The following material assumes you have purchased a new puppy from a breeder between the age 8 and 10 weeks old. Your new puppy is so cute and cuddly to play with, but keep in mind he/she is just a baby. Its legs and joints are very fragile and can be easily damaged if dropped even from as little as 2 feet off the ground; or if its legs are pulled too roughly or too abruptly. A puppy has a soft skull just like a human baby during the first few months and can be hurt or injured if something heavy falls on the puppy such as a lamp, a ceramic pot or bowl, a can out of your pantry, and other things around your house. Your puppy is extremely curious and will get into everything if left unattended. That's why if you intend on keeping the puppy in the house, you need to make the room where it stays, "puppy safe" and/or consider using crate training.
When you first get your puppy, please be aware that the puppy may be feeling stressed for the first few days. Why? Because it is the first time he/she has spent so much time travelling, or the first extended time spent in a travel crate; it is the first time truly on its own and not around its siblings or momma; and it is the first time with his/her new family and new home. Your puppy is not sure what to expect, and therefore is naturally stressed and possibly tensed up, and its stomach may be upset as well. This means you can expect the puppy to be timid and shy, maybe not eating much, possibly having diarrhea or throwing up, and cries when you leave him/her alone. This is to be expected, but this condition will improve over the next few days and weeks. As you and your new puppy become more acquainted, and the puppy becomes more accustomed to its new surroundings, your puppy will be fine. Please mix the puppy food we gave you with and equal part of warm water and let sit for a few minutes so that the dry kibbles will become moist before feeding to your puppy. Continue this with any dry dog food you use for the first two weeks or until 12 weeks of age. Also, keep in mind that the food you choose to feed your puppy may be different from what we have been feeding it and this can upset the puppy's stomach and cause a temporary case of diarrhea. If you do choose a different food than what we have been feeding, please mix it with the food we gave you by starting with a very small amount of the new food and then gradually increasing the amount of new food over the next four to five days. This will help the puppy adjust to its new food. In addition, please read on about our suggestions (below) while making your considerations for the dog food you decide to purchase. The following are a list of other things to keep in mind for your new puppy's wellbeing:
Vet Check: Don't forget to schedule your Vet Check as soon as you receive the puppy. Your licensed veterinarian's advice will generally be far better than we can give you, but please keep in mind that some Vets have a tendency to over vaccinate or medicate your puppy, especially if it means they can generate more revenue from your visit. All of the deworming and vaccine treatments are up to date for your new puppy (dated on the Dog Health Record Form, which is in the package we gave you). Be sure to minimize the amount of time you stay at the Vet; don't let your puppy play with other dogs and animals while there (hold your puppy or keep it in a travel crate). Your puppy's immune system and resistance to viral germs and bacteria will take several months to build up, so please keep this in mind before exposing your puppy to other dogs that do not live in your home, as well as groomers, doggie parks, pet stores, dog schools and shows, etc. Your puppy will probably need the following as a suggested regimen of treatments when you schedule your veterinary appointments (and please look over and use the suggested schedule we have provided on the enclosed "Dog Health Record" for your puppy). You should also take our Health Record and our Breeder's Veterinary Report to the Vet with you so that the Vet won't suggest starting all the vaccinations over from the beginning:
House Potty Training: This is not as hard as you may think, but it does take your devotion and persistence for the first 7 to 10 days after receiving your puppy. The key points to remember are: (1) ALWAYS take your puppy outside to potty immediately after the following: after waking up from sleeping; after every feeding; after bathing; and after playing fun and games with you inside your house. (2) ALWAYS take your puppy out the same door of your house and to the same pee/potty area in your yard; this will teach your puppy to communicate with you when it wants to be taken out to potty; it will go and stand in front of that same door. If you are crate training, you may want to keep the crate somewhat near the door where it will go out to potty. (3) If you start to see your puppy with its nose down and seems to be looking for something in various directions, or moving in small circles, grab your puppy immediately and take it outside fast. When you take it out, remember you are training, so stay focused. Tell your puppy, "Go potty!" Don't let the outside episode turn into a play session. This is your puppy's potty training and you don't want to confuse it. Do not scold your puppy if it pees/potties in front of the door where you take it out to potty. That means you failed at your job, not the puppy. If it pees/potties somewhere else in your house and you catch it either in the act or immediately after, tell it, "NO!" with a sharp, stern voice and then immediately take it out the designated door and over to the pee/potty area of your yard. After a few days of consistently following this pattern, your puppy will begin telling you when it needs to go out. After a few months when the puppy's bowels and bladder grow in size, it will be able to hold itself and then you can take your puppy out on your schedule rather than his or her urges. As an adult dog, outdoor potty times will usually be only twice a day (occasionally a third). All this will occur sooner than you think if you put forth a little effort.
