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Check List To Prepare For Your New Puppy

Check List To Prepare For Your New Puppy

Puppy Care   /   Jan 15th, 2024   /   0 COMMENTS   /  A+ | a-
Advance Preparation Before Bringing
Your New Golden Puppy Home

Research article by Emery-n-Denise (Updated April 6, 2024)

When we talk to our customers, the No. 1 question we get asked most often is, “What should we do to prepare for our new puppy that we’re bringing home next month?” We love that question because it shows people are putting a lot of thought into it and want to prepare everything as good as they can before taking on the awesome responsibility of being puppy parents.

Emery-n-Denise have put years and years of thought into raising Golden Retriever puppies in order to insure that they are happy, healthy, and live for many years to come. In over 45 years of being Golden retriever owners, Emery-n-Denise’s Golden Puppies have either acquired all their breeding dogs at an age of two months old from other reputable breeders, or raised pups from birth from one of our own litters. So now instead of going over the answer to that No. 1 question on the phone or in person, we have written this article so that you can use it as a check list to prepare for bringing a new furry family member into your home.

We have broken down the preparation list into five categories:

1. Planning,
2. What We Give You,
3. What You Need to Get,
4. Optional Items, and
5. Things To Avoid.

These will help you quickly accomplish what you need to do to plan for the arrival of your new baby. So, once you know for sure that you are getting one of the puppies from one of our recent litters, then you can start putting a plan into action instead of waiting until the last minute. We think this will help you deal with the excitement and anticipation as well as spreading out the costs over a month and a half rather than all in one weekend just before or after you bring the puppy home. Enjoy from Emery-n-Denise!

1. Planning:

   Schedule the Day and Time to Pick Your Puppy – After the puppies are born and we notify you that we have enough puppies for you to get one (this occurs 7-10 days after the birth), you will need to plan to come out to our facility to pick your puppy when they are approximately 5 weeks old. This will be on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. If you are at or near the top of the waiting list in picking order, it is best to schedule Friday or possibly early Saturday if Friday is not available. If you are further down the list, Saturday afternoon or Sunday will work best. Using this schedule based on picking order allows the people who make their pick pick after you (are lower down on the reservation list) to know which pups are available for them to choose from. An alternative to physically driving to our facility to pick your puppy is to schedule a video chat with us and the available puppies. If you prefer this to coming in person, please call or text us to confirm a day and time, but the same scheduling applies relative to where you are in the picking order. 

   Schedule the Day and Time to Take Your Puppy Home – When the puppies are approximately 9 weeks of age, or four weeks after that weekend when you picked your puppy, you will need to plan to come back out to our facility to take your puppy home. This will be on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. The take-home dates and times are based on first requests. So, please get your request in early after you know you are getting one of our puppies after the pups are born. In the event that the take-home date conflicts with other plans you on your schedule, we can keep your puppy an extra week at no additional charge. If you need more than one week beyond the regular take-home date, there is an additional weekly charge. We can also make arrangements to have your puppy delivered to you by airlines or at a convenient meeting place by car. Additional delivery charges apply.

   Schedule Time Off After Bringing Your Puppy Home – Unless you work from home or are a stay-at-home parent, we highly recommend you try to schedule a week off from work so you can bond with your puppy and get a head start on the potty training. We know vacation time is important to everyone but this will pay off big in so many ways and you will thank us that you did. During that week, focus on your puppy and bonding will occur. Ignore social media, texting, emails and phone calls if you can manage this. The personality of your Golden and its relationship with you will be so much stronger if you dedicate as much of your time to the puppy in the first week. You may want to read our article entitled, “How to Raise the Best Golden Retriever Ever!” It will give you a lot of pointers on what to do (and not do) as you bond with your new family member.

   Schedule A Vet Appointment – You may already have a veterinarian you are comfortable with or you may need to find one. You must have a good Veterinarian because you will be visiting him or her about 3 to 4 times over the first 3 months after you bring your puppy home. Whether you have a Vet or you need to look for one, we highly recommend you read our article entitled, “Vetting Your Veterinarian”. This article will help you become intelligent enough so that you don't have to blindly trust all the recommendations your Vet tries to sell you, because some things they advise are often times driven by money rather than what is best for the well-being of your puppy.

