Care | Puppies
Your puppy has been feeding on Natural Dog Food Company Chicken & Brown Rice. Your puppy is used to food four times a day at around 0800, 1230, 1700 and 2200. You need to soak the food and allow it to soften before serving. Gradually soak less and less, serving dry from 12 weeks of age. At 16 weeks reduce feeding frequency to 3 meals a day and at 6 months reduce feeding frequency to 2 meals a day. The total daily quantity to feed increases as follows:
|7 weeks||205g per day|
|2 months||225g per day|
|3 months||275g per day|
|4 months||315g per day|
|5 months||335g per day|
|6 months||375g per day|
The easiest place to get this food is directly from the manufacturer, www.naturaldogfoodcompany.com. Their web site also gives details of local stockists.
If you want to change to a different brand, you should do this gradually so as not to upset the puppy’s delicate digestion.
|1 and 2||75% current food and 25% of new food|
|3 and 4||50% current food and 50% of new food|
|5 and 6||25% current food and 75% new food|
|7 and after||100% new food|
You will receive a small supply of Natural Dog Food Company Chicken & Brown Rice to ensure continuity as the puppy arrives in its new home and, if ordered, a big bag for feeding as above.
Goldens love their food and are unlikely to refuse it unless very tired. If you feed your puppy scraps or training treats, remember to reduce its intake of regular food. Take care not to leave other food lying around in places that it can reach.
If your puppy has loose bowel movements, feed boiled rice until they become normal.
Whatever you feed your puppy, ensure it has access to fresh clean drinking water throughout the day. Use filtered water if available as dogs do not like the faint smell of the chlorine that water companies add in many areas. For an occasional treat, you can give your puppy goat’s milk or rice milk to drink. Do not give cow’s milk.
Aim for an adult weight of 28-32 kg for a bitch and 32-36 kg for a dog. Your puppy should reach half of adult weight at 5-6 months. You should be able to feel its ribs but not see them.
As soon as practical after purchase, take your puppy to your vet for a full check over and for its first inoculation. Your vet will advise you when to go back for the second inoculation. Complete these vaccinations and wait for them to have take effect before exposing your puppy to places where other dogs have been. Carry your puppy in your arms or in a crate when you take it for its inoculations or if you take it out for socialisation or any other reason during this period.
Your puppy has had treatment with Drontal puppy paste at 4 and 6 weeks. Give worm treatment again at 12 and 16 weeks and thereafter in accordance with your vet’s advice. The most effective worm treatments are only available from a vet.
Discuss flea treatment with your vet. Prevention is invariably better than cure.
Other health matters
If your puppy is sick once or refuses one meal, it has probably eaten some grass or other indigestible substance. This type of problem usually resolves itself quickly. If the dog has persistent sickness or diarrhoea, consult your vet. Take your puppy to the vet immediately if it produces anything blood stained from either end.
A microchip or other form of permanent identification for your puppy is helpful in maximising the chance of its safe return should you and the puppy accidentally part company. The Welsh Assembly government and the Kennel Club are both strongly in favour of microchipping. Opinions vary about the best time to microchip – consult your vet when you take your puppy for its first inoculation.
Your puppy will be in the habit of going on an area of newspaper or padding and on grass. A young puppy has only limited ability to hold on and you will need to take it out frequently (most books say every hour) to reduce the risk of accidents. Your puppy is most likely to want to go after waking up, eating or a period confined in a pen or crate. At such times, take your puppy quickly to the place where you want the puppy to relieve itself. Praise it when it does the right thing. You might like to use a small food reward and add a word of command such as ‘busy’ as well. A puppy learns by habit; it will return to where it can smell that it has been before. For accidents inside your home, use a specially designed cleaning fluid. Ordinary cleaning fluids will leave the tell tale smell behind. By about 5 months, the puppy will have good control over its bodily functions and you can train it to have its bowel movements while out exercising.
A human night of 8 hours or so is a long time for a puppy to hold on and it will take a while for the puppy to be dry at night. Unless the puppy sleeps outside, or you wish to get up in the middle of the night, allow it access at night to suitable material, such as newspaper or training pad.
Whenever and wherever your puppy has a bowel movement, clean up after it. Nappy bags and baby wipes are useful for this purpose. Having grown used to seeing its mother or the breeder clean up, your puppy may take the job upon itself if nobody else seems to be doing so – this can be a difficult habit to break once it starts. In public places, irresponsible dog owners who fail to clear up give the anti-dog lobby ammunition and in many places risk a hefty fine.
A young puppy needs plenty of activity but does not need lengthy walks. Too much exercise at an early age can lead to mobility problems because the puppy’s muscles and bones are not fully developed. Although an adult golden will enjoy 90 minutes or more of walking a day, you need to build up gradually to this. For the third and fourth months of a puppy’s life going out should be more for socialising than for exercise. A very general guideline is to walk for 5 minutes for each month of its age. If your puppy lags behind and seems tired, you are walking too far. Avoid exercising your dog soon after feeding whatever its age.
