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Puppy Care Book

Congratulations to you and your new bundle of joy! To many, owning a puppy is like having a baby. In many ways it is, but remember with all the joys and fun that you will undoubtedly have, come the added responsibilities and pitfalls! Like most things in life, being well prepared for the new arrival is essential. This booklet aims to give you some insight into what to expect from your new puppy and how to go about bringing him or her up to be a happy, healthy dog. For more detailed information there is a vast array of books that are available that give advice on rearing puppies and being a responsible dog owner. Your vet or breeder would also always be ready to assist in any way they can, so make the most of them!

Collecting your puppy
If a puppy is healthy and eating well, the breeder will normally allow him or her to go to their new home from about eight weeks old. Make sure you have a suitable travelling box lined with an old towel with you when you collect your puppy. Also, be sure to have plenty of kitchen roll to hand for those little unforeseen accidents! Normally, breeders will give you a pack to take with you that will contain:
• Details of what your puppy has been fed and how often;
• When they have been wormed and when it is next due;
• When they should be vaccinated;
• Your puppy's pedigree certificate;
• The Kennel Club registration document;
• Certificates of any breed tests that have been performed;
• A diet sheet;
• Details of any special requirements your breed may have;
• Your purchase receipt;

Remember that being taken from their mother may be a very traumatic experience for your puppy. It is essential that in the early days you devote as much time to your puppy as possible. Your puppy needs to feel safe and reassured within their new ‘pack' i.e. your family. Try to have your puppy's bed somewhere near to the family in a warm, quiet place. Get your puppy to rest in their warm, cozy bed during the day when their new family is nearby. By doing this your puppy will feel safe and secure in their bed at night when they are alone. Hopefully, this will keep the crying and door scratching to a minimum!

In all the excitement of getting your new puppy, it would be easy to go mad and spend a fortune on equipment. However, there are some essential items that you will need to get in advance to make sure you are prepared when you bring your puppy home. Your puppy will need:
• A bed – to begin with, your puppy will be perfectly happy in a cardboard box lined with blankets. Once they have stopped trying to chew everything in sight, you may want to consider buying one of the many different types of beds seen in shops or dog magazines (wicker, plastic, soft etc).
• Food – please see page 7 for feeding advice.
• Food and water bowls – these should be heavy enough to avoid being knocked over by excitable puppies or large footed adults!
• A collar and lead – for when your puppy is ready to brave the wide new world. Try and get a good, strong lead that will last. Be sure to attach an identity tag – it's the law! You may want to consider joining a pet register. By doing this, you will be given a tag for your dog and have the added peace of mind that should they go missing there is a lost and found service working to ensure that they are returned to you as soon as possible.
• Toys – preferably ones which encourage your puppy to chew them rather than your shoes or the sofa! Make sure the toys are safe for your puppy.
• Grooming brushes and combs.

Puppies need regular, small feeds normally four times a day. Ideally, this should be done after your own meals so that your puppy learns their place in the ‘pack' hierarchy. Once you have found your sturdy feeding bowls, place them in a quiet spot. Try to ensure that your puppy is not disturbed while they are eating. Like babies, puppies need a balanced nutritious diet.

This will help ensure they develop a strong immune system, good digestion, a healthy skin and coat, and become all-around lively dogs. Your breeder will tell you what your puppy has been fed and it is wise, at least for the first few days of your ownership, to use the same food.
Once you feel that your puppy has settled in, you could try them on a different food if you wish. Do not switch to the new food all at once; try mixing it with some of the food your puppy is used to, increasing the amount of the new food over a period of days. You will already be aware of the huge number of different dog foods available. Many manufacturers are now developing food specifically for puppies with higher protein, vitamin, mineral and calorie levels – just what fast growing puppies need!

Vaccinations and Worming
It is important to register your puppy with a vet as soon as possible. They will advise you on vaccinations, worming, diet and neutering. As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. One of the best ways to control the diseases that are found in dogs is by vaccination. In the UK, dogs are normally vaccinated against; parvovirus, distemper, leptospirosis, hepatitis and kennel cough.

