Preparing for Your New Puppy

Spaniels are intelligent, easy to train and make great family pets.  Getting your first Springer Spaniel is an exciting and enjoyable thing to do but there are many things that need to be considered and prepared before you take your new puppy home for the first time.

 

 

Preparing Your Home

Going to their new home for the first time can be very stressful for your puppy.  They will be in a strange environment, without their mum or litter mates for the first time.  Therefore, it is important to make sure that your home is well prepared.
 
The process of puppy proofing your home is very much like baby proofing before the arrival of a child. Except a puppy is far more curious, active and destructive and can get themselves into far more trouble.  Bear in mind that a puppy is a new-born. They’re completely naïve and clueless about the world around them, what’s safe and what isn’t, and will explore and play with everything and anything until they’re taught to know better.

You will need to make your home and garden safe.  Rather than try to make the entire property puppy 'proof', it's a good idea to create safe areas for your puppy, keeping them within the confines of a few rooms.  Popular choices are kitchen and/or utility areas.
 

Decide where you want your puppy to sleep and place their bed, cage or crate there ready.  Always leave the crate/cage/room door open (except when you need to confine your puppy) so that your puppy can get in and out of their own "personal quiet space" at will.

Decide on where you want to provide water and feed your puppy and place their water bowl there ready for their arrival.  Try to always provide water and feed you puppy in the same location (preferably with an easy to clean floor, or on a large, stable, tray).

GENERAL TIPS

  • The number one thing to keep in mind is that your puppy will think it has the right to play with and chew on absolutely anything they can get their little paws and teeth on.

  • If something would be dangerous or expensive if they toyed with it, then they simply cannot be allowed access to it.  If a puppy can get at something it’s fair game to play with and destroy.  So, put all potentially dangerous objects, and those you’d like to keep intact, well out of reach.

  • Closely supervise your puppy when they’re free to roam the house.  Confine them to a small secured room, or consider using a crate, to temporarily hold them safely when you cannot supervise them.  They should never be left unsupervised with free rein in your home as disaster can strike in seconds.

  • Use bitter-tasting sprays that deter dogs from chewing on items that cannot possibly be moved.  Things like table legs, skirting boards and corners of cabinets can be saved in this way.

  • Make sure you have a good selection of chew toys left in every location that your puppy spends time.  Springer Spaniels, in particular, prefer chewing on soft toys rather than hard furniture.  Toys keep your puppy occupied, help with the teething process, are stress relievers and help to promote chewing on the right things instead of your home and belongings.

  • Invest in some baby gates or barriers to use for restricting access to certain areas of your home.  It’s wise to only allow access to one or two rooms until your puppy is toilet trained, more responsible and can be trusted.  Open up the rest of your home over time as they mature.

  • Check he types of plants you have in your home as many are toxic or poisonous to dogs - a link to a list of hazardous plants is provided in the 'Garden Safety" section, below.  Move any hazardous plants well out of reach, or dispose of them.

  • Make sure anything potentially poisonous is securely locked away or stored high and out of reach, including but not limited to: Household cleaners, antifreeze, rat poisons, mothballs, insect repellents, bleaches, disinfectants, insecticides, pesticides, soaps, shampoos and laundry detergents.

Proper preparation will allow your puppy to be able to explore while keeping them safe.  It also makes it easier for you to keep track of your puppy and clean up after them.

If your puppy manages to get hold of something that’s dangerous or of value to you, then it is entirely your own fault.  Everything is a toy for them until they’ve been taught otherwise, and have matured enough to know better.  Don’t get angry at them for being a puppy.  Get angry at yourself for forgetting this fact and not removing the opportunity.

 

Garden Safety

If you want to allow your puppy to roam free in the garden, you will need to make sure that the boundary is high and secure enough to keep your puppy in - no holes in hedges or fences, low walls, gaps under gates, etc.  Alternatively, obtain a play pen that can be erected on your lawn.

