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Information on Your New Golden Retriever Puppy

Vaccinations

Talk to your veterinarian about his preferences on vaccinations. Bring the accompanying health record listing your pup’s prior vaccines to your vet so that unnecessary shots are not given. Your puppy should go at least 2 weeks between shots so if it was just vaccinated it doesn’t need another shot—even if your vet prefers a different type of vaccine. 

Below are some rough guidelines on what vaccines will be needed:

9-22 weeks old:      

Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus (“DHPP”) usually given in one shot spaced 3-4 weeks apart.  Puppies should receive at least 3 DHPPs with at least one at 22 weeks or older in case the maternal antibodies were particularly long-lasting.

6 Months old:

Rabies (Texas law may require it earlier).

Optional:

Bordetella (Kennel Cough). There are several strains of Kennel Cough and the Bordetella vaccine may or may not cover the particular current strain. However, most boarding kennels require certification of bordetella vaccination.

Imperative

Heartworm preventative! Some vets start at 8 weeks of age, we usually start at 3 months.  Heartguard works well. Be careful using products that cover everything including the kitchen sink although manufacturers would dearly love for you to embrace their products. We assault our pets daily with housecleaning chemicals, lawn and gardening chemicals and poisons, etc.  Try to use the bare minimum you can get by with in fighting diseases, fleas, etc.

Corona and Lyme vaccine are not recommended.  The adult dog should get a DHPP booster at 2 years of age and from then on every 3 years.  Administer vaccinations at least 2 weeks apart.

Recommended Dog Foods

Meal type dog food is recommended over chows, especially for your puppy’s first year. To tell the difference, read the list of ingredients. If the first ingredients listed are meat, bone meal or meat by-products, this is what you want. Those that list cereals, i.e. corn, wheat, or soy products first are the chows. They are generally lower in protein content than the meals and produce a larger volume of stool. Canned dog foods are not recommended as they are not a complete balanced diet and are expensive also. In addition, dry dog foods help keep teeth clean and breath fresher, soft foods don’t.

Your puppy has been raised solely on a diet of Royal Canin Maxi Puppy food,  dry. When your puppy goes home we will send a small amount of her food home with her.  If you wish to change to a new food you can make the transition to new food gradually over a few meals. An abrupt change in diet, especially coupled with change in environment, can cause temporary digestive upsets. Royal Canin, Nutro, Nutromax, Iams and Pro Plan are all high quality dry dog foods. They do not need to be supplemented since they already include all of the necessary vitamins and minerals.  In fact, supplementation would probably be harmful to your puppy and could make it grow too fast which is bad for bone development. The above-listed foods can be found at any pet shop or feed store. Purina puppy chow is adequate after the puppy has reached six months of age. Do not be hoodwinked by some of the cheaper foods that claim to be “just as good” or claim to be a high quality dog food. Many times their “high protein content” is obtained from indigestible animal by-products. If you plan to show or breed your dog ever, poor quality or inexpensive) foods will hurt you and your dog in the long run.  Ducat dogs seem to do best on a high protein puppy food.  Even though the current trend is for vets to recommend adult food for growing puppies, Ducat puppies seem to need the extra fat and protein in puppy foods. And for some reason Ducat dogs do not do well on Eukanuba. Although it seems to be an excellent food, there seem to be some adverse side effects that affect the Ducat dogs. 

Contrary to what the dog food companies would have you believe, leftovers and scraps are beneficial to your dog. Vegetables and fruits are occasionally appreciated, as is left over meat—but no cooked bones. We keep our puppies on a high protein, high fat diet their whole lives and have not encountered orthopedic or kidney problems. Dogs and puppies under any sort of stress tend to need more nutrients. Stress can be going to the vet’s office, running and playing all weekend, dog shows, agility trials, hunt tests, etc. Even “good” or “fun” stress is still stress.

Feeding instructions

At seven weeks, feed your puppy three times daily at regular intervals. At 12 weeks cut out the mid-day feeding. Never give your puppy or adult dog milk—it causes diarrhea. Humans are the only adult mammal that drinks milk and even then it has been estimated that 75% of the world’s population has a milk intolerance. 

Feed approximately 3/4 cup dry dog food for all 3 meals. Gradually increase the amount—by 12 weeks of age your puppy should be eating 3 to 4 cups of dry dog food a day. When he is a rapidly growing adolescent, at 4 to 12 months, he may get up to 6 or 8 cups a day. This depends a lot on the amount of exercise he gets, 8 would be an absolute maximum and only if your dog gets strenuous exercise every day.

Avoid overweight at all costs!!!

Hip dysplasia has been shown to be connected with “overnutrition.” Make sure you keep your puppy lean for the first year. Be able to just feel his ribs. A fat puppy is cute and cuddly . . . and much more prone to hip dysplasia than a lean puppy. In addition, some veterinarians feel that the overuse of vitamins (particularly calcium), as well as just too much food, contributes to rapid bone growth, which in turn increases the chance of hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is behind all Golden lines, these included. Correct feedings can reduce the risk.

