Advice for Puppy and Dog Owners

 

Nutrition

Canis familiaris (domestic dog) evolved to be sociable scavengers. They have developed an enzyme to digest carbohydrates, unlike wolves, resulting in the need for a balanced omnivorous diet. They are not carnivorous hunters therefore a raw meat only diet is unsuitable for dogs.

Dogs need to be taught rules and boundaries, but you do not need to dominate your dog. The Dominance Theory is out-dated, you do not need to walk through doorways first, sit in your dog’s bed, perform alpha rolls, or remove the dog’s food bowl whilst it is eating to ensure you have a well behaved dog.

There is no need to use punishment or aversive methods to train your dog, dogs respond better to kind and positive reward based methods. Using pain or fear to train a dog is cruel and needless.

Dogs do have emotions, they are capable of feeling happiness and pleasure, fear, frustration or rage, but they do not experience guilt.

Dogs use body language and scent as their main forms of communication. Be aware and try to understand what your dog is communicating to you and others.

Practice handling and touching your dog so they learn to like it.

Teach your dog to be alone so they don’t panic when you leave.

Allow your dog to desensitise to sounds of thunder and fireworks to prevent fear or phobia in the future. You can download sounds on your computer or if you have an iPhone/iPad you can download an app from Soundproof puppy training.

Bite inhibition: Dogs must be taught that putting their teeth on any part of a human body or clothing is unacceptable. You can achieve this by ignoring and walking away from your dog when he does so. He does not ‘need’ to chew your fingers because he is ‘teething’, this only serves to teach your puppy that it is OK to do so, and it is not something he will ‘grow out of’. Do it now and be consistent.

You must provide mental stimulation for your dog as well as appropriate exercise. He will enjoy games that are breed specific, such as scent games, chasing, digging or tugging.

Dogs and children should never be left alone and unmanaged in each other’s company. They can teach each other bad habits, and there is potential for accidents to occur.

Neutering (castrating males or spaying bitches)

Most vets will recommend that you neuter at approximately 6 months. The reason for this is to prevent health problems, and many vets believe castrating a male dog can stop aggression problems. However, it is much more complex than this. We also believe that neutering is beneficial for male and female dogs in the long term, but it must be done at the right time from the dog’s perspective. For example, if you castrate a fearful/anxious dog early, you will increase his fear, as testosterone is the hormone that gives all mammals confidence. Sometimes delaying castration can prevent aggressive behavious. Females can have one season before there is any proven detrimental effect on her health, specifically in regards to mammary tumours or pyometra (infected womb). see our article on Keyhole spaying

Health, Worming and Flea Treatment

Vaccinations are vital for your puppy to remain healthy and happy. The viruses and diseases that your veterinary surgeon will vaccinate against will help prevent them from becoming ill, potentially fatally.

We recommend that your puppy routinely be vaccinated against:

– Canine Parovirus

– Canine Distemper

– Canine Parainfluenza Virus

– Infectious Canine Hepatitis

– Leptospirosis

– Kennel Cough

After your pup’s second vaccination, most veterinary practices will offer some sort of monthly review / weight and worm check. These consults are often free and we advise owners to make full use of them. These consults are a good opportunity to discuss your puppy’s health and growth.

We advise monthly worming from 2 to 6 months of age and then every 3 months thereafter. Young pups have a habit of eating anything that they find interesting on walks or in your garden and therefore proper worming control is highly advised. Believe it or not, your puppy can pass worms onto you and/or your children.

Talking of parasites, we also need to consider flea treatment. Fleas have become increasingly resilient over the last decade and often shop-bought medications don’t work very well, if at all. We recommend you use what your veterinary practice advises, as this is often a lot more reliable. Most flea treatments require monthly applications, even during the winter. Preventing a flea problem is a lot easier than treating one.

Toilet Training

A common mistake with toilet training is the use of puppy pads for too long. Your puppy will be learning from very early on where they should urinate and defecate. Not giving them an option to do go to the toilet indoors on a puppy pad will make the change over process from indoors to outdoors much easier.

