Category Archives: General
Getting ready for the big day when Puppy comes home for the first time is very exciting. However, is your home ready for Puppy? Here are few considerations….
Bowls: Obviously the first things you need to get for Puppy are 2 bowls – one for water and one for food. These should be stable and not easy to tip over. The water bowl should be placed in a ‘permanent’ position, so that Puppy knows exactly where to go when he is thirsty. Food too should be served at the same venue each meal time. The bowls should be cleaned regularly (every day) and food bowls removed after 20 mins so that ants and birds don’t get at Puppy’s left overs.
Bed: You get to decide what kind of bed Puppy will have. The main point is that Puppy has a place that is his own – a place where he can sleep undisturbed, where he can ‘hide’ when overwhelmed or afraid, a ‘safe’ place that is just his. The regular ‘dog blankets’ that look like they are made of scraps of carpet under-felt, do not wash or wear well. I recommend a large blanket folded in 2 or 4 as a base and an old towel that he can scuffle up to put on top. GAME stores have large grey single bed size blankets that serve the purpose very well. You can even fold the towel into a circle to make a nest for him to snuggle into – especially as he is used to sleeping in a heap with all his warm siblings. Maybe warm up one of those micro-wave bean bags for him to act as a sibling to cuddle with. Wrap the bean bag snugly into another towel to prevent puppy getting burnt in case it is too warm, and also to prevent him chewing it open. Cushions are nice and comfortable, but make sure they are covered with a durable fabric – something like a thick denim, otherwise you will wake up to find the cushion has been de-stuffed and there is a huge mess and a very happy Puppy who had great fun pulling it all apart. We have experienced several of these ‘snow’ days where the lawn is covered with the white stuffing of a nice soft pillow. Now we just stick to blankets – easy to wash pretty much indestructible. Baskets (wicker or fabric) and/or crates are good options, but expect them to get chewed; and they can be expensive. But they certainly help define the ‘safe’ place for Puppy.
Food: Puppy has been weaned on ROYAL CANIN STARTER FOOD – specially designed for 0 -3 month olds. However, if you decide to use a different brand of food, that’s your decision. We recommend the best food that you can afford for the first 2 years while he is growing and developing. (Hills, Eukanuba and Royal Canin are considered the top 3 brands). Thereafter, you can ‘downgrade’ if you choose to do so. If you do want to switch foods we recommend you do it over 5 days. First day 80% Royal Canin + 20 % new food; second day 60% Royal Canin + 40% new food; third day 40% Royal Canin + 60% new food etc for the 5 days. This will help prevent a runny tummy.
Puppy Toilet: We have been working hard to get the pups to “go” on newspaper, so make sure you leave a few pieces lying near his sleep area, again keep them in the same place all the time, so he knows that is his designated toilet area. As he grows older, he will learn better control, and eventually will be ‘potty trained’ to go on the lawn. After each meal, take Puppy outside to where you want him to “go”. Be patient, you may have to stand for a while as he sniffs around and choose the exact spot. Before bedtime, take him again to his toilet spot. He will soon learn that this is where he should “go”. When it is toilet time, don’t pet him or fuss. Just take him on his lead to the “toilet” and wait while he does his business. When it is done, then praise him for being so clever. He’ll soon get the hang of it.
Collar and lead: Have a small Puppy-sized size collar and lead for taking him outside and teaching him basic lessons. This will need to be changed once he grows up to an adult size collar and lead. The adult size now will not only be too big, but also too heavy.
Toys: See my previous blog on “Toys”. A largish sibling-size soft toy may be a comfort for the first night away from mom and siblings.
Puppy-proof your home: Pretend you are Puppy and go down on your hands and knees and find all the lovely dangly, tempting things to tug on and chew on. Look particularly for cables and cords – lamps, computers,television, etc are wonderful chew-things for Puppy to tackle. Low-hanging table cloths are begging to be pulled down, often with dire consequences for any ornaments on top. Look for any ant traps / roach traps that may be hidden in places you can’t reach but Puppy can. Keep plastic bags out of his reach. If there is trouble to be found, Puppy will find it. Check all perimeters for holes, sharp objects, bits of wire poking up, etc. Watch out for any sharp stones or dangerous objects on the ground. Don’t leave any dangerous tools standing around outside, eg spades. And please be aware of poisonous plants – Puppy chews anything. What you miss, he will find.
Think like a puppy. Try to imagine all his needs. And do your best to make his home as safe for him as you can.
Safe toys are an important part of a puppy’s life. Be careful when choosing toys for your puppy. There are many cheap toys available, but I would suggest rather invest in toys made by recognised companies who have taken safety into consideration. Sure they are more expensive, but think how much is your Puppy worth to you. If unsure of the safety of a toy – don’t buy it.
Check for things like:
1) What is the toy made of? You don’t want the toy to be made of any toxic substances and the cheaper toys often have unknown substances in them. We don’t want to poison Puppy through his toys.
2) What does the toy contain? Some soft toys are stuffed with harmful substances. If Puppy chews the toy open – what will he be exposed to? For example, avoid anything with polystyrene balls. Aweful stuff to eat, but Puppy may decided to try eat it. Not good.
Squeeky toys are fun, but some dogs (like mine, who are gundogs) will try to kill the squeek! This means the toy is likely to be thoroughly destroyed in the effort to get to the squeek. Once the squeek is dead, then the toy is no longer fun. But in the meantime, its stuffing has been ripped out and spread all over the place.
