Getting you off to the right start!
Going home with your new pup -
Your Livingstone puppy has been selectively bred for health, superior intelligence and a loyal, cooperative disposition. The combination of good genetics, good socialization as a baby, loving care along with proper correction and training results in a dog that is capable of going far beyond the “family pet”. It produces the ideal intelligent companion that becomes a significant part of your lives for many years to come.
I am confident that, with a little conscientious effort, your new puppy will bring you many years of enjoyment and companionship. Remember, dogs are very social. The more time they can spend with you, the happier, calmer and better behaved they will be - even at a very young age. Talk to your puppy, raise him as you would a young child - with love, kindness, consistency and firmness when needed. If you do, you will see him attain that level of devotion and intelligence that exemplifies their breed. Just like with children, training with a positive reinforcement will accomplish much more than negative reprimands - and will be more pleasant. You are in control, so set up situations to allow your puppy to do the right thing and avoid situations and conditions that will likely produce failures.
Your puppy will be adjusting to his new home for the first several days. Be patient and gentle if he is timid at first. He needs to get to know you and trust you and feel secure in his new home. Be tolerant and understanding if he cries the first night or two - he is simply feeling lonely. He will be happiest when he is near you. Avoid excessive isolation, even with an older puppy or adult dog. Some time alone is good and it’s important for him to learn to accept being alone and trust that you will come back. But an ignored puppy/dog may very well become destructive - simply out of boredom and unhappiness.
A young puppy, just like a newborn baby, takes a lot of naps during the day. Let him sleep when he needs to and prevent young children from over-handling him for a while. Also, make sure to protect him from other animals in the family, who may be either over-friendly or under-friendly to the new arrival! His own crate is an ideal solution, both for giving the puppy a safe haven of his own as well as expediting the housebreaking process.
Although I hope that your puppy will happily live out his entire life span with you, circumstances sometimes arise where you must find another home for him. If this should ever occur, I ask that you call me first, as I may be interested in buying him/her back or may have a wonderful home waiting for a dog just like yours. If you can not find a suitable permanent home for him, I will take him back and care for him until a permanent solution can be made. I do not ever want to see any of my puppies - young or old - left at a humane society shelter, nor dumped somewhere in the country, nor put into an unsuitable environment or with some unwilling relative or neighbor.
Feeding Instructions & Proper Weight
Your puppy has been raised on Purina Pro Plan chicken and rice puppy. If you want or need to switch to another food, make sure to do so gradually by mixing some of both foods for 4-6 days.
A puppy should be fed 3 times a day for the first 4 months if possible; after that, you can switch to 2 meals per day. Dogs should have 2 meals a day for the rest of their lives - please do not ever switch to only one meal per day. It’s too much volume all at one time, risks bloat and, like us, they get hungry!
The stress of going to a new home, and a change in water, frequently causes some diarrhea for a new puppy. Overeating, changing food or increasing the amount of food too fast are also common causes as well as eating something not intended to be “food”, as most puppies are inclined to do! If diarrhea continues more than a day or two, you should consult your veterinarian; or, if the puppy is acting sickly, get to the vet immediately. A puppy with diarrhea can dehydrate very quickly, potentially becoming a life-threatening condition. If you need to immediately treat, it’s best to skip 1 or 2 meals to allow the digestive system to settle down. You can give some canned pumpkin or you can boil hamburger and rice, draining off all the fat and liquid. Once the stool has improved, gradually add some regular puppy food weaning him back over a couple of days. If the diarrhea continues - or the stool has any mucous or blood in it - make sure your vet does a fecal test to check for worms or the protozoan parasites “Coccidia” and “Giardia.” They would have to be treated with specific medications.
What is “Proper Weight?”
