Getting a new puppy is a very exciting time for the family, and there are many things that you need to know to expect from your puppy and that can help your puppy settle in to your home as quickly as possible. Here are some basic tips:
Using a puppy pen or crate is a very effective way to help your puppy feel safe and secure in its new home. Positioned in a warm and peaceful part of the house, the puppy pen can provide a refuge for your puppy, and this can help with training.
The use of calming pheromones, such as Adaptil sprays and diffusers can be very useful to help reduce anxiety as your puppy gets used to its new surroundings.
Providing toys which are safe to be used by puppies is very important, since puppies are naturally very inquisitive and will be tempted to chew household objects, some of which may be dangerous if chewed or swallowed.
The use of dog safety gates can be a very effective way of making sure your puppy does not wander out of your sight and get into trouble in other parts of the house.
One of the most important issues to address in the early stages is toilet training, making sure your puppy learns to go to the toilet outside of the house. Advice on toilet training has changed over recent years, but as a general rule, just a few simple steps and sticking to a routine will soon lead to a ‘clean’ puppy.
- remember that your puppy will need to go to the toilet very frequently when young, approximately every 1-2 hours.
- as you get used to your puppy, you will begin to recognise his body language and when he is trying to communicate to you that he needs the toilet.
- if your puppy starts to go to the toilet in the house, it is important not to reprimand him but to take him outside with gentle words of encouragement.
- remember to ALWAYS praise your puppy for going to the toilet in the correct place.
- take your puppy outside every 1-2 hours, and always after mealtimes, playtimes and feeding.
- use a word or phrase such as ‘be quick’ so that your dog learns to associate your words with a command prior to going to the toilet.
- don’t be tempted to leave the back door open in the hope that your puppy will choose to go outdoors to the toilet, you always need to be there to praise him when he does go to the toilet outdoors.
- use newspaper or toilet pads only as a resort, because they can cause confusion for your puppy and prolong the toilet training process.
- as mentioned above, puppy crates or pens can help because a puppy will usually not want to go to the toilet in his bed, and therefore will cry when he needs the toilet. This gives you the opportunity to take your puppy outside for the toilet.
- here at Gæludýr.is we offer advice on toilet training your puppy if you are having any problems.
Diet and nutrition
Choosing the right diet for your puppy is one of the most important decisions you can make. It can sometimes seem as though there are too many choices on the market, but there are a few general points you should follow to ensure you choose the most suitable diet for your puppy:
- it is usually a good idea to continue feeding the puppy the same food it was being fed by the breeder. If this diet is not one which we recommend, we advise slowly changing the diet over a seven day period, slowly introducing more and more of the new diet and replacing the old diet.
- puppies have very different nutritional requirements to adult dogs, and therefore it is important to feed a diet specifically formulated for puppies.
- picking a diet which has been formulated for the specific breed of dog is also advisable. Large breed dogs have different nutritional requirements to smaller breeds, particularly during the growing stage of puppyhood.
- a complete diet is advisable, because this will ensure your puppy has all the right nutrients for growth at this early stage of life.
- feed your puppy 4 small meals daily to start with, reducing the frequency and increasing the size of the meals as your puppy grows.
- always follow the feeding guidelines recommended by the food manufacturer, to prevent your puppy from being underweight or becoming overweight.
- always make sure that your puppy has a supply of clean, fresh water which he can access easily.
- if you have any doubts or queries, don´t hesitate to ask our friendly, trained staff and we will happily point in the right direction towards choosing the best food for your new puppy.
Vaccinations, fleas, worming and microchipping.
Unfortunately, even in Iceland, there are diseases which can be fatal to dogs. The best tool we have against infectious disease in dogs is vaccination. Vaccination helps prepare a puppy’s immune system, so that if he encounters one of these infectious diseases he is more easily able to fight it.
We advise that all puppies have a primary course of 2 vaccinations, the first given at 6-8 weeks of age and the 2nd at 10-12 weeks of age. Two injections are necessary because in some cases, the natural immunity which a puppy receives from its mother in the womb and via the milk can neutralise the first vaccination. Starting the vaccination course as soon as possible is important because it means your puppy will be protected enough to start socialising with other dogs at an early age. This helps with training and general behaviour.
Intestinal parasites, or worms, are very common in all puppies. Puppies can become infected with worms before they are born in the womb or through their mother’s milk. It is therefore very important to worm a puppy regularly throughout the first few weeks of life. We recommend worming with a preparation suitable for puppies, at 2, 5 and 8 weeks of age and then monthly until 6 months of age.
Flea infestations are also a big problem amongst pets of all ages here in Iceland. Heavy flea infestations can cause major health problems in young puppies, therefore we advise using flea prevention products regularly. Using a product that is specifically designed for young animals is always important.
We also recommend that you get your puppy microchipped to help with identification. In some parts of the country this is a legal requirement.
Play and socialisation
Play, fun and rewarding are all important parts of making sure your puppy grows into a happy, sociable and well trained adult dog. Playing games helps teach your puppy how to interact with you and other people, and gives you the opportunity to reward good behaviour. Using food treats to reward good behaviour can be very effective, and we sell treats specifically formulated for puppies, gentle enough not to cause any intestinal upsets.
The socialisation period for dogs is between 4 and 12 weeks of age. During that time, the puppy is very impressionable to social influences. If it has good experiences with men, women, children, cats, other dogs, etc., it is likely to accept them throughout life. If the experiences are absent or unpleasant, it may become apprehensive or adverse to any of them. Therefore, during the period of socialisation, we encourage you to expose your dog to as many types of social events and influences as possible. However since the puppy will not have built up a complete immunity from the vaccination programme until approximately 14 weeks of age you have the dilemma of socialising him on the one hand and trying to isolate him from exposure to potentially harmful diseases on the other. The aim is to strike a balance and obviously not expose your puppy to the risk of disease but at the same time ensure that as much socialisation as possible, both with people and other animals takes place.
Here at Gæludýr.is we run puppy parties which is the ideal time for you to bring your puppy along to meet other puppies and people. These events help with socialisation and we also provide tips on basic training. Ask our staff for more information about these fun sessions.
General health care
There are many things you can start to do with your puppy from an early age to help keep him as healthy as possible. We have discussed diet, vaccination, worming and flea treatment, but in addition to these things we recommend the following:
- check your puppy’s teeth regularly and start cleaning them with a puppy toothbrush and toothpaste, on a daily basis if possible.
- check your puppy’s ears regularly. This way you can detect any problems early, for example ear mites, which are common in puppies and usually cause a build up of black wax within the ear canal.
- groom your puppy regularly with a soft brush suitable for puppies. This will help keep your puppy’s coat and skin in good condition. You should not need to bath your puppy more than 2 or 3 times a year, unless he rolls in something unpleasant!
- check your puppy’s feet to look for any problems with the pads or nails. Puppy nails are usually very sharp but not long. Trimming them at an early age can cause pain and make the nails bleed, which can make your puppy fearful of having his feet touched and examined. The easiest way to take the sharpness away is to use a nail file or emery board.
- if you find anything that concerns you, ask our Veterinary staff for advice or make an appointment with your local Vet.
Performing these regular checks form an early age gets your puppy used to being examined and treated. This makes life much easier for your puppy (and for you!) if you need to give him any treatment later in life.