Before you bring your new dog home be sure you have checked out the local Vets in your area. Find one that is close by and one you feel comfortable with. Ask to meet the Veterinarian in person before bringing your new dog home. I say this because it was a mistake that I made when I moved to a new State. Unfortunately I had gone to the local pound and spotted a young Bearded Collie I just had to have. In my excitement I hurried home to pick up a crate for his transportation. After loading up the crate I started to back out of my driveway when all of a sudden I heard a loud terrifying screech of agony. I jumped out of the car and found that I had just run over my beloved cat, Sam, who loved to ride in the car with me. I scooped her up and brought her to the only vet I had seen on the main highway. Once inside, Sam meowing in pain, and myself hysterical, I found that the Vet did not show much of a caring personality. He told us both to “shut up!” I don’t know, maybe he had a bad day, but after he put my cat’s broken leg in a cast that was bigger than my cat, I decided I’d better find another vet as quickly as possible. So talk to your friends and neighbors to see who they recommend. Like well and sick human examinations, the same is just as vital for your new dog. One of the prerequisites to belonging to a Therapy Dog group is a health check by your veterinarian. You will have to provide a record of the dog’s shots and fecal samples. Also if you buy a dog from a breeder they may only give you a certain amount of time to have the dog checked against health defects by your vet. Once you have found a vet, also find out where the nearest after hours vet clinic is and keep the phone and address handy. When you least expect it, you'll probably need it.
Some people think it is horrible to put the dog in a crate when in fact if the dog is introduced correctly from the beginning he will view that crate as his den and will use it when the household becomes too distracting and he needs some down time. Placing the crate in the proper location is crucial to the way the dog will view his new den. Put the crate in a room where the family spends most of it’s time, not in an isolated area. Pups that howl or bark when they are in their crate do so because they are lonely. I also recommend that a crate be placed in the bedroom with you at night. I can’t tell you how many of my puppies cried at night but would immediately calm down as soon as they heard my voice, where as pups that were isolated in the kitchen or bathroom continued to cry throughout the night. By keeping him among the family he feels that his pack is nearby. Remember that a dog thinks it is always a member of a pack, whether it is with his litter mates or his new human family. The crate you purchase should be large enough for the dog to stand up in and turn around in when he becomes an adult dog. You should also take into consideration whether you will be putting the dog in a crate for transporting him to therapy visits. If so, you may want to look at the newer lightweight collapsible crates on the market today.
Don’t spend oodles of money on a cushy dog bed until you are sure that the dog is out of the chewing stage. An expensive bed will only end up in the garbage. Try using an old cotton blanket or towel first, one that has your scent on it. Check the towel or blanket often for loose threading. Any towel or blanket with loose threading should be discarded and replaced. You don’t want the threads to end up wrapped around your dog’s intestines. When you are sure your dog will use a bed for sleeping and not for chewing then you can buy him a bed fit for a king.
C) The right type of dog food:The wrong type of human food:
Again this is where doing your homework and research on the breed you want is important. Many pet food companies are now realizing that not all dog food is good for every breed. If you purchase a large breed dog you will want to put him on a dog food made for large breeds. It is important for a large dog to slow down the growth process while he is young to help prevent bone problems such as hip dysplasia later. Always ask the breeder what brand of dog food they currently have the puppy or dog on. Should you decide to go with another brand, you will need to introduce the new brand to the dog slowly to avoid stomach upset. You do this by adding a little each day to his old brand until he can fully tolerate the new brand. Please read the ingredients on the dog food you purchase. A brand that lists the first ingredient as chicken or lamb is probably a better brand than one that lists corn meal or other grains first. A well balanced dog food plays a major role in your dog’s health and appearance. Health and appearance play a major role in therapy dog work. Avoid human foods , especially fatty foods such as ham, pork, steak, etc. These can cause pancreatitis in dogs.
