How to Take Care of Your New Puppy: Part 1

He’s cute, he’s cuddly, and he’s driving you crazy! Your new puppy Fido piddles all over the house,  chews up your favorite pair of shoes, and his sharp puppy teeth scratch you whenever you play with him. Bringing home a new pup requires a major adjustment, but with the correct information and preparation you can make this adjustment period much smoother not only for you, but for your new addition as well.

The Basics – What to Buy

Make sure to purchase these must-have items in preparation for bringing your pup home.

  1. Crate – One sized to fit Fido when he’s full grown (he should have enough room to stand up and turn around in it). If you buy a smaller crate for his smaller puppy size you’ll end up having to purchase multiples to accommodate him as he grows. Also, a crate that has a divider would be preferable for potty training.
  2. Identification tags – This will be one of the most important things you purchase for you puppy; ensure that he is always able to find his way home in the event that he becomes lost. Micro-chipping Fido is also recommended in the event that his tags should be lost along with him.
  3. Collar, harness, and a leash.
  4. Bowls – One set for food and water inside the house, as well as a water bowl for outside.
  5. Dog bed
  6. Dog food – Talk with your veterinarian about Fido’s dietary needs in order to choose the most nutritionally balanced food for your pup.
  7. Pooper scooper and/or poop bags – Self explanatory.
  8. Toys – The more durable the better, dogs of all ages love to de-stuff plush toys.
  9. Grooming tools – Nail clippers and a brush are the necessities, but if you plan on grooming Fido yourself you will also need a shampoo and conditioner.
  10. A completely enclosed yard – If you have one.

You will most likely find that you will need additional supplies as you get to know your puppy and their habits, but this basic list of supplies will hold you over till you get to know each other better.

Potty Training

To ensure that your home stays relatively stain and odor free, potty training should be undertaken from the moment you bring Fido home; this is where your crate will come into play.

Puppies will not be able to control their eliminations until they are about 4 months old so you will need to be vigilant as well as patient when it comes to potty training Fido. There are two important steps to take when undertaking this task: establishing a routine and supervision.

Establishing a Routine

The number one rule of puppy potty training is simple: take Fido out as often as possible to eliminate. Generally puppies should be taken out every 1.5 to 2 hours to a designated spot of your choosing. He should also be taken out upon awakening, after eating or drinking, and after playing. While Fido is doing his business, introduce a phrase that he can learn to associate with eliminating, such as “go potty” or “do your business”.

Puppies will need to eat three meals a day and keeping them fed at consistent times each day will also keep their eliminations on a predictable schedule, making house training much easier on both of you. Also, Fido should not have continued access to water starting about 2 to 2 1/2 hours before his bedtime; this will lessen the chances that he will need to potty during the night. Put him into his crate at his bedtime and shut the door; getting Fido used to being locked in his crate might take some time getting used to but dogs are naturally den animals and his crate will eventually become a safe and comfortable place in his mind. Also, because dogs don’t like to eliminate where they sleep this will also lessen the chances that he will have an accident. In the event that your pup does need to do their business during the night, calmly escort him to the designated area, give the command, and calmly escort him back to his bed. Don’t allow him to get excited or try to play otherwise he wont go back to sleep.

Supervision

Your new puppy will need to be supervised not only for safety reasons, but so that you decrease the chances that he will go potty in your home. Either keep your puppy confined to one room or area with the use of baby gates, or tied to you with a 6 foot leash. The more area you give Fido access to, the more likely it is that he will explore outside of your sight range and have an accident. There are certain signs to look for to indicate to you that Fido needs to be taken outside: barking, scratching at the door, circling, squatting, or sniffing around excessively. When you notice these behaviors immediately take your pup outside.

When Fido does have an accident inside the house (and he will!), interrupt him in the act with a startling noise and immediately take him outside, give him your chosen command, praise him, and bring him back inside. If you happen to find a puddle but were unable to catch your pup in the act it is too late to give a correction. Scolding your puppy after the undesired action has already taken place will have no effect and could actually do more harm than good. Simply clean up the area thoroughly to ensure that Fido wont eliminate in that spot again.

Remember, your new puppy is a baby, therefore he will need consistent and constant attention to ensure that he will mature into a well-rounded part of your family. The first few months will require a lot of work on both your parts, but the end result will be well worth it!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of “How to take care of your new puppy” with information on chewing and play biting management as well as the importance of training and early socialization!

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Mushrooms: A Dangerous Uprising

Spring is in the air! The sun warms the soul after its slumber behind the clouds, the birds and crickets are chirping, the kids can finally be let outside to play and flowers of all varieties are blooming in all colors of the rainbow. But something else is taking the season’s cue to raise its deathly stem above the Earth; mushrooms. A lovely decoration with the backyard gnomes, however, mushrooms, as we all know, can be deadly for humans. But what about our beloved animal friends?

Here at Fit’n’Furry, we make sure to share all information we find that is beneficial for the health and well being of your furry family members. We recently discovered a post by Dr. Nancy Kay, author of “Speaking For Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life”, who shares the story of her friend Diana who had recently lost her 6 month old Bernese Mountain Dog, Donato, to the ingestion of a mushroom from her backyard; a tragic loss due to an unforeseen danger.

While 99% of mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the 1% that are highly toxic can cause life-threatening problems in pets. The top three deadly mushrooms to dogs, as well as cats, are: Amanita phalloides, pale yellow and greenish tops, Amanita muscaria, the classic red cap with white spots, and Amanita pantherina, chocolate brown caps with white spots. Amanita phallodies, the “Death Cap”, is the most common of the poisonous species in Northern California and Southern Oregon and grows yearly in soil surrounding oak trees. Visit www.aspca.org/toxicplants for a list of poisonous mushrooms and plants.

The result of eating a mushroom is liver failure. The symptoms include vomiting, bloody diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, delayed blood clotting and neurological abnormalities. Other signs include dilated pupils, salivation, seizures, and/or shock. If you discover that Fido has even nibbled on a possibly deadly fungus, take him to an Emergency Veterinary Clinic as soon as possible. Remember to bring a portion of the suspect with you in a paper bag so that it can be analyzed for faster and accurate treatment. You may also call the Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435for advice on what to do.

As with most poisonings, the best method of controlling mushroom consumption is preventing exposure. Remove all mushrooms you may have growing in your yard as well as being aware of your surroundings when walking your dog especially if you have a young one or a “not-so-picky” eater.

Everyone wants the best for their pet’s health. Our furry, family members bring us joy and fulfillment and it is so important to keep in tune with what is around their environment whether it be at home, at their favorite park or even on a camping trip. It is common knowledge that foods like chocolate and grapes can cause adverse reactions in our pets; it’s time to spread the word about these toxic pests.

1 – North American Mycological Association; http://www.namyco.org/toxicology/pet_poisonings.html
2 – Kay, Nancy. “Speaking For Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life”; http://speakingforspot.com/blog/?p=2340