• Puppy Socialisation Checklist

    The clock is ticking for them to experience as many sights, smells and sounds as possible before they are around 14 weeks of age...

    The Puppy Plan is designed to help you week by week through your puppy's early life and is a great resource to follow, click here.

    The following list can be used as a starting point for your puppy’s socialisation.   You can adapt this to suit your puppy’s needs, experiences and situations. 

    Every effort should be made to control how your puppy experiences these to ensure your puppy doesn't become frightened.  They will look to you when they are worried.  Even if you are worried try and remain calm and happy so not to unintentionally reinforce the worry they are experiencing.    Avoiding eye contact, remaining calm and keeping food treats / their favourite toy (whichever they work for) at the ready to distract them when necessary.

    We 100% advice all owner to brush up on their understanding of doggy body language signs so you can identify when your puppy is feeling anxious.   Ignoring subtle dog language signs can be problematic.  If you need further advice with this please contact us and we will help you with key resources. 

    This checklist is by no means exhaustive and is here as a guide.  Many of these are important life skills for your puppy.  It is advisable for each household to make their own check list of new experiences for their puppy as each pups environment and expected life style ahead will vary in some way.  Plan for a couple of new experiences each day and repeat them as often as you can.  A happy puppy learns better so focus on little and often rather than overwhelming them with many new experiences all at once.  Practicing 'home alone' time and 'car travel' are both very important, on a daily basis in the initial weeks - for further help please contact us.   

    Places to go: 
    • Veterinary Practice
    • Kennels
    • Groomers
    • Other people’s houses
    • Pub
    • Parties
    • School
    • Recreation Ground
    • Shows and Fetes
    • Roadside
    • Public transport
    • Park
    • Rural Areas
    • Towns/cities
    • Markets
    • Lifts
    • Stairs
    • Water (river/sea)
    • Training classes 
    • Travel in the car

    Things to encounter:
    • Hoover
    • Washing machine
    • Tumble dryer
    • Hairdryer
    • Vehicles
    • Children’s toys
    • Pushchairs
    • Bicycles
    • Wheelchairs
    • Hot Air Balloons
    • Other dog breeds, size and colour
    • Cats
    • Other domestic pets
    • Livestock
    • Balloons
    • Different types of people (age/sex/ethnicity etc)
    • People of different appearance (hair/beard/hats/glasses etc)
    • Delivery people/postman/milkman/lollipop person 

    Activities to accept: 
    • Wearing a collar / harness
    • Walking on a lead
    • Grooming
    • Bathing
    • Medical examination e.g. examine of mouth, touching feet
    • Brushing teeth
    • Clipping claws
    • Leaving of a toy/treat (will happily give up a stolen item)
    • Greeting a stranger
    • Greeting new dogs
    • Basic Commands e.g. come, sit, stay, down, heal and re-call off lead to owner 
    • Puppy crate training

    People and Animals to Meet: 
    • Men
    • Women
    • Children
    • Babies
    • Elderly People
    • Disabled and infirm e.g. using walking sticks and walking frames etc.
    • Confident / Loud People
    • Shy / Quiet People
    • Delivery People  (encourage interaction indoors & outdoors)
    • People with headgear
    • People with glasses
    • People with breads
    • People in wheelchairs
    • People on bikes
    • People on skateboards
    • People pushing prams
    • Joggers / Runners
    • People significantly different in appearance from family members
    • Veterinary Practice Staff & Others in distinctive clothing 

    We would also recommend you consider using a ‘sounds sociable’ sound files.   This specially made CD helps your puppy get used to some of the more scary sounds which are not so easy to experience, e.g. to fireworks/thunder.   These are common causes of noise phobias in dogs. You can download this for free from the Dogs Trust website along with the user manual (please read this carefully before starting to play the sound clips), click here.

    If you would like more information on your puppies socialisation or any other area of your puppies care then please contact us on 01376 325511.
  • Feeding Your Puppy

    There are many different options when it comes to choosing the correct diet & feeding regime for your puppy. Every puppy is going to be slightly different in what they require.   The following gives answers to the most commonly asked diet questions.

