Your Complete Guide to Dog Care and Dog Training.
The New Puppy
SETTING THE STAGE FOR THE NEW PUPPY
If there’s anything that will get the family and puppy off to a bad start, it’s bringing the pup home without any preparation. Resist the temptation to surprise the family with a new puppy. No doubt your family will quickly recover from the excitement stirred up by the sudden appearance of a captivating pup, but what about the puppy? It can be a trying time for him.
Ever since he was first aware of his surroundings, the puppy has lived with his mother and litter mates. He’s eaten, slept and played in a familiar environment. Now he’s taken away from all this and his security is shattered. This is a time when the puppy needs a friend and he’ll need plenty of affection and consideration. But this doesn’t include hounding or mauling him to the point of collapse. Nor does he want to be isolated; he just wants time to become accustomed to the change and a chance to get his “sea legs.” You can help a lot by seeing to his comforts.
Decide whether the pup is going to sleep indoors or outdoors. Make this decision before you bring him home. The type and location of his bed are important. His bed or doghouse should be his own, a place where he can curl up and nap, away from the clatter of family life. And once he takes over bed or doghouse, respect his right to privacy.
The puppy’s bed can be an ordinary cardboard box with a mattress of cedar shavings, shredded newspaper or a washable blanket. Or it can be one of the more elaborate commercial beds. If you use a cardboard box, cut down about one-half of one side, so the pup can climb in and out. Whatever the type of bed you buy or make, it should be so constructed that it is easily cleaned.
Place the pup’s bed in a room, away from cracks under the door or drafty windows. Dogs can stand the cold, but not drafts. Any room will do, just so long as it is not the cellar. Cellars are usually damp, dank, lonely places. It would be more considerate to let the dog sleep outdoors than to banish him to the cellar. Keep the bed away from radiators and other heaters; too much heat will make him uncomfortable and dry his nose.
Once you’ve located the bed, avoid shifting it around after the pup has taken over. Moving the bed from spot to spot and room to room will only serve to confuse the puppy. He may well give it up altogether and find himself another nook.
If you provide the puppy with a dry and snug doghouse, he will manage very well outdoors all year round. Most dogs do, except the toy and miniature breeds. Nature will help the dog that lives outdoors by giving him a heavier coat.
Have the doghouse set up before the puppy arrives. If you don’t have it ready, you’ll find yourself coping with two sleeping arrangements: one, his sleeping in the house until you can get a doghouse; and two, again when you put him outdoors. And once he gets accustomed to sleeping in the house, he’ll not want to go outdoors. Eliminate this double work by having the doghouse on hand.
You can either buy a doghouse or make one. The Gaines Dog Research Center, 250 Park Avenue, New York 17, N. Y., will send you without charge a blueprint for building a doghouse from a wooden barrel. This barrel doghouse is sturdy and weatherproof. When painted and set up in a sheltered spot, the barrel will make a good all-weather house for your dog. Your local library will also have information on how to build a doghouse. Or, if you are creative, you can design your own.
Whether you buy or make the doghouse, it should meet certain specifications. The house should have four walls, a tight roof, a solid floor, a draft-free door, be at least twice as large as the dog (when mature), and be easily cleaned. A hinged roof will facilitate cleaning.
The dog’s bed must be built off the floor. A wooden platform raised three or four inches from the floor will make a good bed. Nail a three-by-one inch furring strip around the perimeter of the platform to hold the bedding material. Fasten a wooden ramp from the floor to the bed for the small puppy; later, when he is larger, he can jump up into his bed. Finally, add about two inches of bedding-cedar shavings, straw, or shredded newspaper-and the doghouse is ready for occupancy. (Sawdust is unsatisfactory for bedding since it will cling to the dog’s coat. So will the others, for that matter, but they are much easier to brush off.)
Locate the doghouse where it will be protected from the hot summer sun and the winter winds. If a southern exposure is not practical, you can reduce wind-draft by erecting a canvas or burlap shield around the doghouse area. In summer, an awning will provide shade if no trees are nearby.
Equipment and accessories
A lot of running around and using makeshift equipment can be avoided if you have the necessary equipment and accessories before you bring the puppy home. Your pup’s “layette” should include a feeding dish, water pan, brush, comb, collar, leash, and some indestructible toys.
Stainless-steel or aluminum food and water pans are best. Enamelware splits and cracks. The food dish should not be too large, otherwise the pup will step into it. Later on, you can get him a larger pan. If you are getting a long-eared dog, you would be wise to buy one of the special food dishes for these breeds. The pans have a wide base and taper to a smaller opening at the top; they resemble hollow cones with the upper part or point cut off. These pans allow the dog to get his face and mouth inside, but keep his ears hanging outside. Thus, food stays off the ears and saves washing or combing. A piece of foam or sponge rubber placed under the food and water pans will help keep the floor clean and dry.
The pup may get car-sick on the way home or soil himself with excretion. When this happens, the brush and comb will come in handy. Use a long-bristled brush for long-haired dogs; a short-bristled one for the short- or smooth-haired varieties. One of the commercial “dry” cleaners would be helpful in cleaning the puppy. These come in pressurized cans or plastic bottles. Simply spray the soiled spots, wipe with a damp cloth, then dry with a rough towel and brush.
A few toys will help the puppy to forget his fears on finding himself in a strange environment. Don’t go overboard on the toys; one or two safe ones are all he needs. You’ll find all kinds of toys in the pet shops and department stores, from squeaky gadgets to brilliantly painted rubber balls. Pass them by, as most of them are impractical and potentially dangerous.
Young puppies have needle-sharp teeth and a craving to gnaw and chew. Select toys that cannot be splintered, torn apart or swallowed. The safest toys are those made out of tough leather, processed natural bone, or hard rubber. Stay away from painted toys, sponge rubber and plastics.
Since young puppies have delicate digestive systems that can be easily upset, feed the pup the same diet he received at the kennel or pet shop. Bring a supply home with you. Or else feed the diet recommended for young puppy feeding in this section.
Your Complete Guide to Dog Care and Dog Training.