Puppy Care Notes and Information
Green Valley puppies are used to being fed Advance Puppy Plus kibble (small dogs) and Advance Puppy Growth tinned food, which are suitable for your puppy until they are 12 months of age. I feed the puppies at 6am, 12 midday and 6pm however this may not be possible for your schedules so ease them to two meal a day if so.
There are a few schools of thought on what the best dog food is eg raw, dry etc and this is largely a philosophical thing. Our preference is a complete dry food – a good, high quality recommended by vets and sold from vet clinics, some pet stores and suppliers rather than supermarket brands which contain a lot of ‘filler’. My experience has been that the dogs do better on dry foods eg. Its good for teeth, skin and coat, and it produces less waste, and even though the good quality ones seem more expensive than other dry foods, they are more concentrated, meaning you will feed less and the food will last longer. Also they tend to be more digestible so that less food is wasted.
Canned foods are around 80% water so your dog would need to eat a lot more canned food to get all the energy they require. By 8 weeks of age your puppy has been reduced to three feeds a day and will be ready to go to two feeds a day if you prefer.
Take note of the weight of your puppy every week or two (particularly in the early stages when they are growing rapidly). Your vet will weigh them as well when you get them vaccinated. *Please note the weight on the guide is estimated adult weight (which for a mini can be between 7kg – 13kg) not the weight of the puppy.
When you first get your puppy it is experiencing huge changes in his/her life with a new environment, no siblings etc and I recommend you continue with the same diet until he/she has settled into the new home. If you decide to change his/her diet, do so very gradually over at least 2 weeks.
Your Green Valley puppy has come to you very happily eating dry kibble, however like children, they can be fussy! If they pine and lose appetite when you first get them, consider mixing in a small portion of wet, fatty tinned puppy food (I use Advance Puppy Growth) to make it more interesting. I only use a small amount – enough to wet the biscuits so the biscuits are still their primary meal and it doesn’t upset their tummies.
Be careful introducing other foods as a substitute to the main meal. I feed our dogs raw chicken necks, pasta, vegetables etc to vary their diet but I know they are getting a balanced diet with all the nutrition they need from the good quality kibble. Feed your puppy in the same location to begin with, remove any uneaten kibble after 15 minutes and never feed your puppy from the table that you eat at yourself.
Always have plenty of clean drinking water available.
If you are in doubt, speak to your vet. Like us, different dogs require different amounts of food to keep to a healthy weight. Those receiving more exercise may need more food. At around 12 weeks of age start introducing raw bones via small pieces of chicken neck, supervise early introductions of these bones.
Foods not suitable for Dogs
- chocolate - may cause death
- cooked bones - can splinter into sharp pieces
- spicy foods
- poisonous plants in the garden
- fatty bones (with marrow) – ok in small amounts but will upset their tummies
- grapes, raisins, sultanas - can be fatally toxic
Decide right from the start where you would like your puppy to sleep. Start out as you wish to continue. There are many different dog beds on the market and the big decision is where you would like the bed and the puppy to be at night.
Crate or puppy pen or dog bed. It’s your choice ultimately and there is a lot of information available on all. Should you choose to use a crate, get one large enough to accommodate your dog when fully grown. My dogs have crates that are 70x60x50 and it is their crate from when they are a puppy. Dogs like their den so cover the crate with a towel to help your puppy feel safe and secure. I tend to start crate training by leaving the door open into a small pen so they can toilet outside the crate and I also keep a small soft blanket or old shirt in there when they are little as a comforter. When I hand the puppies over they will have a ‘comforter’ to help them settle.
Outside beds are best if raised off the ground. A few pet-safe toys in the bed as well may occupy your puppy. Don’t use the bed or crate as a place to banish your puppy for punishment. Have it as a positive place to retreat and sleep.
Crying at Night
Young puppies learn from an early age that crying earns attention from their mother, and considering the huge changes they go through in your first few days together, you should expect to hear some crying. How you respond to it is very important. Provide them with a warm bed (a hot water bottle may help in winter - ensure it is not too hot) feed them and take them to the toilet, then it is time to sleep. As hard as it is any crying or barking should be ignored. They are very intelligent dogs and it won’t take long to realize that by crying or barking you will come running, this is a very difficult habit to break. A radio turned on quietly for a few days may also help.
