How To Raise A Happy, Healthy, Confident Puppy

by Faye Strauss

It is very important you be consistent, patient, and thoughtful, just as you would be with a child.  Building confidence, so the puppy understands “everybody loves me,” will be the basis on which to develop a secure, dependable adult.

The following are some Guidelines for raising your puppy :

  1. Puppies don´t make mistakes; people do. When the puppy misbehaves you go to the puppy , never correct the puppy when he comes to you. Correct gently but firmly, and follow with praise. The `come´ command should always be the happiest sound a puppy can hear. Never call your puppy in anger.
  2. Puppies can develop an extensive vocabulary if you verbalize an activity when the puppy does it with consistency.  Examples are:  `Who´s hungry?´  `Water´, `outside´, `go potty´,  `off´ (the sofa or you), `go to bed´, `car´, `go for walk´, `cookie´, get `your toy´, `quiet´, `guard´ and `find (an object or person)´.
  3. Never hit a puppy, especially in the face or head. Besides being cruel this will cause “hand shyness”. Always be aware that a teething puppy will bite almost anything to relieve the pain, including your hand, your favourite shoe or the furniture. We have found that a Nylabone soaked in chicken broth and put in the freezer relieves the puppy´s discomfort. Be careful when correcting a teething, nippy puppy; their sharp teeth can really hurt, but you must be aware they are not displaying aggression.
  4. Never pick the puppy up under the shoulders (as you would a small child). Always support his rear end with one hand and with the other hand firmly in place under the chest, between his front legs. Do not let children pick up the puppy; they will not do it properly. Most Veterinarians know how to handle Doberman puppies. 
  5. Don´t hold balls, food or other bait up in the air so that the puppy has to jump up to get them. This may look cute to you but upon landing the puppy may injure his shoulders, knees, or rear legs. You don’t want to encourage this trait for training purposes either because eventually you won´t want a 90 pound dog jumping up or jumping on you for the ball or his treats. I don´t see anything wrong with allowing jumping up as a puppy to some extent just so long as it isn´t in excess. The puppy will be doing this on his own in play anyway. You can even use this natural trait of jumping to teach the puppy not to jump by saying “no jump” or “off” and etc.
  6. Looking to the future, some day your puppy may be in the show ring. Starting as young as possible, teach him to “bait.”  When you give him a treat have him standing , not sitting, with ears forward, in eager anticipation. Teach him a word for watching the bait or object. (example “watch”)
  7. Be careful with your puppy when he climbs up and especially down stairs.  Puppies can do this if they are allowed to go up or down on their own power as long as there are only two or three stairs but if they appear to have a lot of difficulty then we recommend that you carry the puppy “down” stairs until around three months of age. We use their climbing up and down stairs to teach “up-up-up” and “down-down-down.”
  8. Get the puppy used to having his teeth examined. When you open the mouth say “open”. Encourage other people to “go over” his mouth. If you make a mouth examination part of the daily routine it won´t be a traumatic experience when the judge examines his dentition. When the puppy is teething however forego this examination.
  9. Surfaces should provide traction. Don’t let the puppy play on slippery surfaces such as kitchen tile and/or linoleum for extended periods of time. A puppy who continually runs or struggles to get up from slippery surfaces could become cow hocked. (i.e. – the back feet are forced outward and the knees inward as the puppy tries to gain footing). If you have a problem with a surface in your home, buy some area or scatter rugs with a firm backing so that the puppy won´t slide.
  10. How a puppy is leash trained is very important in the process of developing a calm, responsive dog at the end of the lead. We believe in giving the puppy a hassle free introduction to the lead simply by going with him in any direction he chooses. You go where he goes with no stress or tugs on the leash. You can use the words “let’s go” for leash training.
  11. Whether toilet training or housebreaking the keys are repetition, consistency and praise. Keep the puppy close. When he awakens take him out immediately. At night have him sleep next to your bed in a crate. If he needs to go he will cry to let you know. Carry him outside tell him to go potty and praise him effusively when he does.  After meals or play take him outside, tell him to go and when he does praise him. The best training occurs during those times when you actually catch him in the act . You firmly say `no´ and scoop him up in the middle of the deed and race outside and tell him to go and then praise him. When you are not home confine him to an area with a baby gate and newspapers on the floor, away from his bed, food and toys. Don´t crate when you are not home; confine.
  12. Your puppy needs lots of exercise . Free running (no jogging until about 18 months of age) as well as the recall and fetch are good ways to exercise your puppy.
  13. Puppy´s ears express excitement and concentration. Tape the ears until they stand correctly. Never leave the tape on for more than five days, then leave the tape off until the ears start to fall, then re-tape Always remove tape during the day, not when the puppy is going to sleep.
  14. Keep the puppy´s nails cut short! Long nails will ruin the feet. You may have to gently cut or file them every week. A Dremel-like tool with a coarse sandpaper ring is recommended. Let the puppy get used to the sound before actually doing the nails.
  15. The Germans say, “Never wake a sleeping puppy . They grow physically when they sleep.” For the first four months of their lives puppies sleep up to 15 hours a day.
  16. When the puppy is occupied, such as when chewing a bone or exploring the yard, do not disturb his space . They grow mentally when they are on their own (and not getting into trouble).
  17. Familiarize your puppy with different outdoor and indoor surfaces such as
    concrete, sand, carpet, linoleum, tile, and grating.  It is also a good idea to expose the puppy to low pressure obstacle challenges, such as a low jump or a tunnel. Toys of different materials, including rubber and cloth, as well as chew items are good. For more ideas read the Rules Of Sevens featured on this site.
  18. Try not to put yourself and your puppy in situations where you yell and scream at the puppy, who, at this point, really doesn´t understand very much. This way the puppy can grow happy and well adjusted.
  19. Do give the puppy lots of praise, hugs, and kisses . Socialize him whenever possible. Develop his confidence. A secure puppy will grow into a stable, dependable companion.