YOU will have to judge your dog’s weight throughout his lifetime in order to determine when to increase or decrease the amount of food given to keep him in proper weight. Even changes in temperatures and exercise can alter caloric needs. As everyone knows, a lean dog is healthier than an overweight dog as it puts less stress on his joints. Research shows that excessively rapid growth and excess weight are very hard on a dogs bones and joints. But, on the other hand, if you don’t give your puppy enough nutrition during this growth spurt toward adulthood, you may forever stunt his development of bone and substance - causing a health risk. SKINNY is not healthy. Most pet owners rely on their vet for advice. I advise you to feel your dog’s ribs on a regular basis and judge for yourself. If you can feel the ribs with a little bit of pressure, he is fine; if you can’t feel the ribs, he has too thick a layer of fat and you should cut back on the amount of food given - as well as treats and table scraps! It is wise to get your puppy used to eating at designated meal times rather than leaving food available all of the time. Give him about 15 minutes to eat - in the same familiar, quiet spot every time - then pick up the bowl. His crate is an excellent place to feed your puppy. Avoid times when he is too sleepy or too distracted to eat. Lastly, ALWAYS have fresh water available for your dog except in his crate unless he will have to be crated for a extended period of time.
Basic Health, Medications & Care
When you pick up your puppy at 8 weeks, he will have been de-wormed three times (at 3, 5 and 7 weeks) with a veterinary prescription wormer and will have had his first 8-week DA2PPV puppy shot(for distemper, hepatitis, adenovirus type 2, parainfluenza and parvovirus.) He does NOT have a full level of immunity at this stage so try to minimize his exposure to strange dogs and places they go. He will still need two/three more puppy shots - normally at 3-week intervals - and rabies which is normally done at 4-5 months. Thereafter, follow your veterinarian’s schedule for routine exams and vaccinations. It is now recommended protocol to give a booster for the DA2PPV and rabies one year after the puppy vaccinations and then every 3 years after that.
Although all of my puppies are vet-checked, I still recommend you take him to your vet within a few days for a thorough examination to ensure you and your vet are satisfied with your puppy’s health. I highly recommend you CARRY the puppy in and out of the vet’s office until he has had all of his puppy shots; there’s no way of knowing what diseases may have just walked through the vet’s office!
I, personally, have been concerned for years with minimizing the amount of toxins to which my dogs are exposed. We have a significant rise in cancer in our dogs and many feel that it is due to more and more toxins, ie; medications, vaccinations, preventatives, fertilizers, pesticides, weed killers, carpet cleaners, etc. Because of this, after much research, I avoid many toxic measures and have found some alternatives to keeping my dogs healthy. But each pet owner will have to make their own decisions, along with their vet.
Heartworm preventatives: It is important to protect your dog from heartworm infestation, normally starting your puppy on a monthly heartworm preventative by 3-4 months of age(in the south, prevention must continue year round.) Heartworm infestation can kill your dog, and the preventative medication can be dangerous if given to a dog or puppy already infested with heartworms. Every dog should be heartworm tested every spring. An alternative to using the heartworm preventative is to put the dog on a yeast and garlic treatment throughout bug season; it will help in repelling all kinds of insects - fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, even some flies and does not introduce any toxins to your dog. This is what I do: the product dosage that I use is 1 tablet per 10 pounds, allowing you to give the precise, correct amount. I have very few ticks and zero fleas and have had only one case of Lymes … and it’s actually healthy for the dogs. Consult with your veterinarian during your first visit.
Note that we now have heartworm tests that test for 4 conditions: (1) Heartworms, (2) Lymes disease/exposure, (3) Ehrlichiosis and (4) Anaplasmosis.
