We will continue from yesterday’s PART ONE! Start there if you didn’t get a chance to read it!
We feed dry kibble to our dogs. From 3-6 weeks old, the puppies have been eating blended kibble “mush”, and from 6-8 weeks they transition to plain dry kibble. We try to allow the Mama to choose when to wean, and she gradually stops feedings around 6-7 weeks. Around 5-6 weeks, she only nurses once or twice a day, and puppies are getting their nutrients from kibble.
We currently feed “Natures Domain Salmon & Sweet Potato”. It is sold exclusively at Costco for around $30-35, and made by “Diamond”. It is NOT a puppy food. Traditional puppy foods are too high in fats for our large breed puppies, and can cause problems with the growth and development of their joints. When a puppy food is used, it MUST be specifically formulated for “Large Breeds”. NEVER feed a regular “puppy” food to your Berner! I
If you have a different food you want your puppy to use, you need to transition the food from ours to yours. Our puppies are sent home with a sample bag of our food, and you will want to take about a week to slowly mix the foods together. First add 1/2 a cup of the new food to the full amount of a meal. Then add more and more, until you are out of the sample bag, and the puppy is completely on the new food. This will help the transition go smoothly with minimal diarrhea and tummy troubles.
5. DISHES / BOWLS
Our dogs use stainless steel food dishes with rubber on the bottom. We also use a large stainless steel milking pail from the farm store for easy access of water (and minimal splashing) for our adult dogs. Our puppies get smaller stainless steel dishes with the rubber bottom. I recommend getting the dishes that are completely lined with rubber on the bottom. There are some that just have a ring around the outer edge, and those never seem to last very long.
Steer clear of the “elevated” feeding set-ups. They might logically seem like a good choice, but studies continue to show that they can cause life-threatening bloat. “Approximately 52% of cases of GDV (bloat) among the large breed and giant breed dogs, were attributed to having a raised feed bowl.” (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:1492–1499)
If your puppy seems to inhale his food, eating without stopping to chew, you may need to invest in a special slow-down bowl that will force him to take time with his food. Eating too fast can also cause bloat, so you want to make sure you can hear the crunch of food as your puppy eats! Some examples: Northgate Interactive Feeder Dogit Go Slow Bowl Kyjen Slo-Bowl
Karma’s ABSOLUTE favorite way to eat as a puppy was with her Kong Wobbler. I would put a meal of kibble in the Wobbler, and she would play with it and eat. It was really good mental exercise for her to work for her food in a game. More info: Kong Wobbler
6. GROOMING SUPPLIES:
We groom our own dogs. If you have a professional groomer, take your puppy in regularly to help him get comfortable being groomed by someone else. If you plan to groom him at home, you will need a few basic supplies!
Our “MUST HAVE” basics are:
~ a sturdy “rake” brush. The rake brush is easy to use and effective at minimizing shedding. We HATE the “furminator” brushes, just because it actually cuts the hair down close to the base, instead of removing just the dead fur.
~ sturdy nail clippers. We have been clipping your puppy’s nails weekly. If you continue to do this, they will be more comfortable with the procedure. As they get older, they can go longer between trimming.
~ styptic powder. This is vital if you are going to clip your dog’s nails. If you trim too high, the nail bed will bleed … and bleed … and bleed. The styptic powder stops bleeding by causing quagulation/clotting of the blood to occur almost instantly. Its one of those things that hopefully you won’t need often, but its vital when you do need it!
7. LEASH / COLLAR:
A thick, sturdy leash is your friend! Find one that would be comfortable to hold during a lively game of tug o’war, thick and hard to chew through, and with a very sturdy, secure clip. We buy leashes like they are going out of style. We haven’t found our “perfect” leash yet, but usually at least 1-1.5″ width. You don’t need a super long leash though, we try to use 4-5 ft leashes.
Totally off-topic, but how cute is this leash rack I saw on eBay?! I totally need to get one 🙂
Or maybe two of these, labeled Koda & Karma!
As for collars, a good, sturdy collar that the dog can’t slip out of is a must. Steer clear of chains or slip-choke-collars. Berners have too much fluff, and choke collars can get tangled up really easily, making them extra cruel! We love “martingale” collars. They are nice collars that are comfortable, but can slip a couple inches tighter if pulled on, so that it doesn’t slip off on accident, and there’s no buckle to break.
(little 10 week old Karma roughhousing with 2 year old Koda!)
We bought our collars from TheModDog on etsy. They are really great collars, and they last for what seems like forever. We’ve never worn out a ModDog collar. No, I don’t work for them or anything, just love our collars, lol! These collars are adjustable, but a general idea of sizing – 2 year old Koda measured at 21-22″ neck, and a 12 week old Karma got a 12″ collar that fit her for 6 months, when we bought her “big girl” collar (21-22″). They have worn these collars daily in the rain, snow, sprinklers, mud, etc, and the collars still are going strong. Wherever you buy your collar, get one that is thicker (1-1.5″), with sturdy hardware that will hold up!
8. POTTY TRAINING SUPPLIES / IDEAS:
Potty Training / Housebreaking is probably one of the most challenging parts of having a new puppy! I recommend TONS of patience, and the understanding that puppies don’t always have the ability to hold their bowels. As their body matures and develops, the ability to “hold it” will develop too. Sticking their nose in an accident is in NO WAY helpful. What you want to do is clean up an accident quickly, removing all smell from the area. We love NATURES MIRACLE spray for removing smells. Honestly, I buy that stuff by the gallon, because it works so well. Between dogs, an older kitty, and 4 kids, I use it all the time for accidents & smells. It can be kind of hard to find at a non-specialty store, if you have a pet store close by, then you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it.
Another trick we use is BELL TRAINING. We learned about this technique from my sister-in-law, who used it on their English Creme Retriever when he was a puppy. We used it with Karma, and both our dogs now use it. We bought our bells HERE, and we love them! We simply hung the bells from the doorknob, and helped the puppy nudge them with her paw or nose. As soon as the bells made a sound, we opened the door. Sometimes we’d have a puppy just wanting to go out to play, but it made the potty training much easier for us!
Two other suggestions regarding potty-training: First – use a crate when your puppy is not supervised. This will significantly minimize accidents. And second, when you’re home and your puppy is relaxing with you, set a timer or alarm for regular intervals to go outside for a potty opportunity!
I hope these tips, ideas, and suggestions help you prepare for your little fluff ball’s homecoming! We’ll give more ideas, tips and suggestions on once puppy is home soon!