Diarrhea: If your puppy has runny stools after you bring him home, this is most likely due to stress, which causes their stomach to produce higher levels of digestive acids. The stress is due to the new surroundings, being apart from its litter mates, momma, and the breeder family; different water, maybe different food, and a new set of faces and family members to adjust to. If the stress is not relieved and the diarrhea properly addressed, this can lead to bloody stools caused by protozoans in the intestines. These protozoans are always there in all dogs and puppies, but they are in a dormant state. Once they become active by increased acid in the runny fecal matter, the protozoans attach themselves to the intestinal walls and begin to reproduce. As this process begins to happen you will see bloody and/or mucousy stools. If this occurs, you will need to see a Vet to get oral medications such as Albon and Metronidazole. So, you don't want to allow the diarrhea to progress to the bloody stool stage. Pure canned pumpkin (100% pure; no spices) makes an excellent additive to the puppy's food to help bind up the stools. Puppies love the taste; you mix in a dollop the size of a lemon per each feeding and refrigerate the rest until the next feeding (continue for at least 3 to 4 days and repeat if necessary).
Fragileness: The puppy should always be held by an adult when on a couch, bed, or chair. Be prepared for the puppy to try to make a lunging leap out of your grasp or off the furniture if you let it. This can injure a young puppy. Hold on to the puppy at all times, and put it on the floor when you're ready to focus on something else.
Children: If a child wants to hold the puppy while it is still young, please have the child sit on the floor and tell them how fragile the baby puppy is; then let the puppy be in the child's lap while sitting on the floor. Letting the child walk around carrying the puppy is not recommended for the puppy's safety.
Dog Food: Please note that the better the quality of the food you feed your puppy, the healthier it will be in its elder years. Below is what we feed the puppies starting about 4 weeks of age, which can be continued up until about 18 months old. You should moisten the dry kibble bits with warm water before giving it to your puppy. Do this for the first couple of weeks; then just use dry kibbles.
|Age of Puppy|
|6 – 16 weeks||4 – 8 months||8 – 12 months||12 – 24 months|
|5 – 10||1 1/4 – 2||1 – 1 2/3||3/4 – 1 1/3||2/3 – 1|
|10 – 20||2 – 3 1/4||1 2/3 – 2 3/4||1 1/3 – 2 1/4||1 – 1 3/4|
|20 – 30||3 1/4 – 4 1/3||2 3/4 – 3 2/3||2 1/4 – 3||1 3/4 – 2 1/3|
|30 – 40||4 1/3 – 5 1/2||3 2/3 – 4 1/2||3 – 3 2/3||2 1/3 – 3|
|40 – 60||5 1/2 – 7 1/2||4 1/2 – 6 1/4||3 2/3 – 5||3 – 4|
|60 – 80||7 1/2 – 9 1/4||6 1/4 – 7 2/3||5 – 6 1/4||4 – 5|
|80 – 100||–||7 2/3 – 9||6 1/4 – 7 1/4||5 – 5 3/4|
|100 – 120||–||–||7 1/4 – 8 1/3||5 3/4 – 6 2/3|
|120 – 140||–||–||8 1/3 – 9 1/3||6 2/3 – 7 1/2|
|140 – 160||–||–||9 1/3 – 10 1/3||7 1/2 – 8 1/4|
The above feeding guide is for the caloric content of the food we use (shown above). If you choose another dog food, please refer to the feeding guidelines on the package labeling of what you buy.
