Before purchasing a dog read read, read, read. The purchase of a puppy means a huge time commitment to raising that puppy. Many hours need to be put into training if you are going to be happy with the adult. Sometimes expenses of maintaining this puppy can become high as well. It is important that you start of with a sound, healthy animal. Veterinarian care does not come cheap.
Make a list of things that you are looking for in a dog and another list with what you do not like in a dog. Then go looking for the breed that you think is the closest to what you want in an adult dog. Next thing to do is find a reputable breeder. This can be the tough part but well worth doing the homework for.
Purchase a good quality dry kibble puppy food. You do not have to buy the most expensive food but nor should you buy the cheapest. Compare ingredients; ask your veterinarian what they recommend. And … never feed the amount that is recommended on the bags. I find it to be excessive every time. The new trend these days is to feed a “raw” diet which I am not sold on. Many of these dog food companies spend thousands of dollars checking and testing their foods to ensure a balanced diet. Do you know exactly what your puppy needs? Very few of us would know. Frankly, I’ll stick with the tried and tested.
Feed your puppy at specific times. Usually once in the morning and once around supper time. Measure the food then put the food down and what is not consumed within 15 minutes, pick up, throw out or put away until the next feeding. This way you will have a dog that eats quickly and enthusiastically. Puppy should be fed like this until he is around 1 year of age. If you “free feed” you really don’t know how much food the puppy is consuming or when he will need to eliminate. Fresh water should be available at all times. Except I would put the water dish up a couple of hours before you plan on retiring for the night. Hopefully that way it won’t take long and puppy will be able to sleep through the night (and so will you). Some dogs learn to hold their water quite early in life others take longer. I have found that by 5 months (if not a little sooner) puppy should be able to hold his water through the night.
KENNEL TRAINING & HOUSE BREAKING
I strongly believe every puppy should have the right to have a kennel. It will become his haven; his den so as to speak. I could write 100 pages on why to kennel train a puppy. But I’ll stick to the basics. A kennel trained puppy is much easier to house train then one that is not. Even puppies only a week or ten days old will not soil their sleeping area. So, if you put puppy in the kennel after he has been taken outside to eliminate, and you take him out again after he has awakened, the chances of an oops are much less. Did you see I wrote “he has been taken outside”? Good remember that for the next section. Puppies should not have full run of the house until they have been house trained. Having full run of your home is a privilege and they must earn that privilege before they are allowed to do so. Of course you will want to have him in the living room with you occasionally. This should be done for short periods only and he should be strictly observed, and only after puppy has eliminated. You want as few puddles as possible because wherever he has gone, he will go back and piddle again. There are any number of products on the market that will help with this problem but the best solution is not to allow it to happen very often. If puppy is around you, as most are, but all of a sudden trucks off in a different direction and perhaps makes a turn or two, you know what he’s going to do!! Quickly pick him up and carry him to his potty area outside. Praise the daylights out of him when he goes. If you are too late to catch puppy before the deed is done do not hit or yell at him. If you do this all you teach puppy to do is be more sneaky the next time. And never discipline puppy if you don’t actually catch him in the act. If you discipline after he won’t have a clue what it was that he did wrong. All he knows is you are treating him badly and probably scaring the wits out of him in the process. Never, never rub puppies nose in it unless you want him to become a poop eater.
Keep this tip in mind: puppies usually eliminate within 20 minutes of eating.
Any puppy or dog that is kennel trained is usually calmer and safer. Puppies can and do chew the darndest things; anything they can reach. Wires leading into electrical plug-ins, wooden tables & chairs, gyproc, furniture, your expensive shoes, you name they’ll chew it. So, if you are out and puppy is in his kennel he can’t do those things. He is safe from harm. A rawhide or favourite, safe, toy can be put in the kennel with him. Another thing to consider, if puppy has to stay at the veterinarians, he will be kennelled. If puppy is accustomed to a kennel he will not be stressed out but will in fact be allot calmer then one that is not used to being in a kennel.
If your puppy is young he will take to the kennel easier then an older puppy but even an older puppy can be trained. Generally they don’t like their kennels at first. But if the kennel training is approached in a positive way puppy usually settles in quite quickly. Firstly make sure your kennel is not too big or puppy might use this as his potty area. Get one small enough, even if it means getting a larger one as he grows. They should be able to lay down comfortably, stand up and turn around. They do not need anything much bigger at first. Start by putting puppy in the kennel for a very brief time along with a small treat. Shut the door. Open the door and let puppy out BEFORE he starts making a fuss. If you wait until he makes a fuss and then immediately let him out you are teaching him if he makes a fuss you’ll let him out. NOT what you want at all! You would do this as many times in a day that you can. Try to make a game of it. Be happy. Have the kennel in a room where it is easily accessible like the kitchen for instance. And always have a little treat to put in with puppy. Maybe even put something in the kennel that he really likes but shut the door and don’t let him in right away. Another thing that convinces puppies this is a really good place is to always feed him in his kennel. And whatever you do never feed puppy from the table.
When retiring for the night move the kennel into the bedroom with you. By far most puppies do not want to be alone. Once puppy is trained to the kennel it can be left in the room where you want him to sleep. Most puppies are kept in the bedroom with their owners.
Puppies train much faster if you take them outside then if you just shove them outside by themselves. To be put outside all by themselves can be quite threatening and scary to a young puppy. He will not be thinking of doing his business I can assure you. So, you go outside with puppy. Take him to the his potty area and give the command to “go pee” or “go potty” whatever term you want to use. Do not interfere with the puppy but keep it all business. Let him sniff about and in time he will do his job. Do not rush him but be patient and let him do his thing. When puppy has done his business praise lavishly immediately. Treat it like he has done the most wonderful thing he could ever do. Don’t laugh …. it works!! Also, at first, if you can dab up a bit of his urine on an old cloth or paper towel and put this in his potty area it may entice him to go more quickly. If you want puppy to stick to this potty area continuously be very persistent about going out with him and showing him where it is you want him to go. Continue until puppy can go out by himself and still use the potty area. It is not necessary that the whole back yard become his potty area. This area should be back from the entrance to your house. Marble size or larger gravel could be used in this area. And …. it must be kept clean. When puppy does his job pick it up and discard it as soon as possible.
A side note to all this: By giving the puppy the command to “go potty” you are training him to do this on command. Therefore you can take him anywhere, give him the command, and the deed is done. Makes life much simpler. Use this command before leaving your yard for a drive or a walk. This command saves messy clean-ups, unplanned stops along the way and long waits. It takes time to train this command but it is worth every minute that it takes to train it.
SPAYING OR NEUTERING
By all means I fully recommend you have this done. Again the sooner the better. Talk to your vet and see how soon they will alter your pup. Any animal that is altered in my opinion is a much nicer pet to live with. Females do NOT need to be bred once to be a better pet. This is a huge myth that some people actually believe. And it is wrong, wrong, wrong! Altering prevents many health problems and behavioural problems. Nip these problems in the bud and get your animal altered when it is young.