What to Expect in Your Puppy’s First Year:
In the first days of your puppy’s life, his whole world revolves around the dam’s quiet, nurturing warmth and the comfort of his littermates. At 2-3 weeks once his eyes have opened and his hearing has developed, his world began to broaden: The puppy now has learned how to get his tiny little legs under him to move about, and enjoys wrestling with his littermates. This interaction between his brothers and sisters along with his dam helps him learn valuable lessons about how to behave with others.
I, as the breeder, insure that each puppy receives loving human interaction. I begin handling each puppy and showing love and affection prior to the puppy’s eyes or ears being open. I am a firm believer that this interaction between myself and the puppy along with his littermates & dam during the first eight weeks of his life is crucial in helping, your puppy develop a healthy, secure personality as well as teaching him good manners.
Now, that your puppy has reached 8 weeks of age it will be up to you to give him the care and love he requires every day. There is a lot involved such as: providing nutritious food, daily interaction, positive training experiences, safe toys, a comfortable home, and the proper veterinary care. In return, your puppy will give you an unbreakable companionship and love. The first year of your puppy’s life is very important, but should be an exciting experience and filled with fun for you both. As he grows, an unbreakable bond will form between the two of you, too. If you have a good understanding of your puppy’s needs in the upcoming weeks and months it will help you give him the right start as your healthy, happy companion for life.
Basic Shopping List…for your new puppy:
- Nutritious food (Farrow’s Country Collie puppies are fed Bil-Jac in addition to their dam’s milk beginning at 2 weeks of age and are transitioned to Nutri Source at 6 weeks of age)
- Treats (for training)
- Food & Water bowls
- Puppy training pads
Weeks 8-12 in Your Puppy’s First Year:
During weeks 8-12 your puppy is physically getting his act together, he is still roly-poly, but is now learning to coordinate his growing body well enough for jumping and tumbling. Toward the 12th week, he will begin shedding his puppy teeth as his permanent teeth arrive. In addition, his bladder control with strengthen during the 12th week improving his ability to notify you of a needed “potty time!”
You will experience some behavior changes as well as challenges during this time as your puppy transitions his dependence onto you as his leader, making you the center of his world. He will have a very short attention span and will being very curious causing him to become easily distracted.
In the earlier weeks of your puppy’s life he showed little sense of fear; however, at some point between 7- 9 weeks he may display sudden fear of anything “new” in his environment. Abrupt movement or load noises may intensify this fear; therefore, try to avoid undue trauma during this phase. Please, remember this phase is normal and will soon pass!
Just as a toddler explores with hands and fingers, your puppy will like to investigate new things with his mouth. Combine this new investigating skill with his urge to chew anything in sight due to teething, and you have one mouthy puppy. Be prepared for this stage and provide your puppy with safe, chewable toys. You will also want to keep in mind that much like a baby, your puppy needs sleep for much of the day. Keep your playtimes short allowing him ample “down time!” Never force your puppy to keep up prolonged activities and resist the urge to introduce him to everyone right away. I know this is hard especially when you cannot wait to show off your new, beautiful family member; however, this can be overwhelming to your puppy at first and cause unnecessary stress.
A puppy’s immune system is not fully developed until 12 weeks of age. To protect your puppy from several serious diseases, it is imperative to keep him on a vaccination schedule recommended by his veterinarian. During your puppy’s stay here at Farrow’s Country Collies he will receive his first vaccine at 6 weeks of age, but will need 2 vaccinations in addition to this first shot and his rabies at 16 weeks of age. It is extremely important to keep your puppy away from other dogs, and from areas where other dogs may have soiled the ground, until he has reached 12 weeks. I suggest to all of my buyers to keep your puppy at home until his vaccinations have been completed- which means no trips to any pet stores or doggy parks. As previously stated I understand this is hard, after all, part of the fun of having a new puppy is showing them off, but this can be harmful and life threatening to your new puppy so it is best to hold off on showing your new little loved one off until he has built a strong immune system and can withstand all the new love and attention from others.
