Important Considerations for Dog Breeding

Some dog owners extend their love for animals into an interest in breeding their dog. Breeding is more of a responsibility than a passing interest, and as such, there are a few things to consider before immersing yourself and your dog in the process. This short checklist identifies some helpful pointers which will increase the odds of a successful breeding experience.

Consider your dog’s age, breed, and health status. To begin with, veterinarians recommend not breeding dogs that are less than eighteen months old. This allows you as an owner the opportunity to schedule tests that rule out any genetic defects or conditions they could pass on to their offspring. It also makes sure that your female is physically mature enough to carry a litter of puppies.

There are also health issues which can affect your decision to breed your dog. These health concerns can be general, as in the case of brucellosis (a bacterial infection spread among breeding dogs that can contribute to infertility, abortion, or stillborn puppies), or a male dog may simply not be fertile.

Alternatively, they can be specific to certain breeds. Dachshunds and Basset Hounds have long spines and short legs, for instance, making them prone to back problems as they age. Retrievers, Shepherds, and Great Danes frequently develop hip dysplasia, easily confirmed by x-rays. Collies are predisposed to two eye disorders, Collie Eye Anomaly and Progressive Retinal Atrophy.

Testing your dog before breeding will let you know if he is carrying any of these conditions. If he is, then he’s not a good candidate for parenthood.

Regular treatment for heartworm, intestinal worms and fleas, as well as standard vaccinations to protect against the most common viruses (parvovirus, parainfluenza, distemper, hepatitis, and leptospirosis) are essential to keep your animal in good health for breeding. In addition, good nutrition and regular exercise are important in increasing the chances of producing healthy puppies.
Pay a visit to your veterinarian to make sure there aren’t any potential problems that need to be addressed before deciding to breed your dog.

Finally, you should carefully consider the reasons behind your decision to breed a dog. If money from the sale of purebred puppies is the sole source of inspiration, consider the expenses involved from beginning to end.

Stud fees, genetic testing, veterinary care, a possible cesarean delivery, and the cost of feeding, worming, and vaccinating puppies will quickly eat into any profits you may earn. Unless you’ve spent considerable time and effort researching such a venture, you must be prepared for these costs, and be prepared to make a financial loss from a litter.

Another poor reason for breeding is to obtain a dog just like the one you already have. This isn’t likely to happen, because your pups are just as likely to resemble the other parent, or have characteristics that are a mixture of both parents.

A more sensible approach to dog breeding relies on selecting characteristics that you hope to pass on to future generations of the breed. Each breeding should be carefully planned to result in puppies that are an improvement on the generation before. This is how dog breeds are continually improved.

Breeding dogs is a rewarding pastime, but make sure your motives are honorable, and you have the health and well being of your dog and its breed foremost in your mind.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin  Date: Monday, November 2, 2009

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Socializing Your Puppy

Socializing your puppy is a critical part of raising a well adjusted dog. Through socialization, puppies can learn to fit into society, learn to live with humans and also with other dogs. This leads to a calm, adaptable dog who isn’t fazed by what they encounter in day to day life.

If dogs are not correctly socialized, they may develop inappropriate behaviors when exposed to new situations or new dogs and people. This can include being overly aggressive or fearful in unfamiliar circumstances.

Socializing starts when a puppy is still with its mother and with the breeder. A puppy first learns canine body language and pack structure from around three to four weeks of age, while playing and interacting with its litter mates. It is important that a breeder handles her puppies and plays with them regularly, to give them positive early experiences with people.

The ideal time to bring your new puppy home is when he is eight weeks old. The period from eight to twelve weeks of age is very important for socialization, as your pup is very open to learning and enjoying new experiences. It is vital to take advantage of this stage of your puppy’s social development.

It’s a good idea to invite friends and families to your house to visit, bringing with them their well behaved dog. You can also introduce your puppy to calm, well-mannered children.