In addition to keeping your puppy on the lean side, do not keep your puppy on slippery surfaces. It is especially a temptation to keep a young, unhousebroken puppy on a floor that’s easy to clean up. Resist the temptation. Slippery surfaces greatly increasing the risk of hip dysplasia. Heavy exercise or jogging can also cause stress on young puppy joints. Puppies playing with older, heavier dogs can also damage growing joints. If you notice your puppy continually receiving the brunt of lots of rough housing, it would be advisable to separate the two dogs or closely supervise their play.

If you like to go jogging a rule of thumb for your puppy is 1 minute of jogging per month of age. This is especially true of large-boned males. So a 9 month old male puppy could go jogging for 9 minutes.

Treats

The only safe bones to chew are raw bones, especially beef shin bones and knuckle bones. Steak, pork chop, chicken, cooked bones in general, are apt to chip and splinters of these bones have been known to cause severe intestinal problems.

Raw-hide chews and Dog Biscuits are good treats. They are great to stick in your puppy’s mouth when she gets the urge to chew on something, such as a chair leg or your slippers. Raw-hide treats should probably be under supervision. It is possible for your puppy to bite a small enough piece off and have it become lodged in the throat and even swell enough to suffocate the puppy.

Toys

Golden Retrievers love to carry things around in their mouth and do not discriminate between clean laundry, children’s toys, shoes, etc. This trait has been selected for in breeding programs over the years and is a highly desirable attribute. If you supply your puppy with plenty of toys (such as her own basket of several types of toys that can be played with, pulled on, or chewed on), she will learn the distinction between people toys and dog toys. Every time your puppy brings you an undesirable object, remove it gently, saying “drop” and then replace it with one of her toys.

The safest toys are Cressite rubber balls (large enough not to be swallowed), pull rings and “nylabones.” Old socks can release particles that clog the windpipe causing suffocation.

Housetraining

We recommend that if possible you completely skip the paper training routine and immediately begin housetraining your puppy to the outdoors. Remember that your puppy is a baby and that from the moment that he feels the urge he can only hold it for about 5 or 10 seconds. It is up to you, for the first few weeks anyway, to ANTICIPATE HIS NEEDS and get him out before he feels the urge to go. If you see him start to squat throw something on the floor next to him (paperback books work great for this—keep a stack on hand) to startle him (so he stops what he’s doing) and immediately take him outside and stay with him until he completes the job outside. The banging on the floor will serve to distract him plus he will associate the reprimand with the floor and assume “the floor did it.” You go out with him, no matter how bad the weather—otherwise he’ll just sit on the doorstep and wonder where you went instead of tending to business. As soon as he does what you want, lavish lots of praise and pats on him for a job well done and come back into the house, if you think he is all done. Puppies usually urinate first and then poop, so keep this in mind that the latter may soon follow the former. Puppies always need to do one or both upon waking from a nap, right after eating, and every fifteen or twenty minutes in addition. So keep your eye on him and get him outside when you think the time may be near. When correcting your puppy for a goof inside be sure to go out with him so that you can praise him when he completes the job outside. If you never, ever let the puppy have a chance to have an accident inside the house they will quickly figure out that the house is not where one goes to the bathroom.  However, bear in mind that these are babies and a suggested rule of thumb is that they can only hold urine an hour per month of age.  So, even at three months of age, your puppy can probably can only hold it for three hours before he needs to go to the bathroom.

If you happen to be watching and see your puppy go towards the door, break all speed records to open the door to let the puppy outside.

Above all anticipate and praise—don’t forget the praise! It is easy to scold your dog for mistakes or misbehavior and forget to reward when he does something right. Praise is important in all facets of training.

For nighttime housebreaking please see the attached articles on crate training.

If you miss catching your puppy in the act of eliminating indoors, no matter how briefly the elapsed time, it is too late to scold him for it. Until your puppy is about 3 months old his memory is very short and he will have no idea what he is corrected for. Never push your puppy’s nose in his mess or strike him with your hand. A stern NO NO NO! usually is sufficient.

Parasites

Your puppy (like most puppies) will probably have been wormed twice already for hookworms and roundworms. Unfortunately, any sort of stress can lower your puppy’s resistance to parasites of all sorts. Your puppy must be diligently checked for worms several times the first year. Also, stress on the young puppy (such as going to a new home, separation from one’s mother and siblings) can bring out coccidiosis. All dogs and cats have coccidia (a protozoan organism) present in their bodies but puppies and kittens have less of a resistance. When the coccidia take over, puppies frequently develop severe diarrhea. It is easily cleared up with medication (Albon). Giaridia is less common but also causes diarrhea. It is a protozoa found in creeks and streams and is usually the organism responsible for Montezuma’s Revenge if you travel to Mexico. Giardia, like most bacterial intestinal infections is cured by Flagyl (generic: metrodiazonal). Other intestinal upsets can be caused by letting your puppy drink out of the toilet or eat out of the cat litter box if you have cats that have access to outside. Once again Flagyl is generally the drug of choice if the above occurs.

