Puppy Care Info

Help For The New Puppy Owner

Biting

Have you been on the receiving end of those sharp, pointy puppy teeth? They can be quite painful, even if your puppy is only intending to play.

It is important that your pup learns it isn’t appropriate to bite or mouth people while she is young. Adult teeth in much stronger jaws can do significantly more damage; so teaching her appropriate behaviour now is in everyone’s best interest.

Puppies explore much of their world with their mouths. They also play with other puppies by biting and mouthing. Those pointy teeth are also a great way of attracting attention if things seem a bit on the quiet side. A little nip is often a sure fire way to get people to start moving around and games to start!
Some puppies are mouthier than others. However, it is an exceptionally rare puppy that does not mouth or play- bite at all. So mouthing can be considered a normal behaviour that needs to be directed appropriately.

You can set up a game to teach your puppy to chew and bite appropriately. Have a few toys with you and start to play with your puppy in a reasonably small area such as a laundry.
If your pup chews and plays with her toys she can be verbally praised. If she mouths on anyone, she should be immediately redirected to a toy. If she doesn’t instantly redirect her mouth then say “too bad”.
Scoop up the toys and leave the room. Leave your pup alone for about 20 seconds.
Then return and immediately make the toys inviting again. Repeat the process over and over. In time your pup will learn that if she chews on her toys, then good things happen. If she chews on people then she is ignored and all her toys disappear.

You can also stand up, fold your arms and turn your back. Making a loud squeal noise when puppies bite to hard sends the same message that a littermate would send when the pup has bitten too hard.
Pushing your dog away with your hands encourages more play and more biting. Negative attention is still attention to a puppy.

Toilet Training

Puppy toilet training can be a long process and takes a lot of patience and kindness! It is important to remember that puppies do not have sphincter control until around 6 months of age while the muscle develops.

This can mean in times of excitement, your puppy may urinate without much warning – this is normal and vanishes over time.

What you can do is look for cues for when your puppy wants to urinate or defecate. Usually they begin to sniff the floor, circle in the same spot, or whimper. IF you notice any of these signs, take your puppy immediately outside to the grass, or to the place you would like them to go.

If they go straight away – lots of praise and excitement! Puppies respond well to upbeat tones and happiness, also give a treat straight away, especially high value treats like BBQ chicken, as this reinforces the good behaviour.

IN the beginning, especially with younger puppies, you may need to anticipate for your puppy when they need to use the bathroom. It is helpful to take your puppy outside every hour or so in case they might need to go. Again, if they immediately go when you place them outside – lots of praise and treats!

Puppies also often need to go 20-30 minutes after eating – so its often helpful to place them outside after meal times. A regular feeding schedule will also reinforce good toilet behaviours, rather than always having food available for them.

If you live in an apartment and plan to take your pup out regularly to the bathroom outside of your apartment, it can help to add a verbal cue when they do go. Say this cue loudly and upbeat while they are urinating and then treat immediately after. They will need associate the verbal cue with going to the bathroom.

Regular accidents in the same place may indicate the area has not been cleaned properly. Puppies respond to smells when they go to the bathroom, so if you have not used an enzyme cleaner to clean the area where your pup had an accident, they are more likely to go in the same spot. Ajax and other household cleaners do not break down the ammonia in urine, you will need an enzyme cleaner like Urine Off Puppy.

    Feeding

    Having a regular feeding schedule for puppies will ensure they do not become fussier later in life. In the beginning you can feed puppies 3-4 times per day. How much a pup should be fed depends on the food you are feeding. All foods have a feeding guide on the packet. You will need to know how much your puppy weighs to feed accordingly. You will need to monitor this over time and increase as needed.

    It is helpful to know what your puppy’s breeder or rescue group was feeding initially so you can continue feeding this to begin with, if you wish to swap foods, you can transition slowly over time so you don’t upset your puppies stomach.

    A good quality puppy commercial diet if sufficient for most puppies. You can also supplement with fresh meat and bones as well, but bones should always be supervised.
    Puppy milk is not required after weaning which is around 6-8 weeks. Fresh water should always be available.

    As your puppy ages, you can reduce feeding down to 1-2 times per day depending on your preference.

    Feeding

    Puppies should have a course of three vaccinations. The first C3 vaccination should have been given by the breeder or rescue group. This is done around 6-8 weeks of age.
    Puppies should be not sold or adopted out until after 8 weeks – this is important, as mothers provide socialisation for puppies before 8 weeks, and adopting before this time means they miss these crucial behaviour cues.

    Puppies then receive a booster vaccination around 10-12 weeks of age, and this is their first C5 vaccination. Puppies can socialise one week after this vaccination is given. 98% of puppies will seroconvert antibodies after this time, and the 2% that don’t is mostly due to breed.

    Many puppy owners have a fear they cannot put their puppies down on the ground or take them anywhere outside their backyard. Due to high vaccination rates in the inner west, we rarely see parvovirus in this area.

    We do recommend that puppies avoid high risk areas like dog parks etc but lead walking around the neighbourhood and socialising with known vaccinated dogs is perfectly fine.

    Socialising before 16 weeks is absolutely critical to having a relaxed and sociable dog. Puppies should meet a range of dogs in ages breeds etc.

    Their third vaccination is given around 14-16 weeks,and is a follow up vaccination to catch the 2% who did not seroconvert after their second vaccination. After this time, a booster vaccination is given one year later.

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    Enfield Veterinary Hospital has been serving the pet community for longer than any other vet in the South West of Sydney including the suburbs of Enfield, Strathfield, Strathfield SouthHomebush, Burwood, Croydon, Croydon Park, Concord, Ashfield, Belfield, Campsie, Greenacre and the surrounding areas of the greater Inner West of Sydney. We have been part of the local landscape for almost 40 years. One of our partners, Dr Catherine Brett, has been caring for pets of the community for over 20 years.