Feeding Your Puppy
Choose a dry food intended specifically for puppies, avoiding generic foods and those that sell for unusually low prices. Many things that owners look for, such as high protein levels and extra vitamins, are more likely to be harmful than helpful. For example, overfeeding and over supplementation are factors contributing to hip dysplasia. If you have a large-breed puppy, purchase "large breed" puppy food. The actual formula is different, not just the kibble size, and is better for very rapidly growing puppies.
Offer food to young puppies three times a day. If your puppy isn't hungry that often, reduce the frequency. After ten or twelve weeks of age, feed twice a day. Even adult dogs should have their food split into morning and evening feedings. When fed once a day dogs become overly hungry and are more likely to overeat at mealtime. Let your puppy eat as much as she wants in fifteen minutes and then pick up the food dish. Having food continually available encourages overeating, and chubby puppies are more likely to have hip dysplasia and weight problems later in life. Also, because free-fed puppies never get very hungry, they don't enjoy their food unless given special treats. The combination of special treats and freely available food encourages them to become bored, overweight and picky.
Do not give people food. If you start with a balanced diet and add goodies from the table, you won't have a balanced diet anymore, and your puppy will have more digestive trouble. Treats that are reasonably balanced, such as Milk Bone Biscuits are OK, but since they are not really all that great nutritionally, don't let them become an important part of the diet.
Between six and sixteen weeks of age, puppies lose the disease protection they received from their mothers and become able to form their own immunity to disease. Unfortunately, we never know when this will happen, so there is often a brief period when puppies have lost the disease protection they received from their mothers but have not yet developed strong immunity of their own. Fortunately, new vaccines for distemper and parvovirus are much more effective than what we had even two or three years ago, and eliminate much of this problem. Until your puppy is four or five months old, try to prevent contact with stray dogs or sick dogs. Avoid boarding your puppy or taking her places like highway rest stops where lots of other dogs have been previously.
Puppies have a strong natural instinct to avoid soiling their own area. If you are consistent and patient, this natural urge for cleanliness makes house training fairly easy. You can begin training any time after five weeks of age. A little extra effort and patience in puppy hood will make the difference later on between a happy, cooperative pet and one that causes problems for you.
Teaching where to go- At first, feed at least three times a day. All dogs do not have the same digestive rates-you may need to feed your puppy as often as five times a day in order to avoid overloading his system and causing loose, difficult-to-control bowel movements. When you find the right schedule, the result is a dog that eats and then has a bowel movement within a few minutes. Feed indoors. Remember, dogs do not like to eliminate where they eat. If your dog is urinating or defecating in a certain area, try feeding him right at that spot (after clean up, of course.)
Right after your dog finishes eating; chase him out to his toilet area, ahead of you if possible. Then let him sniff around for a good spot. Do not confuse things by urging him to go. After he goes to the bathroom, crouch down and point at the urine or faecal matter and say "good dog". Look right at the stuff, not at the dog. If your dog sniffs it, praise and pet him enthusiastically.
Take your puppy outside:
· after waking up, even from a nap,
· after extreme excitement,
· after drinking water
· after prolonged chewing on a toy, etc.
· if he starts sniffing around the house for a good spot
In about four days your pup should automatically head for his proper place after meals or whenever the urge strikes. If it takes longer, be patient. After this stage of house training, your puppy knows where to go, but not when to go. Do not try to teach self control (the "when" part) until you can be sure he will always head for the door when it's time to go.
Puppy's Place in the Family
The reason dogs are such good pets and fit so well into human society is that they are social animals by nature. Their greatest psychological need is to be part of a group. Whether it's a family of just you and puppy, or a boisterous household full of children and pets, in order to be happy your new puppy must feel secure about her place in the group. If you watch puppies at play, you will see a lot of growling and tussling. There is more to this play fighting than meets the eye. Those little guys are already deciding who is going to be "top dog". Whether you realize it or not, something very much like this play fighting is happening at home between your puppy and the rest of the family.