Puppy preschool is also very important for your young dog. It allows puppies to meet and interact with other dogs of a similar age and level of development, as well as learning some basic obedience commands. This improves the communication skills of your puppy, as well as enhances the bond between dog and owner. It also allows your dog to sniff and explore in a safe and supportive environment.

Other options for socializing your dog can include going to dog friendly places such as off-leash parks and beaches. It is vital to make sure that your puppy is up to date on its vaccinations, as there may be an increased risk of disease in these places. Also, you need to remember that the other dogs which are there may not necessarily be under complete control. There may even be under-socialized dogs who may frighten your puppy and set it back in its learning. It may even be better to keep your puppy away from these areas until he is more mature and better able to cope.

It takes a lot of work and effort to socialize a puppy well, but it is an investment in his future, and will help him to fit into his world. Doing a good job will lead to a well adjusted and happy companion who can take anything in his stride.

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How to Feed Puppies

We all like to look after our dogs to the best of our ability, and feeding a puppy correctly is important to give it the very best start in life. For optimal growth and health, a balanced diet is necessary. This means the diet includes the right amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals, in the right proportions.

Puppies need to take in proportionally more calories per pound of body weight than adult dogs do, because they need more energy to grow. Commercial puppy foods take this into account. It is very calorie dense, which means that it includes more calories per bowl, compared to adult dog food. .

Since puppies have little stomachs, they should be fed small meals regularly. This means three small meals a day up to twelve weeks of age, then reducing frequency to two meals a day. You can keep feeding your dog two meals a day throughout adulthood, or further reduce to one meal when he’s around 12 months old and close to fully grown.

You should feed your puppy according to the guidelines on the food packet. Overfeeding puppies can make them overweight. This can predispose to orthopedic problems such as hip dysplasia, and may lead to obesity later in life. It is undoubtedly easier to prevent your dog from getting overweight in the first place than it is to get rid of the excess weight later in life.

It is a good idea to base your puppy’s diet on quality commercial dog food, and then add extra things such as rice, pasta and raw bones. Remember to never feed your dog cooked bones, as these are dangerous and may splinter, damaging the gastrointestinal tract. When choosing a dog food, take a close look at the ingredient list. The top two or three ingredients on the list should be meat or meat protein. Dog foods which may be less expensive are higher in cereal, and therefore not as good for your pet.

Home cooked diets are possible, but it can be very hard to maintain nutritional balance. One of the best examples is calcium. A predominantly meat based diet can contain too little calcium, leading to poor bone density and increased risk of fractures. Conversely, adding too much calcium supplement to a diet can also lead to developmental orthopedic disease. It is very important to get the balance just right.

It is also important to choose a commercial dog food which is appropriate for the breed. For example, giant breed puppy food allows for slow steady growth. This helps to avoid orthopedic problems in your dog such as osteochondrosis dissecans which is often associated with rapid growth in large breeds of dog.

As puppies get older, their growth rate slows, and they can be switched to adult food when they’re close to maturity. This is usually around twelve months for most breeds, and eighteen months for giant breeds.

It is very important to choose the right dog food for your puppy, as the effects of poor nutrition can last a lifetime. Make sure that the food is both of high quality, nutritionally balanced and appropriate for the breed.

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How to Successfully Mate Dogs

Mating dogs takes patience and good timing, but can be successful if you plan carefully. Here are the things to consider to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

It is a good idea to introduce the dogs you plan to mate before the female comes into heat. This gives you the opportunity to see how they get along – whether they act aggressively toward each other, or whether they are quite friendly. A few days together should determine whether they are compatible enough to consider breeding them.

If so, when your girl comes into heat, you can safely move on to the next stage. A female dog (bitch) usually comes into heat twice a year, starting with proestrus, which generally lasts between seven and ten days. When she does, you will notice a small amount of bloody discharge from her vulva, and it will swell and become more pliable. The first heat usually takes place between six and twelve months of age, but it’s not a good idea to breed your female on this first heat. She’s still young, and would benefit from a bit more physical maturity before becoming a mom.