You will want to provide your puppy with high quality dog food at all times and offer fresh water sources. Do not give him “people food” at this age, but do offer treats and chew bones. At 14 weeks of age you will want to consult with your veterinarian about a daily vitamin for your puppy. It is very important to provide your new puppy with the proper nutrients that his growing body needs.
Introducing “pre-training activities” at this stage in spite of your puppy’s short attention span will give him a solid foundation in which he will develop a few basic behaviors such as wearing a collar, walking on a leash, and coming when called. Keep your sessions short (approximately 3 minutes long) and make each lesson a positive, fun experience filled with treats and praise. Please keep in mind, that since your puppy’s immune system has yet to fully develop you should avoid enrolling him into training classes or public places. However, it is important for him to begin meeting a variety of people in your home. When introducing others to your puppy simply have the visitor(s) wash their hands and remove their shoes outdoors to avoid anything being contracted to the puppy. Gentle interaction with others whenever possible in the privacy of your home will boost your puppy’s confidence when he is around others and give him a positive experience to move forward from.
Avoiding a more focused housetraining schedule until 12 weeks of age is recommended as this will be around the time your puppy will gain better control over his bladder and bowels. Right now, it is best to take him out very frequently-after every time he eats, drinks, awakes, or has been playing for a while. It is a good rule of thumb to take your puppy out every hour or so in between the listed activities as well. If your puppy will be alone during the day while you are away, provide him with a safe, confined space in which he has an area to sleep and a separate “potty area” to relieve himself.
Important things to remember to do with your new puppy during this stage:
- Take your puppy out for “potty time” very frequently.
- Provide safe, chewable toys.
- Start “pre-training,” but keeping each session short and to the point.
- Maintain a schedule with your veterinarian.
Weeks 12-16 in Your Puppy’s First Year:
During weeks 12-16 your puppy will gain well developed senses and motor skills. He will still require a lot of sleep, but he will be full of energy when he is awake. Controlling his bladder and bowels will be much easier for your puppy during these weeks. Your puppy is still gaining his adult teeth, however, while this process is taking place sometimes puppy teeth do not fall out as they should so be sure and have your veterinarian check your puppy’s mouth during the next visit.
There will be some behavior changes and challenges during these few weeks as well. You will find that your pup is very inquisitive and interested in exploring his surroundings. At this time his brain is geared toward soaking in everything it can. This coincides with a crucial phase in his development: He is now in what is called the critical socialization period. Now between 4 months of age is the most important period influencing how your dog will behave as an adult. This time frame is when the foundation is laid for the rest of his life in terms of his attitude towards you, other humans, and other dogs. Therefore, it is extremely important for your puppy to have positive experiences now when introducing him to all kinds of people and things he will encounter during his lifetime.
His immune system has now matured, making it safe to take him to a variety of public places such as-training classes, doggy parks, pet stores, etc. Having the opportunities to play with other dogs as much as possible ensures your puppy will be dog-friendly as an adult and teaches him basic, valuable rules of canine behavior. A great outlet to help your puppy practice his socialization skills is to enroll him in a local puppy class. This will be a fun, informal gathering which will expose your puppy to new people and other dogs each week. During this crucial stage in your puppy’s life remember now is the time to lay the foundation for a loving, positive relationship with him. Take the time to have as much fun with your puppy as possible and enjoy all the major changes taking place in his life.
Talk to your veterinarian about starting your puppy on a heartworm preventative at this time- Keep in mind the drug sensitivity list for the herding breed when making your selection. If you are no longer enabling your puppy to have food on a free choice basis you may want to consider putting him on a schedule offering him three daily feedings.
Housetraining can now be taken seriously in weeks 12-16. Continue taking your puppy out frequently, and offering praise every time he eliminates outside. Do not get lazy and let your puppy roam the house unsupervised as “accidents” are not a puppy’s purposeful misbehavior, but instead an indication that you are no longer keeping tabs on his whereabouts. The main goal during this time is to get him to go outside BEFORE an accident occurs. If you happen to catch him in the act, calmly hustle him outside, offering praise if he finishes there. If an accident occurs when you are not looking, do not punish him as this is not something he has done on purpose. Instead punishing him for this will only confuse him and will damage your relationship. The keys to quicker housetraining consist of- frequent outings, persistence and watchfulness, and an abundant amount of praise. Even though your puppy is rambunctious and easily distracted during these weeks, do not get tough in training him. He is still sensitive emotionally and psychologically. He can quickly gain fear which will inhibit learning.
