Information for New Puppy Owners
Congratulations on selecting your new puppy…We have divided key information around their care into five broad headings below the image. Please click on each topic below for further detail. In the sidebar we have included some direct links to information on certain diseases which affect dogs. However, following the guidance below will ensure you avoid many of these risks.
We have decided to begin our advice on the topic of health – simply because that’s our area of expertise. That doesn’t diminish the other key areas of care below. Quite frankly – its close to our heart!
Ensure your dog is vaccinated against key infectious disease. Regular safe and effective control of internal and external parasites according to risks also reduces the likelihood of household exposure.
Neutering is an important consideration and is often recommended from around 6 months of age in bitches. Some research indicates that this may reduce the risk of future mammary cancers. It avoids the risk of unwanted seasons and pregnancy in bitches, and castration also reduces the chance of unwanted behaviours in male dogs. Regular inspection of claws, grooming, and dental care can help ensure you spot and manage problems early. Consider investing early in pet insurance and a health plan to make sure all your pet’s health needs can be covered affordably.
Care & Companionship
Dog ownership brings both physical and mental benefits to our wellbeing – our puppies deserve to benefit from a good quality of life in return.
Microchipping helps ensure your pup can be identified and that you can be reunited with your pet in case of loss or an accident.
Puppies like to frequently go outdoors; prolonged periods left alone at home should be avoided – ideally, regularly leaving a puppy alone for more than 4 hours a day should be avoided.
Ensure they have suitable care and supervision at all times including while on holiday.
Keep your puppy safe from summer heat – the main reason hot weather is an issue for dogs is because they are not able to cool off efficiently. They don’t sweat and have to pant to release the heat. Issues that arise from overheating in summer heat can include dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn.
Feeding & Diet
Puppies should be fed a specifically formulated commercial puppy food (ideally dry). This is the most practical approach to feeding, which ensures a balanced diet that can be adapted to their age, weight, breed, lifestyle, physical activity and state of health.
Table manners matter are important; bad feeding habits can cause digestive upsets and lead to problem behaviours. Don’t feed puppies from the table. Always feed from the bowl and avoid large quantities of table scraps. Always take care not to feed or allow access to certain human foodstuffs. Raisins, chocolate and onions are examples of particular foodstuffs known to be toxic and potentially dangerous.
Ensure your puppy has fresh clean water readily available. Take care with treats! Provision of chews, such as rawhide chews, are often recommended to assist dental care, but cooked bones should be avoided at all costs. Give treats in small quantities for training purposes or on an occasional basis only, reducing the main meal if a treat is provided. Larger quantities may unbalance the diet, lead to health problems and may certainly lead to unwanted calories. Be very careful with the amount and type of food you give to a ‘large breed’ puppy – too much can lead to serious joint problems. Basically what a puppy needs is a complete, balanced diet, made with top quality ingredients and added nutrients to meet their individual needs – to make sure that your growing puppy develops strong teeth and bones, muscles and a healthy immune and digestive system. Puppies need to be fed 3-4 times daily when very young (at an age generally before which you have acquired your puppy) but as they get older twice a day is fine. They don’t need milk or any other supplements as these may not contribute to a balanced diet – just the correct amount of the correct type of food, formulated for growing puppies and free access to water.
Behaviour & Interaction
Early training and socialising are the best way to create good manners and a solid bond. This will ensure your puppy will interact well with other dogs, animals and people and reduces the chance of fearful, anxious and aggressive behaviour. Train your puppy with kind and effective methods involving positive reinforcement – a happy and obedient dog is a pleasure to own and enjoy. Training and socialisation are mutually related – a well socialised puppy is invariably a well trained dog and vice versa. They should be handled by family members and strangers as soon as possible and then be introduced to other puppies and friendly adult dogs, cats and rabbits as soon as their vaccination programme allows. Allow them to meet other animals (horses, cattle, sheep, goats), children, teenagers and adults, initially under supervision, to become socialised effectively. Meeting loud confident people through to quiet timid people, those wearing hats, glasses, beards and various types of clothing will all broaden your puppy’s socialisation programme. Meeting the vet as early as possible and being examined on a table gently will encourage confidence in the experience.