    How often should my puppy be fed? 
    We recommend that you feed your puppy 4 meals per day until they are 3 months of age then you can reduce it to 3 meals per day.  When they reach 6 months of age it can be reduced further to 2 meals per day. Most dogs are then quite happy on 2 meals per day for their lifetime.  We do not recommend once a day feeding.

    How much should I feed my puppy?
    As you can imagine every food brand/type has different feeding amounts.  How much to feed will depend on your puppy's body weight and age. 
    The food should have a feeding guide on it dependent on their body weight (please be aware that some puppy feeding guides go by your puppies adult weight when they are fully grown) and these are generally written as 24 hour feeding amounts, so divide this by the number of meals your pup is having.   It should be emphasised that these are guidelines, but it is important to get it right.   Our consulting nurses can give you all the help you need in this department, as sometimes the information is not clear.   We also recommend you record your puppy's weight regularly. 

    If your puppy is signed up to our MVP Care Plan, this includes routine nurse consults - we can weigh your pet and body condition score them to give you a more accurate idea of their weight gain.  We use a body condition scoring system out of 9, optimum body condition score is 4 or 5 / 9 - less than this is underweight and more than this is overweight.  We can show you how to do this.

    Should I keep them on the food the breeder recommended?
    Yes, at least in the short term.   It is best for your puppy to stay on what they are used to while everything in their world is new and they are settling in.  Should you wish to change your puppy’s diet, this must always be done gradually over the course of at least 5-7 days. This is done by mixing the old & new food together & gradually increasing the new food & decreasing the old food.  
    If your puppy is raw fed and you are changing to a biscuit formula, this advice is different.  Do not mix raw food with the biscuit or kibble at the same meal, but change one of puppy's meals from raw to biscuit only, gradually changing each meal over to biscuit after 2-3 day intervals.  

    If you change your puppy’s diet too quickly it can put them off the new food or even cause an upset tummy.

    Do they need anything other than their complete puppy food?
    No, if they are on a ‘complete’ puppy food then they do not require anything else added to their diet. Your breeder may have recommended that you replace some of their meals with other food types (such as scrambled egg/porridge/Weetabix/ready brek/mince etc.) although your puppy will probably very much enjoy these treats, they are not a necessary part of their diet.  But adding in these extras you are feeding your puppy an unbalanced diet and this should be avoided.

    Can my puppy have treats?
    Yes, treats are a vital part of puppy training & bonding. Most puppies will do tricks for toys or attention, but often food has a higher reward. We advise trying to stick to low-fat puppy treats or even using their complete dry food, as these are less likely to upset their tummy or cause too much weight gain. If you are doing lots of training you can reduce your puppy's food intake for that day, but 10%.  Most training classes will recommend cheese, sausage or chicken as this is a ‘high reward’.   This is not a problem in small quantities unless they develop an upset tummy.

    But remember of keep treats in proportion! Feeding 2 slices of salami to a medium sized dog is the equivalent of 4 cookies for a human, and 28g of cheese is the equivalent of a hamburger with all the bun and trimmings!  Scale that down to a smaller breed dog or your little puppy and you can see your pup will be piling on unwanted calories which will predispose it to obesity in adulthood.  So handy hints!  Its the smell of the treat that gives the greatest reward, its not in their mouth long enough before its swallowed.  So cut cocktail sausages into at least 24 pieces - that's 24 treats.  That's the size of treat we are aiming for. A piece of cheese the size of your thumb nail can be cut into 10 pieces and if you are using pre-bought treats then make sure they are soft enough to break up into small pieces.  All these will be easily swallowed and your pup will be ready to move onto the next part of the training session.