Typically, the pet food you buy at the supermarket is not good for your puppy. You may say, "Well that is all we can afford!" Ask yourself this, "Would you pay hundreds or perhaps thousands of dollars to save your pet in the event that it got very sick and your vet said it needed an emergency treatment or surgery?" A better grade of dog food can be considered preventative maintenance and will add years to your puppy's life; so you either pay gradually with a premium quality dog food, or you may find yourself paying one big payment to the Vet later on. Pet foods that have a lot of grains and starches in the ingredients are not good for dogs. Dogs are carnivores, which means they are meat eaters. Their digestive tract is not as refined as a human's; therefore please don't feed your puppy table food scraps. A lot of you will say, "We have always done this and our pet is just fine; if it's good enough for our family, it's good enough for the dog!" Actually, that's not really true. A human's digestive tract is about is about 28 feet long; your dog's is about 4 to 5 feet long. The dog's intestines cannot process foods as efficiently as humans can due to the differences in stomach acids and enzymes. There are a lot of varied opinions on which dog food is best, and there is no perfect answer. We recommended you keep the following points in mind when choosing your dog food:
Dog Weight: It is extremely important not to let your puppy gain weight too fast, especially Golden Retriever puppies. It is not uncommon to see hip dysplasia in this breed. Hip dysplasia: (1) can be genetic, (2) can be brought on when a dog carries more weight than its bone structure can handle, or (3) can develop due to a past injury. The latter two of these causes are more of an issue when your dog is a puppy because the bone structure in a golden retriever puppy does not mature quickly but its weight gain is generally faster than most other breeds. In addition, it is very important not to allow your dog carry too much weight as an adult. This too can accelerate the onset of dysplasia in the hips and joints. In order to know the proper weight for your dog as an adult, ask the breeders for the weight of the Sire and Dam of the puppy. After seeing the parents and they do not appear overweight, estimate your dog's adult weight from these. As a general guideline, you want the dog to be fairly trim and lean. When you look down on top of your Golden's back, and you should see an inward curve between the ribs and hips, but you do not want to see the individual ribs of the rib cage. If there is no inward curve between ribs and hips but is straight back or even slightly outward at the stomach area, chances are your Golden Retriever is a bit overweight. If you are seeing each individual rib of the rib cage, your Golden is probably a little underweight.
Water Bowl: Change your dog's water every day. Just because the bowl has water in it does not mean you can walk past it. Fresh water is a must. Washing both the food bowl and water bowl in the dishwasher on a regular basis will help prevent bacterial and parasitic infections. Also, you'll notice that your dog will appreciate the fresh cold water compared to water that's been sitting out for a day. A polished stainless steel or glass bowl is preferable to plastic or synthetic bowls because the latter are porous and can develop bacterial and parasitic growth more easily; stainless steel and glass bowls are not porous.
Crate Training: We recommend crate training for your puppy, especially if it is going to be an indoor pet. It provides a place of shelter, protection, and comfort where your dog knows he can go to be safe, and not get into trouble. It should also be the place where he/she sleeps; not your bed. A dog that sleeps in your bed will create more problems than you need. An animal will always be an animal and will never be as hygienically clean as humans. Please read our article on, "How to Crate Train Your Puppy" that is included with your paperwork and also on our website.
The Puppy's Chewing Habits: Your puppy will try to chew on and swallow just about anything especially during the stage while it is teething. It will chew on rocks, sticks, bugs, leaves, string, paper, electric appliance cords, small toys, etc. Try to keep your puppy play area free of things that the puppy could choke on or get shocked from. Provide it with its own chew toys selected by you. Good quality rawhides are an OK item and the puppy will love it. Rawhides will be chewed, digested and passed. Always supervise your puppy through observation when giving a rawhide or chew toy of any kind. When your puppy grows to an adult, you will still need to provide it a selection of chew toys. Goldens like to chew, but they will be completely happy with chewing what you give them and not your things, if you make sure you give them a regular supply of things to chew. Discard and replace chew toys that have become ripped and shredded, or foul smelling. They will try to eat the stuffing and other pieces if unsupervised and should be taken away. Between 15 and 20 weeks of age, your Golden Retriever puppy will begin losing its razor-sharp puppy teeth (and loose them very quickly) to make way for its adult canine teeth. No need to panic, this is normal and you may even see a little blood at the gum lines.
