Frequently Asked Questions on Health And Nutrition
Q: What kind of food should I feed my puppy?
A: You should look for a puppy food that will provide 100% of the nutrients needed for a complete and balanced diet. His food should include; protein for strong muscles; calcium for strong bones and teeth; iron for healthy blood: and enough calories for all the energy a puppy burns. Choosing a pet food that has a balanced nutritional formula for the various life stages (puppy, adult, senior) will help ease the transition from puppy to adult food for your dog.
Q: How often and how much should I feed my puppy?
A: Young puppies should be fed three times a day. Once he is four or five months old, he can be fed twice a day. After he is eight to nine months old, the feeding schedule can be reduced to once a day. If he is a larger breed, you may continue feeding him twice a day throughout his life. Proper feeding amounts should be listed on the pet food package. You should also consult your vet to determine a feeding schedule.
Q: My puppy has diarrhea often. Is it something in his food?
A: Most likely it is not his food that is giving him diarrhea, but a viral infection, bacterial infection or a parasite. The rocks and twigs he picks up in his mouth may carry bacteria. In addition, environmental stresses such as high humidity or poor sanitation can cause these bacteria to multiply rapidly in the intestine.
He may also experience diarrhea if his diet has been suddenly changed. To avoid this discomfort, gradually transition him to a new food by mixing portions of both foods until you slowly phase the old food out. For advice on how to transition him to a new food, or if he has severe or persistent diarrhea, consult your vet.
Q: Is it true that a female dog should have at least one litter of puppies before being spayed?
A: NO. The female should be spayed by the time she is six to eight months of age. Many veterinarians now believe that spaying at an earlier age presents little or no increased risk. Spaying a female puppy before the first heat cycle helps protect against mammary tumors and helps prevent the development of several reproductive tract diseases.
Q: What are the benefits to having my dog neutered?
A: In addition to reducing pet over-population, neutering your male puppy can help calm his temperament. Neutering him may also reduce his urge to roam, as well as reduce his risk of developing prostate infections or prostate cancer. Consult your vet for more information on neutering.
Training & Behavior
Q: My husband and I both work full-time and our three kids are in school. What factors should we take into consideration when we crate our puppy?
A: The most important factor to take into consideration is how long he can stay in a crate. To do so, take his age in months and add one. For example, if your puppy is four months old, he can stay in his crate for five hours. Since your family is not home during the day, it would be best to see if a neighbor or a friend could stop by your house to let him out and take him for a quick walk.
He usually sees his crate as a den. It protects him, and is a place that makes him feel safe and secure. Following the tips below will help your puppy enjoy his crate while you and your family are away.
- Let him spend short periods of time in his crate while you are at home. When you let your puppy out of the crate, remember to praise him. Your praise will teach your puppy to enjoy spending time in his crate.
- Leave the house for brief periods on non-work days, gradually increasing the amount of time you are gone. Once again, always praise your puppy after you let him out of the crate.
- Don't make a big production of leaving or returning, with long good-byes or over-excited hellos. This will only reinforce your puppy's anxiety.
- Provide safe toys as a distraction from loneliness.
- Leave a radio playing softly in another room. The voices from it will help your puppy feel secure.
Q: What are the benefits of obedience school for my puppy? At what age can he be enrolled in classes?
A: One of the greatest benefits to obedience school is socialization. Socializing your puppy early on will help him get along well with all kinds of people and pets. He can be enrolled in a socialization class as soon as he is twelve weeks old. These classes are designed purely as a socialization tool and do not focus on specific commands. Actual obedience classes, where specific commands such as "sit," "stay," "down" and "come" are taught, should begin once your puppy is six months of age or older. These classes can help correct inappropriate behavior before bad habits form, and provides you and your puppy a chance to learn how to work with each other. Remember though, a puppy will only master what he is taught. If you do not reinforce the commands your puppy is taught during class and at home, do not expect him to act accordingly. For more information on obedience school, contact your vet.
Q: How can I keep my puppy from chewing everything he comes across?
A: Realize that chewing is a natural behavior for him. It eases the discomfort of teething and is a part of a puppy's exploration of his environment through the sense of taste. He may also chew when he is bored. Give your puppy safe chew toys such as rawhide bones and hard rubber toys. (Avoid toys containing parts that might come loose and get swallowed such as plastic eyes or metal balls). Be sure to praise him when he plays with his chew toys.
If you catch your puppy chewing something he shouldn't, remove the object with a firm "no." Let him sense, through the firmness of your voice, that chewing is unacceptable. Correct your puppy quietly and firmly each time you catch him chewing an unacceptable object.
Q: How can we stop our puppy from crying in the middle of the night?
A: First determine if he is crying because he wants attention or if he needs to go out. If your puppy is crying because he is afraid of being alone, remember that dark nights and a new environment can be frightening for a young pup. Before you stay up all night trying to comfort him, think of the ramifications of your actions. Tending to a puppy and trying to calm him when he cries indirectly teaches him that "It's okay to cry" and, "If I cry, my owner will come talk to me and pet me."
Instead up picking your puppy up and letting him sleep next to you, why not get him a "doggie bed"? Sold at many pet specialty stores, these beds can be put in the corner of your room and provide your puppy a place all his own to sleep. Introducing your puppy to a "doggie bed," early on will help you and your puppy avoid sleepless nights.
Q: Whenever my puppy is inside, he barks at everything - kids, cars, bikes and even birds. I'm afraid to ever leave him on a leash outside alone, and worry that he will annoy the neighbors. What should I do?
A: Barking is a puppy's form of communication. Your puppy's excessive barking while he is indoors may be his way of telling you he'd rather be outdoors with the birds, bikes and kids. Your puppy may also be barking because he wants attention, is bored or wants everyone outside to know they are passing his "territory." Exercising your puppy at least 20 minutes per day can help prevent him from being bored and can limit excessive barking. To control your puppy's barking, correct him with a loud "no!" or "ahhh!". Praise your puppy when he remains silent. If neighbors complain that your puppy barks when you are away, provide toys, safe chews and other distractions, such as the radio playing in the background. If this behavior persists, contact your vet for further assistance.
Q: How can I stop my puppy from jumping up on everyone who visits?
A: A puppy's jumping is his way of welcoming people. The first step in solving this behavior problem is to teach your dog the "sit" and "stay" commands. To correct your puppy in the act, grab his front paws and hold them tightly for a few seconds and give the command "sit." After paw grabbing has been used several times, you, a family member or a guest should try to intercept the approaching dog before it jumps. Give the "sit" command and praise your puppy if he obeys. Following this procedure consistently should eventually communicate to your puppy that he does not need to jump to receive affection from you or anyone else.
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