Choose a dry food intended specifically for puppies, avoiding generic foods and those that sell for unusually low prices. We suggest brand name puppy food because it is impossible to distinguish good dog food from poor dog food simply by looking at the ingredient list on the label. Many things that owners look for, such as high protein levels and extra vitamins, these extra ingredients are just as likely to be harmful rather than helpful. For example, overfeeding and over supplementation are factors contributing to hip dysplasia. If you have a large-breed puppy, purchase "large breed" puppy food. The actual formula is different, not just the kibble size, and is better for very rapidly growing puppies. We feed all of our large breed puppies: Iams ProActive Health Large Breed Puppy; until they are 18 months old. Then we switch to: Iams Healthy Naturals Adult Dry Dog Food with Wholesome Chicken.
Offer food to young puppies three times a day. If your puppy isn't hungry that often, reduce the frequency. After ten or twelve weeks of age, feed twice a day. Even adult dogs should have their food split into morning and evening feedings. When fed once a day dogs become overly hungry and are more likely to overeat at mealtime.
Let your puppy eat as much as she wants in fifteen minutes and then pick up the food dish. Having food continually available encourages overeating, and chubby puppies are more likely to have hip dysplasia and weight problems later in life. Also, because free-fed puppies never get very hungry, they don't enjoy their food unless given special treats. The combination of special treats and freely available food encourages them to become bored, overweight and picky.
Do not give people food. If you start with a balanced diet and add goodies from the table, you won't have a balanced diet anymore, and your puppy will have more digestive trouble. Treats that are reasonably balanced, such as Milk Bone Biscuits are OK, but since they are not really all that great nutritionally, don't let them become an important part of the diet. Canned puppy food is perfectly all right, but we usually suggest feeding dry food because it is less expensive, easier to use, and better for the teeth.
Puppies have a strong natural instinct to avoid soiling their own area. If you are consistent and patient, this natural urge for cleanliness makes house training fairly easy. You can begin training any time after five weeks of age. A little extra effort and patience in puppyhood will make the difference later on between a happy, cooperative pet and one that causes problems for you.
Establish a Teacher-Learner Relationship
Use two types of rewards-praise and petting. When your puppy asks for attention, you probably respond by petting, which is only natural. Begin using these requests to show that you are the teacher and your puppy is the learner. It may sound silly but it's important to establish this relationship early in puppyhood.
Each time your puppy asks to be petted, respond by holding your hand about a foot above his nose and saying, "Rover (substitute your dog's name), sit." Move your hand back over his ears as you speak. This makes him look up, which is the first part of sitting. Keep repeating "good sit" until he sits. Then pet him on the throat and chest with your other hand for a few seconds as you repeat the praise. If not successful at first, repeat the procedure. When your dog sits from five to ten seconds, release him from the command by saying "OK", then pet and praise him again. Gradually increase the sitting time until you have reached one or two minutes before you say "OK". Be sure everyone who lives with the pet follows this procedure.
Consistent treatment from the whole family makes for a better adjusted, happier pet. Insist that your pet earn praise.
Teaching Where To Go
At first, feed at least three times a day. All dogs do not have the same digestive rates-you may need to feed your puppy as often as five times a day in order to avoid overloading his system and causing loose, difficult-to-control bowel movements. When you find the right schedule, the result is a dog that eats and then has a bowel movement within a few minutes.
Feed indoors. Remember, dogs do not like to eliminate where they eat. If your dog is urinating or defecating in a certain area, try feeding him right at that spot (after clean up, of course.)
Right after your dog finishes eating, chase him out good naturedly to his toilet area, ahead of you if possible. Then let him sniff around for a good spot. Do not confuse things by urging him to go. After he goes to the bathroom, crouch down and point at the urine or fecal matter and say "good dog". Look right at the stuff, not at the dog. If your dog sniffs it, praise and pet him enthusiastically.
Take Your Puppy Outside
After waking up, even from a nap
After extreme excitement
After drinking water
After prolonged chewing on a toy, etc.
If he starts sniffing around the house for a good spot
In about four days your pup should automatically head for his proper place after meals or whenever the urge strikes. If it takes longer, be patient.
After this stage of house training, your puppy knows where to go, but not when to go. Do not try to teach self control (the "when" part) until you can be sure he will always head for the door when it's time to go.
