By Ashish Anthony*
Where Should You Get Your Puppy From
There are many different places to get your puppy, right from private owners, kennels, breeders, or pet stores. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages.
Private Owners: Private owners can give you much better information about the mother and puppies, but once you get the puppy, you are on your own as this will come under unorganized business. Since it is an unorganized business, there are no guarantees. Also, private owners do not go through the general breeding norms, which a reputable breeder definitely will.
Breeder: Things like selecting right parents, going through the routine of de-worming and vaccinating the mother before conception of puppies, looking at the genetics of parents, etc. – a breeder will look after and take care of these things. A breeder will also select which puppy to sell to whom and how much to set the price at. However, it is not likely that breeders will always have a litter, and they will stick to very few breeds (2 or 3 breeds maximum). This is because breeding is a very technical field, and breeders specialize in one or two breeds only.
Kennels: Kennels would have a larger number of puppies, some more organized than others, and they have a proper business set up with a spacious place for breeding, manpower, etc. Here you can find a wider variety, but due to the large number of pets kept in one area, there might be silent carriers or future infections. A lot of care is typically taken, with a lot of hygiene procedures enforced, but when large number of pets are together, this is unavoidable.
Pet Shops: In India, most pet shops will only act as a go-between, and will try to get you the kind of pet you are looking for and are willing to pay for. They will get you what you want at a slightly higher price, so that you can avoid the hassle of doing all the checks yourself.
(P.S. There are good as well as not-so-good people in all these categories, and in every trade. You need to do a background check regarding reputations before you decide who you should deal with, irrespective of the source).
Selecting Your Puppy
When selecting a puppy, be careful! All puppies look adorable; they’re cuddly and loveable, and people tend to get side-tracked. People have a tendency to feel sorry or become protective towards some puppies, but make your choice wisely. The puppy you are bringing home will live with you for approximately the next 12–14 years. Here are some things to look for:
- Select a puppy with a glossy coat, bright eyes, and a bouncy personality.
- The gums ought to be pink, and not pale.
- Smelly ears mean infections, which a vet can take care of.
- Check for parasites like ticks.
- Check if the puppy is eating and drinking water.
- If possible, check and make sure the puppy doesn’t have diarrhoea.
Your Puppy’s First Day Home
The first day is very important for a puppy as well as you, as it can be a handful for both of you. For the puppy, a new home is going to be very frightening and lonely, as it’s your puppy’s first time away from its mother, siblings, and familiar surroundings. All the new faces are bound to scare the puppy. You must reassure it by giving as much company and attention as possible. For this reason alone, it is usually a good idea to get a puppy on a Friday or Saturday. Try to get a toy or a bowl from your puppy’s old place, as the familiar smell will reassure it. In case your puppy keeps whining and crying, keep a clock next to it; the rhythmic tick-tock noise will calm it down. A bottle of warm water under the blanket or bedsheet will also reassure it, as the warmth will remind it of its mother.
Changing your puppy’s diet and food plan is not advisable, at least for the first 3 days. Stick to the pre-existing routines. Do not overexert your puppy while it is sleeping. Let it sleep; once your puppy wakes up, ensure that someone is there to supervise in case it needs to go to bathroom. Quite like humans, puppies are frightened of loud noises, so avoid making loud noises as much as possible. If you have to leave house to run errands, leave TV or radio on in the next room, so your puppy feels like someone is around, and won’t feel lonely.
What Should You Feed Your Puppy?
What you feed your puppy during its puppyhood dictates its well-being in its adult life. Generally, puppies are parted from their mothers once they have been weaned from their mother’s milk. Breeders will typically tell you what to feed a puppy, and how. They might give you a diet chart; please stick to it unless you are experiencing troubles, in which case a vet can help you out.
The basic diet of a puppy will comprise of fat, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. These ingredients can be best supplied through a commercial dog food, which has been balanced specially by a nutritionist. You can also provide the same in a balanced manner yourself. Here are some foods that are good to give to your puppy:
- Milk: This is a good source of protein, fat, and minerals. This milk can be commercial milk replacement like Lactol, or raw goat or cow milk. This should be mixed with water and given warm.
- Porridge: Porridge or Cerelac (the dog variant) is a good option to give during winter, for it will increase your puppy’s weight and protect it from cold.
- Chicken or Meat: Chicken or Meat from a good source is also recommended as a part of the diet, as well as eggs. You can start off with soups that have little bits of meat, chicken, or eggs (which you can crack into the soup itself). You can also crush eggshells, as these are a good source of calcium. Be sure to add vitamins and mineral supplements to the food as these might be missing from the balance if it’s not a commercial dog food.
The growth of a puppy from weaning to adulthood is very rapid, therefore a concentrated vitamin and mineral supplement is essential for the proper skeletal development. Deficiencies in the above often lead to a lot of leg related problems, like the collapse of front legs at the wrist, or hind leg issues. It is difficult for an average person to institute a really effective diet by using a mix of rice, vegetables, meats, etc., and that is why most vets and experts advise pet parents to always use commercially prepared and balanced diets.
How Much Should You Feed Your Puppy?
The fastest growth spurt in dogs occurs between 6 weeks and 3 months, that’s when you should feed your puppy in spread-out intervals of 4 hours, about 3–4 times a day. After your puppy is over 6 months old, you can go down to feeding your puppy twice a day. Create a habit in your puppy that it satisfies its hunger in one continuous sitting. Do not let your puppy eat in bits and pieces over a prolonged time period; this would help you in the long run. This will put it in the habit of eating as soon as its bowl is filled, and to focus purely on food, and not on other things during meals.
If you follow these tips and tricks, sharing your life with your furry best friend will be an easier and smoother process. Now, go ahead and immerse yourself in puppyhood, it’s the best part of your puppy’s life to experience!
*Author is the Founder of Just Dogs, a pet retail brand in India.