Toilet training should be a simple process; puppies need to go to the toilet when they wake up after a sleep, and after a meal or drink. Your young puppy has limited bladder control so the key is being able to anticipate these times and to build a routine around them. Know that accidents will happen and that the process can sometimes take weeks. The reward for your patience and commitment is a dog you are happy to have in your home.
Dogs like to sleep in a clean area. As soon as the puppies were able to walk, around 3 weeks of age, they have walked away from the sleeping area to go to the toilet. When it is toilet time escort your puppy to the designated toilet zone, wait patiently while he/ she sniffs out a suitable spot, usually a previously used spot.
If you live in an apartment or have stairs which a puppy can’t navigate when young, consider getting a square of artificial turf and putting a puppy toilet mat under it. Green Valley puppies have already been trained to use the artificial turf so it can be an easy way for you to provide a designated toilet spot in your home while they are young rather than them choosing your carpet or rug.
When you take them outside (or to their designated spot) allow them to relax. It may take a little while. You may like to say something like “hurry up” or “do wees” and repeat it.When they finally go, praise them excitedly. Be persistent – it will take time but eventually the routine will become second nature.
Be observant particularly after they have drunk water or eaten a meal. You’ll see when a puppy is looking for a place to relieve itself as it will do its ‘toilet dance’ - suddenly circle about while sniffing the floor or grass. The sniffing is instinct, he is looking for a place that’s already been used. If he can’t find one, he’ll start one.
For the first few nights I set an alarm for a couple of times during the night to wake the puppy and take them outside. No fuss or cuddling. And lots of praise after they go. Then straight back to bed with no fussing. It helps if you take away their water at say 7pm as well.
I also taught my first pet puppies (Chewie and Wicket) to ring a kitten bell when they wanted to go outside. To start with when you wake them to take them out, ting the bell before you open the door to go outside. They soon learn that the tinging of the bell signals going outside to do their business and most will ring it themselves after a few nights when they want to go out. The midnight interruptions don’t last for too long as, with a good routine, the puppy will learn to hold on as he knows he gets let out first thing in the morning.
Your puppy has been desexed at 7 weeks of age, unless you have purchased a breeding puppy. They are fully healed when you receive them. Your certificate of sterilization is included in your puppy pack and will be needed when you register your puppy with your local council.
Desexing obviously prevents unwanted pregnancies, and in fact it does far more:
- Desexed dogs live longer, healthier lives.
- Decreased risk of breast, ovarian and testicular cancer. Less territorial and aggressive, making it unlikely they will get into fights, be injured and pick up a disease.
- Reduced urge to wander the neighbourhood. Decreased risk of becoming a stray or, worse still, being hit by a car.
Your puppy’s parents have been health tested to ensure they do not have hip and elbow disorders. Be aware that these problems can be environmental as well as genetic. Avoid over feeding your dog as being overweight places stress upon the joints, and be careful of stairs and rough play, particularly in the first 6-12 months as bones and joints are still developing. Frisbees are a no-no for me as the twisting and turning, stopping and starting movements will put enormous strain on your dog’s body, especially in the hips, knees and elbows. My dogs love chasing a ball though and I am mindful to not over-do it no matter how much they tell me they want to keep going.
The Labradoodle ear hangs down so air flow around the ear is reduced. Keep the hair under the ear clipped and check the ear canal regularly to ensure it is not inflamed or smelly. These are signs of infection and irritation and will need vet treatment. Warm salty water can be a good home remedy to clean ears but if your dog is constantly rubbing its head and ears on the carpet then I recommend you see a vet first to make sure special treatment is not required. You will need to clean the ears regularly, drying them thoroughly after bathing and swimming.
Fleece Coats - The fleece coat is unique and what most labradoodle breeders aspire to, it should be slow growing, low to non-shedding and silky soft to touch. The coats get beautifully long and wavy but be aware of matting around touchpoints like the collar, ears and on their muzzles. If you plan to keep your coat long then regular brushing and combing is a must.
Wool Coats - The wool coat is the most like a poodle’s coat and will need trimming more often as it is faster growing than a fleece coat. Again brush your puppy regularly. Scissor trim or clip your dog as required, they will usually need a scissor trim or clip at the time of the puppy molt.
Begin brushing your puppy as soon as possible so they are used to being brushed. The Labradoodle may not shed hair but like any hair it has a lifespan. As the hair dies and another grows if the dead hair is not brushed from the coat it will cause matting. Brush your Labradoodle regularly to remove dead hair to prevent knots or matts, remember matts generally form at the base of the coat near the dog’s skin and are usually painful to the dog.
