The New Addition to the Family

By Pet Alive (www.petalive.co.za)

THE NEW ADDITION TO THE FAMILY

What was your first thought when you brought your puppy home for the first time? Follow these tips and guidelines for an easy transition and making your new pet feel part of the family!

Bringing home a new puppy can be a wonderful experience and the beginning of years of companionship and unconditional love. As your pet’s new parent, it is your responsibility to provide adequate support and make their transition as comfortable and un-traumatic as possible…

We’ve sourced a number of helpful tips and consulted with our animal health consultant for the best advice and guidelines for happy healthy new additions:

Just as you have a personal doctor, it is a good idea to take your new addition to a vet as soon as they are in your care. A full check up with the necessary shots and vaccinations is important. Remember to ask your vet questions about the breed you have: is it susceptible to allergiesSkin problems? After the initial check-up, you should schedule regular visits for your little pet (one a year for boosters, and whenever you suspect he/she may be ill or if you find a problem). Remember too that you can help keep your pet’s immune system supported through good food, healthy play and lots of love and affection!

10 TOP TIPS FOR BRINGING HOME A NEW PUPPY
1. Prepare! 
Make sure you have all the necessary utensils ready. Stainless steel bowls (one for dry food and one for water), appropriate pet food for your puppy’s age, a comfy collar (able to fit two fingers easily underneath it) with a name tag, soft cotton leash, brushes and combs.

2. Puppy-safe your pad! 
Ensure that all hazardous materials (chemical cleaning products, garden tools, blind cords and appliances) are out of your new pet’s reach. This includes anything bite sized that may be swallowed – get on your hands and knees and survey the area… are there large unstable items that may fall on your puppy? Are there any electrical outlets that need to be covered? Is the toilet seat up? If it isn’t safe for a baby or toddler, it usually isn’t safe for a puppy! Make sure you have a safe, confined area for your puppy when you cannot watch him. Baby gates work well to block off an area, or use a crate (an appropriate size for your pooch to stand up in, lie down, and turn around comfortably). Never leave a puppy in a crate for longer than 2 hours and never let him roam free in the home or garden unsupervised!

3. Provide toys and comfort items. 
Remember that your puppy is going to be anxious and nervous. This is a traumatic time and you should do all you can to make your puppy relax. Bedding should be soft and appropriate for your dog’s size. Avoid stuffed blankets that may get chewed – and opt for a soft organic blanket if possible. Remember that you puppy will not differentiate between shoes as a toy and your new boots - so avoid giving him personal items to play with – rather provide toys to keep your puppy occupied: make sure they are not a choking hazard (usually toys that squeak) and rather provide teething toys (or a natural teething aid), or a clock to simulate a heart beat. Remember that your pet has been separated from its mother and may be pining. A warm bottle can also simulate other pups.

4. Ssshhh! Keep it quiet. 
Start outside in the garden, and give puppy a chance to urinate – praise this! If he doesn’t urinate, that’s okay too, but remember to bring him to this spot when he shows signs that he needs to do his business, such as sniffing and circling. Accidents will happen – your puppy has no bladder control and will need to empty his bladder every three hours during the night. Never scold a puppy for messing, or rub its nose in its mess – this will lead to further problems down the line. Remember babies have nappies, but pet’s do not!

5. Take it easy on the little one. 
Just like babies, puppies need frequent sleep. Don’t over excite your puppy and give him the time to relax and recuperate after the new move. As hard as it may be, resist letting your puppy sleep with you as this may lead to problems later on. Start off the way you intend to finish. A puppy takes a few nights to feel safe and if your puppy is in a central, enclosed area in the middle of the home, where he can hear and smell you, he will feel that you are nearby.

6. Meeting the family. 
Make your kids part of the puppy experience – and let them take part in choosing a puppy. 2-3 sessions a day of 15-30 min playing with the puppy is enough – don’t exceed this or your puppy will be too tired. It is very important that children keep their voices quiet and don’t startle the puppy. Teasing is a NO-NO! Holding something out of reach will just make your puppy learn to jump up and whine. Teach children to be gentle, and encourage them to help feed and groom the pup. Always supervise the interaction between small kids and a puppy.

7. Making new friends. 
Keep resident pets separated from your new puppy for a few days. After that time, let pets smell and touch each other through a slightly open door. Do this several times over the next few days. After that, give the resident pet access to the den area with your new puppy. Supervise their meeting and go back to through-the-door meetings if trouble arises. Do not take your puppy to public places where there are other dogs until he is at least four months of age. By this time, he will be done with his vaccinations and have a stronger immune system. Give your resident pet access to the area. Let pets smell and touch each other through the crate or pet gate. Do this several times over the next few days. Give the resident pet access to the den area with your new puppy out of his crate. Supervise their meeting and go back to through-the-gate/crate meetings if trouble arises.

8. Au Naturale. 
Unless your puppy is extremely dirty or smelly, avoid bathing. If he is a little scruffy, rather use a baby wipe to clean him. At the absolute most, adolescent and adult dogs should be bathed once a month. Using human shampoo is never recommended! Remember, your puppy's skin is sensitive and the wrong type of shampoo will cause irritation or skin problems. Try a natural shampoo as these are very gentle.

9. Choosing a name. 
Your puppy should have a name that is short, and two syllables. This is so that it won’t be confused with one-syllable commands such as "No" or "Sit." Make sure all family members use the same name and avoid nicknames as this will cause confusion for your dog. Always reward your puppy's recognition of it’s name with lots of positive praise and play.

10. Handle with care. 
Just like a newborn or infant baby, a puppy's body is also very fragile. Try to only pick up your puppy if it is absolutely necessary. When you do pick up your pup, follow these steps: Place one hand under your puppy's bottom, and place your other hand under his chest. Lift with both arms and hold him close to your body. When he gets larger (medium size), then wrap both arms around his legs, draw him to your chest and lift.

Remember that above all, your new puppy is fragile and vulnerable. Don’t treat him like an adult dog – have patience and understanding, shower him with love and attention and before long you will have the most loyal friend you have ever known!