   Puppy Proof Your Home – Golden puppies are very curious and love to explore. That means you’ll have to keep your eye on your new baby every moment while its exploring its new digs. Even if you take your eye off the puppy just for a few moments to answer the phone or check your email, that’s just enough time to allow your puppy to get into something and hurt itself or mess up something in your home. Things like electric cords, low hanging table cloths or curtains, or things on a low ledge like the front brick area of a fireplace that can be reached by a puppy... these all need to be carefully looked at to protect your puppy and your belongings. Pantry doors, closet doors, bathroom doors, doors to rooms that are off-limits, all need to be kept closed so that your puppy doesn’t get into things. We’ll talk about crate training and indoor play pens latter on which can solve a lot of problems for you.

   Plan the Right Location For the Crate – We recommend getting a dog crate for the puppy, and one of your first missions after bring the puppy home is potty training. In the next section, we’ll teach you how to accomplish that in just 1 week, but having the crate very near to the door that you will be going in and out of for the potty training will work out best for several reasons. Many people say, “Well I was planning to keep the crate in the bedroom with me where I sleep, is that okay?” Only if sleep is not important to you, lol. Your new baby puppy will cry at night and keep you awake, and since you will be taking him or her out to go potty every 3 hours at first, sleep will be a precious commodity in your household. Having the crate as far away as possible from your bedroom makes sense to us but it is your choice of course.

   Plan the Potty Training Schedule – Ideally, the potty training should be conducted by one person, two at most. The reason for this is so that everything remains familiar to the puppy… same times each day, same encouraging greeting when you pick the puppy up, always taken to the same place in the yard (so they can smell their prior business), use of the same “go potty” command, etc. Your puppy will grow accustomed to this routine if it is familiar.

Potty Training:

Start out taking the puppy to potty every three hours, around the clock (that’s 8 times per day) for the first 4 to 5 days. It is crucial to be punctual because the puppy will begin to anticipate your arrival to take him/her out of the crate. After you have firmly established a routine that the puppy seems acclimated to with no accidents, then increase the interval to every 4 hours and keep it at that for several more days. If that is successful with no accidents, go to 5 hour intervals. By the time the puppy is 3 to 4 months old (a minimum of 20 to 30 pounds), it should be able to hold its bladder for a full 7 or 8 hours so that your sleep time can begin to return to normal.

During daytime hours while the puppy is not in its crate), you want to look for your puppy’s signals that he/she needs to go potty. Things like wondering around aimlessly sniffing the floor is a sure sign. Or, if you have played in the house with a lot of running or activity, assume the puppy needs to go potty within 5 to 10 minutes after that. Same with eating a meal or lapping up a good amount of water (more than a sip), take them out to go potty within 5 to 10 minutes afterward.

Key Points:

(1)  Reward a successful pee or poop with lots of praise before going back inside. We recommend rewarding with two or three dry kibbles from the bag of dog food; keep a half a cup or so handy in a zip-lock sandwich bag for training.

(2)  Don’t let the outdoor potty session turn into an outdoor play session; this will confuse both the puppy and you when it is signaling you to go outside and play and you think it is telling you it wants to go out to potty (we will discuss the possibility of using a potty signal bell on the door later on).

(3)  Don’t leave the poop in the yard; pick it up seconds after it comes out with a paper towel or poop bag and place it in a waste can with a lid. Reason? You don’t want the puppy to develop the nasty habit of ingesting its own poop. Not all dogs do this but some will. It is a gross habit but not uncommon and not something any of us like to see. The first time you start to see your pup going for its poop, immediately and sternly yell, “No!” in a deep voice.

