Puppies are tiny, winsome and cute as buttons, but are they fragile? That all depends. Healthy, vaccinated puppies are vigorous, and the bigger they grow, the hardier they get. Before they’re vaccinated, they are susceptible to certain diseases, says Dr. McGrath. So it’s important to keep your puppy away from unvaccinated dogs until he’s had his first shots. But there’s no need to treat a healthy puppy as if he were fine crystal. Puppies are capable of playing, loving and learning – and are happiest when they have an opportunity to do all three.
How to Act Your New Pup:
What should you do if your puppy dashes across the room in a madcap race, pounces and his toy and plays “kill” with violent shakes of his head? Laugh and enjoy it, says Dr. McGrath. “Be yourself. And incorporate routine.” If he is napping and you want to watch television or play the piano, do it. He will learn to sleep through normal household noises. If he’s contentedly gnawing his chew toy and you have an irresistible urge to hug him, do so. Puppies understand spontaneity and can give us lessons in having impromptu fun.
In dealing with your puppy, let common sense be your guide. When the neighbor’s kids want to share their nachos with him, let them give him a dog biscuit instead. If he wriggles to get off your lap, place him on the floor. A puppy can be hurt jumping or falling off your lap or the furniture, because it’s a long way down. Be as cautious with him as you would be with any toddler.
Keeping an Eye on the Kids:
When a friend wants to bring her toddler and three – year – old to see your puppy, supervise closely. Hold your puppy, sit on the floor with the kids, and show them how to pet him before giving them a turn. Never let young children, no matter how gentle, walk around with a puppy in their arms. Squirmy puppies can easily slip out of chubby little hands. And if you have children, you’ll need to supervise closely when-ever their friends come over.
Not all people teach their children how to handle animals or that they have feelings. “Peer pressure is potent force,” warns Dr. McGrath. “Your child may be unable to stop friends from treating the puppy roughly.” You don’t want your puppy being hurt, either physically or emotionally, by any kind of rough treatment.
Hands – On Care:
Your pup has to get used to being handled on all parts of his body. He’ll need this for a lifetime of grooming and paw checks, ear exams and all the other hygiene routines. To get him used to this, pet him all over, advises Dr. McGrath “Touch him from the top of the nose to the tip and every place in between.”
Lots of puppies are sensitive about having their feet touched, but he’ll get over it if you deal with it the right way. Sit down to a good book or you favorite TV show with your puppy on your lap or beside you. Then stroke him in places he enjoys being petted until he relaxes so much he’s nearly asleep. Continue stroking his body, but include his feet as well. If he tenses, go back to petting only his body until he’s sleepy enough that you can try his feet again. After falls asleep – and he will – gently massage the toes of all four feet. Soon your puppy will relax and let you touch his toes when he’s awake too.
“When doing daily or weekly grooming, such as brushing or trimming nails, be gentle but matter of fact – not apologetic or cajoling,” says Dr. McGrath. “Use just the amount of firmness it takes to stay in control and get the job done.”
If you stop brushing because he struggles, you’re letting him control the situation. Next time, he will simply struggle sooner and harder.