Teaching When To Go
To teach self control, you must keep feeding times consistent. Don't feed at 7:30 a.m. on week days and then sleep in on Sunday--you'll ruin the whole program. Dogs can control their urine for as long as thirteen hours when they need to. To teach self control, you should try to let your dog outdoors only at times when you are ordinarily home to do so. Whenever you see signs that your pup wants to go to the bathroom during the forbidden hours, try to distract him by tossing a ball, playing with a toy or doing any activity that will take his mind off the urge.
If possible, have your puppy sleep in a room with people. Because he will be inclined to tune into your sleeping times, there will be fewer accidents and less night time disturbance. Given a little blanket as a bed, most puppies soon learn to sleep through the entire night.
How To Deal With Mistakes
Old fashioned house training methods tell us to grab the puppy, show him the mess and punish him. This is not necessary and probably harmful. Instead, if you discover an accident, just say "ugh" disgustedly and whisk puppy out to his proper toilet area. Leave him there while you clean up the mess. Make sure he cannot see you cleaning up. Strangely, many dogs find it rewarding to watch their owner picking up stools or cleaning urine, and often leave another such gift as soon as they can. Because puppies seem to enjoy this game, it is a good idea to have them watch you clean up after they go to the bathroom in the correct place.
To discourage repeat visits, accidents must be cleaned up well enough to completely eliminate odor. After blotting and cleaning as best you can with paper towels, soak the stained area with an enzymatic cleaner. Let it remain on the stain 30 minutes or longer, blot up the liquid, and if still necessary, use regular rug cleaner afterwards. To work properly, the enzyme cleaner must be used before using regular rug cleaner.
Puppy's Place in the Family
The reason dogs are such good pets and fit so well into human society is that they are social animals by nature. Their greatest psychological need is to be part of a group. Whether it's a family of just you and puppy, or a boisterous household full of children and pets, in order to be happy your new puppy must feel secure about her place in the group.
If you watch puppies at play, you will see a lot of growling and tussling. There is more to this play fighting than meets the eye. Those little guys are already deciding who is going to be "top dog". Whether you realize it or not, something very much like this play fighting is happening at home between your puppy and the rest of the family.
To be confident and secure what puppies need most is a master they can depend on. For your dog to have a happy life and be a pleasure to own, at least one person in the family must become such a master. Dogs have no mental concept of "friends and equals". Somebody has to be boss. Assertive puppies will grow up trying to be boss, which won't make either one of you happy. A submissive puppy may spend its entire life fretting and worrying, never sure what is expected. Everything usually works out just fine automatically--puppies find their place in the family without much trouble and everyone is happy with the arrangement. If, on the other hand, you have a strongly assertive or unusually submissive pet there are some things you should keep in mind:
Working With an Assertive Puppy
Assertive puppies tend to immediately investigate new people and objects. They are quick to begin play fighting activities with people. When they want to be petted or fed, they are insistent and demanding. These puppies fall easily into the role of family protector because they think the people belong to them. This is well and good, but because dogs cannot really understand human society, there is soon trouble. They may try to defend you from everyone, and biting the UPS man because he invades your yard is not ok. Biting the children is not ok. The most serious problems happen when grandchildren are involved. Perceived either as an outside threat or a competitor, it is not unusual for grandchildren to be badly injured by big assertive dogs.
The training techniques used to establish your teacher-learner relationship are especially important. Remember that your dog will be much happier in the long run if he earns praise and pleasure by obeying you, not by demanding it.
It is especially important for you to be master. Do not allow your dog to nip or bite at you in a friendly way. Do not stimulate your puppy by waving your arms and acting excited or by playing tug of war. Do not become what your puppy perceives to be an equal and competitive playmate.
Working With a Submissive Puppy
Submissive puppies tend to "shy away" from new people or things, either by lying down or actually running away. It is normal for most puppies to be slightly submissive. They wish for nothing more than to please you and this makes them easy to train.
Teach shy puppies things they can do that will earn your calm, reassuring praise. Try to provide a peaceful environment and a dependable schedule that includes exercise, a daily obedience session, and reliable feeding times.
Most puppies and young dogs have a tendency to urinate in response to new situations, when meeting a stranger, or even when their owners come home and greet them excitedly. This is a sign that your puppy is uncertain about what is expected. Never scold when this happens. Puppy is already trying hard to please. Calmly reassure, ignoring the urination. Clean up later, in private.
If puppies don't know what is expected of them, particularly if they are beginning to believe that people are supposed to do what dogs tell them to do, they may react inappropriately to strangers. The puppy is afraid, but psychologically unable to be completely submissive. They usually show signs of fear and try to run away from a threatening situation, but when escape is prevented, they bite. It happens when children insist on petting a frightened dog, and happens at the veterinarian's office. These puppies need the firm leadership and reassurance best achieved through obedience training.
