Some tips on making  Puppies’ life comfortable


Maneka Gandhi


In the adoption scheme that People For Animals is running, more than 300 puppies have been adopted this month.  A few were returned because the adopters panicked when the puppies cried at night, refused to eat or started chewing on things. Here are tips to help you and your puppy enjoy a happy life together.

 Here is what you need to  get started.

*Two metal bowls for food and water. Wash daily using soap and warm water. This helps to prevent bacteria and protects your pup against illness.

*A puppy bed. Some options are:  a crate with a small mattress, a wicker basket with a pillow or padding, a low walled cardboard box or the snuggle nest available at pet shops. Whatever you choose, make sure it is soft, comfortable, and dry.  There should be material enough to cover the puppy and keep him warm. The smaller the pup the less able it is to regulate its body temperature and the more it needs to be protected from the cold. You can wrap a hot water bottle in a towel and place it under the bedding on one side so that the puppy has the option of using the warmed area and moving away when he needs to.

*Toys. Your puppy will have boundless energy, so make sure you get plenty of toys. You should have chew toys and soft toys.  Do not choose objects small enough to be swallowed by the pup or of soft material that can crumble or be chewed off otherwise the pup can choke.

*Puppy Treats. Get a variety of chews, both crunchy and soft. The soft will be good for training, and the crunchy will help clean teeth.

*Food: Puppies need small frequent meals. Feed every 4 hours making it 6 meals a day. Vary the meals. Suggestions include dalia, fresh fruit like mashed banana/stewed apple, vegetable broth, cerelac, mashed potato, khichdi with curd,  a boiled or scrambled egg. Pups will eat whatever you get them used to and can be kept vegetarian. Give carrots to chew.  If the pup is younger than four weeks, you will need to give milk diluted with boiled and cooled water through a bottle until the pup can eat by himself.

*Basic grooming tools. Get a brush, rubber gloves, dog shampoo, towels. Get your pup used to being handled from the start. Brush gently, check between the paws, lift the ears to look and smell.  If handling is associated with comfort and love, your dog will be much easier to care for when grown. Do not bathe your pup before he is 2 months old.  Dogs do not sweat from their skin but their tongues and paws so they do not need frequent bathing. Dog baths should be restricted to once a month. More frequent bathing will result in skin disease.  If you do want to clean in between, just rub down with a damp towel. 

*A small nylon harness and leash. Do not use a collar while walking puppies. It hurts the neck. Start using a collar at 6 months of age at the earliest..          

Once the puppy is home, let him walk in all the rooms and backyard.   As you lead the puppy on its tour, give a gentle but firm tug on the leash when he shows interest in items that are off limits.  

After you have shown the puppy around the house, introduce him to his food and water bowls. It is important that you do not change the location of the feeding place. Let the puppy say "hello" to his bedding. The object is to let the dog assume ownership of his bed so that he will consider it as a refuge.

Puppies are born in litters, sleep in heaps and are used to close contact and company. Keep his bed in your room and do not be alarmed if he whimpers at night. He could be cold or hungry. Cuddle him, feed him and tuck him back into his basket. Only when he has become accustomed to your residence, after a few days, you can begin introducing him to the environment. If your puppy is under 8 weeks, wait until he has been inoculated before you walk him around. You can begin with short 5 minute walks.  Otherwise exercise through playing.

Resist the temptation to keep picking him up. The more he uses his legs, the stronger they will grow. Instead of children picking him up as this could result in a fall, encourage sitting down and playing. Your puppy uses his mouth to discover the world. Dog playing includes nipping. Do not encourage biting. When he nips you, make a yelping noise, he will understand that he has hurt you and will not repeat.  Should he get rougher, go away.  

Expose him or her to a variety of people, pets, places and situations as soon as it is safe to do so. This will build confidence. Never tie him up or put him away when guests come over as he will then associate visitors with confinement and become hostile towards them.

Toilet training is not difficult. Cover the floor area where your pup lives with newspaper so cleaning becomes easy. Replace the paper as soon as it is soiled. After meals, take the pup to the area where you want him to defecate. Wait till he does and then pat and praise him before bringing him in.  He will quickly learn to find his way there himself.

It is crucial to take the pup to the vet for a checkup and deworming. Choose your vet carefully, not necessarily going to the one that’s closest. Take the dog yourself as he  will be frightened. Vaccinations start when the puppy is 4-6 weeks old with ARV and Canine Distemper shots followed by a booster dose after one month. Rabies is given at 3 months. Sterilization is strongly recommended. It protects your dog against several cancers plus against getting into fights or running away during the heat season.
Once your pup is familiar with his surroundings, he does not need constant supervision and can be left for a couple of hours. Leave the radio on for your puppy when not at home to make him feel safer.  Try and spend as much time as you can with your puppy. He won't be little for long.


To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in


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