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Caring for a new puppy

Caring for a new puppy-Get ready for the fun.. You’ve found the puppy of your dreams, transported him safely home, now you need to get to grips with the immediate realities of caring for a new puppy: 
  • Where is my new puppy going to sleep?
  • What am I going to feed my new puppy? 
  • What essential items do I need for my new puppy? 

These are the essentials of new puppy care. Your puppy has got a lot to learn in a very short period of time. Our job as dog owners is to make the learning process as easy as possible. So let’s start with: 
Where is my new puppy going to sleep? For all of its very short life your puppy has snuggled up to its canine family every night. Secure, and safe in a world that usually isn’t larger than the playpen that has confined her for the past 8 weeks or so. Now she’s in the wider world, her family are no longer around. At bedtime it’s guaranteed that she’s going to be feeling pretty anxious about things. 

Hopefully, your chosen breeder was wise enough to have provided you with a blanket that was imprinted with the scent of her canine family to help her overcome the early days of separation. If that’s the case, use it as her first bed. If not use a blanket or old quilt as her first bed. 

Place it in a secure box, pen or crate. Line the area with a couple of layers of lino or polythene, and cover that with several sheets of newspaper. Where this is located is your decision, but if you want to reassure your puppy, and speed up the bonding process, place it in your bedroom. 

Why the bedroom? Just the nearness of you, your comforting smell, and being able to see you, will reassure your puppy. It will also help in the socialisation of your new pet. Dogs are social animals. That means that they need company; to interact with you, and with your family and friends. 

Sharing your sleeping quarters for a few nights can help your puppy get over these first few scary nights. If you plan for your pup to sleep elsewhere in the longer term, simply make the move after a week or so. A better method, which your pup will hardly notice, is to gradually move her complete bedding to its final location on a daily basis. 
What am I going to feed my new puppy? Your puppy’s mother should have commenced weaning the litter from her own milk at around 4 weeks of age. The breeder would have overseen this natural process, and then given the litter their first lessons in lapping milk from a saucer. The breeder would have begun feeding them 2 very small meals per day, escalating to around 5 meals per day at seven weeks of age. This might sound a lot, but it is far better to feed little and often as a puppies' digestion can easily be upset. At 8 weeks of age the mother has ceased to secrete milk, and the puppies are fully weaned. 

This is where you enter the picture. It is imperative that the breeder of your puppy informs you how many meals per day your puppy has been receiving, and in what quantity. She should also give you at least a few day’s supply of that food. If you decide to change to another food, do it very gradually. At this early stage you should make a decision about your dog’s future diet. This page on Dog Feeding should help you to decide.

At 3 months of age you can cut out one meal per day, and at 4 months three meals per day should be sufficient. You can still give your puppy milk; goat’s milk being the nearest consistency to a dogs. Cod liver oil is a good supplement. 

Your puppy is going to need plenty of good, fresh, nourishing food- but don’t overload her. Make sure that food bowls are kept scrupulously clean. Left-over food should never be given the next day. Be sure that your puppy has always got clean, fresh water available.

At 7- 9 months most puppies, in most breeds, are fully grown, but they’re not fully developed until around 12-18 months of age. 

What essential items do I need for my new puppy? Walk in to your local pet shop and ask this question. Better still walk in and just cast your eye through the dog section. Trousers, coats, exercise machines, a seemingly endless array of toys and treats, collars, crates, leads, brushes, combs and on and on. 

These items are all that you need at the puppy stage: A small food bowl, a small water dish, some form of suitable bedding. Apart from these 3 essential items your puppy is going to need some toys, a soft, tufted brush, and a light training lead. Find out more about these below.

Just like children pups need toys: They need to chew and to play. For a puppy everything is a toy. It has to be dragged, chewed, shaken, and on occasions- swallowed. Your puppy can't tell the difference between the rubber ball that you bought her, and your slippers, best shoes, electric cables, favourite hat, etc.

It's your responsibility to make sure that your puppy is denied access to dangerous and forbidden items. 

There's many safe, chewable bones, balls, rings, etc, on the market. Kong's are an excellent example of a safe and fun puppy toy. There’s even a hollow type that you can fill with a treat. Your puppy will love chewing these- especially when he’s teething.

Don't give your puppy too many toys. If the choice is large, she’ll think that everything is a toy- and that’s what your trying to prevent.

Keep one "special" toy to one side. This “special” toy only comes out when you play with him. This is an early part of training and relates to you as a leader. By only allowing him access to this "special" toy when you permit it, your sending out a subtle message to your puppy, letting him know exactly who is in charge. 

Learning to love his leash: The first time you slip a collar on your puppy and attach a lead, it’s a foregone conclusion that the reaction will be one of fear, and often panic. You need to take a more subtler route to achieve your goal.

Make sure that his first collar is very soft, and the right fit. Once you slip it on make sure that you can place two fingers beneath the collar, and your puppy’s neck. Just before you feed him put on the collar. This will definitely be forgotten once he catches the smell, and then the sight of his dinner. 

Take it off straight after the meal, and then praise him. Repeat this process, and gradually lengthen the time that he’s wearing the collar. Now to get the lead on: Attach a piece of string, wool or cotton to the collar about the length of a leash. Roll a ball and encourage him to chase it. Pick up the end of the cotton leash, without allowing it to become taut, and just follow him around. Again repeat these actions over the next few days, until it becomes perfectly natural. 

Finally the big day has arrived. Attach a light training lead to his collar at dinner time. Call him to eat, allowing the leash to drag behind. Remove it after the meal. Repeat this several times. Next, call him for his dinner, only this time pick up the leash, take up some of the slack and follow him to the bowl. 

Repeat over several days. Through the association of nice things--food and play--with the collar and lead, your puppy will be well on his way to learning how to love his leash.

Grooming-an essential part of caring for a new puppy. Creating a bond between you and your puppy is vital. Grooming is probably the easiest and most fruitful method of developing it.

Start grooming your puppy from day one. He’s at his most receptive stage right now. Just make sure that the first brush that you buy is very soft. You’ll need to keep the grooming sessions short, but on a regular basis. Speak to him as you lightly brush. Be sure to make it enjoyable for him, and don't forget the treat at the end of each session.

Due to the various breed requirements some coats require far more care and attention than others. Even if your dog comes from a breed with an easy care coat you should still spend time grooming your puppy for two important reasons. One is psychological and the other is physical.

Firstly: Each time that you groom your puppy your taking control of a situation. Your acting as a natural leader, and thereby relaying a clear message to him that establishes the order of things in your household. Or, in the canine world, your the pack leader, and he’s one of the pack. 

Secondly: It will maintain your dogs coat and skin in tip top condition. It will also keep you aware of any parasites that have taken up residence in your new pup’s coat. 

Caring for a new puppy involves several important aspects. If you want, a well mannered, well adjusted adult dog, then you need to find out all about socialising your puppy.
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