   Plan Your House Rules – Should you have house rules for your puppy? Absolutely! Why? Because your puppy will love you more when it gets the impression that it has made you happy by obeying your rules. If you have other members in your household, talk it over and make sure everybody is on the same page; you don’t want to work against what other people are allowing (or not allowing) the puppy to do in your home. You must figure out ways to communicate when you are pleased with your puppy’s behavior (lots of praise, adoration, and affectionate touching, rubbing, and scratching) as well as when you are not happy (deep, stern tone of voice expressing disapproval). We also recommend you read our article entitled, “How to Raise the Best Golden Retriever Ever!”

2. What We Give You:

   Puppy Food – We start the puppies on solid food about 4 to 5 weeks before the puppy goes home with you. We give you a starter supply of dog food, a 5 to 7 day supply of the same food the puppy has been eating, “Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Salmon & Potato Formula”. You may want to read this article that we wrote which will give our thoughts on this particular food.

Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Formula Dog Food

   Rawhide Roll – We give you a small cow rawhide roll. Rawhide rolls are safe to give, can be ingested, and are important to always have on hand because Goldens are chewers. When you bring the puppy home, it will be teething and needs to have something to exercise its teeth and gums for relief. One of your house rules definitely needs to be, “No chewing on anything in the house but puppy toys and rawhides.” Your puppy will start to try and chew on any kind of thing it can get its mouth around: your shoes, shoelaces, chair and table legs, corners of walls, etc. Nip this in the bud as soon as you see it happening and have a rawhide ready to give your puppy instead.

   Shoulder Harness & Leash – We give you a puppy size shoulder harness and leash that will last you about 1 to 2 months before your puppy grows out of it. You must always have a proper fitting harness on hand so that you can do leash training in your back yard as well as your neighborhood. We do not recommend a dog collar that goes around the neck because it puts too much pressure on the puppy’s neck and spine. Leash training is something your puppy will appreciate tremendously and look forward to. Some owner’s tell us their puppy brings them the leash when they want to go out… how cute! Another good rule for your household: always keep your puppy on a leash when going outside for your puppy’s protection and control of your puppy. The exception to this might be if you are in an isolated area where you are certain there are no other dogs, cats, or wild animals around.

   Puppy Blanket – We give you a puppy blanket that has the scent of your puppy’s litter mates and mother on it. You can put this in the crate where your puppy sleeps at night for the first few nights so that it has something familiar to comfort him or her. After the puppy seems to be growing fondly attached to you or some other family member, this is usually the one who is spending the most time with the puppy (e.g., potty training, playing, feeding, walking on the leash, etc.), that person should take an old T-shirt after wearing it all day long while your working and has your scent on it (don’t wear much deodorant, no cologne and no perfume). Replace the blanket we give you with the T-shirt and your puppy will always feel close to you while in its crate at night.

   Paperwork – We send you home with the following paperwork:

(1)  Your puppy’s comprehensive health record – including the dates of all vaccinations, de-wormings, puppy weights, with notations.

(2)  Your puppy’s comprehensive veterinary health check record – your puppy will see our licensed veterinarian a few days before it goes home with you to insure it is perfectly healthy. We are right there in the exam room making sure everything is properly and thoroughly looked at and checked by the veterinarian.

Note: take the above two pieces of paperwork with you to your first Vet visit but don’t give them to your Vet right away; make him or her earn their fee, then show them our paperwork.

(3)  Your puppy’s microchip registration form – this is a lifetime enrollment in AKC Reunite that we enroll your puppy in and pay for. You will receive an email from AKC Reunite usually within a month. This keeps you connected as the rightful owner of your Golden Retriever puppy.

(4)  Your puppy’s AKC registration form – this allows you to register your puppy with the American Kennel Club. It costs you $40, is optional, and up to you to decide if you want to do it, but the benefits of it are next to nothing. The puppy litter is already registered but the owner of the puppy is registered by the microchip registration with AKC Reunite (No. 3 above).

(5)  A copy of your purchase agreement – this includes your purchase receipt, the health guarantee, and the supplemental terms and conditions.

3. What You Need To Get Before Bringing the Puppy Home:

   Puppyfood – Your puppy has been eating, “Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Salmon & Potato Formula”, which can be bought online and at almost all pet stores and feed supplies.

Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Formula Dog Food

Buy your dog food and have it ready before you bring the puppy home, especially if you plan on changing from what we have been feeding your puppy. You may also want to read our article entitled, “Dog Food Recommendations”. If you choose not to use what we have been feeding the pup, it is important to transition slowly over about 5 to 7 days using the starter bag we send you home with. If you don’t transition slowly, diarrhea will surely develop and it will create a mess in your home.

   Water & Food Bowls – We recommend stainless steel water and food bowls. These are unbreakable, easy to clean, dishwasher safe, and non-porous so that they cannot be contaminated with harmful bacteria over time. We wrote “this article” a while back discussing ideas to store your dog food so that it stays fresh, and the differences between plastic, ceramic, glass and metal bowls. Always keep the water bowl filled with fresh water on a daily basis, but only put the proper amount of dog food that is age and weight appropriate in the food bowl at each feeding. The dog food package labeling shows the amount to feed per day but this amount should be divided by the number of times you feed your puppy each day. Whatever is not consumed by the pup in 15-20 minutes, take it up and put it away until the next feeding.

   Rawhide Chews – Rawhide chews are safe to give, can be ingested, and are important to always have on hand because Goldens are chewers. Don’t get the flavored kind or the spiral twisted kind that are very slender like a pencil; just get the plain white, cow rawhide chips or rolls. They can be bought on Amazon, pet stores, and Walmart. Look at the origin of the rawhides on the product label. Only buy South America, Mexico, or U.S.A. made. If it comes from China, put it down and look somewhere else.

At about 4 to 5 months of age, your puppy will begin to lose its baby teeth and grow its adult teeth. A Golden gets a great deal of satisfaction from chewing on things, even as adults. They will enjoy the rawhides up to their senior years. Once a Golden reaches 10 to 12 years of age, and depending on its health and ability to digest properly, alternatives to rawhides may have to be considered.

   Squeaky Toys & Balls – Goldens love squeaky toys and balls and these need to be provided to them as a substitute for chewing other things in your house that you don’t approve of. Once they know the difference between what is theirs and what is yours, everyone will be happy. If you establish house rules early on, there will not be problems with a Golden's desire to chew your things up. But once you see that your puppy is tearing up the squeaky toy and it is coming apart, throw it away and it’s time to get a new one. Dollar Tree is a good source for these.

   Heavy Guage Wire Crate – We highly recommend crate training because it is a safe haven for your puppy. Get the kind that has a center divider panel that can be adjusted to make the inside smaller or larger as the puppy grows. The idea is to keep the area inside the crate small enough so that they cannot pee or poop at one end and sleep at the other. They will not try to sleep in their own waste. A heavier gauge wire crate will discourage biting on the wire and breaking the welded intersections of the wires. Brands to consider are MidWest and Precision.

Dogs originate from cave dwelling animals. If you throw a blanket over the crate, this gives the puppy a sense of shelter, peace, and safety. It becomes a safe haven where they can retreat to and rest properly. The blanket should be placed so that the pup can’t grab a piece of it while inside and try to tug it thru the gaps between the wires. Later we’ll discuss an optional play pen for the puppy that integrates with the crate. We are very fond of this idea and recommend it if you have the room in your home.

   Flea & Tick Preventative – We recommend Frontline Plus, which is a topical flea and tick preventative. It can be purchased without a veterinarian prescription (and this is the reason why Vets don't want you to use it). You can also buy generic versions of this that have the same effective ingredients. It has been around for decades and has minimal side effects (if any) on Golden Retrievers. Your Vet will recommend something different but we urge you strongly to insist on Frontline Plus. We have applied it to all our dogs for decades during flea & tick season and we have had no problems. Keep in mind that if you live in a region where temperatures drop substantially in the winter season, you don’t need to use a flea & tick preventative from about mid-December to mid-March. The reason we don't give this year around (like your Vet will want you to do) is because if your dog doesn't need the protection when fleas and ticks are not a problem, then they certainly don't need the chemicals in this or any other product building up on their bodies.

