Puppy FAQ

Click on a FAQ item to show the answer below.

What plants are poisonous to my pet?

Please click here for an extensive list by the ASPCA.

What is the best way to housetrain my puppy?

There are many contributing factors to how long it may take you to housetrain your puppy. Including – breed, age, and overall health. Housetraining your puppy takes patience and vigilance. Please see our recommended reading and training links for help with housetraining. However, there are a few key ingredients to help you with your success.

Routine: Puppies do best with a schedule. You should feed your puppy at the same time each day. Depending on their age puppies need to be fed about 3 – 4 times a day. If your puppy is eating at the same times each day it will make it more likely that he’ll eliminate at consistent times as well.

Frequency: Take your puppy out frequently at least every 2 hours. Look for signs that he may need to eliminate, like circling, whining or sniffing. When you see these signs take your puppy outside immediately.

Confinement: We strongly encourage owners to employ crate training to facilitate housetraining. Like a cave or a den, a crate or kennel provides an area where the puppy can take a time out and feel secure and safe. The first few times in the crate should be a positive experience. Never scold your puppy by putting him the crate or he will associate being scolded with his crate. Puppies like to keep their den clean so they will try to avoid “messing” in the crate if at all possible.

Accidents: Expect them. Occasional accidents are to be expected. If you catch your puppy in the middle of an accident immediately take them outside.

Praise: This is the most vital step to successful potty training. Praise your puppy verbally and give them a treat immediately after he’s finished eliminating outdoors. Make sure the food treat you give him has a high value. If it is a food that your puppy goes crazy for your puppy has more motivation to please you with positive behavior.

What type of dog food should I feed and how often?

In terms of feeding schedule, we recommend feeding puppies at specific times of the day. A measured amount of food should be offered 3-4 times a day to a puppy 6-20 weeks of age. What is not eaten after 15-20 minutes should be taken away. After 6 months of age 2 meals will be sufficient for most dogs. Many of the bagged and canned dog foods available do provide a balanced diet, however, there are certain foods we will recommend as better choices. Please see our list of recommended foods which we have listed on our resources page.

Is chewing normal?

Puppies love to chew. Chewing is an instinctive behavior for puppies and is an expected behavior until they about at least 6 – 8 months in age. Chew toys such as Nyla Bones or Kong toys work well to help pacify this instinct. Make sure that toys are large enough that your puppy will not choke or swallow them. For some puppies rawhide bones are too tough and they can cause teeth to fracture, resulting in painful dental problems. Puppies’ baby teeth begin to be replaced by adult teeth at 4 – 6 months of age and it is normal for a small amount of blood to be seen as they loosen.

What are appropriate toys for my dog?

Many dog trainers and veterinarians now recommend a variety of very firm rubber toys (virtually indestructible) that have a hollow center into which food and treats can be stuffed. As the eager pet chews the toy small morsels of treat fall out and are eaten, only to prompt further chewing. The most common of these toys are called Kongs. Please ask us about your specific toys or let us know what has worked for you. Avoid toys which can be chewed into pieces that can become lodged in the stomach and cause an obstruction in the digestive system. This has been the cause for many emergency surgeries. In addition, many dogs are sensitive to the preservatives used to condition the bones and will have stomach upset (diarrhea and vomiting) from chewing them.

How do I trim my puppy's nails?

It is a good idea to touch your puppies’ feet and toes often as soon as you bring them home. It is a good idea to start trimming puppy’s claws when they are first brought into the house. Purchase a good quality nail trimmer and a product called quick stop. Begin by trimming off the last 1 – 2 millimeters of the claw a couple of times over the course of a week. Avoid trimming the “quick” or pink part of the nail that provides its blood supply. If bleeding occurs your can push the quick stop into the nail to stop the bleeding. If you do not have quick stop on hand you can use corn meal, flour. Always give your puppy a reward of verbal praise or a treat immediately after finishing. You can tell the nails need to be trimmed when your puppy’s paws “click” on the ground when he/she is walking. We would be happy to give you a demonstration on how to trim the nails.

How do I get my puppy used to his/her leash and collar?

