Puppy Purchasing Perils

Sally had always dreamed about owning a Miniature Daschund. She fell in love with Coco* the minute she set eyes on the eight-week old pup, and promptly bought him. A few weeks later the Body Corporate of the complex she was staying in, forced Sally to give Coco away due to excessive ‘noise pollution’. If only she’d spoken to the local or vet nurse first!

Buying a puppy for yourself or the family is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Yet many people do impulse buying when it comes to pets. Why? “Oh, ’cause we felt sorry for it / it was too cute I couldn’t resist / I’ve always wanted one!” Sadly, the last person they usually consult is their (or any other) vet practice’s veterinary nurse, let alone know whether he/she runs a puppy clinic.

Chat To Your Trained ‘Vet Contact’ Today!

One of the university subjects taken by vet nurses is called Ethology, which deals with the human – animal interactions. The course includes basic animal behaviour, history and usage of dogs, management and care, feeding and handling of dogs. All this knowledge is shared with clients in puppy clinics in easy -to ­understand terms. Points that the veterinary nurse will stress are the importance of following a regular vaccination and de-worming programme, sterilisation of the pet at six months, ensuring the pet has identification on at all times and the use of regular tick and flea control products suited to the pet. Lastly, the veterinary nurse can educate the client on the importance of feeding the pet for its age, future size and breed. Veterinary nurses regularly attend product launches, workshops and congresses on the latest products and techniques and she/he will keep you updated as your pet grows.

You Want A Boerboel … But You Need A Maltese!

The next big question if clients are looking for a pet is – which breed? If you were going to purchase a house, car or pair of shoes, you would first look at what was available in your price range and size, suitability, upkeep and longevity. It should also appeal to you, your family and your particular circumstances. For example, a 10 ton truck may be great for business, yet may not fit in (literally) at home if you’re a townhouse dweller! Similarly, when selecting a pet for your townhouse, it would be wise not to opt for an energetic Border Collie or busy Jack Russell. Not many people are exposed to the different dog breeds and their original or intended purpose. Over thousands of years, dogs were domesticated through mutual needs: dogs needed food, and man needed protection. Today, we expect this role to continue and more (Fido, please don’t eat the gardener, maid, child, or our friend’s children, but do take out the man coming over the back wall!

Is There A Type of dog suited to your family‘s Needs? Ask your vet nurse

Dogs are divided into seven groups according to their use, origin and function:

  • TERRIERS (e.g. Scottish terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier) are tough, courageous, strong-willed and willing to defend their honour. They were originally bred to hunt and kill vermin and predators.
  • GUNDOGS (e.g. Golden Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels) are good natured and tolerant and originally used to flush out game, or retrieve game.
  • TOY BREEDS (e.g. Chihuahua, Maltese) are courageous big personalities in little bodies, whose intended purpose was for companionship.
  • THE HERDING GROUP (e.g. Border collie, Corgi) are keen to please, generally easy to train and round up livestock as they are working animals.
  • THE HOUND GROUP (e.g. Rhodesian Ridgeback, Dachshund) are either sight or scent hounds that are proud, independent and with a strong hunting instinct, as they are used for hunting.
  • THE WORKING GROUP (e.g. Alaskan malamute, Rottweiler) are large and powerful and have a ‘job for life’ such as sled dog, or guard dog. They need sensible owners and respond well to training.
  • THE UTILITY GROUP (e.g. Bulldog, Dalmatian) are many different breeds that were originally workers, but now fill the role of companions.

If you’re still not sure which breed is best (perhaps a mongrel would even be suitable), talk to the veterinary nurse. She/ he may help to supply you with suitable breeders’, animal welfare organisations’ or specific breed rescue schemes’ telephone numbers. Perhaps she/he would like to accompany you once you’re closer to a final choice.

Hup, Two, Three, Four … let The Training Begin!

Once your pup is into a primary health care routine (vaccination, de-worming etc.), the next step is basic training. Training will already have started if you attend puppy clinics as the puppy is being socialised and handled by different people in a strange environment. Puppy socialisation classes are the next step where social interaction with more people and puppies are encouraged. Puppies will also learn to wear collars and check chains or harnesses. Training increases the worth of the animal and helps to prevent unpredictable behaviour. It keeps the owners involved with the animal and enhances the animal’s self confidence but also builds trust between the owner and pet.

Don’t Forget:

– Start training from eight weeks of age;

– Learning can take time so ensure that your methods and techniques are correct and have patience; – Reinforce everything you tell the puppy;

. Puppies have short attention spans. You should work on a few sessions a day, of 3-5 minutes duration only. Experience will tell you when to start lengthening the sessions and when to stop them if the puppy is tired.

– Master one command at a time. Don’t train when there are distractions. However, as you progress, start introducing some distractions;

– All family members training the pup must use the same commands – consistency is crucial. Good behaviour should be praised and a reward given.

– Always finish· your perseverance will show the puppy that you are serious;

– Intonation should be firm but kind. If you’re too sweet, the puppy will know he can do what he likes, and if you’re too harsh or start screaming, the puppy will become confused and nervous. Learn to control your reactions and praise and reward when your puppy obeys.

If you and your puppy are battling, ask your veterinary nurse for advice or when to find a reputable trainer. It is important to get references and watch a few lessons. Use your gut instinct to find a trainer that’s suitable for you and the pup. Training is an investment that you and the pup should benefit from for years to come.

Sr Cindy Price


©Pet’s Health

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