By Dr. Alexis Sage, Mobile Equine & Housecall Service
Yippee, Santa brought us a puppy! Now what?!
Nothing is cuter, softer, friendlier and more fun than a new puppy. But if you don’t know how to train,
feed and housebreak said puppy, nothing can be more frustrating!
So, if you didn’t do your research before the pup arrived, here are some tips to make your experience with your newest family member pleasant for all involved.
Remember that you need to be a strong leader for your pup at all times. You can provide love and security while gently teaching your dog how to live by the rules of your household.
It is important to take your dog to the veterinarian within the first few days after its arrival. Your vet will perform a thorough examination to look for any abnormalities and a fecal exam to test for intestinal parasites. If the dog came from a breeder, you will need to notify them if a problem is found as they may replace an unhealthy pup with a healthy one. Ask questions on this first visit, including advice on feeding and general healthcare and make sure that you follow the vaccination protocol which usually means vaccinations given every 3 weeks until 14-16 weeks of age. You will also start the pup on appropriate heartworm and flea medications.
Puppies need to be fed a good quality puppy food for the first year. Giant breeds should stay on it for up to 2 years. It is a good idea to keep the pup on the same food it was eating before you got it and gradually change to the one you choose over a 7-10 day period. Do this by mixing 25% new food with 75% old food for 3 days, then 50% each for 3 days, and so on. If the puppy vomits or has loose stool during this time, slow the rate of change. Do not feed table scraps! Our nutritional needs are different from those of our dogs and some foods are actually quite harmful to them. Also, feeding from the table will enforce the habit of begging.
Dogs less than 6 months should be fed three times a day. Try to feed on a set schedule each day, provide plenty of fresh water, and allow an hour or so of quiet time after eating with no rough playing. After 6 months, you can feed twice a day.
Housebreaking can be easy if you are diligent and follow a few simple rules. Take the puppy out first thing in the morning, 20 minutes after eating, last thing before bedtime, after naps and playtime and as many other times during the day as possible. Take the pup to the same place every day that feels safe and smells familiar. After he voids, reward him with verbal approval and/or a treat. Do not punish him if he has an accident in the house but calmly take him outside to the place where you want him to go.
Crating your puppy is a very acceptable means of training and makes is easier to supervise while not giving full access to the entire house. Also, dogs have a natural tendency not to soil their den or sleeping area so housebreaking may occur faster if crated. Do not force the pup into the crate but gently urge them in by putting treats or their food in the back of the crate. Keep the crate near you when the pup is in it and put in the bedroom or hallway at night so you can hear him whine if he needs to go outside.
Young puppies cannot hold their urine for 8-10 hours a day so if you plan to be away from home for that length of time, consider keeping him in an exercise pen or small bathroom where you can keep water, treats and pee pads. Do this until the pup can hold his bladder and bowels, which usually means his age in months plus one. If the puppy is forced to urinate and defecate in his crate, training will be harder for both of you.
Lastly, socialize your puppy after it has been fully vaccinated. Provide safe toys and encourage him to play with them rather than chewing on your fingers. Now enjoy!
You can find Mobile Equine & Housecall Services at:
Small animal services :
Routine health care including physical examinations, vaccinations, heartworm and fecal testing, bloodwork, sale of prescription heartworm and flea products and in-home euthanasia.
Equine services include:
Physical exams, pre-purchase exams, lameness exams, dentistry, reproductive services, field surgeries.