It's very exciting to welcome a new pet into your home however, it's not so exciting to clean up after your new puppy or stay awake for many nights with your new puppy or lose those favorite pair of socks or shoes. Your new puppy is going to be a joy and a challenge---to say the least.
Think of your new puppy as a newborn infant who needs to be taught everything by you!
The first thing to remember is that the puppy has been living with his/her littermates and mom for the past 10-12 weeks and doesn't know anything but their previous comfortable, safe life. Now, they will be taken from that life and brought into a new, strange and very scary environment. For many nights, he/she may cry and whine because they are scared of being alone and miss everyone.
We are not big fans of crate training even though other people swear by it. However, your puppy needs somewhere safe and secure where they can stay and sleep and eat and not be overwhelmed by lots of noise and movement for several months. This is also the place where you will be potty training. So, it needs to be an area where you can put down newspaper and not get upset when the puppy uses this area as a toilet. Your puppy will not reasonably be able to hold their bowels or bladder until they are about 3 months old (or older sometimes). Please don't be surprised about this---the puppy will mature at his/her own rate and their muscles will simply not be mature enough until at least this time frame.
This is a fascinating time that might make you run for the hills---or call me screaming! During potty training, your puppy will need to be taken outside several times each day. Most young puppies can urinate and defecate ten times or more per day. So, when you get up in the morning, the puppy needs to go out first thing, then after breakfast, naps, playtime, lunch, dinner etc. As they mature, the number of times will become less frequent. You can also train your puppy to tell you when they need to go by taking their paw and saying 'out?' and scratching their paw on the door or try hanging a bell on a string and train them to use it. Keep in mind though that if you don't RUN....they can't hold it!
Feeding your new puppy
Your new puppy is very much an infant that has been getting all of his/her nourishment from mom and human grade hard food. Just like anything else, you get from your puppy what you put in. I'm a HUGE believer of feeding only the best of the best. Your puppy needs the best nourishment that you can give him/her. DO NOT CHANGE FOODS FOR YOUR PUPPY UNTIL THEY ARE AT LEAST 9 MONTHS OLD(or up to a year). Changing foods that your puppy is eating will upset their stomach and give them diarrhea which is VERY serious for a puppy. Also, if you change foods, you need to do it very gradually or they will develop gastrointestinal issues. We also believe that a diet of 100% soft food is a big disservice to your pup's dental hygiene. Hard food makes them crunch and helps clean teeth . Doing this together with things to chew such as cow hoofs really help keep teeth beautiful and white...and no bad breath! At MLC, we feed only ' Fromm' brand hard puppy food.. our adults eat the 'Fromm' puppy food as well. There are other great foods out there also like the Wellness products and Solid Gold products. The point here is that supermarket dog foods or even foods like IAMS or Eukanuba are NOT quality foods. Read the labels and compare.
The website for the food that we use is www.frommfamily.com
The puppy food that we use is called Fromm puppy Gold.
Feeding schedule for your puppy
Your new puppy needs to be fed four times per day initially(based on your schedule). At MLC, we let the puppies graze continuously through the day. However, if you prefer a schedule for your puppy, until the puppy reaches 6 months old, feed four times per day and then reduce to 3 times per day. At the year mark, you can reduce to feeding twice per day in the morning and at night. We would recommend continuing with this schedule for the remainder of their life. Cavalier puppies grow very quickly so we do not recommend limiting your puppy's intake at any meal.
Table food and puppies
All we're going to say is NEVER. If you want your puppy to have a case of the poops like you've never seen before, then go ahead. Your puppy will be in pain and so will you while you are cleaning up what's been produced from the table scraps. Puppies should never taste a morsel of table food until they are 6 months old. This will totally upset their fragile stomachs and cause diarrhea and we've already covered that above.
Obvious, but we're going to say it anyhow---Always have fresh clean water available- even at bedtime. You never want your puppy getting dehydrated. Dehydration is very serious and can lead to death--this is why diarrhea is very serious because it causes dehydration.
