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Puppies: the pick of the litter.

Ah, spring! It's the time for new beginnings, new challenges, and for many that means getting a new puppy.

Unfortunately, some people make the mistake of falling in love with a dog at first sight only to suffer later consequences, such as squeezing a full grown Great Dane into an efficiency apartment. It's best to consider the requirements of your lifestyle before you go shopping and make the selection based on those prerequisites rather than on impulse.

Your goal should be to select a playful, friendly and healthy puppy. Many people, when confronted with a litter, will pick the sickly runt because he is small and cute. Some runts grow up to be healthy pets, but many do not. So don't risk it.

Observe the puppoes as they interact and try to determine which is most bossy, shy or playful. Then observe each puppy individually. Try to attract the puppy to you by calling or clapping your hands. A puppy that approaches shyly, tail down, exhibits a submissive type of personality. Such a puppy needs praise and gentle h andling. An extremely dominant puppy, one that jumps on you and bites your hands, would be a poor selection for a young child. This puppy needs strong handling. the puppy that would be just right for a young adult is probably the wrong choice for an elderly couple or a family with young children.

Beyond selection, new puppy owners should be concerned about housing, feeding, training, grooming and veterinary care. Libraries and book stores are filled with good books about these aspects of dog ownership, and you would do well to acquaint yourself with them before bringing the new puppy home. Here are some tips:

Have a bed prepared in a quiet area of your house before the puppy arrives and make sure that the children realize that the puppy, newly separated from its mother and siblings, may be apprehensive and afraid. Don't overhandle the puppy at first.

Make sure that fresh, cool water is available to the puppy at all times. Multiple feedings of three to four times a day are necessary when a puppy is six to eight weeks old but can be less in frequency as it grows older. Once-a-day feeding is fine for an adult dog. Avoid developing a finicky or obese pet by feeding it a good brand of puppy food and sticking with it--no table scraps. Dogs do not need variety in their diets.

A major concern of many new puppy owners is house training. House training should begin when the puppy is between 8 and 14 weeks ols. A puppy typically eliminates when he awakens, after eating, after intense activity and before sleeping at night. You can help regulate the schedule by providing strict routines for feedings, resting and playing.

When the puppy is to be alone, confine it to a space large enough for a water bowl and a clearly defined bedding area, but one small enough to limit the amount of space for accidents. Most dogs do not like to soil their beds.

Patience and consistency are essential. Praise is a strong motivator and shuld be given when the dog goes to the proper area. A loud "no" serves as a negative response to accidents. And accidents will happen despite the most diligent efforts of the owner.

OBedience training should begin the day you bring the new puppy home. Give the puppy a name and use it when speaking to him or before giving obedience commands. Also, the puppy should have a collar that fits well and a leash with an attached tag denoting your name, address and telephone number. Remember, you are training your puppy each day through your actions. If your pupy cries and whines on its first visit to the veterinary hospital and you react with apprehension and concern, you are reinforcing that behavior. If you act as if there is nothing to worry about, you will find that the puppy will follow your emotional example.

Your puppy's first visit to his doctor should be made soon after selection. It is better to find problems, if they exist, sooner than later.

Your veterinarina will check the puppy for parasites and assess its general health, as well as make recommendations for vaccination schedules and proper nutrition.

Common internal parasites that can infect your puppy are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms and coccida. In the case of hookworms and roundworms, puppies may be born infected via the mother's placenta or colostrum (first milk). A laboratory examination of your puppy's feces will detect any such infection.

Another internal parasite of concern is the heartworm. Hearthworms are long, stringlike worms that inhabit the right chamber of the heart and the pulmonary vessels. They spread from infected dogs to others via mosquitoes. In recent years, heartworms have spread from the Gulf Cosat to other areas of the United States with the exception of certain areas of the arid Southwest. Heartworms can be prevented by giving your puppy an oral medication during the mosquito season. Older dogs should have a blood test before staring the drug.

External parasites of concern include fleas, ticks, mange mites and ear mites.

Puppies should be vaccinated against the infectious diseases of distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, leptospirosis and rabies. Vaccinations should be strated when the puppy is about 8 weeks old and continue at scheduled intervals, according to you rveterinarian's recommendations, until it is 16 to 18 weeks old. Annual boosters are recommended.

A good pet owner is a responsible neighbor. This includes observing leash laws, cleaning up after a pet when walking on public property and preventing unwanted pregnancies by spaying or neutering the pet at sexual maturity (usually six to nine months of age).

Owning a dog can be a rewarding experience. Adequate preparation, knowledge and effort on your part will ensure that "puppy love" will blossom into a warm and beneficial bond between you and your dog.
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:White, H. Ellen
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Apr 1, 1984
Words:989
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