From whom should I get my puppy? The local shelter, my neighbor, a breeder, or a pet supply store?
Many people believe that it is better to get a puppy from a reliable breeder. While there are benefits to this, there are benefits to some of the other available options as well. A reliable breeder will introduce you to the puppy’s mother and will allow you to see the environment in which the mother and her puppies live. Often, breeders will also supply background genetic and familial information, so you will know what to expect for your puppy’s future health and temperament. The same can be true for a well-known neighbor with whom you are friendly and familiar with his or her dog.
Alternatively, you can find a puppy in need of a warm and stable home at your local shelter. Here, the benefit is in knowing that you are supporting a worthy service, as you save the life of a dog that would not have had a chance without you.
How do I select a quality dog breeder?
To choose a quality breeder, take the time to conduct a thorough research on the breeders within your area. After making a list of reputable breeders, visit a few of the kennels just to get a good picture of the conditions in which the dogs are raised. An excellent breeder must be knowledgeable about pairing a dog to its owner, have a clean kennel and have a reasonable return policy in case the dog is sick or bad-tempered.
Should I get a mixed breed or purebred puppy?
A purebred puppy is a better option for some people because there is a better idea of what can be expected as the dog develops in terms of size, behavior and temperament. When acquired from a reputable breeder, a purebred is also very likely to have inherited good genes that have been specifically encouraged through careful breeding, resulting in a physically sound and behaviorally stable dog.
On the other hand, a mixed breed can be a great choice as well, since the hybridization of breeds often leads to more gene variation, more stability in health and temperament, and less susceptibility to disease.
Male or Female?
Male and female dogs each have their own characteristics. Some are good tempered, while some are bad. There is no superior sex when it comes to dogs, so it is entirely up to the owner’s preference as to whether a male or a female dog will be best. What is important is that a dog is trained and disciplined, starting at an early age, so to curb some of the bad traits that can occur due to lack of training.
How about a name? Should I decide on a name for my puppy first?
Yes, to avoid confusion or disagreement amongst family members, it might be better to select the name of the puppy before he/she comes into the home. Just select a few names and settle on one that everyone can agree on and start calling the puppy by that name as soon as he/she comes. If you use this name from the start, the puppy will become more familiar with the name and will develop more affinity with you and your family. Of course, if you find that the puppy just does not seem suited to the chosen name and you change your mind and decide on a different name, the puppy will recover.
How should I start preparing for my new puppy?
Prepare yourself for the arrival of your new puppy by reading books about its behavior, basic care and training. It also helps to attend classes on obedience training to get a first-hand experience.
How should I prepare my family for the new puppy?
Prepare your family for the arrival of your new puppy by sitting down with them to talk about the basic guidelines that must be followed in taking care of and raising a puppy. Primary ownership (top-dog status) must also be established beforehand to avoid confusing the puppy.
What's the best way to introduce my puppy to a household with children?
Talk to your kids about the responsibilities and precautions they will need to learn to take care of a puppy. Children must be taught that a puppy needs to be handled gently and has to be given time to adjust to its new home.
What is socialization?
Socialization is a process by which a puppy is encouraged to interact with other people (besides you and your housemates), animals and situations. While the puppy is still young, she is introduced to new experiences and surroundings, so that she is not fearful of change or of strange people or animals. It is not forced, and the puppy is removed from situations – not punished – if she becomes aggressive or fearful during this adjustment stage. Socializing a puppy successfully relies strongly on a patient, confident and encouraging owner.
How do I become my puppy's “pack leader”?
Establish your authority as the pack leader right away by showing your puppy that you are in command. Reprimand him in a firm but gentle way so that he knows you are the leader and that you can be trusted. Always give praise when he does well to reinforce the good behavior and to create a bond that is based on trust and respect for you.
How should I introduce my puppy to her crate?
A crate is very useful for making sure your dog is safe during the night while you sleep, for traveling, or for when you have guests, amongst other reasons for crate training. It is important that you slowly introduce your puppy to her crate; do not rush her. Using kibble or a small treat as a lure, place the food item inside the crate so that she will go inside. Close the gate gently, not suddenly, since you do not want the puppy to be frightened. You might also include one of the puppy’s comfort toys and a familiar blanket inside the crate. Gradually increase the puppy’s time inside the crate with the gate latched until she feels at ease going into her crate at your command.
How should I discipline my puppy when an “accident” occurs?
