Recommendations for new owners

Getting a new puppy is an incredibly exciting, but huge commitment. Owning a dog can be an extremely rewarding experience, but it is your responsibility to bring up a healthy and well-trained dog. From now on, your puppy will rely on you to provide all his basic needs and, more importantly, guidance on what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour. We hope you will find these notes helpful and informative. If, however, you have any questions concerning any subject related to your puppy’s health, please do not hesitate to speak to either a vet or nurse at Hall Place Veterinary Centre.

Playing with your new puppy

Teaching your puppy to play is crucial to his development into a happy, healthy adult dog. Play gives your puppy confidence and also sets boundaries in your relationship.

The games you play with your puppy need to be carefully considered, allowing the puppy to use its brain and dog instincts.

A puppy’s nose is very sensitive, able to pick up smells we don’t even know exist, so a seeking game, where you hide food or a favourite toy, will challenge your pup. The first few times you try this, let the puppy see where you have hidden the treat and give a command such as ‘find’ so he gets the idea of what is required of him. Once he has the hang of it, hide toys and treats around the house and tell him to ‘find’ or ‘seek’.

Both you and your pup will derive pleasure and exercise from the fetch and retrieve game. Teach your dog to fetch a toy thrown for him and then bring and put it in your hand. Your dog’s reward for giving up the toy to you is that it will be thrown for him again.

It is very important to get your dog to give up his toys when you ask for them. It’s a dominance issue that is often seen in tug-of-war games, for instance. You need to establish your place, as pack leader early on in your relationship, so don’t let your dog win every time. However, if you never let him win, he will soon lose interest in the game. You must control the game at all times – a dominant puppy is not a happy puppy. In the wild, puppies always look to their mother or the pack leader to define how they should behave.

Since you won’t be around all the time your puppy needs to learn to play happily on his own. Providing interesting and challenging toys prevents his desire to chew your slippers, furnishings, wallpaper or carpets. Teething puppies will benefit from the provision of rawhide chews.

Check list for your puppy

Your new puppy should get used to being handled, so when he visits the vet it’s not so scary! It also allows you to keep an eye on him and monitor him.

It is advisable to routinely check the following at least once week:

  • Eyes
  • Ears
  • Mouth
  • Paws
  • Skin
  • Eating
  • Urine and Faeces

Puppy Parties

Puppy parties are great fun and provide a valuable experience for your pet. These take place at Lee Farm on Wednesdays at 6.30pm.

Booking is necessary

The idea of the party is to give your puppy the opportunity to socialise with children, adults and other puppies of a similar age in a non-threatening environment. Puppy parties are different from puppy training sessions where the pups learn in a more formal setting. The parties help your puppy become accustomed to visiting the surgery and then hopefully in the future associate this as a positive experience. It is safe for your puppy to attend between their first and second vaccination.

Puppies reared in isolation, away from other puppies and adult dogs do not learn how to relate to their own species. When they do meet, they are liable to give the wrong signals and cause offence to the other dog, leading to a fight. It is certainly as important to socialise your puppy with other dogs as it is with people.

Puppy Socialisation and basic obedience skills

The socialisation period for dogs is between 3 and 12-13 weeks of age. During that time, the puppy is very impressionable to social influences. If it has good experiences with men, women, children, cats and other dogs etc. it is likely to accept them throughout life. If the experiences are absent or unpleasant, it may become apprehensive or adverse to any of them. Therefore, during the period of socialisation, we encourage you to expose your dog to as many types of social events and influences as possible. However, since the puppy will not have built up a complete immunity from the vaccination programme until approximately 11 weeks of age, you have the dilemma of endeavouring to socialise him on the one hand and trying to isolate him from exposure to potentially harmful diseases on the other. The aim is to strike a balance. Puppies that have not completed their vaccination course can socialise with fully vaccinated dogs. They should only meet/socialise at a ‘safe’ venue and should be supervised at all times, for example in either your garden or the vaccinated dog’s garden (providing no un-vaccinated dogs have visited the garden). Please do not allow your puppy to walk in the practice car park or waiting room; this is a very unsafe area for your puppy, except during puppy classes where disinfectants will have been used.

