Bringing a new puppy home is one of the most exciting experiences imaginable to a dog lover. Below are our guidelines to help your new puppy become a happy, healthy member of your family.
Choosing your puppy
Your first decision will be what breed of puppy you want and whether it be a purebred or a cross. It is important to learn as much about your desired breed as possible and seek advice about whether it will fit in to your lifestyle.
Your next decision is choosing a breeder. A responsible breeder will: test their dogs for genetic problems (where possible); allow you to see the mother and other dogs; keep the puppies in a clean healthy environment; socialise them well; vaccinate the parents; worm the puppies regularly; ensure they are flea free and give you information about the breed and the care of your puppy and microchip the pup.
Beware of puppy farms. Never purchase a puppy unless you can meet its mother. It can be tempting to ‘rescue’ a puppy from a bad situation but this will only encourage people to put more pups at risk. If puppies are not being cared for adequately contact the RSPCA.
When you visit a breeder and see the puppies it is difficult not to get carried away and want them all. It is important to choose the puppy that will be happiest with you. Choose a confident, friendly puppy with no obvious medical problems.
Preparing your Home for a Puppy
It is important to find a place that your puppy can make his or her own. This will be a safe, secure area where they can sleep. This should be a place for them to escape the world. For most puppies a crate is the best option. Crates help with toilet training, give your puppy a den to sleep in and being portable, can give your puppy security no matter where you take them.
Your puppy will need to learn that some areas of the house are out of bounds. It may be wise to invest in one or more child gate’s to help this. Remember to remove any dangerous (or valuable) objects from the areas in which your puppy will be allowed.
Your puppy will likely be somewhat anxious upon entering your home and leaving it’s mum and littermates. You can make the transition more easy by plugging an Adaptil diffuser into an electric socket near its bed. This releases a synthetic version of the pheromone secreted by mum when the pups suckle and is a source of security for the new puppy. You can get Adaptil diffusers from any of our surgeries, ideally a week before getting the pup. Consider Adaptil spray for the car journey home. This is often their first outing in the car and can be a little daunting especially if it’s a long journey. Use a cat carrier strapped in for small puppies and ensure lots of stops for a rest and drink.
Your Puppy comes Home
It is tempting to spend all of your time with your new puppy. However it is not always the best thing for the dog. It is important to make your pup feel secure but it is equally important to help them on the road to independence. Leaving their mum is a big step and it is crucial that you help them. If your pup is worried about being away from mum then giving them a hot water bottle or cuddly toy to sleep with may help (especially if it smells of mum) Expect interrupted sleep the firsts few nights after the pup’s arrival. If you are tempted to sleep with your puppy then it is better if you move down to their sleeping area for a while rather than moving them into your bed.
A crate which only has room for your pups bed and food and water bowls, will help hasten the toilet training process. Your puppy will try to not toilet on his or her bed so will hold it in for longer. Initially this may mean you will have to get up in the middle of the night to let them out to toilet, but usually by 12 weeks of age they can go through the night. It is best to avoid training them to paper as this teaches them that it is ok to toilet indoors and will lengthen the process. It is crucial that you take your puppy out regularly to toilet especially after meals, first thing in the morning and last thig at night an choose an appropriate command (e.g. hurry up). Stay out with them and use a puppy long line or training pen if they are easily distracted in the garden. Reward them every time they toilet outdoors and ignore them if they don’t. Its important not to scold any “accidents” indoor.
We recommend a good quality, fixed formula, complete dry puppy food which is appropriate for the size of your dog. An example of this is Royal Canin and this is available at our clinic. Initially your puppy will be on three or four meals a day, but by 5-6 months of age they are usually down to two. It is important not to give any supplements (such as calcium) or milk if your pup is on a complete diet.
Visiting the Vet
We recommend that your puppy should have a full check-up within a week of you taking it home. This is so we can ensure that he or she is healthy and give you any necessary advice. First vaccinations can be given from six weeks of age and worming should be every two weeks initially. Pups should be microchipped by eight weeks of age, however if there medical reasons not to(eg: they are too small), we may recommend postponing this.
Puppy parties are run by our nurses. These are fun, information packed evenings during which your puppy can socialise with other pups and people. The most important time to socialise your puppy (i.e. get it out and about, experiencing lots of different things) is before fourteen weeks of age so puppy parties are an ideal, safe way to do this. Your puppy only needs to have had their first vaccinations to attend.
Responsible breeders will have wormed your puppy early in life but it is important to ensure that your puppy continues to be regularly wormed, is vaccinated and has a flea and tick control programme. Neutering can be performed from around 6 months of age but this depends upon the breed and size of the dog.
Pet Health Plan
We have set up the Pet Health Plan to enable people to provide the best preventative healthcare for their puppies. Included in the scheme are vaccinations, worming, flea and tick treatments plus discounts on many other services such as consultations and neutering.
We would always advise taking out insurance on your pet from an early age. Accidents and illness can occur at any stage of life but pups in particular do tend to be quite accident prone!