TAKING YOUR PUPPY HOME
If you have a relatively short drive of 2-3 hours or less, you shouldn't have to stop for a potty break. This is best if it can be avoided. Puppies should not be exposed to areas where dogs have been that may not have been vaccinated or are sick. It is definitely not worth the risk of exposing him or her to a virus - if you have a long journey, your best bet is to put a puppy pad or two on the ground and keep your puppy confined to them.
Puppies sometimes get car sick. Feeding them too much during a trip will make them more miserable than if they are a little hungry. Giving them a small treat to settle their stomachs can be okay, but don't feed them a full meal until you get home and can give them time to settle in. If you are driving a long distance, you can offer a little water at a time. Again, the point is not to cause stomach upset when they are already stressed from being in a new place, with new people on a long car ride.
THE FIRST NIGHT
The first night can be a little scary for your new puppy. The best way to put your new puppy at ease is to put him in a crate next to your bed. If you have a wire crate, cover it with a crate cover, or drape a blanket or towel over all sides except the front so the puppy feels more secure. Place something soft, like a bath mat in the crate, then put down a puppy pad, then an old towel. In the event of an accident, you should simply have to wash the towel, and replace the puppy pad.
We also recommend putting something for the puppy to snuggle up to in the crate with him - maybe an oversized stuffed animal (a washable one!) or a warmed rice-pack, or even a rolled-up towel - your puppy is used to snuggling with its siblings. It is normal for your puppy to cry the first night or so. If you continue this same routine, he will quickly realize that this is a safe spot, and the crying will not last past a quick minute or two in the next few nights.
THE FIRST FEW MONTHS
It is important to know that when you take your puppy home, your puppy will have had only one of the shots required for full vaccination. Before being fully vaccinated, your puppy is susceptible to infectious / contagous diseases that could be extremely harmful, if not fatal.
Choose your Vet carefully. Do not take your puppy to a park, rest stop, fast food area, pet store, etc. until you receive the all clear from your Vet. There are a lot of dogs that frequent those areas and some may be sick. When you take the pup to the vet, keep your puppy on your lap at all times or in a crate. The waiting room is almost always full of sick pets waiting to be seen by the vet.
Socialization is important but be sure that your puppy is introduced to healthy, vaccinated playmates; but it can wait until your puppy is done with vaccinations.
FEEDING YOUR PUPPY
Feed your puppy a high quality food made for puppies for the first year. They should be fed 3 times per day. Let her eat as much as she wants for about 15-20 minutes and then put the food away until her next feeding. We'll give you a sample bag of our puppy food of choice when you pick up your pup. When starting your puppy on a new puppy food please do so gradually so you do not cause your puppy stomach upset. Most puppy food bags will give instructions for transitioning your puppy to their new food. Their current schedule is approx 7 am, Noon, and 5pm. Food and water is put away at 8pm. Check the quality of your dog food at the Dog Food Advisor website. We recommend feeding your puppy a food that is rated at least 4 stars throughout his/her life.
We do not generally give puppies treats when they are with us. We have only enough time to wean them and introduce them to soft and then solid foods. When you start them on treats, please do so gradually. Too much, too quickly will cause stomach upset. Quality treats that have no corn, wheat or soy in them are recommended. Break them into small pieces. I recommend using Pet Botanics Mini Training Reward Treats for puppies and small dogs. They are a naturally healthy treat and have been great for me and my pups.
Please discuss Heartworm treatment with your Vet. Your puppy will not be given oral or topical Heartworm Preventative during their first 8 weeks.
Some puppy parents prefer to take their puppy to the groomer. You can schedule that every 4-6 weeks. If you are comfortable with trimmers, you can trim pup's hair yourself.
Be sure to keep your puppy's nails trimmed. You can bath your puppy every 3-4 wks. Over-bathing can dry your puppy's skin. We use Johnson & Johnson's baby shampoo, or ED by Ellen for our dogs and puppies.
Invest in a good grooming brush. You can brush your pet often. Twice per week would be ideal. Pets can develop skin irritations or have a scratch or cut that might otherwise go unnoticed so this is the perfect time to give your pet a once-over!
It is strongly recommended that you clean your pup's ears weekly to avoid wax build up and infections. You can find ear cleaning solution at any pet store or you can use baby wipes. Do not use the same wipe on both ears. This can cause or spread infection if already present. Keep the inner ear free of excess hair that can trap dirt and debris. We recommend cleaning your Shih Tzu puppy's ears once per week as well!
FLEA, TICK & DEWORMING
Talk to your vet about signs and symptoms of worms to keep your puppy healthy and comfortable. Before leaving us, pups are dewormed 2-3 times. If you take your pup to a dog park or any place where there are other dogs, consider worming your puppy occasionally.
