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When parents find out they are going to have a baby they make all sorts of preparations and changes to their home. A room is set aside and possibly the walls are covered with an appropriate wallpaper or paint, a supply of formula fills the pantry, baby bottles and diapers are purchased in huge quantities, toys and pacifiers are picked out, with their own place in the living room, dressers are filled with outfits picked for baby, the baby's doctor is selected, etc. When bringing puppy home, you need to make the same preparations for your puppy, and think about the supplies you will need, the car ride home, and the new puppy's activities, feeding, health care check-up, and introducing other pets, etc.
Your puppy is going to need a room or at least a place he can call his own, and a small playpen or crate will do. You are better off getting one that is big enough for him to use as an adult. Your puppy will need food and water bowls, toys to chew on and play with, a collar and leash, a bag of a good quality dry puppy food, and plenty of newspapers or training pads for house training.
Coming home will start out with a car ride. Try to keep this from being an overly stressful experience for your pup. The main problem dogs have with car rides usually is 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 rides get nervous or even nauseous before the engine is even started. It is important that this first trip not be a bad experience that regresses into a repetitious behavioral pattern.
Before you leave, try to get your pup to go to the bathroom so there are no floods or surprises stimulated by all the excitement of the ride. On this first trip home, we break a rule about traveling with pets. We do not put them in a crate for traveling. Remember, they are small and easy to hold. Instead, we have someone other than the driver hold the puppy in a blanket or towel and talk or in some way try to distract him from the ride. If you have a long way to go and need to stop for the puppy to relieve himself, do not use a highway rest stop. At his young age, the puppy has very little, if any, protection from common dog diseases, and these areas can easily be contaminated with the organisms causing these conditions.
Leaving mother and litter mates will probably bring about some anxiety. However, this can be greatly diminished if you plan your schedules so that you will be home with your new puppy the first 3 to 4 days. Some suggest leaving the puppy alone and give her time to herself to adjust to the new surroundings. We disagree. In our homes, we plan for this introductory period by keeping the puppy involved with plenty of attention from children and other family members. When we are not with the puppy, she is sleeping. You will be amazed how time spent in this manner will speed up the housebreaking process. If the children are young or are not familiar with how to handle puppies, you should spend some time with them during these first few days explaining common rules on how to play with the puppy.
Getting a health check
One of the first things you need to do is get the puppy into a veterinarian for an initial puppy examination. Many families who receive puppies take them in for a vet exam the first few days. The vet will do a well check, which sometimes includes doing a fecal test. Please be aware that only the expensive SNAP test is a conclusive one, so any other test is not 100% reliable. There can be false positives or negatives. If they do run the SNAP test and it shows giardia, they will likely want to treat with metronidazole or fenbendazole even if your puppy is not symptomatic. If coccidia shows up in a fecal test, that is common. Research is showing that EVERY dog harbors this in their system.
What, when, and how to feed puppies becomes a major issue on the first day. Many new owners worry that without mother’s milk, their pup is going to have a hard time adjusting to his new home. It is a good idea to continue feeding the same type and brand of food for at least a few days. Most people are soon surprised how well puppies make it through this transition because they do not understand how far along dogs are in their development at 7 weeks of age.
Most puppies start eating dog food at 21 days of age. Even though their eyes did not open until 11 to 13 days old, just ten days later, puppies are ready to start on something in addition to Mom’s milk. We take dry puppy food, soak it in warm water for thirty minutes, goats milk, plain yogurt and then give it to the litter when they are 21 days old. The first day, they may only stick their noses in it and try to lick some of the liquid. But after that, they eat and they eat very well.
After a week or so, the puppies are getting these feedings twice or three times a day. This takes a huge burden off the mother, especially when she has a large litter. Puppies fed on this sort of a schedule grow rapidly and with fewer problems. We always tell all new puppy owners to use a dry food formulated for puppies. Most 7 week old dogs can eat this, as it comes from the bag, without any problem.
Our puppies are raised in a non-kennel environment where they are allowed to experience the world as they grow. They are taken out for little romps and walks on our property. They walk over the ground where the deer have been, the chatty squirrel that loves to tease them, and the numerous roaming cats that love to search for mice in the fields. Our puppies enjoy learning about life and living in the real world, which means they are exposed to real world things, like giardia and coccidia. We do everything we can to prevent this but we will not restrict our puppies to a kennel life. Puppies can be infected with giardia by simple things such as walking over dirt and licking their paws, drinking water from a puddle, licking the grass where a wild bird pooped, etc..