Puppy Care at Home
So you have a new puppy, or perhaps you're wondering what's involved before you take the plunge!
The following outlines the 4 key things to consider for a new pup followed by some of the main responsibilities involved in giving your puppy the best start to life.
Your puppy requires a 6 week, 10 week and 14-16 week vaccination. This is to protect them against fatal viral infections.
This is the only permanent identification which links your puppy to you. It is required before registering with the council.
Performed between 6-12 months of age. This will help prevent unwanted behaviours such as roaming, urine marking, inter-dog aggression, mounting etc. It will also prevent health problems such as breast cancer, infected uterus, prostate enlargement, testicular cancer etc.
If you let a female go through her first heat– you will increase her risk of breast cancer by nearly 20%.
4. PARASITE CONTROL
There are 3 parasites you need to protect your puppy against in Melbourne:
INTESTINAL WORMS: Also common. Life-threatening in high burdens and young puppies.
Worming every 2 weeks until 3 months old, then monthly until 6 months old, then every 3 months for life.
HEARTWORM: Least common but most life-threatening. Will cause heart failure and many animals don’t survive the treatment. Requires a yearly injection or in some monthly products.
FLEAS: Most common parasite in Melbourne.
Many animals that come to us have fleas- most of the time the owner is unaware.
Burdens are difficult to eradicate. Each flea can lay up to 300 eggs and each egg can survive for up to 6 months. Requires a monthly tablet (i.e. Nexgard spectra or Bravecto) or “squeeze- on” (i.e. Advocate or Bravecto).
IMPORTANT RECOMMENDATIONS, TIPS & HINTS
We strongly recommend pet insurance as: 75% of insured owners make a claim within the first 2 years AND 1/3 of all pets require costly emergency trip each year.
Small/medium breeds should be fed puppy food until 12 months of age.
Larger breeds should be fed puppy food until 12-15months of age.
Giant breeds should be fed puppy food until 1.5-2yrs of age.
What should I feed my puppy?
Initially we recommend a fully balanced commercial dry and wet puppy food.
When they reach 6-12 months you can offer a variety of foods as long as the daily calorie intake is approximately the same (i.e. reduce the dry food if offering boiled chicken and rice etc). Feed a good quality “complete and balanced” puppy dry food. We recommend Royal Canin or Hills Science.
Feed x3 meals per day until your puppy reaches 4 months of age, then reduce to twice daily.
DO NOT FEED
• Onions and garlic
• Chocolate products
• Coffee products
• Sugar-free products (gum, ice cream etc)
• Compost items (pips- avocado, stone fruit) and corn cobs etc.
• Fatty food (sausages, pork chops, bbq products)
• Cooked and raw bones
• Raw meat (introduces pathogenic bacteria and parasites into the household).
DO NOT ALLOW ACCESS TO rat sack, antifreeze, cleaning chemicals, garbage, medications.
MENTAL & PHYSICAL STIMULATION
Dogs are high maintenance and they require lots of physical and mental stimulation.
Your puppy is a born chewer! This behaviour needs to be redirected towards toys.
• Food Toys: Feed entire meals out of food toys, this will enrich your dog's environment and help to make him less destructive. We recommend Kong chew toys and Kong Wobblers as providing great entertainment.
• Play Toys: Must be durable with no choking hazards.
• Edible Toys: Vegetable-based chews are safer from bacterial contamination and choking hazards. Eg: Veggie pig’s ears, Greenie’s and Kazoo chews.
WALKS/ RUNNING OFF LEAD
Daily walks at walking pace with lots of time to stop and sniff.
Off lead running is very important as it is the best way to expend energy
• Always allow plenty of time to play with your puppy.
• Throwing the ball
• “Kibble hunting”- throwing kibble in the grass in the back yard and watching your puppy hunt it down
• ’Hide + seek’: sit your puppy in one room (may need someone to hold the collar) whilst you hide in another room. Then let your puppy use its nose and talent to track you down!
