Yaah! You’re Getting a new puppy. Val Cairney
On today’s episode I am going to tackle and address puppies! Specifically getting a new puppy. The best part of our day is when a new puppy comes into the store and they look around at all the wonderful things and all the smells that are so new and enticing. Sometimes they are little puppies held in arms and sometimes they come in on leashes ready to tackle whatever is new. How people get their new puppy is a whole other topic and I am going to reserve a more in depth podcast to looking for a puppy from reputable sources, but today we focus on what to expect and how to get prepared for a new puppy.
Despite the natural rhythms of female dogs and when there is “puppy time”, it seems that people acquire puppies all throughout the year. How they get these puppies again, will be reserved for another time, but let’s assume for now that they purchased either a purebred pup from an accredited and registered Kennel Club breeder or they went to a reputable rescue.
How one decides on what kind of dog to get be it, purebred, cross breed or mutt depends on a few factors. First of all, size of dog I think is a very big factor. Small dog, medium dog, big dog, all depends on environment. If you live in a townhouse with a small little backyard, I don’t think it is a good idea to get a Bernese Mountain dog. Having said that, if the new owner is a very active, outdoorsy type who is going to be constantly walking the dog or running with the dog and visiting parkland and country sides, this might work. But, that kind of owner in that scenario is not very common.
Perhaps a smaller dog to fit the size of the environment is a better choice. I live and work in a rural environment, so you can imagine how much large breed dog food we go through. Many of our customers have acreage, so labs and shepherds and Great pyrenes dogs are quite the norm. This is size of dog matching environment. We also seem to have quite a few Shih Tzu dogs and pugs etc. and these are people who live in town and walk their dogs on the sidewalks and have fenced backyards. Again, size matches environment.
Now having said that about fenced backyards, people who have property also have to be prepared to contain their dog as well. It’s not okay to let your dog roam around freely just because you live in the country. This is where some kind of perimeter statically charged fencing may need to be installed. If that’s the case, this expense needs to be put into the budget. Some people build kennels for the dogs outside time and that may be something that works as well. Either way, fenced area, fenced backyard, perimeter fencing, all of this needs to be considered when bringing a new puppy into the family. Remember most municipalities invoke fines on dogs found at large and the worst horror of course, is a dog being hit by a car because of a lack of containment.
Okay, so let’s move along to the activity level of the dog. And you know, this is not necessary equated to size of dog. I don’t have a Great Dane, but I have heard they really like their down time, sleeping on a couch, whereas you get yourself a Border Collie or Australian Cattle Dog, you better be prepared to be very active with your dog. A very active breed has to be seriously considered in combination with lifestyle. I think I’ll interject here something that I have been experiencing a little more than occasionally recently. I have been getting older people, people 60 plus, coming in to get things for their new puppy. I would say about 70% have got a small dog but there are some who have delved into getting German Shepherds or large hounds that I find rather concerning.
The reason I bring this up is more times than I like, I find a very frustrated owner, trying to find toys and chew things for a puppy that is quote un-quote , driving me crazy, chewing everything in sight. When I respond by saying, “well that is what puppies do” I have heard the response accompanied with a big sigh, “I wish I had never done this”. Yikes!! Here is where a pet appropriate to age should have been considered. There are wonderful senior pets in many shelters waiting so patiently for someone to love them again. This breaks my heart. The other thing to consider is future lifestyle. Getting a puppy now may seem super fun and you have all the time in the world, right up until a new baby comes along and all that changes. Not everyone does this, but it is a fairly common story to hear about a dog being re-homed because the human family has expanded and the puppy who is now a dog, doesn’t fit this lifestyle. Another thing that breaks my heart.
Okay, so we have a new puppy coming home and in comes the new pet parent and they say, we are picking up our new puppy. We need everything. Awesome!! We love these pet parents. The first thing is to think about food. Many people are given a bag of the food the puppy is eating to help tide the new owner over until they get settled. This is another area that has me concerned. I have had people come in telling me the person that they are getting the puppy from is feeding X. My eyes widened many times when I hear what the puppy has been fed. In my opinion, if the pups are being fed a very low quality food, that just indicates what kind of a pup raiser this person is and there is no way I would give over money to someone who doesn’t take nutrition seriously.
Anyway, a pet expert can help you decide what kind of food to get based on the dog’s needs. There are many great foods on the market specifically formulated for small breeds, medium and large breed dogs that gives a good nutritional start. This is where it is important to not use made up hybrid names for cross breeds. Pet experts need to know the two breeds present so they can recommend according to the needs of those two breeds. I have a husky/shepherd cross. I know that with the shepherd in him he will shed a lot! I also know, that true to his husky nature, he sometimes likes to skip a meal. If I went into a pet speciality store and told the pet expert I had a shepsky, they would have no idea what I was talking about nor how to help me with the proper food choice. Mixed breeds can be a little easier to decipher for food choice but having some idea of the breeds mixed in does help a fair bit.
