Getting a puppy?

Puppies are silly, fun, and exciting but they can be and typically are very frustrating. You must be very consistent, patient, and clear on what you expect, when you expect it, and you must be quick about it.  A puppy’s attention span isn’t very long, and thus repetitiveness is key. Do it over and over again. You first need to leash train and crate train. I recommend crate training for many reasons. But this article is about puppies, so we’ll stick to that.

Puppies need structure and you need sanity. Crate training is step number one. It will facilitate house training, control training and leash training.  Positive reinforcement is the only way to go. If you hit, yell, tug, make loud noises, or react in anger towards your puppy when discouraging bad behaviors, you will end up instilling fear, anxiety, and aggression in your puppy. Crate training is challenging in itself so If you do not have the patience to handle it, then I do not recommend getting a puppy. Older dogs are great too, need homes and some come already trained! Check out our adult available dogs!

If your puppy is going to be a large dog, then go ahead and get a large crate. The large crate will come with a separator that you can adjust to give puppies a small space to start off with and as they learn not to have accidents you can give them more and more space over time. A quick note on puppy pads. They are fine to use in the crates at first, but never put one down in your house unless you are wanting your puppy to “go” inside the house.  Pads should only be used for the start of training. Click on the puppy pad link in the article to view the ones I recommend.

“Positive reinforcement” training means you are rewarding good behavior and redirecting bad behavior. For example, make the crate a good thing. Open the crate door, toss in a treat, and say “crate”.  When the puppy leaves the crate after eating the treat, repeat the process until the puppy associates the word “crate” with a treat and goes into the crate without hesitation. This method doesn’t take long, and I’ll link recommended videos at the end. I recommend small bite treats so not to get your puppy full. You can also cut up hotdogs into small pieces and use those. If you are having a tough time with your puppy not responding to treats you’ll need to find what he is responsive to and do that in replace of. If your puppy is fearful or feral, all I can tell you in this article to take your time and gain his trust. Baby steps.

For leash training, Just get a simple light weight leash. Put a collar on the puppy and allow time for the puppy to get comfortable with that thing around his neck. I recommend a martingale collar, it can not slip off of his head. Once he’s use to the collar, attach the leash and allow the puppy to run around with you simply holding the leash before demanding direction. If you put the leash on and immediately start tugging, it’s just going to freak the puppy out and become a negative experience. Also, remember to say one-word phrases like “walk” when the puppy sees the leash and always give a treat or pet generously when the puppy does what you want. Take your time. You have the next 15 years to get to know each other. Also, when searching for training videos on YouTube, always search “positive reinforcement” training.

Vet visits are so important for puppies. You need to stay alert for parasites with regularly scheduled fecal testing. Common parasites include tapeworms, roundworms, and hookworms. You can find quad dewormers over the counter for these parasites, but another common parasite is Coccidia, and you will need an antibiotic for that.

Parvo is another big problem in this area, and I recommend “no paws on the ground” in any dog trafficked areas until your puppy has had the three Parvo/distemper vaccinations. Each year, all rescues and shelters have to deal with Parvo. Parvo is highly contagious and deadly.  There are no laws requiring vaccination of it, and it will contaminate your property for up to 10 years if your dog contracts it. It can take up to 15 days for Parvo symptoms to manifest, and your puppy may die within 3 days of showing symptoms. See my article on Parvo for additional details and resources.

Spaying or neutering is also VERY important. Not only will spaying or neutering prevent behavior problems as your puppy matures but spaying or neutering will also aid in the prevention of unwanted litters of puppies. Because people do not spay or neuter their pets, thousands of good dogs are put to death every day because there are not enough homes to deal with the overpopulation.  There are low- cost spay and neuter clinics but unfortunately not enough and they are booked months in advance, so you must set up appointments as soon as possible.  You will need to spay or neuter your puppy prior to 6 months of age to avoid unwanted behaviors like leg lifting to mark and straying, as well as to prevent in-heat bleeding, and some cancers. The old wisdom of delaying spaying or neutering for any reason is simply misguided.  Get your dogs “fixed” as soon as possible.  

So, with all that said, here is a simple timeline:

At 2 weeks: DEWORMING. We recommend Pyrantel to take care of roundworms.  Here is the link to a weight chart for Pyrental.

At 4 weeks: DEWORMING.  At this point, you need to get that fecal done as mentioned earlier. Check for tapeworms.

At 6 weeks: First Parvo shot.  Get another fecal done and check for Coccidia which typically doesn’t show in a scope until 6 to 8 weeks.

At 8 weeks: Second Parvo shot.  Start monthly heartworm prevention. Heartworm prevention is Ivermectin and it’s perfectly safe; I have an article on that if you’d like to learn more about heartworms and heartworm prevention options and what I recommend.

At 12 weeks: Rabies shot. Start monthly flea and tick prevention. IMPORTANT! If you decide to start flea and tick prevention prior to 12 weeks, make sure to choose a brand that SPECIFICALLY says 4/6/8 weeks is safe.

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