All puppies need toys of all kinds. Soft toys and squeaky toys and balls and bones. The more that you teach your puppy that the toys belong to him and to chew on bones and soft toys, the less chewing on other stuff that they will do. Always try to train your puppy that the toys and bones and squeaks are his and the shoes and furniture is yours. This has worked very well for us and we've not had any issues with lost items.
For young puppies, rawhide is not a great idea. Instead, nylabones or things like bully sticks work well. Cow hoofs or natural precooked cow bones from a pet shop work well also. Puppies want to chew! You need to find them something to chew that won't end up like mush and cause a choking hazard. Typical rawhide becomes very gooey and mushy and could cause choking and intestinal blockage----not a good idea for the young pup. As your puppy matures, maybe around 6 months or so, We usually let them start on rawhide and pig ears and other stuff like that with supervision. Our crew LOVES anything that sounds like pig.
Treats are great and deserved for excellent training and behavior! Very soft liver treats that can be broken into teey pieces work well. Tiny milk bone type treats are wonderful and we've also found that they make teeny sized baked pepperidge farm goldfish. A few of these work wonders while training or rewarding for good potty behavior. Not too many though --treats are treats and food is food.
Collar and Leash training
Initially, the rule of thumb here is that your puppy has never been on a leash and doesn't understand what a collar is. Thus, patience is in order. The first several times you try to walk your puppy you might get a bit of resistance and brattiness. Since these puppies are small and are in the toy family, a harness will be more suited to their needs as well as yours. They have small little bodies and tiny necks and a collar will be very harsh for them. We recommend a nice soft harness such as a 'puppia' harness and using a leash that is not too long so your puppy won't be able to get too far from your side.
Vitamins and supplements
These are not necessary if you are feeding your puppy properly and they're getting enough natural light and outdoor time. The only reason why any puppy needs supplements is if they are not getting enough sunlight (vitamin D etc). Be very wary of sites that insist that puppies need supplements--this generally means that the puppy is kept in a kennel with artificial lighting and is not receiving natural vitamins absorbed from the sun. Occasionally, We have given fish oil supplements to some of our dogs who are having some dandruff issues. Usually dandruff occurs during serious growth spurts. However, the fish oil is not necessary--if you're feeding right, just wait it out.
Veterinary care and disease
Your puppy is going to need several rounds of puppy shots for all kinds of diseases. The reason why your puppy will have several 'rounds' of shots at your veterinarian is to 'boost his/her immune system'. This will keep him/her healthy for the first year of life. You will receive your puppy from MLC de-wormed and with the first round of canine 5-way (first puppy shot of a series of 3-4). However, you will need to take your puppy to the veterinarian within 14 days of purchase for a physical and at that time your vet will put your puppy on a schedule for their remaining shots (final puppy shots, lyme and rabies).
Your puppy will be vaccinated for the following:
Distemper, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, Leptospirosis (depending on where you live)
Also, your puppy will need to be vaccinated for rabies at 16 weeks (he/she will receive a 1 year rabies vaccination) and if you live in an area with lots of deer, you will also need lyme vaccinations.
These are yearly shots so, after you complete your round of puppy shots and then get the rabies and lyme shots, you will need to come back each year thereafter. The rabies in the second year is usually a 3-year shot.
Two other items that need to be addressed are Heartworm (spread by mosquitoes) and Flea/Tick prevention. When you go to the vet for all the other shots for your new puppy, your vet will give you the first heartworm dose--it's eaten by your puppy and they really like it. Each month you need to give them a dose at the same time which looks like a nice treat for your puppy. Also, you will need to apply flea/tick preventative which comes in small tubes and is applied to the back of the dogs neck. We use a product called 'Advantix' when necesssary which works very well. We do not recommend purchasing this product from a supermarket or large box store---We've only heard bad things about the off brands that don't work and then all you'll have is fleas in your home. Trust us--spend the extra money and you'll thank me later!