The puppy must be disciplined as soon as the mistake has been made, when the incident is still fresh. Reprimands made for accidents that happened some time ago are futile at best, and harmful if done improperly. If you catch the puppy as he is making the mess, or is about to make a mess, discipline him in a firm way without being too severe by using startle techniques that will cause him to immediately stop what he is doing. A strongly voiced “No” or “Stop,” a sudden loud noise to catch his attention, or taking hold of the scruff of the neck are all good ways of turning the puppy’s attention from what he is doing and toward you.
Follow all of these actions by immediately taking the puppy outside to finish relieving himself and reinforce the “good” behavior (going outside) with rewards such as patting, verbal praise, and/or training treats.
What type of puppy food should I use?
The best type of puppy food to give your puppy is a dry kibble. Dry kibble has the advantages of being nutritious and easy to digest, along with keeping the teeth healthy. From the owner’s point of view, kibble is also easier to keep, as it resists spoiling. You may mix dry kibble with a small portion of moist puppy food or raw meat.
How often should I feed my puppy?
A puppy needs to be fed three times a day until it reaches the age of about six months. The meals should be regularly scheduled for morning, afternoon and evening. After the age of six months, the frequency of the meals should be gradually scheduled for twice daily – morning and evening. If you have concerns regarding whether your puppy is getting enough to eat, you should consult with your veterinarian, who will advise you on the appropriate amount of food for your puppy’s age, weight, size and breed.
How much should I feed my puppy?
Puppy food packaging usually contains information on the recommended amount of food that a puppy needs. However, the amount can vary depending on your puppy’s particular breed, weight and size, whether the puppy has specific nutritional requirements that deviate from the norm, and sometimes, on how active your puppy is. If you have any questions or concerns regarding how much you should be feeding your puppy at each meal time, consult your veterinarian.
How long should I feed puppy food to my puppy?
A puppy should be given puppy food from around the time that the mother begins weaning her pups until the puppy reaches about the age of one year. This is generally true for all dogs, unless your veterinarian has concerns about your puppy’s growth. Under those circumstances, your veterinarian will make alternate recommendations for your puppy’s diet. Otherwise, around one year, you may begin giving your puppy an adult formula dog food at meal times.
What about water? Isn't that important too?
Water is an important part of a puppy’s diet, but it should not be made available at all times of the day. Having water available all the time will encourage the puppy to drink more than it needs, making house-training more of a challenge. Give the puppy water at scheduled times throughout the day, with outings soon after for the puppy to relieve him or herself.
What other general feeding recommendations are important for puppies?
If your puppy refuses to eat, do not force the food down his throat. He may simply be adjusting to life in a new home, and stress can alter the appetite of any healthy animal. Just continue to offer him food at the determined meal times, and follow the recommended walking, housebreaking, play, bonding and sleep time schedule otherwise. While you may offer either moist or dry foods until you have settled on which your puppy prefers best, it is important that you not offer the puppy anything other then the nutrient balanced puppy food that you have chosen for him. Do not feed your puppy “people food” in these early days, unless recommended by a veterinarian.
Why is my puppy eating his own poop?
Puppies will often eat their own (or other dogs’) stool because they are imitating behavior they watched their mothers exhibit. That is, it is behaviorally normal for a mother dog to eat the stool of her puppies and clean their anuses until they have learned to do it for themselves, and puppies will frequently mimic this behavior. It can be discouraged and unlearned, or the puppy may just grow out of it. In some cases, the behavior may also be caused by poor digestion, malnutrition, or boredom.
Is there a difference between puppy training and obedience training?
Puppy training is all about fun, as you accustom your puppy to following commands, teaching him the traits that will make it easier to adjust to obedience training. Obedience training, on the other hand, is a more formal and strict training method that teaches your puppy self discipline and how to obey the commands you give.
Should I seek out a local puppy obedience course to go along with my at-home lessons?
For most dog owners, it is advisable and beneficial to enroll the puppy in a formal puppy obedience class. This will complement the training you are giving him at home while socializing him (and you) with other people and dogs. It is also a great opportunity to exchange training ideas and tips with the other owners in the class, and maybe even making some future play-date friends for your puppy.
How can I instill confidence in my puppy?
Teach your puppy to be confident by praising her each time she does something that pleases you. To be effective, praises must be given right after the puppy has done something good so that she begins to associate the action with the praise. This will also ensure that she will repeat the desired behavior in order to get the award: your praise. As she learns how to consistently earn your praises, her confidence will grow.
What's the best way to ride with my puppy in the car?
Your puppy – and dog – should ride in the backseat of the car at all times. To further ensure the safety of your puppy, place him in a crate that has been anchored to prevent it from toppling or being thrown from the car in case of accident, use a barrier that confines the dog to one place in the car, such as the back section of an SUV, or use a safety harness that is specifically designed for car travel.