Flea & Tick preventatives: Flea or tick infestations can be very hard - even deadly - to animals and thus, need to be controlled. There are now, unlike years ago, some very effective flea and tick preventative topicals that are applied monthly to two spots on the dog and spread systematically. But again, they are potent toxins, so I would recommend using only when necessary. The yeast and garlic tablets that I use are a great deterrent; and there are other all-natural, non-toxic remedies to control fleas and ticks. “Kennel Cough” vaccine (Bordetella): I recommend vaccinating for the airborne, highly contagious kennel cough syndrome every six months if your dog is exposed to other dogs such as in a boarding kennel, at dog shows, puppy obedience classes, trials, etc. Other vaccinations: I do not recommend using any combo vaccine with LEPTO in it. It has been responsible for too many serious, life-threatening reactions. If your vet feels you are in a really high-risk area for LEPTO, you can vaccinate for it using a separate LEPTO vaccine - under close supervision by a vet. I do not vaccinate for Lymes disease either, but you may be in an area where it is important to consider doing so. Again, you should consult with your vet and make your own decision. Internal Parasites: Since stool sample analysis is not always conclusive (worms may not be evident during certain stages of cycling), I recommend automatic de-worming every six months, or at least annually, with a quality wormer (such as Strongid-T) available from your veterinarian. Avoid “over-the-counter” wormers which may not be as effective and may be unpredictable with side effects. If you encounter on-going loose stools, you need to do some fecal tests to determine what parasite(s) may be responsible. The common protozoan parasites (Coccidia and Giardia) need to be treated with specific medications. Ear Cleaning: Cockers have a tendency for dirty, moist ears (due to ear carriage and frequent swimming.) This results in a perfect environment for ear infections - both bacterial and yeast, as well as infestation by ear mites which love dirty ears. Using a good routine ear cleaner every week or two will greatly reduce the incidence of ear problems. Frequent shaking of the head or smelly/reddened ears indicate ear problems which may require a vet check and special antibiotics, both in the ear and oral. If the condition is chromic, with bad infections, sometimes it is necessary to have a vet “flush” the ears, removing the residual bacteria and infection from behind the ear drum. Do NOT let ear infections go untreated. Toenail Clipping: Long nails are uncomfortable, can crack off and bleed, and look bad. Learn to clip off the growth tip (taking care not to cut into the “quick”) every 2 weeks or so, or have a veterinarian/groomer do it for you periodically. If the dog has good round, upright feet, walking frequently on concrete or asphalt will often keep nails worn down so that clipping is not necessary. Do NOT let a vet or groomer deliberately cut back severely enough to cause pain and/or bleeding; this could cause the dog to be afraid of nail trims forever! There are also rotary tools that grind down on the nails, thus minimizing the chance of cutting into the quick. Teeth: Your puppy will be teething - losing baby teeth and getting permanent teeth - between 3-6 months of age. Watch for the occasional adult tooth trying to come in with the puppy tooth still in place, as the puppy tooth may have to be pulled. Provide plenty of safe, acceptable things for the puppy to chew, such as anklebones, chew ropes and puppy kongs. I do not recommend rawhide bones as I am aware of several cases where a dog has choked on these and in one case, died! I would also suggest getting your dog accustomed to having his/her teeth brushed - there are special toothbrushes for dogs but a regular one works fine also. Do NOT use toothpaste made for people. Grooming: Trips to the groomer are a MUST - on average about every 2 months. In between, weekly brushing and using a good dog shampoo helps maintain an attractive appearance. Do NOT ever use a shampoo that is made for people. And remember, good nutrition is essential to a good coat. Omega fatty acid supplements can be helpful for dry skin and even for some minor allergies. The Spay/Neuter Issue: Unless you are planning to show your dog in conformation, I strongly recommend that you spay/neuter your dog to avoid the problems associated with heat cycles, distracted males and unwanted, unplanned puppies. My pet puppies are sold on AKC “limited” registration, which is a full AKC registration but with the restriction that you cannot register a litter out of or sired by the dog. Only the original breeder can remove this restriction of “limited registration.” If you are considering breeding, please discuss with me. Also, discuss the subject thoroughly with your veterinarian and/or other breeders as well as read applicable books, consider the facilities required, potential costs and risks involved, and the amount of work and knowledge involved. Every potential parent should have eyes certified by a canine eye specialist and be in top-notch health - and should be a quality specimen of the breed with proper temperament. Pedigrees must be carefully examined to avoid poor breeding decisions - in-breeding and possible hereditary problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia, eye problems such as PRA, cataracts, retinal folds/dysplasia, epilepsy, allergies, cardiac problems, etc. For a variety of reasons, there are many wonderful dogs who should not be bred. I do not recommend doing the spay/neuter any younger than necessary. There is substantial evidence that early neutering (6 months is often recommended) increases the incidence of orthopedic problems. For females, it’s usually safe to wait until 7-9 months and still avoid having to deal with the first heat cycle. For males, I usually recommend you wait until the dog matures, develops his “masculinity” (around 1 year of age) before you neuter him.