    My puppy doesn't seem to like her food, should I change it?
    Most puppies will be fussy at some point in their early life.   It is best not to swap and change their food straight away as this can encourage them to be more fussy.   We have a method here at MVP that we call the ’20 minute rule’.     
    • This means set meal times when you feed your puppy allowing them 20 minutes to eat their food.   
    • If they are not interested then you take it away. 
    • They must have no treats in between meals and you wait until the next mealtime to put their food down again, and again they get 20 minutes. 
    • Repeat this process at each mealtime and they will soon get to the point where they realise if they don’t eat it when it’s there, then they go hungry. 
    We know it sounds harsh for your cute puppy, but they will soon become excited about mealtimes.   Try not to get into the habit of adding things to a puppy’s food especially if they are fussy. In this situation again you will need to use your ’20 minute rule’ 

    Your breeder may recommend adding warm water to dry food to soften it; this is not a problem, to begin with, but its best to wean them off it in the early weeks so they get used to crunching biscuits, which is good for their teeth.

    Note: Also look at where and how you are feeding your puppy.  Keep to quiet times and feed in a quiet area - the puppy's own crate can be really useful for this.  Explore the concept of 'no-bowl' feeding and make mealtimes more interactive, enriching and fun!  To give you some ideas click here, and if you need further help, contact us!

    Is wet or dry food better?
    The main difference between tinned & dry food is water content, tinned food has 60% more water in it. Dry food tends to be easier, cleaner and less smelly so most people find it a lot more convenient. It's also better for your puppy's teeth due to the crunching action. Even our smallest of breeds will happily crunch on dry food and there is such a vast range of dry foods now which are size appropriate. 
    If you would prefer you can do a mixture of wet and dry food but it is important to work out your feeding guide so that you feed the correct amount. Your puppy's diet will have an effect on their teeth and it is important to brush their teeth regularly.  Getting into a daily routine is best, we can help you with this.

    Which food brand is best?
    There is such a vast range of diets available that it would be difficult to say which is ‘best’. It is important to look at what you need from food; it must be suitable for your puppy’s needs and its breed. 

    We stock Hills Vet Essential range of puppy/dog (and kitten/cat) food.  These come in a mini/small; medium and large breed (over 25kg at expected adult weight) dog varieties and are life-stage diets which change at key times in your dog's life.  The Hills Vet Essential range is also a fixed formula food and unlike many other diets that can change from batch to batch, Hills do not so the food is more consistent and that is good news for your puppy's digestive system!

    Our diets are competitively priced, we offer £5 off your first purchase and a loyalty card which gives every 6th purchase for free.  We also offer 100% money back guarantee on all the Hills diets.  For more information please contact us.

    Whatever diet you choose, choose: a specific PUPPY complete diet; avoid 'working dog puppy food' and if you have a large breed dog opt for a 'large breed puppy' food.  If you are buying in large quantities then make sure you seal the food well so it remains fresh.

    Should I feed a raw diet?
    There are many different opinions on whether or not feeding a raw diet is more beneficial than a commercial diet. It is important to research a raw diet properly as it can be difficult to make it a healthy balanced diet from raw ingredients at home.  There are many components to a nutritionally balanced meal for your puppy and it is not as simple as simply feeding raw meat from the butchers with a few added extras. There are companies that make pre-prepared raw diets that have everything your puppy needs and this is a better but also safer option if you want to feed a raw diet. Deep freezing to rid the raw food of bacteria and parasites are an example of this.
    We do not recommend raw food as the preferred method of feeding for health and safety reasons but if this is how you wish to feed your puppy please contact us for an information sheet and for further advice.

    For further information on raw feeding, health and safety considerations and a list of pet food companies who follow the sector guidelines, visit the Pet Food Manufacturers Association website click here

    Our consulting nurses are always happy to answer any questions you may have about your puppy.  Please ring us 01376 325511.
  • Puppy and Dog Training

    It is important that your puppy receives adequate training and socialisation. Having a well-behaved puppy that leads to a well-behaved dog is what everyone wants.  Putting in the time in the first 6 months to a year will ensure this.  Do your research first and find out the best puppy training classes near to you.  For further information see below ...

