Which Puppy

Choosing a Puppy From The Litter

There is no one way to choose a puppy from a litter, below is merely a guideline. in the end maybe it’s pretty much a gut reaction. Many people claim that they knew it was their puppy or their puppy chose them. Which way your puppy comes into your home and becomes part of your family doesn’t really matter. What is important, is that you and your puppy commence a lifelong bond, that only people with dogs truly understand.

Firstly, if you are looking at the entire litter, ensure:

  • All the puppies are round bellied with no ribs showing, even the greyhound and whippet types. Eyes and ears should be clear, bottoms should be clean and there should be no signs of fleas.
  • The puppies should be happy, friendly, curious and trusting. If several of the puppies are barking at you or seem anxious, walk away.

Choosing a puppy

As hard as it might be, stand back and look at the litter as a whole before you interrupt them. Watch the way they interact with each other. You can tell a lot about a puppy’s personality by how they are playing with their siblings – which ones are gentler and quieter, which ones are noisy and exuberant, which ones are overly possessive of toys or food. Choose a temperament that will match your family.

There are several things in particular you should look out for:

  • Energy levels – this can vary hugely even within a litter. Watch them play for a while, and ask the breeder for an insight. Many families choose the puppy that wants to play with them the most, that tugs on their pants and jumps all over them. Although these puppies are great fun, make sure you want that high level of energy.
  • Shyness – don’t think that the smallest shyest puppy needs rescuing, or that you can bring them out of their shell with some love and care. A shy puppy will be a shy adult, and can develop anxiety and social issues that can take a lot of time and training to fix.
  • Social skills – as they play, look for the puppies that are happy to be on both the top and bottom as they wrestle. Puppies that are mostly on top, although they seem the most confident, are actually the ones most likely to develop anxiety and aggression problems. They need to be happy and confident to have another puppy on top of them.  A puppy should be happy anywhere in the pile.
  • Reactivity to touch – pick up the puppies and cradle them. They should be able to settle for at least 30 seconds before struggling to be put down. Touch their feet, mouth and generally pet them all over. A well socialised and balanced puppy shouldn’t have a problem with this. Turn the puppy over on their back too – wiggling to get down is normal, but squealing, crying or growling is not.
  • Startling – after you have selected a few puppies, drop something that will make a loud noise. All puppies will startle at the noise unless they are deaf, but then should ideally recover and come over to investigate what it was. A puppy that stays away will likely be fearful as an adult.
  • People skills – look for puppies that are enthusiastic to come over and greet you and will stick around and play with you. Independent puppies may be more interested in exploring, and shy puppies may be more interested in hiding. Puppies don’t yet have adult social skills, so mouthing, jumping or licking you are perfectly normal.  Many people after considering the entire litter will pick out two or three and see which one walks over to them. This means the puppy is inquisitive and interested in humans generally.

 

Which Breed

Choosing a breed of dog that’s right for you – so many breeds, so little time.

The best idea when considering which breed of dog will suit you and your lifestyle is to examine what the breed was actually bred to do.  For example many people think a Lhasa Apso is a lap dog when in fact it is a sentinel breed and is designed to bark. Other people might believe a Standard Poodle is a prancing show dog, when in fact the breed is a water retriever and the “fancy” haircut has a specific hunting based purpose. A Jack Russell was designed to flush out foxes and has high energy levels and tendency to dig. A Pomeranian is a lap dog but was first bred from crossing the German Spitz and sled dogs of Lapland. In other words get to know the breed you intend bringing into your home. A cross breed will have traits of both parent breeds, so you need to know about both breeds.