Somewhere between 10 - 12 months of age your puppy’s coat will change to the adult coat. At this time extra brushing will be required to remove the underneath puppy coat. Usually a good time to give them their first scissor cut or clip is when you are finding it difficult to keep their coat knot free. This can be from 7 to 8 months old, even earlier in longer-coated puppies.
I recommend, if possible, you see a groomer at about 5-6 months of age to not only ‘shape’ the puppy’s coat and get them used to extra grooming, but potentially learn some techniques on maintaining the puppy’s coat in the lead up.
To have the typical “oodle look” with a fleece coat, you should only need to scissor cut or clip the coat once or twice a year. This will need plenty of regular brushing though. If you get a dog groomer to clip your dog and have a preferred look then I suggest taking a photo of the look you are so the groomer is able to do a labradoodle cut which is different to the typical poodle look.
If you find it difficult to find the time for regular, thorough brushing then I recommend them going to a groomer approximately once a month to avoid their coats becoming too difficult to manage and too uncomfortable for the dog.
You will need to trim the hair between your puppy’s eyes; I have trimmed this hair already. Cut between the eye area to one inch below and one inch above the eyes, but never any wider or above or below this area. You will also need to regularly trim the hair around their bottoms and their feet.
Don’t forget to regularly trim their nails as well. Ask your vet to show you how to do this the first time.
Ticks and Fleas
Ticks can be deadly to dogs in some areas so if you live in a “tick area” check your dog regularly, particularly after bush walking. Talk to your vet about protection and when the ticks are most prevalent. I get my dogs clipped short so I can easily check them at these times.
Fleas can be found everywhere, and they are very simple to prevent. Modern flea treatments can be as simple as putting a drop of liquid on your dog’s neck, or included in the monthly “all in one” product. Again talk to your vet about these products.
Pups can be infected with worms before birth or via their mother’s milk; your puppy has been wormed with Milbemax at 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks and 8 weeks. It is important to continue worming every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age, it is then recommended that you worm your pup monthly until 6 months of age. Consult your vet for a product that suits the area you live in as there are many different products on the market. If you have never wormed a dog before then also ask your vet to show you how to do it – it is key to make sure they do not spit out the tablet!
Also talk to your vet about a suitable product for treating heartworm, use the 12 week vaccination appointment with your vet as an opportunity to ask any questions about these products. Heartworm prevention should begin at 12 weeks of age and continue for life. I get a schedule from my vet and put reminders in my calendar which pop up a couple of days before things are due (although most vets now have scheduled reminders).
A young animal, only recently weaned from its mother, has limited protection from bacterial diseases and viruses. Their immune system is immature, which is why vets insist upon vaccinations as a way of providing a suitable level of protection. The main concerns for dogs are parvovirus, canine distemper virus and kennel cough.
Parvovirus is a significant danger in parts of Australia where vaccinations are not routinely performed. Not only is it potentially fatal, but virus may survive for long periods before infecting other animals. Kennel cough is the most common, though less severe. This infection causes a chronic dry cough that may last for weeks or months, and is easily transferable by dogs in close contact. It’s why I avoid putting my dogs in kennels when we go away and opt for a house sitter or home-based dog-sitter.
Your puppy has had his/her first vaccination at 6 weeks of age, and will be requiring another at:
- 10 weeks
- then the third at 14 weeks of age.
Consult your vet in regard to when it is safe to take your puppy to public places but work on a couple of weeks after the third. Some vets say after the third vaccination, some say after the second vaccination as the benefits of socialization outweigh the risk of picking up a virus. Your puppy pack will contain his/her vaccination certificate.
They will need a booster shot every year thereafter to maintain immunity. You will be required to show your vaccination certificate when enrolling in puppy school, leaving your dog at a boarding kennel or going to “puppy day care”.
Remember as your puppy is not fully vaccinated when he/she arrives at your home avoid taking your puppy to public places until after he/she has completed the full vaccination schedule as advised by your vet.
Signs of an Unwell Dog
For dogs, be suspicious if your pet is:
- not eating
- sleeping a lot or is unusually lethargic
- sore to touch or is hot to touch
- not grooming itself and has a dirty dry looking coat
- holding his tail constantly low
- unusually aggressive
- barking strangely (strange sound)
- coughing or sneezing
- vomiting or has diarrhea
- having trouble breathing or panting excessively
- bloated, distended tummy and obviously uncomfortable
If you are concerned consult your vet. With young puppies, err on the side of caution. Their immune systems are not as strong and they have a habit of getting into things they shouldn’t!
