Welcoming a furry bundle of joy in to your home is an exciting time for both you and your new puppy. This is also a very important time for your puppy. You want to make sure that your new family member lives a long, healthy life. This means that you have to make sure they get the right start!
Introducing your puppy into your home
Your pup may be scared and nervous when you first bring him or her home. Most of the time, this is the first time that they have been away from their mom and their siblings. Many things will be new and different which may make them apprehensive and quiet. You need to give the puppy some time to settle in. Let them explore your house and garden without having too much other stimulation. Try and avoid a lot of loud noises and other interference at the start. If you have other pets, introduce the puppy to each one on its own and make sure you watch them closely so you can stop any problems between them if there are any. Once they have settled in and seem more confident in their surroundings you can introduce more stimuli.
Make sure you have a comfortable, warm space for your puppy to sleep. They must feel secure and be out of the way of household traffic. Remember, the puppy will be missing his family and may cry for the first few nights. A warm water bottle and a ticking clock rolled up in a thin blanket can help to soothe the puppy as it simulates heat and heartbeat. Make sure the puppy is not able to chew through the water bottle easily and that the water is not too hot. You can also try a furry blanket or teddy bear to help puppy settle in. If you choose to have your puppy sleep on your bed or in your bedroom, just realise that this will become habit and when puppy becomes a bigger dog, they won’t want to sleep elsewhere.
If your puppy is not going to be indoors all day, ensure that there is a sheltered area which is comfortable for him or her to rest in during the day. They should be able to avoid rain and wind and have a shaded area to avoid excess sun exposure. They should always have water available to drink.
Choosing a good diet for your puppy
Not all puppies are the same. While all puppies need a balanced and complete diet which is designed to help them grow and develop, different breeds have different needs. It is important to ensure your puppy gets the right vitamins, minerals and other nutritional requirements to grow up strong and healthy. Speak to our vets about the best diet for your puppy. A good brand of dog food will not usually require any additives or supplements. If you are changing over to a different brand from the breeder or from one brand to another for some reason, you need to transition slowly. Start with a ¼ of the meal as the new food on the first day, ½ on the second day, ¾ on the 3rd day and fully transition to the new brand on the 4th day. If the changes are done suddenly, puppies can often end up with diarrhoea.
Puppies need to be fed a lot more often during the day than adult dogs. They usually only eat small amounts at a time, but they eat more frequently. Start with 4 meals per day. When puppy grows, you can change to three times a day and then to twice a day for adult dogs.
Having fun with your new puppy
Puppies love to chew. It is important to provide a variety of chew toys or they may end up chewing things they are not supposed to. Puppies are bundles of energy and enjoy toys such as balls to chase and rope toys to play tug-o-war and just to chew on. Other toys such as treat balls stimulate your puppy to find ways to get the treats out the toys. Toys should be good quality and should not contain pieces that can easily be broken off and swallowed. Once toys do start to break down or disintegrate, you should discard them. You will be your pet’s favourite to have fun with. Interactive games, going for walks, puppy training and just spending time with your puppy will be fun for them too.
House Training for puppies
No one enjoys having puppy messes all over the house. It won’t be an instantaneous process for your puppy to learn where to go do his business and it will mean a lot of patience and repetition from your side. Puppies need bathroom breaks every 3 to 4 hours, so it is important that you take them to the area where they are meant to eliminate every few hours at the start. There will be some accidents after they get the hang of it, but don’t despair. Just keep taking them regularly to where they need to go, especially when they first wake up and after they have been eating and drinking. Remember to praise them for doing their business in the correct place. Positive reinforcement works best. You don’t have to be overly effusive and don’t give treats for this, but a pat on the head and a “good boy or girl” works well. You don’t want to use negative reinforcement as they won’t understand it at this age and may just become scared of you instead.
Socialising your puppy
It is good to start socialising your puppy from around 6 to 16 weeks. This is also the perfect time to start teaching basic commands. Expose them to other dogs and people and let them enjoy a variety of new experiences. Take them for a car ride, a walk on the beach or other places that are pet friendly. Puppy training classes are also great at this time as the puppy gets to meet other dogs of a similar age and can learn how to walk on the lead and to respond to basic commands. Your puppy will learn about manners around other dogs and people in a safe environment. Just make sure your puppy has had all the necessary vaccinations for the safety of all the pups.
