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Cockapoo Club of America Guide to Puppy Care
 
Puppy Care Basics:

1. GENERAL:

Your puppy has been given the finest possible start in life because it has been:

  • Born of fine tempered, healthy parents.
  • Wormed and fully immunized for its age with "state of the art" vaccine.
  • Kept indoors, warm, clean and free of pests.
  • Fed the highest quality diet.
  • Provided with veterinary supervision.
  • Had dew claws removed for safety
  • Given plenty of loving attention 
  • Provided with training experiences and socialization that coincide with its developmental stages.

As responsible breeders, we are always interested in feedback on our puppies and are eager to answer questions, discuss training procedures or just provide support to the pup's new family. It is only from your feedback, positive or negative. that we can judge the type of dog that we are producing.

2. FEEDING: (Make sure that you check the list of Dog food brands that are affected by the recall!)

Feed only a dry PREMIUM dog food made especially for puppies, for example, Science Diet. Premium dry foods give solid nutrition and the hardest smallest stools. This not only facilitates pickup but a hard stool massages the anal glands and seems to prevent problems. There are other very good brands - check with your vet if you have concerns.  If you want to switch, do so very gradually over a 10-day period or the pup will get diarrhea.

We urge you not to use grocery store brands of dog food as the ingredients used are of inferior quality. Do you want your dog getting its protein from "chicken feathers and heads" or from backs and giblets?  Premium dog foods may seem more expensive but the dog consumes less, the food is highly digestible and there is less stool. Price wise, it evens out.

Feed large pups twice a day and tiny ones 3 times a day. Offer DRY food, as much as they will eat in 15 minutes and then pick up the food. Do not moisten or add canned food. Leaving food down all the time is not recommended because studies have shown the puppies fed this way consume 20% more food and this may cause bone defects and obesity in later life. It is better to have your pup a little underweight. Make no fuss about eating, it is a neutral and natural activity and should not be encouraged or discouraged. The "clean plate club" does not apply to dogs. Except in rare cases of illness, the dog will eat exactly what it needs with the above method. Pups will normally skip meals as will adults. KEEP FRESH WATER AVAILABLE AT ALL TIMES EXCEPT WHILE IN CRATE.

Avoid feeding table scraps (if you must, they should not consist of more than 10% of the diet). REMEMBER, THE SMALLER THE DOG, THE LESS THE TREATS.  Do not feed commercial dog biscuits as training rewards. A very small portion of Jerky will do. Watch the intake of rawhide chew toys.  GIVE TREATS ONLY AS A REWARD FOR OBEDIENCE.  DO NOT GIVE ANY BONES EXCEPT STERILIZED BEEF KNUCKLE BONES. DO NOT SUPPLEMENT WITH VITAMINS, COTTAGE CHEESE, MILK OR EGGS.  These old beliefs are not only unnecessary with today's balanced Premium foods, but may cause a host of skeletal and cartilage defects. They may also decrease phosphorus, iron, zinc and copper absorption and may cause crusty and scaly skin. CHOCOLATE, ONIONS, GARLIC AND CAFFEINE ARE HIGHLY TOXIC TO DOGS.

3. THOSE FIRST FEW DAYS:

Your puppy is ready to learn at 4 weeks but teaching and learning require frequent repetitions of the same behavior, 100 to 200 times. The first days can be very trying for both the puppy and new owner and is similar to the frustrations felt when bringing a new infant home. The main challenges are crate training and house training. The main ones facing the puppy are learning to sleep by himself without the warmth and comfort of his littermates and finding out what his place is in the "pecking order" of your household. Remember that pups need a great deal of sleep so do not allow children to overtire him. Your pup is already used to a crate, "his den," but may cry and scream out of loneliness. Keep the crate beside or even on your bed for a while. Place some unwashed item of your clothing in with him along with a stuffed toy or two and a chew toy. The sterilized hollowed bones stuffed with peanut butter in the middle will entertain a pup for hours. You can also feed the pup in his crate. but do not leave food or water in the crate.  NEVER REMOVE THE PUP FROM HIS CRATE WHILE HE IS CRYING OR SCREAMING.  This just rewards the behavior. Make sure he is quiet for at least 30 seconds before opening the door. The first week or so, he may have to be taken out to eliminate once or twice during the night. Don't jump out of the bed on the first peep; wait to see if he is serious. Sometimes just saying a few words will reassure him and you will not have to get up.

