A new puppy is an exciting time for any household and he or she is certain to turn life upside down for a few weeks! The decision to live with a dog is not one to enter into lightly and we are sure you will have considered it for some time. Regardless of the breed of dog from Great Danes to Chihuahuas, they will all have some basic requirements especially with respect to the amount of time and attention you can devote to them. Most dogs will require two good walks a day of approximately one hour and will need two good meals a day.
Meet the Parents
When looking for a new puppy I would advise that you meet the bitch and if possible the dog. There are many respectable breeders especially in the Kennel club but do take care, buying a pedigree dog from a registered breeder is absolutely no guarantee of health or temperament. The best places to find a puppy or an adult dog include reputable breeders, individual pet owners or rescue centres. Rescue homes such as Battersea Dogs Home, The Dogs Trust and RSPCA may have the perfect dog for you. There are usually stringent rules put in place by the re-homing centre over where their dogs can go. Although many of these dogs are no longer puppies there are great dogs of all shapes and sizes in desperate need of a loving home which might make a perfect addition to your family. Be careful not too purchase a puppy from a puppy farm - a reluctance to show the mother and meeting away from the usual home can be warning signs. To decide on which dog you want read about their characteristics and needs, talk to local dog walkers and contact the breed society.
We are happy to do a free initial puppy check at whatever age you get your puppy. We will give him or her a good examination and make sure that they are healthy. At the same time, we can discuss any aspect of their health, from nutrition to neutering, vaccinations and parasites to play time!
The first few days
Before your puppy arrives make sure you remove anything that could be dangerous such as chocolate, escape routes or electrical flexes. Introducing the puppy to young children or established pets should be done under supervision - make sure your current dog does not feel left out and try to ensure the pecking order is not disrupted.
Puppy pads or newspaper should be spread over the floor around the bed to prevent accidents and it may be an idea to confine your puppy to a specific area during house-training. This bedded area should be somewhere quiet to allow undisturbed sleep.
The bed should be out of draughts and lined with blanket for them to snuggle into. It is best not to go to them every time they make a noise, as if you comfort them they will continue to demand attention. Toys are useful to keep your puppy occupied. Puppies should not be left for long periods but gradually lengthening the time they are left alone over several weeks will help them adapt to this.
We suggest walks which last 5 minutes for every month of life (up to twice daily) for the amount of walking time a puppy should have. For large breed dogs this should be limited to once daily to reduce the stress on their joints. This translates to:
3 months old - 15 mins (once or twice daily)
4 months old - 20 mins (once or twice daily)
5 months old - 25 mins (once or twice daily)
6 months old - 30 mins (once or twice daily)
Once most of the growing has been completed (usually around 9-12 months) the exercise can be unrestricted. Again large or giant breed dogs might want to wait till they are 12-16 months as their growth plates take longer to fuse.
It is a good idea to get the fundamentals of nutrition correct at this early stage. Feeding a good quality puppy food such as Royal Canin Puppy or Hills Science Plan provides all the nutrients your puppy needs and will help to improve skin condition, immunity and gastrointestinal health. Most puppies will be on 3 meals a day from 3 to 6 months old. Larger and giant breed dogs should have a food specific to their breed, to ensure they grow at an optimum rate.
Initially it is best to feed your puppy the same diet that it was fed at the breeder. If you want to change its diet, do so gradually over a period of about 7 days. It is unlikely that you will over feed a puppy, but from the age of about 6 months you should start paying close attention to the amount of food fed, as well as your puppy’s condition, in order to prevent obesity. The side of the dog food should contain instructions on the amount to feed.
The most important time to train your puppy is from 8-16 weeks old when he or she is learning how to behave and interact with people. After this it can be done but becomes harder. Dogs learn by associating cause and effect and this principle can be used to train them. If a dog does something and enjoys the experience they will want to repeat it, so praising or rewarding them when they do something positive is a good idea.
Pups should be taken outside after meals and periods of sleep to urinate or defecate. They should be praised if they do. If after 20 minutes they haven’t, take them back indoors. If they start to urinate or defecate indoors, startle the pup to stop the elimination and then take them outdoors again. In no case should the pup be physically punished after the act of eliminating inside the house, since this will only teach the pup to be fearful.
If you have any specific questions, please pop in to chat with either our vets or attend one of our nurse clinics. The Dogs Trust also have lots of training videos on youtube.
Puppies don’t have a set amount of baths they need and similarly ears sometimes need regular cleaning or not at all. As a rule puppies shouldn’t be bathed more than once a week as this will remove natural oils from their skin. Washing them only when dirty is fine or a bath every couple of weeks is fine also. Ears should be cleaned if they appear waxy - if they are sore or red a trip to the vet is needed as they are likely to be infected. Similarly if your dog is prone to ear problems then cleaning twice weekly and after swimming is a good idea.
We are also always happy to hear from anyone considering getting a new puppy or dog for any aspect of advice.
Pet healthcare insurance is now commonplace. It can offer you protection against veterinary fees for illness or accident, cover for boarding kennel fees if you have to go into hospital, accidental damage and third party liability. Fractured bones and long term illnesses can run into costs of thousands of pounds. When choosing a plan we advise a life cover policy. If your pet falls ill with an ongoing affliction life cover will cover your pet for the whole term of affliction, rather than a year long policy.
Some insurance companies amongst others – Pet Plan, Direct Line, Argos, Tescos, Agria and others.