Microchipping and registration
You can have your vet assist with microchipping to help identify your puppy should it get out of your yard. The microchip is placed under the skin and can be read by a scanner. The numbers on the microchip links back to your details. Keep them up to date if you move or change phone numbers. You will also need to register your puppy at the local council. They will provide you with a council dog tag which can also help to identify your dog. Add a personalised tag with your name and number on it so that your pup can get home sooner if he gets lost.
Vaccinations and Healthcare
There are some diseases your puppy can contract that can be fatal even if treated. It is important that your puppy gets vaccinated at 6 to 8 weeks old for the first time with another vaccination at 10 weeks. We do offer early finish vaccines, which means it is safe to take your pup out in public after the 2nd vaccine. Remember to do follow up vaccines every year to keep your dog protected. If your pup behaves different to usual, isn’t eating well, seems listless or lethargic or shows any behaviour that is usual or concerning, make sure you contact use for a consult as soon as possible. The sooner a puppy is treated, the better the chances are for a recovery.
Desexing your puppy
Desexing should be planned for when your puppy is around 6 months old. Desexing helps prevent unwanted puppies. It also stops females from coming in to heat, attracting unwanted attention and causing messes in the home. Desexing also helps reduce the risk of mammary cancer and uterine infections in females as well as prostate cancer in male dogs. Desexing or neutering also helps reduce aggression, marking behaviours and roaming. Discuss the process with us and we can advise based on the gender and size of the dog and if they are currently in heat or not.
Looking after your puppy’s teeth and gums
Gum disease is very common in older dogs (four years and up) and it can lead to tooth damage or loss and even affect other organs. Start early prevention in your puppy by feeding them a well-balanced diet and giving dental bones or raw bones once a week. Your dog should have his teeth checked at least once a year and his teeth should be given a good brushing at the same time. Your vet can advise on gum related issues, tooth decay and so forth if needed to keep your dog in good health. You can also brush your puppy’s teeth yourself with a special dog toothbrush and toothpaste (do not use human toothpaste for them) once a week so they get used to it.
Heartworm is an infestation of worms which lodge in the heart and absorb their nutrients from the blood in this area. They are long and thin and can be up to 30cm long. Heartworm is contracted from mosquito bites and should be prevented before they become a problem. Heartworm prevention can be started from 12 weeks onwards. Speak to us about annual injections and other products to assist in preventing heart worm in your puppy.
You may notice your puppy has a bloated belly and may have difficulty passing stools. You may even see the worms. Whether or not there are actual signs of worms, your puppy should still be dewormed regularly as some worms can be very tiny and impossible to see. Puppies should be dewormed regularly, every 2 weeks until 12 weeks old and once a month until they are 6 months old. Thereafter, at least every 3 months you should deworm all your dogs.
Fleas are a common pest and most pets will be exposed to them at some stage. You want to ensure that they don’t develop an infestation which can also start an infection cycle on your property. The best way to combat fleas is by prevention. There are a number of different methods to prevent fleas and ticks from making themselves at home on your puppy. Speak to us about a suitable treatment for your puppy.
Looking after your puppy’s coat
Brush your puppy daily with a dog brush. This is especially important if your puppy has long hair. This is also a good way to bond with your puppy while helping remove loose hair and stimulate the skin. Give your dog a bath when needed with a good quality dog shampoo. Don’t use human shampoo for your pets. You can also try a hydro-bath to keep them clean and happy. Speak to us about how we can assist in this regard.
Taking care of puppy’s ears
Ear problems shouldn’t be left to sort themselves out as they will generally get worse. Healthy ears should be dry and clean. If your puppy is shaking his head a lot, scratching his ears, there is a discharge coming out the ears or the area smells bad or you notice he is holding his head tilted to one side, he might have an ear issue. Get this checked out as soon as possible.
Make sure that you only given medication to your puppy that was prescribed by the vet. Follow the instructions and check with the vet if you are not sure. Never given medication that was not prescribed as even seemingly harmless medication such as aspirin can be fatal if given incorrectly. Pets that are ill, on medication or suffering from chronic diseases can be permanently harmed by given them incorrect medication or the wrong dose.