4. BITING AND CHEWING:

All pups bite and chew in play. Teach the pup to bite softly by loudly yelling "ouch" when he bites too hard and he will learn to bite softly. Some trainers prefer the command "no bite".  Be careful of having puppies in your face. They do not discriminate between your finger and your nose. During teething, they will chew on practically anything. Your job is to provide chew toys and praise the pup when he uses them.  Keep shoes and other unacceptable chewing objects picked up. Put Bitter Apple (available in pet stores) on phone and electric cords. Puppies, like human babies, explore their environment by putting anything and everything in their mouths. Make sure that they have a variety of safe toys to chew on.

5. CRATE TRAINING:

As mentioned earlier, a crate or kennel is the best method of controlling the puppy and preventing accidents and destructive behavior. Crating is not cruel or inhumane and is a natural haven because it fits into the puppy's den concept. Crates come in plastic or in wire cages.  We prefer plastic as they are warmer, darker and free of drafts. Get a crate that is just big enough for the puppy and make bedding out of a worn T-shirt or blanket (towels do not make good bedding as claws get caught in them) and place at least one stuffed toy in it. (pups love to be packed in). If the crate is too big, the pup may use one end for a "potty" place.  As he outgrows the puppy crate, get one that will be suitable for his adult size. He needs to be able to stand up and turn around in it.  The crate can be used as his bed for the rest of his life. Do not give in and take the pup to bed with you even once. If you must, put the pup, crate and all on your bed.  It is not advisable to let a dog, even a grown one sleep on the bed with you. This may be one factor in the separation anxiety syndrome seen so much today. If you leave the crate available to him, he will often crawl into it to sleep on his own, or use it as a refuge when the children get too much for him. Teach children to respect his "space." If the pup falls asleep elsewhere in the house, pick him up and lock him in his crate. The crate is a handy and safe way to travel in the car. Start off with no more than 4 hours in a crate for a pup except at night. Do not leave food or water in the crate, but you can feed in the crate and remove dish. The crate should represent a happy secure place for the dog and never be used as punishment. NEVER OPEN THE CRATE DOOR WHEN THE PUP IS SCREAMING. This just rewards the screaming behavior. WAIT FOR 30 SECONDS OF SILENCE before opening the door.

6. HOUSE TRAINING:

Here, as in all training, consistency and positive reinforcement are of paramount importance in the speed of your success. Do not expect too much too fast. Remember that it takes most dogs 100-200 repetitions to learn a new behavior. The routine is fairly simple. Dogs love consistency, structure and routine. Carry the pup outside as soon as he awakens, after meals and every hour while awake. Soon you will learn the "signals" when he wants to go. Put him down outside (teacup toys can be taught to eliminate in a litter pan) and when he squats to urinate use a word such as "tinkle" or "go" followed by immediate praise when he goes. Do the same for his bowel movement and before you know it you will have a dog that goes on command? It is most important that you do not just put him outside but are there to praise. It is a good idea not to play with the pup in the yard at first, so that he learns its primary function. When you cannot keep an eye on the puppy, put him in his crate. Indoors, there is no value in scolding a pup for an accident after the fact. After a couple of weeks, if you catch him in the act, grab him up quickly, say no sternly and take him outside. If you are quick enough, you may stop him in midstream and he will continue outside and get his praise. DO NOT SPANK OR RUB HIS NOSE IN THE ACCIDENT. The most a pup will learn from this is to not go where you can see him. This is not only useless and disgusting but also harmful. For accidents, clean up the mess out of the pup's view. First, soak up the accident with an old towel or rag, then soak the area with Nature's Miracle or a similar product and soak that up in like manner.  ALLOW THE PUP IN ONLY A SMALL SPACE IN YOUR HOME UNTIL HE CAN BE TRUSTED.  ONCE GIVEN FREEDOM IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO RESTRICT SPACE. 

A PUP'S TYPICAL DAY:

6 am: Carry him out to relieve himself, give lavish praise. Allow him to
eat in the kitchen. Out again. In to play and snuggle. Falls asleep. Put in
crate:

9 am: Pup wakes up, open crate and carry him outside.  Praise and bring into
kitchen and play with owner and toys. In crate again.

Noon: Same

3 pm: Same, but practice grooming

6 pm: Same, except feed, out and play.

9 or 10pm: Out,  play and tuck in for night

7. IMMUNIZATIONS AND WORMING

Your pup was wormed on ___________ with (brand) to eliminate roundworms. Pup was given (state brand of vaccine and diseases) on________________.  Your pup needs to be taken to your vet within a week for a physical exam and a schedule for further immunizations and wormings.  Roundworms are the most common type of worms for puppies to have.  There are several other types of worms in addition to roundworms, that your vet may want to test for.