The most fertile time to breed dogs is between ten and fourteen days after the female starts bleeding. If the dogs have not been introduced, you should allow supervised periods of interaction every forty-eight hours until the bitch will not allow the male dog (stud) to mate any more. That way, there are no risks to either dog from personality clashes.

Dogs that haven’t been bred before may not know what they should do, and may require the assistance of an experienced breeder to help them mate successfully.

During mating, the two dogs will “tie” – they will be locked together at the genitals for 20-45 minutes. This is nature’s way of improving the odds for a successful mating. However, even if the dogs don’t tie, pregnancy is still possible.

If you’re new to breeding dogs, this tie might concern you. It is a normal part of dog mating, and is nothing to worry about. It’s very important that you don’t try and separate the two dogs before they are ready. This can lead to damage to the genitals of both male and female dogs.

Dogs that are new to breeding may also be distressed at their inability to separate, and you may need to reassure them, and calm them down. Having said that, in many cases dogs just get down to business and mate successfully without any human intervention.

Sometimes dogs just don’t get pregnant, in spite of your best efforts. If you still want to breed your dog, there may be a veterinarian who specializes in reproductive medicine in your area. He can help identify why your dog isn’t conceiving, and help you work around it.
These days, there are many reproductive technologies available to dogs, including artificial insemination. They are expensive, but can often result in pregnancy when nature doesn’t take its course.

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How to Choose a Dog Obedience School

Every dog owner recognizes the importance of training their pet. From a very early age, dogs, like humans, learn both good and bad habits which will stay with them for the rest of their lives. This being the case, it is very important to choose the right training school to use, as bad experiences early on can have a lifelong effect on your puppy. Poorly run classes can have the exact opposite effect to that which is actually desired, causing behavioral problems which can be difficult to combat and replace.

At what age should the training start? Well, it is best to start training your puppy at 12 weeks, when your puppy is still young and eager to learn. But make sure that they have had all the correct vaccinations, and that it is safe to take them out and about with other dogs.

How should you go about choosing a training school? It is best to take into consideration the recommendations of others, so that you do not have to experience all of the bad training schools yourself. Ask your vet, and get the opinions of other friends who own dogs themselves. Observe these training classes initially and note down any of your thoughts and impressions of them.

What should you look for in a training school? Firstly, both dogs and owners should appear happy and relaxed during the class, there should be minimal tension and frustration. The trainers should be watching the handlers at all times, showing personal interest and even offering individual help if any is needed.

The class should take place at an appropriate venue, one with enough space so that conditions are not cramped. It should also be possible for shyer dogs to have some time away from the class if they begin to feel overwhelmed or scared by the situation at any time.

The class should consist of an appropriate number of animals. Smaller numbers are better, as it allows for individual help to be offered and makes it easier to keep the class calm and under control at all times. Still, there should be enough puppies there so that there is a chance to socialize well, preferably with more than 2 or 3.

All dogs taking part in the class should be of a similar age and level of development. This makes it easier for the trainer to work with the group, as all are at a similar stage of learning.

Harsh methods, such as pulling sharply at the chain or yanking at the puppy, should be avoided at all costs. Employing these methods can make puppies fearful and stunts learning. It also makes it more difficult for you to develop a warm relationship with your puppy.

Choosing the right training school to go to with your puppy is definitely vital. At these places, your dog will learn obedience and manners, as well as having the opportunity to socialize well with other puppies of a similar age. And, you never know, you might make some friends too!

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Benefits of Neutering and Spaying Dogs

Dogs that aren’t being bred should be spayed or neutered, for many reasons. The health and behavioral benefits alone can prolong your dog’s life and reduce the risk of certain diseases and infections. Neutering also avoids accidental pregnancy, and reduces the potential burden on local shelters that are forced to euthanize millions of unwanted and unplanned animals each year.

For female dogs, spaying before her first heat virtually eliminates the risk for developing breast cancer later in life. After four heat periods, spaying offers no protection from breast cancer, so unless you’re going to breed your girl, spay her at 6 months of age.

