Category Archives: puppy

How to Get Puppies Off to a Great Start

By Suzanne Alicie

I was toying with the idea of titling this “What to Expect When Your Dog is Expecting,” but because I’m going beyond simple dog pregnancy and into caring for your puppies successfully in order to give them a great start in life, the chosen title is more appropriate.

Confirm Your Dog’s Pregnancy

A visit to the vet will confirm or deny your suspicion that your dog is pregnant. If the result is positive, the vet will advise you as to what stage your dog is in and what care you need to provide. The length of time a dog gestates is around 9 weeks. Much shorter than a human, this gives you only a little time to prepare. Depending upon the stage of pregnancy when you determine your dog is expecting, your vet may vaccinate her to help protect the new puppies after birth until they are able to be vaccinated.

Care During Pregnancy

The stress level of your expecting dog should be kept to a minimum to avoid problems. A proper diet of a good nutritional dog food and plenty of water is all that your female dog requires to keep her healthy through her pregnancy. When your dog is about 4 weeks from whelping the puppies, increase the food intake a little each day. Puppies this close to birth are quite demanding on the mother and can take the nutrition from her body leaving her underweight and on the verge of being ill. At this time it is also a good idea to worm your dog. Never worm your dog before the midway point of pregnancy, and consult your vet to ensure the timing. Worming helps make sure that the mother does not pass round worms to the new puppies through her milk.

Watch for Laboring

Signs that indicate your dog is preparing to give birth include:

• A hollowing of the hip area which indicates that the puppies have moved and are getting in place for birth.
• A temperature of less than 100.
• Nesting behavior, including digging at covers, hiding or being determined to stay in a certain area. This is your dog deciding where she will have her puppies and means that the hormones which trigger labor are working.
• Shivering is actually a sign of contractions, if the dog is calm, or possibly eclampsia.
• Irritability is common in laboring dogs; try to keep her calm and relaxed just as you would a human giving birth.

Giving Birth

You dog will move into the second stage of labor known as hard labor, which will expel the puppies. Puppies are born enclosed in a membrane that must be removed for the puppy to breathe. After the first puppy appears, give the mother a few moments to chew and lick the membrane from the pup. If she doesn’t, you will have to do this for her by removing the membrane and rubbing the puppy with a warm towel. The umbilical cord can be tied and cut about an inch from the puppy. Because it is natural for mother dogs to eat the placenta and often later vomit, it’s best if you clean the placenta up and dispose of it. Generally you can expect one puppy every hour until she is finished. With several puppies the mother may take a break and not push or strain for up to 4 hours before birthing another puppy.

Watch for Illness after Giving Birth

Consult your vet if your new mom has any of the following symptoms, which could be signs of a serious condition like metritis or eclampsia during the days after whelping her puppies.

• Fever
• Loss of appetite
• No interest in puppies
• Vaginal discharge with foul odor
• Not enough milk production
• Stiff painful walking
• Nervousness or restlessness
• Muscle spasms or seizures
• Hard painful mammary glands

The area where the mom and new pups will live temporarily should be in a warm (no less than 70 degrees F) and dry area where the puppies can be enclosed while the mom can come and go. Puppies and mom will enjoy newspapers or disposable diapers to shred and make a soft absorbent nest.

Caring for New Puppies

Nature equips the new mother dog to do most of the work when it comes to caring for her puppies. Nursing and learning from the mother during the first weeks of their lives give puppies the necessary nutrition and basic survival skills they will need. A vet should examine the puppies within a few days of their birth and if any tail docking is to be done it should be taken care of before the puppies are 5 days old.

Puppies’ nails can be clipped when they get sharp. The eyes will open around 2 weeks after birth. To assist your mother dog with weaning, starting at about 4 weeks provide a mixture of puppy food and water or milk. As weaning progresses, establish a regular feeding and toilet training schedule. Encourage socialization by cuddling each puppy for a few minutes twice a day.

At 6-8 weeks of age, puppies should be checked for internal parasites and receive their vaccinations for distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis and parvovirus. The rabies vaccination should not be given before the puppies are 3 months old.

Begin separating the puppies from their mother for a length of time each day when they are around 6 weeks old. This will help the mother stop producing milk, and allow the puppies to learn to spend more time away from mom until they are only together at night. For some excellent advice that goes into more detail on specifically caring for newborn puppies, read this article by Julia Williams.

While much of this may seem to be a natural occurrence, any help you provide as a responsible pet owner will make the whole process easier on your dog and her babies.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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The Right Way to Discipline a Dog


By Ruthie Bently

I grew up with several dogs and got to see training methods first hand. I have seen both well trained and unruly dogs and have found that the old maxim is true: “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” As I get older, my life experiences have taught me that this is true and I have been applying it to my training methods.

