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Caring for your Puppy

Caring for your Puppy

Puppies should not leave their mother until they are fully weaned. About 7 weeks of age is a good time to take possession of your puppy.

Signs of Good Health

Puppies should be alert and responsive.
Things to look for:

  • Body - well covered, clean coat free from parasites and dirt; no bald patches
  •  
  • Eyes - clear with no discharge or inflammation
  • Ears - clean with no discharge or inflammation. Dirty ears often indicate the presence of ear mites.
  • Rear - clean, no signs of diarrhoea
  • As always, an all-over check by your veterinarian is a good idea.

Bringing Your Puppy Home

Leaving its mother and litter-mates is a traumatic experience for a small puppy. Plan your pup's arrival carefully. He needs time to adjust to your home in peace and quiet. Avoid too much excitement and let the puppy nap when it becomes tired. He will need to relieve himself often, so do not give him the run of your house. In the early stages, a wire pen with lots of newspapers, and handy to your living area, is very useful.

Handling

Learn how to pick up your puppy correctly and teach your children to do the same. He is not a toy!

Place one hand under the pup's chest and the other under his hindquarters. Hold him by cradling in your arms. NEVER pick up a puppy by taking hold of the front legs or picking him up under the armpits.

NEVER allow your children to tease the puppy. Not only is it unkind, it is also dangerous.

Bedtime

Put down plenty of newspapers. Give your puppy a cosy bed. A cardboard carton with the front cut out is fine and easy to replace. Line it with newspaper and cover with a blanket or towel. He will almost certainly cry, but a warm, well fed, healthy puppy will soon learn to sleep right through the night. A warm hot-water bottle and a ticking clock under his blanket will help over the first few nights.

Feeding

If possible, find out what the puppy has been eating and introduce new foods gradually. A sudden change of diet may cause tummy upsets. Puppies grow fast, so they need to eat a lot! They need high-energy foods which contain the essential vitamins and minerals as well as calcium and phosphorus so important for bone growth. High quality commercially prepared foods contain all these essential nutrients.

Once weaned, at about 6/7 weeks of age, a pup needs 4 small meals a day. As the puppy grows, aim to reduce the number of meals while increasing the amount of food given. Include suitable cereal foods such as puppy meal, toasted wholemeal bread, Farex and porridge. Also cooked rice, lightly steamed vegetables and an occasional raw egg. Give 3 meals a day from 3-6 months, 2 meals from 6-12 months. Thereafter one meal a day will suffice for most dogs.

Pups enjoy a large, non-splintering bone to chew upon. As well as giving considerable enjoyment it will also benefit your puppys teeth and gums. A shank bone or a beef knuckle is ideal, but NEVER give any small, sharp bones such as chicken, fish, or chops as these are dangerous to pups and dogs alike.

Puppies of large, heavy, fast-growing breeds need careful controlled feeding both as regards quantity and supplements. Your veterinarian will advise how.

Toilet Training

Learn to anticipate your puppy's need. Put puppy out on one spot you choose in the garden first thing in the morning, last thing at night, after every meal, sleep, drink, romp, or if he looks uneasy. Stay with him and when he has performed praise him for being a good boy. Do not punish him if he makes mistakes in the house as, like a young child, he is unable to control himself. Smacking or other forms of punishment will only make him afraid and through fear make more mistakes. Pay regular attention to his housetraining and you will be surprised at how soon the puppy asks to go out.

Your Puppy's Health

Between the ages of 8-16 weeks your puppy will require a series of vaccinations to give protection against Distemper, Parvovirus, Hepititis and Kennel Cough. Until the completion of this programme, the puppy may still be susceptible and can contract these diseases, so do not run undue risks by allowing him contact with unvaccinated dogs.

When visiting the surgery check with the receptionist if you should leave your pet in the car until the veterinarian is ready, then carry puppy (not walk him) into the surgery.

WARNING SIGNS! Should your puppy seem off colour and become unusually quiet, depressed, vomit, have diarrhoea, runny eyes or nose, a cough, take him to your Veterinary Surgeon promptly. Delay may be fatal.

 

Worms

Worming is essential. Puppies should be treated for roundworms fortnightly from the age of 3 weeks up to 12 weeks. Thereafter worm every six months.

Fleas

Flea powders and sprays must be used sparingly. Follow instructions carefully. If puppy is badly infested, consult your veterinarian.

Teeth

Around 4 months of age is teething time, when your pup will begin to lose his baby teeth and the larger, permanent teeth are coming through. During this time he may chew excessively so give him safe, suitable bones and chew toys on which to exercise his teeth and gums. Make sure that dangerous and/or valuable items are kept out of puppy's way.

Exercise

Normal running around the house and garden is sufficient for young puppies. This is the time to accustom them to wearing a soft collar. Be sure to check this as puppy grows and loosen accordingly.

Playthings

Puppies love to play and should have their own safe toys. Rawhide bones are excellent and provide hours of amusement. If you allow your puppy to chew your old slippers, do not be surprised if he later chews your new ones. He will not know the difference!

Growing Up

Your pup won't stay a pup for very long - before you know it, he'll have grown into his paws and become a handsome young dog. Below are some tips on moving forward through this time.

Socialisation

This is one of the most important aspects of puppy ownership and is probably the most neglected. A variety of behavioral problems can be traced back to mal-socialisation during puppyhood. If a pup is to mature into a confident and socially well-adjusted dog he must learn to interact with his own kind and with people outside the family. At the same time, he should not mix with unvaccinated dogs until he is fully protected by vaccination.

Talk to your veterinarian about how best to provide sufficient socialisation combined with maximum protection. Puppy training classes, now available in many areas, are well worthwhile and set the foundation for later obedience training.

The Adolescent Dog

This can be a difficult, frustrating period. Your puppy has grown and possibly he is much larger than you anticipated, but he is not, at this stage, a sensible, mature dog. You may find his energy and enthusiasm exhausting, so if you have not yet enrolled at Obedience Classes, this is the time to do so. The trainers will help you and you will meet other dog owners with whom to share your problems. A great way for your dog to run off his energy is to play with another dog.

Desexing Time

Desexing your dog is vital to prevent roaming or aggressive behaviours. Your unneutered male dog will be off around the neighbourhood searching for a mate and could end up in the local pound. Your unspayed female dog will come into season between 6-12 months of age. Large breed dogs tend to be later than small breed dogs. Her 'season' will last approximately 3 weeks and it can be a very trying time for you, her owner. You may well be visited by every enthusiastic, unneutered male dog in the area. Unless carefully controlled, your bitch will mate and 9 weeks later she will give birth to her puppies.

Do not let these things happen. Be a responsible owner. Have your dog desexed at about 6 months of age - or sooner. Consult your veterinarian.

 

Article Copyright The Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Incorporated (RNZSPCA) - www.rnzspca.org.nz