External parasites are no strangers to dogs and pups. The two most common are fleas and ticks. Discuss flea and tick control with your vet. We use Interceptor Plus on all of our adult dogs all year to prevent flea and ticks . We do not give young puppies under 8 weeks of age oral or topical flea or tick remedies.
Pups naturally carry a small amount of protozoans in their gut flora. Stress can throw off the balance. The first sign is typically loose stool. Take your puppy to the Vet if you notice a change in their stool. Medication is inexpensive and you'll notice results within 24 hrs.
By contract, all of our puppies are to be spayed or neutered.
Females that are not spayed not only endure heat cycles, which as an owner can be a challenging time, but by spaying your female her chances of developing breast cancer are decreased and she will be less likely to develop urinary tract infections. This is usually recommended by 6 mos of age.
If you have an intact male he may be more likely to roam or fight, and to develop testicular cancer and prostatitis. Neutering is done at approx. 6-8 mos of age.
VACCINATIONS AND MICROCHIPS
Your puppy will have had a Distemper and Parvo vaccination at 8 weeks old. Moms pass antibodies to their puppies through colostrum. Two thirds of puppies will have a positive immune response after the second shot, given around 12 weeks of age. 99+% are immune after the 3rd set, given at approx 16 weeks. This is all age related.
We do not Microchip. You'll want to read up on the subject, discuss the pros and cons with your Vet and decide what's best for your puppy.
All of our puppies go for a physical exam and are checked by my vet for things such as hernias, heart murmurs, correct bites, etc.,. They receive their first shots record which will come with them to their new home.
The next set of shots are due when your puppy is 12 weeks of age. They usually have their last set of puppy shots as well as their rabies shots around 16 weeks. The rabies shot can be delayed but we highly recommend consulting your vet for the best time to do these.
It is important that you continue the course of shots as this gives them the best immunity against devastating viruses such as Parvo.
Do not take your puppy to a park, rest stop, fast food area, pet store, etc., until you receive the all clear from your Vet. There are a lot of dogs that frequent those areas and some may be sick. The consequences are not worth the risk!
Shih Tzu Puppies thrive when learning new things and they love being with their families. Investing the time in training your puppy will pay great dividends in the long run. Training with consistency and positive reinforcement is the key to success!
If you are uncertain how best to train your puppy, there are numerous books on the subject. Puppy classes are available and it's easy to find a trainer in your area to help you. If you put the time into your puppy, you will have a wonderful dog for your family for many years to come!
Even if you've had puppies before, we recommend taking your puppy to a beginner puppy class as soon as they are fully vaccinated. This is not only a great way to socialize your puppy in a very non-threatening environment, but it's also a good way for you to spend some dedicated quality training time with your puppy. You will be surprised that your Shih Tzu will be the star of any class!
Your puppy will have been introduced to a crate so they will be familiar with it. They will not have spent a great deal of time in a crate so they will need to adjust. Do not assume that by your puppy being introduced to a crate that he or she will be comfortable and content the first night or two away from their siblings, in a strange place with strangers. Most pups will cry for the first night or two regardless.
A small size crate or extra-small for teacups is recommended. I suggest no food or water after 8 pm. Let your puppy have time to potty a couple of times before going in the crate for the night. Pups can typically "hold it" for 6-7 hrs through the night at this age and more as they get older.
Let your puppy out right away in the morning and again after eating and drinking. If you are home during the day, let your pup out every 2 hrs to help speed potty training along. After drinking water, pups normally have to go potty within 20 minutes. Putting a puppy pad or paper by the door helps. If you see the puppy head toward the paper, let him or her out. Eventually you will not need the paper. Training is easier if your puppy is limited to a room such as the kitchen initially until he/she is trained.
Some families plan to keep their puppy in another room for bedtime. I suggest keeping your puppy in your room in the crate for at least the first couple of nights. We'll provide you with a blanket that has their siblings' and mom's scent on it. The first couple of nights are the hardest for the puppy. You'll learn to tell the difference between a cry that means "I'm lonely" and a cry that means "I have to go potty".
If your puppy is not housebroken by 6 months old, consider being more consistent with potty training and letting your puppy out more often.
We recommend bell training. When you're potty training the puppy, have them ring the bell before going outside. Make sure to praise the puppy after ringing the bell. Until the puppy is familiar with ringing the bell, you may need to assist them in ringing it. After going potty let the puppy play outside for a bit; this helps teach them to ring the bell to go potty rather than just for play. This training technique has worked really well for us with our puppies.
Shih Tzu Puppies are known for being intelligent, friendly, loving and easy to train. Keep in mind that puppies are like children and have to be taught what behavior is good and what is unacceptable.
The biggest mistake puppy owners can make is to expect their puppy to be perfect; never have a behavior or training issue and to ignore behaviors until they become a problem; and then wonder what happened and be upset with the puppy or us because of it.
