5 Ways To Holistically Help Your New Puppy

1. Before Your New Pup Comes Home

"I may be the cutest puppy--ever."

“I may be the cutest puppy–ever.”

Congratulations on adopting a new pup! We all want to do the best for our new family member. The first few weeks of her life are especially important. There are a few ways that you can help even before she comes to live with you.

More and more breeders are temperament testing their litters. This evaluation can help assess which pups are the potential calm and quiet types, thrill seekers, couch potatoes, social butterflies, etc. If you are hoping to train your new dog to do agility, to be a therapy dog, etc. then this early age evaluation can be very helpful. Even if a formal test like the one described by Wendy Volhard is not performed, you can still ask your breeder to observe the general behavioral characteristics of each pup.

In addition to choosing the right pup for your family, it’s very important to puppy proof your home. For a few weeks prior to your new pup’s arrival, try to avoid any home-improvement projects, painting, buying new furniture, carpeting, etc. Your new baby is exquisitely sensitive to toxic outgases, flame retardant chemicals, etc. that are often found in these product.

Now’s also a great time to get prepared with great all-natural puppy paraphernalia like new toys, bowls, a crate, etc.

2. Your New Pup’s First Few Nights at Home

Imagine what it must be like for your new pup. She’s left the security and constant company of her mom and siblings. That’s got to be very lonely. Now she has a new family.

Be patient and loving. Nurture and try to spend lots of time with your new pup. Don’t leave her alone for more than an hour at a time at first. Ideally you can be home with your pup for the first few days. It can be a difficult transition from  a busy life with her mother, brothers and sisters to a more solitary life with you.

Dr. Jeff Feinman is a certified vet homeopath who will review and help upgrade your pet's diet.

“Of course I’m unhappy. I’m all alone and smell turkey in the other room!”

Quiet and soothing music and a few sprays of Calm ‘N Soothe will help create a peaceful environment. 3-4 drops of lavender oil, the Young Living oil “Peace and Calm” on her blanket are also wonderful to calm a crying or restless pup. There are even audio recordings just for this purpose.

3. What and How Much To Feed Your New Pup?

When your new pup first comes home it is usually best to not change the kind and quantity of food. At least for a few days. If your pup’s breeder was already raising your pup on a fresh food diet, great! You may not even need to change. More and more dog breeders are “seeing the light” and are naturally rearing all of their dogs. Congratulations if you chose a pup who has already been eating a species-appropriate diet.

Even young pups can eat raw and fresh food.

Even young pups can eat raw and fresh food.

Unfortunately, though many pups are fed low quality dry dog foods. Even if your pup has already been eating a cr-p food, you can upgrade her diet over the course of a 5 days to 1-2 weeks. Your new pup’s digestive strength and individual “constitution” will help determine the rapidity of this food change. If your new pup has already had digestive problems like vomiting or diarrhea, then go slow. It is very helpful to use an excellent probiotic when you make the transition. Probiotics, digestive enzymes and other digestive aids can be temporarily used during this transition.

Feed your new pup 3-4 times a day. Smaller and more frequent meals work great to help pups transition to their new diet. Make feeding time fun. This is a great time to start crate training your new pup by feeding in a crate with the door open. Use small bits of her food to teach her basic obedience requests like sit and come.

If your pup is still hungry after her meal, you should increase the quantity of food. Your new pup is growing extraordinarily rapidly in her first few months. It’s hard to make her fat until her growth slows at about 6 months of age. By that time, most pups are only eating 2-3 meals a day. Her metabolic rate and activity will help dictate the actual quantity that is best.

4. When and Whether You Should Vaccinate Your Puppy?

This may be the most common question I hear from guardians of new puppies. Based on my research, the science-based answer is straightforward. If your area is not in the midst of an epizootic of an infectious disease then wait. The longer the better. If your puppy nursed soon after she was born, she should be protected for at least 12 weeks.

If you feel compelled to vaccinate,  try to wait until at least 12 weeks (if the situation allows). The immune systems of young pups is still developing and is even more fragile than that of older dogs. Vaccination is known to potentially damage the immune system and the earlier you vaccinate, the greater the potential harm.

One vaccine at 12-14 weeks with ONE re-vaccination in 3-4 weeks should confer “protection”. Often for life. Protection is in quotes because clinical observation has shown that some vaccinated dogs are actually at an increased risk of contracting the disease against which they were vaccinated. It is unclear whether this is from reactivation of the agent or damage to the immune system.

5. When to Start Training and Socializing Your New Pup

Now!!

