Puppies need a series of vaccinations every three to four weeks to protect them during their critical first four months of age, when they are most susceptible to disease. The diseases that your puppy should be vaccinated against are:
Canine Distemper Virus: Distemper is a severe viral disease that effects many of your dogs organ systems. This disease can cause severe permanent brain damage and many other clinical problems including vomiting, diarrhea and severe secondary infections. Distemper is caused by an airborne virus. Dogs six weeks to six months old are most susceptible. Treatment for advanced stages of the disease is usually not effective.
Infectious Canine Hepatitis: Hepatitis in dogs is caused by Canine Adenovirus (CAV). Infectious hepatitis causes severe liver damage, vomiting, diarrhea and death. Treatment requires intensive nursing care which includes hospitalization and IV fluids. The virus is spread from dog to dog via coughs and sneezing.
Parainfluenza Virus: The parainfluenza virus is part of a very complex and contagious disease called Infectious Tracheobronchitis or “Kennel Cough”. This disease is usually not serious, but can lead to a chronic and persistent cough.
Canine Parvovirus: Canine Parvovirus causes a very severe gastroenteritis that is highly contagious and can cause severe vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Parvo is most often seen in dogs between six weeks and six months old. The disease is difficult and expensive to treat and usually fatal without treatment.
Coronavirus: Coronavirus also causes a severe viral gastroenteritis with clinical signs similar to those of Parvovirus. It often occurs in conjunction with Parvovirus and complicates treatment and outcome.
Rabies Virus: Rabies virus also infects humans and is fatal to humans. Rabies virus is 100% fatal to dogs as there is no treatment. Tucson has a relatively high incidence of rabies virus in its wildlife, especially bats. You are required by law to have your dog vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian. A puppy should have its first rabies vaccine at four months of age. Your puppie’s first rabies shot is good for one year, and all following are good for three years.
Bordetella bronchiseptica: Bordetella is the most common bacterial cause of a complicated disease called infectious tracheobronchitis or “Kennel Cough”. While this disease is not usually serious, it can lead to a chronic and severe cough. Bordetella is spread from dog to dog by coughing and sneezing. The vaccination is unusual in that it is intranasal rather than injectable. It provides good and rapid protection.
Your puppy should begin its series of vaccines at 6 – 9 weeks of age. The following is the vaccination schedule that your puppy should be on:
- 6 – 9 weeks old: first DA2PP & Corona virus
- 9 – 12 weeks old: second DA2PP, Corona virus and Bordetella
- 12 – 15 weeks old: third DA2PP & Corona virus
- 16 – 18 weeks old: adult DA2PP, adult Corona virus, Rabies virus
The final group of vaccinations, at 16 – 18 weeks of age, give long term immunity that lasts for a full year. After completion of this series of puppy vaccinations, your adult dog will need distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvo and corona virus (DA2PP and corona) once every year and rabies virus once every three years.
There are several types of worms that infect and live within dogs bodies. These worms threaten the health of your puppy and several of them can be spread to you and your family. Puppies can be born with worms or pick them up by eating infected soil and grass or by eating infected animals (rodents and others). Worm eggs can live in soil for years. There are several types of worms. The most common worms are roundworms, tapeworms, whipworms and hookworms, plus the protozoans (giardia and coccidia). Fecal exams of fresh feces are used to determine whether your puppy has worms. The sample is examined microscopically to determine the exact type of worm(s) present. Appropriate medication will be prescribed to clear these parasites from your puppie’s body. Remember that it is very important to clear these parasites from your puppy to ensure sound growth and good health.
Proper nutrition is essential for the proper growth, health and performance of your puppy. Your puppy is going through its most rapid growth period from weaning to one year old. Puppies play hard and nap often. These early developmental stages represent the most important time in your puppies life. During this time, proper nutrition is the most important investment you can make for the future good health of your new dog.
Certain foods should be avoided as they will lead to an unbalanced diet and future health problems. Foods to avoid feeding your dog include chocolate, onions, milk, table scraps and most other human food. A diet of exclusively one food, such as an all meat diet, will also lead to health problems because it does not provide the balance of nutrients necessary for your pet.
It is important to establish good eating habits early with your puppy. Feed two to three times per day, giving your puppy as much as it will eat in 15 – 20 minutes. After this time has passed, remove the excess food. This will stimulate appetite. An additional bonus to this feeding regime is that most of your puppy’s eliminations will occur shortly after eating. Take your pet outside after meals and most eliminations will occur outside. Do not forget to praise your puppy when eliminations occur outside. Avoid changing brands and types of dog food frequently. This will lead to GI upset and possibly vomiting and diarrhea. Dry dog food is preferable to soft and canned diets, even for small breeds of dogs. Eating dry dog food will help improve the oral and dental health of your pet. Avoid snacks and treats. If you do feed treats, do not feed people food. Snacks and treats should total less than 10% of your puppy’s total diet.