Biting (mouthing): The puppy will want to chew on your clothing or "mouth" your hand and fingers. This is not vicious biting; it is the puppy's way to communicate and play with you, while it is teething. However, you do not have to tolerate hard puppy mouthing. Tell the puppy sharply, "NO BITE!", while holding its mouth closed for about 5 seconds. A rap on the nose with one finger may also get the point across. Of course, the puppy will do it again so you need to repeat this process several times. You will want to have a puppy chew toy ready to place in its mouth, but make sure you have rubbed the toy on your body quite a bit (your hands, your neck, your feet, etc; or you can take some of your recently worn clothing that you have not washed yet and rub it on the chew toy). This will make the toy have your scent on it and the puppy will like it more. Keep in mind that your puppy loves you and it loves your natural odor. Its mouth is the method it uses to communicate its love for you by licking and lightly closing its teeth against your hand and fingers. The mouthing feels good to the puppy (sort of like baby teething) so you need to have plenty of things for it to chew on that are you are OK with. However, if you give it an old shoe of yours, the puppy may not know how to tell the difference between your good shoes and the old one, so, this is probably not a good idea. One other thing, while the puppy is growing, you don't want to create a "hard palate" in your dog. A "hard palate" (insensitive mouth) is where the dog bites you too hard (in your dog's mind, this is playful; but to you it hurts). A hard palate begins to form in your dog when you offer it things like rope toys and it plays tug-of-war with you or other dogs. He'll yank and yank and pull and tug away… all the while making his mouth and bite less sensitive. Therefore, you may want to avoid these kinds of toys.
Toe Nail Clipping: The puppy's toenails get long and sharp and they tend to hurt and scratch you. It is best to cut them about once every week or two. When you cut them, do not cut too much off the nail or the puppy will "yelp" and the nail may bleed. If this happens, putting sugar on the tip of the toenail will coagulate the blood faster to stop the bleeding. Where you see the nail go from a light color to a dark color, this is usually where the nerve ending is. Try not to cut into the dark area. Sharp clippers are essential so as not to crush the nail when cutting.
Grooming: A Golden Retriever tends to shed hair most of the year in the form of fine hair clumps, and this will be heavier twice a year. During heavy shedding, daily brushing with a wire dog brush will greatly help keep this to a minimum. At other times, weekly brushing will normally suffice. A Golden's ears need to be cleaned about twice a month, or more often if an odor can be detected in the ear canal. A good ear cleaner for dogs is available in most stores. After 6 months of age, you may begin to see knotting of your puppy's hair in certain places, especially behind or under the ears, around the neck, and on the hind quarters near the tail where that fine, whispy fur is. If you stay on top of this, you can keep it all brushed out with a wire dog grooming brush. But in some cases, you may need to just cut it out with a pair of scissors if it is too ratty and knotted.
Teeth Cleaning: A Golden's teeth need to be visually inspected for yellow or brown stains about twice a month and brushed when these stains begin to appear. If you let this go, it can result in more serious problems with the gums, and eventually lead to infections that can affect the heart. There is a brush that slips over your finger and is made of a rubbery material which may work well for you and you can purchase a toothpaste especially for dogs (do not use human toothpaste). Alternatively, you can buy a 3-way brush that gets the tops and both sides at the same time as it wraps around the dog's teeth. There is also an all-natural water additive that can reduce tarter build-up; there is also a spray, and a gel that can be used for removing stains and tarter. All of these work well if used regularly. Although a bit more expensive, most Vet clinics offer a teeth cleaning and polishing service which is usually adequate once a year, but sometimes more and sometimes less. Inspecting the teeth and the gums yourself can help you decide what is best for your dog. The most important part to professional cleaning is the polishing of the teeth after they are scraped with a dental tool. This is because the dental tool leaves microscopic scratches and crevices on the surface of the teeth which will promote quicker staining and tarter build up if not polished. The one drawback of professional cleaning is the dog most be given anesthesia. Anesthesia should be carefully evaluated for every dog on an individual basis. For more information on this topic, please read our commentary below under, "spaying/neutering."
