PETMINDER NI is a Northern Ireland pet service offering an alternative to kennels when it comes to caring for your beloved pets.
Whether it’s just a few hours respite or holiday care Charmayne Dockerty’s company offer a wide range of services to take the stress out of petcare.
This is the first in a regular series of columns by Charmayne giving you some top tips to care for your pet.
By Charmayne Dockerty
Hello all, this is our first article on pet care for BAM magazine and where best to start, than at the very beginning…puppyhood.
So, you’ve decided to research your breed of choice and scoured through the endless different breeds or designer breeds.
As you’re researching, the kids are bouncing off the walls with excitement and already bickering on what they want to call their new four legged family addition.
If this doesnt sound familiar and it’s all peaceful, your’re one of the lucky ones.
The day arrives, and you’ve bundled your little darlings into the car, enroute to collecting your new puppy.
They still have not agreed on a name and have now started bickering about who’s walking the pup.
Make the most of this, the novelty will eventually wear off and chances are, you’ll be walking Buster in no time (if he’s not walking you).
Once home there are some things you can do to help your new furbaby settle into family life:
1. Create the right space for your puppy
Provide a clean, quiet and spacious area where your puppy can quietly explore without too much fussing and noise. He’ll probably be quite timid at first, however, given time and he’ll soon come out of his shell.
Explain to other members of the family that it’s normal for the puppy to be timid and a litle quiet at first, make sure everyone singing off the same hymn sheet. Gradually over the following hours or perhaps days, encourage him to interact with the family and expose him to new sights, sounds and smells.
3. Settling in with the right supplies
That tiny bundle of fur that looked so incredibly cute and fluffy, is now peeing in every corner and testing out his new pearly white knashers on the furniture, you or the kids ankles.
It’s important that you supply your new puppy with lots of toys and chews, to keep him amused and to help prevent any ‘furniture’ casualties.
Kongs stuffed with treats provide great mental stimuation. Ropes for tug-a-war, along with anything that squeaks.
You will also need puppy pads to enable toilet training and a large hoard of cleaning supplies.
4. Don’t get stressed out
Relax. First of all, these days do pass, often with lightening quickness. Second, puppies really are pretty easy to deal with – a couple of square meals, several trips outside, and lots of playtime balanced with lots of sleeping are the general rule for the first few weeks at home.
5. Time to get social
Socialisation is imperitive to creating a happy and balanced dog. It’s also a perfect opportunity for playtime and bonding. Once he has had his vaccinations, you will be able to take him out for walks and introduce him to the world.
The more you expose him to different things, the more confident he will become. If at any stage you see him showing signs of distress or nervousness STOP what you’re doing and try again in a few days. Sometimes, you can encourage him with treats.
6. Getting the kids involved
All children past crawling stage can participate in puppy care in some fashion.
A toddler can pick up puppy toys and put them in a box, help straighten puppy bedding, and learn to keep his own toys out of range of puppy teeth.
A pre-school child can do these things and help fix puppy meals and accompany Mom and puppy to the veterinary clinic.
At primary school age, they can help teach the puppy to sit before he gets a treat and can help with leash training, and an older child can teach puppy tricks and actively participate in good manners training under adult supervision.
This will of course strengthen the bond between puppy and child, whilst also giving your child some responsiblity.
A few things to be wary of, however:
No hugging. A puppy held close to a child’s face can accidentally scratch or nip if it becomes frightened and tries to get away.
No dragging. Kids should never be allowed to drag a puppy around by the leg, the collar, or a leash.
No feeding from the table. Puppies and kids should be separated when food is around so puppies don’t become beggars and thieves and kids don’t tease pups with tasty morsels, or slipping buster half their dinner under the table.
No smacking. Children should never smack a puppy for bad behavior. (Of course, adults should not smack puppies either!)
From the puppy’s point of view, children can be either easy to intimidate or objects of fear. Children who run and scream can excite bold puppies into uncontrolled madness that includes growling and biting or can induce fear in shy puppies.
Children who try to dominate puppies can turn a puppy can turn into a biter, and children who are afraid of the puppy can turn it into a bully that growls and nips to get his way.
7. Fun is the key when training
Puppy training and socialisation should be fun for both owner and dog. Puppies can be taught to sit, lie down, and come for rewards. Even eight-week-old puppies can sit for their dinner or treats and lie down to be groomed.
Puppies that resist can be taught with persistence and consistency on the part of all family members. It does no good if Mom requires puppy to sit before meals if Dad doesn’t follow through or if Susie slips Buster a bit of bacon from her breakfast plate.
Physical handling is seldom necessary when teaching puppies to sit or lie down if you use a treat and a gentle voice. Actually, you can teach Buster to sit without touching him or giving a command; just show him a treat or lure him to his dinner spot and hold the food above his head so he has to look up to see it. If he parks his rear in order to look up, tell him “Good boy!, Good sit!”
If you hold the treat too high, he’ll jump to get it, so keep it just out of reach. If he backs up instead of sitting, let him sniff the food, then move it a bit higher so he has to look up. If he still backs up, work him against a wall.
Start as you mean to go. Training puppies requires endless patience, consistancy and ground rules, along with lots of positive reinforcement.
8. Vet Care
It’s important to get Buster registered with a vet as soon as possible. He will require vaccinations, worming and flea treatment.
Some vet Clinics do what’s called a Puppy Starter Pack. For example The Glenn Vet clinic in Bangor are offering free extended consultation to include health check, dietary advice, parasite control, weight check and training advice along with full vaccination course, mini microchip with online registration and membership of their companionhealth club, giving 15% off future vaccines, 25% off parasite control, 15% of neutering, free nail clipping and much more. All this is for only £50. Which is a pretty good deal.
For more information or to contact Charmayne log onto the Petminder NI Facebook Page