    Start Training - socialisation
    As a starting point to training and socialisation, we recommend you expose your puppy to the sights, sounds, smells and experiences of the world they are living in.  Reputable breeders will raise litters with their mums to the age of 8 weeks before leaving to start their new lives.  The best pups are those raised in a home environment meaning that they have already started to experience home life!

    To help you we have a socialisation checklist to guide you through this click here.

    What to look for when selecting a training class:
    When looking for local dog training classes it is vital that you choose someone who uses reward-based training methods only. This means rewarding dog behaviours that are wanted and that you have requested from the dog.  You are looking for your trainer to show you how to encourage your dog to offer the behaviour you need and not force it, e.g. the dog is when he sits down voluntarily, not when his bottom is forced to the ground with your hand.

    Accredited Trainers:
    There is no national mandatory body that regulates dog training establishments, but there are organisations that accredit training schools for their positive training methods, through voluntary membership.  This is a useful benchmark and something to bear in mind when you do your research!

    Under the umbrella of the organisation, their members follow a set of rules which include a code of conduct to provide puppies and dogs with a reward-based training experience.  Membership also includes periodic reassessment to ensure standard continue to be met.

    COAPE Association of Applied Pet Behaviourists and Trainers
    COAPE members have to achieve a minimum of a Level 3 diploma and Companion Animal Behaviour and Training.  Students on the Level 5 Diploma course must complete their Level 4. Levels 4 - 6 of the Higher Diploma are regulated by OFQUAL and each level lasts one year.

    Membership is restricted so COAPE can guarantee the educational level of their members who follow a code of conduct which members agree to comply with voluntarily.

    To visit the COAPE website click here.

    Kennel Club - Accredited Instructor KCAI
    The Kennel Club runs its own accredited scheme and lists instructors/trainers who are working towards or have completed their KCAI training.  Training involves study, assessments and exams and member need to keep their practice up-to-date.  They are periodically checked to renew their accreditation.  Members can branch out and take further qualifications in specific areas of dog training.

    For more information visit the Kennel Club website, click here.

    Institute of Modern Dog Trainers - IMDT
    IMDT membership is restricted to graduates from their own course.  Members must follow a code of conduct and are reassessed periodically.

    Association of Pet Dog Trainers (UK) - APDT
    APDT offer training courses for trainers, membership of this association is based upon a rigorous assessment which includes a written, practical and oral assessment.   Members must follow a code of conduct and are reassessed periodically.

    To visit the APDT website click here.

    Association of Pet Behaviour Councillors - APBC
    It's worth noting that the treatment of behaviour problems in dogs (cats, horses and other companion animals) is a highly specialised field that requires qualified professional help.  The APBC represents a network of behaviour counsellors that have achieved the highest proven academic and practical standards available in the field of companion animal behavioural therapy.  Their members abide by a strict code of conduct and continually develop their professional knowledge in the light of new research so that clients and the vets who refer them can be assured they receive the latest expert advice at a reasonable cost.  The APBC is also an educational provider and continues to promote the practice of pet behaviour therapy to improve the welfare of all companion animals.

    Members of the APBC are highly respected by the veterinary profession.  Behaviour counsellors will only accept cases following a full clinical examination by a vet and subsequent referral.  Some medical conditions can be the cause of behavioural changes in animals and for the welfare of the pet it is important to rule this out first, this would include medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, brain conditions and testicular tumours.   There are a number of APBC members how are also veterinary surgeons.

    If you need behaviour advice, please contact us first before seeking external help.  Simple behaviour concerns can be dealt with in many cases following advice and support from our staff at our practice.  Otherwise, we would recommend referring you to an APBC pet behaviour counsellor.

    To visit the APBC website click here.

    Local Training Classes
    There are a number of training classes locally.  We strongly recommend you visit the class before bringing your puppy for its first lesson. During the covid pandemic training classes are being offered via video link - please join one and get stuck in!