There is no fixed age to start training: the earlier the better. It usually takes about three months to train a puppy. Good, modern classes will take puppies that have had their first vaccine.

One of the ways a puppy learns is through the relationship between a particular behaviour and its consequence. This can be either positive or negative, and with repetition, your puppy will soon learn to recognise the connection. His good behaviour will increase if it is immediately followed by a reward such as food or stroking and petting.

If your puppy does something he shouldn’t, for example chewing your shoe and you actually manage to catch him in the act, look at him and say ‘NO’ firmly, then turn away and ignore him for 20 – 30 seconds. He will not like your reaction and this will be his punishment. It is not advisable to chastise your puppy, hitting/striking him may lead to psychological problems later. Try and anticipate problems before they happen and put those shoes away in a safe place!

The aim of training a puppy varies from simply being able to control him during an outing to the park, to having a dog that is able to follow a strict regime of obedience for competition work. Most owners will simply want their dog to be well behaved in public.

Puppy training and socialisation classes

Joining a training group will be good for you and your puppy. It will allow you both to mix with other dogs and their owners and it will give you an insight into how your puppy thinks. There are many excellent training classes for puppies in your area, please ask a member of staff at the surgery for information or contact:

Lyn Rixon of Harmony, Bourne End on 01628 483376
Melanie Healey on 01491 572456
Sam Williams of Puppy School on 01189 401469
Gelert Behaviour Training Services, Morag Sutherland on 07768 767559

Unfortunately not all trainers use similar methods. If your trainer does anything you don’t like, such as shouting or pulling puppies around, just leave and don’t go back.

House Training

The alimentary canal has to be trained to retain urine and faeces until the appropriate time and place are offered. To help with toilet training we recommend crate training. Crate training offers a well-structured routine, which allows your puppy to learn the correct habits to live happily in your family. The crate becomes the puppy’s den, a place where he will feel comfortable and secure. Dogs rarely soil their den area, so this will discourage toileting until you present an opportunity to go outdoors.

Always praise your puppy when he urinates or defaecates outdoors.

Never punish if a mistake occurs indoors – after all, more than likely it was your mistake.
At hourly intervals, take your puppy out of the crate to toilet, and say a specific word or make a specific sound to be associated with toileting.

Thoroughly clean carpeted areas that have been soiled in the past to remove odours that will attract puppy to the same area.

Non-ammonia based products are best for cleaning.

Walking to heel

This is one of the first skills your puppy will learn. They usually don’t like it much, but it is vital to get it right for your puppy’s safety.

Start with sessions of no longer than five minutes several times a day, building up to ten minutes. When your puppy’s collar and lead are attached, be very calm and speak to him reassuringly. Place your puppy on your left side, holding the end of the lead in your right hand, with your left hand holding the lead close to your puppy’s head.

Walk up and down the garden in a straight line. As you set off, say “heel”. Make sure there are no distractions so the puppy concentrates on walking with you. Just make right-hand turns to start with, as this is easier for your puppy. Reward your puppy for walking quietly by your side – he’ll soon get the idea of what he is expected to do.

When he can walk quite well on the lead, you can teach him to sit down. Make sure you have his attention, raise your arm and say, “sit”. As he watches your arm being raised (it probably has a treat in the hand), he will automatically sit down because it’s the most comfortable position since he has his head raised. As soon as he sits, give him the treat.

When your puppy is in a sitting position, you can teach him to lie down. Show him with your hand, by putting it on the floor between his paws, that you want him to go to the floor.


This is one of the most important rules your puppy will ever learn: returning to you when called. It could save his life by stopping him from running into the road.

Start by teaching him on the lead at home. Have the puppy sit or lie down, walk away a few paces and then call his name, say, “come” and point to the ground in front of your feet.

If your puppy does get away from you in a public place, and has not yet learned the rules of recall, you could try tempting him with his favourite toy, as long as you have his attention.

If all else fails, one sure-fire way to get your dog to come back to you is to run off in the opposite direction, while calling his name. By doing this, you have suddenly become the most interesting thing in his world and he won’t be able to resist following you to see what you are going to do.