These dogs are incredibly intelligent so if your dog loves his/her food then be wary about leaving food in places that they can engineer getting to. One of mine escaped from our house yard (as I accidentally half-latched the gate - he watched me so he knew!), he broke in to our neighbours house, opened her pantry door and ate her Christmas pudding and mince pies! Not a life-threatening situation this time – although amusing in hindsight – but it’s when they break in to the food bin that has their dry kibble and consume it all that it becomes life threatening.
Dogs and Children
The relationship between dogs and children is just the most beautiful, special thing.
You want the relationship with your new dog to be many things but your priority has to be that it is a safe and comfortable one, especially where children are concerned.
A dog’s behavior towards children will almost always be different than their attitude towards adults. This is because the child is the closest creature in the house in terms of size, age and superiority. This means that the child is also the person that they are least likely to be submissive to.
It is the job of the child and the adults in the family to let the puppy know at every opportunity that the puppy is at the bottom rung of the superiority ladder. This means training your dog to obey commands like sit, stay, drop and ensuring it knows its place in the house, for example, not being fed from the table, and always reward good behavior. Dogs from a young age should be socialized with young children to allow them to get used to their size and unpredictable behavior.
All children should be supervised around dogs, particularly under the age of five.
Remember what a dog may tolerate from the children in your family may not apply to other people’s children. When your puppy has had enough play it will often walk away to a quiet spot, or its bed/crate, teach children to allow him/her some “time out”.
Teaching children how to behave around dogs is equally important. Kids should know to:
- Be calm and gentle – avoid high pitched squealing when you meet
- Avoid teasing, poking, pulling or hitting
- Avoid tug-o-war or other aggressive games
- Never corner a dog
- Avoid strange dogs where possible
- Don’t run away from a dog, stand still and let it sniff you
- Do not let a dog jump up to eg. lick a child’s face
- Avoid dogs that have food or are eating
- Avoid dogs that growl or look scared
The most important thing to understand is that all dogs are pack animals. Your puppy has come from our pack where as a puppy he is at the bottom of the order, to your pack. They need to be taught from an early age that humans are the pack leaders. Your puppy will quickly assess who the leader is. If he feels no one has the pack leader role he will quickly become the pack leader himself and that means a difficult dog.
Don’t feed your dog while people are eating. Make your dog wait until you are finished, ideally in a designated spot eg ‘his matt’. In a dog’s world the pack leader eats first and the lowest member eats last. Food is the most important thing in a dog’s life and you don’t want your dog thinking they are the boss over you or your child.
Your dog should never rush out the door in front of you so little things like making the dog sit and wait while you go out first reinforces you are the boss.
Don’t let a dog jump up on or lick you or your children. Although it is cute when your dog is a little puppy it is very annoying to both your family as well as guests when he/she has grown. I strongly recommend either Cesar Millan’s DVD’s or Books on Leadership and there is a great many resources online. (This is only a brief guide.)
Typically 8 weeks of age is the ideal time to start training your puppy. Training that teaches good behavior and manners is essential. It forms a strong relationship with your dog and helps your dog understand its role in your pack.
Labradoodles, like their poodle and Labrador ancestors, are very intelligent and highly trainable, and they thrive on stimulation. I strongly recommend obedience classes; in return for your efforts you will have a loyal, trustworthy and protective member of your family.
The great thing is that it’s easy to make training fun, almost all dogs love food, toys, games and pats. Typically heaps of praise and occasionally some food rewards will inspire most dogs to learn.
Socialization involves making your dog more comfortable and predictable in their surroundings, which can only make them happier in the long run. You must socialize them between 8-16 weeks of age as this is their critical formative time. Socialization assists in breaking down any fears; this means they will be more predictable in unplanned situations.
I strongly recommend puppy school as a fantastic place for your puppy to meet and play with other puppies. It’s a safe place given that they aren’t fully vaccinated yet and puppies don’t harm other puppies like an adult dog can harm a puppy. It is also a great place for you to learn about how to manage your dog under the guidance of some very experienced dog trainers.
Your puppy has had a great start to his/her socialization, spending the first 8 weeks in our home, being exposed to lots of different noises, people, children and of course our 2 dogs. What you do from when they join your family is also very important.