   Heartworm Preventative – We recommend Heartgard Plus, which is an oral heartworm preventative. It can only be purchased with a veterinarian’s prescription which you can get at your first Vet appointment. It has been around for decades and has minimal side effects (if any) on Golden Retrievers. Your Vet will recommend something different but we urge you strongly to insist on HeartGard Plus. Heartworms are only transmitted by mosquito bites. We have given this product to all our dogs for decades during mosquito season and we have had no problems. Keep in mind that if you live in a region where temperatures drop substantially in the winter season, you don’t need to use a heartworm preventative from about mid-December to mid-March. The reason we don't give this year around (like your Vet will want you to do) is because if your dog doesn't need the protection when mosquitos are not a problem, then they certainly don't need the chemicals in this or any other product building up in their bodies.

   Baby Shampoo – We recommend Johnson’s lavender baby shampoo or the Walmart equivalent. Lavender is calming, non-drying on the skin and gentle. Bathing every couple of weeks is appropriate or sooner if your dog looks or smells unacceptable.

   Dog Ear Cleaner – When you lift up your Golden’s ear flaps, put your nose up close and smell. If you notice a foul, unusual odor, the ears probably need to be cleaned with a cotton ball and dog ear cleaner such as T8 Keto available at Chewy or TrizUltra available on Amazon.

   Baby Wipes – These will work very well to clean the genital area, hind end, and feet during potty training. Good hygiene goes a long way in helping to keep your pup healthy.

   Paper Towels or Plastic Poop Bags – These are needed to pick up poop in your yard or other outdoor areas right after your dog poops. The poop needs to be picked up very quickly to discourage coprophagia (when dogs eat their own poop). A roll of poop bags can be picked up from Dollar Tree.

   100% Pure Canned Pumpkin – Stress is one of the main causes of diarrhea in a Golden. Stress can be caused from abrupt changes in: (1) the environment a puppy has become accustomed to and  grown comfortable with, (2) the food it has been eating, (3) the source of water the puppy has been drinking, (4) the routines you’ve established in your home, or (5) something that causes a high level of excitement such as a stray dog coming around. Especially a female dog in heat that comes within eyeshot of a male dog. When any of these happen and you begin to observe loose stools, canned pumpkin will help firm the stools up very nicely.  The stool will take on an orange hue like the pumpkin. But it has a lot of fiber, is perfectly safe, and healthy. You only need to add a tablespoon dollop on top of the dog food at each feeding for a day or two. The cheapest place we found canned pumpkin is Food-4-Less, Walmart, and some Target stores, all for under $1.50 for a 15 oz. can. Other places are 2 to 3 times more.

   Toenail Clippers – There are all kinds of choices for toenail clippers but we prefer "flush-cut wire cutters" because they are easier to see the precise amount to clip off the end of the nail (this is very important). They are sharp (made for cutting steel wire), quick and easy to use, and inexpensive. The image below shows what we buy on Amazon for about $10 for a five pack. When they get dull, we toss them and grab a new pair. The tips are pointed and sharp so you have to protect your puppy from the sharp tip while cutting its nails.

The image above shows the correct amount of the tip of the toenail that is to be clipped off (where the line is drawn). Leave a small margin of toenail beyond the pink colored quick that is inside the nail; don’t clip right up to the quick because it is painfull, will bleed, and your puppy will have a hard time trusting you or anyone else to do it again. We don't care too much for the kind of clippers that have a hole where you insert the toenail and then squeeze the handles. With those, it seems harder to know how much you are cutting off. Some people have asked us about those electric grinders that can be used to remove the tips of the toenail. We've not tried them but another breeder who did said it wasn't a good experience when they tried it on their puppies. They said the noise and the build-up of heat on the nail from grinding on it was probably uncomfortable for the puppy. How often should you trim the toenails? About once every two weeks, or when you hear, "tap, tap, tap" as they run across the kitchen floor.