Many goldens are as keen on or keener on swimming than walking. Start somewhere where the current is gentle and you would be willing to go in to get your puppy out if need be. An adult golden can often swim better than a human can.
So long as the experience is positive, puppies find new situations and new friends exciting. While with the breeder, yours will have met many people, prospective buyers as well as friends and family of the breeder. However, it is unlikely that it has seen everyday outdoor things that a human would take for granted or have gone in a car. Under close supervision, introduce the puppy to the people, animals, objects and situations that it is likely to meet during its life. Until the end of the initial vaccinations, you should carry the puppy if you socialise it outside. You have no need to wait to introduce the puppy to people and objects in and around the house – the postman, the vacuum cleaner, the television and so on.
Puppies quickly learn that people like to make a fuss of them and that some have treats in their pockets. You will need to play a more active part in deciding which dogs to let your puppy meet. A dog of the gundog group walking off lead with a young family is usually a safe bet for friendly dog with a good temperament. Your puppy will have learnt a lot of canine body language from interactions with its littermates and should know the difference between play and something else. Dogs most naturally play with dogs of a similar age and temperament.
Pack Membership and Leadership
Dogs are pack animals and as such need to feel part of a pack and to know their place in the pack. Up until leaving the breeder, your puppy will have its littermates and mother as playmates and companions. You will need to take over these roles, giving it company and affection as well as involving it in your activities to help it to feel part of a pack.
Your puppy will be used to sleeping with its littermates and may take a few days to get used to sleeping alone. Decide where you want the puppy to sleep and stick to it. After a few days, you should find that any whining ceases. It may help to settle the puppy to place an object with a familiar smell, such as a blanket or toy that has been in with the litter, in its sleeping quarters.
The dog’s position in the pack needs to come below that of all the humans in your home. The extent to which you need to establish dominance varies from one dog to another. A puppy is used to being below that of adult dogs and of the breeder; it will readily accept your leadership so long as you act like a leader.
Wherever possible you should eat (or at least start to eat) before your puppy eats. Between meals, only feed the puppy as a reward for doing something for you.
Keep the dog off chairs, staircases and other places that would put it physically above you.
When walking through a doorway, go through before allowing your puppy to do so.
Make sure that you look after the most interesting toys, putting them out of the puppy’s reach once the game is over.
Neutering – Pros and Cons – Best Timing
Many golden breeders in the UK are against neutering while vets and dog trainers often favour it. There is a greater consensus about when to neuter, though some vets do not understand the breed and will suggest neutering at too young an age. You need to wait until the dog has stopped growing.
For both sexes, the main benefit to neutering is peace of mind that your dog cannot produce unwanted puppies – unless you are very lucky, an accidental mating will produce crossbreed puppies, for which there is little demand.
For females, spaying offers some health and practical benefits. She is less likely to develop mammary tumours (breast cancer) and she will not get the uterine infection pyometra, which can be fatal. You will also not need to take special precautions to avoid an accidental mating when she is in season.
For male dogs, health benefits are non-existent. Although you exclude the risk of testicular cancer, neutering can increase the risk of other more common types of cancer, such as bone cancer. As with females, neutering increases the risk of obesity, increasing the risk of a variety of health problems, and detracts from coat quality. The limited benefits are behavioural. He will be less likely to indulge in scent marking, humping and wandering off in search of a mate. In addition, other males are less likely to be aggressive towards him.
Neutering is far from right for all. We need some entire animals to keep the population going. You will not be able to show your dog if you neuter. Your dog’s coat will be less neat and shiny. Neutered dogs are more prone to becoming overweight, which means you will need to pay extra attention to correct exercise and feeding to maintain the dog at a healthy weight.
While neutering may be right for your dog, take care to do it at the right time, when fully grown. Premature neutering can retard its physical and emotional development. For a male, wait until he has been cocking his leg for a month. For a female, wait until she has had her first season and things have returned to normal, which takes 2-3 months. Neutering a female before her first season greatly increases the chance of incontinence. During her first season, ensure she does not leave her scent near your property or wander off looking for a mate. This means taking her for a drive before a walk (carrying her to the car if you park on the road) and keeping her on a lead whilst out on exercise. When not with her, leave her in a secure place. In judging what is secure, think of whether she can escape and whether an athletic dog like a collie might get to her. If you do not think you could cope with looking after a bitch for even one season, get a male or an adult female rather than a bitch puppy.
If you keep your dog entire, you need to establish a higher degree of control and maintain a higher level of vigilance than otherwise. While most breeders do not want see all their puppies neutered, they do want to ensure that those who keep their dogs entire are aware of the extra responsibilities involved.