Providing a Safe Environment
Your puppy is reliant upon you to provide a safe environment for him. A primary concern is adequate shelter that offers protection from excessive heat as well as protection from the cold. Heatstroke can be a life or death situation, particularly for the very young or elderly dog. Make sure his shelter is well-ventilated or air conditioned in summer months, and that shade and plenty of fresh water is always available. Rather than a doghouse, a wonderful inexpensive option is installing a “doggy door” from the fenced yard to a utility room, kitchen or any other room that can be closed off from the rest of the house and “puppy-proofed.” As much as dogs may love to run, it is an unfair risk to your dog as well as to the family that loves him to ever allow him to run free without supervision. Even the best trained dog who “never leaves” his property is tempted on occasion by a squirrel, cat or another dog. Too many “trusted” companions are shoveled up off the roads and highways every year - and I do NOT want to see your puppy become one of the statistics. Consider having your dog micro chipped as a permanent means of identification. Animal shelters and most vets have scanners and can trace a micro chipped dog back to his owner. Providing an adequately fenced area for your puppy is imperative. It does not have to be a huge area; a long, narrow run allows more exercise than a square-shaped kennel. Many fencing materials are available - some that are quite inexpensive and you can install yourself. Just make sure that gates are securely latched and locked. Another option called “Invisible Fencing” is now on the market; it should keep your dog in, but obviously will not keep strange dogs or predatory animals out. Chaining a dog is NOT a safe or humane method of confining a dog, particularly with large dogs that need exercise or puppies who may panic and get tangled. And, if chained, they are at the mercy of other animals or people who may approach. You will need to “puppy-proof” your home, and continue many precautions throughout the dog’s life. In the home, keep dangerous and/or sharp objects out of reach. Electrical cords near the floor can be tempting - and deadly. Even an open hot oven door can cause serious burns. Virtually all substances considered poisonous to humans are also poisonous to dogs, such as cleaning fluids, poisons, etc. Note that anti-freeze is particularly appealing to dogs … and extremely deadly even in very small amounts. And some foods that are fine for humans are poisonous to dogs (IE; chocolate, onions, chewing gum). Also, consider your house and yard plants as potentially dangerous. Puppies love to chew and many common plants are poisonous. When you are not able to keep an eye on your puppy, the safest place for him is in his outdoor run or in his crate.
Early Discipline and Training
Bad, unruly dogs are almost always the result of a lack of training - or inconsistency, neglect or abuse on the owners behalf. In as little as 5 to 10 minutes per day, you can have a well-behaved, happy dog that the whole family, friends and relatives will enjoy. Do not allow your puppy to do anything now which you would not like him to do when he is full-grown. Some think it is so cute when a little guy jumps on your legs and rough-houses and chews on your hands. But it is rarely appreciated when an adult continues the same habits! Avoiding bad habits is much easier than breaking them, whether it be begging for food at the table, barking, jumping on people or sleeping on the couch. A sharp, loud “uh-uh” or “no” is sufficient reprimand for a puppy. Women with soft, sweet voices need to work at getting enough sternness in their voices so that the pup can distinguish between the happy voice and the unhappy voice. They learn fast and are eager to please you, and tone of voice often means more than the command words themselves. An effective form of more serious reprimand is the “scruff scold.” When scolding the pup, hold him by the scruff of the neck(on both sides) and make him look into your eyes and pay attention. This maneuver is similar to the mother dog’s discipline in the wild and helps establish you as the “leader of the pack.” As soon as the offending behavior has stopped, praise him. Always remember to use a happy voice and praise warmly when your puppy does well. Chewing things in the house is rarely a problem if you make an effort to AVOID it. Remember, the puppy will be teething and needs to chew. So have plenty of acceptable things for him to chew, such as chew/play ropes, kong toys, nylabones, etc. Avoid anything he could swallow, such as bells inside rubber toys, etc. Also, avoid cooked meat bones (particularly chicken or pork bones), all of which can splinter and puncture internally if swallowed. For a while, you may want to remove temptation by picking up expensive shoes, books, etc. from the floors. But, if you watch the puppy and direct consistently, he will quickly learn that certain things are not for him. Young puppies all “play-bite” at your hands, just like they did on their littermates. You can quickly teach them not to bite by not allowing them to get your hands in their mouth. When they do, scold with a warning sound or command such as “easy” or “careful.” You can also pinch the puppy’s lip a little to reinforce the idea. Sometimes people have so much fun playing with a puppy or young dog that they