Check the garden for any hazards such as insecure rocks, paving slabs, tools, children's toys, etc. and ensure that there is nothing heavy that a puppy could knock over and injure themselves with, or get trapped in.  Fence off any ponds until your puppy is large enough to get themselves out.

Puppies will try to eat anything and everything, this is a habit that they will gradually grow out but you need to take care about what they can eat or chew on.  Restrict access to plants that are dangerous to dogs, such as Daffodil, Hyacinth, Oak, Holly, Bird of Paradise.  If in doubt, simply do not allow your puppy to eat anything in the garden.

A comprehensive list of foods, plants and other substances dangerous to dogs can be found on the Dogs Trust website here.

 

If wild animals, especially foxes or badgers, visit your garden then you will need to keep your puppy away from any areas that they may have visited, until a few days after your puppy has had their second vaccination.  If worried or unsure, clean an area close to the house and fence off with a puppy pen.

 

Equipment & Supplies
 

FOOD
Make sure that you have sufficient good quality food available for your puppy, for at least the first few days.  This should be the same food that the puppy has been fed by the breeder - sudden changes in diet can cause serious problems.
 
Jenny's puppies will have been fed on Royal Canin "Starter" food.  You will be given a few days supply to take home with the puppy, along with a Royal Canin puppy pack that includes a code to obtain a voucher for a free bag (about 1 months supply) of puppy food.

See the "Feeding" page for further information.

BOWLS FOR FOOD AND WATER
You will need to have at least two bowls - one for food, and one for water.  Spaniels have long ears that are just perfect for dangling into their bowls, where they will get messed up with food and water, so I recommend getting bowls that are not particularly wide to avoid this.  Bowls specifically designed for Springer Spaniels are available, with narrow mouths and heavy bases.

Choose bowls that are dishwasher safe, with a smooth surface that will not collect dirt and harbour bacteria - ceramic or stainless steel are good choices.  Heavy bowls, or bowls with rubber bases, are useful to avoid them being pushed around.

 

BEDS AND BEDDING
The huge range of options available can be quite daunting.  There are many factors to consider to ensure that youare picking the most suitable bed for your dog.  Many that can be compared to how we like to think as humans; materials, colours, costs, etc. but there are also practical considerations.

When we choose our own beds, we head into showrooms and like to test out different mattresses, different materials, different heights and personal preference, taking the time to consider any medical factors, such as a bad back, difficulty getting up from a low bed, etc.  The choice is broad, but it is essential you purchase the right bed as this is where you will spend a large portion of your time.  The same applies for the dog in your life.

Here is a list of the 5 important factors we think you should consider when buying a dog bed:
 

1. Location

Dogs feel the cold too!  Think about the possible locations - are they susceptible to drafts and cold air passing through?  There are high wall beds that can help to prevent unpleasant breezes and help your dog to get settled in bed.  By choosing the correct bed, you can help give your dog a better, uninterrupted sleep.

2. Cold flooring

If you are going to site your dog's bed in an area with a cold or damp floor, such as stone, tile or bare wood, you should consider obtaining a raised bed, or one with a deep mattress for good insulation.

 

3. How your dog sleeps

The sleeping position of your dog may dramatically affect the size and shape of the bed you require, also the material you decide will be best.  Some dogs prefer to lie flat out on their side, stretched out on their fronts, or tightly curled up.

 

4. Materials

Do you have a personal preference on materials?  Or maybe the location determines your needs.  Do you want something that will keep the heat in (in a cold room) or lets it out (in a warm room)?  For a particularly active dog like a Springer, who will regularly go for long muddy walks in the countryside, you might want to consider a waterproof bed.

 

5. Comfort

To cope with weather changes, you may also want to consider accessories that can help to make your dog more comfortable in their bed, such as fleece rugs, self-heating pads or water/odour resistant covers, etc.

Spend some time browsing the full selection of beds & accessories and be sure to carefully consider the comfort of your dog.

CRATE OR CAGE
While your puppy is young and not properly house-trained, or cannot be trusted not to damage the furniture, it is also worth having a crate or cage to leave your puppy in safely when they are unattended, or overnight while you are asleep.