The most worrisome disease that is being immunized against is Parvovirus. Ask your vet about its prevalence in your area and for guidance on puppy socialization since exposing your puppy to other dogs can make him at risk to contracting disease.. The reason the pup needs a series of shots, is because antibodies from the mother's milk interfere with the immunizations effectiveness. The antibodies wane between 8 and 16 weeks and there is no way of telling when that will be in a particular pup. There is likely to be a "window of time" when the antibody level drops and the pup gets his next shot. The pup is susceptible during this window of time, and if exposed  may get the disease.  Parvovirus is passed in the infected stools, urine, vomit, and saliva, of dogs harboring the virus, also, it is airborne, is very hardy, and can last in the environment for a year or more.

8. SOCIALIZATION

You cannot keep your puppy in a "sterile bubble" and his socialization needs during this time are extremely important also. It is a balancing act. The best advice is to avoid taking him places that dogs of unknown origin frequent, such as rest stops on freeways or dog parks. Other new puppies are high risk also. Your pup needs to meet a variety of people and other dogs, be taken places in the car etc. It is fine for him to play with your friends or relatives dogs who have been well immunized and are healthy. Most vets will agree that your pup can go to Puppy classes after the age of 16 weeks. Puppy classes, and later regular obedience classes, are highly recommended. A well-trained dog has a good ego, and feels secure and loved.

9. FLEA  AND TICK CONTROL

The advent of such products as Advantage and Frontline has revolutionized flea control.  There is no excuse for any dog having fleas. These products can be used on puppies as young as 6 weeks. If you want to save money, buy a package for a 50 to 100 LB dog and apply the liquid as directed with a 3 cc syringe.  Get correct dosages and syringes from your vet.  If you are in an area with ticks be sure to get products that kill ticks too.  Some even kill mosquitoes that are the vectors of heartworm.

10. BATHING AND GROOMING:

Always comb the pup thoroughly before bathing to assure there are no mats. Bathe your puppy only when necessary to keep from drying out the skin. Once every 2 weeks is probably sufficient. Use a puppy "no more tears" shampoo. Avoid getting shampoo in the eyes and ears, wash in tepid water, rinse well and towel dry all the while speaking softly and calmly to the pup. You can blow dry on medium but get him used to the noise first. Have the dryer on at some distance and give him a couple of treats, then gradually move it toward him.  Start with the lowest setting  at his rear (they hate it in their  faces) and all the time talking to him soothingly and praising him for holding still (help from another person is nice).

Comb your pup daily, or at least twice a week, using a metal comb that has teeth long enough to reach down to the skin. Get him used to having ears inspected and cleaned and fingers in mouth in preparation for brushing teeth later. Praise him when he accepts the combing quietly. Make yourself and the pup comfortable when you do this. You seated in a chair and pup on table or lap. Use table at least occasionally to prepare for a groomer if you intend to use one. Be sure to clean ears with a Q-tip and pull hair out of ear canals. Ask a breeder or a groomer to show you how to do this and also how to trim the toenails). If you get an unpleasant odor or dark wax or the pup shakes its head, it is a good idea to have him checked by a vet.  Good preventive cleaning of the ears is extremely important. Grooming is a good time to inspect ears, coat, skin, genitals and to trim nails.  After the pup has gotten used to being groomed, introduce a "clipper" noise.  If you do not have clippers try an electrical razor or toothbrush. Choose a groomer by recommendation only, and if you can, use one that keeps the dog only a few hours. It is a good idea to bring the pup to a groomer at least once for a bath so he gets used to someone else handling him. If you decide to have your Cockapoo clipped be very specific about what you want and write it down. Most groomers are not familiar with grooming Cockapoos so they do not look like a Cocker or a Poodle. Unless you tell a groomer to scissor the coat to a certain length, they will usually do it the fastest way and use the clippers with a half-inch guard and you have a shaved dog.

Following is a suggested way to groom a Cockapoo:

Leave all hair naturally long (preferred) or if scissoring coat leave it at least 2 inches long. Trim hair on top of nose and under eyes to make eyes visible and mustache prominent. Leave goatee full length. Scissor top knot hair just enough to keep out from in front of the eyes. Shaving around genitals, rectum and belly aids in cleanliness. Shave under the pads of the feet, but do not make Poodle feet. Leave tail full and natural.

