Puppies as Christmas Gifts - all you need to know!

Adding a puppy to the family as a Christmas gift can be an awesome surprise present. Your puppy will love you forever, so make sure you return the favour and become a responsible and educated pet owner.

Below is a lot of information to take in, so spend some time with the family, enjoy your puppy and let them become a happy, healthy member of your family that you are proud of.

During the first week of a dog’s life, 90% of their time is spent sleeping, and 10% is spent eating, they are born blind, without teeth or the ability to hear. Their eyes open at around 10 to 14 days old, and their hearing will start after this. Their teeth start coming through at 6 weeks.

Most breeds of puppies are considered adults when they are one year old.



Training your puppy lasts forever, make it part of your daily routine from day one, and remember practice makes perfect, any progress is good progress, BE PATIENT!


  • A good starting point is the “SIT” command.
    Get your puppy’s full attention by saying his/her name and ensure their focus is on you.  Hold a treat at nose level then slowly move the treat backwards over the forehead, encouraging the puppy to follow the treat with their nose.  Be sure to give the command “sit” repeatedly while performing this exercise until your puppy fully understands the command.  As soon as the puppy sits, give the treat and praise.  Avoid pushing your puppy into a sitting position. 

  • Ask you pup to sit before meals.
    Always use your puppy's name before giving the command.  That way you will have his attention.
    Train your pup by positive reinforcement.  Initially always reward him with a food treat until you know that he understands what he is expected to do.  Then only give the treat randomly, but ALWAYS give him lots of PRAISE when he does the right thing.
    Train your pup at different times and in different places so that he doesn't become a dog who is only obedient in the kitchen at dinner time.

  • “STAY” Command
    Stand with your puppy at your side and give the “stay” command and hand signal.  Initially do not move at all but reward your puppy for staying still after a few seconds.  When you feel your puppy is starting to understand this command, give the “stay” command and take one step away from him/her, then step back and give praise and a reward.  Gradually increase the distance and time away from your puppy.
    Always use a ‘release’ command (such as OK, Finish, or Free) when you have finished this exercise so your puppy knows it is okay to move away from you.
  • Toilet Training
    Be vigilant – remember every ‘accident’ is a result of your own inattention
    Recognise the signs that your puppy needs to go to the toilet – sniffing the floor, circling, tail posture
    Use a ‘toilet’ command when you see your puppy relieving him/herself in the correct place so he/she learns what you want him/her to do
    Remember to praise your puppy when he/she toilets in the correct place
    Never rub your puppy’s nose in their urine/faeces – this will make your puppy reluctant to relieve themselves in front of you and can lead to behavioural problems such as eating their own faeces
    Ensure you clean up any ‘accidents’ with non-ammonia based cleaning products to avoid your puppy returning to the same spot
  • What if my puppy doesn't obey?
    Have you got his attention? Try clapping your hands or changing the tone of your voice.  You don't need to shout, you just need to be more exciting than the distraction.
    Is he getting tired?  Puppies have very short attention spans.
    Does he understand the command or what is expected of him?



If puppies become bored in their environment they may chew and destroy items, dig or bark constantly. By enriching a puppy's environment owners can provide enough physical exercise and mental stimulation to relieve boredom and the associated anti-social behaviours.


Enrich your puppies environment by:

  • Providing chew and play toys
  • Provide activities to keep them entertained e.g. shallow pool filled with water
  • Exercise your pup mentally or physically before going out for long periods of time



As a general rule of thumb, ‘formal’ exercise (on a leash) should be limited to 5 minutes for every month of the puppy’s life, e.g., a 3 month old puppy should not be exercised for more than 15 minutes, twice a day.  This rule applies until the puppy is 6 months old, but for large breeds caution should be taken not to over exercise the puppy until it has reached full maturity. 



It is important to ‘expose’ your pet as a puppy, to many of the things it will encounter in his/her everyday life with you as soon as possible.  This includes, but is not limited to;
• Other animals in your household/lifestyle block/farm
• Other family members - especially young children
• Household appliances (vacuum cleaner, washing machine etc), lawnmower
• Travelling in the car.


Remember that your puppy’s ability to cope with these things is directly affected by your reaction to their reaction!  For example, if the puppy displays fearful behaviour in reaction to the vacuum cleaner and you ‘reassure’ the puppy, telling him/her “it’s okay” and generally making a fuss of him/her, the puppy then learns that this is how you would like him to react each time he encounters this situation.  Ignoring the undesirable (fearful) behaviour is the correct way to react, however if the puppy becomes unduly distressed, quietly remove him/her from the situation and try again later.



Start by taking small trips in the car if possible.  Increase the travelling time gradually until your puppy is completely comfortable with being in the car and always ensure that it is a positive experience for him/her.  Consider using a seatbelt especially designed for dogs – unrestrained dogs can become dangerous in a car accident, and a seatbelt may also save his/her life. 



As with all your training, be patient and consistent.  Ensure your puppy is well used to wearing a collar before attaching the leash.

  • With the puppy in the SIT position beside you, start walking and hold a treat at the puppy’s nose level to prevent him jumping up.
  • Give the command ‘Heel’ and keep walking while your puppy walks calmly beside you. Do not keep repeating the ‘Heel’ command continually, however, when he/she is succeeding, reward the correct behaviour by giving a treat and praise including the command, e.g. “Good girl, Heel”.
  • As soon as the puppy pulls on the lead, STOP – the puppy will soon learn that if he/she doesn’t pull on the lead, he/she will get to go for a walk.




  • A growing puppy has nearly 3 times the energy requirements of an adult dog and therefore needs a diet especially formulated for puppies.
  • Puppies do not need cow’s milk to drink, many puppies lose the ability to digest lactose after weaning and develop diarrhoea.
  • Large breed puppies have particular dietary requirements. Select a diet that is designed for large breeds. Do not overfeed or over exercise large breed dogs, this can lead to bone and joint problems later in life. Exercise little and often no more than 20-30 minutes at a time for the first 18 months of age. No jumping!
  • The correct amount of calcium is supplied by all of the premium dog foods. Supplements such as calcium added to an already balanced diet can be detrimental to your puppie's health. Too much calcium is just as bad as not enough.
  • A puppy fed solely on meat is not receiving a balanced diet.
  • A constant variety can create a finicky eater.
  • Supermarket dog foods are generally vegetable or cereal based. Stomach capacity cannot consume enough canned food to meet nutritional requirements.

It is best to feed a premium puppy food from the time your puppy starts to eat solid food. Premium food brands have been developed through years of clinical research.

If you can not afford to feed a Premium diet for the whole of your dogs life it is best to feed one up to a year old and for large breeds some times up to 18 to 24 months.

Puppy diets promote healthy growth with the correct balance of carbohydrates, fibre, protein and calcium. The premium brands contain chicken, turkey, fish and egg as their protein sources.

Every single ingredient in these products is of nutritional benefit to your puppy. There are no fillers and each diet is formulated to provide everything required based on age and breed.

Many brands at the supermarket include cereal based protein not animal based.

Animal based proteins are found in the natural diet of dogs and are easy to digest.

Fats, omega 3, and omega 6 essential fatty acids are contained in premium diets. These act as an energy source, promote growth, normal metabolism, shiny coat and improve the foods palatability.

Large breed puppies are more susceptible to developing conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia (an abnormality in the hip or elbow joint). Large breed diets are designed to promote a steady even bone growth. Feeding the correct diet at this stage is very important.

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