Most leashes and collars on the market are acceptable for dogs. Obedience trainers seem to favor leather leashes 6 feet long and have a width sufficient enough to withstand prolonged pulling. In general rope leashes should be avoided because a strong pull from your companion can cause rope burn. We discourage choke and prong collars because we feel that they are inappropriate for all but the most aggressive dogs, and in those cases behavioral training is a necessity. Small and toy breeds often respond best to a harness that places pressure on their chest rather than on their small necks.

The first step in acclimating your puppy to a collar is to put one on in a quiet, non-threatening manner. Have your puppy wear it around the house and make sure it is not so loose that he can chew on it. Once your puppy is used to the collar you can attach the leash to the collar in the house. Allow your puppy to walk around with the leash on but do not pick the leash up or apply any pressure to it. Only after she is used to seeing it on her can you then pick the leash up and apply gentle tension. Gradually increase the amount of tension while praising your puppy and giving her positive reinforcement. You will gradually be able to move to the outside and enjoy walking with your puppy. Another great trick when you are beginning to leash walk outdoors is to carry your puppy a block away from your home, set him/her down, and then walk back toward your home. Walking toward your home is more familiar to your puppy and will increase the chances of him feeling comfortable with the leash.

Should I get a microchip for my puppy?

When considering a microchip for your pet you should know the following facts: More than 10 million pets are lost each year; 50% of dogs and 75% of cats arrive at shelters without collars; over 20,000 pets have been returned to their owners through the HomeAgain® system. A microchip is a pet retrieval system that involves injecting a small microchip, about the size of a grain of rice, under the skin between the shoulder blades of a dog or cat in much the same way a vaccine is administered. Each chip has a unique digit code that must be registered with the AKC’s program. When a lost pet arrives at a shelter or veterinary clinic a special handheld scanner is passed over the shoulder blades. The scanner can read the identification number and the shelter can then notify the AKC and the pet’s owner or a veterinarian.

What is the best way to socialize my puppy?

The socialization period for puppies is between 4 and 12 weeks of age, and we encourage you to expose your dog to as many types of social events and influences as possible during that time. If a puppy has good experiences with men, women, children, cats or other dogs, etc., it is likely to accept them throughout life. If the experiences are unpleasant or even absent, the puppy may become apprehensive or adverse to any of them.

Do I need to give my puppy medication for worms?

Eighty-five percent of all puppies have intestinal parasites or worms, and some of these present serious health concerns to children who can be infected with them. Therefore it is imperative that everyone washes his or her hands after playing with your puppy. At your initial visit we will evaluate a stool sample for parasites and start your puppy on an intestinal parasite control program as recommended by the Center for Disease Control. Additional fecal exams may be recommended at a later date if your puppy develops diarrhea or vomiting.

What can we do for fleas and ticks?

Fleas are small, wingless, blood sucking parasites that can spread disease and cause anemia in puppies. There are several excellent flea-repelling medications (Frontline, Program, etc.) available for dogs that are prone to fleas or have allergies to them, however, we generally do not advocate these medications unless a puppy currently has fleas or has had problems with them in the past. When fleas are present on a puppy it is essential that owners clean up the home environment to eliminate flea eggs before they hatch.

Like fleas, ticks can be effectively controlled before they suck blood, irritate your puppy, and possibly spread Lyme disease. Preventative medicines are available and best used in the spring, summer and fall when ticks are active. We will mutually determine whether your puppy is at a significant risk for acquiring ticks and decide on the best course of action to eliminate them.

What is heartworm disease?

Heartworms are large, thread-like worms that live in the heart and lungs of infected dogs. Mosquitoes transmit heartworm disease and infected dogs will develop fatal signs of heart disease such as coughing, lethargy, and fainting. Prevention has become very effective and involves giving a monthly chewable tablet during the mosquito season. Each year your dog needs to be tested for heartworms to ensure that it is free of the disease and to ensure that it is safe to give the monthly preventative. While preventing the disease is simple, treatment of infected dogs is dangerous, expensive, painful, and not always 100% effective. Preventing heartworm disease is one of the most important and easiest ways to ensure the well being of your animal companion.

How do I want my puppy and my children to interact?