11. TOYS AND TREATS:

Puppies love soft squeak toys, rawhide bones, sterilized hollow bones in which you can put an elusive piece of meat or peanut butter, cows hooves, tug of war toys, balls and pigs ears. We do not recommend pigs ears as they are costly, too easily and rapidly eaten, adding unneeded protein to the diet. There are differences of opinion about playing tug of war. Some authorities feel that it makes the dog aggressive. The general guidance is to stand up so
that you are in the dominant position and so that you can control the game. Occasionally the dog may loose a baby tooth that was ready to come out anyway. Fairly gentle play and letting the dog win is OK. NEVER PULL THE PUP OFF THE FLOOR BY ITS TEETH. As a training reward, small bites of beef jerky or liver treats are good. Remember that the dog feels just as rewarded by a small piece as he does from the entire stick. Always make the pup do something to earn the treat. Treats of any kind, along with table food, should not comprise more than 10% of the pup's total dietary intake. i.e., The smaller the dog, the smaller the amount of treats.

12. SAFETY:

Puppies seem to have a natural affinity  for electric wires and telephone cords. You can rub Bitter Apple on the wires and cords if he is around them. It tastes terrible and can also be sprayed on other items that have become a problem. It is also useful on stool if the pup tends to eat the stool. (Very natural for dogs, but disgusting to us). Very soon after getting your puppy, fit him with a buckle type collar and a lightweight 6-ft leash.  Collars are only a hazard if they are put on too loosely and the pup can get his jaw caught in it. They should be tight enough so that you can slip only two fingers under it.  Again, praise when he walks even a step with the leash on and he will soon get the hang of it. Once he does, occasionally take the pup out to eliminate with his leash on. Do not push, drag or pull the pup. NEVER, NEVER let your dog loose on city streets, no matter how obedient you think he is. It takes but an instant for even a well trained dog to dash across a street after an irresistible cat and be hit by a passing car.  Several human foods are lethal when ingested by a dog. It would take 2 ounces of Baker's CHOCOLATE to kill a 20 LB dog. The smaller the dog the less it would take. The same with caffeine as in regular coffee or espresso. ONIONS and their relatives, garlic and chives can also be deadly.  MOLDY WALNUTS and ALCOHOL can also be lethal.  Seeing your dog drunk and staggering from drinking your beer is not funny or humorous, but most likely will be lethal.  Common household plants such as mistletoe, holly, hibiscus, dieffenbachia, ivy, azalea, yew and the runoff from oleander are toxic.  Cleaning products, disinfectants, pesticides and rodent killers are toxic if ingested and airborne sprays such as Listerine while wet.  Perfumes and colognes, antifreeze, adhesives and glue are toxic and dangerous.  Toys with small parts can be a choking hazard and are dangerous as well.  Be sure that all members of the family know this.

13. THE "COME" COMMAND:

This is the most important command your dog will ever learn and obeying it may save his life. Start out calling your pup "Rover, come" in a small space over a short distance. Praise for coming, sometimes giving a treat and praise, sometimes just praise. Remember Psychology 101, in which Skinner's rats responded and learned better by a schedule of variable and random reinforcement?  We believe it applies to dogs too. NEVER, NEVER call the pup
to you to scold him, put him in his crate, groom him or any other mildly unpleasant activity. Always make sure the "coming" results in a pleasant activity. When you need to do something to the pup, go and get him. Do these simple things consistently and you will have a dog that will turn around and come to you in the middle of chasing a rabbit!

14. PREVENTING DOG "SEPARATION ANXIETY" SYNDROME:

To get your pup used to staying alone, leave him in his crate and go off for varying periods of time, (whether you need to or not), starting with short periods and extending the time.  Do not make a big fuss over him when leaving or returning (this is also the way to treat submissive urination).  Turning on the radio to classical or soft music or a talk show is comforting.

Owners, especially of small cute fuzzy, appealing dogs like Cockapoos tend to forget they are dogs and use the dog to satisfy their need to nurture something to an excessive degree.  The owner may have his/her own need satisfied but the dog sometimes becomes a spoiled, overfed, finicky, overly anxious dog with few boundaries. He will not be welcome anywhere because he constantly bothers everyone for attention, marks in their house, mounts peoples legs etc.  The owner(s) create a situation where they feel they cannot go anywhere without their precious pooch, and limit their lives since dogs cannot go everywhere. You all know people like this and it is your choice about whether you want to be one of them or show real love for your dog by training him and teaching him manners.

15. RECOMMENDED READING:
All books and tapes can be ordered from Amazon.com through the Cockapoo Club of America Website and the Club gets a portion of the sale.   www.cockapooclub.com

"THE PUPPY REPORT" by Larry Shook, $4.95
"The Art of Raising a Puppy", by the Monks of New Skeet, $21.95


Copyright 1999, Cockapoo Club of America 

 

Last updated 03/21/07