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When you first get your new puppy, you want to know that everything's OK, which is why we offer a free puppy health check - the vet will give the puppy a general health check, offer you any advice you may need and answer any questions you may have.

We also offer a puppy starter pack at a special price, which includes the first set of vaccinations, along with a wormer and a flea treatment at no extra charge so you can give your puppy the best start, in the knowledge he or she is protected.

 

How to Raise a Happy Puppy - a Vet's Advice

  • When collecting your puppy from the breeder, make sure that this is a happy and calm experience: keep all excitement to the minimum; the puppy must travel to its new home on bedding of some sort, the smell of which is familiar to him or her (get this from the breeder); your puppy must never be placed by itself in the back of the vehicle – it is better that it travels beside someone on its first journey in a car; it must be constantly reassured throughout the journey. In this way you will limit the trauma of it being taken away from its siblings and mother. Also, its first association with a car will be a positive one, thereby preventing a whole host of problems with travel later.
  • All toys and objects belonging to existing dogs must be cleared away temporarily before the new puppy is brought in. If there are other, existing dogs already in the new home, they must all be brought outside to the car when you arrive, which is slightly more neutral territory – then introduced in a cheerful fun way to the new puppy – and then all go into the house together, with the puppy at the back of the line of dogs. Take all dogs off their leashes. Do not fuss over the puppy or any of the other dogs while the introductions are happening. Everybody must remain calm and cheerful, almost ignoring the dogs as they make friends. Never show fear or nervousness while this is happening – these feelings are instantly transferred to the dogs.
  • When an older dog is brought home, a slightly different procedure is followed: before going into the house, all the dogs must be taken on a brisk walk of at least an hour. This tires them out, and replicates the ‘migrate-then-rest’ routine that is followed in the wild. Go into the house together, remove all leashes, and sit quietly (everybody) until all the dogs are fully settled. Do not stare at the dogs. This makes them nervous and suspicious. Then proceed as for a puppy.
  • From this moment onward, all members of the household must follow the same rules as with the puppy. Doing otherwise will confuse the puppy and lead to problems later.
  • Do not introduce any other elements of competition (like treats, toys, or feeding) into the equation at this point. Leave feeding until well after the situation has calmed down.
  • Give full attention to existing dogs while the new puppy is being introduced, praising good behaviour (no touching at this time) in an exaggerated way, and using an unambiguously firm voice when bad behaviour is being displayed (remember, dogs understand the tone and not the meaning of a word). When good behaviour returns, praise that immediately and equally unambiguously.
  • At all times use a quiet, calm, and assertive tone with the puppy whenever training or feeding.
  • If the puppy shows any signs of panic or appears scared (cowering, snapping, or growling, for instance), DO NOT console it. I repeat, DO NOT console it. This is the same as praising it, and tells the puppy that this is the ‘correct’ way to behave when in a challenging situation. These dogs may become fear-biters. It is hard to do because it feels like you are doing the opposite to what comes naturally, but this is a very important moment in the life of the puppy.
  • As soon as the introductions are completed, START WITH EVERYTHING AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON. Do not be persuaded by your puppy’s ‘sweetness’ to forgive it its transgressions or inappropriate behaviour. Their ‘sweetness’ is entirely evolutionary: its original function was to persuade us to look after them (while their parents went hunting). Being taken in by a puppy’s ‘sweetness’, and allowing it to get away with bad behaviour only confuses it about its position in the household and what is the correct way to behave – this will result in troubling behaviour that may last a lifetime. Remember, a well-adjusted and trained puppy, that knows its place in the household hierarchy, is a happy puppy. A confused puppy, however ‘sweet’ it is to you, will turn out to be an anxious, and possibly aggressive, dog later. Such a dog is not happy.
  • Do not think that training and correct management of a puppy can be left for later when it has ‘settled in’.
  • The puppy must not be allowed onto the furniture. Status in the canine hierarchy is usually signalled by the levels in relation to the floor/ground/other dogs. The top dog (YOU!) is always at the highest point in the den. By allowing your puppy onto the furniture (and worst of all onto the back of the sofa, and therefore at eye-level) you confuse the other dogs in the household as well as the new puppy. This is the root cause of many behavioural problems and aggression which manifest as the puppy matures.
  • The puppy must be allowed to sleep by itself from day one, and this must always be downstairs. Never allow a young puppy to sleep on the bed with you. Never allow a new puppy to sleep by the side of your bed. For this reason we recommend fold-up, wire dog-crates. These are widely available. The crate must contain only the puppy’s bed and a water-bowl attached to the inside. This acts as an indoor kennel in which the puppy feels safe – and must be the appropriate size (remember, bed only). The puppy must be placed in the crate last thing at night (after a toilet outing, and a vigorous play session), and be left in there till the morning. DO NOT respond in any way to the puppy crying out to join you. Be prepared for several nights of interrupted sleep while the bedtime routine is being established (it is worthwhile warning any neighbours who are within earshot. A gift of flowers will sometimes help to generate goodwill during this time). Most puppies will accept this routine in a very short time. Crate-training a puppy also assists toilet-training. The puppy will not produce urine or faeces in its crate if it contains only its bed. This lets the puppy know that it is indeed possible to delay going to the toilet. And that it’s bed is for sleeping in.
  • It is a very good idea to keep a puppy crated when you are away from home while the other dogs get used to the idea of it.
  • When feeding your puppy together with other dogs, always feed it in relation to its position in the hierarchy. This is usually last. As you lower the food-bowl to the floor, call out its name, and praise it for waiting its turn. Since a puppy is fed more frequently than adult dogs, do the additional feedings separately, with the other dogs excluded from the room. Never feed a puppy, or any dog for that matter, just before you yourself are about to eat – this informs them that they are higher in status than you are, and may lead to dominance problems later. Separate your dinner and the dogs’ dinner by at least 15 minutes.
  • Your new puppy MUST be left on its own from the very start. From the very first day you must close a door between the family and the puppy for 10 – 15 minutes at a time. Exclude it from rooms like the bathroom while you are in there – this lets the puppy know that there are boundaries in the world. Gradually increase the length of the time it spends alone. You may even want to leave the house for short periods right from the start. This ensures that your new puppy quickly develops ‘independence of mind’, making it less likely to show separation anxiety later. It also teaches the puppy to endear him- or herself to you, rather than take you for granted. This will dramatically reduce the chances of dominance aggression later. Remember, a puppy or dog that shows separation anxiety is unhappy.