) Foods and Chemicals that can be deadly for your dog:
Given the fact that puppies seem to unknowingly seek out everything that is bad for them I have made a list of the most common house hold foods and items that, at the very least will make your dog sick, and at the very worst, will kill him. I mention this because so many times on my therapy visits the resident’s family is visiting. Usually the family brings with them sweets, or home cooked meals. Even the best trained dog can wane with the smell of pot roast in the air! If you suspect your dog has gotten into any of these items call your vet immediately. If your vet is not available here is the number to the ASPCA Poison Control Center hotline, 1-888-426-4435. Someone is available twenty four hours a day seven days a week. Make sure to have a credit card handy as they may charge you a fifty dollar consultation fee.
Chocolate, Tomatoes, Grapes /Raisins, Onions,garlic, Moldy food in trash, Coffee, Macadamia Nuts, Avocados, Garlic, Yeast Dough, Alcohol, Orange peals, seeds from fruit such as apple seeds (contains arsenic)
Antifreeze, (sometimes found puddle on the ground in a parking lot) Potpourri, Nicotine, Vitamins, Iron pills, Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Household Cleaners, Mouse/Rat Poison, Glow Jewelry. (Glow jewelry is usually sold to children at fairs or carnivals.)
Keep in mind that if the pup gets into a chemical/cleaner you don't want to induce vomiting as it can cause just as much damage when it is vomited back up. IF the dog gets into medication then you will want to induce vomiting and bring the dog to your vet for supportive care. To induce vomiting use 3% hydrogen peroxide , one teaspoon per ten pounds of body weight on the back of the tongue. The dog should vomit within fifteen minutes
Stainless steel bowls work the best. A plastic bowl can easily be chewed and ingested by a teething puppy causing bowl obstruction or upset stomachs, where as stainless steel bowls are for the most part un-chewable and can be placed in the dishwasher for cleaning. However if your pup happens to be the type that inhales his food then a plastic bowls with cylinders in it can slow down the eating process. If you’ve purchased a large breed dog, get a dish holder that can be raised up off the ground as your dog grows. I have found through trial and error, a dog, such as a Newfoundland that loves water, will play in the bowl of water that lay on the floor making it his personal pool rather than a drinking dish! After many months of lugging the Shop Vac around sucking up water messes I finally got wise and purchased a raised bowl! While residents at health care facilities do not usually have bowls of water lying around, there are sometimes potty pans on a chair or near a bed. If a dog will drink from a toilet…well, you know!
Proper leash and collar:
The leash should be six feet long, one inch thick, and made of cotton as it will be easier on your hands when training. You should also purchase a twenty foot lead made of cotton for training purposes. The daily use collar should be a buckle or snap collar, not a choke chain. Too many owners put a choke chain on their dog and come home to find that the dog has hung itself to death. The ideal collar is a Martingale training collar which is usually used for Greyhounds as their neck and head are smaller than their body. While I do not receive compensation for products I may mention , I will pass along a brand name that I found worked best for me hoping it will save you time and wasted money. Alpine or Lupine makes a good martingale collar and leash. You can find both leashes and collars at your local pet store or in a dog catalog. Another advantage to these products is that they are guaranteed for life, so even if your dog chews through it, it will be replaced for free. With seven dogs, I have replaced many leashes!
Toys, toys, toys!
A young pup will have the need to chew however it is vital that you monitor this closely as they have a tendency to not only chew, but also swallow what they shouldn't and this leaves open the possibility of an intestinal obstruction which can become a very costly operation. Raw hides, pig ears, greenies, bones, stuffed toys , clothing, squeak toys have all been known to cause a problem. Invest in strong chew toys such as the Kong or Nylabone bones that do not come apart easily. Kongs can be stuffed with cream cheese or peanut butter giving the dog a more satisfying chew toy. When they are frozen with the ingredients they last longer and satisfy the painful gums of teething. They are also dishwasher safe. Frozen bagels are also a good choice for teething dogs. Any toy that seems to be falling apart should be thrown out.
If your property is not fenced you will need a safe place to shelter the dog outside when you cannot be with him. By a safe place I do not mean tied to a tree. Not only is that detrimental to a dog’s mind but his health as well. Make or purchase a dog pen. A sturdy pen will ensure that no other animal has access to him and keep him safe from harms way. His pen should have adequate room to run, shelter, and be placed in an area where it will get sun and shade throughout the day. If you put the pen in a shaded damp area you are inviting fleas to live with him. Fleas do not care for dry sunny areas. Fleas and therapy work do not go together well! It would take just one person to complain about getting bit by fleas and a facility may ask you not to come back.
