Puppy Proofing


Preparing for your new puppy - the first few days


Before Your Puppy Arrives:

What is the state of your perimeter and swimming pool security? Will it keep your puppy in? And will it keep potential puppy thieves out?

Remember Chow Chows are driven by powerful instinct to explore the furthest reaches of their territory, so your puppy WILL make a very thorough investigation of your boundary. Traditionally, Chows are "double jointed" and capable of getting through impossibly small gaps - see these astonishing video clips of adult bitch, Ch'zu!

Ch'zu Gate Escape - View 1 Ch'zu Gate Escape - View 2

There have always been phenomenal fence jumpers in some Chow lines. One Chow I knew as a child, after being trapped behind successively higher and higher fences, eventually climbed over a 6-foot chicken wire fence embedded in a hedge and lost a toe throwing himself off other side.

We don't seem to see many of these extreme escape artists anymore. Puppy thieves, however, are a growing threat, and Chow Chow puppies are dangerously cute.

Chow Chow puppies seem to be naturally cautious around pools and ponds – providing they recognize them as such. My grandmother used to say Chow Chows are amongst the most sure footed of all dogs, no doubt due to thousands of years hopping about the Himalayas. Be that as it may, I have also personally known several Chows to fall in pools - and a couple which have fallen in more than once (admittedly, in pursuit of squirrels!).

Suffice to say that in the event of a slip, nets and covers tangle and trap as much as they protect. The risk of drowning is especially high with Chow Chows because they are incapable of supporting the weight of that double coat once it becomes water logged.

Do you have an outdoor patch for your puppy? Is there sufficient shade all through the day? Is there permanent access to fresh, clean, abundant water? Chow Chows are not great diggers (except maybe in pursuit of a mole!) but they do like to scratch themselves a cool patch on a warm day, usually at the back of an established flower bed or somewhere with a clear view of passing traffic. And they do prefer to be able to toilet in private.

You will need to have a collar and lead for your pup when you fetch him. In the early days the collar and lead is mainly for his own safety, to prevent him running off, not for yanking him in the direction YOU want him to go. Lead training will come later. Leaving the collar on permanently will wear a groove, interrupting the line of his mane, so you may prefer him to not wear a collar at home. Certainly no dog should ever leave home without a collar, not even for that five minute dash on the back seat of a closed car. Read here to find the best collar for your Chow Chow.

In South Africa your Chow Chow will generally get too warm too quickly to want to spend much time on the couch or on a bed or in a basket. However, he does like to wash his face after eating, usually on your soft furnishings - couch, curtains, carpet – so washable slip covers are a good idea!

Puppy's First Night Home:

Your puppy first encounters the world through his smell, then touch, hearing and sight. The quickest way to settle him in his new home is subliminally, by drenching him in his new smells while he is asleep. This may mean sleeping with you on your bed, or with your bedding or pyjamas, since these hold the strongest scent of you. After his first few sleeps you will be able to introduce him to his permanent sleeping arrangements. Usually a large flat pillow is sufficient to mark his bedtime spot.

Allow your puppy to become comfortable with all the new smells before overwhelming him with touch and noise. If there are any resident animals they should be encouraged to greet the pup as early as possible. By drenching the new-comer in your home smells, you affirm to them his “resident” status and facilitate his acceptance into the rest of the family. Delaying introductions may provoke unnecessary territorial issues.

Toilet Training Your Chow Chow Puppy:

If circumstances have permitted, Mom will have taught her pups toilet manners by the age of 3 or 4 weeks and toilet manners will be quite established by the time you bring him home. Your responsibility is to maintain this habit by ensuring access to outdoors on demand. These demands may be quite frequent in the beginning as the puppy learns your household routines and your level of responsiveness to his or her requests.

The Chow Chow is very likely the cleanest of all canines. He wants to go in private, in the same place each time, as far from your living space as possible. It is truly distressing for a Chow to soil himself or his living quarters. A dirty Chow has been taught to ignore these instincts.

So, if you fail to wake in the night, or put down newspaper because it is easier than interrupting your own activities, don't be surprised when your pup learns to go indoors instead – and is greatly offended by your objections!

Feeding Your Chow Chow Puppy:

Your breeder, and then your vet, will advise on feeding your pup. In the beginning it is advisable to feed your pup the food to which the breeder has already accustomed him, only gradually changing over to your own preferred brand. Read here for more insight into your Chow Chow's diet.

Puppy Playtime!

The Chow Chow is not a very destructive breed and will seldom destroy the clothes, furniture, cars, etc that seem to so attract other dogs. However, all puppies "have teeth, must teethe"! While very young your Chow puppy will chew. So provide appropriate toys to spare your bookshelves, your dining room table, and your skirting boards.

Toys can be soft (balls and squeaky fluffies) which develop hunting skills; or hard (hooves and bones) which help grow and clean the teeth. All toys should be clean and free of small or detachable parts, sharp edges, strings, buttons, "eyes", splinters and leaking stuffing. Keep out of reach all the things which should not be chewed on, such as electric cables, laundry, stationery, books, handbags, keys, electronic and sporting equipment, ouma's tapestry fender ...

All puppies – and grown ups too sometimes – love to run and jump and twist. Loose carpets, slippery floor tiles and concrete steps can be treacherous!

Exercising Your Puppy:

The Chow Chow puppy – as with all large boned dogs – should not be subjected to strenuous exercise before the age of 18 months. This includes jumping up or, more especially, down; any hard landings; as well as long endurance activities.

In the first 18 months, while bones are still growing, injuries to growth plates are fairly common but little recognized. They manifest as a period of slight lameness followed by lopsided growth, and can have serious long term consequences for the dog. Sustained strenuous activity can interrupt the attachment of bones to ligaments and muscles increasing susceptibility to hip and elbow dysplasia, ruptured ligaments, crepitus in the joints, and premature arthritis.

Don't take your puppy out in public until his first vaccinations have been completed (all 3 visits), usually between three and five months old. Remember to always pick up your dog's poo in public places, whether or not it is legally mandated and whether or not anyone is watching. It is the right thing to do!

To Your Pupppy's Good Health!

Your breeder, and then your vet, will advise you in respect of vaccination schedules, effective flea & parasite control regimens, prospective sterilization, etc. Many of the flea control products may only be used from the age of 12 weeks so it is not uncommon for your puppy to arrive with fleas.

Not all vets are Chow-friendly. Get personal recommendations from your breeder and people in the area and make friends with your vet early on. Introduce your puppy to the practice and the people before there is a medical emergency.

Consider medical aid for your pets, especially if you have several animals. The cost can be nullified by a single ruptured cruciate!

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