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The innate innocence and playfulness of children and puppies give them a natural affinity to each other. To start with, though, you must carefully supervise all meetings of your puppy with young children. If left alone, the child might play too roughly or in some other unsuitable manner. Although goldens have a very good temperament, even they have their limits. The child might also feed the puppy something toxic or give it a choking hazard. Only when you are confident of how the child and puppy will interact with each other should you allow them time alone.
Puppies and older dogs need their rest; teach any children in your home to respect the puppy’s need not to be disturbed.
The intelligence of the golden and its love of food incline it to respond well to reward based training. It is a good idea to take your puppy to dog training classes even if you have owned a dog before. A training class gives great opportunities for socialisation and an expert trainer can help you to give the right praise, rewards and corrections to your puppy. This will give you a local point of contact for any training issues that may arise and ensure that your dog can behave even with the distraction of other dogs. The time you invest in training should repay itself many times over. Some clubs train for the Kennel Club Good Citizen Scheme awards and this gives you a great way to prove and record what you have achieved with your dog. If you do not know where to find a training class, ask your vet or other local dog owners or search via the internet.
If you train your dog to obey only a few commands, three are very important. The first is of the no/leave/off variety. You need to be able to stop your dog from doing something it should not be doing. The second is to walk on a lead. In many places, it is unsafe and unlawful to walk your dog without a lead. The third is to come back when called. A dog that you can allow to run free knowing it will return will have a much happier life and give you a much better time. If you walk for a mile with the dog on the lead, the dog will walk the same distance and over the same ground. With the same walk but the dog off lead, the dog may well walk two miles, greet some doggie friends, chase a rabbit or two and sniff all sorts of interesting smells just off the path.
Another benefit of reward-based training is that the puppy quickly learns that your hands are for giving it treats rather than for chewing. If your puppy does chew your hands, a high pitched ‘ow’ usually works better than other corrections. Puppies do like to chew and, whenever your puppy chews the wrong thing, take the object away and replace it with a suitable one. If you need to leave your puppy alone for any great length of time, leave it with suitable toys and chewable objects. While some human toys are suitable, many will not withstand the rigours of a puppy’s teeth. Your local pet shop should have a selection of chewable and other toys; internet shops have a vast array of such items. Only give rawhide chews under close supervision.
There are plenty of good books on dog training available. The Perfect Puppy by Gwen Bailey and The Complete Dog Training Manual by Bruce Fogle I have read and can recommend.
Groom your puppy regularly even before it appears to need it. This will help in establishing dominance over the puppy. You will need to groom the puppy in any event to keep the coat in good condition and to make sure there is nothing caught. Although comb often works well for a golden’s coat, some prefer to use a brush. Your puppy is unlikely to have had any formal grooming prior to leaving the breeder.
Breed specific traits
Goldens love food and will readily transfer allegiance based upon who feeds them. Goldens are friendly dogs, normally welcoming attention even from people they do not know. Goldens bark little. Goldens can do well at obedience, agility and gundog pickup work. Their intelligence, size and gentle nature also make them suitable as assistance dogs or as therapy dogs. They are unsuitable are as guard dogs – they are too quiet, trusting and friendly for that.
The puppy’s registration certificate will show its progeny as being ineligible for registration. The breeder has discretion to lift the restriction on registering progeny. The aim of this arrangement is not to prevent breeding but rather to ensure that any breeding done is in a responsible manner. This also minimises the risk that the dog could somehow end up with a puppy farmer.
If you aspire to breed from the puppy, please make this clear to the breeder at time of purchase because this may affect the most suitable puppy for you. With so many good stud dogs around, the chance that a pet dog will get work as a stud dog is very slim. Breeding from a bitch is more realistic. This is more a matter of whether you have the time, ability and dedication to do so plus whether the bitch is suitable.
Various health tests have become the minimum standard for responsible breeding, including examinations of hips and eyes. Additional health tests include an elbow examination and DNA tests for a degenerative eye condition. The exact health tests required for lifting the restriction could change over time and may depend upon the intended mate(s) for the dog.
Unless you live abroad, the puppy’s registration certificate will show it as ineligible for an export pedigree. The breeder has discretion to lift this restriction. The main aim of this arrangement is to minimise the risk that the dog could somehow end up with an unscrupulous overseas breeder. If you emigrate having already taken part in Kennel Club registered activities in the UK, it is likely that breeder will lift the restriction upon request so that you can continue to undertake similar activities in your new country.
An unexpected change in circumstances may mean that even the most responsible owners need to find a new home their dog. The breeder should normally be the first port of call for this. The breeder may be willing to take the dog back and anyway is likely to have a network of contacts, enabling the dog to find a good new home quickly. If you prefer not to contact the breeder, the next best place is one of the regional Golden Retriever club rescue centres. They understand the breed and often have a waiting list of people able to offer new homes.
If you have any other queries that you think the breeder rather than a dog trainer or vet is the best person to answer, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Many breeders, ourselves included, are interested to know what happens to the puppies they have bred, whether it is good news or an issue on which you would like help, and like to see them again once fully grown.