Now that you have your new puppy, here are some helpful tips from the staff at Mercer Street Veterinary Hospital to help with the growth, development and socialization of your newest family member. If there are ever any problems, questions or concerns please feel free to phone us at (206) 285-0395.
The contents of this ‘puppy pack’ is just a simple guideline. Each puppy is different and may need a different approach to training and socialization than what is included here.
Tips for Getting Started
- Supervise your new dog–even indoors. Introduce one room at a time. Introduce the new member slowly to any other pets in the house while supervising.
- House train immediately. Take outside on a schedule, to the same spot every time. When the pup eliminates, reward with praise and playtime, treats also work.
- If there are accidents in the house immediately take the pup outside.
- Introduce crate training. It gives your dog a place to escape family hubbub and you a safe place to confine the dog when you can’t be there to supervise.
- Make sure to introduce crate training slowly and to always make it a positive experience.
- Establish a feeding schedule. Stick to it and teach your dog to sit before eating. A feeding schedule can also be a help with house training.
- Enroll in a group training class. Regardless of how well-trained your dog or puppy may seem, training will help your bond and provides needed socialization.
- Deal with serious behavior problems. Call a professional right away. These things are best dealt with in the early stages.
- Above all, be patient and give lots of love and praise.
Introducing Children to the New Puppy
Remember, toddlers and pups should only be to together with supervision. Here are a few suggestions to go over with your child:
- Treat the puppy nicely. Don’t kick or tease him. No yanking on his tail or pulling at his ears. Do not sit on him. Dogs will lash out if provoked or hurt.
- Speak in a normal tone of voice. Don’t yell or scream in the puppy’s face. His hearing is more sensitive than ours.
- If the puppy walks away from you, don’t follow. This means he doesn’t want to play anymore. Establish a place in your home where he can rest without children-and their friends-disturbing him. (If you are crate training your puppy, this is a good spot.) Teach your child to respect the puppy’s safe place.
- Don’t bother the puppy when he’s eating or sleeping. These are times when dogs don’t like to be pestered.
Be sure your child knows that if you have a ‘mouthy’ puppy that likes to nibble or a very excitable puppy that pushing him away, screaming “stop” or running away may only excite him more. He will think it is just play and continue. Tell your child to stand up and remain still and the pup will eventually get bored. A new toy can them be introduced. If your child is very young, you may need to intervene and correct inappropriate play behavior.
It is important to set up guidelines for children so they can grow up understanding the responsibility of owning a pet and enjoying the experience of caring for an animal with love and respect. Including children with feeding, bathing, and general care will strengthen the bond between puppy and child.
There are many diseases that are fatal to dogs. Fortunately, we can prevent many of these by the use of very effective vaccines. To be effective, these vaccines must be given as a series of injections. Ideally, they are given at about 6-8, 12, and 16 weeks of age, but this schedule may vary somewhat depending on several factors.
The routine vaccination schedule will protect your puppy from five diseases: distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza virus, parvovirus, and rabies. The first four are included in one injection that is given at 6-8, 12, and 16 weeks old. Rabies vaccine is given at 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 is likely, if it will be placed in a puppy training class, or if you frequent dog parks where your dog is exposed to other dogs often. Lyme vaccine is given to dogs that are exposed to ticks because Lyme Disease is transmitted by ticks. Please advise us of these needs on your next visit. We provide special pricing for puppy vaccinations.
Now that you have your new puppy home and vaccinated, it’s time to socialize and show him or her off. Since everyone loves a clean puppy and most all puppies love to play in the mud… Bathing a puppy can be a real challenge, especially when your clever pup uses every resource in his little canine brain to thwart your attempts to get him clean.
Here are a few helpful tips on how to make bath time a pleasant time for you and your pup. The first thing to do, before you even run the bathwater, is collect all the supplies you will need. Here are the basics:
- Small treats, don’t be stingy you’ll need a lot of these the first few baths, keep the experience pleasant and always end on a good note.
- Nylon collar and leash
- Bathmat or other nonskid surface
- Shampoo appropriate for your dog’s coat type
- Soft-bristled scrubbing brush
- Spray attachment, or large cup or pitcher with a handle
- Large towel for your dog and one for your self
Get Ready, Get Set…
Put all your supplies within reach of the tub where you will bathe your puppy. Now put on some clothes that you don’t mind getting wet or a bathing suit, make sure the door to the back yard and favorite mud hole is closed, and latch the doggy door. Get a few treats ready and begin with “good dog, it’s bath time”. Completely wet the pup and scrub all areas. Be sure to keep the water and soap from going in the eyes or ears. Rinse all the soap out very well as dried soap residue may cause some itching or skin irritation.
When the bath is over, wrap your puppy in a big, soft towel and gently squeeze and blot the water from his coat. Don’t rub the coat as wet hair breaks and tangles easily. Make sure the house is warm so the little one doesn’t catch cold. You can use a blow dryer set on very low to help the pup dry faster.