House rules

Before your puppy comes to live with you, decide what place he is going to have in your household. Lay down some ground rules and stick to them. Ask yourself:

  • Will the dog be allowed on the furniture?
  • Will he be allowed on the beds, or even upstairs?
  • Where will he sleep?

It’s up to you to decide how your puppy behaves in the house, but once you have made a rule, stick to it otherwise you will confuse him.


A puppy that is locked alone in a house for hours or chained up in a deserted yard is not going to grow into a happy dog. Socialisation with other people and animals should begin from when you bring your puppy home.

A pet must be friendly towards other animals and people, so he should have as much social contact as possible as a puppy. Meeting other people, including children, as well as other animals such as cats, rabbits and other dogs, makes it more likely that your puppy will grow up to be unafraid and sociable.

As soon as his vaccinations are up to date, take your puppy out to meet a wide variety of people and children. Get him used to people who carry things, such as walking sticks, and people with pushchairs.

Don’t overload your puppy with too much at once. Short trips where he can see one or two new things will be enough each day. Let your puppy approach people on his own terms and don’t encourage people to fuss him. If too many people pay him too much attention, he’ll expect everyone to do the same – this could seem threatening to children or people who don’t like dogs, when he bounds up to a complete stranger and expects them to love him like you do.

If your puppy is shy or sensitive, don’t push him. Give him more time to come out of his shell and make sure that every experience he has is a positive one.

Basic training of a puppy is not a very difficult task, provided certain rules are followed.

Keep the tasks simple and only take one step at a time.
Teach sounds and words as commands and not sentences.
When trying to get your puppy to respond to your command, avoid distractions such as another dog playing ball near you and the puppy.
Be effective with your praise.
Ignore failures and certainly do not punish!
Be consistent and this applies to all members of the family.

When should my puppy be vaccinated?

Vaccinating your puppy protects him against some life-threatening canine diseases. With huge advances in animal medicine in recent years, vets can now offer vaccinations against some of the most harmful conditions that could affect your dog. After initial treatment as a puppy, he will require annual booster vaccinations to keep his immunity levels high.

The main diseases your puppy is being vaccinated against are:

  • Canine Distemper
  • Infectious Canine Hepatitis
  • Two forms of Leptospirosis
  • Canine Parainfluenza Virus
  • Parvovirus

All of these diseases may display the same initial symptoms of diarrhoea, loss of appetite, high temperature and listlessness or depression; so if your dog is unwell and has not been vaccinated yet, contact your vet immediately.

Vaccinations are essential for your dog because diseases they protect him against are life threatening. Even if a dog does recover after having one of them, he can be left with long-term damage to vital organs such as the heart, kidneys and liver.

A yearly-booster will be necessary for the rest of your dog’s life to maintain his immunity to these diseases.

‘Kennel cough’ is an umbrella term covering many different illnesses, some of which are protected against within the main vaccinations. There is also a vaccine available that guards against one specific form of kennel cough, Bordetella Bronchiseptica one of the most virulent forms, this is usually given at least five days before a dog goes into kennels, where he may come in contact with airborne organisms.

Allow him a few days to settle into his or her new home before making an appointment with your vet for the vaccinations.

Puppies receive some immunity against diseases from their mother’s milk. This immunity starts to break down once they are weaned, which is why first vaccinations are usually done between six and eight weeks of age – the time when most puppies leave their mothers to go to new homes.

Your puppy will have a course of two injections, the second being done at 10 weeks of age or 2 weeks after the first vaccination. Once your puppy starts his course of vaccinations, your vet will give you a record card to note future boosters, given annually. This card will be required by boarding kennels and for inspection by passport authorities if you plan to take your puppy abroad.

Cases of the diseases that your puppy is being vaccinated against are still being reported in the UK, so every time you take your dog out, there is a potential risk of him being exposed to one of them. For example, he may meet an unvaccinated dog that has recently come into contact with rat urine carrying Leptospirosis.

By giving boosters every year, around the anniversary of the last vaccination, your dog’s immunity against these diseases will be topped up.

A reminder will be sent to you when the vaccination is due.
This appointment means the vet can give your dog a general health check and discuss other preventative measures, such as flea and worm treatments

Are vaccines safe?

