Saturday, February 16, 2013

Puppy Primer, The First Instructions.


How incredibly exciting is having a new puppy? 

Those little feet, the happy wag, the endless kisses, and the silly adorable play. It is the magical moments of a new life and the joys of learning about all of the new things to sniff, chew, toss, squeak, and discover. 

Along with the endless entertainment of a new puppy comes the responsibility of a new life. There is a lot to learn, remember, and protect your new pup from. But don't worry there is an army people available to help you. Ask for help, ask for advice, and know that every step of the way there are resources of every kind available to you. Here's the advice from a vet, but seek out friends, family and your puppies first family. 

We are all here to help you build a strong life-long bond. 

My first piece of advice is to see a vet within the first three days of  getting your new puppy. 

Until that time pick up all feces and keep your puppy in your yard and away from other pets. I know it sounds harsh and strict, but I have seen a new puppy become very sick very quickly and then get every other pet in their social circle sick. Play it safe and keep your puppy away from other puppies and dogs for the first few weeks. After they are 6 months old and have completed of their vaccines your puppy is fine to go out and see the world. Until then think of your puppy as having an "immature immune system". Even if you are getting shots every three weeks your pup still may not be able to face and defeat a challenge from a disease, even one that they have been vaccinated for. 

Another small note with the importance of a 'new pet visit'. If the breeder or adoption agency says 'up to date on shots' it is still a very good idea to see your vet as soon as possible. They will help you identify what your vaccine schedule is, whether or not you need any monthly preventatives, and give you lots of helpful advice. Their advice is well worth the minimal cost and the safety and well-being of your puppy.

Even as I ask you to keep your pup sheltered I do not want to tell you to keep them from being socialized. It is very important to expose your puppy to other pets so that they are not afraid of, or unable to interact with them. Most pets develop fear as a result of anxiety. The anxiety in many cases stems from either not having been exposed to other animals, or from not being allowed to learn how to act around others. Puppy classes are a wonderful way to safely introduce your puppy to others, and also how to effectively communicate with your puppy. Invite the whole family to go to class. You can all learn the new language of puppy talk together. And that way you can all help in the raising and rearing of your puppy.

If you have a small dog, the ability to make multiple return visits, or if you have any concerns about a vaccine reaction, I recommend that the vaccines be split up. 
I try not to give more than two shots per visit to the little, young, or sensitive pups. 

A microchip is a very safe, effective way to reunite you with your pet should you ever be separated  Have your puppy micro-chipped at your first visit. Puppy-napping has become a more and more common crime, especially in a depressed economy. A microchip can be easily and quickly placed and will not be painful if done by an experienced person. Remember to register your puppy immediately, and remember to keep your information updated should your puppy need to find you. 

Ask your veterinarian what they recommend for heartworm prevention and flea and tick prevention. At our clinic we advocate they be used monthly. Heartworm preventatives prevent heartworm disease, which can be expensive to treat and fatal. Many preventatives are also monthly de-wormers. Every monthly pill will treat and prevent some of the most common intestinal worms. I tell my clients that "for all that we do for our pets in my opinion you get the biggest bang for your buck with heartworm prevention." I also recommend that it be given monthly year around so your pet is not at risk of getting heartworm disease. If you forget to give your pet a pill for longer than 6 weeks it is recommended that your pet be re-tested for heartworm disease before resuming the monthly prevention. The cost of the heartworm test is often more expensive than the skipping of the three months that you think your pet doesn't need to be treated. These products are dosed by your pets weight. Make sure that your pet is given the correct dose based on their size.

We also recommend a good monthly flea and tick preventative. In our neck of the woods we need this product because the ticks around the Mid-Atlantic region carry of Lyme disease. Along with the yearly vaccine the use of this product monthly will protect them
well against the dangers of Lyme disease.

For dogs less than twenty pounds I recommend using a harness and a leash to walk her. The harness is safer  than a collar, so they doesn't traumatize their trachea if they pull on the leash, and also that if you need to tug them quickly away from any dangers so that it won’t pull on their trachea. Smaller dogs have weaker cartilage so less trauma to the trachea is safer. With this said, discourage them from pulling. Being good on a leash is good manners.

For larger dogs I recommend a sturdy heavy 6 foot leash. Big dogs on retractable leashes can be catastrophic. If they lunge or run the leash can break, or it can pull you off your feet. I have seen many dogs hit by cars, run away, or people injured due retractable leashes.

The best thing that you can do for them is take them everywhere with you. Let them be the other kid and show them the world so they aren't afraid of anything.

If you find that your puppy is requiring too much time and attention and that they have too much energy for you to adequately get them tired then I would suggest that you get another puppy. I know it sounds crazy but two puppies can be easier than one. They tire each other out, they have far fewer behavioral issues (because they are happy and tired), and they will take some demands for attention off of your plate. I swear by the two puppy theory. I spend all day working and my puppies have each other to snuggle with, play with, and interact with. I know that they are happier because they have each other. My husband and I are happier too. Watching them play wrestle, sleep cuddled up together and being able to tell them to play with each other so that every so often we can actually spend a few moments together is a blessed thing.

Our Puppies.
Charlie and Jekyll doing their morning wiggle dance

Take lots and lots of pictures, and please share them with everyone. And never hesitate to call your vet, friends, breeder, or adoption center if you have any questions or concerns. We are all here to help.

If you have any puppy (or any other kind of pet question) you can find answers anytime, and always free at Pawbly, or you can find me on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.

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