Again, a whole multitude of options are available in a huge range of sizes and materials so it is best to take a look at what is available and decide on the features that are of importance to you.  Make sure that the crate/cage is large enough to allow your dog to stand up and lie down without being in any way restricted.  It is also advisable to get two sets of washable bedding.  'Vet bed' is ideal as liquid can soak through so it will stay dry and comfortable for your puppy to lie on if they have an accident.  It is also stronger than most other material if puppy decides to try and shred it.

 

If you choose to get a basket get a tough rigid plastic, or galvanized wire one, and ensure that any gaps are sufficiently small to contain your puppy but not so small that paws or noses can get trapped.  Never leave your puppy unattended in a crate or cage with a collar on, in case it gets caught on something and hangs them.

Crates/cages are also a safe and comfortable place to keep your puppy while you are away from home, or when you travel with them.

A puppy that is carefully introduced to a crate will usually find it a pleasant and secure place to be.  Dogs don't like to soil their bedding but you should be able to gradually build up the time that you can leave your puppy in there without a toilet break, until you are able to leave them overnight.  Don't leave puppy in there for long periods during the day - short periods are OK if they need some quiet time, or if you need to pop out for a short while.  Leave the door open when you do not need to keep them contained and they may
choose to take their naps in there themselves.  Always make sure puppy has water available either with a bowl or a bottle.

COLLAR LEAD AND TAG
Although you should not take your puppy out for walks until a few days after they have completed their course of vaccinations, you can spend time prior to this getting them used to wearing their collar, and walking them on the lead in the house and garden.

Your puppy will grow a lot over the next few months, so buy an adjustable collar that can be increased in size as they grow.  Be careful that the collar is not too tight or too loose - you should be able to comfortably slip two fingers in-between the collar and the puppy's neck.

 

In common with most reputable dog trainers, I do not recommend using any of the many extendable leads that are available on the market.  They do not provide a sufficiently secure level of control of your dog, and regularly get tangled up with other dogs, people, trees, etc.

 

By law, every puppy should now have a microchip before it leaves the breeder.  It is still, however, also the law (and subject to a £5000 fine) that your puppy must wear a collar with the name and address (including postcode) of the owner engraved or written on it, or engraved on a tag.  Address can be abbreviated to house name/no. and postcode, if required.  Your telephone number is optional, but I recommend adding it.  I also recommend that you do not put your dog's name on the tag, as this would make it far easier for a thief to pass your dog off as their own.

GROOMING TOOLS AND PRODUCTS
Grooming is a very important aspect of dog ownership.  Not only does it smarten a dog's appearance it also provides owners with the opportunity to spend some quality time with their dog.  Grooming also gives owners the chance to check their dog more closely for signs of fleas, ticks or skin irritations.

As a minimum, you will require the following grooming equipment and supplies to look after your new puppy:

  • Coat brush

  • Comb

  • Shedding comb ("Mars" brand is excellent)

  • Claw clippers (do not use ordinary scissors or human nail clippers)

  • Puppy shampoo (do not use human shampoo, even if hypoallergenic)

  • Ear cleanser and cotton pads

  • Toothbrush and dog toothpaste (do not use human toothpaste)

  • Round ended hair scissors

  • Electric trimmer (useful for trimming around paws and ears)

See the "Grooming" page for further information.

 

POO BAGS
Dog owners are legally required to clean up any poo left by their dog in public areas.  Waste should be put into poo bags, sandwich bags or nappy sacks and disposed of in an appropriate bin.  Owners should ensure they have a large supply of these bags and carry them whenever they venture out with their puppy.  Personally, I never venture out with Jenny with fewer than 3 bags in my pocket and prefer to use biodegradable bags.

 

DOG TOYS
Teething puppies have an intrinsic need to chew.  If you don’t have an adequate supply of toys on hand, don't be surprised if your puppy decides on some "toys" for themselves.  Inappropriate chewing is annoying, expensive, and possibly even dangerous, so set your puppy up for success with dog-appropriate chew toys.