It is natural for puppies to chew--that's one of the ways they explore and learn. Try to keep valuable objects that are chewable safely out of reach and provide a satisfactory alternative like a Nylabone chew toy. Destructive chewing is merely a way to work off excitement and relieve frustration, not an insidious plan to get even with you. Help encourage your puppy to be calm. Be easygoing. Don't encourage tug of war or play that involves chewing and biting.
When you leave home for the day, don't make it into a big deal for the dog. By showing lots of emotion of any sort (threats or cheerfulness, it doesn't matter) you build up emotional stress. This is often vented in destructive chewing. Your last three or four minutes at home should be spent calmly reading or sitting. Then get up and leave, ignoring your puppy completely--don't even say goodbye. Arrive home the same way. Ignore your puppy at first and avoid the area where things are most likely to have been chewed. If things are a mess when you get home, don't let puppy know you care. Behave calmly. Clean up later when your puppy can't watch. Do not build up more stress by scolding--that just makes things worse. Again, work on teaching simple obedience and building the teacher-learner relationship. Puppies need a calm, dependable master.
Chew Treats, Bones and Toys
Don't give your puppy anything small enough to swallow that can't be digested, or things that can be chewed into large indigestible chunks and swallowed.
Chicken bones, rib bones, and pork bones are the most likely to cause trouble. Old gooey rawhide chews or bones from the butcher that have been around for a few days get rotten and stinky and cause diarrhea. If you give things like this (not really a good idea), use good sense. Bones should be too large to swallow and solid enough that they won't be broken up into smaller chunks. Hooves, pig's ears, and miscellaneous semi-digestible treats probably aren't a good idea either, but if you use them be sure they are too large to be swallowed whole, or small enough to go all the way through.
Instead, we suggest using flavored Nylabone or Nylafloss chew toys. If your puppy first learns to prefer bones and rawhide, he probably won't think chew toys are all that great, so use them from the beginning. Nylafloss looks like a big thick chunk of nylon rope. Puppies like it because they can really sink their teeth into the rope, and it helps keep the teeth clean.
Vaccinations & Disease
Vaccinations currently used at Puppies in Louisiana
Vanguard® Plus 5 L4 (currently this is the vaccination all of our puppies are administered at 6 weeks of age) is recommended for the vaccination of healthy dogs against diseases caused by canine distemper, adenovirus type 1 (hepatitis), adenovirus type 2 (respiratory disease), parainfluenza, parvovirus, and 4 stains of leptospiral bacterin (L. canicola, L. grippotyphosa, L. icterohaemorrhagiae, & L. pomona). Distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, and parvovirus are modified live versions of the virus. Leptospira canicola, Leptospira grippotyphosa,Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae, and Leptospira pomona are killed versions of the virus. Recommended for use in healthy dogs 6 weeks of age or older. Boosters are highly recomended every 3 weeks until your veterinarian decides to stop. (Typically at 6 weeks, 9 weeks and 12 weeks) Annual re-vaccination with a single dose is recommended.
Bronchi-Shield® III is recommended for the vaccination of healthy dogs against diseases caused by canine adenovirus type 1 (hepatitis), adenovirus type 2 (respiratory disease), parainfluenza, and bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough). All viruses in this vaccine are modified live versions of the virus. Recommended for the vaccination of healthy dogs 8 weeks of age or older. Bi-Annual re-vaccination with a single dose is recommended.
Between six and sixteen weeks of age, puppies lose the disease protection they received from their mothers and become able to form their own immunity to disease. Unfortunately, we never know when this will happen, so there is often a brief period when puppies have lost the disease protection they received from their mothers but have not yet developed strong immunity of their own. Fortunately, new vaccines for distemper and parvovirus are much more effective than what we had even two or three years ago, and eliminate much of this problem. Also, since the new vaccines work better we don't have to give as many, which saves money.
Until your puppy is four or five months old, try to prevent contact with stray dogs or sick dogs. Avoid boarding your puppy or taking her places like highway rest stops where lots of other dogs go to the bathroom.
When we say "distemper shot" we are talking about a combination vaccine (DAP) which protects against a group of diseases:
Infectious canine distemper (ICD) is a highly infectious viral disease that attacks the lungs and affects the brain and spinal cord in somewhat the same way polio affects people.
Canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2) is a respiratory virus that causes a severe form of "kennel cough".
