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Caring for your Puppy

  • Collecting your puppy
  • Arriving home
  • Feeding
  • Exercising
  • Vaccinations and Microchipping
  • Toilet training

Collecting your puppy - A puppy needs to be with its mother until it is eight weeks old (But not shut in with them the bitch must always be able to get away from them). No younger.

Don't forget to collect the blanket that you left on your previous visit, to pick up the scent of the litter.

You will need to take a box or crate with you to hold the puppy securely for the duration of the journey. He will not like the trip. If possible, take somebody with you that the puppy has seen before to ride in the back with him. The puppy will almost certainly empty his bladder and bowels on the way, so line the box with lots of newspaper and take extra.

Only stop in an emergency and to offer the puppy water. The puppy is too young to be let out, so get home as quickly and safely as you can.

Arriving home - Make sure the newspaper in the box is clean and put the box down in the room with you. Drape a blanket or towel over the top to make it more cosy and den-like. Your puppy will be nervous and an open top box will make him feel more vulnerable. Place a bowl of fresh water next to the box. Leave him to come out in his own time. If the room is quiet, put the radio on to a talking station. Silence will only make him more nervous. If you have children with you, give them something to do in the same room, so that the puppy hears them but is not intimidated by them. Do not allow them to interfere with the puppy or the box. It is important to let the puppy digest his new surroundings before taking that giant leap out of the box!

During the first few nights, your puppy will cry. It is important that you are patient and sympathetic. He has never been on his own before and the experience can be frightening. The smelly blanket will help him settle, but you may also want to bury a warm hot water bottle in his bedding so that it feels like the warmth of his mother. Make sure it is securely fastened and not too hot.

Feeding - The breeder will have told you what he/she was feeding the puppies on and how often. It is important to continue with the same pattern. If you want to feed your puppy with different food at different times he must be weaned gradually. A sudden change of diet will cause problems with digestion and an upset stomach.

By the time you collect your puppy, he should be consuming four solid meals a day at regular intervals. The puppies should remain on four small, but adequate, meals a day up to the age of twelve weeks. Thereafter the number of meals can be reduced, and the quantity increased gradually, to three meals a day from 3-6 months, then two meals a day from 6-9 months and eventually one meal a day at 9 months plus. Changes in diet should always be introduced gradually to avoid upsetting the digestive system.

Exercising - Your puppy will spend a lot of time sleeping. During his waking periods, he will be so active that he will need to sleep again very quickly!

Gentle and supervised exercise is recommended for most breeds until they are twelve months old. This allows for their bones to form properly. It is especially important in larger breeds and breeds with bone problems.

Once your puppy has reached twelve months, you can start to increase his daily exercise gradually to that which is recommended for his breed.

Vaccinations - It is recommended that you do not introduce your puppies to the outside world until a week after their twelve-week injection. However, as up until this time is it best to socialise your puppies, they can be introduced to other dogs and animals that you know are healthy. For example, ask your next door neighbour if his dog's vaccinations are up-to-date before you allow your puppy to play. Also, many veterinary clinics can put you in touch with organisers of obedience classes and socialising groups where the other puppies in the class will be in the same position as you.

Your puppy will have been wormed by the breeder at two weeks old and then at two-week intervals. You will need to continue this worming course until your puppy is twelve weeks old. The breeder will be able to give you the remaining course of tablets. Make sure you are clear on when to administer the doses.

While visiting your vet for the final jabs, ask him/her to micro-chip your puppy. Micro-chipping is a very simple procedure whereby the vet inserts a tiny microchip into the back of your puppy's neck via a syringe. Information such as the name of the dog and the owner's name and contact details are stored on the chip, and will aid the safe return of your dog should he be lost or stolen.

Toilet training - The breeder and the puppy's mother would have started toilet training already by encouraging the litter outside after meals and at regular intervals in between. Use common sense when toilet training, if you encourage your puppy to go to the toilet on newspaper, he will always associate newspaper with going to the toilet! Speak to the breeder and follow her routine. If her routine is not practical for you, change it gradually. If you make a sudden change in the toilet routine, it will be like starting from scratch.

Never chastise or punish your puppy for going to the toilet in the wrong place. Unfortunately, I feel it is necessary to point out that you should never rub your puppy's nose in faeces. This can lead to infection, sickness and psychological problems. Instead, when your puppy goes to the toilet in the right place, give him loads of praise and attention.

An obvious sign that a puppy needs to relieve himself is circling in the same place and restlessness.

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