25 Puppy Questions

These are the most common things puppy owners want to know.
Also visit our pages on Puppy Training and Good Dogs For Kids

When Can I Bathe My Puppy?

You can bath a puppy almost immediately if they are healthy. Here’s how:

  1. Use special soap-free shampoo (we like Dermcare)
  2. Use water at 30-40ºC in a warmed room
  3. Dry your puppy off thoroughly with a towel, then a hairdryer on a low setting
  4. Use plenty of treats and make it fun so they want to do it again.

Here’s a link to how to bath your puppy.

Do Puppies Need Milk?

Puppies only need milk until they are eating solid puppy food, which should supply everything they need.

If you want to offer milk after weaning, it must be lactose free. Cow’s milk causes diarrhoea and tummy upsets.

Puppy milk can be purchased from vets & pet stores

How Do I Stop My Puppy From Jumping?

Look at it from a puppy’s point of view: I’m way down here and they’re way up there. I want them to look at me or talk to me but they’re too busy. If I jump up they’ll notice me for sure!

  • Jumping is a self-rewarded behaviour. Therefore you need to change the reward:
  • Pay NO attention when jumping happens- no eye contact either
  • Turn away until the jumping stops, then pat once all feet are down.
  • If your puppy keeps jumping up, calmly walk away
  • Give your puppy lots of attention when they have ‘four on the floor’
  • Try counterconditioning. Train the ‘sit’ command, then as a puppy runs to you, ask them to ‘sit’ and reward straight away. With much repetition your puppy should run up, sit and wait for a treat (which can eventually just be a pat).

Guests, visitors and children often can’t follow the rules so you may need to put your puppy away for the first five minutes of any new arrival until they calm down.

Accept that jumping will always happen a bit. Don’t listen to anyone who says you should use harsh words or punishment; that’s punishing a puppy for wanting to be your friend.

What Do Puppies Eat?

Puppies need a complete & balanced diet. We recommend using a pre-prepared premium puppy food by following this plan:

  1. Start with the food the breeder used
  2. Get advice from your vet or pet store on the best diet for your puppy
  3. Transition to your new food choice in over 5 days by mixing with the original food

If you’re worried that your puppy isn’t eating enough, weigh him or her every day. As long as the weight is increasing and your puppy is playful and eating well, it’s probably OK. Visit these pages to know how to assess the correct body condition and work out how much to feed a puppy.

Can I Make My Puppy’s Food?

It’s possible. If you make your own puppy food you need to:

  1. Balance the diet for calcium to prevent weak bones
  2. Add other ingredients for a balanced diet
  3. Control total protein and energy levels
  4. Add correct levels of vitamins, trace minerals, omega oils

To do this is very difficult, and for dogs prone to hip dysplasia, even minor dietary variations can be important. If you want to make the food yourself, it’s very hard to get good, independent advice.

Vets do not recommend raw or homemade diets for puppies. Read more about raw diets hereIn the meantime, ask our advice for reputable companies and pet food stores. Here’s our guide to designing a perfect puppy diet.

Can Puppies Eat Raw Chicken?

Here’s why vets don’t recommend raw chicken or other fresh meats for puppies:

  • Too much meat upsets the calcium: phosphate ratio and causes weak bones
  • Raw chicken can contain Salmonella
  • There is the right amount of meat in all good quality puppy foods
  • Whole chicken pieces are a common choking hazard
  • Puppies given fresh meat can become fussy eaters. It’s hard to get a puppy to eat their balanced meals if they also get steak or chicken breast.

How Much Should My Puppy Eat?

The good news is that package guidelines for puppy foods are generally accurate (not so true for adults).

Use the food’s guidelines to start. Don’t worry if it isn’t all eaten by the next mealtime as long as your puppy is healthy and gaining weight. Some puppies are very easily distracted to begin with but if you leave the measured amount of food out they should eat enough.

With two dogs, you may need to keep them separated or use a crate to avoid some of the meal being ‘lost’.

In the long run, your vet or breeder can tell you if your puppy is too fat or thin. Read more about calculating a puppy’s food intake here.

How Often Should I Feed My Puppy?