The importance of working with your new pup as soon as she comes home can not be over-emphasized. Try to see the world from her perspective.  It is always most critical to love support, and nurture your pup. During this period, her training will take the form of helping her best adapt to your home. Show her exactly how to properly behave. Harsh correction is unnecessary and often counter productive. If she jumps, gently nudge her to get off and praise her for having all four paws non the ground. Don’t yell at her for jumping up. If she is chewing an inappropriate item, gently remove it and replace it with a puppy-approved toy or chew treat.

She should be comfortable in her new home in a few hours or days. Don’t introduce too many new things during this time. After this however, the more new situations to which she gets exposed, the better. The one exception is to avoid dog parks and other areas where potentially sick dogs may be off leash. It’s great and very important to expose your new pup to other dogs, but smaller and younger pups can be easily injured by even well-meaning (but badly behaved) larger dogs.

"Is there anybody in there...?"

“Is there anybody in there…?”

Start working with a dog trainer who uses only positive reinforcement. Enroll in a puppy socialization and training class. You can not overdo your puppy’s exposure to new situations as long as these are positive experiences. If your pup is already exhibiting anxieties, fears and phobias then seek professional advice right away. The sooner you address those problems through behavior modification and training, the better.

Behavior problems can almost always be prevented by this early socialization and training. Unfortunately, seemingly mild problems can worsen with age. Behavior problems are one of the most common reason for dogs to be surrendered to animal shelters. Pre-emptive socialization, training and treatment can prevent this.


 

Adopting a new puppy can be one of the most rewarding and joyful parts of your life. Especially if you rescue one from an animal shelter or rescue organization. Enjoy and optimize your first few months together. Consult a holistically-orinted veterinarian and qualified dog trainer to help. Establish a relationship with a veterinary homeopath who will help you raise a happy and healthy pup and prevent many problems.

Work with your pup’s natural instincts and healing. Not against them. There are many reliable resources online to help you 24/7 or if your veterinarian is unavailable. Readers of this article can also join my holistic rearing Facebook community. The new pet and training folder on the homevet.com forum is another useful online resource.

Have fun with your new pup!

Be well.

Dr. Jeff

3 Comments
  1. I found and have read your website. I already have some knowledge about homeopathy and have used it regularly with my family for over 16 years. We also have a relationship with a naturopath whom we consult when we encounter something more complex or chronic. I am still a student of homeopathy and study it continuously. I hope to study it more formally once my boys are raised, as currently I homeschool fulltime which limits my “free time.” Finally, my real question…

    We recently got a puppy (standard goldendoodle f1B). He was given initial vaccinations at 7.5 weeks. It was a combo called PrimeMune and included Canine Distemper–Adenovirus Type 2, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus Vaccine, Modified Live Virus. I know this was not ideal but the breeder insisted, thus we had no choice. In Pennsylvania, rabies is mandatory and they want it done by 3 months when they also must be licensed. How much immunity would our puppy have gotten from just this one vaccine? Since he has already been exposed to it, I am inclined to booster just the Parvo and Distemper if possible–What is the window for that booster? Though, I am also willing to abstain if you think that is the best course. With all of this in mind, I would like to not give the rabies vaccine until he is 6 months old but if I go to the vet, I am sure they will insist. I know that I have to give the rabies vaccine, so I want to give the pup the best chance of handling that vaccine without complication. Your input would be highly coveted. We do not vaccinate our boys and are looking at this with new perspective with this pup. We have a 7 year old standard goldendoodle and we followed vet protocol with him until 3 years ago when we quit boostering anything except rabies. We use homeopathy with him, but rarely have to as he has been a really healthy dog. We do not use any chemicals or heartworm on him and we currently feed “Taste of the Wild” dogfood and supplement with yogurt, bone broth, and raw organic meat trimmings. I am interested in feeding the diet that Dr. Pitcain recommends and am studying that now. Our family follows a Weston A Price diet. Sorry about the rambling…I hoped to give you some background about our situation and I am praying you will respond. Oh, our pup is 12 weeks now. He is healthy and doing great. Thanks again for your time and attention.

  2. Hi Shonda-

    Congratulations on your newest family member!

    As you may know, every vaccine can trigger an immune-mediated response and predispose to more serious problems. Personally, I don’t vaccinate my own pets except as required by law (rabies only).

    Your best bet might be to check vaccine titers for distemper and parvo prior to vaccinating further. If you opt for one more “booster” then yes, make it just distemper/parvo. Sometime in the next few weeks. That should protect him for years/life (though actually the protection is provided by his immune system and not the vaccine).

    Regarding rabies vaccination, ask for a thimerosal (and mercury)-free vaccine. Ideally consult first with a vet homeopath. This is important in case your pup needs any treatment (usually for common but abnormal problems) prior to the vaccine.

    Common vs. normal: http://bit.ly/HcCy6A

    Follow up with your vet homeopath after the vaccine if any changes (of any kind) occur.

    Good luck!

    Dr. Jeff

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