As soon as it is safe we advise you to start getting your puppy out regularly to help encourage them to urinate and defecate outside. Remove the puppy pads and take your pup out after every feed, sleep, play session and if you can, every 2 hours during the day. Make sure to actually go outside with your puppy and reward them with treats and praise when they do urinate or defecate. By doing this routine your puppy will learn that outside is the place to go to the toilet as when they do they are rewarded.

Toxins

Your puppy will generally try and eat anything they can. Obviously this can be very dangerous and we have supplied you with a list of the most common toxins. We have also added links to informative websites that can help.

– Milk and Dark Chocolate

– Ibuprofen

– Paracetamol

– Phenylephrine (decongestants e.g. Lemsip)

– Salt (high doses)

– Xylitol (chewing gum and mints)

– Onions

– Grapes / raisins

– Anti-freeze

– Daffodil Bulbs

– Most Human Medication

Laws

To be a responsible dog owner you should be aware of the laws and legislations that go along with them.

The Control of Dogs Order (1992)

  • Dogs must wear a collar with an identification tag when outside. This tag must contain the name, address and contact telephone number. Any person found in a public place in charge of a dog that is not wearing identification could be prosecuted and fined up to £5000. Also dogs  without identification can be seized by Animal Wardens and treated as a stray.
  • The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005
  • Under this act you could be fined up to £1,000 for breaching Dog Control Orders. Dog Control Orders were introduced by some local authorities for offences including: failing to remove dog faeces, not keeping a dog on a lead, not putting and keeping a dog on a lead when directed to do so, permitting a dog to enter land from which dogs are not allowed.
  • Animal Welfare Act 2006
  • Animals must not be left in hot cars. It is an illegal offence and can even result in a prison sentence. Remember dogs lack sweat glands and dissipate heat by panting.
  • Under the Act you are always responsible for your dog’s needs. Furthermore, if you are a parent or guardian of a child under the age of 16 years old, you are responsible for any animal that child is in charge of or owns. This means that generally no child under the age of 16 should be left in charge of your dog either indoors or outside on a walk.
  • You may have also heard of the 5 freedoms which all pets owners must make sure are met;
    • A suitable place to live,
    • Suitable food and water,
    • To be able to behave normally,
    • To be with other animals or alone – whatever suits that type of animal
    • To be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
    •  
    • Dangerous Dogs Act:
    • The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 was created to ensure safety and protection for the general public in regards to how dogs behave, in an attempt to reduce problems such as canine anti social behaviour or dog bites. The Dangerous Dogs Act applies to all dog owners in England and Wales. The legislation makes it an offence for a dog to be ‘out of control’. Therefore if a person feels concerned or ‘reasonably apprehensive’ that a dog may bite them, they may decide to take legal action, and the penalties to you and your dog can be very serious indeed. Even the most well behaved and well trained dogs can inadvertently fall foul of this legislation, please ensure your dog is under control at all times.
    • Being a dog owner is not always as easy as one would think. Owners must take responsibility for their dogs, especially in public, you are essentially in control of another living, breathing and emotional being, which may sometimes be a little unpredictable.
    • Approaching other dogs and people.
    • Alternatively, you dog may not be fearful at all, instead full of energy and wanting to play with other approaching dogs or people. As owners, we think this is rather a nice sociable and friendly gesture, however the recipient may not be as sociable, do not allow your dog to become overexcited, this may be perceived as ‘out of control’ and dangerous behaviour. Playtime should be reserved for the park or at home with the family. It is your responsibility to ensure that your dog can approach other dogs and people calmly and behaves appropriately at all times. It is advisable to teach your dog how to ‘meet and greet’ other dogs.
    • When walking your dog on lead in a public place, please consider others and ensure that you and your dog demonstrate good ‘on lead etiquette’. Naturally, when a dog is off lead, they approach other dogs and people indirectly rather that head on, in an attempt to assess the other to decide whether they are a friend or foe. Sometimes, when a dog is on a lead, they may feel trapped and unable to avoid a potential threat. Your dog may then become self defensive and this could result in aggressive behaviour. You cannot always predict how your dog will react in all situations as you go through daily life.
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