Make sure playtime doesn’t encourage or reinforce undesirable behaviours – choose suitable toys that don’t resemble things you don’t want chewed and avoid those, such as thrown sticks and stones, that might cause injury. Ensure you puppy becomes accustomed to various
Learn to read your dog’s mood! Scent marking, body posture and tail movement, as well as the barking and sound made by dogs, can all indicate when they feel unhappy or threatened.
Even small changes in behaviour may indicate an underlying medical or stress-related issue. Consult your practice as soon as possible if you see a change in your dog’s attitude or demeanour.
Environment & Security
Practical tips for creating the right environment for your pup’s needs
Make sure your puppy has a safe place to go to sleep and rest comfortably away from disturbance. Use a suitable dog bed where your puppy can sleep and rest undisturbed. They can be interested in exploring their environment actively including, what is perceived to be, damage to their own bedding or anything within reach. Ensure poisonous and hazardous substances and items are stored safely out of reach. Pups are naturally inquisitive and may injure or poison themselves by accessing drugs, medicines, household chemicals, or inappropriate foodstuffs (see feeding and diet). Ensure electric cables for household appliances are tucked safely away. Seek advice early if you spot signs of stress when your puppy is left alone for short periods – barking, whining, wetting or soiling in the house and destructive behaviour can all relate to separation anxiety.
Early training to remember shoes are not toys and the kitchen floor is not the toilet can seem challenging but, most importantly, do not lose hope. The use of newspapers (which they can unfortunately decide to shred before working out that they should be used as “facilities”) can prove to be quite useful for toilet training. Some puppies learn quicker than others so don’t draw comparisons to previous puppies you experienced. and how fast they trained. We’re all different and they are too! For further information please see Behaviour & Interaction below.
Ensure adequate opportunities for regular daily exercise out of home and garden ideally off the lead – at the times and frequency appropriate to needs of dog breed, age and fitness. Remember, however, that you as the owner, are responsible for control of your puppy in a public setting so only allow off-lead exercise if it is safe to do so. Always ensure safe and secure travel within vehicles – secured with a seatbelt on the back seat
or within a secured travel cage or behind a dog grid. It is often useful to accustom your puppy to car travel at an early stage (including exposure to the harness), and ensure they have clear visibility of the horizon as this lowers their likelihood of car sickness.
Puppies are generally happy with the simple things in life such as walks – runs in the park, in the woods and in the field. Most love chasing a ball or other toy, splashing in and out of water, getting in the mud and making a mess. They’re loyal, obedient (if you train them), and full of fun. Enjoy them and they will enjoy you! They’ll do tricks because they want to please you, they’ll slobber on you but, best of all they will love you unconditionally!
As a new puppy owner, you are the single biggest influencer on your dog’s future health. By taking appropriate preventative measures many of the risks that may damage your puppy’s health and welfare can be minimised. Ensure your puppy’s bed is cleaned regularly. Look out for soiling with urine and faeces and address immediately. After all, you like your house to be spotless so your puppy does too! Good habits are formed early. Aside from house training, hygiene of feeding utensils, toys and other items that your puppy uses regularly is of paramount importance. Do not use household crockery for feeding your pet. This carries significant risk of infecting you or your family with parasites. Regular vacuuming of all soft materials that come in contact with your pet, including carpets and upholstery, will lower the risk of flea infestations. Ask your vet for further advice concerning parasite control that is appropriate for your puppy. Regularly inspect your puppy’s skin surface and address any hygiene issues accordingly. If you wash your puppy, ensure you use an appropriate pet shampoo and that the puppy is rinsed and dried thoroughly afterwards. Bathing of puppies early in life can make the process of a full body makeover easier in later life when items like hair dryers, brushes and combs are less well accepted.