Owning a dog is very rewarding, but also requires responsibility as your puppy will rely on you for everything—food, water, exercise, training, good health and, of course, lots of love and attention. These notes will give you some help in adjusting your new puppy to your family life.
Your puppy will need two separate bowls, one for food and one for water. Make sure your pup always has fresh water available. Puppies are very susceptible to tummy upsets, so find out what the puppy was eating before you took him home and start by giving a similar diet. Any changes to the diet should be made gradually over about a week. Avoid “meat only” meals as these do not provide the full range of nutrients a puppy needs. It is difficult to make a home cooked diet that has the correct amounts of protein, fats, carbohydrates, calcium and other vitamins and minerals for a growing puppy. Be consistent with feeding times. Puppies are much more comfortable with routine. This will also help with toilet training.
Toilet training puppies relies on positive reinforcement. The most effective way to toilet train your puppy is to take your pup into the garden in the area you have designated toilet-zone and give a reward of a pat or a treat afterwards. The times when puppies are most likely to need to go to the toilet is after they have woken up from a nap, after eating and after playing. Puppies will start to circle and sniff around when they need to go to the toilet, which is also a good time to take your pup outside. Patience is important, as most puppies don’t develop full bladder control until around 14 weeks of age. Never rub your pup’s nose into their “mistakes”; puppies won’t associate the “accident’’ with the punishment you give, and this will merely delay progress.
Puppies need to be vaccinated to protect them from contagious diseases. Our standard vaccination protects against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and leptospirosis, all of which are potential fatal diseases. It also protects against two strains of canine cough. Your puppy requires a vaccination at 6 to 8 weeks, 10 weeks of age and again at 16 weeks. Until your puppy has had at least the second vaccination, we recommend staying away from dogs with an unknown vaccination status. If you have another dog, you should ensure that their vaccinations are current. Some breeders give a Parvovirus vaccination at 6 weeks of age. This is in addition to (and not a part of) the primary puppy course.
We recommend that all dogs are neutered, unless they will be used for breeding or showing. There are many reasons for this, which are based on improved health and temperament. We find that 6 months of age is the optimal time for this surgery, except for large breeds where we recommend neutering at 12 months. At this age, the surgery is low risk and young animals recover more quickly.
Your pup needs to be wormed against intestinal worms every two weeks until 12 weeks of age, then monthly thereafter (for lungworm prevention). Pets who are not at risk of picking up lungworm may be wormed less frequently- every 3 months. Please discuss your dogs lungworm risk with the vet.
Microchipping is a safe and permanent form of identification for your dog. Unlike collars and tags, microchips cannot be lost. The microchip is approximately the size of a grain of rice, and implanted between the shoulder blades by injection. All stray animals which present to the pound, animal shelter, or vet clinic are scanned for a microchip. If a microchip has been implanted, your dog can be quickly reunited with you. All puppies sold in Ireland are required to already be microchipped. However this is often overlooked and may need to be done in consultation with a nurse or during a puppy vaccination visit.