Puppy Care 101

Last December my friend, Mech showed me pictures of adorable puppies and asked (okay, maybe I sort of begged him to ask) if I wanted to give one of them a home. Having waited 23 years for this opportunity, I did not even think twice before saying yes. Yes, I would love to have a puppy! Yes, I promise to give her a happy home. Yes, I would willingly give my heart and soul to become a new mom (to a pet)! YES IN ALL FORMS!!!

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Boston Terrier/Shih Tzu Breed

He said I could get one in February since the puppies still need to be nursed by their mother. That meant 2 agonizing months of waiting. To prepare, hours of research had to be done to make sure that I will become a fit parent to my future baby. Which honestly isn’t hard given the amount of accessible information in the world wide web like this very helpful article!

When she finally arrived, I felt like a child opening presents on Christmas Day. Timmy (androgynous name for the win) was every bit of perfect as I imagined her to be. She easily warms up to people, loves to cuddle, and doesn’t bark often unless excited. This is the biggest commitment of my life so far, but being responsible for a puppy doesn’t feel like much work when all actions are done with love. <3

She fell asleep on the way to the vet!

Below is a short compilation of tips (from research and short-term experience) for first time pet-owners like myself. If you have other suggestions, feel free to drop a line or two in the comments section. :)

Housebreaking
Make sure to pet-proof your home prior to your puppy’s arrival. Don’t leave anything you don’t want chewed or eaten, or things that can harm your puppy (e.g. cords, sharp objects, insecticide). When your puppy sees her new home for the first time, give her the freedom to sniff around. Assign a place for her to pee/poop (more on this later), and a specific area for her to play, eat, and rest. It’ll take some time for her to familiarize herself with her surroundings, but she’ll eventually get used to it.

Creating positive experiences in her play area!

Puppies are still teething so expect a lot of biting and chewing. You may think it is cute if she bites you with her baby teeth, but you wouldn’t want her getting used to this by the time she grows up. Buy a few toys for her to play with and chew on. Make sure the toys are right for her size, and aren’t made of materials that she can easily break off or ingest. Kong is one of the most recommended brand, but there are also a lot of good ones that fall between the 300-500php range. You might think this is too much for a dog, but this will help her battle boredom when left alone (and leave your personal belongings alone). Stuffed dogs are also recommended, especially if you don’t have another dog around, so she has a “companion” when her human is at work.

Food
Read up on the best food for your puppy’s age and breed. A mix of wet and dry is suggested, though I admittedly haven’t tried that yet. It will also help to look at prices prior to buying for benchmarking purposes. Mech feeds his dogs with Bow Wow, priced at 200-250php/5kg. It’s probably one of the cheapest you can get and is sold at Handyman Stores nationwide. I fed Timmy Alpo Little Friends during her first few weeks with me, since it’s cheap (100+php per 450g) and available at most supermarkets. However, friends with pets suggested other brands so I recently switched to Science Diet Small Bites which I found in Pet Express, SM Megamall. It’s around 500php/kg –BUT is recommended by veterinarians and dog whisperer Cesar Milan, who is now facing animal cruelty charges…okay, off tangent– but her poop smells less and looks less funky so I guess this is better for her.

Pet Express sells this brand!

The food packaging is velcro, ergo is resealable, ergo is sosyal. Lelz. Kidding aside, it comes with a feeding guide for your pet so you don’t wind up clueless like me when I first started! I give her LC-Vit Syrup (vitamins) after breakfast everyday. Fortunately, she likes how it tastes so giving to her is not a struggle. I bought her vitamins for 175php but I found it the other day na 129php lang pala sa Pet Express. Hay.

Anyway, I also give Timmy treats to reinforce good behavior. Her favorite is Wellness from Bow & Wow. It’ is made of lamb, salmon, and whole fruits and veggies. Sosyal talaga itong aso ko. But the nice thing about Bow & Wow is they only sell food that are all-natural. I’m still on the look-out for cheaper alternatives, but I have to make sure the ingredients are safe for Timmy.