Points to Consider:

  • Do you have any children? Although no one breed is better with children than another, there are factors such as size to consider.
  • How much exercise can you give them? If you are a person with limited time then perhaps a Kelpie is not for you.
  • How much training are you willing to do? Most people would put intelligence on their list of ideal traits for their dog. However, having an extremely smart dog is not always the blessing you imagine it to be. Dog intelligence is measured by a number of factors inclusive of ease of training, willingness to please (aka desire to be praised), adaptability but most importantly ability to problem solve. A dog will not solve a problem the same way a human will and it is here that many humans find issues. So “smart” dogs need specific instructions. Breeds commonly listed as “intelligent” are: Border Collie, Australian Cattle Dog, Poodle, Doberman, Jack Russell Terrier, Labrador, Golden Retriever, Papillion, Husky, German Shepherd, Shetland Sheepdog, Foxhound, English Cocker Spaniel, Rhodesian Ridgeback and Fox Terrier.
  • How much grooming can you manage? Many breeds have coats that can become completely unmanageable if you don’t regularly groom them yourself, or pay for the services of a professional groomer. Short haired breeds are easier, think Labradors or Boxers. Longer haired breeds will need a regular brush but can be managed, such as border collies. Dogs with curly or very long hair will need a lot of grooming to keep them looking good and avoid mats, ranging from the tiny Malteses to the larger Afghan Hounds. The Poodle cross puppies that are so popular at the moment will also often matt without the occasional trim and brush.
  • How much space do you have? Although having a large dog can sound appealing, they take up a lot more room. Their tails can knock things off coffee tables, they can easily reach food on kitchen counters and their walks will usually need to be longer. Besides space, everything also costs a lot more with a large dog. From the sheer volume of food that they need to eat, to vet bills and vaccinations, to the size of their bed.
  • How much are you willing to spend on vet bills? Many breeds have inherited health problems. Although you can minimise the risks by thoroughly researching and finding a reputable breeder, the fact still remains that some breeds are more prone to different diseases. If you love the wrinkles of the shar pei, keep in mind that they can need expensive eye lifts to get the skin out of their face and avoid infections. Pugs can need their palates adjusted to compensate for their short snouts and allow them to breathe properly. Labradors are given to weight issues. Chihuahuas are given to teeth and “knee” issues. Great Danes and Bernese Mountain Dogs can have stomach issues and require a special lower protein diet or can develop what is commonly referred to as “bloat” (aka Gastric Dilation and Volvulus, GDV). Make sure to look into your breed’s potential health problems before you decide.

Toilet Training

Your new puppy is going to have an accident in your house. Puppies cannot hang on and they need to go frequently. Once they have gone in one area, they will keep returning to the same spot. The easiest way to quickly house train your puppy, is to restrict the area they have to move around in, either with the use of a crate, exercise pen or confinement in a small area of the house such as the laundry or bathroom.

It is important to take them outside or to the designated toileting area as often as possible.

  • Before and after bedtime
  • After eating, as this will put pressure on their bladder
  • After a play session – this is the time that many people will miss, but whilst playing they will forget about it until they suddenly realise they need to go right now!
  • After being confined
  • At least every 2 hours

Crate training can be very useful. Your puppy will not want to toilet near his bed. This teaches them to hang on, but you need to be quick in removing them from the crate and taking them outside. If they don’t go, back into the crate to try again in half an hour. Habit is everything with dogs, and over time they will start to take themselves outside.  It is useful to place the puppy in an area you would like them to go, when you do take them outside, as this will create a habit, and they will return to this area. When your puppy goes outside, then reward them with either verbal praise or a treat. This will reinforce the behaviour, and make peeing outside happen sooner.

Cleaning Up

If your puppy has an accident, it is important to thoroughly clean the spot where they have soiled. The smell can trigger an impulse in the puppy to go again. It is best to use a urine specific cleaning product, many household cleaners have the reverse effect. They actually make the puppy want to go in that spot, as household cleaners will not break down urine enzymes.

Achieving a Toilet Trained Adult

Accidents happen, and just when you have had a few days accident free they may toilet inside again. When your puppy does go inside, it is best not scold them. If you catch them in the act, take them outside to their specified pee area. If you don’t catch them, then scolding them will be really confusing and can cause toilet training to take longer. If you are slowly but surely improving, you are doing well.