In order to continue to build upon your bond with your puppy, try hand-feeding him. You can use treats or bits of his food. Playing games such as calling him by name, then backing away, and giving him the treat when he comes to you will establish a stronger bond between the two of you while helping him with the basic command “come.” When calling his name you will want to say “Come, _____.”
Grooming is also something to introduce to your puppy at this time. Gently begin to brush your puppy, praising him while you are doing so. Grooming is an essential part of a Collie’s life, by introducing this early on in your puppy’s life you will form positive memories for him which in turn will make this a great experience for him and yourself.
Important things to remember to do with your puppy during this stage:
- Begin the socialization process.
- Enroll in a local puppy class, if possible.
- Use treats to aid in the “come” command teaching him to come when called.
Months 4-6 in Your Puppy’s First Year:
Major growth takes place during this period of your puppy’s life along with clumsiness during his high-spirited bursts of activity. Once you combine the major growth, clumsiness, and still a relatively short attention span, you have one rambunctious canine on your hands!
At around 4 months the behavior changes and challenges to expect is the “avoidance period” which is similar to the fear phase your puppy experienced at 7-9 weeks. You will find that your puppy may be more hesitant to attempt new things and suspicious of new situations and places. If you see that your puppy tends to be on the shy side, now would be good time to ease up and ensure to keep things fun for him. Never push your puppy or punish him for this new anxiety. If you find that you puppy has a very bold personality, this may be a time where he looks to you for a little extra support which in turn makes your puppy more receptive to training. In most cases a puppy who normally has a bold personality will typically back of a little during this stage; in that case, it is a prime opportunity to encourage his responsiveness to you.
Speaking to your vet about a healthy weight for your puppy would be a good idea at this time. Ask your veterinarian to go over a feeding program for your puppy to ensure he does not have excessive weight gain which could lead to hip dysplasia. A flea & tick program should be introduced to him as well, again speak to your veterinarian and find a program that works with your puppy’s drug sensitivity. Spaying/Neutering is recommended during this time period. Unless, you are willing to put in the time and effort to gain the extensive knowledge that is required in making responsible breeding decisions for the Collie breed it makes no sense to breed your dog.
Socialization is still a major priority in your puppy’s life, continue to introduce him to a wide variety of people, places, and other animals. If housetraining is taken for granted at this time you will see it slowly deteriorate. Keep in mind the times your puppy may need to “potty”- after eating, drinking, playing, upon awakening. Teaching basic manners should be continued as well, practice walking “agreeably” on the leash, coming when called, in addition to introducing the “sit” and “down” command- always keeping this process fun using lots of treats and praise. I recommend having several short sessions, no longer than 15 minutes, throughout the day. Any habits your puppy picks up now will only worsen with age. Him jumping up on you now may not seem like a big deal, but as he becomes bigger and his paws hit your chest you will more than likely find this behavior less desirable. Therefore, now is the time to nip those bad habits in the bud before they become a much bigger issue later on down the road. Gentle repetition in short sessions is the key to training your Collie, remember you cannot show your puppy harsh treatment or pressure him in anyway if you are expecting him to learn at a rapid pace.
Important things to remember to do with your puppy during this stage:
- Socialization, socialization, socialization! (Remember to be easy going with a timid puppy)
- Sign up for another puppy class.
- Regularly check his collar ensuring three fingers can easily slide under it.
Months 6-9 in Your Puppy’s First Year:
In addition to his major growth spurt, your pup is probably starting to feel the effects of increasing hormones in his body. You will find him feeling vigorous and active so it is imperative for him to receive enough exercise during this stage as an outlet for the increasing energy levels.