These diseases can be killers or they can cause permanent damage. They are endemic in the UK – i.e. found within the pet population. Vaccination is vital to prevent, and in the long term hopefully eradicate, these diseases and the suffering that goes with them. Rabies is another disease controlled by a vaccine. Although it is not endemic in the UK, if you want to take your pet abroad under the Pet Travel Scheme, a rabies vaccination is obligatory. Although puppies get some immunity from their mothers, they and young dogs are especially vulnerable.

It is important that they are regularly vaccinated and that this continues throughout their life. The puppy's first course of vaccinations is normally given when they leave their mothers at about eight weeks old. These are usually repeated yearly, but your vet will advise you as to what is necessary. Some people worry about vaccinating their dogs, but it should be remembered that serious side effects are extremely rare. Also, the decreasing incidence of these diseases is due, to a large extent, to owners arranging for their dogs to be routinely vaccinated.

You may be surprised to learn that virtually all puppies are born with roundworm. They are infected by their mother before they are born and afterwards via her milk. Roundworm, or Toxocara, causes diarrhoea, a distended abdomen and ‘fading puppy syndrome'. Other dangers include Hookworm, Tapeworm and Giardia. By three weeks of age it's possible for a puppy to contaminate its environment. It is essential that they are regularly wormed. Your breeder should have already wormed your puppy, but you must continue with the treatment once you bring them home.

It is recommended that puppies are wormed at two, five, eight and twelve weeks of age and then on a three-monthly cycle. There are many worming treatments available. Choose one that tackles both the migrating larval and adult stages, your vet will advise you. There is a section at the end of this booklet where you can record details of your vet and your puppy's vaccinations and worming treatments.

Safety and First Aid
Accidents happen all too easily, but with care you can keep your puppy safe. Below are some of the steps you can take to try and avoid accidents. Use your common sense and think of your puppy as a very lively toddler running around your home, fascinated by and wanting to chew everything! Look around your home, possibly on all fours!
Be aware of anything which may pose a danger to your puppy and wherever possible put it out of reach or in a safe container – electric cables, medicines, disinfectants, bleach, cleaners, paint / paint stripper, mouthwash, soap, even cosmetics. Remember that stairs and stairwells are potential hazards too.

Aim to make your house puppy-proof! Unfortunately, people are often unwittingly the cause of injury to puppies. Many dogs have sustained broken legs by getting under their owner's feet, children can cause injuries if their play becomes at bit rough – they should be shown how to handle puppies properly, puppies have even been known to eat babies dummies!

Also, don't forget, particularly at Christmas, that chocolate in any sort of quantity is poisonous to dogs. Outside the home, the garden, shed and garage can be dangerous places for puppies. Keep insecticides, slug pellets, weed-killers, petrol, paint, cleaning fluids and sharp tools out of reach. Ideally, stop your puppy from gaining access to the shed or garage at all. Be aware that many garden plants and shrubs are poisonous, so to avoid temptation do not have them in your garden. The plants to be avoided include: foxgloves, lily-of-the-valley, deadly nightshade, rhododendron, laburnum, hemlock, daffodil bulbs, monkshood, ivy, rhubarb, mistletoe, yew and holly.

This is just an example of some of the plants that you are most likely to come across. There are a number of other plants that are poisonous or have poisonous berries. Good gardening books will tell you which these are or you could ask for help at a garden centre. In case the worst should happen it is a good idea to have a first-aid box close at hand together with your vet's telephone number. If you think your puppy has swallowed something poisonous, quickly phone the vet for advice.

Be ready to explain in detail what has happened. Your vet may tell you to wash your puppy's mouth with water, give them milk to drink, or even induce vomiting. Do not do any of these unless your vet has specifically told you to do so. If your puppy has eaten something, it would be useful to take a sample or the container with you to the vets.

Like children, puppies need routines and they need to learn what they can and can't do.
The sooner this training starts the better. Training will need to cover many areas; feeding, behaviour in the home, obedience outdoors, interaction with people and vets etc. Early, effective training will make for an easier life. Your puppy must learn its place within your family, or as they see it within their new ‘pack'. They must be introduced to their new routine as quickly as possible when you get them home. It is important that all your family members follow this same routine so that your puppy can learn by repetition and not become confused.