If your home isn’t set up for bathing your new puppy many towns offer self-serve dog washes. Here in Bellingham, there is Bailey’s Bath House where you can take your new pup and they provide the supplies needed for a reasonable charge. There are also mobile grooming services where a large vehicle equipped with a tub inside will come right to your home. Let’s not forget the doggy spa’s where you can take your dog and they are treated to a day at the spa including nail treatment, haircut and whatever else is desired.
Now that your little one is clean and smelling good, it’s time to start thinking about getting into the best puppy-garten.
Ideally, you’ll want to find an instructor who teaches good manners behaviors in class as well as providing puppy socialization (play!) time, and who will also address questions you may have about other topics, such as housetraining, crating, and puppy biting.
You want an experienced trainer who uses gentle, positive reinforcement training methods on her human clients as well as the dogs, and who conducts her classes in a safe, clean environment. There should be a good understanding of dog body language and social behavior, as well as knowing when to intervene if a puppy is being inappropriate with playmates. The instructor should have knowledge of puppy diseases and parasites and require presentation of health records upon registration for the class.
When you are watching a prospective training class, look for these things:
- The trainer appears friendly, confident, and competent.
- Allows time for questions and answers them willingly and thoroughly.
- Canine and human students appear to be learning, enjoying themselves, and succeeding at assigned exercises.
- There is adequate concern for the dog and human, health and safety. The facility is clean, with no strong odors, and the floors have non-slip footing.
- The environment is controlled to promote calm- no running children, loose dogs (except during play time), loud noises, excessive barking, etc.
- Dogs are handled gently – without physical force, punishment, strong verbal reprimands, or forcible restraint of a puppy.
- During play time, puppies are separated into appropriate playgroups where they are closely monitored, and inappropriate play is interrupted.
- The trainer is respectful of dog and owner individual needs and training goals.
Internet Resources for finding a trainer:
- peaceablepaws.com: Pat Miller’s website offers three referral lists for trainers worldwide who share her positive training philosophies.
- trulydogfriendly.com, Website and listings for trainers who are committed to using positive training methods.
- clickerteachers.net: This is a list of trainers who use clicker teaching methods.
- ccpdt.com: Website for the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers has a listing for all Certified Pet Dog Trainers worldwide.
There are many classes offered here in Bellingham. Each school is a little different and uses different techniques. Refer to the list on how to find schools and best choose a class for you and your puppy. There is a list kept with our front staff if you would like a recommendation for puppy school.
Food for Puppies
Diet is extremely important in the growing months of a dog’s life, and there are two important criteria that should be met in selecting food for your puppy. We recommend a NAME-BRAND FOOD made by a national dog food company (not a generic or local brand), and a form of food MADE FOR PUPPIES. This should be fed until your puppy is about 12-18 months of age, depending on its size.
We recommend that you only buy food that has the AAFCO certification. Usually, you can find this information very easily on the label. AAFCO is an organization that oversees the entire pet food industry. It does not endorse any food, but it will certify that the food has met the minimum requirements for nutrition. Most of the commercial pet foods will have the AAFCO label. Generic brands often do not have it.
Table foods are not recommended. Because they are generally very tasty, dogs will often begin to hold out for these and not eat their well-balanced dog food. If you choose to give your puppy table food, be sure that at least 90% of its diet is good quality commercial puppy food. In addition to table foods, it is also important that you not give certain other things to dogs. Bones of birds (chicken, turkey, etc.) are hollow and splinter easily producing very sharp pointed pieces of bones. These can easily pierce the esophagus, stomach, and intestines resulting in peritonitis and death.
Three Curious Things about Puppies
- Puppies may make unusual sounds or movements during their sleep. This is called “activated sleep.” It probably occurs because your puppy is dreaming.
- Puppies also have “puppy breath.” It is not particularly offensive or desirable. It is much like the smell of a new car. It is present a few weeks then disappears.
- Puppies also frequently have episodes of hiccups. They may occur for 10-20 minutes at a time then spontaneously disappear. They are probably related to swallowing of air when eating and do not produce any significant distress to your dog. They will stop as your puppy gets a little older.
Spaying offers several advantages. The female’s heat periods result in about 2-3 weeks of vaginal bleeding. This can be quite annoying if your dog is kept indoors. Male dogs are attracted from blocks away and, in fact, seem to come out of the woodwork. They seem to go over, around, and through many doors or fences. Your dog will have a heat period about every 6 months.
Spaying is the removal of the uterus and the ovaries. Therefore, heat periods no longer occur. In many cases, despite of your best effort, the female will become pregnant; spaying prevents unplanned litters of puppies.
It has been proven that as the female dog ages, 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 any time after she is 6 months old.
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 difficulty 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 any time after the dog is 6 months old.
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