 

Socialisation

Puppies, and their humans, have a lot of learning to do together. Between the age of 6 and 16 weeks, a puppy’s brain is like a sponge, waiting to absorb new information and experiences. However, as puppies are not fully vaccinated, their best opportunity to socialise with other puppies, is in a supervised puppy class. The puppies in class are all around the same age, which makes for a healthy, safe and controlled environment for your puppy to meet other puppies of all sizes.

In addition to puppy school, you should expose your puppy to as many sights and sounds as you can. A puppy used to lots of noise and activity will become a well adjusted adult dog. Whilst your puppy may not be fully vaccinated, taking a puppy out to front yard, or even up and down your street, can be enough for them to have a positive, educational experience.

Puppies will also have a few negative experiences, usually something that startles them, like loud truck noises or vacuum cleaners. Puppies that have negative experiences at this age may well remember them for the rest of their life. This means, if you see something new that they haven’t seen before, reward them as soon as they look at it. If they are startled, let them back off a few paces and watch. The important thing is that they recover well, become inquisitive and then decide that it isn’t frightening after all.

Some examples may include:

  • Vehicles – cars, trucks, skateboards and wheelchairs can all give an uninitiated dog a fright.
  • People – male, female, tall, short, wearing hats, sunglasses, different personalities.
  • Other dogs – older, younger,  different breeds, male, female, desexed and not. Make sure that the dogs your puppy is interacting with are behaving as you would like him to, and that neither dog is looking uncomfortable or pestering the other.
  • Different environments – grass, sand, tarmac, pavement, moving through, under and over different objects, and solving little tasks (like how to walk around a fence to reach you), are all good to stimulate his brain and get him used to the world around him.

By properly socialising your puppy, you are on the right path to having a confident and versatile dog.

Please see store team members for information about puppy classes, regularly held in stores.

Nipping and Biting

 

Like babies, puppies really like exploring with their mouths. However, unlike babies, your puppy has sharp teeth.

It is up to you to teach your dog to be soft with their mouth. The safest and clearest way to do this is to have a golden rule that cannot be broken– absolutely no teeth on skin is acceptable at any time, whether in play or to get food.

Make sure actions have consequences. When you are playing with your puppy and you start to feel their teeth, or they tug at your clothes, stop playing and leave the puppy. If they have actually bitten you, make a noise (eg a small scream) and do not make eye contact. Bending down, pushing the puppy away and saying no, gives him a win on all three levels. He bit you and you rewarded him by touching him, making eye contact and speaking to him. It is really important to then give your puppy at least 10 seconds before interacting. After 10 seconds, go to your puppy with toy in hand and offer them the toy.

Bringing Home Your New Puppy

When the time comes to go and pick up your new little family member, it’s exciting for everyone, except maybe the puppy. We need to remember that we have taken him away from his siblings and mother. New home, new people, new toys, new dishes, a collar we didn’t have before, the list goes on. There are lots of ways you can make the transition as easy as possible for your puppy and let him know he is safe and loved.

  1. On the way home, stop as frequently as possible for ‘’pee’ breaks – puppies cannot hang on.
  2. Make sure you puppy is in a safe place, such as a crate or pet carrier.
  3. When you arrive, let your puppy explore the house at their own pace, without too many people around. Other pets should be kept away, initially.
  4. Close doors or block off any part of your house where you would prefer the puppy not to go.
  5. Have lots of toys available to play with and encourage your puppy to chew and tug on them with you.
  6. If you have decided on a name, then say it excitedly whilst puppy is exploring the house. Reward every time there is a response and your puppy will soon learn what it means.
  7. At this point you will also need to take your puppy outside to an area you would like them to go to the toilet. A puppy attaches to a particular surface, usually the one it first goes on after coming to it’s new home. He will prefer to go on that surface, so if you want the toilet area to be grass for example, then keep taking your puppy to grass and rewarding.
  8. After a few hours, your puppy will need a nap and should have a nice quiet and confined area to sleep in. A crate is a great tool for training growing puppies and is a safe and comfortable place. Remember, puppies will usually need to go to the toilet after sleeping.
  9. When you reach dinnertime, just give a small meal. Make sure to have the same food that your puppy was eating before so that you don’t upset his stomach. If you have something else in mind, you can always transition to it later.
  10. Surviving the night can be a tricky part – puppies are just like young children. If you let the out of the crate or into your bedroom every time you hear a whimper, you may start to make the problem worse. But, if your puppy has been quiet all night and then starts to whine suddenly, it could be he needs to go to the toilet.
  11. Some people use various methods to settle a puppy, from a warm (not hot) heating pad to leaving music on softly. Take an old towel with you when collecting your puppy and rub it on Mum and/or litter siblings. This towel can be placed in the puppy’s sleeping area to provide comfort.

