Start­ing a new chap­ter

Four years after los­ing our old gal at 15 years of age, hearts have healed and it’s time to open the doors again. Our new baby is on the way, which is a great op­por­tu­nity to re­mind read­ers about the needs of a new puppy.

Field and Game - - VET ADVICE -

A great place to start is your state breed reg­is­tra­tion body for pedi­gree breeds, or a breeder with whose dogs you are fa­mil­iar.

Make sure you are able to visit the par­ents and the prop­erty where the an­i­mals have been kept. In­ap­pro­pri­ate rear­ing con­di­tions can have a huge im­pact on your dog’s so­cial and men­tal de­vel­op­ment, which can lead to life­long anx­i­ety is­sues and may im­pact on the dog’s abil­ity to hunt.

Your new puppy should come with its first vac­ci­na­tion, given at least 10 days be­fore you pick it up, to com­mence pro­tec­tion against dis­tem­per, hep­ati­tis and par­vovirus. Some ar­eas also have is­sues with lep­tospiro­sis and coro­n­avirus, so your breeder may also vac­ci­nate for these dis­eases.

Are there her­i­ta­ble dis­eases in your cho­sen breed that can be DNA tested or screened for? And if so, have the par­ents been tested and cer­ti­fied dis­ease free? It should also have been mi­crochipped, vet checked and wormed fort­nightly from two weeks of age.

Check the diet your breeder has been feed­ing; a good breeder will sup­ply you with the same food, oth­er­wise make sure you grab your­self a bag of the same food to start your puppy on once it comes home to min­imise the risk of an upset tummy. An­other good rea­son to buy a puppy from a breeder is that it gives you the op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­act with the puppy’s sib­lings and dam, also pos­si­bly the sire and get an in­di­ca­tion of what the fu­ture holds for your puppy. Home­com­ing — pre­par­ing for your new puppy Make the de­ci­sion early as to whether your pup is go­ing to have in­side ac­cess and where it is go­ing to sleep. There are no right or wrong an­swers, only what works for you. Make sure your home is safe in­side and out; if there is some­thing you don’t want your lit­tle mis­chief maker to have, trust me, they will find it. Check for ex­posed wires that a puppy can chew on and ei­ther tuck them away or coat them in some­thing un­palat­able like Vicks Vapour Rub. Make sure any­thing they can swal­low, es­pe­cially kids’ toys, are picked up and put away. En­sure re­mote con­trols are up out of the way, and things with stuff­ing are out of reach; we rou­tinely sur­gi­cally re­move stuff­ing from puppy bel­lies. If you have a cat, the lit­ter tray is out of bounds. If you have an out­door pen, en­sure any gaps un­der­neath are too small to al­low heads or limbs though. Pool fences may be kid safe, but un­for­tu­nately, they are of­ten not puppy safe. Make sure there are no gaps un­der fences, poi­sonous plants, or ac­cess to chem­i­cals that could harm your pup. Pro­vide your pup with a com­fort­able bed and their own space. Crate train­ing at an early age is great for pro­vid­ing a safe rest­ing place but also to as­sist on tran­si­tion­ing them into trans­port crates when you even­tu­ally start your hunts (un­less of course, like our mob, they travel in the car with you). If you are plan­ning on hav­ing the pup as a house dog, a play pen or baby gates are great for lim­it­ing their space to roam free through the house, this helps with toi­let train­ing too.

Lastly, make sure you have sturdy food and wa­ter bowls, and the same type of food that your breeder was us­ing ini­tially. You want to wean them onto your pre­ferred food of choice grad­u­ally over a few days, after the pup has set­tled in.

A well-fit­ting col­lar and ID tags are a good idea, how­ever, don’t spend too much as it won’t fit for long.

When you pick up your new pup I highly rec­om­mend a vet check within the first 72 hours to en­sure that he/she is fit and well. The vet can dis­cuss with you the most up-to-date vac­cine rec­om­men­da­tions, par­a­site con­trol prod­ucts, and the tim­ing for treat­ment. Be aware of the dis­eases you may also en­counter in the ar­eas you plan to hunt as ad­di­tional vac­cines may be of ben­e­fit. Make sure you have worm­ing and other par­a­site con­trol prod­ucts avail­able. Plan ahead and start on a suitable prod­uct for the types of par­a­sites your pup will even­tu­ally come into con­tact with, par­tic­u­larly if you hunt in a tick or heart­worm-prone area.

Your pup should be wormed ev­ery two weeks un­til 12 weeks of age and then monthly un­til six months. Get your vet to scan your pup’s mi­crochip to make sure that it reads and that it matches the pa­per­work the breeder has pro­vided to you. You would be sur­prised how of­ten mis­takes hap­pen.

Also, chat to your vet about the ap­pro­pri­ate diet for the age, breed and growth po­ten­tial of your pup. What is good for hu­mans is good for dogs too, right? WRONG! You have paid good money for a great dog, don’t cheat on what you feed at this age or you may end up with growth dis­or­ders such as hip dys­pla­sia, etc.