Growing up, if a dog had an “accident” in the house they got their nose rubbed in it. In my mind all this resulted in was a dirty nose which had to be cleaned. One of my favorite memories (though probably not for my grandfather) happened on a Sunday morning. Grandpa was reading his paper in the living room, with it spread on the floor in front of the couch. Grandma’s dog Peggy came in, walked right over to the newspaper, and relieved herself. Grandpa started blustering for Grandma to come get her “damn” dog. Grandma picked up Peggy and dutifully carried her outside, praising her the whole time. You see, Peggy had been trained to go on newspaper and though hers was in the kitchen, she probably thought Grandpa’s paper was for her.

Growing up, if a dog chewed something “off limits” they got hit on the butt with it. I remember watching the floor near a dog being hit with the damaged item and the dog cringing. When my dog Katie’s playmate passed, she grieved and took to chewing shoes. I put them behind a closed closet door on a high shelf, and she still got to them. This taught me to take responsibility for my own actions around the house, yard and anywhere else Katie would be. Things she could reach had to be moved out of reach or it was my fault that she got them. This means if you leave your cell phone, glasses or TV remote where your dog can reach them, you have to take responsibility for your dog being able to get to them – and believe me dogs can be very inventive.

When your dog does something wrong they should be disciplined, but while they may know you are angry at them, they may not know why. Catching them in the “naughty” act is easier to discipline because if it is after the fact, they won’t understand what you are mad about. If your dog chews something inappropriate, take it away from them. Tell them “NO” in a strong voice and hand them something that is OK to chew. Using praise to get them to chew their own toy or taking them outside for a game of “catch the chewy” will help.

If you have been away and the dog had an accident in the house, you may have been gone too long. While Skye is housebroken, she does have accidents from time to time. I take any solids outside to her “potty” spot and leave them. If the stain is liquid, I mop it up, carry the paper towels outside and put them in the composter after showing Skye where she is supposed to go.

Several articles I’ve read on discipline agree that you need to take responsibility for your actions, and your dog will react to body language you project when you are angry. An angry scowl, raised voice or hands on your hips is a dead giveaway. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to smile and make nice when the dog has just done something naughty. However, beating, yelling and shouting will only make your dog more fearful of you. It also makes them less likely to come the next time they hear your angry voice. Try to keep your voice quiet and project a sense of calm when calling your dog after a misdeed, and then discipline them.

One of my clients came home one day to find that their Border Collie had torn the fringe off an antique rug in the living room. They liked the rug there and didn’t want to ban the dog from the living room. They respected their dog enough to try and figure out why it was suddenly acting out. We did some research and found that the dog had herded sheep and the rug was made of wool. The dog, trying to herd the “perceived sheep” was nipping the fringe off the rug, much as it would nip the heels of the sheep to get them to move. The rug got repaired and moved to another room.

Respecting your dog is an important aspect of proper discipline. When I trained my first dog, I added several training books to my library. Now almost thirty later I’m reading about a newer concept that makes more sense to me: respect. I’m not trying to humanize my dog but she is a sentient creature and when I treat her with respect, I get better results than if I treat her like a “dumb animal.” This means not overtraining Skye, and making sure there is a balance between training, working time and playtime. I’ve found this to be a happy medium and though we still have issues sometimes, Skye personally likes the “honey” method.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Choose the Right Dog Obedience Class


By Ruthie Bently

It’s very important to find the right obedience class for you and your dog, whether they are a puppy or an adult. If you get into a class that is too advanced, not advanced enough or not the right fit, it can spoil the training experience for both of you. It can put you off obedience training, and put your dog off wanting to go to class and learn.

The age of your dog will help determine what kind of an obedience class to look for. Does your dog need basic training, or are you looking for something more advanced? When I brought my first dog Nimber home, he was only six weeks old and no class would take him because he was too young.

If you got your dog from a breeder, does the breeder want you to show the dog? If so, you will want to get into a confirmation class, which is a bit different from a regular obedience course. Your breeder should be able to help you find one if you can’t find one locally. Usually, training facilities will have more than one class for different ages. If you can get your puppy into a class at about three to four months, so much the better; the younger the puppy the faster they seem to learn. Unfortunately, many training classes don’t accept puppies under six months old.