  • Most young puppies need meals 3 to 4 times a day
  • From 12 weeks of age, twice a day is enough
  • By six months of age, larger breeds can be reduced to one meal a day

How Do I Stop My Puppy Crying At Night?

You either stay with them all night (for life) or teach them it’s OK to sleep alone.

Here’s a method using  crate:

Plan to not get much sleep for the next 3-4 nights. You may want to let the neighbours know what you’re doing.

  1. Night 1: Let your puppy sleep with you. It’s stressful the first night away from the litter so it’s not a good time to start. Use the time to read about crate training.
  2. Night 2: Settle puppy in a crate on the floor
  3. The next two nights are going to be tough but try to hang in there
  4. Night 4: Puppies should sleep through most of the night
  5. Now move the crate out of your room if you wish

Each night, toilet your puppy at your bedtime, four hours later, then when you wake up. Going more frequently probably won’t help. You’re going to feel bad but in the long run a puppy that learns to sleep alone is usually happier alone at other times.

Puppies don’t like being left alone, but if they don’t learn now, it’s worse later.

How Do Puppies Get Parvo?

  • Puppies get parvo from places, not dogs
  • Parvo is spread via places previously contaminated with the poo of infected dogs
  • Viral particles survive in soil for at least 12 months

Parvo is easy to prevent: 

  • Only buy puppies from good environments
  • All puppies should have a 6-week vaccination before sale
  • Isolate your puppy from public spaces and unknown dogs
  • Complete the puppy shot course at your vet before freely socialising

Read here all about the new strain of parvovirus in Australia.

When Do Puppies Get Their Shots?

There are three common protocols in Adelaide. The difference is how soon your pup can go out. 

  • 6 weeks, 9 weeks, 12 weeks. Usually allows walking at 14 weeks of age.
  • 6 weeks, 10 weeks (+/- 16 weeks). Allows walking at 11 weeks of age. This is our choice.
  • 6 weeks, 12 weeks, 16 weeks. Allows walking at 18 weeks of age.

Confused? Ask your vet! Here’s our puppy vaccination guidelines.

How Much Do Vaccinations Cost?

Shots vary from $60 to $300. The difference in price can be due to:

  • Using C3, C4 or C5 vaccines
  • The number of visits your puppy will need
  • Whether worming, flea control or heartworm prevention are included
  • When your puppy can go out

Rather than asking the cost of a single vaccine, try to work out the TOTAL cost of the puppy course including heartworm, flea and intestinal worm treatments.

How Do I Train A Puppy Not To Bite?

Puppies love to bite, and explore the world with their mouths. It’s like trying to train a baby not to put things in its mouth.

Here’s what can help:

  • NEVER play games where your puppy bites your hands
  • Distract a bitey puppy with a toy
  • Predict what makes your puppy gets bitey and avoid the triggers
  • Recognise the ‘over-tired’ puppy and learn to settle them down
  • Distract or walk away without making a fuss if you can’t stop it
  • Try acting like it hurts by making a big “Oww”

Play biting slowly improves once a dog starts teething but it never goes away completely. If you are worried it’s more than just play, our guide on getting dogs and kids to get along includes tips on avoiding aggression.

How Do I Stop My Puppy Chewing?

Puppies love to chew! The best you can hope for is to get them to chew safer and less treasured items. Here’s how:

  • Give a wide range of chew toys of different textures
  • Put toys away and bring out others to keep them interesting
  • Avoid access to other items like kids shoes
  • Offer treat-filled activity toys like Kongs or Bob-a-lots
  • Keep your puppy active and exercised to prevent boredom
  • Use a crate for short periods without supervision

When Do Puppies Lose Their Baby Teeth?

Teething occurs gradually between 3 and 6 months of age, in this order:

  1. Incisor (front) teeth: 3 to 4 months
  2. Canine teeth: 3 1/2 to 5 months
  3. Premolar teeth: 4 to 5 months
  4. Molar teeth: 5 to 6 months

Teething doesn’t seem to cause problems. You’ll be lucky to find any teeth; they usually get swallowed.

Why Do Puppies Sleep A Lot?

