Are you really ready for me? Well.... are ya?!
Today is June 21 and our Chica x Beau litter is 6 weeks and 2 days old. Each of the nine pups has a new home waiting. We have prepared this post to help those homes prepare for their visit here and their first days with "Pup" as a new member of the family. We hope those visiting our website looking for a pup can learn something valuable from this too.
Okay, there are several items or circumstances you need to be prepared for in advance of your visit here. Some of these include:
Dog crate. You either know or will soon find out that the crate is your new best friend. (Yes, even better than your college friends or the ones who stood up with you at your wedding....) Well, not really, but we hope you get the point. Crates help prevent and solve problems. You should have a crate with you to take Pup home in, especially if you have no travel partner. We strongly advise against wire crates. They do not offer the sense of seclusion that helps calm Pup, and the openings between the wire openings can catch and injure Pup's legs and jaws. This is our opinion based on experience, but if you must at least a wire crate is still more useful than no crate at all. Beyond that, almost any plastic or metal crate works, and you get what you pay for up to a point. Crates are the safest way for you and Pup to travel in an automobile, help with housebreaking and keep Pup and your furniture safe when you cannot devote full attention to Pup. The best way to have a crate around when you need it is own at least two.
Collar and leash When you stop along the way home to get some exercise and relief for Pup, you need reliable control. There are few things a 9 week puppy does better than run away in response to all the new and stressful stimuli of it's trip home with you. This means you need a suitable adjustable collar and leash attached and in your grasp before that car door opens. A harness might even be better. I asked some breeder friends to comment on the draft text for this post, and the first and most emphatic response I got back was agreement on the importance of control of Pup when you get out of the automobile for rest and relief. Bring a water bowl and a jug for water too.
Dog food You will save yourself a lot of headaches if you pick a good quality food and buy it before Pup comes home. We will provide you with some of the food that Pup is currently being fed, which is "Perfect Balance Chicken Meal and Pork Meal" from Muenster Milling Co. Muenster offers automatic shipping like Chewy that has proven very reliable for us. This food is labeled as "complete and balanced" for "growth and reproduction" or "all life stages" consistent with American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards. Any bag of dog food that meets these standards says so on the bag, usually on the back or side next to the ingredients list. Pup should get a food so labeled until it's a year old. This is the same food our working adult dogs get. There are several reasons why we choose this food. The protein comes from quality animal meat sources. It has no preservatives beyond salt and mixed tocopherols (a healthy vitamin E compound taken from natural sources), and no corn, wheat, legumes or pulses (such as peas, beans, chickpeas, soybeans). Since this food has no artificial preservatives, you might find it loses palatability towards the end of the bag if Pup is your only dog, especially if you do not use an airtight food bin. It is very important that Pup gets a food formulated for puppies. Remember, the bag will say, "all life stages", "for puppies" or "for growth and reproduction". Among other things this means Pup gets enough calories in a serving and a proper balance of calcium to phosphorous. The product we serve comes at a good price point too but there other choices. Contact us to discuss. There are valid differences of opinion on dog foods and some outright bad information. We are big fans of airtight food containers sized just right for an entire bag of dog food. We can show you the product we use. There are likely other good choices.
Vaccinations: Pup got it's first puppy vaccination on June 21, just past six weeks of age. That vaccination is the first in a series that will cover distemper, canine adenovirus types 1 and 2, parvovirus and parainfluenza virus. The common acronym for this shot is "DA2PP". Pup should get the same vaccination at 9, 12 and 16 weeks. Pup will be just past 9 weeks old when you get home, so you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as close as possible to your arrival home with Pup for a health examination (see your sales/deposit agreement) and 9 week vaccination. Don't skimp! Follow through with the 12 and 16 week vaccinations in the series as well. A series of vaccinations is needed for Pup to fully develop immunity to these serious threats. Our dogs are also be vaccinated separately for leptospirosis, a bacterial infection associated with water, wet conditions and/or infected dogs or wildlife. There are various forms, called serovars of leptospirosis, and the vaccine does not cover all of them. This is a consideration in our area and many places we travel to to hunt. Never allow a leptospirosis vaccine to be administered along with a parvovirus/distemper (DA2PP) vaccine as a serious adverse reaction may result. Of course, your pup needs to be protected from rabies too. Your veterinarian may also recommend a Lyme disease vaccination that can help protect against Lyme, but not other important tick borne illnesses which can include Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Babesiosis. It is rare for puppies to have negative reactions to vaccinations but it can happen. It is advisable to keep an eye on Pup for the first hour or more after vaccinations and be ready to return quickly to your veterinarian if Pup presents facial swelling, vomiting, hives, itchiness, diarrhea, or breathing difficulties. Kennel cough vaccination may also be indicated for certain circumstances.
Worms, Fleas and Ticks Dogs are vulnerable to a number of internal and external parasites. Some internal parasites may be inevitable but at least do not stress Pup while they are present in a dormant stage. If you do not undertake a program to prevent impacts from these parasites, it's likely Pup will suffer in some way during it's lifetime. This is especially important for hunting dogs when extra physical stresses during the hunting season may "wake up" dormant parasites or dogs face exposures they do not encounter at home. Heartworm is a consideration apart from other internal parasites broadly associated with the gastrointestinal system. Whatever program you settle on, you need an on-going program to prevent infestation by adult heartworms. Pup will have been treated for certain internal parasites several times with Pyrantel (before 6 weeks of age) and Fenbendazole (after 6 weeks of age) before going home with you. You will get the dates of these treatments from us when you arrive. There are so many ways to administer a complete parasite control program, and products change every year. On account of this, we do not make any recommendation other than you should consult with your veterinarian on a program going forward to deal with these parasites.
Time. You will never enjoy, or potentially waste, a more influential period of time with Pup than the days between Pup's arrival home with you and its 16 week birthday. Animal behaviorists tells us this is the period when Pup has the best chance to learn how to interact successfully with you and the world you live in. Pup needs to learn how to cope with reasonable stresses, to trust you, to rely on you for food and comfort, and to learn to interact with the world around it without fear. Make lots of time and have fun. If you are having fun, Pup likely is learning and having fun too. Conversely, if you are stressed, Pup will know it... every time, and learn to react negatively. At this age, Pup needs guidance, not punishment, to become the friendly, easy going partner you are looking for.
Traveling home: Tractor Supply has stores nearby in the villages of Penn Yan and Bath if you need to purchase any of the items we mentioned here in the course of your trip here. Please plan on staying away from dog parks or dog walk areas at expressway rest stops. Both of these areas are for people, not dogs. Such places are loaded with stressful sights and smells, which we do not want Pup exposed to on an already stressful day. Pup's immunity is uncertain at this point too, and we already did a lot of work to keep Pup as worm and disease free as possible. Both of these areas are points of concentrated exposure to pathogens and parasites. Take a side road and find some place no one else goes with their dog. This is a good practice with any dog at any stage of life, and don't forget that bowl and water jug.