathroom when they are unable to keep a constant watch on the new family member’s movements. Newspaper makes a cheap, absorbent material for whatever area the puppy is placed in.
Physically, puppies are not able to hold urine and feces for extended periods of time nor will they remember five minutes after the fact what they have done to upset you. The best way of training you puppy to go outside is to take him out as soon as he wakes up in the morning, right after each feeding and nap as well as right before bed at night. Positive reinforcements such as praise and treats will work better than harsh words, rubbing their noses in the mess or beating with a paper. Many times harsh training methods not only harm the owner/dog bond, it can actually exacerbate the problem you are trying to solve. There are several breeds, which have trouble holding their urine during excitement or fear. This “tinkling” will further exasperate the owner and cause a never-ending cycle of disappointment and correction. With any form of training, consistency is the key.
Regardless of where you acquired your new puppy, a trip to the veterinarian should be done within twenty-four hours. For puppies that were purchased from a breeder, kennel or shelter, this covers your purchase and a reputable establishment will refund your money if any serious problems are found. If your puppy is a stray, being checked out immediately can ensure the safety and health of any other pets you have as well as preventing certain zoonotic problems from affecting you.
Your veterinarian will probably want to give vaccinations and check for intestinal parasites. During his exam he will also look into the ears to check for ear mites and examine the skin for signs of demodex or sarcoptic mange. The sarcoptic mange mite is transmittable to humans so if it is found to be present, make sure you take proper precautions in handling the puppy until he is declared mange free.
One trip to the veterinarian does not ensure immunity from disease. The DHLP-P vaccinations require at least three doses done at four-week intervals and a Rabies vaccination is required by law by as soon as the puppy is old enough. This is usually around four months of age.
Once you have your puppy home, it is best to introduce him to other pets slowly and under controlled circumstances. There have been many puppies seriously or fatally injured by the older, established dogs in a household trying to “show who is boss.”
It is very common for puppies to cry the first night or two in a strange place. An old fashioned “ticking” clock or one of your dirty tee shirts will often settle the pup down to sleep. Others have found a small stuffed toy, a baby blanket or even an old fashioned hot water bottle to be affective as well.
Grooming should be started at an early age. Tabletops are often best because the puppy is off the ground and less likely to try and run away. An elevated position is also more comfortable for the owner’s back and knees. It is important to start training for grooming early even if your puppy hasn’t much hair. As he gets older, it will be more difficult to physically restrain him. An added benefit to having him learn to stay still during grooming is that he will often be much more passive and better behaved when taken into the vet.
Bathing can commence as early as seven or eight weeks. This should be made into a fun time for the puppy and not something to dread. Do this by keeping a light happy tone to your voice, giving lavish praise and going at a slow, gentle pace through out. Many owners find having the water in the tub before adding the dog causes a calmer bath time than rushing water from a faucet. Before the bath, place cotton balls in the ears and a drop of mineral oil into each eye to prevent water or soap from causing the puppy distress.
Obedience training classes can be found that cater to younger puppies. These are often called “kindergarten classes.” Once again, the younger a dog is started the easier he is to handle. Kindergarten classes are usually for puppies three months old or older. Proof of vaccinations will be required. This protects you puppy as well as the others in the class.
The most important need for the new puppy is an abundant amount of love and understanding from the family. By taking in the puppy, you have introduced a new family member to the house that can be with you for many, many years. He will be a source of great joy, comfort and companionship if given the opportunity to reach his full potential.
Title: Caring for a new puppy
Description: Tips for the feeding, bathing, vaccinating and training of the new puppy.