Vaccinations
Like babies, puppies are prone to all sorts of diseases so make sure to make regular visits to the vet. Timmy goes to Vets in Practice near our place in Mandaluyong. It doubles as a clinic and animal hospital (with emergency hours, tama ba yung term, o basta yjust un). A trip to the vet costs 800php-1000php. This already includes fees for deworming/vaccines, ear-cleaning and nail-trimming.

Thank you for being so friendly and gentle, Dr. Michael!

Timmy has been dewormed 4x already and won’t be needing one until June. She had her rabies vaccination too, which is good for one year. However, she is still scheduled for 5-in-1 vaccinations every 2 weeks. They have some sort of baby book so you don’t forget when the next vaccination is due. So cute!

Timmy’s “Baby Book”

Exercise
I read that dogs are supposed to be taken out for walks for at least an hour in the morning and in the afternoon/night. I haven’t walked Timmy yet out of fear of her catching the parvo virus from other dogs, but she’s had her rabies shot and 5-in-1’s so it might be safe to take her out already. From what I’ve read, set a regular route (but change it up from time to time). Walk next to her or ahead of her to teach her that she has to follow you, not the other way around. But allow her to take her time when sniffing around.

If you can’t take your puppy out yet, make sure she still gets enough physical activity indoors. I usually run around with Timmy and make her chase me around our home. I also give her free reign when I’m home so she can walk and jump around to her heart’s content.

It would also be great for your pet if you can arrange playdates for her. This will also help in teaching her proper social skills. If you don’t know anyone she can play with, find pet-friendly places where she can make new friends! Just don’t forget to read up on every establishment’s requirements before bringing your pet.

With her new friend, Snickers.

Fancy Shmancy

Training

THIS. IS. VERY. IMPORTANT. Training puppies require a lot of patience.

When potty training, assign a specific location for your dog to poop/pee. As much as possible this should be away from her dining area. Timmy uses a pee mat, and I spray it with an attractant everyday. If she pees on the right spot, I give her a treat or praise her. She still misses from time to time, but when I do I make sure to carry her to her mat so she remembers that it’s her “toilet.” Don’t forget to clean up after your pet when she makes a mess on the floor. Use soap or other cleaning agents to eliminate bacteria and smell (your puppy will be able to trace the smell, and pee there again).

Before she eats, use keywords to signal that she will be fed. Some puppies however are quite smart and can pick up on things pretty quickly. Timmy, for instance, knows that it’s time to eat when I walk towards her food. She gets so excited, she barks and jumps excessively. This is bad behavior so I make sure not to give her any unless she is calm. Kilo taught her how to sit, so she has to be in that position before she gets her food!

One last thing your puppy needs to learn right away is how to keep herself busy when her human is away. I’m very clingy with Timmy; she freaks out when I leave the room. But since I work an 8-5 job, what I do when before leaving our home is distract her by feeding. When I don’t do this she just tires herself out by barking when she hears the door lock click. :( But when I do, she just does her own thing. I know this because I once waited outside the door until she finished eating just to see if she would stay put. I think she’s getting used to it. Again, when you do this, make sure she has toys and fresh water to keep her from being dehydrated.

For more advanced tricks, watch videos by kikopup on youtube. Timmy will soon learn how to pose in front of a camera. #priorities

Other things you might want to do
Shower your pup with love and affection! Kilo says Timmy is very attached to me because I always hug her and want to be by her side all the time. I say, why not? Hehe. I also talk to her and sing to her so she doesn’t feel neglected. Mech said dogs like it when you talk to them. This still applies when they do something bad. Once, Timmy attacked the cleaning brushes and ate roach poison by accident. I had a heart to heart talk with her afterwards. I don’t know if she was traumatized from eating the poison (she threw up) or my little chat with her was actually effective. All I know is the incident didn’t happen again.

My baby is so malambing.

Timmy follows me around like a puppy (well duh, she is a puppy) and likes to rest her head on my arm/leg when she is tired. She wakes me up in the morning by attacking my face (unfortunately I haven’t trained her not to do this yet) and jumps up and down when I come home from work. I cannot handle the cuteness. I really don’t understand why some people see pet ownership as nuisance. I mean, sure it can be a lot of work.

But if anything, I think I’ve found my best friend. :)

She doesn’t look too happy here, but you get the point. Heh.

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