A new puppy can make a fantastic pet. They have their own unique personalities and are famously loyal. If raised properly you’ll have a friend for life, and, more importantly, a new member of the family!
Buying and owning a dog can bring many rewards into your life, but caring for and playing with one can be very time-consuming. If you are not 100% sure that you or your children will be able to give your dog the attention that he needs then please think twice.
Are you prepared?
Is your home suitable for a puppy?
Your puppy needs space to move about, local exercise areas or parks, and secure safe areas for play.
Are you able to spend time playing with your puppy?
If you will be out of the house for long periods of time nearly every day, they may become lonely and mischievous. Dogs need human companionship too.
Can you afford a dog?
Not only do you have to set aside around £30 a month for food etc. There’s also bedding, training aids, flea and worm controls as well as kennel fees to account for throughout the year! Vet’s bills can easily exceed £100 in times of trouble, and even regular health checks and vaccinations soon add up.
Choosing the right breed
Research is the most important thing when deciding to get a puppy or a dog. You should look into their personality traits, mental and physical exercise needs, coat types and needs as well as the type of lifestyle your preferred breed of dog suits best before making a decision.
There are many considerations that should be taken into account before deciding on which breed is best for you.
It is important before you go and buy a puppy to think about the level of activity you are prepared to give your pup and the dog it will become. Some breeds and types of dogs need more exercise than others. You need to consider the level of exercise they require daily, low, moderate, or high levels of activity.
Once you have decided on a breed or crossbreed it is very important to look into that breeds specifics:
• Think about the type of coat the dog may have. Will it shed, will it require a lot of grooming, and will it require professional clipping and/or grooming?
• Find out about the health issues related to the breed you are interested in. For example, is this type of dog prone to skin disease or joint problems?
Puppy’s new home
Your home will seem very strange to your new puppy, so you should allow them time to get to know their new surroundings. There are products such as Adaptil that can help reduce the unease and stress of a new environment. Do remember that although puppies love to play they need a quiet place to retreat to and to sleep, and if they choose to rest be sure to give them peace and quiet to do so.
The House Rules
Your puppy must be taught what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour at home. Teach them what they should do rather than simply telling them off when they get it wrong.
Your home will seem very strange to your new puppy, so you should allow them time to get to know their new surroundings.
If you tell them off, they won’t understand why and could potentially lead to your puppy becoming frightened. It’s better to make a big fuss of them and when they get it right, at Pets Corner we believe positive reinforcement is the key to training your puppy.
Simple house rules:
• No begging at the table or food sharing.
• No barking at or leaping at people.
• Only special dog chews are for chewing, not the slippers or table legs!
Be consistent! The whole family must follow the rules, or the puppy will become confused.
Feeding your Puppy
It is best to feed the same food the puppy is already used to when you first bring them home. Wait until your puppy has settled in before making any changes to their diet, to reduce the risk of stomach upsets. After a few days, you can introduce a new food, gradually mixing an increasing proportion of it into the puppy’s food over a period of 7 days.
Initially, they need 3 or 4 small meals per day of a specific ‘Puppy’ or ‘Biologically Appropriate’ food. These types of foods will have been specially formulated by leading nutritionists to benefit every aspect of your growing puppy. Diets without such modifications can lead to poor bone development, bad teeth and stunted growth!
It is a good idea to time these meals around toilet times – this will make toilet training much easier as they will need to go after they have eaten.
This can then be reduced to fewer meals a day as they get older. By the time they are about 10–12 months old – unless they are a giant breed, which have special requirements – they should be able to move on to an adult diet.
Feeding a high quality food is essential for a growing puppy, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune – feeding a higher quality diet can actually save you money!
See our ‘Truth About Cat and Dog Food’ leaflet for more information or ask a member of staff in store.
Remember to wash and rinse your puppy’s water and food bowls daily.
If you catch your puppy about to chew something they shouldn’t, distract them with a toy, or call them.
Always praise them when they obey and offer them something puppy appropriate to chew on instead.
Although puppies love chewing bones this is not a good idea as it can lead to cut mouths and broken teeth. Fragments of bone can also be swallowed and may cause damage inside them. Give them a nutritious puppy safe chew instead.
A well socialised puppy will be able to cope with all of the situations they are likely to encounter in later life, rather than growing up shy or fearful.
During the early weeks and months, introduce your puppy to a variety of sights, sounds, people and experiences. Let them meet adults and children, the postman and any other visitors, approaching them in their own time. Never force the issue if they are not confident enough as this may make them more fearful.
If you have friends with dogs that have been vaccinated and are good with puppies, let them meet them to help build up their canine social skills.
Meeting other pets
When your puppy has settled in, introduce them to other pets in the house. Keep them on a lead, and never leave them alone together until you’re sure that they’ve accepted each other. You should never leave your puppy alone with small pets such as rabbits, gerbils and hamsters, as he may see them as ‘prey’ to chase.
At Pets Corner we hold our Puppy Hour each week. These sessions are the perfect time for puppies up to 18 weeks old to come along and make new friends, and for their owners to enjoy 10% off all our puppy products.
Our knowledgeable staff will be on hand to help with any advice or questions about your puppy as well as providing the treats!
You should begin your puppy’s training as soon as you bring them home. When they are older it is a great idea to enrol in puppy training classes to learn how to teach them simple commands and obedience.
Play & Exercise
Young puppies generally get all the exercise they need by racing around the garden and playing, but once your puppy is fully vaccinated you can take them for short walks away from home.
This will help to familiarise them with different environments. The age at which ‘real’ exercise should begin varies from breed to breed, as does the amount. You should research your breed of puppy and the amount of exercise required when growing. A good rule of thumb is a ratio of five minutes of exercise per month of age (up to twice a day) until the puppy is fully grown. For example, 15 minutes when three months old, 20 minutes when four months old etc. Once they are fully grown, they can go out for much longer.
Make exercise fun by taking along a ball or a toy, so that you can play games. Be sure to avoid small balls which they could swallow or sticks that could lodge in their throat and injure them.
Playtime is an ideal opportunity to teach your puppy the basic commands you wish to use – but always make it short and enjoyable or your puppy will lose interest very quickly. Make sure you buy toys that are suitable for your puppy’s age and chewing power, some toys are also not suitable for your puppy to use when unattended.
Puppies’ minds need exercise as well as their bodies, so play games that make them think. They will enjoy Hide and Seek, and “retrieve” games. Keeping their minds active will help relieve boredom and destructive behaviour.
Your puppy will have a complete set of sharp teeth – as you will soon find out.
As they start to lose their baby teeth from 12 weeks to 6 months old, they may need toys and teething aids to satisfy their chewing urges. Try to obtain several tough and durable toys designed to be chewed for constant chewing – and hide your shoes and slippers, as pups can’t tell the difference between what they should chew and what they shouldn’t! It’s important to control what your puppy is in contact with for their own safety.
You can also buy special oral gels and feed supplements to give your puppy to help prevent plaque build-up.
Establish a routine. Take them to a particular spot in the garden immediately when they wake up, after playing, first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Puppies go to the toilet approximately every two hours during the day. You should wait with them until they have done what’s required and then praise them vocally.
If accidents occur, you must never shout at them. You should clean anything up at once with water and a bio-enzymatic stain and odour remover, this will remove the smell so that they do not return there. If you see signs that your puppy wants to relieve themselves (e.g. sniffing the floor in a circle) take them to their ‘outside spot’ immediately.
Grooming and Bath time
Always groom your puppy before bathing to remove any tangles, as bathing doesn’t remove them. It can just make them worse!