You never want to hit a puppy, or throw things at them. You can get loud when disciplining but always follow with affection. Additional training techniques can be learned in any puppy training class. Feel free to ask us any questions and we'll do our best to answer them.
CHEWING AND DIGGING
Puppies chew because they are either teething or bored. Puppies will lose their baby teeth in the first 3-4 months, they will need thing they are allowed to chew on. Give them things that are safe to chew on. You do not want your puppy swallowing plastic or other troubling items. Your puppy is not bad because they chew on something that you didn't want them to chew on. They are puppies plain and simple. Keep things in a place puppy can not reach and you will not have something chewed on that you didn't want used as a toy or for teething purposes.
If left alone in the yard and bored, puppies dig holes or get into things in an effort to entertain themselves. Rather than be upset about dirt relocation, spend time with your puppy or dog playing fetch for example.
NIPPING AND BITING
When pups are little they play with their siblings by nipping and grabbing one another with their mouths because they don't have hands like children do. That is how puppies play. We begin training here but it is your responsibility to continue training when you take puppy home. Some people think it's cute for pup to nibble on hands and feet initially while playing and allow it. Children are especially prone to handling a puppy's mouth until he or she tries to nip or grab that hand. That will encourage a behavior that is undesirable when the puppy is older.
A tried and true method for curtailing biting and nipping is to "yip" as a puppy's sibling would do as soon as the puppy bites and pull your hand away. This is a signal to the puppy that he is hurting you and needs to stop, just as he has already learned with his siblings. If the biting or nipping continues, stop playing with the puppy and walk away for a few minutes and/or give him something that he's allowed to chew on. Your puppy wants to play with you and will soon get the message that it is not ok to bite.
BEING THE LEADER
Canines are pack animals. They must learn their place in your family or "pack". If you do not teach them, some will naturally try to take on the alpha roll. This does NOT mean that they are aggressive or just a bad dog, this is natural canine behavior. It is your responsibility to teach them! If they are allowed to do that, you will have a "problem child".
You get out of a puppy exactly what you put into your puppy. Positive reinforcement and consistency in training are essential to a well behaved dog of any breed. Having puppy wait to eat until you tell them, exit a door after you give them the "ok", etc. are good ways for puppy to know that you are the leader. These are small things but they are very important training and behavioral tools and should be done routinely and consistently.
I won't go into all that is involved with leash training as it can be as complex or simple as you want it or need it to be. Most families want to put a leash, collar or harness or their puppy right away and get going. Why would that work so easily? Think about it for a second. The puppy doesn't know you at all. You are leading them around in a strange place. They are without their siblings. You are setting your puppy up for failure. Please do not do that.
The best thing to do is get your puppy home. Let them have time to get comfortable with you and their new surroundings. Let them want to naturally follow you. What is the purpose of a leash? To keep your puppy with you and to follow you right? Once puppy follows you and comes to you when asked, put the collar or harness on. Get pup to follow you again and come when you ask. At that time, add the leash.
Pet Botanics Mini Training rewards are a great treat for pups. When he or she comes, reward them with a treat and lots of praise. This basic leash training of teaching them to come and yield to the leash takes only about 15-20 minutes unless you are impatient.
If pup takes a few steps toward you, pick up the slack but DO NOT pull. Never pull! Ask puppy to come again, praise reward and take up the slack. If you pull, you will create a tug of war type situation. You will cause your puppy to become nervous and to naturally resist and pull back. That is a "no" answer. With training, always ask for things in a way that you can get "yes" answers.
When you create a negative situation, you then have to undo what you've done and start over. They only know what you teach them and expose them to. Avoid negative situations whenever possible and get "yes" answers. Offer lots of praise and reward. If you have allowed a negative response to arise, create a positive one. Don't become upset or disappointed with your puppy or young dog. If you are negative towards them, they will know it and sense it. This will cause them to become stressed and defensive which could lead to guarding or aggression out of fear. This is a natural response. RESPONSE being the key word. It's cause and effect! It is a response to feeling the need to protect themselves. Get "yes" answers by doing something that you know creates a positive response. When you correct what you've done and puppy is trusting of you again, positive behavior will follow.
ASKING FOR HELP
If you run into a training issue that you are uncertain how to handle, reach out for help. No one expects you to be a master dog trainer. Don't wait one month or six months for the behavior and tension to escalate. At that point, there is more to undo. It can be done but it's so much easier for you and the puppy to seek the help of a trainer right away if you ever need it. There is always a reason or a trigger and always a solution. Professional trainers can very quickly spot the problem and offer solutions.
The main thing is - don't get frustrated! Often, just visiting a good PetCo or getting just one training session can put you back on the right track. Ask the trainer for tips on things that you can work on. Be specific about your issue. You'll be surprised at how simple the solution can be.
Also, please do not hesitate to email me if you have any questions. I will offer as much advice as I am able.