EXCLUSIVE FEATURESPuppy care & nutrition

Puppy care & nutrition

Buying or adopting a puppy, and bringing them home is exciting and a bit daunting, but should be lots of fun for you both! With the right care and nutrition it will help you give your puppy the best start in life and avoid any potential problems later on.

By Burns Pet Nutrition in association with A.P.D.T (Association of Pet Dog Trainers)

Being ready for a puppy doesn’t just mean preparing your house for their arrival and buying everything you need (although that is very important when you do get a dog!) Before all of that, you need to make sure you are actually ready to welcome a puppy into your life. Not only does it come with a lot of responsibility, but it is also, of course, for life. Taking your time to fully consider all aspects of dog ownership will help set you up for a lifelong, successful relationship with your new dog.

THE BEST CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH TO BUY A PUPPY
Home reared/reputable rescue centre: Where the puppy has been exposed to human handling along with a variety of everyday sights, sounds and smells. Healthy age: No younger than 8 weeks of age. Temperament: The puppy’s parents should be observed, especially the mother who should be interacting with her litter. The optimum time for leaving the litter is 8-10 weeks when the puppy’s instinct to make friends with strangers overcomes its natural wariness. This is why this time is advocated as the ideal time to remove the puppy from its mother and littermates to a new home. Most of these points are common sense but people still buy puppies from online advertisements, and there is a chance that the puppy may be ill and the mother has been kept in stressful conditions. This could lead to problems later on.

dogs and puppiesLOOKING AFTER YOUR NEW PUPPY
Being taken away from its mother and siblings into a strange environment where nothing is familiar is stressful and frightening for a puppy. Offer your new puppy food at feeding time but don’t be surprised if (on this occasion) your puppy doesn’t eat because they are too stressed. If your puppy does eat, the food could lead to an upset in the digestive system.

This can be avoided by giving smaller amounts of food for the first 48 hours. Spend the first few days welcoming and showing the puppy where they can eat, sleep and go to the toilet. Try to keep visitors to a minimum in order to reduce potential stress. Gradually introduce them to new things in their environment – it is important not to ‘flood’ the puppy with all these new experiences, as this can be overwhelming.

Remember, your puppy has choices and if we positively manage interactions in their new environment and guide them to make the right choices (which we can heavily with praise and reward). This enables you to set the puppy up for success at all times and for the puppy to grow into a confident dog. Provide a warm, comfortable, draught free bed area where your puppy can go, feel safe and not be disturbed. Always provide fresh drinking water. Enrichment provided in the form of toys and chews should be made available for your puppy.

TOILET TRAINING puppyTOILET TRAINING
Start toilet training as soon as the puppy comes home. Take the puppy out often so they have more opportunity to get it right. Yes, that means you have to go with them, so that you are ready to praise and reward them. The puppy’s bladder is very small and he/she is just beginning to control the muscles which operate it. Be prepared for a few mishaps! As a last resort, provide a puppy pad at a doorway that will be used, if you’re not quick enough to open the door. Praise and reward the puppy for going in the appropriate place. Never punish your puppy if you find an accident after the event or as it’s happening. Your puppy may become scared and confused as they won’t associate the punishment with the accident.

VACCINATION/WORMING
Vaccination is important to prevent your dog from becoming ill from infectious diseases. The micro-organisms that cause disease can be widespread in certain areas of the U.K. All unvaccinated dogs are at risk from canine distemper, parvovirus, leptospirosis, infectious canine hepatitis and kennel cough.

EXERCISE
Give your puppy a balance of appropriate exercise and mental stimulation – nose work and enrichment toys and games help to promote wellbeing and calm, relaxed behaviour while preventing boredom. Be prepared to take your puppy out no matter what the weather, but be aware that puppies tire very quickly. Let them rest regularly and keep training sessions short and fun.

Burns pet foodFEEDING/PUPPY NUTRITION
A high-quality, highly digestible food that contains a controlled level of protein and fat such as Burns, will enable your puppy to grow steadily whilst maintaining good bone health. Rapid growth can cause health problems in later life. Try not to fill your puppy with too many treats and reduce their daily amount of food to account for any extras.

At around 8 weeks old, the immunity passed on by the mother loses its effectiveness. This is an especially vulnerable time for puppies as they are starting to develop their immune system. When changing a puppy’s diet, we recommend waiting until they have settled into your home for a week or so and doing it gradually over 10-14 days. As your puppy grows, it is important to increase their food intake. On the Burns diet, we determine the amount of food your puppy needs based on their current weight, rather than their predicted adult weight. This approach has proven to be effective, as it is difficult to accurately predict your puppy’s full-grown weight.

Burns pet foodBetween 3 and 7 months of age a puppy will develop adult teeth. At this time, the puppy’s eating habits may change due to the sensitivity of its gums, you can moisten the food with a little tepid water to soften it. At 6 months old, the growth rate of most puppies will start to slow down. Closely monitor overall condition as this is also the time when the puppies are most efficient at converting energy to fat. An overweight puppy leads to an overweight adult. Due to their nutritional needs changing, some brands will have a separate junior food at this age, but at Burns our puppy food is suitable for both puppies and juniors so we just reduce their daily allowance of food slightly to account for their lower requirements. Changing to adult food should be dictated by the puppy’s activity, health and condition, but is usually from 9 months old when feeding the Burns diets. The changeover should be made gradually so that they have time to get used to the new diet.

lady feeding puppy

PREVENTING BOREDOM
Dogs need activities to stimulate them and relieve boredom. When dogs get bored they can start to become destructive. Provide things that can be shredded, a newspaper, an old cardboard box or a plastic bottle (with a small hole cut into it ) with a few treats inside.

Your puppy can’t be left home alone for hours at a time and most dogs don’t like being left alone. If you do have to leave them, do so for short periods at a time to prevent separation-related behaviour and try to make the time alone as entertaining as possible.

  • Leave a light on if darkness will fall while you’re out.
  • Leave the TV on or the radio so the dog can hear talking and noise.
  • Leave an old item of your clothing for the dog to lie on.
  • Avoid giving your dog lots of fuss when you come and go, but do take them for a nice walk when you return

Don’t forget they also need appropriate physical exercise. These are only a few suggestions to try, but make for healthier, happier pets with more understanding and knowledgeable owners.

TRAINING
puppy with ballPuppies start learning from birth, so as soon as you get your puppy home you will be teaching it different things all the time. Your puppy has a short attention span so make training short but frequent with lots of praise and rewards. You can expect your puppy to begin to learn ‘sit’, ‘down,’ and the beginning of a ‘stay’ from as young as 8 weeks of age.

To have a well-trained dog you need to be committed to daily training and continue throughout your dog’s life. Training classes are hugely beneficial to your puppy’s development and learning, but ensure you sign up with a reputable and accredited professional. For further information contact: www.apdt.co.uk

For more information on Burns Pet Nutrition and the range of natural pet food visit: www.burnspet.co.uk or contact our expert health and nutrition team:
FREEPHONE 0800 083 6696
Email: info@burnspet.co.uk
Live Chat via our website www.burnspet.co.uk

More Exclusive Features

More Exclusive Feature articles