You want a diet that has a com­bi­na­tion of highly di­gestible pro­teins, pre­bi­otic fi­bres such as beet pulp for a healthy gut, good qual­ity fats and carbs for en­ergy and all of the nec­es­sary vi­ta­mins and min­er­als in a bal­anced for­mu­la­tion.

Dogs also pre­fer rou­tine with feed­ing rather than vari­abil­ity, and the in­tro­duc­tion of new foods and treats should be grad­ual to avoid di­ges­tive is­sues.

Please don’t get caught up in the new grain-free band­wagon. The lat­est re­search out of the USA in­di­cates grain-free di­ets, es­pe­cially those con­tain­ing legumes, such as lupins, are linked to car­diomy­opa­thy (or heart fail­ure). Abun­dant raw meat is high

in phos­pho­rous, it com­petes with cal­cium for ab­sorp­tion, lead­ing to weak bones and pos­si­ble frac­tures.

Give sev­eral small meals a day to en­cour­age good feed­ing be­hav­iour, to avoid overeat­ing and an over-dis­tended stom­ach, which can lead to vom­it­ing.

De­cide whether you want to de­sex your pet. In gen­eral, we recog­nise that de­sexed pets live longer, have a re­duced risk of ovar­ian and mam­mary cancer in bitches and prostate and tes­tic­u­lar can­cers in dogs.

How­ever, there is con­flict­ing ev­i­dence as to the tim­ing of de­sex­ing, as we dis­cussed in a pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cle. Just to re­cap, in larger breeds it is now sug­gested we de­lay de­sex­ing un­til the dogs are ma­ture and fully de­vel­oped.

Our new baby will be a bitch and our plan at this stage is to spay at 14–16 months, de­pend­ing on her de­vel­op­ment.

I ex­pect some of you will dis­agree with me on ba­sic train­ing, and that’s OK.

All pup­pies ben­e­fit from puppy school to as­sist them in be­com­ing well-rounded dogs. I am not talk­ing about hunt­ing train­ing at this early stage, but rather gen­eral ba­sics.

I prac­tice re­ward-based train­ing rather than pun­ish­ment or cor­rec­tion tech­niques be­cause first and fore­most, dogs are com­pan­ion an­i­mals: they hunt and re­trieve for you out of a sense of loy­alty.

The old say­ing, ‘It’s a two-dog night’, came from the fact that it was so cold you needed two dogs sleep­ing with you to keep you warm.

Whether you are old school or not, a dog will al­ways work bet­ter to please you than from fear of pun­ish­ment.

Get the ba­sics right and this will help when it comes to hunt train­ing.

An im­por­tant first les­son is toi­let train­ing. Take your pup out reg­u­larly, ev­ery 20–30 min­utes, when it wakes up and any time it eats or drinks (as it needs to make room). Don’t wait for it to need to go, you will be too late ev­ery time.

Praise the dog when it toi­lets out­side but don’t scold them or they will re­vert to hid­ing when re­liev­ing them­selves, giv­ing you the joy of find­ing a sneaky poop be­hind the couch!

If your pup has an ac­ci­dent, you weren’t on your game; they only have small blad­ders and like kids, are eas­ily dis­tracted un­til it’s too late.

Ba­sic obe­di­ence such as sit, drop, mat train­ing and re­call are all es­sen­tial when it comes to hunt­ing. Start with three short train­ing ses­sions a day of no more than a few min­utes. Re­ward cor­rect be­hav­iours and use treats to en­cour­age out­comes that you want. Try to tie these be­hav­iours in with sig­nals as well as ver­bal com­mands, and once the pup has them down pat, try with only the words, or only the sig­nals.

Sound train­ing is also great, if done early. I have used a great app called ‘Sound proof your puppy’, which has all sorts of noises in­clud­ing gun­fire, fire­works, ve­hi­cles and ma­chin­ery. Get­ting your pup used to these sorts of sounds when played qui­etly ini­tially and grad­u­ally in­creas­ing the vol­ume re­duces fear and noise pho­bias later.

Very ex­cit­ing and chal­leng­ing puppy times ahead. After four years stalk­ing with­out a four-legged com­pan­ion, we will get the ba­sics out of the way dur­ing the snake sea­son and have her primed just in time for the cooler months next year. If only I could teach her to carry the beast back to the ute.

Happy hunt­ing, ev­ery­one.

Vet­eri­nar­ian Dr Karen Davies owns and uses hunt­ing dogs and has broad­ened her ex­per­tise to in­clude an­i­mal re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, an­i­mal phys­io­ther­apy and an­i­mal hy­drother­apy ser­vices. Read­ers of Field & Game Mag­a­zine can draw on her ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise by sub­mit­ting ques­tions to ed­i­[email protected]­ Karen can be con­sulted at Di­rect Vet Ser­vices, 8/22–30 Wal­lace Ave, Point Cook, VIC; Email: di­rectvet­ser­[email protected]­ or Tel: (03) 9369 1822.

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