Deciding to include a dog in your family is a long term and serious commitment. Before making a final decision you should consider the following points:
Pets can, of course, bring an enormous amount of pleasure. Recent studies suggest that pet owners are generally healthier and happier people and, during stressful or difficult times, a dog can provide invaluable emotional support. Furthermore, dog ownership encourages regular exercise, enhancing the owner’s health and social life.
Dogs can also provide security, and a home with a dog is less likely to be burgled. The dog is a loyal animal and a natural bond between man and dog is very quickly established. Furthermore, children in a dog-owning household have a better chance of becoming responsible and caring members of the community. There are many and varied rewards for pet ownership and much truth in the saying “a man’s best friend is his dog”.
If you are looking for particular qualities in your dog, such as a certain coat type or overall size or character, you will need to investigate different breeds to determine the most suitable for your needs.
Vitally important is choosing the most suitable size of dog for your home, car and physical capabilities. The Kennel Club will advise you of each breed’s official breed club and standards. Each club has a secretary who will discuss with you the individual characteristics of a breed and direct you towards breeders and enthusiasts in your area.
If you are considering a breed with which you are unfamiliar, talk to as many people as possible who know the breed. Breed clubs usually hold regular shows or fun days, which are also worth visiting. Whatever you do, do not rush into an impulse buy, but consider carefully the breed’s characteristics as well as its faults. Good pet shops and most bookshops stock a range of books on most breeds, which will provide further background knowledge.
Because certain medical conditions are more likely to appear when two dogs from the same breed parent a litter, the cross-bred dog is often healthier. However, you cannot always be sure exactly how a cross-bred puppy will look when fully grown.
Whether you choose a pure-bred or a mixed breed puppy, you should meet the litter’s mother and also, if possible, its father, before making your choice. Look at the temperament and behaviour of the parents and decide whether they replicate those you would like in your new puppy. The owner of the dam will tell you about the nature of each pup and help you choose the most suitable for your family.
A sudden change to a new environment is undoubtedly a stressful time for a puppy. However, there are ways to minimise the trauma. If possible, you should visit your chosen puppy at the breeder’s home as often as possible during the lead up to the day when you bring it home. These regular visits help to minimise the stress of change, by familiarising the pup with his new owners in advance. The ideal age for a puppy to go to his new home is between six and eight weeks.
A change of diet at a stressful time can cause severe digestive disturbances. Be sure to obtain a detailed diet sheet from the breeder and give yourself time to stock up with the same foods that the puppy is used to. Stay with the same diet and meal times for the settling in period – usually about seven to ten days. Make any dietary changes gradually to avoid problems such as diarrhoea. You can minimise the risk of dietary upsets, associated with stress or changes in feeding, by supplementing your puppy’s diet with Denes Probiotic+ Powder. This will help stabilise the bacteria in your puppy’s bowel during periods of risk. Also, be sure to discuss worming and vaccination history with the breeder and your local vet.
Prepare for your puppy’s arrival with a few essential items. Dogs like to have their own area, so provide a suitable bed, which should be off the ground and in a draught-free position. Puppies are renowned for chewing, so be prepared to replace the bed a few times during the early months.
Other essential items include food and water bowls, brush and comb, collar and lead and some safe toys (be sure your puppy cannot bite off pieces and swallow them!).
A young puppy will miss his mother and may not settle well during the first few nights and an item from the previous home, bearing his mother’s scent, can help to provide security. It is advisable not to go to your pup every time he barks or cries, as he may become too dependent on you, which can lead to behavioural problems later on. A hot water bottle wrapped up well and placed in the bed and lots of soft, warm bedding can imitate the warmth of a mother’s companionship.
If your dog is a pedigree, you will receive a Kennel Club registration slip from the breeder. In order to transfer the registration into your name, complete the relevant part of the slip and send it to the Kennel Club. It is now possible to have a tiny microchip implanted under your puppy’s skin for identification, though it is also advisable that a disc engraved with a name and contact number is attached to your puppy’s collar.
When you take charge of your new puppy, it may be insured for a short period of time under the breeder’s cover. If this is the case, you will be given a cover note and an application to take out further cover. It is very sensible to do so when your puppy is young. If you need advice about pet insurance, your vet will be a good person to speak to.
Socialisation is the process by which a puppy becomes familiar with and learns to relate correctly to other animals and people. The process whereby a puppy learns to cope with normal everyday life (for example, traffic, crowds, washing machines, etc.) without over-reacting is known as habituation.