   Grooming Brush – The brush shown below is the type of brush we buy on Amazon and is great for brushing and removing the excess hair that ends up on your floor if you don’t keep up with brushing several times a week. The white button you see in the picture easily ejects the clump of hair collected on hundreds of tiny wires so that you can dispose the clump in the trash. Goldens shed mild to moderately year around but quite a bit more twice a year for hot and cold seasons. The first shedding is usually in the spring to get rid of their winter coat for the summer months. Then in the fall, they get rid of the summer coat and grow a thicker coat for the winter. These heavy shedding periods last a week or more, but daily brushing will help expedite the process.

4. Optional Items:

   Obedience Training – We recommend obedience training but not until your pup has completed all its booster vaccinations and rabies shot. This is so that it will have stronger immunities to infectious diseases that can be transmitted from other dogs. Do your homework though and check with others who have used a particular trainer to see if their methods and results are worth while. There are several options to consider: (1) neighborhood training programs that may be available at your local park where you participate with a number of other dog owners. There is usually one dog trainer and perhaps an assistant and these usually cost $10 to $30 per session depending on the size of the group; (2) next, there are private training lessons that you take your pup to on a regular basis where the trainer works specifically with your dog and possibly other dogs while you are there. This usualy costs $50/hr or $200-$300 per day (depending on the service provided); (3) dog training academies where you take your dog and leave them for several weeks. They train your dog at their own private facility without you being present. Prices can vary from $2,000 to $5,000 or more depending on the type and purpose of the training. These can be very good but check references because they cost more than the price of the puppy!

We think the 2nd option makes good sense and provides a good balance between cost and the desired results if you can dedicate your time.

   Play Pen – If you have enough room in your house where you keep your Golden’s crate, you can add a play pen to the set up that allows your puppy to have the freedom to go in and out of the crate, but still be protected by the confines of the play pen. This set up allows the puppy owner to have more freedom during the day and not be worried the puppy will get into something and hurt itself. It also allows the puppy to not feel like they are being punished by keeping them in the crate with the door latched closed. It is important not to use the play pen set up until after potty training has been completed or the pup will learn to potty in the play pen area and sleep in its crate.

Below is a diagram of how the play pen and crate set up looks. A good room size for this set up is 10 ft x 12 ft, or larger with hard surface flooing. If the room is carpeted, you can buy a roll of 10 mil (or thicker) plastic sheeting and put it over your carpet before placing the play pen on top, with the idea being that the the plastic sheeting will protect you carpet from accidents:

   Potty Training Door Bell – This can be a useful tool to assist in potty training. It requires only one extra step to the potty training we described earlier, but it provides a means for your puppy to alert you when it wants to go out to go potty. It is installed prior to bringing the puppy home and here is how it works during the training: You mount the springy bell to the door frame at puppy height. Every time you take the puppy out to go potty, you take his or her little paw and you bend down and touch the bell with the puppy's paw so that it rings. This takes about 5-10 extra seconds to do this each time before you go out. If you do this consistently, the puppy will start doing it on its own after the routine is firmly established (a week or so). The little bell shown below can be purchased for under $10 on Amazon and most pet stores.

5. Things To Avoid:

   Spaying or Neutering – We highly recommend waiting to spay a female pup until after she is 24 months old. We don't believe a male pup should ever be neutered if you are a responsible dog owner (meaning your dog never goes outside unless it's on a leash). Please read this in-depth article written by us that will help you understand why early spaying or neutering is so detrimental to the health of your dog, regardless of what your Vet tells you.

  Certain Types of Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Preventatives – Your veterinarian will definitely try to convince you to buy one of these newer types of preventatives for your puppy: Bravecto (oral), Interceptor (oral), NexGard (oral), Trifexis (oral), Simparica or Simparica Trio (oral), Sentinel Flavor Tabs (oral), Revolution (topical), Senergy (topical), Credelio (oral), or Revolt (topical). These newer types of preventatives are classified as, “isoxazoline class” and all require a veterinary prescription. Your Vet pushes them because they make substantially more profit on these products than the ones we recommend. Your Vet will tell you they are more convenient, easier to apply, and longer lasting. But the newer ones have all kinds of side effects ranging from seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, endless itching and scratching, hives, hair loss, lethargy, shaking, staggering, frequent urination, excessive thirst, and loss of appetite. So please, DON’T USE THE HARMFUL PRODUCTS LISTED ABOVE... regardless of your Vet's advice.

