Getting a puppy!

It is an exciting time when you decide to get a new puppy! Everyone has their own ideas about what you should get! However, spend a little time planning for the event and you may avoid future problems or even heartache.

Choosing the breed

It is an exciting time when you decide to get a new puppy! Everyone has their own ideas about what you should get! However, spend a little time planning for the event and you may avoid future problems or even heartache.

Picking a puppy

It is a good idea to visit the litter and meet the bitch or even both parents. This will give you an idea of their temperament. Ideally the puppies will have grown up in a situation which allows plenty of socialisation. If you have children at home, it is helpful if your puppy has been socialised with children from a young age. You want a puppy to be active, friendly, bright eyed and with a healthy coat. Although the ‘runt’ of a litter may pull at your heart strings, remember that it may be smaller and less thrifty for a reason.

Veterinary Check

It is important to have your puppy checked over by a vet as soon as you get it. If you leave this for a week, you will have become emotionally to your puppy, and it can be devastating to learn that your beloved pet has a congenital heart defect that will severely shorten their life; or a hernia or skeletal deformity means it would be inadvisable to breed from your dog when you were hoping to (and possibly paid a premium for a well-bred animal). Eyes, ears and coat should also be checked.

Feeding

Find out what the breeder has been feeding the puppies, and continue with this for a few days after you take the puppy home. All change is stressful and your puppy will be coping with a new environment, people and routine so keep feeding as a constant until your puppy is settled. You can then gradually introduce a different diet if you want. Take the manufacturer's recommended amount as a guide, which you can adjust accordingly to how your puppy is growing, feel for fat cover rather than weight. Initially, because puppies' stomachs are small, you will have to feed frequently (about 4 times a day.

Worming

Assume that all puppies get infected with roundworms from their mother. Larvae that have been inhibited within an adult dog become re-activated by pregnancy and lactation and pass to the puppies developing in the uterus and also through the milk. It is therefore important to worm all puppies, usually every 2 weeks until they are 12 weeks old, then 3 monthly. This is vital where there are young children in a household, who will not be aware of needing to wash hands before touching mouths.

Vaccinations

Puppies need an initial course of 2 injections, 2-4 weeks apart, the second of which must be at 10 weeks of age or older. This provides protection against several potentially fatal diseases: Distemper, Canine Infectious Hepatitis, Parvo and Leptospirosis.

Socialisation

This is very important in order to equip your puppy with the ‘frightening’ things it will meet in its life. The important period for introducing experiences to your puppy is its first 16 weeks of life, especially the first 12 weeks. Now that modern vaccination can be completed by 10 weeks of age, you will have time to take your puppy out and about at a young age. However, even before this you can provide plenty of experience of different people (esp. big men and little children), bikes, wheelie bins, hoovers, car travel, bangs, noisy toys etc. You can also carry or hold your puppy on your lap close to noisy traffic. This takes a bit of time and dedication on your part, but has long-lasting benefits for you and your dog.

Exercise

All dogs need regular exercise which is part of your commitment as an owner. However, over-exercising puppies while their skeleton is still growing can contribute to developmental problems, such as hip dysphasia, elbow dysphasia etc. This is especially so with larger breeds such as Labrador, Retrievers and ‘Giant’ breeds, where it is advisable to restrict exercise to one or two sessions of 10 minutes a day until at least 12 months of age, older with giant breeds.

FUN!

Puppies are very good at this, with or without your help! You can incorporate some early training into play sessions (“sit”, “stay”, “leave”). This may be all the exercise a young puppy needs. They will tire quickly so don’t be surprised if your puppy decides it is time for a nap during a play session.

“Potty Training”

Puppies need to pee often. Take your puppy outside, to the place you want them to toilet, every hour. Give them a command that you want them to associate toileting with. If they perform, give them a treat and praise them. If they don’t just take them inside and repeat again in an short time. If your puppy has an accident inside, do not punish them, it is your fault for not recognising the signs or taking them outside frequently enough. Using newspapers may restrict the area they toilet in but may not encourage then to ask to go out. By far the most helpful thing for ‘toilet training’ is the use of a house cage. Your puppy will rarely toilet in their own ‘home’ space and the cage is wonderful for preventing aberrant chewing and training your puppy to have ‘quiet’ times alone. Chew toys that can be stuffed with their food are also very useful when leaving them alone.

Puppy and Training Classes

These are very useful as soon a puppies are protected by vaccination. “Sit” and “Stay” are so important for pets’ safety. Also teaching puppies to sit, not to go through a door/until commanded can help to keep your pets safe. “Walking to heel”` and “Come” training involves a lot of time and input but the reward is a lifetime of relaxed walking, without pulling you along, as well as playing off the lead, safe in the knowledge that your pet will come when called.

Insurance

Puppies that are registered with the Kennel Club usually have 6 weeks free healthcare insurance. Thereafter, it is worth considering taking out Pet Insurance to cover for health problems. Death and third party liability. There is such variation in provision and exemptions that it is very important to read details of the cover provided before choosing an insurance policy. The following leaflet explains more about the benefits of pet insurance.

http://www.deveronvets.co.uk/images/benefits_of_pet_insurance.pdf

All in all, taking on a new puppy is a big commitment in time and patience. However, if you are prepared to put the work in, you will be rewarded with a well-behaved, social friend for life.