The younger the puppy, the more capable it will be of accepting a new situation or challenge. Early controlled experiences, with the support of his owner, prevent fear and teach proper behaviour. Always reward a puppy for correct behaviour with a treat or some kind words.
If this process is not carried out thoroughly and correctly at a young age, the dog may show fear in later life when challenged by the unknown. This fear could then turn into aggression, as the dog’s natural instinct is to protect itself from possible danger.
In order to prevent behavioural disturbances in later life, puppies should be handled as much as possible from two weeks of age. From about six weeks old, puppies should be gently and carefully exposed to as many experiences as possible, both inside and outside the home. It is imperative that this socialisation is carried out carefully, using rewards to build up the puppy’s confidence and drawing back if the stimulant starts to frighten him. Remember, too, that he will not have full protection from canine diseases at this age, so you must introduce him to the outside world from the safety of your arms. Please see the section on vaccination later in this fact sheet.
When a puppy arrives at its new home, it should be left alone for short periods, in order to learn how to behave when left. It should also experience short and regular car journeys.
These will help your puppy interact correctly with people and other animals and accept new experiences. The benefits from attending organised classes can be enormous.
Vets are now beginning to realise the importance of correct socialisation and some provide puppy parties in their surgeries. The puppy usually attends between its first and second vaccination and can experience interaction between other animals and mixed groups of people in a safe environment. This is also an ideal opportunity for a puppy to become accustomed to the vet’s waiting and consulting rooms without experiencing any treatment.
Puppy parties are usually run by the vets or their veterinary nurses and reception staff and provide the owners with an opportunity to discuss any concerns they may have, in a relaxed atmosphere.
When your puppy is a little older, he can progress to socialisation and habituation classes. These classes are usually held in small halls with a group of about six to eight puppies. During this time, the pups are taught to behave correctly when mixing with other puppies and older dogs, as well as humans. Puppies are also taught to accept being examined (ears, mouth, teeth, etc) and are given basic obedience training.
Puppies learn very quickly, which is why correct socialisation is so beneficial, but they are also capable of learning the wrong things and damage may be done if a situation is not handled correctly. For instance, if a puppy is placed in overwhelming circumstances, such as encountering several noisy children at once, it could develop a fear of children. Similarly, an outgoing puppy in the same situation could learn simply to leap all over the children, a habit which is likely to persist and which the owner will find difficult to control later. Socialisation, therefore, means different things to different puppies and owners must determine what they are trying to achieve at the outset.
Denes support the view that vaccination can have positive effects on health but in some circumstance can cause health problems in some animals. Whether or not to vaccinate your pet should be a joint discussion between you and you vet. Each case should be judged on its merits weighing up both the positive and negative aspects before going ahead, taking into account any previous side effects from vaccination and any current health problems. If necessary you could consult a vet specialising in alternative medicine for a broader viewpoint on vaccination who will be able to outline the benefits and problems associated with vaccines from a more holistic viewpoint.
As mentioned earlier, it is important to start socialising your pup at an early age and, as long as you take suitable precautions, it is possible to do so before it is vaccinated. Introduce him to your friends from your arms or in your own home, but never, under any circumstances, walk him outside on a lead before he is fully protected, which is usually a few days after the second vaccination.
The most common intestinal parasite in dogs is the roundworm, and young puppies can become seriously ill as a result of heavy infestations. During pregnancy, hormonal changes in the mother cause some larvae to mobilise and infest her unborn puppies, which means that most puppies are born with an infestation. Larvae can also be passed to the litter via the bitch’s milk. It is important, therefore, that you commence a worming programme as soon as possible. Your vet will prescribe the worming treatment and advise you as to when it should be repeated.
Another very good reason to start worming your puppy as soon as you can is that roundworm eggs can be passed on to humans. This condition is known as visceral larval migrans, and can seriously affect the eyes. Children are at greatest risk of contracting this condition, by playing in areas contaminated with dog faeces, for instance, though, fortunately, it is very rare.
More information on roundworms and other parasites is included in our Fact sheet number 12, Parasites and your Pet.