• Avoid or stop play that creates an over excited state of nipping and biting.
Gently get your puppy used to having their paws touched, mouth handled, exposure to water and being brushed. Handling your puppy early allows them to enjoy this process. You never know when you're gong to have to regularly bath your puppy or brush its teeth!
The best form of mental stimulation!
Basic tricks such as sit, stay, leave, shake hands can all be started before puppy school & should involve lots of positive reinforcement if your puppy does the right thing.
This involves patience - do not get frustrated if your puppy doesn’t sit within 5 minutes.
Once they have mastered the basics, why not try more exciting training such as “clicker training”.
Puppies require frequent positive and long term interaction and exposure to greater world experiences in order to become well-rounded adults.
Home and family: Dogs are social animals thus the most important form of socialisation is family. Puppies should be part of the family and be around the family as much as possible, but must also learn to spend time by themselves.
Other dogs: Early socialisation with friends’ dogs (who are fully vaccinated) is an excellent playdate from the second vaccination. After this they can attend puppy school, doggy day care and mix with friends, family and neighbours dogs.
After the third vaccination they can socialise at the local park, be taken on errands around town etc.
Can I take my puppy out before his vaccinations are complete?
It is vital to have a balanced approach to socialisation and disease prevention by providing your puppy with real-world experiences safely.
• Take your puppy for car rides so he can see, hear and smell the world.
• Take your puppy to friends houses and invite friends to your home to meet the puppy.
• Attend a reputable puppy school.
• Sit in your driveway or front yard with your puppy so he can watch the world.
• Find as many healthy, calm older dogs for your puppy to meet as possible.
• Positive experiences with dogs, people and objects must continue for the first three years of life.
BASIC TRAINING Before puppy school, there are some behaviours you want to control early.
This can take up to 4 months of age for your puppy to get it right- patience, consistency and lots of praise are key.
1. Initially keep your puppy in a confined area that is easy to clean (i.e. laundry, bathroom, kitchen), preferably near the back door. During the day keep your puppy within eyesight as much as possible (if they’re not within eyesight, they can’t be trained).
2. Take your puppy out every 2 hours initially to the grass, especially after meals or drinking.
3. When they go to the toilet in the right area give lots of praise and treats.
4. When inside, watch for suspicious sniffing in corners - take them quickly outside.
5. Try not to give negative reinforcement initially. If your puppy does toilet inside, it's ok to provide mild corrective reinforcement if you catch them in the act, this involves a clap of the hands and a “NO” whilst they are squatting, followed by quick transition outdoors with praise and treats so your puppy understands this is where they are supposed to go.
6. If you are too late and see your puppy walking away from their “business”, just clean it up and continue to monitor. DON’T scold your puppy or rub their noses in it, they won’t understand why they are being punished.
Your puppy lacks impulse control and can easily become carried away with play by mouthing/biting your hands. Puppies explore their world through their mouths.
1. If you play with your hand, you can't punish your puppy for biting your hands- they have nothing else to play with!!!
2. Always redirect their biting to a toy or rope. Make sure you play with a toy so they learn to grab the toy and not human skin.
3. If your puppy does mouth or bites your hands- gently say “NO” or "OUCH" and encourage play with a toy.
4. If your puppy continues to mouth and bite your hands, follow the second rule: Stop play and walk away.
5. If they become an "ankle biter" and follow you around, follow the “Teeth = timeout” rule. Place them in a “timeout” room like the laundry with no toys for 3 minutes until they calm down.
4. Be patient and consistent.
The most common reason for a family surrendering their dog to the pound is bad behaviour.
Starting puppy school early to start the socialising and training process very important.
Learning does not finish with puppy school, continue training and socialisation with your dog to give them the best chance to thrive. Your puppy’s happiness depends on it.
We recommend The Kintala Club.
IVANHOE EAST VETERINARY HOSPITAL - OPEN 7 DAYS - Ph: 9497 3003 Address: 257 Lower Heidelberg Road, IVANHOE EAST, 3079.