The Perfect Puppy
Having made the momentous decision to get a puppy, you need to plane for his arrival in your home. With the help of children and other family members, you can decide on which equipment and toys your puppy will need and buy them before he arrives.
The canine magazines are full of advertisements for suitable accessories, but if you are lucky, there might be a very good pet shop close by to point you to the right directions. Your puppy will need some essential items of equipment, including a soft puppy collar and a lead, feeding and water bowls, grooming tools (depending on his coat type), some bedding and a bed, as well as some strong toys and suitable hide chews on which he can chew, especially while he is teething. You will also need to get in some food in advance – find out from the breeder what he has been fed and ask for a diet sheet to help you plan out his meals as he gets older, and as a guide to the correct quantities to fed him.
Settling Your Puppy In
The first thing to impress on everybody in your family is that the puppy should not be taken into a public before having his course of vaccination for fear of infection. Give him a name but only use it with pleasant connotations.
A Safe Refuge:
Provide place for your puppy that he can call his own – a warm, drought – free corner of the kitchen is ideal. You can invest in a soft, washable bed or a hard, un chewable plastic bed lined with soft bedding or machine-washable, fleecy man-made fabric, but this is not strictly necessary at this stage.
When puppies are very young, they often have a great liking for cardboard boxes, so try turning the box upside-down, cutting an entry hole in it and putting in an old sweater. Your puppy will love it because he feels safe inside. He can chew the box and it can be renewed at no expense. When he gets older, you can buy a proper chew-proof dog bed of adequate size.
Whenever he goes into his box, leave him in peace. Instruct your children that his bed is his private sanctuary and he must be allowed to sleep without being disturbed. Like a young child, a puppy needs rest. It is during these periods that his body and bones develop and grow. Whenever you put the puppy in his box, give him the command ‘In your bed’ and he will soon understand what you mean.
Many people find that a puppy playpen is a very good idea. It will keep your puppy safe and out of the way of the children and family for short periods when you are busy and cannot keep an eye on him, while still allowing him to be with you all and do observe what is going on around him. Place the puppy’s box inside the playpen, together with his toys and chews, and cover the floor with newspapers in case of accidents. The puppy can rest, sleep or play inside, and the playpen can be move from one room to another. Don’t leave him in the playpen for too long, however.
The First Two Days:
During this period, do not hassle the puppy – let him investigate his new home in his own time. Comfort and reassure him because he will feel lonely and will miss his littermates and mother. Don’t leave him alone in the house but be with him, talking to him and playing with him gently. This is an important socialization time period and what you do now will set the pattern for your future relationship.
Don’t give the puppy any sweets and ‘treats’ or he may get an upset stomach. Leave a bowl of fresh water, topping up the water and changing it on regular basis, and give him the food he is used to eating to avoid any digestive problems.
Feeding Your Puppy
The breeder should give you a diet sheet together with a small supply of the food on which your puppy has been weaned. To avoid any problems, stick to the regime as closely as possible.
Puppies have tiny stomachs and should be fed only small amounts frequently – as many as four or five meals a day. After two or three weeks, you can reduce the number of meals to three and slightly increase the diet. Every breed will differ but by the time your puppy is five to six months old, he should be eating two meals a day. Always feed the best food possible, at the same time and in the same place to establish a routine. A wide range of specially formulated puppy food is available, including complete dried foods, canned foods, biscuit meal and mixers. Alternatively, cook fresh meat and mix it with special puppy biscuit meal.
A Nutritious Diet:
It is impossible to over-estimate the importance of a given dog the correct food. There are hundred of brands from which to choose and you need to find out which suits your puppy best. The advantage of modern commercial puppy foods is that they provide the right scientific balance of essential nutritious for a growing dog, and there should be no need for vitamins or mineral supplements, unless your vet recommends them. Whatever food you offer, an ultimate amount of fresh water must be available.
How much and how often?
Puppies have incredibly small stomachs and after weaning they needs small feeds frequently: four or five meals a day plus two puppy milk drinks. There is no way to know exactly how much to feed a puppy as every breed differs. A general guide, using complete puppy food, is 22g per 450g body weight daily, bearing in mind that medium sized-dogs will double their birth weight once every seven days, and larger dogs grow even faster. Every major specialist dog food manufacturing company gives guidelines, and most have a telephone helpline. The breeder and your vet can also advise you. The best way to monitor progress is to way the puppy daily.
Getting the portion size right:
Always pay special attention to the manufacturers’ recommendations and be sure not no overfeed your puppy. Dogs are running creatures and should be slim with hard muscles. Even small dogs, such as Pekingeses, should not carry any excess weight. If you are unsure about how much food your pup should be eating, then ask your vet for advice.
Missing the comforting presence of his fellow littermates, your puppy may cry during the first few nights in his new home, so try to tire him out by playing with him before he goes to sleep.
Comfort and Safety:
To keep your puppy warm, you can place a hot water bottle under his bedding. Some owners put a ticking clock in the same room and play the radio quietly, to fool the puppy into believing that he is not alone. It is best to place to put his box or bed on a washable, non-carpeted floor and surround it with sheets of newspaper in case he wants to urinate during the night – puppies rarely soil their bed.
Crying at Night:
If your puppy howls during the night and you go to him, he will think you are answering his call and this may set a pattern for the future, so steel your heart and try not to go. Of course, he may want to go to the toilet outside. If you think this if you think this is the case, get up and take him to the garden, waiting with him until he does something and than praising him.
It is cruel to let a puppy cry all night long and if he is very persistent and anxious and cannot settle, you may have to resort to bringing him into your bedroom for the first few nights. Put his box beside your bed and comfort him from the bed. On no account should you let him get up onto the bed because this may encourage bad habits which will be very difficult to change when he grows into his full adult size.
Keeping the Puppy Safe:
When the puppy gets more relaxed, you can move his box a little closer to the door each night until it is outside, and then it can be taken back to the kitchen. He will soon get used to being on his own in his bed as he become more confident in his new home and surroundings.
However, if he does sleep upstairs, make sure that he cannot fall downstairs – his bones will not calcify until he is about six months old and they can break quite easily at this age.
As a temporary precaution, you could try placing a child-proof stair gate at the top of the staircase at night. This can be used at the bottom of the stairs during the day to prevent the puppy from climbing upstairs. If he does go with you, always carry him up and down while he is small as he is likely to injure himself if he falls.