Also, make sure that everyone uses the same words for specific commands. At first, training does not need to be too formal. Use a lot of praise and rewards, such as food treats, for good behaviour. If your puppy misbehaves, tell them off using a stern voice, make sure they stop whatever it is you do not want them to do and then ignore or leave them alone for a few minutes. They will soon learn that behaving in such a way is not much fun. Puppies need to chew! However, it is your responsibility to make sure that your puppy has access to things that you want them to chew and not the opportunity to chew your shoes or a table leg! Do not be tempted to give your puppy an old slipper to chew instead of a proper toy – they will not know the difference between an old one and a new one!

If you catch your puppy chewing something they should not, say ‘No' firmly, move the puppy away from the object in question, give the puppy one of it's toys or a food-flavoured chew and then give praise. Change these chews and toys often so that your puppy does not become bored of them. As well as chewing objects, you will find that your puppy also likes to chew you! Hands, feet, ears, arms etc are all at risk.

The thing to remember is that this play biting is completely normal, but your puppy needs to learn bite inhibition. If the bite is a little too hard, pretend to be hurt and turn away from them to ‘nurse your wounds'. Over time they will learn to restrict the power of the bite and finally not to bite at all. Normally, this would be learned from the mother or siblings during play. House training can be approached in much the same way as appropriate chewing. Make sure your puppy is given plenty of opportunity to go in the ‘correct' places and give it lots of praise when doing so.

Socialization and Habituation
Getting your puppy used to and interacting with the people and things they will encounter in life, now popularly known as socialisation and habituation is an important part of your dog's development. There are few things more embarrassing for a dog owner than a dog that routinely tries to bite bicycle wheels or vets' arms!

It is important to recognise that there are limited periods in which a puppy can learn these essential skills. It is commonly thought that the best time to start introducing your puppy to stimuli such as people, cars, other dogs, cats, horses, loud noises etc is from six weeks of age, the most effective period being 12 to 14 weeks. At first, your puppy will find many of these new experiences frightening. Without overwhelming them, introduce them to different people, animals and situations. By doing a little every day and by approaching the stimuli yourself calmly and confidently, you will show your puppy that they have no reason to be fearful. Eventually, your dog will be so used to such experiences that they will ignore them.

The wider the variety of objects and situations you can introduce your puppy to, the less likely they will be to be afraid of them and possibly act aggressively towards them in later life. We've all heard horror stories about people taking their dogs to the vets. By daily examining your puppy, they will be used to a similar sort of attention from the vet. Clean your puppy's teeth daily from the start. Daily grooming and examination of ears, paws and around the tail will result in a much less stressful situation for both you and your dog whenever you have to visit the vet. Building your puppy's confidence in coming across new and strange objects and situations is the key to avoiding aggressive behaviour in the future.

No matter how careful the owner, dogs do have accidents and they do become ill. Each year one in three pets need veterinary treatment. With continued improvements in veterinary science, vets are able to offer far more sophisticated treatment than in the past. Great for the pet and owner, as treatment is likely to be more successful, but not so great for the owner's wallet!

Vet's fees are increasing at over 10% per annum. More and more, the bill comes as an unwelcome surprise to owners, particularly if treatment is ongoing for a period of time or an operation is required. Nowadays, it is not unusual for the total cost to reach thousands of pounds! Most people could not afford this kind of outlay on their own and no-one would want to be faced with having to make a decision on whether or not a treatment can be undertaken because of the cost.

The only real answer is insurance. It is important to insure your puppy as soon as possible. Most insurance policies are fairly comprehensive in the cover they offer. It is important to ensure that you are covered for a reasonable amount of vets fees. As a rule, the higher the vet's fees limit, the higher the premium. Public liability cover is also invaluable and covers you if, for example, your dog runs into the road and causes an accident.

Normally, insurance policies provide at least £1 million of liability cover. Often, there are many other areas of cover, including death or theft and straying so that should the unthinkable happen you have cover in place. Insurance may not be one of the most exciting things about owning a puppy, but as a responsible dog owner it's certainly one of the most important. The Dog Breeders Association Limited is dedicated to the promotion of dog welfare and responsible dog ownership, via education and by offering services which benefit animal welfare, to breeders and owners alike.
Dogs - This article has been reproduced courtesy of The Dog Breeders Association

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