Get started on the right foot with your new puppy!
Here are a few essential things to help you raise a well-balanced and calm puppy, equipped to face life’s challenges.
These following things are important throughout the life of your puppy, but absolutely vital in the first two months after you bring them home.
Puppy’s brains develop rapidly.
The first three to four months of a puppy’s life is like the vital period of development in a child’s first two years! Supporting your puppy to develop positive skills and behaviours in these early days is the most important task you have as a responsible dog lover. There is no time to lose!
One in five puppies are born with a genetic
tendency to develop an anxiety or fear disorder. We can’t genetically test for mental illnesses so we can’t predict which puppies are the more sensitive ones. All puppies should be treated with extra care so they don’t experience fearful situations which put them at risk of developing behaviour problems.
Puppies need controlled positive exposure in this sensitive period.
This allows their brain to develop the appropriate nerve pathways to for them to live in harmony with humans. Your puppy should have a positive and calm experience with many people, children, sights and sounds in the first four months of their life. Why not provide a valuable experience for your puppy by throwing it a party at home to celebrate its arrival a few weeks after it settles in?
More puppies die due to behavioural problems than parvovirus!
Exposing your puppy to safe environments using safe methods is crucial. With care, this can be done even if they have not had all their vaccinations!
Use common sense to decide which areas and situations are safe. As a general rule, stay away from beaches, dog parks and pet stores until your pup is fully vaccinated.
You can take your puppy in your arms around the block while feeding them a favourite food to make this a positive experience. You can let them sit in your lap and chew a raw hide at the local park. Let them take in the environment inside and outside of their home in a gradual and positive way. Create a love of cars by helping them having short, postitive trips or just feed them in your car parked at home! All of this can be done safely before your puppy is fully vaccinated. For more information on socialising your puppy see the AVSAB statement for puppy socialisation: http://avsabonline.org/uploads/position_statements/puppy_socialization.pdf
Dogs communicate with body language.
They can’t speak to us with words so it is critical to understand your puppy by learning the subtle body language signals they use to show their emotions. Try this app to have fun decoding your dog: http://www.dogdecoder.com/
Dogs initially express fear by rolling on their back when approached, with their legs and tail tucked in. Later they may freeze in one spot, run away, hide, snarl, growl, snap or bite. This “ladder of aggression” often develops if we don’t notice early subtle body language signs of fear. Understanding early signs of fear allows opportunities to help the puppy learn to cope.
Helping puppies through these new and initially scary situations, by showing them they can feel calm can prevent self-defense behaviours which can gradually develop into aggression. If these fear responses are ignored or even worse, seen as the puppy being “naughty” then punished, there is a very high risk of the development of aggression or anxiety problems.
There is extensive scientific evidence about correct methods for “puppy socialisation”
You wouldn’t let a child loose in a playground full of kids without supervision for the first time. Similarly, it is no longer acceptable practice in the doggy psychology world to let all puppies play freely off the lead.
A puppy could get bullied and frightened by larger or more boisterous puppy. If this happens during a puppy’s sensitive period during the first three or four months of age, the puppy could develop a permanent negative emotional connection to seeing other dogs. They may continue to be scared in the presence of other dogs into adulthood.
Some puppies, especially ones from pet store box environments, have had few opportunities to learn how to interact appropriately with other dogs. “Free for all” play can then be a recipe for disaster. Modern trainers strive to “First do no harm” and a structured program with reward based training. This is greatly beneficial as it “does no harm” rather it provides positive experiences and learning.
Five Most Important Things for your new Puppy
Z1) Use Dog Calming Pheromones: Adaptil or Zylkene
Adaptil products release a special calming scent which is odourless to humans. It smells to puppies like the scent a mother dog releases after birth to comfort them and support attachment. Pheromone products are the easiest and most efficient way you can provide your puppy with the feeling of calm and security from the day they arrive at your home. Remember they have been separated from their familiar environment, their litter mates and parents.
Adaptil products help your puppy make the transition into your home as stress free as possible.
Australian Registered Adaptil Collars: An appropriately fitted Adaptil collar is the best gift you could ever give your puppy. The collar should be changed monthly for at least the first two months The constant scent provides a feeling of calm and security and reduces stress which can lead to unwanted behaviours.
Australian Registered Adaptil Diffuser: An Adaptil Diffuser works well for for homes where there are other dogs and cats or children. The diffuser can produce a feeling of calm in a noisy or busy home. It is best plugged into the wall near your puppy’s crate, or in the room where your puppy spends a lot of time. Diffusers take 24 hours to fill the room with the calming scent. They should never be switched off to ensure they are actively diffusing the air and the scent is available for your puppy to recognise at all times.
Australian Registered Adaptil Spray (Supplied Only by Vets): This is an invaluable tool for all kinds of uses. You can use it to spray calming pheromones in your car, on your puppy’s bed, on a bandanna around their neck or even on your hands before you handle your puppy. The Adaptil Spray is currently available under permit supply from a veterinarian only. Any Adaptil sprays purchased online are not Australian Registered, therefore they may not meet Australian standards.
Please note that non-registered Adaptil products can be purchased online, however as there are Australian Registered products available, it is illegal to purchase them. Companies supplying these non-Australian registered products for the Australian market via the internet are being reported to the authorities. For more information please see this summary document I have put together here.
