PAWS OFF THE GROUND! – 1st and foremost – remember the holy grail of puppy rules – THAT BABY IS GROUNDED!!! If your newly acquired puppy is under 16 weeks of age, (and often times even if they’re under 6 months of age, they have not been fully vaccinated. A common misconception is that puppies need one “puppy shot” and they’re done. WRONG! Puppies need a minimum of 3 DAPPv vaccines starting at 8 weeks of age to be properly immunized from deadly, highly contagious viruses such as Parvo, Distemper, Parainfluenza, Adenovirus, etc. These vaccines should be given at 4 week intervals until the puppy has completed all three boosters in the series. Until ALL THREE boosters have been administered, your puppy is at-risk and is what we call, “PAWS OFF THE GROUND.” This is exactly what is sounds like. Your puppy’s adorable little feet should never touch the ground except for inside YOUR house and inside YOUR back yard. No visits to the store, groomer, friend/neighbor, dog park, walks, or even in your front yard. GROUNDED, FOLKS! And let me tell you why…

Remember that all rescues/breeders/shelters are not created equal. Most rescues/breeders/shelters don’t take the 20-30 minutes to properly educate new pet parents about puppy safety where contagions are concerned. Parvo, for example, is a highly contagious, deadly virus that is extremely hard to kill. Parvo and other killer viruses typically have a 2-10 day incubation period before symptoms are noted. Because of this, ALL animals should be quarantined for a minimum of 10 days, (14 days is preferred) before being placed up for adoption. Parvo virus particles can live in soil and on surfaces for over a year without a host, and it is ridiculously hard to kill. Yeah – you read that right. It’s a gnarly little booger and it WILL kill your unvaccinated dog.

Here’s our hypothetical scenario – There are several unethical rescues/shelters/individual dog flippers lurking around who bring dogs in from out of state every week. A bus comes in on Wednesday with 50-60 dogs on board. Those dogs are on the adoption floor at Petco or Petsmart on Saturday. There has been no proper quarantine time for those dogs, and many dogs do get sick on transports. Remember – 2-10 day incubation period for these deadly viruses! Your neighbor Bob wandered into a Petco and adopted a dog from a disreputable rescue. That rescue gave Bob ZERO education. Bob had the cash – Bob got the dog, that’s all that rescue really cared about. But Bob didn’t know any different, so let’s not bash Bob. Anyway, Bob takes his new puppy home and he thinks he’s doing everything right. He has that puppy in a harness and they’re walking up and down the street working on leash training. Bob’s new puppy poops in your front yard, but Bob is a nice guy and he picks it up; you never knew it was there. 2 days later that puppy pops with Parvo. Unbeknownst to you, or Bob, you now have millions of deadly parvo virus particles in your yard, (where they will lie in wait for over a year). All it takes is for an unvaccinated dog to step in that spot and then lick their paw. Now YOUR dog is sick, you’re out $8,000, and your dog may or may not survive. It happens that fast and that easy folks! Can you honestly say that you know which dogs have pooped in your yard, or in the general community over the past year? Nope, you can’t possibly know what viruses are lurking outside of the bubble that is your home and your back yard. So, please keep your new baby in your protective bubble until they are completely vaccinated! Remember, too, that these vaccines must be given ANNUALLY. One series of puppy vaccines will not keep them protected throughout the years. 