To find an obedience class, ask your veterinarian, friends and family members, and check with your local park district office or YMCA. After you find a class that you may be interested in, call the facility and ask to see their training area. Does it look clean and well maintained, or does it smell of urine and feces? This is important because puppies can pick up bacteria and worms just by walking across a dirty floor. Do they have indoor facilities for bad weather or classes held during winter months? After you finish your first class, are there subsequent classes that teach the next levels of obedience training?

Some trainers will let you audit their class; this will help you determine if this is the right class for you and your dog. If you are able to audit a class, get there early so you can see the class from the beginning. Is there a recap session at the beginning of each class where you can show the trainer what your dog has done? This helps the trainer determine if your dog is doing the command correctly and if you are teaching it correctly.

Watch the trainer carefully to see if their method is one you can agree with. Is the trainer and staff congenial, or are they just passing time? Are they kind to the dogs or do they manhandle them? Get the trainer’s permission to talk to some of the students that are in class the night you visit. Ask them about the trainer’s methods, how well they interact with the dogs and how well they explain the commands you need to teach your dog. This may sound trivial, but it is important that you can understand what the trainer is trying to teach you and that the learning environment is beneficial to both you and your dog.

How long has the trainer been teaching, and what are their qualifications? Does the class instructor require a health certificate or vaccination record for all the dogs? If they don’t, you may want to think twice about participating in this training class. Before taking your dog to any obedience class make sure they have had all the appropriate inoculations; you don’t want your dog getting sick from another dog in class that may not be inoculated correctly.

The size of the obedience class is important as well; it will determine how much “hands on” assistance you will get from your trainer. If the class is too large, the trainer may be spread too thin and may miss something that you and your dog need to work on. I was able to get Nimber into a class with fourteen other dogs and our trainer had two assistants to help her. In my opinion, a good class size is between ten and fifteen dogs.

Every dog, no matter the age, needs to be obedient or you could have the equivalent of a “terrible two-year old” on your hands. By doing your research, you can find an obedience class that both you and your dog will want to attend. The benefits of an obedience training class are many; not to mention that you and your dog will make new friends, and you will have a well-mannered dog that is a joy to be around.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Crate Training Your New Puppy

By Ruthie Bently

You’ve just gotten a new puppy and you decide to purchase a crate because it was suggested by your breeder or a friend. You have never had a dog before, let alone a crate; what do you do now? There are several guidelines when getting a crate for your puppy. I suggest getting the crate for the adult size of the dog, this way you are only purchasing one crate. As rapidly as your puppy is going to grow in the first six months of its life, you could end up with half a dozen crate changes depending on the size of the breed you pick.

When you are purchasing a crate for any dog, they should be able to walk into it, and have the ability to turn around and lay down. They don’t have to be able to hold their heads up when standing, but they should be able to walk in without bending their legs to get in. You can use a cardboard box from the grocery store to block off the back end of the crate and you can cut it back to give the dog more room as they grow and become housebroken.

Because dogs are pack animals they look at their crate as their den, which makes them feel more secure. You should place the crate in a major traffic area of the household. I usually suggest the kitchen, but it doesn’t have to be in the middle of the kitchen’s traffic pattern. You can use any room you like, but since you are using the crate to housebreak your puppy at the same time, you want the floor of the room you choose to be easy to clean.

There are several kinds of crates available; check with your breeder to see whether you should get metal or plastic. I actually use a plastic airline kennel in the house and have a metal crate for traveling. A machine washable and dryable crate pad or towels placed in the crate will make it more comfortable. I actually buy cotton blankets at sales and cut them into four equal pieces. This way I always have a spare blanket in case of an accident.

You should not leave a young puppy in a crate for more than a few hours at a time and never more than six hours after they are an adult. Before crating a puppy for the night, you should take them out to go potty as late as you can. Some people suggest putting the dog to bed by early evening, but I have found that if you are up late, the puppy may be as well. So if you are still up at midnight, take out the puppy. Alternatively, the first thing you should do in the morning after getting up is get the puppy out of their crate and take them out to go potty. So if you are an early riser, it will not hurt the puppy to go out; remember their bladders are not completely developed yet and they may not be able to hold it.

I have used crates for all four of my dogs and am very glad I did. Nimber was a stinker when it came to the teething stage; and because Skye was raised in a kennel, she had access to outdoors 24/7, which she doesn’t have here. Crate training helped her to realize she should be going potty outdoors on grass, not inside on tile.

A crate is a wonderful place for a puppy time out as long as you don’t use it for punishment. It can be useful if you need to go out, and don’t want the puppy getting into anything while you are gone. It can also protect your puppy if you need a secure place to put them for a short time. Just think of it as your four-legged child’s playpen, except that it has a top.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.