forget how important it is to teach him to enjoy calm, quiet affection. A “live-wire” puppy can greatly benefit by holding, cuddling and petting the puppy while praising him with a soothing, quiet voice. Limiting the amount of rough-housing with young children also helps calm down a young puppy. (And they love having their bellies softly rubbed.) Jumping up on you can be stopped by always bending to the pup’s level and petting him when he approaches. That way you are also ready to hold him back and push him to the ground if he does leap … and scold him with a command such as “off.” And, ALWAYS recognize with praise and petting when the puppy (or adult dog) comes when called. Many people actually unknowingly train their dog not to come. A perfect example is when the dog is roaming too far away, or is investigating something inappropriate, and the owner calls “come.” The dog stops what he’s doing and starts to come; the owner (now satisfied), turns away and ignores the dog. Eventually, the dog learns that “come” must not mean come all the way to me, and he learns to ignore you just as you ignored him. You can begin teaching your puppy a few things right away, but remember his attention span is very short and he gets sleepy quickly. Start calling him by his name right away to get his attention. By as early as 8 to 10 weeks, you can begin short training sessions (5 minutes once or twice a day) for simple commands such as “sit”, “down”, “stay”, “come”, etc as well as getting him accustomed to a soft collar/leash. And get him used to staying still for having his ears cleaned, his feet handled and toenails clipped. There is nothing wrong with reinforcing his good behavior with little treats as well as praise during these sessions. Patience and consistency are keys to successful training and a happy, well-behaved dog. If you feel you are losing your patience, or the puppy is not concentrating at all, stop (preferably on a good note) and try again later. Remember, reinforcing good behavior is more effective than punishing poor behavior. You’ll be amazed how quickly he’ll learn these simple commands! If you are having consistent problems with certain things, it is most likely due to confusion. Try another approach to communicate what you want or don’t want. I strongly recommend some type of obedience training once your puppy is old enough, which can be fun and rewarding for both you and your dog. You both will learn a lot and it’s great socialization for the puppy. But please, don’t start classes - exposing him to many other puppies who may be carrying various diseases - until he’s completed his series of puppy shots! There are also many good books and videos on training dogs available at book stores, pet supply stores, etc.
CRATE TRAINING/Potty training) YOUR PUPPY
Virtually every training expert and anyone who has ever tried it are avid believers in using a dog crate for house breaking a puppy! It will greatly speed up the training process and reduce the number of indoor accidents...and keep him out of danger when you can't keep a close eye on him.
Crate training your puppy is a very practical thing to do, and should come quite naturally. Dogs, when they were wild creatures, were “denning” animals, spending much of their time in small, dark, sheltered areas where they felt safe and secure. This instinct is still there in our dogs today.
Size?: How big should your crate be? The basic rule of thumb is that it should be large enough for the dog to stand up, lie down, stretch out and turn around. Another part of the “denning” instinct is that dogs resist soiling their den area, and keeping the space small and contained is important. If the crate is large enough that the dog can mentally “subdivide” the space into sleeping and potty areas, then you lose that advantage. If you only want to buy one crate that will still fit the puppy when it is full grown, you can block off the back portion of the crate with boxes or use a divider to make his available space the appropriate size.
What type?: The two main types of crates are the plastic “Vari-Kennel” type, and the wire crate. The Vari-Kennel type has solid plastic sides and a wire door and ventilation openings. The wire ones are just that… all wire on the top and all sides, with a metal tray for the floor. There are benefits and drawbacks for each. Some dogs prefer the enclosed shelter of the Vari-Kennel, and it is the sort you could also use for airplane transport if necessary. Others like the airy, open feel of the wire. Wire crates can also be covered with a cage cover or blanket when it is chilly, or to provide a more enclosed den.
How long?: The most common question people have is how long a puppy can be comfortably and realistically crated. The guideline to keep in mind is one hour for each month of age, plus one. For example, a four month old puppy should only be crated for a maximum of 5 hours. Regardless, if your four month old puppy is consistently having accidents in the crate when you leave him there for five hours, then he is not ready to be crated that long, and you need to adjust his schedule accordingly. Keep in mind also that there is an upper limit here! You would not expect to crate any 13 month old dog for 14 hours! No dog should be crated more than 8-9 hours on a regular basis, and you should be sure the dog gets lots of vigorous exercise both before and after crating for that long a period.