NO NEW FOOD FOR 10-14 DAYS! Now that we’ve properly terrified you about parvo, let’s move on to some less horrifying things. Your puppy/adult dog should have been sent home with at least some of the food they have been eating. You will want to keep your new pup on that same food for a minimum of 10-14 days, and I’ll explain why here in just a sec. All dogs experience stress to some degree when moving to a new home. With that stress often comes some physiological responses. Things like, not eating right away or loose stools, (not diarrhea, more like soft serve yogurt) are normal stress reactions. This slight stress response can be treated by feeding a bland diet of chicken breast and rice, and adding a tsp of canned pumpkin to their feedings. That being said, some dogs can experience a high level of stress which can lead to Stress Colitis. Stress Colitis can present as diarrhea, often with mucus or blood in the stools. This really does need to be evaluated by your veterinarian who can confirm the diagnoses, prescribe a G.I. specific antibiotic, probiotics, and either a bland, or temporary prescription diet to help your new pet get through this stressful time. (Every PRAR dog has undergone a minimum 14 day health hold, (quarantine) but if you adopted elsewhere, or bought from a breeder and you see the symptoms above, it is of UTMOST importance to have your pet seen immediately for a fecal exam, lab work, and a parvo test.) Back to the same diet – Your puppy should be on the SAME EXACT DIET they have been eating prior to coming home because a sudden change in diet can also cause symptoms similar to what has been described above. During this period it is extremely important that you are monitoring your pup’s stools constantly for any change so that if they are experiencing Stress Colitis, (or worse), you will catch it early. If you brought Fido home and changed up his diet all willy-nilly – you are not going to know if his diarrhea is because of a diet change, or because of a condition which requires veterinary intervention. NO. NEW. FOOD. FOR. 10-14. DAYS. This includes – NO NEW TREATS. Use puppy’s kibble for training treats at this time. If/when you want to change your pet’s diet, (after the initial 10-14 days) please do so gradually, mixing small amounts of the new food into the old food over the course of 7-10 days to allow their little tummies to acclimate to the new diet.

COMFORT ITEMS – If you adopted a PRAR dog, (and hopefully even if you didn’t) you were given used toys that “smell like home.” These are toys that your pet has played with and his siblings or other dogs in the home he is familiar with have played with. These are what we call, “comfort items.” They are familiar in sight and smell, and can bring great comfort when everything else in their whole world is brand new. Please make sure your pet has these items available in their crate and at their disposal whenever they need/want them. Please do not wash them until the pet has completely decompressed and is 100% comfortable in their new home. (About a month, give or take).

FIRST NIGHT AWAY FROM THE LITTER – If you have adopted a puppy and this will be their first night away from their litter – their pack – their family. You’re probably in for a long night(s). Please remember this rule of thumb, “THE PACK ALWAYS SLEEPS TOGETHER.” This is basic dog knowledge. Your baby is alone and scared. You can minimize the stress at bed time by bringing his crate into your room and putting it right beside your bed. I often sleep with one arm hanging beside the bed and next to the crate so that puppy knows he’s not alone. He can see and smell that I am right there with him. Be prepared for him to wake up in unfamiliar territory without his siblings, and cry. Comfort him as best you can and reassure him that he is safe and loved. The worst possible thing you can do at this time is to put him in his crate and stick him in a laundry room or basement alone, just to save yourself from the crying of a lonely, terrified baby. Being without their pack is unnatural for dogs and you will likely make the behavior worse. YOU are his pack now, please honor him and his emotions through this time and support him as best you can. This should only last a day or two – you can do it.

POTTY TRAINING – Get that baby outside OFTEN! They have to potty when they wake up, after they eat, and after they play. They have to potty lots of times in between, too! Start by taking your new baby outside at least every hour during the day and give RIDICULOUS, over-the-top praise and yummy high value treats when they potty appropriately. There are lots of tips and tricks available to you if you Google potty training for a puppy. One of our favorites is to hang jingle bells on the door low enough for puppy to reach, and ring those bells everytime you go outside to potty. Like Pavlov’s dogs, your puppy will learn to ring those bells themselves when they want to go out. Yep! It works! Google it!

SOCIALIZATION – If you have a puppy, you have a responsibility to ensure that your puppy is properly socialized. There is a pretty small window available to you to take advantage of the key socialization period for dogs. Between 4 and 16 weeks folks! That’s the critical window. That’s when we are going to make or break a dog, generally speaking. Your puppy MUST get adequate socialization to people and other pets during this time period. But how do we do this when our puppy is grounded? Okay, you’re going to have to work for it, but it’s do-able. I tell our adopters to invite friends over to their homes as often as possible to socialize the pup to new people. Bring a variety of people over! Allow your pup the opportunity to meet as many people of various ages, genders, and ethnicities as possible! IF those people have ADULT – FULLY VACCINATED – FRIENDLY pooches, please invite the dogs as well! But – it is imperative that you make sure those dogs are fully vaccinated and have not been recently adopted into their families. NO PUPPIES. AT ALL. Remember folks – the primary concern is to keep your pup safe from potential exposure to deadly viruses, while also allowing them this much needed socialization during this critical developmental period in their lives.

Start training EARLY! Puppies need a lot of positive engagement and mental stimulation. Call our trainers at Get Your Sit Together and let them know that you have a PRAR dog