Posted on 12-26-2016
Let's start off with huge CONGRATULATIONS! It is a wonderful time of the year, full of family and surprises...and what better surprise than a new fur kid. Whether it is your first time or your 10th time, it is always a new adventure.
Whether this is a puppy or an adult dog, it is important to be prepared. Here a few things to have prepared before your fur kid comes home.
- You may have a veterinarian that you already use, but in the case you don't, try to do your homework before you bring your new addition home. The key to a great relationship with your vet is trust. Don't wait until you need a veterinarian. That just forces you into a situation that you may not be happy with long term. It is common practice for clients to call several vets in the area and get to know them a little. You can tell a lot from just the first phone call. A "meet & greet" appointment is not a bad idea. Here at Chattahoochee Animal Clinic we like to give new clients a tour of the facilities and meet the doctors. This meeting can help you determine whether you feel comfortable with their personality, the way they practice medicine, the general feel for the staff and overall clinic impression. Trust your gut.
- Make sure you have a good quality food. If you have a puppy on your hands, obviously a high quality puppy food is recommended. You can even ask your vet for some options and even feeding amount and schedule, that works best for you and your family.
- Having bowls, preferably stainless steel since they tend to be durable, easy to clean and rarely cause allergic reactions. Yes, allergic reactions! Some fur-kids can have reactions to plastic and ceramic bowls. Plus they can become a health hazard if broken or swallowed.
- Toys, toys and more toys. Make sure to choose your toys wisely. Make sure to choose toys that are durable, interactive and can keep a fur-baby entertained. Kongs are a great choice since they are fairly indestructible and you can hide treats and goodies inside, which forces pets to use their inquisitive noggins to figure out how to get that tasty treat. We discourage small cheap squeaker type toys since we see more of those lodged in intestines that pups having a good time with them.
- A safe place to keep your new addition. It is highly recommended, especially for puppies, that you use a crate to keep them safe and in a controlled environment. Puppies and some adult dogs will find something to chew on, regardless of how expensive it may be or will even chew on wires. Staying on a schedule will make training a pup a lot easier.
- Leashes and collars. Remember, it is very important to place a collar on your new pup as soon as you get him/her. This not only provides a form of identification, but also gets your fur kid accustomed to have it on. Puppies will have an adjustment period and will scratch at their necks. This will resolve with time. We do not recommend harnesses. Did you know that a harness sends the canine brain a “pull” trigger? Pulling is not something you want to teach you new addition to the family. Choose a gentle leader, a regular leather leash, with a choker, preferably a nylon chain combination. Start with basics with a young or fearful pet. Keep a leash on them at all times, this gives you ease in controlling behavior and also gets them used to it.
- Let’s think about training. You can start with basics from day one. As young as 8 weeks of age, puppies can learn sit, no bite and basic manners. It is important to remember that they may be cute now, and some of their behavior may seem endearing, but think long term. All and all, mouthing on fingers can easily turn into thinking that biting is acceptable behavior. Ask your veterinarian for a good trainer recommendation.
- Introduction to other animals. Well, this should be in a controlled environment. Important to remember that your thoughts and feelings about the introduction, especially if negative, will transfer over to the pets. Calm and assertive is the thought process. Don’t tighten up on the leash; a tense leash translates into a tense dog, which can send the wrong message. Remove all competitive items, food, toys, treats and sometimes, pet parent’s affection, jealousy. Try to be neutral and really maintain low energy during these first few interactions. Just be an observer. Pay attention to body language. If hackles are up, ears a pinned and eyes are fixed, you may want to consult with a trainer or veterinarian for what your next steps should be.
Here are a few websites that may help with your new fur kid. We are also here to answer any of your questions.
Until next time,
Dr Marcus Smith
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