Canine parvovirus (CPV) attacks the lining of the intestinal tract, and in very young puppies, damages the heart. It remains our most common fatal infectious disease and is the most difficult to protect against. Dobermans, rottweilers and boxer or bulldog type dogs are especially susceptible.
Causes kidney and liver damage. The disease can affect any mammal, including people, and is spread by urine contamination from infected animals such as raccoons, opossums, rats, coyotes, foxes or other dogs. The newer leptospirosis vaccine protect against four varieties of the disease. We do not recommend using the old Distemper/Lepto vaccines that protect against only two varieties of Leptospirosis because they don't work against the type of Leptospirosis seen most frequently in our area.
Spread by animal bites or through the saliva of an infected animal, rabies is always fatal. Because infected pets can give the disease to people, rabies immunization is something you don't want to ignore.
Rabies shots are started at sixteen weeks of age, boostered a year later, and every one to three years after that, depending on local laws and your veterinarian's recommendation. Unvaccinated dogs that come into close contact with a skunk must be quarantined or put to sleep. Vaccinated dogs that have skunk contact should be given a rabies booster as soon as possible, regardless of when they were last immunized.
Spread by ticks, Lyme Disease has become a significant human health problem in El Dorado County, NM, but because the disease is difficult and expensive to diagnose with certainty, there have been few proven cases in dogs. When we suspect Lyme disease, we treat with antibiotics. The dogs usually get better and we are seldom certain whether the condition being treated was Lyme disease or something else.
Dogs that roam in brushy areas and get lots of ticks should be vaccinated. Those restricted to their own immediate area and never get ticks probably don't need it. Immunization is given as an initial series of two injections three weeks apart followed by an annual booster.
Bordetella, a common cause of "kennel cough", is a severe but rarely fatal respiratory disease. Because it spreads through the air in confined areas, kennel cough is common even in clean, well run boarding kennels. If your dog will be at the groomer's frequently or periodically left at a kennel, it is wise to protect against the disease. Most boarding kennels require your pet to be vaccinated for this disease. For dogs that don't need year 'round protection, the best time to administer the vaccine is two to four weeks before going to the kennel.
Roundworms & Hookworms
Heartguard Plus and Interceptor, two new combination heartworm medications, also kill the intestinal worms common in our area. By using either of these products, we eliminate the need for routine fecal examinations and separate worming medications. However, if your puppy has persistent diarrhea please bring in a small fecal sample to check for other less-common parasites.
If you see little short white worms (1/2 inch long or less), these are probably tapeworm segments. When the segments dry they look like grains of brown rice and may stick to your dog's hair. If you see anything like this, let us know and we will dispense medicine to use at home. Prescription tapeworm drugs are extremely effective, very safe, and cause no discomfort whatever. Non-prescription tapeworm medications don't work very well and often cause intestinal cramps and diarrhea.
Before dispensing medication, you need to know your dog's weight. If he is not extremely small or too large to lift, you can be sufficiently accurate by weighing yourself with and without the dog. Otherwise, bring him along. your vet will weigh him and set up the prescription when you come in.
Because of a mosquito species that lives in oak trees at our elevation, the Southern United States, we have a serious heartworm problem-worse than just about anywhere else in the United States. In our area, dogs that don't receive prevention medicine, especially if they sleep outdoors, will probably get heartworms.
If we discover the problem in time, heartworms be eliminated, but treatment is difficult, dangerous, and expensive. And even with treatment, heartworms cause permanent damage. Although the treatment isn't nearly as dangerous as many people seem to believe, regular testing followed by treatment when needed is not a reasonable alternative to prevention.
We recommend Heartguard Chewable Tablets, because they taste good and need to be given only once a month. In addition, Heartguard kills hookworms, whipworms and roundworms, eliminating the need for separate worming medications and routine fecal examinations. It is important to use Interceptor every month without fail.
Dogs with heartworm disease ordinarily have adult male and female worms living in the heart, and microscopic baby heartworms throughout the bloodstream. Baby heartworms become adults only after living in a mosquito and then getting into another dog when it is bitten by that mosquito.
Because we cannot detect heartworms until about six months after infection, we never know for sure if puppies already have heartworms when we start them on prevention medication. Although this is a concern, the risk of puppyhood infection is small, and we can safely wait to perform an initial heartworm test until about fifteen months of age, when rabies and distemper booster vaccinations are given. After that, we encourage you to test every two years to protect against the small possibility that a dose has been missed, or the extremely small possibility that the medicine isn't working.