Feeding Your New Puppy

"Is that dinner?"

“Is that dinner?”

Buy a bag of puppy chow. Dump the prescribed amount in a bowl several times a day. That’s it, isn’t it?

I sincerely hope not and I suspect very few people treat feeding a new puppy in such a casual fashion. I am alway s surprised at the number of people who ask me about puppy feeding.

It makes sense to have concerns about what you feed if you believe as many of us do, that what goes in our mouths affects every aspect of our health and longevity.

What to feed? When I was a child pups/dogs were fed table scraps and then came canned dog food… the age of convenience was born.

Nowadays there are those who throw up their hands if one mentions feeding a dog people food. The debate can be quite heated.   People food is not so bad, assuming the people in question eat healthy choices. I am not about to get in the midst of it the people food vs. not argument, but, in my opinion, and from experience with my own dogs, I think there is no better option than raw.

For many years I made my own. There was no alternative. Now there is. In a local pet supply store I have found no less than 5  ready-to-serve raw foods.

My second choice would be dehydrated foods (Freeze dried) which have only had the water removed and nothing added.

Is kibble your best choice?

Is kibble your best choice?

Kibble…my oh my… one needs a degree in either chemistry , nutrition or both to decide which brand is the best choice.

My comments on kibble:

1. Meat should be the first ingredient listed.

2.The kibble should contain no grains or corn.

3. The fewer ingredients in the list, the better.

4.Read the list of ingredients on the bag.

5. Do some research as to the requirements of puppy nutrition and make as informed a decision as possible.

It really is hard to argue against the convenience of dried food!

Canned food? Again read the label. I don’t think a canned-food-only diet is a wise choice but dogs  certainly love it and it makes a bowl of kibble a lot more appetizing!

I cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of doing your own research on what you are going to feed your new puppy. His life and health depend on it.

Adult dogs are usually fed twice a day. In fact after your pup’s permanent teeth come in (about 7 months of age), your pup can be fed twice a day. At the beginning though (8 weeks through 16 weeks {4 months})  a puppy needs to be fed 4 times a day. from 4 months until 7 months, you can eliminate lunch and then he’s ready for the two meal a day schedule that most dogs maintain for a lifetime.

Who feeds the puppy? Usually that job falls to the person most often in the kitchen and that is most often an adult but if there are kids in your family, having them feed the puppy is one way to help teach them about puppy-owning responsibilities. They can use feeding time to train puppy to ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ as well. Putting aside on a daily basis, one meal’s worth of kibble for training, hand feeding and stuffing into stuffable chew toys is a great idea.

Most puppies are food motivated. Getting your puppy accustomed to working for food i.e. using food as a lure in training him  makes teaching him good manners so much easier. You may have to switch to a more enticing food than kibble as he matures but getting him hooked on food rewards will make for quicker, easier training. Feeding a puppy at least one meal a day from your hand is one of Ian Dunbar’s genius ideas. This strengthens the bond between pup and human, provides an opportunity to train your pup to have a soft mouth (an inhibited bite) and ensures that puppy knows that good things come from human hands.

I subscribe to the theory that dogs, like ourselves, like variety. If you agree, then do change pup’s food from time to time but always introduce the new food gradually by mixing it with the old, changing the proportions of new and old over a period of several days.

Cleaning dogs’ teeth… obviously this is not an issue for puppies. BUT… it certainly is for adult dogs and while I get the importance of clean teeth and healthy gums, I do not believe that professional tooth cleaning is the only, nor necessarily, the best way to go.

If you give your new puppy a raw bone, preferably a beef shank, he will not only develop an acceptable chewing habit ( bones trump shoes and boots), he will be keeping his teeth clean at the same time. For a very young pup, I suggest limiting the chewing time while there is still rich marrow in the bone which can cause tummy upsets. Or, you can  scoop out some of the marrow and replace it a bit at a time over several days. An empty bone becomes a stuffable object which can be filled with kibble mixed with cream cheese or peanut butter…all dogs I’ve ever known love bones!

Food… we all need it. It sustains us and if chosen well keeps us healthy.

I know you want your new puppy to live long and enjoy good health. Spend some time deciding what kind of food will ensure his long, healthy life.

And no matter what you’re doing with your new puppy…


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One Response to “Feeding Your New Puppy”

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  1. Judy Minchinton says:

    I made lots of good use of my dog’s crate when she was a little pup. During the early weeks of training her to ‘go pee’ outside I was highly observant of her body language, and the timing of her needs. For example, she almost always did 5 poops in a day, and we celebrated each one.

    It really was me who became highly trained, but now I can tell people that there was only one “mistake” in my house during this time. and, it was a very short time until she was heading for the door when she needed to ‘go pee’.

    I did find that I was often having to say to people that the crate is simply ‘a place’ versus a punishment. The crate isn’t punishment (although it surely can be a relief sometimes) and it can be a regular part of a pup’s day. Have a happy attitude, give something to chew, using an obvious sleepy-time all help to crate-train your pup>dog.

    Now, my dog is heading for her 8th birthday and every night she sleeps in her crate: her “nice big bed”, and I sleep peacefully in mine. We share the bedroom.

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