Water: Our puppies do not get water to drink as long as they are nursing. In the beginning, when weaning, give small amounts of water, preferably at room temperature. Once the puppies are weaned always have cool fresh water available. 

Bones: A large beef bone will help curb the puppy´s desire to chew on the wrong things. This is especially good during teething and will also help to keep the teeth clean.  Dog biscuits and quality rawhide are also fine.

Vitamins: Do give the puppy 500 Mg of vitamin C twice a day. “People” vitamins are great for dogs. Give a multi vitamin and a B complex capsule once a day.

A note on vitamin C. It is hard to overdose Vitamin C, but if you do and your puppy/dog should get loose stools simply decrease the amount of Vitamin C and then slowly build the doses back up. Your puppy should be getting 200 I.U. or more of Vitamin E twice a day as well. Click here to learn more on Vitamin C & E Supplementation . Also, an exceptional page to visit is the Holistic Veterinary Medicine Club where one can find an abundance of Vitamin Supplementation help.

Vitamins E and C work with one another as an aide in the growth of the soft tissue and help as well with the panosteitis problem that a lot of Dobermans seem to have.

Shots: Be aware that parvo-virus is a continuing problem. Go to your vet to begin your puppy on a current vaccination schedule. Your puppy should have had at least one parvo-virus and one DHL shot before leaving the litter.

Do not give the first rabies shot until the puppy is at least six months of age. Rabies shots cause stress and unless you are experiencing a “rabies environment” we recommend that the shot be delayed as long as possible.

Worming: Make sure that the breeder provides a worming schedule that denotes the puppy´s wormings from the age of three weeks. Parasites (worms) are one of the causes of stunted growth in puppies. Many people don´t worm their animals sufficiently to prevent this debilitating problem. Check a stool sample every two weeks up to four months of age. A distended stomach or runny nose sometimes is a sign of worms. Refusal to eat is a sure sign. After four months of age have the stool checked every six months. The specific treatment for tapeworms is Droncit. Flea problems are usually associated with tapeworms and a puppy with tapes and fleas should always be wormed with Droncit. The most common parasite is roundworms; almost all puppies are born with them. Use Strongid T or Nemex. Whipworms and hookworms are also sometimes present and are usually contracted through grass. Use Panacure to treat for round, hook, and or whipworm. Never use a generic wormer without identifying the specific parasite.   

Warning Signs of Illness:
  1. Does not eat.
  2. Diarrhea.
  3. Vomiting.
  4. Coat loses its shine.
  5. Discharge of any color from the eyes.
  6. Depression.

From time to time one or two of these may be present and you can treat the symptoms.  Cooked white rice and cooked chopped meat with all fat drained off should be given along with Pepto-Bismol for tummy ache. If ever all of these symptoms appear simultaneously be assured the puppy is very sick and run, do not walk, to your Veterinarian.

Feeding:   Please keep the puppy on three meals a day until four months of age. It is always better for a puppy to eat frequent, small meals rather than to be fed large meals. When he is 4 months of age you can cut back to two meals a day and then maintain him on the two meals a day schedule for the rest of his life.

Puppies from four months to about one year of age should be fed a good kibble, fresh meat, yogurt, and boiled eggs. Do not feed dry foods that are high in protein. Cooked, boneless fish is an excellent food for your puppy, especially tuna or mackerel. Also recommended are hot cereals, vegetables, fruits.

Puppies enjoy a bedtime snack such as a cup of warm goat´s milk, rice, or cottage cheese. 

Puppies are more secure in a scheduled environment. Try to feed the puppy at the same times each day. Playtimes and bedtimes should also be the same time each day.

Socialization: This involves taking your puppy with you whenever possible. Do not leave the puppy alone in the vehicle unattended, especially in warm weather. Whether shopping, visiting, picking up the kids at school, it is all a learning experience and most importantly the puppy shares quality time with you.

In conclusion, when raising your puppy always remember that in play situations the pupp
y should be permitted to win every challenge he is given thus building his confidence which is the ultimate goal. Using the game of tug-o-war is a good way to teach to teach the puppy how to “win” and also to teach the puppy to give up the object he won when asked to do so (use words such as “out’ or “leave it” or “games over”).
If and when you are telling your puppy “no” or if you want it to do something, use a specific word such as we demonstrated throughout this article. After any game excitedly say “let’s go outside” as they usually have to pee after a play session.
 Also,to teach your puppy to come to you every time you call him will one of the most important lifetime lessons that he can learn, probably the most important. And remember, the less that you enable the puppy while he is learning the better. You cannot carry them around for very long. They grow very fast.

Books of importance can be found and purchased from www.dogwise.com . Some that we suggest are:

  1. ‘Super Puppy’ by Peter J. Vollmer
  2. ‘How To Raise A Puppy You Can Live With’ by Clarice Rutherford and David H Nell
  3. ‘How To Be Your Dog’s Best Friend’ by The Monks Of New Skete
  4. ‘Mother Knows Best’ by Carol Lea Benjamin

You may also want to read the article Super Puppies Are Made Not Born

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