Start handling your puppy immediately. There are four things you need to do every day:

  • Turn your puppy over onto its back when it is least expecting/wanting it, and count to ten, or until he or she relaxes. Do not allow it to resist this until you have counted to ten. Do this firmly but gently, and with confidence. A puppy will trust a confident owner almost immediately.
  • At a different time, open its mouth and examine its teeth and tongue; get your fingers right into its mouth  
  • Handle its feet one at a time, squeezing it, and separating the toes. This is useful for when you need to pull out a thorn, detach chewing gum, or clip the nails later.  
  • Handle the ears, pushing your finger gently into the canal, and even plucking a few hairs from around the opening.

The advantage of doing this from the very start is that your puppy will not feel any anxiety when it later has to be handled, groomed, or treated.

  • Brush its coat even when it does not need it yet – this encourages bonding and informs the puppy that you are in charge. The ending of any handling-session must be decided by you – just as YOU decide the end of play or displays of affection. If the puppy resists, you must continue until it relaxes, then only stop.
  • A puppy is at its most impressionable up to the age of 16 weeks. You need to ‘normalise’ everything you would like the puppy to get used to: loud bangs, loud people/children, cars, applause, the sound of traffic, fireworks (CD recordings are available), the washing machine, vacuum cleaner and tumble drier, rattling aluminium-foil, opening and closing of umbrellas, waving of hands, etc.
  • Even though your puppy may not be fully vaccinated yet, you must start to socialise it. Your puppy IS allowed to meet dogs you know are not ill or fully vaccinated. Your puppy IS allowed to meet cats, with caution. Your puppy must be allowed to meet toddlers and babies, making sure that toddlers/children are fully instructed as to what they are and are not allowed to do. Limit the time that children and puppies are allowed to interact or play to just a few minutes at the start. A tired puppy is a grumpy puppy – you must never allow this situation to arise, or this kind of behaviour to manifest itself. A tired puppy must be placed in its crate and allowed to sleep. Remember, when a pre-pubescent puppy bites a person, it is NEVER the puppy’s fault. It is YOUR fault.
  • It is essential that children are trained as to how to behave around a puppy. On first contact, always allow the puppy to go to the child. Never allow a young child to chase the puppy, or run up to it, when they first meet. Never allow a young child to put its face up against the puppy’s face at the start.
  • Puppies will always attempt to nibble our fingers and other body parts with their needle-like teeth. This can be quite painful, and may sometimes involve blood. Your puppy does not know that this is painful, so you need to teach it that it is. A firm tap on the top of the nose with two fingers and a loud No! will produce results very quickly. It is more the sound produced by the tap on the nose, than pain, that has this effect.
  • Start basic training from the minute the puppy arrives. It needs an easily recognisable ‘behaviour framework’. A puppy that knows what to do is a happy puppy. Dogs look for instructions from us all the time. If these are not forthcoming, the dog will be confused, which may make it aggressive and show dominance behaviours.
  • It is strongly recommended that you attend puppy training classes with your new puppy. This will make the many years ahead a happy period in the life of you and your dog.

To summarise:

  • MAKE SURE THE PUPPY’S FIRST JOURNEY IN THE CAR IS A HAPPY ONE.
  • ALWAYS START AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON.
  • YOUR PUPPY IS LOOKING FOR THE LEADER IN YOU. IT IS NOT LOOKING FOR A BEST-FRIEND IN YOU.
  • ALL MEMBERS OF THE HOUSEHOLD MUST BE CONSISTENT IN THEIR DEALINGS WITH THE PUPPY.
  • CRATE TRAINING IS A GOOD IDEA.
  • NEVER ALLOW YOUR PUPPY ONTO THE FURNITURE.
  • NEVER ALLOW YOUR PUPPY TO SLEEP ON THE BED.
  • TEACH YOUR PUPPY ‘INDEPENDENCE OF MIND’ – LEAVE IT BY ITSELF FOR INCREASING PERIODS.
  • START SOCIALISING YOUR PUPPY EARLY.
  • START TRAINING AND HANDLING YOUR PUPPY EARLY.
  • REMEMBER TODDLERS AND CHILDREN NEED AS MUCH TRAINING AROUND A PUPPY AS THE PUPPY ITSELF NEEDS.