A female dog who has many heat periods is at risk of developing a potentially fatal uterine infection called pyometron. In this condition, the uterus fills with pus and the dog becomes seriously ill. She must be spayed urgently, but due to her illness, there are more risks associated with a general anesthesia. Neutering male dogs completely eliminates the risk of testicular cancer.

Spayed and neutered dogs are less aggressive, and if they spend any time outdoors, they will be less likely to roam or get into altercations with other dogs. Male dogs who are neutered as a youngster are less likely to mark their territory by urinating on every upright object.
A puppy may be sterilized as young as eight weeks of age, but most veterinarians will wait until they are around six months old. They are spayed and neutered under anesthesia, and using sterile equipment. Post-operatively, they may stay overnight, to allow them to completely recover from the anesthetic, and to make sure they don’t pull at their sutures.

Spaying a female involves removing the uterus and the ovaries, so after they are spayed, the female will no longer produce eggs or have heat periods. This is a more involved procedure than neutering a male, and the abdominal surgery requires a recovery period where the dog must remain quiet.

Neutering a male dog involves removing both testicles, and because there is no abdominal surgery involved, he has a shorter recovery time. For those people who don’t care for the sight of a neutered male, there are silicone implants called Neuticles that can be implanted after surgery. That way, the male dog still looks like he has testicles.

Some male dogs have testicles that haven’t descended into the scrotum. These must be removed as they can become cancerous later in life. The veterinarian will have to look inside the abdomen to find these testicles, so recovery is longer, as with a female dog spay.

As with any elective surgery, there are risks and potential complications from spaying and neutering. Dogs can have adverse reactions to suture material and anesthesia, and some incisions are slow to heal properly. There is also modern research that suggests that sterilization alters a dog’s appearance by slowing the closure of the growth areas of the legs. This means that dogs who are neutered as youngsters tend to be taller and leggier than their entire counterparts.

Hormone changes in spayed and neutered dogs can contribute to a slower metabolism and weight gain in some cases. This means that owners need to watch closely the food intake of their neutered dog, and make sure they get plenty of exercise, to keep their waistline trim.

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Caring for Newborn Puppies

Once your puppies have been born, the real work begins – making sure they receive the proper care from their mother, and keeping them warm and well-fed in order to maintain their growth and development.

The first thing new puppies need is a warm environment. Their first few weeks should be spent in a confined area that stays around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If the area around the whelping box isn’t warm enough, you can place a heating pad or hot water bottle in one corner, to allow the pups to find a temperature they prefer. Alternatively, move the pups and their mom to a warmer part of your home.

The puppies are completely helpless when they are born. They are blind and deaf, their bodies cannot regulate their own temperature, and they need to be stimulated to learn how to urinate and defecate on their own. Their body temperature will gradually increase over the first three weeks of life to a normal adult temperature of 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s so important that the babies get the first milk, or colostrum, from their mother. This milk contains antibodies that can only be absorbed during their first twenty-four hours of life, and they help to protect the newborns from disease during their first few weeks. If your pups are tiny or weak, they may need your help to latch on to the nipple.

The mom will do her best to keep them clean in the beginning, but as the pups grow, you’ll need to change the newspapers in the whelping box more regularly.

The pups need to be monitored closely and weighed regularly to ensure they are getting enough nutrition. In some cases, the mother may need to receive medication from a veterinarian to increase their milk production, or you may need to supplement their diet with formula. After four weeks, they will be ready to start nibbling on soft food like puppy porridge or mince.

The puppies will need to be wormed every two weeks for the first twelve weeks of life, and these babies will also need their first vaccinations when they are between six and eight weeks old. This protects them from viral diseases like Hepatitis, Parvovirus, and Distemper. Your veterinarian can recommend a vaccination program for your pups, depending on where you live and the disease risk in your area.

