There’s nothing more exciting than getting a new puppy. They bring joy into the family and endless hours of entertainment, not to mention an excuse to get outside and exercise. However, the needs of a new-born puppy vary greatly to that of a full grown dog and it’s important to understand the differences before you commit to taking care of one. New-born puppies, for example, are completely reliant on their mother, just as a new born baby is. At this stage, you needn’t worry about food or training because your new puppy will get all of his sustenance directly from their mother’s milk. This milk is specially formulated to fight infections and viruses and will ensure that your puppy is safe and healthy in the first few weeks of his life. During this time, he will open his eyes, interact with his litter and learn very basic levels of discipline. Unless you are breeding the puppies yourself, you won’t be able to take your puppy home until he’s ready to leave his mum.
Between 3 and 5 weeks, it’s time to start weaning. It’s important to do this very gradually so that his fragile digestive system does not get upset and can adapt to solid food in time. You can buy special puppy food that contains all of the necessary vitamins and minerals, plus it will be the right consistency for easy digestion and optimal health. Make sure you have thoroughly considered your weaning plan and that you are committed to getting your puppy onto solids. Depending on the breed, they can be very stubborn and may reject the food you present them with. Interestingly, during this period, the mother will naturally start to take a back seat; she will stop cleaning up after her puppies and, eventually, will resist feeding altogether. This is nature’s way of telling you that it’s time.
Whilst dog milk is highly nutritional, its benefits wear off overtime, leaving your puppy exposed to all kinds of dangerous diseases. Therefore, vaccinations are essential. Typically, puppies are vaccinated at 8 weeks. They then have a booster injection at 12 weeks, protecting them from canine parvovirus, canine distemper virus, leptospirosis and infectious canine hepatitis. If your puppy (or dog) is spending any time in kennels, they will also need to be vaccinated against kennel cough.
Socialisation and the Alpha Leader
It’s very important to socialize puppies with children and people early on, usually at about 5 weeks. This prevents them from developing irrational fears or behavioural issues and nurtures their personality and their relationship with humans. After all, a confident puppy makes a great pet and one that is affectionate and patient with children is even better. At this time, too, it’s a good idea to begin asserting your authority. Dogs have a pack mentality and will respect the alpha male (or female!). If they have a clear understanding of who their boss is, they will learn to be loyal and well-behaved. Bear in mind, though, that the timing of this is integral. In the first weeks of their life, they trust the authority of their mother, and it is always best to leave them well alone during this time. After weaning, however, your puppy is searching for a new pack leader, and that pack leader is you.
Protection against pests
Throughout your dog’s life, from puppyhood to old age, it’s very important to remain aware of possible flea treatments. If you avert flea and tick bites rather than treat an infestation, your pup won’t be at risk of catching tapeworms or suffer painful, itchy bites that can cause flea allergy dermatitis. Fleas are blood sucking pests and, in some cases, small dogs have fallen fatally ill due to blood loss. Additionally, you will avoid the diseases that fleas and ticks carry, mainly, Lyme disease, tick paralysis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Indeed, owning a dog is a health care minefield and you need to make sure that you are totally committed to any eventuality that may occur throughout their lifetime. If, for any reason, there is a modicum of doubt in your mind regarding the whole process, a pet dog probably isn’t for you. After all, the rewards you get out of a dog depend entirely on the attention and care you’re willing to put in, but with the right level of understanding, you can raise a loving companion that becomes part of the family.
This is a sponsored post by Guest Blogger Emily Buchanan, on behalf of Animed Direct.