1. What do I have to do as far as his health is concerned?

From day one, it is recommended that you visit your vet. Giving your puppy the necessary vaccines is vital to its health as well as your own. Vaccines are usually given to puppies when they are 2 months old but it is possible to give the vaccines earlier. There are specific vaccines that must be given to your pet, at a specific order and according to its age.

Apart from vaccination, a proper disinfestation is also needed at a specific order and time.

*Your vet will make a note (in your dog’s health booklet) of when your next appointment should be.

2. How and what should I feed my dog?

The best way to feed your dog is to have a fixed eating schedule. This means you must have specific hours to give it its food (morning and afternoon or afternoon and evening). This way it is easier for you to know when your pet needs to go for a walk to relieve itself.

You can find suitable food for your dog or puppy in pet shops. When deciding for the kind of food you will give to your pet, you should take into consideration its age.

*If you want to teach your dog to eat at specific hours, you should never keep the dog’s bowl full during the day. You must control the time for its meals. For example, if you give it its food at a specific time and it does not eat, then you take its food and wait for the next scheduled time to give it its next meal.

3. What is the most suitable place for my dog to sleep?

Ideally your pet should sleep in a quiet, warm, dark place which is kept clean easily. It is not right to let your pet sleep on your bed, as it is important to train it to know - and make sure it understands - which space is his and which is yours. From a young age, you can try to teach the dog which places of the house are his, which are yours (e.g. our bedroom) and which places can be used by everyone. There are also special pet baluster gates at pet shops that can be used to contain your pet in a small place (2x2) where it can rest and / or sleep. In this space it is useful to keep its bed, bowl and a special diaper (pet shops) to relieve itself.

 *When he has grown and has learned which place is his and which is yours, you can allow your dog to climb on your bed as far as it obeys you when you tell it to climb down.

4. How can I make it stop whining in general or when it is time for sleep?

The first 48-72 hours will be a little difficult. The new smells and spaces, the huge creatures who constantly stroke them, the separation from its mother and siblings are good excuses for its whining. You should try to make it feel welcome by using gentle moves without yelling.

We put it in its space which we have confined and we let it sleep. It will certainly cry a lot, it will want us to hold it, sleep with us in order to be with us. What’s important is not to give into its crying. If we give in, if we hold it while it is crying, it means it has achieved what it is whining about. And since the best way that dogs learn is the combination of action-outcome, it will automatically relate its crying to getting what it wants and then changing this habit will become even harder.

5. Why is it constantly biting me?

Most puppies want to grab everything with their mouth. Their teeth, however, change and therefore, just like babies, they want to bite things because of the pain. Usually, this procedure is finalized at the 4th-5th month of age and that is why they need our patience.

These bites should not scare us even if they occur on children of young age. A puppy is not strong enough to harm a child with the teeth it has during the first months of its life.

While the puppy grows older, we should gradually teach it to stop biting. It is negligence to let our dog grow and bite for fun because it may cause us scratches on our hands. When dogs play with each other they make a particular whimpering when they feel pain from their bites. Therefore, all we have to do is imitate what dogs do with each other. So while it is gently biting our hand, we should produce a fake “ouch” or “grrr” sound and as soon as it lets us free, we should give it its toy and play with it excitedly as a gesture of positive reinforcement. In case of a very grumpy and stubborn puppy, then we proceed to a negative reward. We NEVER hit our puppy. We put some lemon on our hand and we let it bite us as usual. Dogs dislike lemon, so that way it will learn that hand-biting does not taste nice and it will simply stop this habit.

*A solution is buying some particular bone-toys which can be found at any pet shop in our town. This way we help it feel relief from the pain on its teeth with its own items and not ours.

6. Can I reprimand my dog after unwanted behavior? How can I do it so that it can understand me?

For instance, if we find a chewed slipper, it is not right for us to reprimand it since the action has already happened. The tip is to catch it in the act, reprimand it by using merely our voice and point out the right action. In the case of a slipper, we should grab it while it is biting it and angrily say “Don’t” or “No”. We never hit our puppy. After a minute or two, we invite it to play offering to it one of its chew toys since we know that our puppy has the need to chew.

*In case we reprimand our puppy, we should not hold a grudge for too long. The puppy will not understand why we are mad at it after a few minutes. We should keep in mind that we have friends and can keep ourselves busy but the puppy has only got its owner and its whole life revolves around him/her.

7. How can I teach it not to relieve itself inside the house?

First of all, you should know that as soon as puppies eat or drink water, they usually want to relieve themselves. That is why it is better to have the puppy eat at the small area we have designated for that purpose. As soon as it finishes its meal, it is expected that it will go to its special dog-diaper to eliminate (he may miss in the beginning). Every time it relieves itself on the diaper, we should praise it (say “well-done”, cuddle it and when it grows a bit older we can give it ONE special dog treat). As it grows older and uses the diaper more, we can gradually widen its spot and after it gets even bigger we can start taking it out.

Puppies, just like babies, need to relieve themselves quite often during the day. Therefore, when we have it away from its designated spot and notice it sniffing a lot, it shows that it needs to go potty. That is when we should bring it back to its spot immediately. It may start crying at first and want to get out. We should definitely not take it out unless it calms down (i.e. stops crying or/and falls asleep). It is likely that it won’t even eliminate and fall asleep.

It is known that puppies, just like humans, need to urinate as soon as they wake up. Therefore, even if it cries, we should not take it out as soon as it wakes up unless it urinates in the diaper.

Of course there will be times that the puppy will relieve itself in the house because nobody can be constantly vigilant while it is away from its spot. Many people falsely push its face towards its urine or feces in order to make it realise its mistake and not make a mess in the house again, sometimes even a long time after it relieved itself. We should keep in mind that for dogs, whatever happened in the past, stays in the past and they cannot comprehend that we are punishing them for something they did an hour before.

The tip is to catch it in the act, reprimand it by using only our voice and point out what’s right! So as soon as we notice that our dog is about to eliminate in the house, we say “No” or “Out” in a firm and steady voice and we immediately take it to a spot where it can relieve itself and point with our hand saying “Here”.

*All the above can be used for all kinds of unwanted behaviour. If for example we find a chewed slipper it is wrong to get angry since it is something that happened in the past. As we have already mentioned, what matters is to catch it in the act, reprimand it by using our voice and point out what is right! In the case of the slipper, we should grab it while it is chewing it, say “Don’t” or “No” and give it one of its toys instead.

8. How can I teach my puppy to relieve itself while on a walk?

The first times we will take our puppy out for a walk will require a lot of patience and time. The puppy will be uneasy because of new smells and objects it will come across and that is why it will be difficult at first to relieve itself outside.

We take some of its feces with us and put it in the nearby field on a diaper before we go there with our puppy. After we give the puppy its food, we go straight to the spot where the diaper is and put it there to sniff it. We patiently wait for AS LONG AS it takes until it relieves itself there. As soon as it does, we give it a special treat that is always the same for the specific purpose enthusiastically followed by a toy. We repeat this procedure and when we notice that our puppy has learned to eliminate at that spot we stop using the diaper. It is important to teach the puppy to eliminate only on soil from a young age and avoid sidewalks (in all cases, we collect the feces from public places when we finish training).

*The procedure above can be used to train our dog to relieve itself at a specific spot in our yard. We give it positive reinforcement when it eliminates in the yard. In case it eliminates inside the house, we say “No” angrily IMMEDIATELY after it does it inside.