Information for New Puppy Owners
“May I always be the kind of person my dog thinks I am!” Anonymous
Borrowed from another breeder
You go to the breeders home. The pups are all social. They are quiet in the pen. The breeder shows you videos of them being totally relaxed at a dog show. All looks amazing and you bring your puppy home.
Then reality hits. The puppy may cry in the crate for the first few nights making you tired and agitated. The happy social puppy is refusing to greet the half dozen overly excited friends you invited over to see your new puppy. The puppy refuses to walk on a leash. Many are wondering how did my perfect puppy turn into a nightmare?
So let’s discuss realistic expectations of when a puppy goes home. First of all the puppy has been in the breeders home since birth. They had their mother and often littermates. They had their routine, were taught expectations and were completely in their comfort zone. Now suddenly they are taken to a totally new environment. Picture yourself being dropped into an unknown country, often in a different part of the world. You know only a few words of their language. Different trees, animals, smells, temperature, and people. Now in the middle of this we are switching up your routine, decide to have a party with people you don't know, and ask you to do jobs you have no idea about. Overwhelming to say the least.
This is what every puppy goes through when going to their new home. Stress manifests in different forms. From not eating, to a reluctancy to play and greet people. From being apprehensive at the vet’s office or as strangers reach for them. Diarrhea, vomiting and depression can occur.
So what can you as a new owner do to help your little one acclimate?
- Most puppies take 3-4 weeks to acclimate to their new home. Repeat after me THREE to FOUR WEEKS! Not just 1-2 days. I can’t stress this enough about how much time is needed for a dog or puppy to feel comfortable in their new home!
- Limit guests during the first week. We understand you are excited to show off your new baby but they need time to adjust. Plan on waiting 1-2 weeks before inviting people over. Then ask your guest to sit on the ground and let the puppy approach them. No squealing and grabbing at the puppy.
- Set up a good routine. Restrict the puppy to a small area of the house. This not only reduces them being overwhelmed but also allows you to watch them.
- Don’t expect a 9-13 week old puppy to walk on a leash. Instead work at home with a leash where they are comfortable. Let them drag the leash, use treats to encourage them to walk with you.
- If your puppy is refusing to walk give them time. My first trips to town with puppies a walk around a small block took 1 1/2 hours. We only move when they initiate the movement as they need time to take in the different environment.
- Understand your puppy needs time to see you as family. Expecting an immediate bond is unrealistic.
- Train your puppy. This not only helps you to bond but the puppy to look to you for direction and input.
- Lastly be patient. Don’t declare “omg there’s something wrong with this dog”. Nothing occurs overnight. Outings should be planned at puppy speed. So while you might imagine a fun walk around the lake, in reality your puppy might only be able to handle walking a short distance that day.
Most outings for me take a long time, as I am often just standing still as the puppy cautiously explores the new environment. Patience is key!
Remember if the puppy was wonderful at the breeder’s house but now is struggling, you as the owner, need to help the puppy adjust which takes time, patience and training. Have realistic expectations and give the puppy positive experiences. Each puppy is an individual, don’t compare your current puppy to past pets and judge their behavior based on how another dog handled things. Lastly, try to see thing’s from a puppy’s perspective and adjust situations accordingly.
Author: Karen Balinski
Killara Field Spaniels
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Your puppy has been eating Purina Pro Plan Small Breed Chicken and Rice Dry-Adult. Offer food 3 times per day for the first week while he/she learns to eat in meals. Your puppy has been on free choice, with dry food available all day for grazing, but you will want to start providing meals to make house breaking easier. So, put down a bowl of dry food and leave it for 15 minutes. Then remove it. Initially, the pup may eat very little. First, he/she must acclimate to the new surroundings and second, the pup must learn that the food will not always be there. Do not worry if your Russell pup eats very little for the first 24 to 36 hours. Some will eat right away and never miss a step, but others are more nervous about being away from their littermates and in new surroundings. In terms of the amount to give, put down a bowl with 1 cup of dry. As time goes on, give a little more the next day if it all got cleaned up or decrease it the next day if it was not all eaten. Feeding in the crate is a good idea, both to help with housebreaking and to ensure that food aggression does not develop if you have other pets around. You can add a couple tablespoons of Purina Pro Plan canned food to their evening meal for a treat to encourage them to want to enter the crate. In general, stick with adult, not puppy, food for this breed.
Try not to get pulled in by the marketing of gourmet pet food companies (e.g., ‘human-grade’, holistic,‘ organic’, ‘all meat’, ‘all natural’, ‘grain-free’). These companies tend to put more of their emphasis on marketing ‘buzz words” than on long-term nutritional studies. Video of wolves morphing into dogs imply that your pet needs to eat similar to a wolf, but this is inaccurate. Wolves are obligate carnivores, because they do not make the enzyme amylase that is needed to metabolize carbohydrates. Dogs, however, DO have this enzyme and get energy from grains.The most commonly recommended pet food brands by veterinarians are, in no particular order: Royal Canin, Purina Pro Plan, Hill’s, and Eukanuba. These companies go above and beyond the minimum threshold of nutrition research required in regard to bioavailability of nutrients and ensuring that the diets are balanced for long term health. They employ PhD board-certified veterinary nutritionists and conduct long-term studies. It is a myth to claim that veterinarians get free food or expensive gifts from these companies in exchange for carrying their line.
In terms of homemade diets, the main concern is the difficulty in maintaining a correct balance in the nutrients. A splash of supplements added here and there will not do it. Too much of something is just as dangerous as too little. If a homemade diet is needed for some reason, be sure to work with a veterinary nutritionist and be prepared to periodically submit a sample for analysis.
With regard to raw food diets, there is no scientific evidence that feeding a raw vs. a conventional diet is any more beneficial to an animal’s health. Moreover, these diets also have generated controversy due to their increased risk for microbial and parasitic contamination. One study analyzed 35 commercial frozen raw diets from 8 different brands. Escherichia coli (serotype O157:H7) was isolated from 23%, and extended-spectrum beta-lactamases-producing E coli was found in 80%. Listeria was present in 54% and Salmonella species in 20%. Concerning parasites, 11% contained Sarcocystis cruzi and 6% contained Toxoplasma gondii. There is also risk of gastrointestinal problems and/or injury from bones in the diet, and the possibility of an unbalanced raw diet causing nutritional deficiencies. Raw food diets generally are more bioavailable, however, and dogs on them will create less fecal matter, but be sure to carefully research before use, and owners must be comfortable with safe handling procedures for raw foods.
Crate Training &
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Crate training is the easiest way to housebreak your puppy. Use a small plastic hard crate or a wire crate that comes with a moveable divider. Make the crate small initially. Puppies do not want to soil the area where they need to lay down, and so by keeping the area small, they are reluctant to urinate/defecate and will “hold it” until you take them out. If the crate is too big, they will use one side as their bathroom and the other side to sleep on. Crates should not be used as a punishment area, and pups should not be confined in them for more than a few hours during the daytime---only for nap time.
There are many good books for learning how to housetrain your puppy. My favorite is pictured above, written by a veterinarian and available on Amazon. In general, pups will need to urinate/defecate within minutes of waking up from a nap, within 15-30 min after eating, and often after a hard play time of running. So, those are the times that you should take your puppy outside to a designated area and wait for them to “go”. Say “go potty” each time and when they do, praise them and make a big fuss over what a good dog they are!
Since your Russell pup was trained to use a litter box since 3 weeks of age, it can be helpful to get some paper pelleted litter and put a pile of it in an area of the yard where you want your pup to 'go'.