Here are some guidelines for living with a Newf puppy at home.
Always be fun to come to when you call your puppy. Squat down, donít lean forward. Itís too scary to come in close when you lean forward, for a dog itís an aggressive posture. A treat is very helpful to make you more attractive than a running squirrel or another dog. If you say, ďCome!Ē and the dog stands there, turn around quickly and run the other way, preferably squeaking or saying, ďTreat!Ē or ďCookie!Ē and the dog canít help but chase you. Of course he gets a treat when he arrives.
When you are outside, carry treats and when the puppy looks away, hide somewhere. Make a little noise so the puppy can be successful finding you, and of course thereís lots of praise and a treat. Do this often enough, and your puppy will grow into a dog thatís on an invisible leash, always keeping track of you because you get lost so easily. Whistle training works wonders outside, itís a unique sound that breaks through whatever the dog is focusing on and the dog will spin in its tracks and beat feet to get back to you, even if itís out of sight. Guess what the puppy gets when it arrives Ė yes, a treat!
Walking on a Leash
Make sure that the leash is loose and let the dog get in front of you. Say the dogís name in a happy voice. Give the leash a quick light tug and instantly release (in other words, donít let it stay tight). As soon as the dog turns toward you, start running backward and praising the dog. Of course a treat is right there as the dog arrives, and lots of praising. After two or three times the lesson is over because the dog wonít take his eyes off you. This is not heeling, itís just walking on a loose leash. Never let the leash stay tight and you will never have a dog that pulls on the leash. Itís people that TEACH a dog to pull on the leash. The dog can walk anywhere on the leash as long as itís not tight. Anytime the dog forgets and gets out too far, just say the dogís name and give the leash a quick jerk and praise as the dog comes back to you. So itís 1. Dogís name 2. Quick tug 3. Praise 4. Treat. Never never leave a choke collar
on a dog.
Someone has to be in charge of the dog or even the most sweet, submissive dog will try to run the house. Start with a 30 Minute Down once a day. Do it when the dog is tired anyway. Place the dog on the floor next to you with the command, ďDownĒ and ďStayĒ and keep putting the dog down quickly every time it tries to get up. Donít repeat the command, and keep your hands off the dog except to put it back down again. Put a leash on the dog if you need to and put your foot on the leash. Once the dog understands what you want it will fall asleep and relax. This is good, just wake it up when the 30 minutes are over and praise the puppy. During the down there is no praise, no petting, no treats, toys, bones, you are going to ignore the dog. This teaches the puppy that you are in charge. I do this at the dinner table and I automatically have a dog that never begs at the table.
Little puppies bite everything. Itís how they live. You want them to stop biting you by the age of ten to twelve weeks. After that the biting stops being baby biting and becomes a controlling thing. When the puppy is quiet sit on the floor with the puppy sitting in front of you facing away from you. Surround the puppy with your arms and stroke the muzzle with your hand, making sure that your thumb goes over the top of the muzzle and the eyes and the forehead. Hold the muzzle gently shut with your hand for a few seconds and continue stroking slowly. This teaches the puppy that you have control of the head. Remember to do your 30 minute downs. They are very helpful to stop the biting. Itís also helpful to let the puppy play with other puppies (like after obedience class) to have an appropriate outlet for the biting.
"But what if the puppy is biting me?" you say. I start with as little a stimulus as possible and escalate until I get the correct response (stopping the biting). When the puppy is little, Iíll yell, ďOW!Ē which is not hard to do, it hurts. This can startle the puppy and make it stop biting. If I am walking Iíll carry a toy and when the puppy comes at me Iíll offer the toy instead of my ankles. If the puppy comes back at me and bites hard I will press my thumb down on the tongue hard which always makes the puppy let go. Often that is enough. If a puppy has been biting for a long time then greater measures may be necessary. Some people have found squirting Binaca breath spray in the puppyís mouth as soon as it bites works after a few days. Puppies really donít like the taste of breath spray.
Comb a part of the puppyís body every day, even if itís only one leg. This is done with two grooming implements: the comb for you and another implement for the puppy to hold in its mouth. Get the puppy used to being handled all over the body now while the puppy is little. Bathe the puppy frequently and plan to get wet while you cuddle the puppy during the bath. Donít do the head until the very end. Itís safe to put shampoo inside the ears during the bath, but donít rinse inside, use a damp towel. Towel dry the little puppy, it takes some time to get used to the blower. As the dog is an adult I groom twice a week and bathe once every three weeks.