To be confident and secure what puppies need most is a master they can depend on. For your dog to have a happy life and be a pleasure to own, at least one person in the family must become such a master. Dogs have no mental concept of "friends and equals". Somebody has to be boss. Assertive puppies will grow up trying to be boss, which won't make either one of you happy. A submissive puppy may spend its entire life fretting and worrying, never sure what is expected. Everything usually works out just fine automatically--puppies find their place in the family without much trouble and everyone is happy with the arrangement. If, on the other hand, you have a strongly assertive or unusually submissive pet there are some things you should keep in mind:
Working with an assertive puppy
Assertive puppies tend to immediately investigate new people and objects. They are quick to begin play fighting activities with people. When they want to be petted or fed, they are insistent and demanding. These puppies fall easily into the role of family protector because they think the people belong to them. This is well and good, but because dogs cannot really understand human society, there is soon trouble. They may try to defend you from everyone, and biting the UPS man because he invades your yard is not ok. Biting the children is not ok. The most serious problems happen when grandchildren are involved. Perceived either as an outside threat or a competitor, it is not unusual for grandchildren to be badly injured by big assertive dogs.
The training techniques used to establish your teacher-learner relationship are especially important. Remember that your dog will be much happier in the long run if he earns praise and pleasure by obeying you, not by demanding it. It is especially important for you to be master. Do not allow your dog to nip or bite at you in a friendly way. Do not stimulate your puppy by waving your arms and acting excited or by playing tug of war. Do not become what your puppy perceives to be an equal and competitive playmate.
Working with a submissive puppy
Submissive puppies tend to "shy away" from new people or things, either by lying down or actually running away. It is normal for most puppies to be slightly submissive. They wish for nothing more than to please you and this makes them easy to train. Teach shy puppies things they can do that will earn your calm, reassuring praise. Try to provide a peaceful environment and a dependable schedule that includes exercise, a daily obedience session, and reliable feeding times. Most puppies and young dogs have a tendency to urinate in response to new situations, when meeting a stranger, or even when their owners come home and greet them excitedly. This is a sign that your puppy is uncertain about what is expected. Never scold when this happens. Puppy is already trying hard to please. Calmly reassure, ignoring the urination. Clean up later, in private.
It is natural for puppies to chew--that's one of the ways they explore and learn. Try to keep valuable objects that are chewable safely out of reach and provide a satisfactory alternative like a Nylabone chew toy. Destructive chewing is merely a way to work off excitement and relieve frustration, not an insidious plan to get even with you. Help encourage your puppy to be calm. Be easygoing. Don't encourage tug of war or play that involves chewing and biting.
When you leave home for the day, don't make it into a big deal for the dog. By showing lots of emotion of any sort (threats or cheerfulness, it doesn't matter) you build up emotional stress. This is often vented in destructive chewing. Your last three or four minutes at home should be spent calmly reading or sitting. Then get up and leave, ignoring your puppy completely--don't even say goodbye. Arrive home the same way. Ignore your puppy at first and avoid the area where things are most likely to have been chewed. If things are a mess when you get home, don't let puppy know you care. Behave calmly. Clean up later when your puppy can't watch. Do not build up more stress by scolding--that just makes things worse. Again, work on teaching simple obedience and building the teacher-learner relationship. Puppies need a calm, dependable master.
Chew Treats, Bones and Toys
Don't give your puppy anything small enough to swallow that can't be digested, or things that can be chewed into large indigestible chunks and swallowed. Chicken bones, rib bones, and pork bones are the most likely to cause trouble. Old gooey rawhide chews or bones from the butcher that have been around for a few days get rotten and cause diarrhoea. If you give things like this (not really a good idea), use good sense. Bones should be too large to swallow and solid enough that they won't be broken up into smaller chunks. Hooves, pig's ears, and miscellaneous semi-digestible treats probably aren't a good idea either, but if you use them be sure they are too large to be swallowed whole, or small enough to go all the way through.
Instead, use flavored Nylabone or Nylafloss chew toys. If your puppy first learns to prefer bones and rawhide, he probably won't think chew toys are all that great, so use them from the beginning. Nylafloss looks like a big thick chunk of nylon rope. Puppies like it because they can really sink their teeth into the rope, and it helps keep the teeth clean.