Also if your dog has to be housed outside for part of the day make sure the water supply is plentiful. For the spring and summer months I recommend a water dish that hooks up to the hose which insures that your dog will have plenty of water should you be out later than expected. You can find them in pet stores and at Wal-Mart for about fifteen dollars. If you are worried about the dog eating through the hose connected to the dish I found that sliding the hose through an inexpensive piece of P.V.C. piping helps. For the fall and winter months I recommend a heated water dish. This keeps the water from freezing in cold temperatures. The electric cord attached to the dish is encircled with metal coil so the dog cannot chew through it. But again, if you are worried, you can put it through a piece of P.V.C. pipe. You can also find this bowl at Wal-Mart or in a dog catalog for about twenty five dollars.
I do not recommend that the dog spend every waking hour in a pen for the same reason they should not be tied to a tree. The object of a pen is to keep the dog safe from harm when you cannot be with him, not to make it his living quarters. If you do not want a dog in the home then get a Gerbil!
There are many types of invisible fencing on the market today. If you decide to go with an invisible type fence please be sure to do your homework. I have heard of situations where the collar that is worn in conjunction with invisible fence has malfunctioned, thereby continuously shocking the unsuspecting pooch. Personally I don’t care to have my dog punished for being outside which is what your dog will surely learn with a malfunctioning collar. If you decide to go this route, check the collar often to insure it is working properly. Also keep in mind that the receiver collar that must be worn in conjunction with an invisible fence is usually the only collar your dog can wear. Any other collar placed on the dog while wearing the receiving collar could shock the dog. There are dogs that will at any cost jump right through the fence whether they get shocked or not, thereby ending up loose in the neighborhood. This means your dog is running free with no ID tags! If you really think an invisible fence is what you want, then take a Sharpie permanent marker and write your telephone number on the receiver collar itself so anyone who finds your pooch can call you. As a general rule I use a Sharpie on all of my collars. ID tags are only as good as the collar they stay attached to and with seven rough playing dogs I find the tags are usually pulled off and spread out across the lawn.
Helpful Hint: Should you find that your pooch has extra energy and can easily jump or climb out of the pen, try taking chicken wire or garden fencing and placing it at the top of the pen bending it into the pen slightly at the top to give the dog the visual effect that the top of the pen is also fenced in. For the digger that tries to escape under the pen, bury rail road ties under the pens borders.
Tooth brush, tooth paste & nail trimmers:
Buy a dog toothbrush and toothpaste. Never use human toothpaste on a dog. Brushing your dog’s teeth is essential to its health care and should become as much of a routine as brushing the dog’s fur. Plaque and tarter buildup can cause infections, pain, or the loss of teeth. Not to mention the amount of money you will spend should the dog need dental work. Also, many residents I visit like to give the dog a kiss and bad doggy breath can be a real turn off!
Buy a sturdy pair of nail trimmers and some styp-tic powder from a pet supply store. I have found that nail trimmers sold at grocery stores do not last very long. Cutting your dogs nails is an important part of grooming for a therapy dog. You don’t want the dog lifting his paw for a shake and scratching a resident. Keep in mind how fragile an elderly or child’s skin is.
brushes,combs, shampoos, and dryers:
If you have a shot haired dog the soft brushes will probably do. If you have a dog with long hair or a double coat invest in a slicker brush and one tool I would not be without is the Mars Coat King. This strips out the older undercoat and helps with keeping matts at bay.Also included should be a flea comb for all breeds. Always use a dog shampoo as some human shampoos are too harsh on the fur and skin. If you need to use a flea shampoo go exactly by the directions, more is not better and can harm your dogs health. IF you find your dog having a bad reaction to a flea shampoo wash the shampoo off right away using a soap. Dawn dishwashing soap is good for this. You should also have a dog blow dryer as human dryers get too hot for the dogs skin. There are small ones such as the mighty duck and larger commercial ones which are better for dogs with a lot of hair.