Puppies feel warm and solid when held and hugged. Born comedians, they make people play, and playing makes people fell younger and happier. Not all is fun and games, though. Like human babies, puppies eat sloppily, and need small amounts of food at frequent intervals. They make messes constantly and chew on everything that passes their taste test, with furniture and shoes being their favorite flavors. They also sleep a lot – but not necessarily to your schedule.
Be prepared for an ego trip. You will be the most important person in your puppy’s life, and he will love you unconditionally. But remember that no matter how much he wants to be please, he will sometimes do the wrong thing – because he is after all, just a baby.
If you think a dog is fond of food, wait till you see your puppy in action. He we’ll need frequent, small, but nutritious means to grow up strong and healthy. Provide him with a good diet, and match the number of feeds and the amount you feed him to the needs of his age.
Beware the bargain. Use a reputable brand of puppy food. “It’s best to avoid foods that cost a lot less than name brands,” warns Bonnie Wilcox, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in preemption, Illinois, and co-author of The Atlas of Dog breeds and successful dog breeding. “You get what you pay for, and the quality of the protein, fat and other nutrients is important.”
Switch foods slowly. When you pick up your new puppy, ask his former owners what brand of food he’s been eating. Feed him the same thing for a few days, even if it isn’t the brand you plan to use. “A young pup has a sensitive stomach, so make the transition from his old food to his new food gradually,” says Dr. Wilcox. Give him time to settle before changing his food.
Start by mixing the old and new brands together in a ratio of three-quarters of the old with one-quarter of the new. After he’s eaten this mixture fore three days, go to half and half for another three days. Finally, feed him one-quarter of the old food with three-quarters of the new for three more days. By then, he’ll be ready to eat the new food alone.
Be patient with table manners. He’s going to make a mess until he learns to coordinate mouth, teeth and tongue with a little finesse. Minimize your cleaning chores by buying a food dish that doesn’t tip over. Place it in a corner so he won’t have to chase it all over the floor.
Your pup is going to want plenty of shut-eye – the amount will vary with his needs. He’ll sleep more when his body is going through a growth spurt and less during slower growth times. He won’t need to be put down for daily naps. When he’s tired, he’ll sleep. And when he’s not, he won’t. So don’t be surprised if he yawns and folds up into a small heap right in the middle of playtime.
And do be patient when he shatters the night with a mournful whine because he is wondering where everyone is at two in the morning. When your puppy gets over being lonesome for his mother, sisters and brothers, he will sleep through the night. Help him to feel secure by giving him a soft, fluffy toy made especially for dogs. Put a wind-up clock (the kind that ticks loudly) right near his bed to sound like his mom’s heart, or play a radio softly at night.
Placing his crate beside your bed is another way to stop him from feeling lonely. Whatever you do, don’t let him out of his crate as a way of getting him to stop howling. That will only teach him that if he complains loudly, he’ll get what he wants.
Exercise and Playtime:
When your puppy isn’t eating, he’s sleeping. When he isn’t eating or sleeping, he’s likely to be looking for ways to get rid of all the energy he was storing up while he was eating and sleeping.
Set the alarm, just in case he doesn’t wake you. You will have to get up earlier than usual, because he’ll need a good play and exercise session in the morning. This is particularly important if you work and he’s going to be confined by himself for most of the day. Exercise should be fun. As soon as he’s learned to walk on a leash, take him out for long, exploratory walks (provided he has been vaccinated). Play “chase me” games in the backyard. Ball games are especially good exercise for a pup that loves retrieving.
What goes in must come out. It’s one f the basic rules of anatomy, and you’ll know it all by heart after just a few days in the company of your new friend. Housebreaking your puppy is a lot like potty training a toddler, according to Dr. Wilcox. It depends on how diligent you are. When your puppy is young, he won’t have the muscular control to hold his urine or bowel movements, and you’ll have to anticipate his needs. But his control will gradually improve, and by three or four months old, he should be quite dependable – just be patient and persistent.
Knowing when your puppy needs to go is the key to housebreaking, so establish a routine. And prepare for an occasional accident by keeping an odor neutralizer and stain remover n hand. An odor – free floor is an important part of housebreaking. Dogs tend to eliminate where their noses tell them they went before, so quick clean – ups help prevent repeat performances.
The Chewing Blues:
Some days, you’ll feel as if your new pup is all teeth. Even though you confine him when you are away, and supervise him when you’re home, he may still find way to shanghai a shoe or pilfer a piece of underwear. Your dogged devourer chews because he needs to. Between four and six months of age, he’ll be teething.
“Chewing helps his baby teeth to loosen and fall out, which makes room for the permanent teeth that are emerging,” says Paul S. McGrath, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in Kalispell, Montana.
Curiosity will also lead him to put things in his mouth. Since he can’t pick objects up in his paws, he investigates new things through his sense of smell and taste. It also helps his jaw muscles and facial nerves develop. It’s essential for puppies, and a healthy habit for adult dogs, too. “Gnawing on appropriate objects removes plaque from teeth and promotes good gums,” explains Dr. McGrath.
It’s not chewing that’s the problem; it’s his choice of objects that the two of you don’t see eye to eye on. To protect your belongings, you need to get your puppy his own chew toys. Nylabones or their softer chew counterparts Gumabones, sterilized bones, and solid rubber toys for dogs make good chews. They are all available at pet supply stores. Don’t get more than two. Planting chewies all over your home isn’t a good idea, because if almost everything he finds on the floor is a chew toy, he may think anything he can reach is suitable for sinking his teeth into.
Resist the impulse to use worn-out leather loafers, old socks, clothing and purses as teething toys. “He doesn’t know the difference between old and new things, so he’ll think if one shoe is his, all shoes must be ripe for chewing,” says Amy Ammen, director of Amiable Dog training, host of “Amiable Dog training with Amy Ammen” on MATA Television in Milwaukee, and author of training in no time and dual ring dog.
Soft latex toys with squeakers or bell inside should be used only when you will be in the same room to supervise. He could shred and swallow the toy, squeaker and all. Also avoid rawhide or other edible chews for now. It’s better if what he swallows is nutritious food.