There are plenty of age-specific dog chew toys on the market.  Those designated for puppies are a little smaller and softer than the adult toys, because puppy teeth are more delicate but they should still be durable enough to handle aggressive mouthing.  Poor quality toys that are quickly ripped up may be ingested by a curious puppy, so monitor your dog during playtime and remove any damaged toys immediately.

Even adult Springer Spaniels tend to prefer softer toys, as they have soft mouths.  Squeaky latex toys

will always be preferred to hard rubber ones. 

 

CLEANING SUPPLIES
If there is one thing you want on hand BEFORE it becomes a necessity, it is cleaning supplies.  Puppies are messy, no two ways about it.  They rip things up.  They have accidents. They sometimes vomit on the carpet.  They get diarrhoea.  A good stock of cleaning supplies is indispensable.

There are plenty of cleaning supplies on the market depending on your flooring and your preferences.  Cleansers designated “pet safe” are a good way to ensure that even if your dog sneaks a lick, it won’t be a problem for them or for you.  Enzymatic cleaners, which specifically break down proteins such as the ones found in urine, are very helpful for those house training incidents.

 

Setting Rules

Before taking your new Springer Spaniel puppy home, it is important to establish and agree rules with all members of the family, as to what is expected from the puppy, and what he/she is allowed or not allowed to do.  Every home and family is different so it is up to you to decide what is or is not acceptable.

 

To help your Springer Spaniel grow into a well mannered, well behaved family member you need to teach them the rules to live by, and this is the responsibility of everyone in the household. These rules must be strictly followed by everyone so as not to cause your puppy confusion.

RULES
Where in the house will your dog be allowed to go?
You might prefer that your dog doesn’t go into certain rooms or areas, such as the dining room, babies room, upstairs etc.  Perhaps only at certain times, such as when you are entertaining in the dining room.  It is helpful to put baby gates up to restrict your puppy from going into these areas especially while they are young.

Which words will you use when giving commands?
Dog training verbal commands are words we use to ask our pets to do something.  Your puppy has to learn this new language so you should try to make it as easy as possible for them.

 

Make sure that you assign cue words and signals for things like sit, come, down, stay and make sure that everyone in the home knows them, and uses the same words.

Some tips for choosing command words:

  • Short and sharp. A dog will be more likely to respond to a short, sharp, easily distinguishable verbal cue.

  • Quick, easy, and not too embarrassing, to say at the appropriate time.

  • Use words that are not too common and often said at irrelevant/inconvenient times.

  • When using a command word always try to precede it with the name of your dog, for clarity.

Here are some suggestions for suitable words to use for the most common commands:

Don't do that / Stop it

Sit down
Lie down
Stand up
Stay where you are
Come to me
Walk at my heel
Take it
Drop it
Leave it alone
Watch me
Wait
Go (further) away

Have a wee

Have a poo

"No"

"Sit", "Down"
"Lie", "Down"
"Stand", "Up"
"Stay", "Stop"

"Come", "Here"
"Heel", "Close"
"Take"
"Drop"
"Leave", "Leave it"

"Watch", "See"
"Wait"
"Go", "Away"

"Weewee", "Pee"

"Poopoo", "Poo"

 

avoid using "Sit Down" or "Lie Down" - if you find that difficult then avoid using "Down" as a command on its own.
avoid using "Stand up".
avoid using "Stay there"
.

avoid using "Come here".
avoid using "Heel" if you are using "Here" - they are easily confused.


probably superfluous if you teach your dog "Leave it alone"
Leave it alone
putting a finger on your nose at the same time helps.
e.g. at a kerb or gate, or until I finish putting your food bowl down.
avoid using "Go away".

pick a word you will not be too embarrassed to say in public, or just use a general command such as "Get Busy" or "Toilet".

 

Will you let your dog go onto the furniture (sofa, beds, etc.)?
Of course this is entirely up to you but things to consider are:

  • Are they likely to get up on the sofa when just back from a walk with wet or muddy paws?