An obedience command should be given each time before food or treats are given to your dog. This helps to promote your leadership position by continuously reminding the puppy that you control an important resource: food. Puppies are much more likely to develop bad habits and take you for granted if food and attention are given all the time without something return. Like polite children, pups that are taught to say please (ie.: “sit”, “stay” or “shake”) before they get what they want are pleasant to be around.
Puppy Training Tips
It is never too early to start training your puppy. It is easier to train a dog by rewarding good behavior (positive reinforcement) than it is to try to change bad behavior (negative reinforcement). Try to constantly find good behavior to reward. Set your puppy up to succeed. Do not ask for more than your puppy can give. Training takes time and repetition. Be consistent with both rewards and punishment.
House Training: House training your puppy can be reduced to two simple parts. First, teach the puppy where to eliminate. Second, use close supervision and confinement to reduce the opportunity to eliminate inside the house. Praise your puppy when elimination occurs in the proper place and reduce the opportunity to eliminate inside. This must be continued until outdoor elimination has become habit for your puppy. To accomplish this, someone must accompany the puppy every time it goes outside. Guide your puppy to the same area each time and enthusiastically praise elimination. Accomplishing the second part usually requires more forethought and ingenuity. Until the puppy has completed three to four consecutive weeks without eliminating in the house, it must be under 100% supervision or confinement (to an airline kennel or safe room). Crate (airline kennel) confinement works well because the puppy considers the crate to be his own room and puppies generally do not defecate where they sleep. It is important to take the puppy out of the crate and outside as soon as you wake up in the morning. The puppy has been resisting going to the bathroom all night and will appreciate the trip outside. Be sure to reward the pup for defecation outside. Crate confinement should be limited to night time when the puppy sleeps and to confinement periods of less than four hours during the day. Remember that positive reinforcement training works much better that negative reinforcement training. If a puppy is scolded or otherwise punished for defecating or urinating in the house, it will just try to sneak away and defecate somewhere else in the house. Mild scolding should be reserved for cases where you witness the puppy in the act of eliminating in the house. Rubbing a puppies nose in its urine or excrement does nothing positive toward training your new pet to eliminate outdoors. A much better method is to keep your puppy on a leash near you when inside the house. Pay attention to the pup and take it outside to eliminate when you recognize its desires. Again remember to give lavish praise when this occurs. After a few repetitions, the new puppy will learn that if it goes to you and repeats these gestures, it will be rewarded by being let outside to void.
Chewing: Prevention of chewing is accomplished with the same general methods used to house train your puppy. Promote the desired behavior rather than punishing undesirable behavior. It is much easier to teach a puppy to chew a few toys than to teach it not to chew the many objects around the house. Give your puppy only three or four toys to chew to that he will be able to recognize them as his. Old shoes and socks should not be used as toys unless you want your good shoes and socks to end up as chew toys. Encourage proper chewing by frequently playing with these toys with your puppy. You might try scenting these toys with a small smear of dog food. During your puppies first year, try to keep everything that should not be chewed out of reach. If it cannot be put out of reach, make it taste bad. A small amount of cayenne pepper mixed with water or vegetable oil is a very effective deterrent.
Jumping: Jumping up on people is the most common problem of unruliness exhibited by puppies. It can be a very easy problem to correct if all family members are consistent in the way they handle it. First, teach the pup to greet people by sitting. A helpful exercise is to hold a dog cookie at dog nose level and call the puppy. When the pup gets to the cookie, slowly raise the cookie over the head and ask the pup to sit. Praise and reward the correct behavior with the cookie. Back up several feet and repeat the process. This teaches the puppy to come when called, sit when asked and best of all, to sit when it comes up to a person. The best correction for the jumper is a firm “NO”. This will bring the pup down to earth. Wait several seconds and quietly praise the pup for having its paws on the ground. Never pet or praise the puppy if all four feet are not on the ground.
Punishment: We believe that no puppy should be struck with the hand or any thing held in the hand. The most important lesson that any puppy should learn is that the hand is its friend. Your puppy will have hands reaching for it thousands of times during its life. We do not want to instill any anxiety associated with hand movement that might result in defensive or fear biting. The best way to show the puppy that a behavior is not acceptable is to give a loud, startling verbal reprimand every time the behavior occurs. The reprimand should only be given when you witness the undesirable behavior and should stop as soon as the behavior stops. It is also helpful to follow up the reprimand with encouragement and praise of the desired opposite behavior. An example would be offering the puppy one of his chew toys after being scolded for chewing a shoe. When the puppy takes the toy, give lots of praise.
The most important ingredient for puppy training is patience. Puppy training takes time and there will be failures and accidents. Remember that reward for desired behavior is much more effective than punishment for undesirable behavior.