Basic Puppy Care

Here are some basic things to consider before bringing home your puppy:

Nutrition – start your puppy out on whatever they were eating before they came home.   After a week or so, you can start to transition them on to your chosen diet. If you change your puppies diet too quickly, it may cause them to get an upset tummy..

Puppies need to eat a specific puppy food to support their growing bodies. Depending on if they are a large or small breed, they will need different nutrition – pick a food that is designed specifically for their size. This can prevent many future health problems.  For example, a large breed dog such as a Great Dane needs a specific protein level to maintain both it’s rapid growth and slower then average metabolism, where as a Jack Russell Terrier needs a different level of protein and some slow burning carbs to fuel it’s high energy levels.

Vaccinations – Puppies need 3 vaccinations to protect them against preventable diseases. They should occur at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and 16 weeks.

Parasite control  – They will also need some parasite control against worms, ticks and fleas. Most of these products are safe to give to puppies from 8 weeks.  Puppies require intestinal worming more frequently then older dogs

Please see one of our store team members, for appropriate parasite control recommendations.

Diets for Small Puppies

Smaller breed dogs can be hyperactive.  Fox Terriers and Jack Russells have higher energy requirements than a Chihuahua but they all require a diet that is designed to help with their rapid growth and high metabolic rate. A smaller breed is considered to be an adult size somewhere between 12-15 months.

  • Small breeds grow much more quickly than larger dogs. This means that, per gram of body weight, they need to eat much more food. Buying puppy food for small dogs ensures that they get a calorie dense food to make up for their small stomachs.
  • Likewise, they cannot eat a lot at a time. They will need feeding several times a day, more often than their larger counterparts.
  • Their kibble or food size will need to be smaller, to accommodate their small mouths. Large kibble can make chewing and swallowing difficult for a small breed puppy.
  • If you are using a raw food diet, make sure you have carefully researched and planned the nutrient content for their specific needs – they will often need to eat more as raw food is less calorie dense, so plan accordingly.

For the health of your small breed puppy, it is important to choose a high quality, calorie dense diet that will support them into adulthood.

Diets for Large Puppies

Larger dogs tend to have a slower metabolism and more placid temperament then many smaller dogs, making them need a different type of diet, one lower in calorie and sometimes lower in protein.

  • Fat puppies are cute, but in large breeds, carrying too much weight or growing too quickly can cause a lot of problems. These problems can result in skeletal disorders and joint troubles. Try to feed the right amount of food that keeps them lean and trim – you should be able to easily feel their ribs with a thin covering of fat.
  • Mineral levels are also important – diets specifically designed for large breed puppies will have carefully balanced levels of calcium and phosphorus. An imbalance of these minerals is one of the prime causes of health problems.
  • Feed a diet specifically designed for larger dogs – a small breed kibble will have a greater number of calories per gram. You will need to limit the calories to prevent them gaining weight, whilst maintaining a balanced nutritional content in the food.
  • If you are using a raw food diet, make sure you have carefully researched and planned the nutrient content for their specific needs.

As a special note: Giant Breed dogs often require a special diet with lower protein then even large breed dogs. Their rapid skeletal growth rate, along with slower metabolic rate makes this necessary. Please ask for vet, or breeder advice, if you decide on a Giant Dog, like a Great Dane. Giant breeds are not technically adult size until they are 18 months to 2 years old.