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I have just got my new puppy.
What do I do now?

As the proud owner of a young puppy you will want to do the best you can for your most recent member of the family. There are many things to consider, such as training, health, exercise, grooming and of course, feeding.

The first year is an extremely important period for a puppy’s behavioural and physical development. Several things influence good, healthy growth, one being diet. Barking Heads are passionate about healthy nutrition, which is so important during the early stages of life and continues to be through to old age.

We have included one of our product guides on our ‘life stage’ products so that you can make considered choices on the food which will best suit your dog at different stages of their life.

Worming

Puppies should have been wormed more than once by the breeder when you collect them. Your vet will advise on any further worming needed. Signs of worms can be, intermittent loose stools, pot belly, poor coat, failure to thrive.

Vaccinations

If you inform your vet of the date you will collect your new puppy and what age it will be, they will tell you when to bring the puppy in for inoculations. There are several vaccines available and some start at different ages and intervals. It is best practice to not have too many visitors before vaccinations and not take the pup out into public places before the course is complete. Limit exercise to your garden until then.

Fleas/Ticks

Most breeders will have treated a puppy for fleas as a precautionary measure before you take it home. Your vet will advise on treatments available as some over the counter products should not be used on young puppies. Signs of fleas are scratching, biting themselves & flea dirt’s. Brush or comb through the puppy’s coat onto a piece of damp tissue. If there are any tiny black specks that spread a red colour out from them onto the tissue, they will be ‘flea dirt’s’. Ticks are round & grey about the size of a pea. They will attach themselves to an animal and fill up with blood then drop off. Places they are often found are face, chest & legs but they will attach anywhere. If you find one, do not attempt to pull off as it could leave the head attached and cause infection. It is best to use a product specifically for ticks.

Upset Tummy

Over feeding, new or unusual food, stress, incorrect diet & some infectious diseases can all cause diarrhoea. If the puppy seems happy and not ill it could be one of the less worrying things. If the puppy is unhappy, listless, vomiting or has blood in their poo then it could be serious and you should take them to your vet immediately.

Teething

Milk teeth develop around 3 - 4 weeks old and your puppy will have 28 in total. They start to fall out & new ones come in between 12 weeks & 20 weeks. During this period puppies can seem ‘off colour’ & become quiet. Sometimes they can go off their food. They will chew more to relieve the discomfort. It can help to give them special teething toys. Some can be put in the freezer first to cool sore gums. Your puppy will develop 42 adult teeth.

Wees & Poos

Housetraining can be easy if your family are consistent and develop a routine. Puppies will always wee when they wake, after eating and often during playtime. They have tiny bladders and need to urinate frequently. By placing puppy in the area you want it to ‘go’ at these key times and praising enthusiastically after they have performed, your puppy will soon understand what is expected. They almost always poo after particular mealtimes, you can note these times so you are ready to take the puppy outside. Praise and persistence will always help the housetraining process. It is probably best to not let puppy have free run of the house during this house training time. It would be difficult to keep watch and puppy wouldn’t learn as quickly.

The majority of puppies will have started to be clean for most of the day and partially at night by the time they are approximately four months old. By six months old, one can expect a puppy to be 99% clean with only the occasional accident. Every puppy is an individual, some will be clean by four months, others may take a little longer, maybe six or seven months. Be patient and consistent with training, they all get there eventually. When cleaning any accidents it is best to use a product specially made for this as they get rid of bacteria that causes smell and don’t just ‘mask’ any smell. If there is even the tiniest residue left a puppy will return to that spot.

Out and about

Often positive housetraining results coincide with increasing exercise, in the form of ‘walkies’. A puppy needs to have been fully inoculated before going out of your home environment or for walks. Your vet will tell you when, after completion of vaccinations it will be safe to do so.

First walks should be very short and gentle. Young animals cannot be expected to walk as far as adult dogs. As the puppy gets older the length of walks can increase, but very gradually. Muscles & bones are developing and should not be strained at a young age. Breed or type of puppy will be a consideration in the exercise taken. It is always best to ask for advice on this aspect from your puppy’s breeder. Remember in hot weather care must be taken not to overdo any exercise or play. The length and type of walk should be reflective of the age, size and physical ability of the dog.

At Home

Your puppy will need to have somewhere quiet of their own to rest. Young animals tire very quickly and have short, frequent amounts of activity but require as many resting periods to ‘recharge’. Children should be asked to not pick up the puppy too much or disturb the puppy whilst resting. Some people use a dog crate in a less busy area of the house as the puppies sleeping area and also for night time or if you have to leave the puppy for a short period. You know the puppy is safe there. It has to be a place the puppy likes to be so they will need to be introduced to the crate gradually using treats and toys also staying with them for the first few times whilst the door is closed. Close the door only for a few minutes on the first occasions they will then associate the crate as a pleasant place to be. Plenty of praise is important when the puppy is being calm & quiet in there. Don’t forget a puppy should have access to drinking water at all times. Non spill or screw on bowls for the side of the cage are suitable.

Always be in attendance if your puppy is free in an area where there are possible dangers. Examples;

  • Garden; Many plants & bulbs are poisonous. Sharp tools. Ponds.
  • Living rooms; Exposed electrical wires. Children’s toys
  • Bathroom & Kitchen; Cleaning materials. Cosmetics.
  • Anywhere they could eat or chew something or things could fall on them.
  • Take care with other animals that are not yet used to the puppy. A cat can seriously hurt a puppy!

Training (being good & looking good)

Training is an essential part of dog ownership. Puppies must be taught to behave properly around people & other dogs. Basic commands such as sit, stay and recall also walking calmly whilst on lead and allowing themselves to be groomed need to be learnt.

All puppies need time to learn what we expect of them so patience and being consistent is necessary. Be gentle but firm and let them know what is not acceptable. Do not expect too much in early days and do not try to teach too many things all at once. Positive training is the only form of training to use. Rewards can be started very early along with praise.

Socialisation is extremely important and should begin as soon as the puppy is safe to go out and about after their vaccinations. Adults, children, other animals should all be introduced, but in small numbers on different days so as not to overwhelm your puppy. Cars, roads and noisy places can also be introduced gradually. Build your puppy’s confidence and awareness gently over a period of time.

Puppy socialisation or training classes are often advertised at the vets surgery or the Kennel Club have details of clubs which run these classes also that participate in the Kennel Club ‘Good Citizen’ scheme. The Kennel Club can be contacted by telephone or their web site has details. A well socialised dog is a happy dog and a joy to own.

Grooming will differ with each Breed. Ask your puppy’s breeder for specific advice. It is a good idea to spend a few minutes every day grooming, making a relaxed and enjoyable time for both you and the puppy, it will get the puppy used to being handled and examined when needed, perhaps by a vet. During grooming check paws, ears and eyes for any foreign bodies or injuries.

An ungroomed dog should never be bathed as it will matt the coat. It is advisable to plug ears with cotton wool to stop water entering. Always rinse well after shampoo.

Tip for bathing; Leave the head until last, a wet head makes the dog shake!

Good nutrition is so important, it even works while your dog sleeps