Once food is decided, it is best to think about proper toys, and chewing toys for a puppy. These choices should be from the puppy selection. It is important not to give puppies anything too hard that could break a baby tooth. Also, edibles like pizzles (and yes, they are bull or water buffalo penis) can also be too hard and perhaps a bit too rich. Definitely no rawhide. Look to Kong, and Nylabone and other brands that allow puppies to play and chew with appropriate size and texture. It is best to actually speak to a pet expert for these choices as opposed to acquiring product that you have not actually held in your hand.
Now the next question is whether to crate or not. This is a very individual choice and if crating is something you wish to do, again, speak to the pet expert to get the correct size of crate. It is super important to not have a too small crate for a rapidly growing large dog. Make sure you are very aware of the time the pup will spend in the crate. I’ll be honest. It isn’t for every dog. People like to say that oh no, they love to have a space for themselves. But, I can tell you from experience, some dogs hate their crate. Some love it. If you are going to go with a crate, you will have to decide if you want to put a crate mat or bed in the crate. It’s so tempting to put a nice soft, cushy mat in the crate but it’s possible that the new little one will chew the stuffings out of a bed or mat, so if you do decide to buy something soft for the crate, don’t go overboard. Some people line the crate or sleeping area with towels and blankets. That might just do for the first little while. Down the line, you can invest in some lovely comfy beds, but not right now. Ask some seasoned pet owners what they did when they had a pup and make your decision from there.
Okay, we have food, toys, crate, what else do we need. I would say, buy an inexpensive collar, because we know the puppy will grow out of it, and a leash to start some basic leash training. Lastly, do you want puppy pads? These are the pads that come in a package that you take out one by one to put on the floor for the puppy to use while learning about going outside. Good puppy pads are absorbent and have an attractive scent to encourage the pup to go on the pad. The idea is to get the puppy going on the pad in between times you are not taking him out and then keep moving the pad towards the door to get them used to asking to go out. Puppy pads also help with that time period where the puppy just can’t hold it as their bladders are not developed enough and they can at least make it to the pad instead of your carpet. At this point, it might be a good idea to get a good pet stain and odour remover. I say “pet” here because using commercial carpet and floor cleaners can often be counterproductive as many have ammonia in the ingredients, which smells like pee to a puppy and therefore attracts them right back to the same spot on your carpet. Your local pet speciality store should have a good selection of stain and odour removers for you to choose from.
Well that is probably going to do you for the first bit. Spaying and neutering is a whole other topic one I’ll reserve for another episode.
So that brings us to my Pet Peeves section of the podcast. This part is reserved solely for opinion and a bit of a vent. We love puppies, and puppies become dogs that become family members and that is just the point. Puppies, kittens, rabbits, it doesn’t matter, they are not a disposable item to give up or rehome in the future for some trivial reason. Getting a pet is a commitment. It is your responsibility to care of them for their life. When you get a puppy, you become its world, its pack. Sending them off to someone else for a reason that could have been prevented with a little research and honest soul searching really bugs me. And another thing, a puppy or any new pet should not be “purchased” as a Christmas gift. I know some people discuss as a family getting a puppy as a family addition for Christmas, doing all the research and discussion that should be done, but many do not. This is why many shelters stop pet adoptions a few weeks before Christmas.
Next point…people, small dog puppies are still dogs. They need to learn to go outside to pee and they need to be walked. When I hear that people let their tiny dog do its business all the time in the house because, “you know, he’s too tiny to go outside” I just about lose it. It’s not a cat! It’s a dog! In this case size does not matter. Also, embrace the cross breed! Be proud of saying the two wonderful breeds that make up your special dog. And if he is a mutt, embrace that too! They are as special as any purebred.
The take away from today’s episode is to do some research, be super careful about who you are getting the dog from, be prepared so its first night in its new home will be as less stressful as possible and ask your pet expert for advise because as I say, knowing is caring!
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Thanks for listening!
Hi everyone, and welcome to Val Talk’s Pets, the forum for pet parents and enthusiasts alike. So, I have been working in the pet industry now for almost 10 years and, on a daily basis, I handle a lot of issues and questions arising from pet parents. I am not a veterinarian but I do have certifications in Canine, Feline, Small Animal, Fish and Herptile and Avian Health and Nutrition from the University of California, Davis Extension, the Vet College.
For the price of a coffee, or more if you are feeling generous, you can help keep this podcast going & growing. Please visit my ko-fi page to make a donation. Thanks!