Monday, April 7, 2008

Puppy Tips!

1. “baby-proof” your house. Puppies are like little toddlers, curious and capable of getting into things. Hide or raise electrical cords out of reach (they are a big chewing temptation). Consider baby gates on stairways until your puppy is old enough to climb safely.

2. Puppies are natural chewers. They have teeth that are coming in and growing and will need some toys that are specifically for chewing. You may want to add these to your shopping list.

3. Plan where your puppy will be sleeping. As with children, routines and places set aside for specific purposes are important. You can purchase a dog bed, a crate, or even plan for him to sleep in your bed, but it is best to have that decision made before your puppy arrives. A new puppy is not used to being alone. Now without the company of its littermates-it will need new littermates to make it feel safe and comfortable— that is you! If possible, plan for him to sleep in the same room as a member of the family. He can be in a crate, but just knowing someone is around will help him feel secure.

4. House training is top priority. With a new puppy it can be a lengthy process. He will need a lot of patience and a very well established routine. Puppies will naturally want to keep their sleeping area clean so you need to get them to realize the whole house is their sleeping area. For the first days, take your puppy outside every few hours and allow him to relieve himself. Be sure it is in the same area every time. The scent from previous visits will help him to know this place is the place to go. You may want to think about what part of the yard you want to be the puppy potty place.

5. Choose a local veterinarian. He/she can be an invaluable resource. Once your shipping date is set, call to schedule an appointment for your puppy’s first visit (recommended within the first couple days, see the health agreement). Bring your puppy’s vaccination records and any questions you may have.

6. Your puppy will need food and water dishes. Our puppies have been started on a specific puppy ration, so if possible it is best to continue with that. We use: Science Diet Puppy Food. Be sure it is the small bites kind and not the original (which is much to big for beagle puppies). They should have fresh water available at all times and usually schedule 2-3 small meals a day of ½ to ¾ a cup. A set schedule for this will also help with puppy’s house training. Be sure to take him outside after finishing each meal- it is a prime time for puppy to eliminate.

7. Read anything you can find by Cesar Milan (the Dog Whisperer). He is a genius when it comes to understanding how dogs think and why they act the way they do. His list of priorities are important and significant in meeting your dog’s needs: 1. Exercise, 2. Disciple, 3. Affection. And always in that order.

8. He highly recommends using slip leads (they are called British style, or show leads). We have found no other way to train a puppy to lead more effectively. We are supposed to lead the dogs, they aren’t supposed to drag us. Intentionally working on this when they are young is very important.

9. Especially when it comes to beagles, teaching them to come when called is probably the very first priority in puppy training. The use of treats is very helpful!

10. Always go out the same door for potty trips. The more “ritualized” you can make potty time, the quicker your puppy will learn good habits. Same door, same time, same area of the yard, etc.
11. Think of your potty-trainee as a preschooler. They need to be reminded to go to the bathroom. He should always be taken out after lunch (any meal), recess (any significant playtime), and after a nap (generally the very first thing when a puppy wake’s up is “nature’s call”).

12. Our vets recommend neutering and spaying around six months of age.

13. Everyone says don’t feed table scraps. There is a reason for that, both physically and behaviorally.

14. After the first few days and getting into a routine, there is a general sign of when your puppy isn’t feeling well. Whenever a beagle stops eating or drinking, usually they are sick. If that happens, keep an eye on them and if they also stop wanting to play, you may want to consider taking them to see your vet. During the first few days a puppy is adjusting to its new environment and may even have a little air/car sickness. Don’t worry if his appetite isn’t great the first day or so.

15. Different people have different ideas about dental care for dogs. One easy thing to do is avoid canned or soft dog food. You can use dental bones or biscuits and you can also actually brush their teeth. There are several different dog tooth pastes and they generally always like the taste of it. We don’t have a particularly favorite brand. If you do plan to brush teeth, start as early as you can. It is much harder to get a full grown dog to stand for such invasive hygiene.

16. If you can, limit treats to specific training exercises. Our adult beagles get only 1 and ½ cups of dog food a day, and even on that strict ration some can get overweight. As with the rest of us, prevention is much easier than correcting a weight problem later. For the first 6-9 months that really isn’t anything to worry about, but after that point start to be a little more careful. Also, the puppy food really isn’t necessary beyond the first 6 months. It’s okay, but you can go to a regular adult formula (of good quality) after that.

