Guide to Caring for your New Puppy
Most people tend to overfeed their dogs and most dogs are slightly overweight. Puppies and adult dogs should carry just enough weight so that their rear 2 or 3 ribs are slightly visible. Studies have shown that a lean dog has a lower rate of Hip Dysplasia along with other joint problems. The most crucial time is from 3-6 months of age. Puppies have very soft forming bones and at this age excess weight is very hard on the frame. Dogs in the wild very seldom develop joint problems due in part to their high raw meat (protein) diet and they are always lean.
Your new puppy at 8 weeks of age should weigh around 10-15 Lbs. and has been on a diet of about 3/4 cup of watered down, high quality dry food with about 1 rounded teaspoon of Raw Beef, or Whole (4%) Cottage Cheese, 3 times a day. (It is important to allow the dry kibble to absorb the water for a few minutes to prevent the dog from overeating then have the stomach fluids cause the dry food to expand inside the stomach).
Any sudden change in diet may cause nausea and diarrhea. If you switch to a different food, mix the old food with the new over the period of about 1 week rather than switching cold turkey.
I advise against canned dog food as it contains excess fats, sodium and preservatives.
A completely raw meat diet is best for your dog but can get expensive, if you choose not to use raw meat either alone or with kibble, just use a high quality dry food, watered down and add some Whole (4%) Cottage Cheese for extra protein needed for strong bone and muscle formation at least for the first 6 months of life. Use your own judgement to adjust the amount of food, make sure you can see or feel the rear 2 or 3 ribs slightly protruding and your puppy or adult dog should have a slight hourglass figure at the waist.
Feed 3 times a day until 1 year old then switch to 2 feedings per day. Never keep food available all the time allowing your dog to graze whenever he has the urge to eat, this is very unhealthy. It is hard wired in a dogs brain to overeat in case they cant find food for a number of days as a survival instinct in the wild1
Play, Exercise and Socialization:
Once your puppy has had his vaccinations, you should begin supervised socialization with other dogs, children and adults. Also some basic obedience. Allow him to experience as much as possible such as horses, car rides, the ocean, crowds and all kinds of noises. More experiences as a young dog will allow him to become a happier more confident well adjusted adult. VERY IMPORTANT: Every experience must be fun, happy, non-threatening and confidence building for him. One bad experience can be traumatic enough to cause fear or aggression issues for the rest of his life.
At 6 months, one of my boys was fearless. I made the mistake of taking him to 4th Of July fireworks up close. At first he seemed curious but ok, after 10 minutes or so he became scared and because we were so close and trapped by the crowds, it took too long to get him away and because of this he was afraid of fireworks till his dying day even though he was ok with other loud noises and even gunshots.
When socializing a young dog with other dogs, supervise very closely. Even a friendly bigger dog can injure a smaller dog accidently while playing. Never allow another animal to assert dominance over your dog. If they can play nicely together and take turns chasing each other it's ok but if the other dog always chases your dog, is overly aggressive or puts himself on top of yours, do not allow it.
It's good to expose a young dog to children but you must always supervise closely. A child can injure a young dog easily and a playful puppy can hurt a child without meaning to with it's sharp little teeth and nails. A dog that is mistreated by a child, adult or more aggressive dog can grow up to bite out of fear or aggression.
The recommended method for housebreaking is Crate Training. Your new puppy like all dogs is a natural cave or den dweller. The crate becomes the puppies own "den". This provides the pup with a feeling of security and privacy if he has been properly introduced to the crate. It is best to place the crate in an area that is not totally isolated but also not in the middle of a room full of activity.