Training Tips: Start using the crate from the very first day! After a vigorous play time, when the puppy is tired and has recently pottied, place him in the crate with his blanket and a small treat and toy (we recommend a Kong toy, with a treat inside), the happy command, “Kennel!” and leave him there for a while. Yes, at first he may bark or whine, just like a baby will fuss while in his crib or playpen. But the rule is, when the puppy is in the crate, pretend he is in another country! Don’t let him out while he is barking. Only let him out when he has been quiet for a few minutes. The crate should be in a secluded part of a “family” area. For example, if you always hang out in the living room, and there is an adjacent dining room or quiet corner where the puppy can hear you and occasionally see you, but not be right in the midst of the noise and conversation, that might be a good spot. Keep crate time short at first, and avoid using it as a “penalty box” as much as possible. Being angry with the puppy, yelling, then putting him in the crate will give him a negative association with it.
The crate door can be left open when puppy isn’t in it, and you might find that when he is tired, he will actually seek out his “den.” It really should be his sanctuary. In fact, any children in the family should be taught that they absolutely do not ever approach the crate when the puppy is in it. That way, when he needs a “break,” he knows he has a safe, private place to go and will be less likely to become stressed by small children. Be sure the puppy spends time in the crate both when you are home and when you are out, so that he doesn’t learn “when I go in the crate, they are leaving, and I will be all alone!”
At night, you might move the crate to your bedroom and position it so that your pup can see you at least at first, your pup will feel much more secure. During the first few weeks or so your pup is most likely going to fuss during the night (most likely between 2-4 am) indicating that he needs to go "potty", it is strongly advised to get up, take him out, praise him, and put him immediately back to bed. To ignore his fussing will most likely result in a messy crate in the morning..and teach him that it is of no use to try to be neat and clean.
House-training puppies is a task that requires very careful attention. When you are home with the puppy, keep him in the same room with you at all times, just as you would a newly-walking toddler. Some owners even keep a puppy attached by a tether to their waist! Watch his behavior and habits, and learn what his “I have to go potty” signals are. Some pups begin to sniff and circle, or suddenly get very quiet when just a moment ago they were happily playing. Take the puppy out and praise him lavishly when he does his thing. If he has an accident in the house, unless you actually catch him “in the act” it does no good to punish him. He can’t make the connection. But if you do catch him, a very loud, harsh NO, followed by picking him up and taking him outside should make your point. Again, if he then potties outside, lavish praise reinforces that he just did a Very Good Thing! If you can’t keep the puppy in the room with you for a while, if you are cooking dinner or scrubbing the floor or trying to hang a shelf, that is when the crate will come in handy, preventing the puppy from “getting away with” pottying in the house without you right there to correct him. After the puppy has been in the crate for any length of time, and likely needs to empty his bowels or bladder, that is an ideal time to take him outside, let him go, and praise him for pottying outside.
Food or Water?: Should you put food and water in the crate when you are crating your dog for the day? It is probably best not to leave food in there all day. Feed the dog in the crate if you like (this is actually a great way to teach him this crate is “home!”), but remove the bowl and any leftover food before crating the dog for an extended period of time to avoid his developing the need for a bowel movement while he is restricted to the cage. If you are going to be gone more than just a little while, you might leave some water, either in a “lick bottle” attached to the cage, or a bowl that hangs on the wire of the crate sides or door. Leave enough that the dog will have refreshment and hydration, but not so much he develops a painfully full bladder! You might even fill the water container with ice cubes, which will melt slowly.
A crate-trained dog has his own “sanctuary” in the house. You have a safe place to put him or her when you have guests or a repairman in the house, or in the event of an emergency (a severe storm or tornado). If you ever have to travel, a crate-trained dog is much more at ease being shipped by air and is much safer in a vehicle. At some point in your pet’s life, odds are that he or she will spend some time at the veterinarian’s office, either for routine spay or neuter surgery, or for other health care needs, and you can be sure he will have to be housed in a crate or kennel while he is there. A crate-trained dog is much more comfortable and less stressed than a dog who has never been in a crate before. Crate training your puppy has so many benefits, and all it takes is a little commitment to the training early on. Even an older dog can quickly adapt to a crate, so it is never too late to start!
Good luck to you and your new puppy!,
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call.