17. House Training for Dummies is a very good discussion of the topic, an inexpensive and worthwhile read. Also, read anything you can find about “crate-training.” Just google it and you will find a lot of info.

18. A heart-beat pillow is a good aid for the puppy who doesn’t like to sleep alone (that is actually most puppies).

19. You can spend a bundle on grooming supplies, but with beagles its not really that necessary. You can simply bathe as needed, or schedule a time once a week. We have never really had a problem with dogs not liking bath time. Start them early, that is the key. For all our dogs (puppies and adults) we use Hartz Puppy Shampoo. It is available at any Walmart and is quite inexpensive, but it works very well. It has a nice scent, makes for a very healthy coat, and we have never had a dog get irritated skin from it. If you give regular baths, you will find that shedding will be less and your dog’s coat will be guaranteed to be shiny.

20. A simple dog brush is fine. Generally, brushing once a week is enough. It is not just for looks, it’s a bonding and relationship building activity.

21. Your vet will know about the specific licensing requirements for dogs in your area, just ask.

22. “Sit” is generally the easiest command to start with. Just take a treat in front of them. Then move it back over their head. They will naturally sit to keep an eye on it. When they do reward them with praise…. And the treat of course!

23. When you are housetraining, puppies should not be allowed to roam the house unattended.

24. Watch carefully when your puppy is eliminating, see what he does right before. There are usually some signals that he is going to go. Learn them and watch carefully in order to stop him before he goes where he shouldn’t.

25. Make a conscience effort to socialize your puppy early. Greeting and meeting new people and new animals is very important. Going into new environments and strange places is very good for them. Each time you go somewhere new and have a good experience, his confidence grows. Often the dog that doesn’t seem to “like” other pets or even people, is simply afraid of them. The less fear your puppy has, the less behavior problems down the road.

26. Nails do need to be trimmed about once every 2 weeks. Walking on concrete does help, but may not keep them quite short enough. If they are allowed to overgrow, the quick will get longer (the pink interior that you don’t want to cut because it can bleed and be painful). With the new puppy, you can just use your nail trimmers and move up to a real dog one later. Again, getting used to this early is the best.

27. Play with your puppy’s ears. It seems like a strange bit of advice but it comes directly from our vet. Long eared dogs are more prone to ear infections and the like. So your dog may need a simple treatment for that sometime in their life. Simple treatments aren’t so simple when the dog is not used to it. Also, when bathing, don’t get water in the ears if you can help it. Use a damp cloth or q-tip later.

28. Every region of the country has its specific parasite treatment and control needs. Just check with your vet, they will gladly give you their recommended regimen of applications. We use Frontline Spray for fleas and tick. It works like a charm and only needs to be applied once a month.

29. Please, get your puppy familiar with cats at a young age. If you don’t; each time they see a cat their hunting instinct will over take their good manners.

30. Always correct a bad behavior right away. According to Cesar Milan, they respond more to touch than to verbal commands. A hand firmly on the back of the neck will communicate much more than a hundred half-hearted “No”s.

31. You can use the puppy training pads if you like. But in the long run, it may be better not to allow them to go anywhere, at anytime, in the house.

32. Consider a Microchip for your dog. Most vets will be able to do it for you. It can be recorded on your puppy’s registration papers with the United All Breed Registry. It only needs to help you find your lost pet one time to be completely invaluable.

33. The ideal is at least one walk each and every day. This is very important for your young dog, for his health, mental well-being, and bond with you. Cesar calls it “Migrating” and it is extremely important in building the “pack.”

34. If a dog is excessively vocal or destructive, even a beagle, that is a clear sign he is not getting enough exercise or stimulation.

35. Like any intelligent child, your puppy will need constructive mental challenges; if you don’t plan some, he will create his own. His tend to be more destructive and unpleasant than you or I would choose.

36. Your puppy will only be a puppy for such a short time. Generally, beagles are full grown by 6 months! Cherish their puppy-hood and know that your extra work now will greatly benefit you and him for years to come.