  • Will they take the space of a human and be reluctant to move if someone wants the seat?

Jenny is only allowed on furniture where I have placed one of her blankets - no blanket and she stays on the floor - as this approach solves both of the above issues.

Should you feed your dogs scraps from the table or while you are preparing food?
This almost invariably encourages your dog to hang around when you are eating or preparing food, watching you and begging for titbits, and leads to your dog becoming overweight and constantly getting under your feet.
 

 

Except when doing training, Jenny only gets food via her food bowl, usually only at her normal meal times.
 

Will you allow your dog to jump up when greeting people?
A dog's usual method of greeting is to lick faces - that is the main reason why they will try to jump up and greet people.  It is recommended that, right from the start, you do not allow this.  A full grown dog can easily knock a strong adult off balance, and could completely knock over a child or an elderly person.  Not to mention muddy paw prints or ripped clothes.  To stop your dog doing this, you have to teach them that it is never OK - you can’t allow it sometimes and not others.

 

Will you allow biting in play?
It is a very bad idea to allow your puppy to bite while playing, even if they only do it gently.  Avoid anyone playing games where they play fight and puppy uses their teeth on fists or hands.  When puppy gets bigger this WILL hurt.  It is best to work with the rule of no teeth on skin EVER.

 

RESPONSIBILITIES
Who will feed your dog, and when?

Who will exercise your dog, and when?

Who will groom your dog, trim their claws, and inspect them for good health, and when?

Who will train your dog, and when?

Who will clean up in the garden after your dog?


It is good to encourage everyone in the home to get involved in all of these tasks, as it builds bonds and strengthens relationships between family members and the dog.

 

RESPECT
Rules are not only for your benefit - your dog needs respect too, so he feels a valued part of the family.

  • Developing puppies need a lot of sleep, so when they are sleeping in their bed or crate, people should not disturb them.

  • Do not disturb your puppy or dog when they are eating, this could cause anxiety and lead to resource guarding and aggression.

  • Never tease your puppy or dog especially with food or toys as this can lead to frustration, possessiveness and even aggression.

  • Never shout, or hit the dog.  It achieves nothing as they won’t understand, and could end up making them less trusting and wary around people.

  • Children should be shown how to handle a puppy with care and respect - no ear or tail pulling, pinching or prodding.  Let them hold the puppy only when sitting down - no picking them up in case they drop them.  When puppy wants releasing, they must let them go - straight away.

REMEMBER
Dogs thrive when they know what is expected of them, and have been taught what they can and cannot do.

 

Journey Home

Coming home will usually begin with a car ride from the breeder’s home.  Try to keep this from being an overly stressful experience for the puppy.  The main problem dogs have with car journeys is usually not what we humans refer to as motion sickness, but simple anxiety about the vibrations, sounds, and to a lesser degree, the movement.  Many dogs that have developed problems with car journeys get nervous or even nauseous before the engine is even started.  It is important that this first trip will not be a bad experience that regresses into a repetitive behavioral pattern.

Before you leave the breeder, try to get the puppy to go to the toilet so that there are no accidents stimulated by all the excitement of the ride.  Better still, try to arrange to collect the puppy shortly after their usual toileting time.  

 

On the first trip home only, it is OK to break a cardinal rule about traveling with pets and not put them in a crate or harness for traveling.  They are small and easy to hold so take someone other than the driver to hold the puppy in a blanket or towel and talk or in some way try to distract them during the trip.

 

If, during the trip, your puppy starts to get anxious, avoid reassuring them as this simply reinforces their assumption that there is something to be anxious about.  Better to act as though the situation is perfectly normal and carry on talking to, or playing with, the puppy.

 

If you have a long way to go and need to stop for the puppy to relieve themselves, do not use a location frequented by many people, such as a service station.  At their young age, a puppy has very little, if any, protection from common dog diseases, and these areas can easily be contaminated with the organisms that cause such conditions.

On arrival at home, first take the puppy into the garden to relieve themselves, rather than straight into the house where an accident will almost certainly ensue.

 

Early Days

The first week that you and your new dog spend together is exhilarating, certainly, but it’s also likely to be a little unnerving, especially if you have never owned a dog before.  Make the transition easier on both of you by doing a little advance planning.

SEPARATION ANXIETY
Just as humans do, animals bond with and have an affinity towards their family.  They prefer the safety and comfort of their family’s company and dislike separation from them.  When we bring a puppy into our home, it is important to keep in mind that this baby animal has spent all of their life surrounded by the warm bodies of their mother and siblings.  When we move this puppy into our home, we are actually separating them from their family, so it should be no surprise that there will be some initial anxiety and grief on the puppy’s part.  Separation discomfort is a normal part of getting used to a new home and family, and gentle patience is called for.

Natural instinct will prompt a puppy to whine, howl, squeal and demonstrate restlessness when they are separated from their family.  For the first few days, or weeks, it is natural for a puppy to have trouble falling asleep in their new environment, because it is natural for the puppy to feel vulnerable and afraid as they adjust to the absence of their canine brood.  Day one in the new home will be the most frightful for the puppy, and the most challenging for you to lay the groundwork for your relationship with your puppy.

One of the most important messages you can send to your puppy in those first days is that they are cared for and wanted, just as you would show those feelings toward a human child.  This increases the chances that your puppy will attach to you in a healthy and confident way, without anxiety, and will grow to be a friendly, affectionate, loyal and obedient dog.
 

ROUTINE

Setting up a routine will help with house training and is reassuring to your dog.  Work out a schedule for walks, meals, toilet breaks, and exercise, and try to stick to it.

 

DONT OVERWHELM
For a shy or anxious puppy or dog, being taken to a new place and then deluged with lots of loud, lively strangers can be really overwhelming.  For the first few days, keep the mood mellow and calm and minimise the number of visitors.  Children will be keen to spend a lot of time playing with a new puppy.  If the children are young, or are not familiar with how to handle puppies, you should spend time with them during the first few days explaining common sense rules on how to play with the puppy, when to leave the puppy alone to sleep or eat, and to put the puppy down as soon as it wants to be released.

 

PLACE TO SLEEP
On the first night, the puppy is going to feel their new loneliness most keenly.  A lot of people will respond to the whines and squeals of a puppy by placing them far from earshot, such as in a porch, conservatory or garage.  Or, the puppy might be placed in a cage to keep them from escaping and scratching at doors.  In such a situation their sense of insecurity will increase and they will whine and squeal as loudly as they can, perhaps all night.

Of course, by leaving them alone we have temporarily avoided the disturbance caused by the puppy so that we can get some sleep, but most experts advise against this practice, saying that the intense anxiety caused by this practice could result in behavioral problems for the dog as they grow.

 

So the question is where to make a spot for your puppy to sleep during their first few days in your home.  The first thing to consider is making a place where the puppy will not feel isolated.  This can be a challenge, of course.  Some people feel comfortable keeping their dogs in the bedroom on a dog bed, or designated blanket on the floor, once the dog is fully house trained, but this isn’t a safe option for your puppy’s first night.


USING A CRATE/CAGE
The best compromise can be setting a crate up in the bedroom or just outside the open bedroom door.  This way, the puppy knows you are near.  Very young puppies do not have the bladder capacity to hold it for the entire night, so it’s imperative that you can hear your puppy when they try to tell you that they need to go out.

Always take the puppy outside so that they can relieve themselves before going to bed.  Getting into the habit of walking before bed will also tire them out and make them more likely to sleep soundly, and less likely to disturb you as you sleep.

Again, remember that the puppy is not used to being alone in a crate.  They will feel

anxious and uncomfortable and are likely to make a lot of noise when you first put them inside the crate.  Ignore the initial cries as your puppy settles down, but be aware that if your puppy wakes up in the middle of the night it probably means that they need to go outside for a toilet break.

WHEN NATURE CALLS
Along with going out before bed, going out first thing in the morning should also become a habitual morning ritual.  Puppies will typically relieve themselves in small amounts several times before they have finished an outing.  Once they are finished, praise them with a pat and a small training treat and say a few praising words to let them know they have done the right thing.  But avoid using "Good Boy" / "Good Girl" - see the "Toilet Training" page for further information.

 

Vet Examination

It's always a good idea to have a new puppy checked out by a vet as soon as you have bought or adopted them.  It is recommended that you do this as part of the buying/adoption process, and agree with the seller that you can take the puppy back within a set time period if you are not happy after the vet check.  Not only will it benefit your puppy, but it will give you peace of mind that they are happy and healthy.  The vet will be able to give them a thorough examination to make sure that they are in good condition, and to
establish that they don't have fleas, or are carrying any harmful intestinal parasites.

The very first check-up is all-important because the vet will be able to set up a vaccination programme for your puppy to ensure that they are fully protected at all times.  The vet will ask for the puppy's health records which the breeder should have given you when you picked them up which will allow them to work out the correct dates for puppy's follow up booster shots.  The vet will also be able to read through existing health records to see if the puppy has received any other sort of veterinary treatment before being re-homed.

A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE
A puppy's first health check-up has to be a positive experience because they will need to be taken to the surgery at regular intervals to have the necessary vaccinations for all of the diseases that can make them seriously ill or, in a worst case scenario all too often, prove fatal to unvaccinated puppies and young dogs.  Puppies need to have their shots at precise times which typically start when they are between 6 to 8 weeks old and they finish when a puppy is about four months old.

CORE VACCINATIONS
The most important vaccinations are referred to as "core" vaccines, which are essential because they offer puppies crucial protection against nasty and potentially fatal diseases such as distemper and parvovirus.  Once a puppy has had their shots, they are at far less risk of contracting any of these diseases.  If a puppy has not been vaccinated, and they come into contact with the virus, they will quickly get very sick and, if not treated, they will succumb to the disease.  Even when treated in time, there is no guarantee they will survive.

 

After the initial course of vaccines, your dog should be vaccinated every year (with a 'booster') to maintain their levels of immunity.

PARASITES
It is also important to set up a programme for protecting your puppy against common parasites such as worms, fleas and ticks.  Your vet is the best person to discuss this with as they will have local knowledge of those parasites that your puppy is likely to come into contact with, and they will also be treating your puppy should they ever fall ill or injure themselves.  The vet will be able to prescribe suitable treatments on their first visit.  Puppies typically need to be wormed every few weeks, and to be protected against other parasites every few months, to keep on top of things.


ADVICE
As well as being the best source of advice on health matters, your vet is also a very useful source for advice on other topics such as feeding, socialisation, training, etc.  

Make good use of the first visit to ask any questions that you might have, and to ask for suggestions regarding local puppy classes.

ANNUAL HEALTH CHECKS
It is best to try to establish a good relationship with your vet so that they are always familiar with your dog.  You could potentially be visiting them for the next fifteen years so establishing a good relationship now will often make things easier further down the line.  Annual health checks to coincide with your puppy's booster vaccinations are important for your dog's health, and can also help build your relationship with your vet.

PREPARING FOR A VET VISIT
The key to successful visits to the vet with your puppy is to ensure that they associate the vet surgery with being made a fuss of and having fun.  A good way of doing this is to attend puppy socialisation classes at the surgery - this way your puppy will associate the surgery with fun, and will be more than willing to go.  It may also help to try and visit your vet 'socially' with your puppy, perhaps when passing or

simply to fill out some forms, so that there are visits where he/she just gets given a treat and some cuddles from the nurses, rather than an injection.

Try to make all journeys by car enjoyable, so that every destination (including the vets) is fun and seen by your puppy as a reward.  To help combat car-sickness try feeding your puppy a ginger biscuit on an empty stomach before you venture out in the car, as ginger helps settle upset tummies.  Always make sure your puppy travels in a car crate or with an anchored car harness for their (and your) safety.

© 2016 Ian Thomas.