With the surging hormones you will find behavior changes and challenges increasing during this stage. You will find that your pup challenges your authority more, especially in males- who tend to show more aggressive dominant behavior at this time. You will need to be firm about the rules you’ve established with him at this point, not allowing him to budge your leadership. Intense chewing comes along with the sudden intensity of activity so be sure to provide safe chew toys at all times. Although, raising your adolescent dog through this “energetic phase” can be a challenge keep giving him loving attention and the proper guidance he needs and you will both come through the “teenage” phase with ease.
Reducing the daily number of feedings your dog receives may be a wise decision during these months. I recommend offering him food twice daily, with that being said, continue feeding a quality puppy food as this is still a crucial period of rapid growth. Nutrition is very important in maintaining a happy, healthy puppy! Parasite/heartworm preventative should now become a scheduled priority- remember to speak with your veterinarian for recommendations on a suitable product since your dog could have a drug sensitivity. If you have not done so already, scheduling an appointment for spaying or neutering with your vet should be considered if you have made the decision to do so. For male dogs, neutering can reduce unwanted behaviors such as roaming, urine-marking, fighting with other dogs, and mounting. Spaying females prevents unwanted litters, as well as eliminating the headache of housing the female during her cycle. Ideally, spaying a female should be done prior to her first heat cycle- which can occur as early as 6 months of age this will also reduce her chances of contracting several unwanted diseases.
Training basic commands during the “adolescent” stage is important. Going to obedience classes can help, but remember him keeping good manners at home is your responsibility. One thing to keep in mind: Your puppy will be much easier to live with during this phase if he gets enough exercise. Keeping your puppy with you as much as possible when you are home will prevent him from getting into any unwanted mischief. Try having him on a leash with you while you are in the house teaching him to lay down beside you when you are busy. If you are patient in spite of how long it may take him to settle down you will find he learns to enjoy staying with you at all times and takes the opportunity to rest when you are working. Another way to teach him to stay with you and rest when you are busy is to provide him with a comfortable crate or pen that is near you- simply take him to his comfortable “resting place” and say “crate” or “kennel” then place him into the area. Only keep him in this area for short periods of time as you do not want him to become to resent the crate or pen!
Important things to remember to do with your puppy during this stage:
- Offer plenty of exercise opportunities.
- Reinforce commands and good manners.
- Consider scheduling an appointment to spay or neuter, if you have decided to do so.
Months 9-12 in Your Puppy’s First Year:
Even though your canine companion still seems like a puppy in some ways, most Collie’s have attained adult size by 12 months. However, there are circumstance where you will find that your Collie does not quite reach adult size for an additional 6 months. Most males will begin to lift their leg to urinate by 12 months. If you have not neutered him yet, he will experience an all-time high peak of hormones. Some will also go through a temporary phase of mounting as well.
Stresses in your pup’s routine can cause unwanted behavior changes or challenges such as: set-backs or relapses in housetraining and other manners. In this case, go back to reinforcing the basics, and keep up the praise and positive attitude. Signs of separation anxiety can develop or intensify during this period for some dogs. Avoid making a big deal of your comings or goings to quickly resolve this issue. If your dog seems to overly stress about you leaving you can try helping him with practicing your leaving, in which you can pretend to leave, but calmly return in a few minutes. A natural part of your dog’s development, is an occasional act of defiance where he challenges your leadership. If this happens, remain calm and firm and insist on good manners.
You will want to continue feeding a quality puppy food until your dog reaches at least 1 year old. If you have not done so discuss the signs of weight issues with your pup with your veterinarian and ensure that he isn’t becoming overweight or too thin. You will also need to check with your veterinarian and make an appointment for your puppy’s upcoming annual booster vaccines and parasite check.
Maintain the praise and periodic treats to reinforce commands and good manners. If interested, you may want to consider the Canine Good Citizen test. CGC certification is an awesome goal to aim towards as you continue to train and socialize your dog. This is a low-stress test and is offered in many communities. The test simply requires your dog to demonstrate a few specific aspects of good behavior in public places and around other people. It can be a fun accomplishment that you will both be proud of!
Important things to remember to do with your puppy during this stage:
- Look into the Canine Good Citizen test & think about preparing for it with your pup.
- Celebrate the accomplishments you and your dog have made throughout the year. This is just the beginning of the amazing bond that you have developed and one that continues to grow!