External parasites include fleas and ticks which can be rough on the coat and skin of your puppy. They can easily take over the entire house. Most Ducat dogs do not do very well on Program®--it tends to make them hyper and restless. Since Program® sterilizes but doesn’t kill fleas, it has a limited use—especially for dogs with flea allergies. We have found Frontline® works very well and only needs to be administered one to two times a year. Vets and manufacturers would love you to use it every month but even in flea heavy Texas the most we’ve had to use is two applications of Frontline® six weeks apart, which seems to last until the following summer. We also no longer have to spray chemicals inside and outside—Frontline® kills the fleas for us. If it seems like it isn’t working right away, you may be getting a fresh hatch out of flea larvae. Give it another 2 weeks and the population will die down again. Once again, be wary of products that kill everything internally and externally. Exposing your pet to a lot of chemicals at one time can definitely overload the system. No one really knows the long-term effects of some of these products on the longevity of your pet.

Heartworm Preventative

Heartworms are a very serious disease caused by very long, narrow worms which live in the dog’s heart. The larval stage of the worm is transmitted by mosquitoes, so it is quite difficult to prevent your dog’s exposure to it. Heartworm infestation can kill your dog.

Pups should be started on heartworm preventative between two to six months of age. In Texas heartworm preventative must be administered year round. Discuss with your vet which form of preventative is best for your dog but again, try to avoid the kill all and everything versions of heartworm preventatives.

Housing

It is assumed that by the time your puppy goes home with you, you will have constructed a safe yard or pen for her to spend her time in when you are not home or cannot be watching her. Besides needing shade (in Texas year round) and fresh water, a long walk each day would be appreciated. Have a beautiful garden you want to keep intact? One solution is to buy a dog pen from Home Depot or Tractor Supply (usually 4x6x10). If you have to be gone all day temporarily penning your dog while you’re gone can be the solution. However, bear in mind that all goldens really want to be inside with their humans so please don’t park your dog in a small pen outside 24 hours a day. Underexercised, bored dogs are trouble. If you are having problems with your dog barking too much, digging holes, or being too rambunctious, it is probably due to not enough exercise or human companionship.

Socialization

Socialization is of paramount importance. The first 4½ months of your puppy’s life are the most important and impressionable. Get your puppy out as much as you can to all sorts of new places—houses, shopping plazas, ball parks, schools, friends’ houses; expose her to as many new experiences, noises and people as possible. The first 4 months are irreversible. If she is exposed to a variety of experiences she will become a very adjusted pet. Try to enroll your puppy in a local puppy kindergarten as soon as you can!

Your puppy should be considered a member of your family and be inside the house with you as much as possible. It is perfectly acceptable for your puppy to sleep outside—the outdoors will strengthen your puppy’s feet, pasterns and legs and your puppy is more likely to grow a nice coat (especially desirable for show dogs). But it is equally important that your puppy have a lot of human companionship. It is only by frequent indoor attention that she can become a well-behaved family member.

Grooming

Brush your dog at least two times a week. This will keep the coat clean and free of mats.  When your dog starts to shed, brush him at least once a day. This will help him shed quickly and keep him comfortable; also, it will help keep the fur out of your house.

Clip your dog’s nails every other week. Doing this frequently will keep the nails short. Once nails and the quick of the nail have grown too long, it is painful to the dog to have the nails shortened.

Clean your dog’s ears once a week with a cotton ball or Kleenex and a solution of half water and half alcohol squirted into the ear and “squished” around to help prevent ear mites and ear infections.

Tired of all the hair?  Hate vacuuming every day?  I never thought I'd be saying this but go ahead and shave your dog if hair really, really bothers you.  In Texas dogs feel great if they get a summer shave and you'll be amazed at how long you can go between vacuuming.

Neutering Your Dog

Goldens may be neutered/spayed any time after the growth plates close. Normally it is less costly and much safer for your bitch if she is spayed when she is not in heat.  

A neutered male is often a calmer pet. They also are no longer interested in females in heat. In males the chance of getting testicular cancer is eliminated. In females the risk of ovarian and mammary tumors are eliminated/reduced. Also, the risk of infections of the uterus is avoided—a common and very expensive problem with older, intact females.  However, for both sexes you should wait as long as possible--please see the reasons why on the Ducat Goldens page.

Breeding Your Dog

Generally, unless your dog was sold to you as a breeding quality puppy, your dog is not of suitable quality to be bred. In order to keep the Golden Retriever a healthy, friendly, working breed, only the best specimens should be used for breeding. Those goldens used for breeding should not only have very good temperaments and conformation, but they should have their hips and elbows x-rayed and the x-rays sent in to OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) for evaluation. Only those dogs certified to be clear of hip dysplasia should be used for breeding. The eyes of the breeding dog should be checked yearly by a certified veterinary ophthalmologist for any hereditary eye defects, and only those animals with clear eyes should be used for breeding. And the heart of the breeding dog should be certified by a certified cardiologist.

If you have any questions during the seemingly endless amount of time between now and when you come to pick up your puppy, please do not hesitate to call us.