When your puppy first arrives, he will need to be taught where you would like him to do his toilet. Dogs do have a certain amount of instinct to be clean and do not like to soil their sleeping or eating area. You should train your puppy using positive rewards and when he uses the correct area he should immediately be praised with affection, kind words and the reward of a titbit. Scolding a puppy for bad behaviour can be a dangerous tactic, as he may not connect a punishment with the misdeed. If no such connection is made, he will simply become confused. In the early stages of training, it is sensible to lay newspaper on the floor for protection.
Puppies usually urinate or defecate soon after waking or after feeding and, if you physically put him in the correct area at these times, he is almost bound to toilet. By rewarding him for correct action, he will soon learn how you want him to behave.
Breeding is a very responsible job and should be left to the experts. There are many considerations when planning a litter and numerous complications can arise. For pet dogs, neutering is often a sensible option and should be discussed with your vet at the time of vaccination.
Puppies, like children, can swallow all kinds of objects. You must be sure that your puppy cannot pick up things that can be swallowed, as these can cause a blockage in the gut, which will make him seriously ill. Puppies will chew all kinds of items and it is important to protect them from danger by keeping such things as electric cables out of reach. Swimming pools and ponds can also be a danger for young pups and these should be covered.
Always supervise your puppy and, during the times he is alone, always make sure he is safe.
Diet is the single most significant factor in maintaining your puppy’s good health. After the initial settling-in period, you can gradually change his diet and the earlier you do this, the better. Trials have shown that an adult dog will always show preference to the food it was reared on as a puppy, even years later.
Diets produced from only natural ingredients replicate, as closely as possible, the food that the animal would have eaten in its natural environment. This contributes to the idea of a natural rearing regime, as devised by Denes’ founder, Buster Lloyd-Jones. Correctly balanced, natural diets are unlikely to produce dietary allergies or behavioural disturbances. On the contrary, they will keep your dog’s immune system strong, thus protecting him from disease and lengthening his life.
Some processed foods contain artificial taste enhancers, colours or other chemical additives and they often have salt added or use soya as a source of protein. Generally speaking, canned foods contain a similar amount of moisture to that in the prey a dog would catch in the wild, while dry and semi-moist foods have nearly all the moisture removed and rely on the animal to take in extra water to compensate.
Denes produces a range of nutritionally complete wet and dry dog foods produced from only high quality, natural ingredients, with the benefit of added herbs. We do not include any artificial additives or preservatives, soya or added salt. Denes Puppy With Chicken canned recipe has been specially formulated as balanced foods for young puppies, actively growing dogs and pregnant or nursing bitches.
To complement our foods, we also produce Wholegrain Mixer, which provides extra roughage and carbohydrate, as well as keeping the teeth and gums in good condition.
You can use the following tables as a rough guide to work out how much to feed your puppy.
|ADULT WEIGHT||CANS PER DAY 400G SIZE|
|AGE 2-4 MONTHS||AGE 5-9 MONTHS|
|Toy||Up to 5 kg||1/4 – 1/2||0.5 – 1|
|Small||5 – 10 kg||1/2 – 3/4||1 – 1.5|
|Medium||10 – 20kg||3/4 – 1||1.5 – 2|
|Large||20 – 45 kg||1 – 1.5||2 – 3|
|Divide the quantity into 4 meals a day for young puppies. Aim to reduce this to two meals per day by about 6 months of age. Around nine to fifteen months of age, depending on the breed, (or when your pup is fully grown), gradually change to one of Denes adult recipes, such as Adult With Chicken & Tripe, Adult Tripe Mix Rich in Turkey or Adult with Rabbit & Chicken.|
The natural rearing regime also includes supplements of herbs, chosen specially for their health- giving properties. An ideal general supplement is All-in-One+ Powder, containing seaweed, wheatgrass, spinach, alfalfa leaf and barleygrass, which can be given from two months of age. All-in-One+ Powder provide all the essential vitamins, minerals and trace elements in their natural form. In this way the animal can absorb and assimilate the nutrients in the way nature intended.
These are vital for good health and especially good in helping keep the skin and coat in good condition. Denes Organic Omega 3 Oil blend which contains flax, safflower, borage and olive oil can be added to the food on a daily basis to prevent dry scaly skin and dandruff and to help make the coat look extra glossy and shiny.
Homeopathic remedies are an ideal and safe way to treat minor injuries such as strains, sprains and minor bruises. Remedies for your first aid kit should include:
More information on Denes foods, licensed herbal medicines, supplements and aromatherapy products is available in our free Product Guides.
Other useful Denes fact sheets to read: