For this month's blog post, we approached our neighbourhood vets here in Canberra, who have always taken the best care of Mila and Koda.
We spoke with April Maney (Head of Customer Care and Marketing at Hall Vet Surgery and Vets at Amaroo) to find out the essentials you need to know before bringing your new family member home.
If you’re reading this article you may be expecting a puppy or considering adding a new member to your family, so firstly, congratulations! Getting a new puppy is such an exciting time but it certainly is not without its challenges.
At Hall Vet Surgery and Vets at Amaroo we are passionate about helping you and your puppy to get off on the right paw, so here are some of our top tips to navigating an exciting time in your family.
What are some things that new pet owners can do to prepare prior to bringing home their new family member?
- Puppy proof your environment – is there anything in your home that needs ‘puppy proofing’ before your little bundle of joy arrives home? Think about small gaps in the fence, cords that are accessible to a puppy, expensive rugs that you’d prefer not to have to get dry cleaned two days in! If there is a particular area of the house you’d like to keep your pup in, now is the time to investigate and install baby gates etc.
- Consider your existing household members – if you already have pets in the household or you have young children, extra care may need to be taken to ensure a smooth transition. It’s worth having a chat to your vet or a dog trainer to make sure you’re setting yourselves up for success.
- Getting your family on the same page – it is a good idea to sit down as a household to agree on some basic’s rules and responsibilities in regards to the puppy. Who is responsible for daily tasks such as feeding, exercising, training and cleaning up after the puppy? How will these tasks be divided up fairly? Setting some ground rules such as ‘No feeding the puppy human food off of our plates’ is not only going to avoid human squabbles down the track but will also be extremely beneficial for your puppy’s training as everyone is on the same page.
- Failure to prepare is preparing to fail – Once you know the date your pup will be arriving home, we recommend engaging your chosen vet to book in their first check-up & vaccination appointment and also booking in for puppy school. Over the past 12 months, demand for puppy school in the ACT has sky rocketed, across our clinics we have tripled our class offerings and are still struggling to keep up with demand. We recommend having your puppy on a waiting list for puppy school before they arrive home to avoid any disappointment!
- Make a checklist – there will be plenty of things you will need to source before pup comes home so making a checklist will help to keep you on track. More on this later!
What should you do when you bring your new puppy home?
If possible, it’s best to arrange for your puppy to come home at a time when you will be available to help them settle in for the first day or two. To make the transition into your home stress free for the puppy, consider enlisting the help of calming pheromones such as Adaptil.
Give your puppy access to a calm, safe and quiet place such as a crate to rest and ensure all handling and play is gentle and positive whilst they are settling in.
Make exploring their new home a positive experience with lots of reassurance and treats, start small and slow with any exposure and work your way up.
What are some essential items new pet owners might find beneficial aside from a bed, collar/lead and toys?
There are lots of things that will be helpful to have on hand for your new puppy! Whilst of course there are the usuals: a bed, food & water bowls, collar harness and lead etc. there might be others you may not have thought of! Such as;
- Crate training – if you’re considering crate training your pup, you guessed it, you’re going to need a crate!
- Grooming – getting your puppy used to grooming during their first few weeks with you will help to make this a positive experience for all involved for the rest of their lives. Look into the most suitable type of brush for your dog’s coat type and get some good quality puppy shampoo.
- Enrichment – whilst tug toys and balls can be fun to play with whilst you’re around, there are also a myriad of toys available that can help to keep your pup busy whilst you aren’t around. Treat balls can be a fantastic tool to use up some of your pups mental and physical energy whilst you’re out of the house, and it may even save you some teeth marks in a table leg!
- Health & wellbeing – will your pup come with a supply of worming tablets from the breeder or will you need to have some on hand ready to go? Do you have nail clippers or will you be enlisting the help of your veterinarian or groomer for this? Will you need toilet training supplies such as puppy pads, urine remover, poop bags etc? (We hear Mila Meets Koda are launching holders for these soon too!)
- Food – more on this in the next question!
What are some considerations for a puppy’s diet?
It is important to know what your breeder has been feeding your puppy before they come home to you. As with any change of diet in your dog’s life, changes need to be made slowly to avoid any tummy upsets, this is especially important whilst they are so small. You should plan to have a minimum of two weeks’ worth of their old diet on hand when they arrive home and implement the transition to their new food over two weeks. Start with 90% old food 10% new food, then 80% old food 20% new food etc. until the transition is completed.
It is important that your pup’s food has been specifically formulated for puppies as their nutritional requirements are vastly different to adult dogs. We recommend looking into high quality brands such as Hills and Royal Canin as their products are nutritionally balanced, meaning that your pup will get all of their nutritional needs covered solely from this diet. Things like puppy milk, mince etc. do not provide your puppy with the nutrition they need to grow, so should only be considered ‘extras’ for their enjoyment rather than a core part of your puppies diet.
What vaccinations do new puppies need?
There are two different types of vaccines that your puppy will receive in their first few months of life. The first is commonly known as a ‘C3’ vaccination, this is the vaccine that protects against the very important and potentially fatal diseases Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus. The second type of vaccine is most commonly referred to as the ‘Kennel Cough’ vaccine. This vaccine helps to protect your pet against canine cough (Bordetella & Parainfluenza) a highly contagious respiratory illness. When both of these vaccines are given together they are commonly called a ‘C5’ vaccine.
Brands, types and frequency of vaccination will vary from clinic to clinic so please speak to your vet in regards to their recommendation for your puppies’ vaccine schedule. At Hall Vet Surgery & Vets at Amaroo, this is our standard recommendation:
Most puppies will have already received their first C3 vaccine with their breeder at 6-8 weeks of age. They will then require their second round of vaccinations 4 weeks later (10 to 12 weeks of age) where they will receive another C3 vaccination as well as their Kennel Cough vaccination. Their final puppy vaccination will be due at 16 weeks of age where they will receive a third C3 vaccination. After this, their next vaccination will then be due in 12 months’ time.
What is something that you notice new dog owners miss from time to time? (eg. not prioritising recall, forgetting to cut their dogs nails etc)
Sometimes new pet owners are so busy with their new babies that they don’t take full advantage of their puppy’s peak socialisation period. Between 6 and 18 weeks a puppy
will accept almost anything, provided that it is (or accompanies) a positive experience. It’s easy to think that because you already have another dog at home your puppy has ample socialisation opportunities, but there is a lot more to socialisation than that. Think getting them used to;
- Different sounds - baby cries, doorbells, sirens, vacuum
- People - people in hats, people on bicycles, people in wheelchairs, children
- Experiences - thunderstorms, busy cafes, balloons, sports matches
- Handling - touching their paws, cleaning their ears and teeth, trimming their nails
- Other animals - unfamiliar dogs, cats, birds, horses and livestock
- Objects – cars, shopping trolleys, prams, a mop
- Surfaces – grass, carpet, tiles, stainless steel surfaces like the laundry tub, bath tub
There are simply too many to list here, but the more positive socialization opportunities you can encounter with your pup, the happier your puppy will be for the rest of their lives with you.
Puppy school is an invaluable chance for your puppy to not only learn to play and socialise with other dogs in a safe and controlled environment, but also a fantastic opportunity for you to ask questions and enlist the help of a trainer to make sure you’re getting off on the right paw!
Additional resources recommended by April:
Family Safety - ‘Dog Safety Tips for All of the Family’
Early puppy-hood socialisation - ‘Get off on the right paw with your new puppy!’
Puppy Advice Sheets – Toilet training, grooming, barking, jumping up on visitors etc.