Nails should be done every 10-14 days when the puppy is little. When it gets older, if you hear a nail on the bare floor, itís too long and needs to be cut. When the puppy is little if someone cuddles the puppy and holds a treat up to the nose itís easy to do the nails. When the dogs are older I turn them upside down and have someone deep massage their chest while I do the nails. This seems to help the ones that want to fight clipping. I also use a grinder, a cordless, quiet one is best.
Here is where the most questions arise. Mainly, "How do I know if Iím feeding the right amount?" "How can I tell if my puppy is too thin (or too fat)?" When the puppies are little itís hard to get them too fat. They are growing so fast and they are so active. Now I feed the raw diet, which the dogs love, so my guidelines work for that type of feeding. There are three things I look at to gauge the feeding amount.
First, if you take the prepared dish off the counter and put it on the floor the puppy should dive in, eat right away and look up at you as if to say, ďDid you feed me? I didnít notice!Ē If as you are bringing the dish down from the counter to the floor the puppy is raising up and trying to eat it on the way down, then the puppy is too hungry. Having said that, and knowing that itís hard to gauge the correct amount (which changes weekly as the puppy grows), this is what I do. In the morning feed more than what you expect the puppy to eat. Watch him eat and as soon as he lifts his head, take the dish with the remaining food away. Feed less at the other two feedings. After a few days you will know the correct amount to feed. Remember, treats count!
Second, feel the puppy. Stand the puppy up and feel the ribs. You should feel them easily like the bones on the back of your hand. Run your hand along the spine. Each vertebrae should not be prominent. Feel the tops of the pelvic bones on the rump. They should be covered and not prominent. The puppy should ďcut inĒ after the last rib and have a waist.
Third, is the puppy growing at a good rate. Check with the breeder to see if your puppy is growing in line with the littermates. Boys can be heavier than girls, but a litter should grow at around the same rate.
The English have an expression, "For the first year, the puppy should play in the garden." What the English call the garden, we call the yard. Ideally, the yard should be of ample size and securely fenced, just off the door to go out. Itís so much easier to open the door and let the puppy out to go potty. Playing off leash on natural surfaces, and sometimes with another puppy of the same size is a great way to exercise. Swimming is the best exercise of all, not always available, but it exercises all the muscles and ligaments with no pounding on the joints. After the age of a year the young dog can go on long walks, jogging, with horses, etc. But wait until the growth plates are no longer open and you will reduce the chance of joint problems.
Little puppies sleep a lot. They only grow when they are sleeping. When your puppy has a busy day, make sure it can go into its crate or a quiet place and sleep undisturbed. And by the way, over the life of your dog, donít go over to the dog to pet it. Always call the dog to you, tell it to sit, and then pet and praise the dog.
At night puppies should sleep with you. In the wild a puppy isolated from the pack is a dead puppy. It will be unprotected from predators. So when you leave your new puppy downstairs in the laundry room with a hot water bottle and a ticking clock or radio, its inner voice says that it is abandoned and in danger. No puppy needs to have that kind of stress! Later your older puppy or adult dog will often sleep on a cold tile floor or in the hallway to keep track of the children in their bedrooms, but a little puppy needs to sleep next to your bed in a crate where it feels safe.
OK, would you like to know how to raise a crippled puppy?
Hereís what you do. Feed large breed puppy food free choice. Keep the puppy inside with you except to go potty outside. Or crate him all day while youíre at work. Play with your puppy on the slippery floors. Laugh when he does the splits going around a corner. Chase him up and down the stairs. Let him pack on the pounds, weigh him often and boast about how much he weighs. On the weekends take him for long leash walks around the block on the pavement. When you get to the dog park let him off the leash to play with the adult Labrador Retriever thatís so energetic. Teach him to pull you on the leash all the way to the park. I guarantee he wonít be pulling you home, heís limping after the Lab bowled him over several times at the park. Heís fat, he has no muscle tone and his joints are already damaged from the way he plays at home. Save your money, those hip replacement surgeries are not cheapÖ