  Strenuous Activity During First 24 Months – During the first 24 months, your puppy’s joints (hips, knees, shoulders, and elbows) will be in the developmental stages. If you exert too much stress or impact on these joints from excessive running, jumping, and other strenuous activities, dysplasia is more likely to occur which can lead to premature arthritis and lameness. It really is similar to involving your children in high-impact sports such as football. In recent years, they have very much restricted the rules to protect the youngsters under a certain age. We recommend a low amount of strenuous activities for the first 18 to 24 months of your puppy's life to minimize the joint problems that can occur in Golden Retrievers.

We recently got a call from a pet owner who had enrolled their young Golden in field trials, trick performances, agility training, and other dog club activities that we would classify as, "strenuous" for young puppies under 2 years of age. The owner said their pup had been competing in these since it was only 4 months old, but unfortunately at 18 months of age, the pup was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. That sadens our hearts, but we also ask ourselves, "Why do people feel the need to do this so early in a pup's life?"

  Swimming in Unclean Streams, Riverbeds or Lakes – Rivers, streams, and many lakes often contain high levels of harmful bacteria, protozoans, and other pathogens that carry infectious diseases. When your dog swims in these, the contaminated water gets in the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, genital, and rectal areas. A stream that is slow moving and maybe looks a little stagnate, or a lake that has murky looking water can be signs of high risk. When the water is clearer, moving or running a little better, or where you can see beneath the surface of the water for a little ways, these are usually good signs for safer water. But, it is a good idea to check the internet for water quality testing that have been conducted on streams, rivers and lakes where you might be thinking of going for recreation. Do this BEFORE heading out and letting your dog take the plunge. It could save you and your dog a lot of unwanted trips to the Vet.

  Hazardous Environments – Hazardous environments are all around us but your dog is much more susceptible than humans. Such hazards include pest control applications used in your house to control bugs, strong chemicals used on your floors and carpets, herbicides and pesticides used outside in the areas where you take your dog, or something as simple as a neighbor who is working on their car and allows car fluids such as antifreeze to run down the street. Or when it rains, all the street contaminants from motor oils and other debris run to the sides of the street where we often walk our pets. The reason why dogs are more susceptible to being harmed by these environmental hazards is because they are much closer to the floor, carpet, grass, and street surfaces than humans are. Humans also have layers of protection including socks and shoes, clothing, etc. Dogs do not. Their noses are typically just a few inches off the ground and they breathe in all these chemicals far more concentrated than we do. They often put stuff in their mouths from off the ground including rocks, sticks, bugs, grass, leaves, and trash. This puts your puppy at a much higher risk of infection. So what do you do, keep your puppy in a bubble? No but seriously, your dog depends on YOU to provide a good amount of discerning judgement on what is safe to go to and where lower risk areas are… something they have no capacity to do on their own. So be a good puppy parent and protect them as much as you can without feeling like your are confining your pet to live in a bubble.

  Over Vaccinating – Please read our article entitled, “Are You Over-Vaccinating Your Golden Retriever”. This will save you quite a bit of money if you begin to see how most Vets want to sell you as much as they can including annual vaccinations. Annual vaccinations are totally unnecessary and we explain why in that article.

  Certain Veterinarians – Please read our article entitled, “Vetting Your Veterinarian”. This is a must read.

  Overfeeding – Overfeeding your puppy can cause a great deal of harm to their body. Large breed dogs such as Golden Retrievers can gain a lot of weight very rapidly. When the pup carries too much weight around, it puts too much strain on their developing skeletal frame and joints. This can also lead to dysplasia, premature arthritis and lameness. We like to recommend maintaining an hourglass shape on your puppy for the first 18 to 24 months. This means to keep them on the lean side. If you see their mid-section between the hips and rib cage start to bulge, cut back on their food a little. With a puppy’s high metabolism, their weight should drop very quickly in just a few days.