Bathing: There are mixed opinions about this but we think bathing is good and should be done more often in the summer and less in the winter. In the summer, we use a flea and tick shampoo that is not harsh and it does not dry out the skin, and when used in combination with other products (like Frontline Plus), this greatly reduces fleas and ticks on your dog. Remember that when you bathe the puppy, you do not want to get water in its ears so be very careful to hold its ear flaps tightly over the ear openings while you are cleaning and rinsing the head area. If you begin to smell an odor within the ear canal, use a good ear cleaner for dogs to clean the inside of the ears.
A Golden's Affectionate Needs: You will find your golden puppy to be very affectionate. He/she loves to be held and cuddled. A Golden wants to be around you as much as it can; even to just lay at your feet. If your puppy is going to be a house dog, you will learn that after it is potty trained and is growing and maturing, a Golden does not seem to like closed doors in your home. He/she wants to be able to go wherever you go throughout the day if you are home. Keeping your dog in a room with the door closed while you are elsewhere in the home will usually make him/her cry and be very unhappy. A Golden can also seem very nosey, will purposely get in your way (for attention) and will want to be in your business. Receive your dog's affection; a Golden has lots to give; and you know what they say, "best friends stick like glue."
Exercise Needs: A Golden Retriever needs exercise daily. This should include brisk walks, allowing them to run for short periods. If you do not allow your Golden to walk and run on a daily basis, he/she may become frustrated with too much unexpended energy and begin to show destructive behavior. Goldens are not typically destructive unless they are frustrated, or do not have a supply of chew toys to exercise their teeth and gums.
Spaying/Neutering: When or if you decide to have your puppy spayed or neutered, our recommendation is to wait until a minimum of at least one year of age for both males and females. In addition for females, if they have not had at least one complete 21-day heat cycle by the time they are one year of age, wait until they complete their first heat cycle before spaying, but not before one year of age. This may come as late as 14-16 months of age on a female, but usually occurs at around 8 to 12 months. Many have asked us what affect spaying/neutering will have on the puppy. Our experience is that having this done to your dog can sometimes slow the dog's metabolism down a bit which means that you will probably need to feed them less to prevent unhealthy wait gain (see our discussion above about feeding your puppy the right amount of food under "Dog Weight"). Some have said that their dog became a "couch potato" after having it spayed or neutered, but we have not seen this drastic of an affect at all in any of our Goldens.
Anesthesia: Anytime your puppy is required to have an operation of any kind, a teeth cleaning, certain types of x-rays, or an elective procedure such as spaying or neutering, anesthesia will be performed by the Veterinarian. Please do not take this lightly. Ask the right questions and make the right decision for your puppy's well-being and health safety. With humans, the anesthesia field is highly specialized and the protocols are highly regulated by the medical profession. With humans, a highly trained and highly educated anesthesiologist is required in addition to your surgeon. With dogs, there are little to no regulations, and the person holding the scalpel is also administering the anesthesia to your dog. But, it is still a rather complicated and delicate area of veterinary medicine. There are a number of different kinds of anesthesia that can be administered, various methods and procedures of administering the anesthesia, preliminary testing that can be performed, and additional monitoring of vital signs that the Veterinarian can do in order to avoid accidents. Because yes, there are accidents that can greatly compromise the health of your dog, some of which can be permanent, or result in loss of life due to the anesthesia. Just like humans, dogs respond differently to the anesthetics and may have sensitivities and/or reactions to the type of anesthesia. Some dogs may not be able to metabolize (break down) the anesthesia as quickly as other dogs which can be related to the fat content in your dog. This doesn't necessarily mean the anesthesia/procedure cannot be performed on your dog, it just means stronger precautions must be taken. For example, it is good practice to exercise extra caution with (a) elderly dogs, or (b) dogs that have never been under any type of anesthesia, or (c) dogs which have known sensitivities or have had reactions to anesthesia in the past. Extra cautionary measures that should be taken are as follows:
One last thing: We want to wish you and your new puppy many years of happiness and rewarding experiences. We hope this guide has provided you with helpful information to equip you to make your own well-informed decisions in caring for and raising your new puppy. Please don't take everything we say as the gospel truth. We've done our own research and have formed our own opinions; we encourage you to do the same. And remember, Golden Retrievers are an amazing breed to consider for your family. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you might have.