Serious side effects following vaccination are very rare, and the tiny risk must be balanced against the huge benefits of protecting your puppy against life-threatening diseases. Every veterinary vaccine has undergone strict testing of their safety, effectiveness and quality.

In any case, your vet will undertake a thorough health check before going ahead because to get the full benefit of a vaccine, it is important that your puppy is healthy.

Parasite Prevention In Puppies

Young animals have poor natural immunity against parasites.

They are very susceptible to worms and external parasites.

We are now advising the use of ADVOCATE as a routine treatment for all puppies up to 12 months of age.

This will provide protection against all of the parasites which we find commonly cause illness in puppies.

Lungworm (Angiostrongylus Vasorum)

This is a relatively ‘new’ problem in the UK which we are now seeing more cases of. Lungworm can cause severe lung damage in young animals. It can also result in blood clotting disorders and other immune mediated problems.

Lice And Mites

These can cause skin irritation and infection.

Ear mites can cause excess wax production and frequently infection follows causing pain and irritation.


Severe flea infestations can cause skin conditions and anaemia.

Intestinal Worms

Roundworms, hookworms and whipworms are very common in puppies. They can cause gastro-intestinal upsets. They can also, in larval form, cause eye, lung and gut damage. They may also cause public health issues with risks to young children in particular.

ADVOCATE is a relatively new product which will provide complete protection for your puppy. It is a spot-on product, which must be applied once a month. No other spot-on product or wormer need be used routinely.

The only further treatment we would advise in young dogs is against tapeworm.

Treatment with a product such as DRONTAL at 6 months and 12 months old will provide sufficient protection while ADVOCATE is being used.


For more information please ask a member of staff at Hall Place Veterinary Centre for advice and an information leaflet.

Pet Insurance

Veterinary medicine has, in recent years, become increasingly sophisticated. We are able to diagnose and treat many conditions that a few years ago would have remained undetected with often fatal consequences, especially in the older pet. The down side of these advances is cost. It is not unheard of for treatment of a case to exceed £1,000.

One of the most distressing situations we find ourselves in is where a pet’s problem is curable, but (understandably in some cases) the cost is too high for the owner and the animal has to be put to sleep. A less serious situation is when the owner has to opt for the less than best treatment available for the pet owing to money constraints.

That’s where pet insurance comes in, veterinary fee cover can help you to avoid such situations, but when choosing an insurance company, there are a few things you should look out for:

Be careful to check that the amount of veterinary fee cover is adequate, over time a single illness can cost many hundreds of pounds.

Check that there is no limit on how long you can claim for each illness, chronic conditions can go on for life, not just 12 or 24 months.

Check that your pet will still be covered in later years when he or she needs it most and the premium in those years will still represent good value.

What won’t be covered? Like your household or car insurance, pet insurance also has a small excess which you will have to pay on a claim. Vaccinations and routine treatments such as worming and neutering are also excluded.

Pensioner and Multi-pet discounts. Some insurers offer special discounts; pensioners and pet owners with several pets can make big savings.

Like the British Small Animal Association this practice endorses the concept of pet insurance and we thoroughly recommend it to our clients. Our only interest is to ensure that we never have to compromise the quality of veterinary care on the basis of cost.

There are proposal forms available in the waiting room, but if you have any questions, please feel free to ask one of the Practice Team.


Growing up with a dog can be great fun for children and studies have shown that pets can influence their social and emotional development.

For many families, the acquisition of a puppy is a positive experience and the puppy grows up into an adult dog that is cherished by the family for many years.

Please remember to always supervise children and puppies/dogs.

Please encourage children not to pick puppies up, and to leave the puppy alone if resting or asleep.

Please encourage your child to play calm games with your puppy and avoid wrestling games or tug games. If you are having problems with your puppy mouthing and play biting your child, or if your child gets excited, encourage the child to stand still calmly and not run around squealing, as this will encourage the puppy.

If your puppy growls at you or your child, you need to seek professional advice immediately.

Try and involve your child, under supervision, in your puppies’ training. Think about enrolling in puppy classes. Choose a puppy class that uses a modern, non-confrontational approach to training and take your children with you.