  Certain Kinds of Food – We recommend not giving your dog table food scraps for the reasons we list here in one of our articles where we discuss "feeding habits" with Golden Retrievers. But in addition to that, here is a list of foods that should never be given to a Golden Retriever due to the detrimental effects these can have on a dog’s health:


Onions, Garlic or Chives Corn on the Cob Any kind of Alcohol
Chocolate or Cocoa Avocado or Guacamole Cooked Bones
Macadamia Nuts Xylitol Artificial Sweetener Grapes or Raisins

  Dog Parks – Why in the world would we ask you to avoid dog parks? The simple answer is they are just not safe. Sure, they’re fun and your dog may enjoy them but the risks are too high. First, you don’t know the other dogs or what their owners let them be exposed to, or whether or not they keep their dogs up to date on vaccinations and de-wormings. You don’t know if the other dogs are carrying parasites or other infectious diseases. You don’t know the dispositions of the other dogs: will they bite your dog, or bite you? Many dogs probably wouldn’t bite or fight with other dogs but some breeds are just the type of dog that like to dominate and challenge other dogs. A young, immature Golden Retriever who is excitedly looking for a friend will innocently violate the space of another dog which can be misinterpreted as aggression by the other dog. Many times, the other dog’s owner hasn’t trained their dog properly, but sometimes dog owners will train their dog to be aggressive thinking that this will make a better dog for protection of them and their family. Our advice: find an alternative area to dog parks; one where you and your dog will be safe and not confronted by other dogs that are mis-managed by their owners.

  Doggie Day Care – Many people are going to say hey, wait a minute… we have to do this because we can’t just leave our dog at home all day cooped up and bored. I can’t tell you how many calls we get from dog owners who had perfectly healthy dogs, then enrolled them at a doggie day care and within a few weeks or months their dog had become ill and symptomatic of infection. Doggie Day Care facilities are a breeding ground for infectious diseases. Even if they implement very good disinfection procedures and cleanliness, they can’t or won’t do it often enough to ensure that infectious disease don’t ever spread among the hundreds of dogs they take in every week. It is almost impossible. And when or if your dog starts getting sick, will the doggie day care owners tell you they had several other reports of dog illnesses who attend their facility and face the liabilities? Think about hospitals where infection can spread like wildfire... and hospitals are constantly cleaning and disinfecting. Will a doggie day care do the same? So what do you do?

This is why we always like to talk to our puppy buyers before they buy a puppy and ask them for their game plan. Sometimes we hear things like: the husband and wife work full time, the children go to school, and everyone leaves the house after 7:30 am until sometime between 3:00 and 6:00 pm in the afternoon. We usually respond with, “Are you sure you want to get a puppy at this time?” Asking a Doggie Day Care facility to take care of your dog on a regular basis kind of tells us you don’t really want the responsibility of owning a dog. Truthfully, it requires a huge sacrifice on your part and we want you to put a lot of thought into it before jumping into this awesome responsibility.

We hope this article hasn’t scared you away from having that awesome desire to become a pet owner and bring one of the most awesome breeds of dogs on the planet into your home. Goldens are a magnificent breed and will bring their owners an incredible amount of joy for many years to come. But, you have to go into it with both eyes wide open so you know what you are committing to for the next 10 to 15 years.

This has been a rather lengthy article but we put our heart and soul into it. If you've enjoyed reading it, we have two more companion articles that we've written to help you get the most out of your experience with a Golden Retriever. The first is entitled, "Caring For Your New Puppy", and the second, "Raising the Best Golden Retriever Ever!" Some of the same topics are covered but more areas of interest that you will need to know about as your puppy grows older. We love our Goldens and the puppies we breed, but we truly love the families and individuals who adopt one of our babies because we know they will also put their heart and soul into it because that's what it takes. Please leave us your comments below if you feel so inclined.

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