Having children and a puppy at the same time can be a challenge. Children often match a puppy’s energy level and it can be difficult to convince your children that puppy needs his/her quiet time. In fact, you may spend more time teaching your children what is appropriate behavior around puppy than vice versa! We encourage parents to actively involve children in chores, training, and feeding of the new puppy so they learn mutual respect.

One of the most frequently encountered problems with puppies is their interest in chewing on the hands, feet, and ears of children. It is very important that children do not encourage this behavior by continuing to give puppy attention (playing, giggling, pushing puppy away, etc). Have children stop playing with puppy when he/she gets too rough and is biting too hard. This will let puppy know that biting is not playing and that he/she will not get attention for that behavior. In addition, do not play tug-of-war or pet your puppy in short strokes on the head or face that will get him/her excited.

Do I need to give my puppy vitamins or supplements?

We recommend pet foods that are well balanced and have been shown to provide excellent nutritional support. Please see our handout about diets. If your puppy has a hereditary disease or a medical problem early in life we may recommend a supplement based on that condition. Otherwise we do not frequently recommend vitamins for all puppies as there have been no studies that show supplementation increases the amount of nutrients they absorb.

Do I need to bath or groom my puppy?

We recommend getting your puppy accustomed to having a brush or comb run through its hair as part of the process of socializing it at an early age. This should be done on a daily basis for at least a few minutes and will help to minimize shedding in the rest of the house. Most dogs need NO MORE than 1 bath every 2 weeks, and the vast majority require bathing only when they have become especially dirty from playing. If your dog is dirty, use an oatmeal based shampoo/conditioner to keep the skin from becoming too dry. On the other hand, there are particular curly-coated breeds that require professional bathing and grooming to keep the hair coat from becoming matted and uncomfortable. See our list of area grooming facilities.

Do I need to brush my puppy's teeth?

We recommend that all pets be started on a dental hygiene program that includes brushing of teeth, chewing on acceptable toys, and periodic dental exams by a veterinarian. Please see the handout entitled A GUIDE TO BRUSHING YOUR COMPANION ANIMAL’S TEETH. Dental disease is the most common disease in dogs and cats of all ages and can be prevented by brushing your companions teeth. For those pets more prone to dental problems or those not tolerant of home care we recommend an appointment for dental scaling and polishing. This is done to prevent pulling teeth in an emergency situation where dental disease begins to cause difficulty chewing, loss of bone around teeth, and pain. As dental disease has been linked to heart, liver and kidney disease we must emphasize this advice. An appointment to have a dental cleaning involves removal of plaque and polishing, cleaning under the gums, and probing for periodontal pockets. Sometimes more advance dental work is required and we may refer you to a veterinary dentist. We would be happy to schedule a demonstration to help you start brushing your own pet’s teeth.

Is Lyme disease common in this area and can we vaccinate against it?

We recommend immunizing dogs against Lyme disease if they are determined to be at risk. At risk dogs include those that hunt, spend time in areas shared with wildlife or “cabin country”, and all Retriever breeds. Dogs are given an initial vaccine followed by a booster 3-4 weeks later, then a single annual vaccine thereafter. If a dog goes more than 2 years without any Lyme vaccine they should restart the initial vaccine protocol. Lyme disease can have many symptoms so it is always important to tell your veterinarian about possible exposure to ticks when your dog is ill.

How can I get my puppy to stop barking?

Puppies may bark when they are frustrated, anxious, separated from their family or pack, or as a territorial behavior. It is important to know that barking is natural, and also that they should be trained to not bark during inappropriate times. The most important step to take when your puppy is barking at an inappropriate time is to make sure you are not reinforcing the behavior. Owners may unknowingly reinforce barking by feeding, patting, praising, playing with, giving a toy to, or even just going to a barking dog. Unless the barking is directed at another person you should try your best to ignore him.

How do I get my puppy to stop jumping up on people?

Your puppy jumps up on people in order to meet them “face to face” and to get more attention. The important step to take is to make sure he/she is not getting any attention or praise for jumping up on people. When a puppy jumps up you should walk by him and give him no attention. As soon as he approaches you without jumping he should be praised immediately. Require that your puppy “sit” and “stay” before giving him any attention and the jumping up behavior will quickly cease.