Zylkene is a complimentary feed for cats and dogs that contains a natural product derived from casein, a protein in milk. It is a molecule well known to promote the relaxation of newborns after breastfeeding. Since its launch Zylkene has become a familiar product for veterinarians, behaviourists, nurses and pet owners world wide. It helps pets cope when facing unusual and unpredictable situations and can be used before occasions such as a change in their normal environment Even the most seemingly innocuous situations and experiences can trigger your pet’s uneasiness when they are in unusual or unpredictable situations. Different animals are not all susceptible to the same things, for example some dogs and the attention of many people at once whilst some react very differently, hiding away. Similarly, some cats love being picked up but others do not.
2) Introduce a Dog Crate or Pen
Crates or pens provide a safe and familiar place for your puppy to relax.This will also help with car transport as well as stays at the vets or kennels in the future.
Crate or pen training is fundamental to help prepare your puppy for success in your home environment. By teaching them they have a safe place to relax, it is then extremely useful confinement when they are not under strict supervision. If this is done right from the start it will help prevent unwanted natural dog behaviours such as chewing, barking, destructive or digging from becoming a habit.
Appropriate and gradual crate training will help make the crate a very positive place for your puppy.Click here for information on supporting your pup to use his new special place.
I highly recommend you purchase a dog crate or pen, if you haven’t already, even before you pick up your puppy!
Crates and pens can be purchased from your local pet store.
Contact Calm Companions for assistance with finding a crate.
3) Help their Brains Develop with Toys and Supplements
Like children, puppy’s brains develop rapidly in the first few months. Stimulating your puppy’s brain will help prevent stress and the development of unwanted behaviours.
Remember that your dog is effectively living in “captivity” like an animal in a zoo. They do not have the choice to roam and explore wherever and whenever they wish. Opportunities to roam, scavenge and explore are basic needs for dogs. Essential items to meet these basic needs and help brain development include: environment enrichment toys, food enrichment toys and games.
When we feed dogs from food bowls, we remove the chance for them to scavenge and explore for food. This leaves excess mental energy which they need to use in some way. They may use this energy in “unwanted” ways such as digging, barking, destroying things or hyperactive behaviour. It is crucial that we teach our puppies from an early age that their daily meals will need to be worked for in some way or another. Creative ways to enrich your puppy’s environment are limited only by your imagination. Try the activities below and check our links page for some more options.
Simple ways to enrich your puppy’s day include:
- Scattering half their daily dry food in the lawn or around the house.
- Alternating dry food with either the Kong Wobbler or the Twist and Treat toys.
- Filling the Classic Kong with biscuits and wet food
- Using an empty toilet paper roll filled with layers of dry and wet food. Seal the ends with peanut butter and freeze. Your puppy can safely eat it, including the cardboard.
- Using take away containers filled with pieces of freshly cooked meat and water or stock to make frozen ice blocks.
- Using the Kong Teething Stick and Kong Goodie Bone stuffed with any type of paste, such as Kong Easy Treat) or Dental Tooth Paste!
- Using a range of rope toys.
- Using a variety of long-lasting chews. This is an invaluable way to help puppies to learn to self-calm during active times of the day. Be careful to avoid white raw hide chews, as they are bleached and can give your puppy an upset tummy. The most reliable quality chews are made by Loyalty Pet Treats.
Latest research in puppy brain development has shown that supplementing their diet with the right dose of Omega 3’s can improve brain function and trainability. This is because 50% of the brain made of Omega 3’s.
“Paw by Blackmores” recently launched the first vet only Omega 3 supplement. The Fish Oil 500 Veterinary Strength is based on solid research showing the benefits for dog’s brains, hearts, gut, joints and much more! Omega 3 is not stable after cooking; therefore, it will rarely be available in adequate doses in your puppy’s food. Human fish oil tablets do not provide the correct dose for pets. Using registered veterinary Fish Oil 500, Your vet can guide you to the right dose for your growing puppy’s brain and vital organs!
4) Never use Punishment
Punishment methods can result in an anxious or aggressive dog. Never use punishment methods to train or discipline your puppy. Punishment methods do not teach your puppy what you would prefer they did instead of the behaviour you’re trying to stop. Punishment also breaks trust and makes your puppy fearful of you. Frustration can occur when your puppy gets mixed messages from you. Frustration, fear and pain can lead to anxiety and then to aggression.
Do not use yelling, squirt bottles, “taps” on the nose or any other harmful “training tools”…no matter what neighbours, friends or people at the park tell you! If you feel the need to find a way to “stop” a certain behaviour, please contact me to discuss the challenges you’re facing. Using training methods or tools which have a high risk can cause long term harm to your beloved new family member.
To learn more about why punishment is never recommended please click here.
5) Get Pet Insurance for your Puppy…Today!
As a veterinarian, I see stressful emergency situations all too often. I can’t stress enough just how important it is to have pet insurance. Even as a vet I organised my puppy Obi’s pet insurance BEFORE I picked him up!
It is easy to get caught up with the fun of getting toys, bedding and puppy classes. Unless money is of no issue if your puppy gets sick, gets a paralysis tick or has a car accident; you need to consider pet insurance. Accidents can and do happen. Treatment at emergency centres or visits to a specialist can thousands of dollars. No vet enjoys a conversation about whether you can afford the emergency surgery your puppy needs…now! Go to the Links page for pet insurance options.
Having pet insurance takes the stress of discussing money out of the picture and allows you and your family to focus on your pup’s health.
Clinic is located:
2 Ford Rd (corner of Ford Rd and Beattie Rd, entrance is opposite Global Footware) Coomera 4209
Phone: 1800 DR NELA (1800 376 352)