3) Is the toy too ‘fluffy’? Some soft childrens toys are too fluffy for Puppy and the fluff comes off and may get stuck in Puppy’s throat. Puppies should get puppy toys, not human toys.
4) Size of the toy: – avoid toys that are too small. Keep things like Lego and Mecano (anything that has small components) away from Puppy. Toys should be big enough to NOT fit whole into Puppy’s mouth where it can get stuck and block the airway. This is especially important when it comes to balls. No table-tennis balls for example. Rather be safe than sorry. A tennis ball is a good size ball, even if it seems too big for Puppy at first.
5) Are there any parts of the toy that come off? Sometimes the cute toys with attached eyes and noses are not a good idea if Puppy can chew they eyes or nose off. Again, these pieces tend to be small and can get stuck in the throat or intestines and cause problems. Hard toys with ‘spikes’ can also be a problem, even if the spiks are soft. Again Puppy is like to swallow the spikes, even if they are small. These could cause a problem when getting eliminated, especially when Puppy is still small himself. Bigger dogs are unlike to have a problem passing chewed bits of toy, but the little guys have little intestines.
6) Will the toy unravel or fray? Be careful of toys that may unravel or fray – like a ski rope. Rather choose a knotted rope toy made specially for dogs – they are generally a good buy and not too costly either. The fibres are thick and unlikely to fray into small pieces. These are good and safe for cleaning teeth. The knotted rope is also a good starting toy for teaching “retrieve” as it has the same shape as a dumbell.
7) Raw hide bones and hoofs: – there are many varied opinions on these. Personally, I like to stick to natural rather than processed. Dried oesophagus and dried pigs ears are expensive, but tastier and healthier for Puppy. Hoofs are better if ‘uncleaned’, but boy can they stink?!!
8) Which bones are safe? Avoid any small bones that can get swallowed whole – bones should be chewed so that they can be digested, not swallowed whole. Also avoid any bones with sharp edges eg lamb bones. These have potential for perforating the intestines – nasty! I often go to the butcher and get a thigh bone of a cow, which I then ask the butcher to cut both vertically and horizontally to make four pieces. This opens the bone to expose the marrow. This is a HUGE favourite with all my dogs, young and old alike as they can safely get to the marrow and it keeps them busy for a long time. And don’t get a fright when you find Puppy’s poop is white the next day – its the chewed bones coming out.
9) Are chicken bones safe? Again this is a debatable issue. Many people claim that chickens today which are bred in chicken houses have very soft bones as they do not get to run outside in the sunshine where they would build strong bones. We give our dogs chicken bones, but make sure to take off that sharp little bone on the drumstick. Chicken gravy / fat is a lovely treat to pour over their kibble on occassion.
If in doubt, think like a puppy. What can I chew? What can I destroy? What can I swallow?
You have invested a lot of money in buying your Puppy – look after your little investment!
A very interesting thing happened this week. Cherry, one of our other breeding bitches, started to howl and cry and make strange noises. It was kind of a sing-song whine-howl noise that she would make. As this was a problem at night, I had to lock her away in a separate room, but the crying noise did not cease. She did not like being locked away and scratched on the door, forcing me to let her out. It took me a couple of days to realise that she wanted to be with the puppies. As she was in season at the same time as Abigail and Jade, she seems to think the puppies are hers. At first I alternated her with Jade, the real mother, so that they were not with the puppies at the same time, as Cherry started to be very protective of the puppies, even though they were not hers. I was concerned that Cherry and Jade might fight. So at night I would make a bed for Cherry in the kitchen and then give her 2 puppies to look after for the night, while Jade slept with the other seven.
One evening I made a mistake and I let Jade into the puppy room while Cherry was with the puppies. A very interesting thing happened. Instead of a fight as I had expected, Cherry, as a surrogate, submitted to Jade as the real mother. From then on, it was okay to allow both girls in with the puppies at the same time. Then I realised that in the wild, the alpha bitch bears the puppies and the other bitches in the pack assist her with the young ones! How awesome to see this natural phenomenon happen in my very own yard! Cherry enjoys being with the puppies more than Jade does. I guess it is because the pups are getting rough with Jade and bite and pull hard on her when they drink from her. Jade enjoys short periods of playing with the puppies. Cherry seems to love having her ears and tailed pulled and bitten, and to have puppies climb all over her and cuddle up next to her. Jade doesn’t seem to mind Cherry being there, so I let them both go to the pups whenever they want to. The interesting thing is Cherry’s teats seem to be filling up with some milk. This apparently is also a natural phenomenon.
One thing I did notice is that Cherry included the big ‘green pepper’ soft toy as one of her puppies. She carries it around and cuddles up to it, as if it is also a puppy! Very interesting! I guess the softness and size of the toy meets some maternal need within her.
Our dogs come with their own coats, which they grow and groom themselves. We give them a weekly brush (and trim if necessary), which they love. They queue up for their weekly brushing! In winter they grow thicker coats and in summer they wear their light weight summer coats. But they all have the same favourite shade of red – some call it mahogany, some call it chestnut, some call it red. The coats are soft and warm and work very well. We used to put blanket jackets on them, but they seem happier without the “clutter”. In fact, many of our dogs like to go for a ‘swim’ in the fish pond, which they do right into winter. So clearly they are not affected by the cold as much as we seem to think.
The puppies wear special camouflage coats which are all brown in colour. All the better to hide from potential predators in the wild. As they grow their coats will change colour.