How to get through the first weeks of living with your new puppy in honor of National Puppy Day on March 23
Andrews McMeel Syndication
Congratulations! You have a new puppy!
Our tips will help you lay a foundation for a happy life together over the next 10-plus years. Here are nine things to start teaching your new friend right away.
1. Learn to love a crate. It’s a safe spot at home or away, a resting place and a travel carrier on the road or in the air. Furnish it with a comfortable pad to lie on, treats to find inside and a toy for comfort and entertainment. Place it in an area where people are coming and going so he can learn the family routine during the day, and in the bedroom at night so he can smell and be comforted by your presence. Teach kids that the crate is off-limits to them -- no crawling inside or sticking hands into it. Teach your pup that whining and barking don’t open the crate door. Walk away calmly and let him out only when he’s quiet.
2. Where to potty. When you arrive home from the shelter or breeder, let your pup relieve herself before going indoors. Offer praise and a treat when she does. Pups need to go out to potty immediately after every meal, after waking up, after 15 to 20 minutes of play and just before bedtime.
3. Stay close. Indoors, keep him on leash with you to ensure he can’t get into anything he shouldn’t. Young pups don’t need free run of the house. That’s when they get into trouble.
4. Touch and sound of love. Sit with your pup and talk to her. As you do, handle her paws, rub her ears, look inside and sniff the ears, rub her belly and touch her tail. This helps her learn that it’s OK for you to touch her all over, which will be helpful for later grooming appointments or vet examinations.
5. Going to the vet is fun. Your puppy’s adoption or purchase contract may require a veterinary visit within 48 hours of bringing him home to confirm that he’s in good health. Make it a “getting to know you” visit with nothing more than a gentle physical exam, a weigh-in and lots of treats from the veterinarian and staff. Schedule vaccinations or spay/neuter surgery for a later visit.
6. Meals happen on schedule. Regular meals make it easier to housetrain puppies, reduce the risk of obesity and ensure that you notice changes in appetite. Measure out regular amounts instead of filling the bowl to the brim.
7. Take food from hands. For the first week or so, hand-feed to help bond with your pup and help her learn to take items gently. Give a piece when your puppy is sitting or looking at you or if she follows when you walk away with the bowl. Ask for a spin or other behaviors before giving a piece. Hand feeding teaches puppies self-control and sets you up as the person to look to for good things.
8. Sleep tight. Even when you’re asleep, your puppy is bonding with you. He should sleep in the same room so he can smell you, but he’s too young to be on the bed. Take him out to potty, then put him in his crate with a treat. He may whine or bark, but once you get in bed and turn out the light, he should settle down. If he’s young, you may need to take him out to potty in the middle of the night. Be kind, take him where he needs to go and put him back in his crate. Nighttime isn’t playtime!
9. Learning starts now. If your puppy is 10 to 12 weeks old and has had two sets of inoculations, sign up for puppy class. The critical learning period lasts until pups are 14 to 16 weeks old, and they can learn a lot during that time about navigating the world and interacting with people.
Know the terms
on pet food labels
Q: When pet foods are labeled “super-premium” or “natural,” what does that mean? Are they better for my animal?
A: Many different terms are found on pet food labels. Others you might have seen are “premium” or “gourmet.” While all of these terms sound great, they don’t necessarily have any specific meaning. A food that’s described as “gourmet,” “premium” or “super-premium” isn’t required to meet certain standards or contain high-quality ingredients. These terms are simply marketing talk.
What about “natural” and “organic”? A natural food is one that doesn’t contain any artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. The word “organic” can be applied to any product that contains at least 95% organic ingredients, not counting salt and water. Labels that say, “Made with organic chicken and green beans,” for instance, must contain at least 70% organically produced ingredients, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, but cannot claim that the complete product is organic. It’s important to remember that the terms “natural” and “organic” are not interchangeable.
In general, foods with a premium or super-premium label typically contain high-quality or specialty ingredients. Depending on the formulation, your pet may eat less of one of these foods but take in a higher percentage of nutrients.
Price differences are usually based on the types and amounts of ingredients, such as free-range chicken and wild-caught salmon versus conventionally grown chicken and farmed salmon. Those are things that may be important to you but aren’t necessarily crucial to your pet’s health. However, the makers of both premium foods and national brands sold in grocery stores all spend big bucks on nutrition studies and feeding trials, so whichever you choose, your pet is likely to do well on it. Remember, the real test of a food’s quality is your pet’s health. -- Dr. Marty Becker
Do you have a pet question? Send it to email@example.com or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.
Protect pets from
-- Pets, especially dogs, will lick or swallow a lot of things that would never occur to us. Protect them from the following household items: cleaning products; insecticides and rodenticides; medications, supplements and vitamins; bath soap, toothpaste and sunscreen; and potpourri and mothballs. To use cleaning products safely around pets, read the labels. You may need to keep pets (and kids) away from the area being mopped or cleaned until the product has dried. If you use toilet bowl cleaners, keep the lid down. Store all risky products out of reach. You may need to use child-proof or earthquake latches on cabinet doors or place items on high shelves. With parasite prevention products, never use dog products on cats or other species. Medications to keep your dog from trying include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, diet pills, vitamins, cold pills, antihistamines, antidepressants and other prescription medications.
-- New puppy owners will enjoy journaling their pets’ milestones and learning about caring for them with “My Pawsome Dog and Me,” a pet “baby” book that addresses bringing puppy home, choosing a name, physical and mental health, grooming, training, play, body language, quotes about dogs and more. Look for it on bookstore shelves or online on April 4.
-- Are you thinking of getting a bird? Before you bring one home, consider their potential lifespan and whether you’re prepared to spend most of the rest of your life with them. Healthy pet parrots can live for decades, so that means making a major commitment. In general, the larger the parrot species, the longer the life expectancy. Large macaws can live 70 to 100 years or more, and even little budgies can live to be 20 years old. Just in case, plan for your macaw or Amazon parrot to outlive you. -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker
ABOUT PET CONNECTION
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet care experts. Veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker is founder of the Fear Free organization, co-founder of VetScoop.com and author of many best-selling pet care books. Kim Campbell Thornton is an award-winning journalist and author who has been writing about animals since 1985. Mikkel Becker is a behavior consultant and lead animal trainer for Fear Free Pets. Dr. Becker can be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/Kim.CampbellThornton and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.