When you bring the pup home, be sure to give him lots of attention and allow him to explore his surroundings (under guarded supervision) and to rest. It is helpful to feed the pup in his crate for the first few days so he has pleasant experiences while in it. When he becomes tired during the day, put him in his crate to sleep. If he cries, just ignore it for 10 or 15 minutes he may stop on his own. If he continues to cry, gently take him by the muzzle and tell him "No-Quiet" then leave the room. He may start up again when you leave, repeat the process several times. If he continues to cry you can take a squirt bottle filled with water and lime or lemon juice and squirt him in the mouth to discourage him. If he still persists, swat the side of the crate with a rolled up newspaper and give the command "No-Quiet". If you give in and let him out before he settles down, you will be teaching him if he rebels long enough, he will eventually get his way.
Every time the pup is taken out of the crate, he must be immediately carried (to avoid accidents on the way) outside to go potty. It is "Your" responsibility to make sure he doesn't have an accident in the house. Never use corporal punishment on him or rub his muzzle in "Your" mistake! Stay with him while he goes and always praise him when he's finished.
The crate is an asset that both you and he will come to enjoy. Your pup needs lots of attention and exercise therefore it is not wise to leave him in his crate for more than a few hours at a time (except at night). Be sure he has a chance to go potty each time before being put back in his crate. He will do everything possible to keep his "den" clean if given the chance. Your pup should never be allowed to explore the house unattended. They are very inquisitive and will get into trouble or have a potty accident. I he's in the house and you cant keep an eye on him, just put him in his crate with water and a few toys. You will find that most pups will go in their crate on their own if allowed access.
There are basically two types of crates, fiberglass shipping crate and the wire grill type. Either will work just as well but with the wire grill type, cover the sides with a sheet or blanket for privacy and security. Always keep clean bedding in the crate for the pups comfort.
Some Random Puppy Tips:
1. When playing tug, always let the puppy win on a good strong pull by him (not too hard with baby teeth). This helps build confidence.
2. The retrieve is a fun game for your pup, good exercise, and could have useful, practical value in the future. Always let the pup bring the ball, stick or toy back to you and place it in your hand. Never allow him to drop it on the ground in front of you. If he refuses the game is over. Eventually he will learn to put it in your hand.
3. See to it that your puppy or adult dog never experiences the emotions of fear, rejection or loneliness and you will end up with a loving, confident, fearless dog who will lay down his life to protect his home and family. (link: Understanding Fear Imprint Periods in Dogs)
4. Keep your puppy and adult dog lean. Adjust his food intake accordingly. Don't allow him to graze or eat as much as he wants. If he's getting too heavy, cut back the amount of food your giving him. If he doesn't want to eat all the time, don't worry, some dogs are finicky eaters. As long as he's healthy it's ok, it's not natural for any animal to starve itself.
5. Never feed your dog table scraps. Besides not being healthy for your dog, you will be glad at your next back yard bbq when he doesn't steal or beg guests for food.
6. Allow your dog to feel like part of the family by letting him sleep in the house and by taking him places with you whenever you can. A dog that doesn't feel he's part of the family will develop bad habits. He could begin to exhibit natural tendencies for a wild animal left to fend for itself...excessive barking, digging, escape and a lack of respect and obedience.
7. Excessive barking when you are not home can be annoying to your neighbors and it is important to deal with this or someone may harm your dog. You can try using a citronella bark collar and if that doesn't work in extreme cases you may have to use a shock collar.
8. Never discipline your dog too long after the incident. He will not understand the reason for his reprimand. Weather using a stern "NO" or a yank on the choker it must be done immediately or not at all.
9. Digging is best dealt with by bringing the dog to the hole and with a stern command "NO DIGGING" make him watch as you fill it in. This probably wont work but it'll make you feel better. The important thing is to cover the area with something so he cant get to it again along with any other digging spots. Usually they find 3 or 4 spots they like to dig and if they cant get to them they'll forget about em in a few days or weeks. You may need to repeat this a few times. Most bad habits that puppies have like digging, barking and chewing up everything in sight will taper off by the time they're 1 to 2 years old as long as you don't allow them to do these things without teaching them its unacceptable behavior.
10. Teething and chewing up everything in sight is normal for puppies and best dealt with by close supervision and not leaving anything you value laying around in their reach. It also helps to have pleanty of chew toys for them.