After three or four weeks, the puppies can be handled gently by people to get them used to human contact. At around five weeks of age their teeth will start coming through the gums, and at this point, their mom will start to wean them. Most pups will still nurse from mom until they are seven and eight weeks old. It is important to keep litter mates and the mother together until then, so the puppies learn how to communicate and interact with other dogs. Pups who are taken from their litter mates too early may develop antisocial behaviors because they haven’t had this opportunity to learn dog body language.

Sometimes humans are required to act as surrogate mothers for newborn puppies, so it helps to understand their needs and what the mother does to help them grow and thrive. If the bitch neglects or abandons a puppy, you are its only hope for survival. You’ll need to not only feed them regularly with formula and keep them warm, but you’ll need to gently wipe their bottom with a moist cotton ball to stimulate them to go to the toilet. Raising orphan puppies is a lot of work, and very tiring but it’s so worthwhile.

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How Do Puppies Learn?

Most dog owners would agree that training a puppy can be both difficult and time consuming, yet highly rewarding. It is, undoubtedly, a vital part of owning a dog. By finding out how puppies learn, this makes it easier for an owner to train and teach their puppy in the most effective and time efficient way.

So how do puppies learn? Puppies, like children, learn from the results of their behavior. So, if they do something and are rewarded for it, by, for example, a treat or a pat, they notice this and are much more likely to do it again.

On the other hand, if a puppy is actually punished for bad behavior, it may not realize that you want the bad behavior to stop. As an example, if you are angry at your puppy for going to the toilet on the carpet and punish it, it may begin to associate the punishment with actually going to the toilet in front of you. If this happens, your puppy may continue to go to the toilet on the carpet, just not when you are there, or they may do it in a place which you may not initially notice.

This being the case, it is far more effective to train your puppy by using a reward-based system when they do something right, rather than punishing them when the opposite is true.

Puppies can also learn and pick things up without you being aware of it. For example, if your puppy whines and you pay it attention, it will learn that whining produces a good outcome, like a cuddle or a treat. It is paramount that you do not inadvertently rewarding behaviors that are not desirable, or your puppy will continually persist with them.

Food can be used as a very effective tool in teaching and training your puppy. A special treat, such as diced chicken or hot dog, can be used to great effect. When your puppy does something right, say, for example, “yes” and give them the treat. In this way, they will come to view the word “yes” as a marker, or indication, that they have done the right thing and may be rewarded for that.

Take sitting as an example. Teaching your puppy to sit is not very difficult. Take the treat and hold it in front of their nose to get their attention. Then, move it slightly back and above their head. At this point, your puppy will look up and follow the treat, and as this happens, their bottom should hit the ground. When it does, say “yes” and give them the treat. By doing this, they will quickly learn that they earn a treat each time they sit on the ground.

There are lots of advice books and information available which claim to help with the training of puppies. Make sure that you follow a method which employs a reward, rather than punishment, scheme. This makes it very easy and enjoyable for you puppy to learn.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin  Date: Monday, October 26, 2009

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Pregnancy in Dogs: Signs and Special Considerations

What are the signs of canine pregnancy and what special considerations should be made for pregnant dogs? Here are a few things to consider when caring for your pregnant dog.

The early signs of pregnancy in a dog are vague and non-specific, and include a change in normal behavior, a loss in appetite, weight gain, possibly some vomiting, and perhaps a noticeable increase in the size of her nipples. Your dog may also become more clingy and affectionate. These changes take place during the first few weeks of pregnancy

If you want to know for sure, you’ll need to visit your veterinarian. A pregnancy test can be performed as early as twenty-six days after a bitch (female dog) has been bred. Your vet will perform a simple blood test to look for a hormone called relaxin, which remains in the bloodstream of pregnant dogs throughout pregnancy and up to two weeks after whelping.

Your vet can often feel puppies in your bitch’s abdomen after five weeks, and an ultrasound can determine whether your dog is pregnant after only three weeks. After seven weeks, the doctor will be able to see how many puppies are there and check their size, to make sure you’re both prepared for any potential delivery complications.

A dog’s pregnancy lasts between sixty-three and sixty-five days. During this time, she may prefer smaller, more frequent meals, since the puppies will be taking up space in her abdomen and there’s less room for her stomach. A balanced diet is important for pregnant dogs, and calcium supplements should be avoided to eliminate the risk of eclampsia while she’s feeding her babies. If you supplement calcium during pregnancy,you switch off her body’s natural calcium regulation system. So, when she needs extra calcium to produce milk, her body can’t meet the demand straight away. This results in trembling and seizures, and can be fatal.

The size of the litter and the size of your bitch will determine how firm or distended her abdomen looks and feels. As the weeks go by, she will gain weight and her abdomen can become quite pendulous. You can often feel the puppies moving during the last couple of weeks of her pregnancy. Her nipples may leak a little milk as she gets closer to her delivery date.

Exercise is important during pregnancy, but it should be gentle and not too strenuous, similar to that for human mothers approaching the final stages of their pregnancy. If any bleeding or vaginal discharge develops, or if your dog stops eating or becomes very lethargic, it may be time to call a veterinarian for advice.

In the final days before delivery, your bitch will become restless and begin her nesting behavior. That’s an indication that it’s time to provide her with a proper whelping box for the birthing process. Towards the end of her pregnancy, your dog’s temperature will drop from a normal 101 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit to between 97 and 99 degrees. This is a sure sign that she will deliver her pups within 24 hours.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin  Date: Sunday, October 25, 2009

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Caring for a Mother Dog After Whelping

After a mother dog (bitch) successfully whelps her puppies, there are specific things you as an owner want to look for to make sure both the newborns and their mother are doing well. Here are some tips on what to expect and what you should do to care for the new family.

Within twenty-four hours of birth, have the pups and mother checked by a veterinarian. The doctor will check for signs of congenital defects in the pups, such as cleft palates or limb deformities. He will also make sure the bitch’s mammary glands are producing enough milk for her babies.

He may administer an injection of oxytocin to start the uterus contracting and shrinking back to pre-pregnancy size. This will also reduce any bleeding from where the placentas were attached, and help expel any remaining material from the uterus. Mom may continue to have some discharge for up to eight weeks after birthing babies, but as long as it doesn’t smell or look foul, there is no cause for alarm.

Keep an eye on the new mother to make sure that she is caring for all her puppies and knows what to do with them. In some cases, bitches that give birth for the first time become aggressive or confused over their role, and she may lie on her puppies, accidentally crushing them.
New mothers will also need good nutrition to feed her pups, so small, frequent meals are a great idea. Her milk production will reach its peak at around three weeks after birth. She will be especially hungry at this time, so feed her puppy food for a few weeks. It has more energy per ounce than regular adult dog food so she can get plenty of nutrients without over filling her stomach. You will also need to weight the newborn puppies regularly to confirm they are growing and getting enough milk.

Watch for any signs of mastitis. Red, swollen, or painful mammary glands are the classic signs, but mom may also be very lethargic, feverish and off her food. Another potentially dangerous condition is metritis, an infection and inflammation of the uterus usually caused by a long or especially difficult labor.

If the mother starts to pant, tremble, or have seizures, she may be suffering from a calcium deficiency called eclampsia, which is a serious condition that needs immediate attention and treatment. It’s more common in smaller breeds of dogs, and tends to occur when pups are two to five weeks of age. This is when they’re growing fast, and drinking lots of milk. Mom puts lots of calcium into her milk, which leaves her deficient.

A vet must treat eclampsia quickly because it can be fatal. Treatment is intravenous calcium supplement, and mom may also need sedation to stop the seizures. If your bitch develops eclampsia it’s usually a good idea to wean the pups and hand raise them.

In the majority of cases, moms and pups do just fine and don’t need human intervention. Even so, be sure to keep a good eye on them so if a problem develops, you can get on top of it straight away. This will ensure the best outcome for mom and babies.

1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin  Date: Saturday, October 24, 2009

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