When you bring your new Dalmatian puppy into your home, as with any puppy, you can expect a great deal more chaos! Hopefully you will have done a great deal of research into this wonderful breed before purchasing a puppy, but there are some simple guidelines to making your new family member happy and healthy in his home, as well as preventing unnecessary stress for you!
If you bought your puppy from a reputable breeder, the first set of puppy vaccines will have already been administered. It is recommended to not separate the puppy from the dam until at least eight weeks. The first vaccination usually takes place at six weeks of age, and the booster is due at ten weeks. It is imperative that you then wait the full two weeks following the second round of vaccinations before allowing your puppy to go outside or play with other dogs. Your puppy will not be fully protected by the vaccine until this two-week period has elapsed. An annual booster vaccination will also be required for the duration of your puppy’s life.
Aside from vaccinations, it is also recommended that you check your puppy’s ears and eyes regularly. They should be clean and free from odour. Your local pet store will have wipes or liquid with which you can clean them. When you bring your puppy to the vet, be sure to have the ears checked for mites, as these might require a prescription ointment if present. You should regularly brush your puppy’s teeth or provide him with a toy that cleans them. It is recommended that you introduce as many grooming habits as you can when your dog is a puppy, as he is then more likely to tolerate them as an adult. Necessities such as nail trimming and teeth brushing can be particularly challenging for a dog that has not grown accustomed to them as a puppy.
For a shorthaired breed, you will be amazed at how much Dalmatians shed. They shed year round, but also have regular periods during the Spring and Autumn where they shed more frequently. You can curb this as best as possible (but not prevent it) by regularly grooming your puppy. When he is still young, a medium to hard bristled brush will suffice, as Dalmatians do also have quite sensitive skin. It is as a result of this that it is advised to not frequently bathe your puppy. Dalmatians are perfectly adept at cleaning themselves, and unless heavy soiling has occurred—puppies love a muddy puddle!—a bath will not be necessary.
It is recommended that you worm your puppy. Your breeder should already have started your puppy on a worming programme, and you should ask them which brand of dewormer they have chosen. Most will require re-administering every three months. You may also choose to apply a flea and tick treatment. Again, these are usually good for three months, and can be purchased from your local pet store.
It is important that you choose a brand of dog food that is low in protein. The recommended level of animal protein in your puppy’s food should be between 20 and 30 per cent. The reason for this is that Dalmatians are prone to the formation of urinary stones. It is a genetic predisposition to form stones, so be sure you buy your Dalmatian from a reputable breeder, and that both sire and dam have a clear history from stone-forming. If your puppy does have a genetic predisposition to form stones, you need to be extremely careful with what you feed him, and always make sure he has access to plenty of fresh, clean water. You must not feed your puppy red meat or organ meat, as these in particular have a very high purine content.
When your puppy is still very young, it is recommended that you feed him three times a day. Good feeding times are 7AM, 12PM and 5PM, though his last meal should be no later than 5PM to allow for ample digestion time before bed. When your puppy is about 14-16 weeks of age, meals can be reduced to twice daily. Read the label on the food brand you choose to determine how much food by weight your little pup requires.
It is best if you take your puppy outside to go to the toilet every hour and a half when you first bring him home. Puppies are usually house-trained by about 16-18 weeks of age, but they will still have the occasional accident. It is important not to scold or shout at your puppy when he has an accident. He won’t understand what he’s done wrong, and it will just encourage him to do it when you aren’t looking for fear of upsetting you. Puppies have little to no control of their bladders, so try and remember this when training. If you are unable to easily and quickly take him outside when you see the tell tale signs, i.e. sniffing and circling, you may provide some puppy pads in a corner on which he can eliminate. This is effectively training him to toilet inside, however, so always take him outside when possible. Puppies usually need to urinate about fifteen minutes after drinking, and about forty-five minutes after eating.
A good schedule to follow once your puppy has been fully vaccinated is to wake him up and take him outside to eliminate at about 6.30AM, feed him at 7AM, followed by a quick walk and playtime, and then put him back in his crate. At 10AM you can let him out again for some more playtime, but then back in his crate, bar toilet breaks, until lunchtime at 12PM. At 1PM take him outside and play with him some more, and do this several times throughout the afternoon until 5PM meal time. He should have a short outdoor walk at about 7PM followed by more play, and ready to go to sleep at about 9PM. Puppies usually will not eliminate in their place of sleep, which is why crate training can be extremely helpful in the toilet training process.
A good rule of thumb for exercise is 10 minutes a day per month of life. So, at 12 weeks when he is fully vaccinated, he should only be walking outside for 30 minutes total. It is recommended that this be divided up into several smaller walks, or your puppy may become sleepy. It is important not to over exercise your puppy as this can negatively impact the development of their little bones and muscles. It won’t be long before your puppy can go on boisterous, long walks and runs with you, but don’t rush things, and remember he is only a baby!