It seems to be important for development. Very young puppies can sleep for two thirds of the day without it being a problem. As long as your puppy is eating well and playful when awake, lots of sleeping is OK. As puppies get older they need less sleep.

How Do I Choose A Good Puppy Preschool?

  1. Experienced instructors with dog training qualifications
  2. Small class sizes
  3. Positive reward-based methods
  4. Printed resources to take home
  5. Short weekly sessions rather than one big day (puppies don’t have long attention spans)

What Are The Benefits Of Crate Training?

Create training is a way of being able to leave your puppy safely for short periods, like using a cot for toddlers.The benefits are:

  • Better toilet training during unsupervised moments
  • Avoidance of household or garden hazards
  • Creating a positive ‘settling to sleep’ routine
  • Training for transport, boarding or veterinary confinement
  • A place to feed when other pets may take the food

It’s not easy so please read our guide to crate training first.

Why Do Puppies Hump? How Do I Stop Humping?

Male puppies mount or hump people, animals and toys a lot. Young puppies even do it if they have already been desexed. Even some females do it. 

If the habit is not encouraged, it should go away by 6 months of age. To avoid a problem, remove the toy or reduce access to the object or animal they are humping. Very few dogs keep doing it as adults if they are desexed.

How Do I Train A Puppy To Pee Outside?

You will almost always succeed in potty training if you make sure your puppy is always in only one of three situations:

  1. Where you want them to pee or poo (e.g. on the grass or in a room covered in newspaper)
  2. Under constant supervision, ready to be whisked to the right spot (e.g. in the lounge room)
  3. In a crate no bigger than a bed for up to one hour during the day, or overnight (once trained to tolerate confinement)

It’s always better to predict the need to toilet than find the mess afterwards. And it’s never OK to punish. For more information, read our guide to toilet training.

Should I Get My Dog Microchipped?

  • Microchips are extremely safe and easy to insert
  • They do not cost much (much less than pound fees!)
  • Many dogs would never find their homes again without a chip
  • Microchipping will become compulsory for dogs in Adelaide in 2016

What Do I Do If My Pup Eats Something Bad?

Time is critical. Call the vet, no matter what time it is. If they are closed they will supply an after-hours number to call.

To a small animal, any human medicines, fertilisers, onions, chocolate, toadstools or compost can easily kill. Cooked bones or toys can cause obstructions.

Your vet will almost certainly advise you come down immediately so that your puppy is made to vomit before anything bad happens.

How Often & How Far Should I Exercise My Puppy?

Young puppies don’t have much stamina. They are also easily scared if we push them too quickly.

  1. Make sure your vet says it’s safe to go out
  2. Exercise should then be offered at least once a day, preferably twice
  3. Start with very short walks, maybe just up to the gate and back
  4. Use treats as encouragement
  5. Let your pup decide how far to go
  6. As they get older, a puppy should want to go further and further

When Is Desexing?

Desexing can be anytime from 8 weeks to 6 months of age. If done later than 6 months, males show behaviour change and females come into season.

Most vets recommend desexing at exactly 6 months of age, but recommendations will vary in individual cases. We have a policy of later desexing of certain breeds that you can investigate here .

From 2016, Adelaide dogs will be required by law to be desexed unless they have an exemption.

How Do I Train My Pup?

  1. Start with puppy school to learn beginner puppy training tips
  2. Then find a dog training class using reward-based training, not choker chains
  3. Be prepared to change if your pup isn’t happy!
  4. In training classes, you’ll discover how to teach extra tricks at home
  5. Once you know the theory of training you can add extra tricks of your own
  6. Now go out and find them!

How Do I Stop Barking?

There are two sorts of barking:

1. Barking at stimuli. If your dog is barking at passers-by, birds, neighbours’ dogs etc you need to get them away from the triggers before it becomes a habit. For example, barking is hard to stop if dogs have access to the street boundary.
2. Nuisance or problem barking. This usually lacks an obvious trigger, or if it has a trigger, the barking doesn’t stop when it goes away. Once it starts it’s very hard to stop.

The best advice is to do everything you can so your puppy doesn’t learn to bark. Most dogs start problem barking because they lack stimulation. Here are some ways to keep your puppy busy and stimulated:

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