We strongly suggest to take the time to prepare for the arrival of your new puppy well in advance of his/her homecoming. Do your best to “puppy proof” any areas that your new puppy will have access to. Keep in mind that anything a puppy can get its mouth on is fair game. This includes electrical cords, which are very dangerous and can be fatal! Children’s toys can also be a hazard. It is also a good idea to make sure your yard is safe. Puppies can squeeze through very small holes or get stuck in the process. Some common plants and shrubs, such as sago palms, are highly toxic to puppies and can be deadly if chewed on.
FOOD: You will need puppy food. We feed our puppies an all life stage food called Merrick. This food is made of human grade meats and contains no corn and wheat. It is highly digestible and provides a highly nutritious and well-balanced diet. If stomach upset occurs due to stress, a tablespoon of plain yogurt will help. Monitor your dog’s weight as it matures. Being overweight might look cute, but it isn’t healthy and added weight can be hard on the dogs back and hips. If you notice your dog getting a little chubby, adjust its food intake and make sure he/she is getting enough exercise.
BOWLS: You will also need separate water and food dishes. Stainless steel is the best surface as it is non-porous and easy to clean. Make sure to provide fresh, clean water for your puppy.
CRATE/CARRIER: We crate train all of our dogs and recommend you continue the process. You should have two crates – one for your home and one for your vehicle. Never allow your puppy free access in a moving vehicle as the puppy could get injured, or even worse, cause you to have an accident.
TOYS: You will want to provide your puppy with plenty of toys to play with. A bored puppy can become destructive. We recommend products from Nylabone and Kong. Keep plenty on hand at all times and keep them clean.
QUALIFIED VET: If you don’t already have one, you should find a reputable veterinarian for your new puppy. Your puppy will be current on vaccinations and de-wormings upon arrival and your vet can keep your puppy on schedule. Also, it never hurts to have a “back up” vet in case you are unable to get in to see your regular vet. Just make sure they are both aware of any medications or treatments being administered.
TRAINING: Enroll in puppy training classes once your puppy is 4 months of age and has had all its vaccinations. Not only does it help with basic obedience training, but it also helps with socialization which is a must for this breed. Make sure you find a trainer that uses a combination of training methods and has experience training Chesapeakes and/or large dominant dogs. Remember, when training, you want your puppy to want to please you — not be terrified of you. Chessies are very smart and fair training practices goes a long way with them.
GROOMING: Chessies are a low maintenance breed when it comes to grooming. You will need a zoom groom brush and nail trimmers. It is also a good idea to brush your puppy’s teeth regularly to help prevent tartar build up. If done regularly, it will become just another part of the grooming process.
COLLAR/LEASH: It’s never too early to get your puppy accustomed to wearing a collar and walking on a leash, even if you never leave your living room or back yard. Never drag your puppy by the leash. A buckle collar is good for attaching identification tags in case your puppy gets lost. A lightweight lead is best for your little puppy.
IDENTIFICATION: An ID tag attached to the puppy’s collar with your name and phone number is a good idea. All puppies go home microchipped as it can be helpful if the puppy is lost or stolen. Some vet offices and animal control services scan for microchips and it could help return your puppy more quickly. It is also a way to “prove” who the dog belong to if stolen.
INTRODUCTIONS TO FAMILY MEMBERS AND OTHER PETS: When you first arrive home with your new puppy it will be difficult to stay calm and quiet due to all the excitement. But for your puppy’s sake, try your very hardest! Especially if the puppy was shipped, he or she will have had a long and stressful day. When we have had a stressful day, the last thing we want when we get home is more stress.
Don’t overwhelm the puppy by letting each family member pass him or her around. For the first couple of days, keep handling to a minimum and never let a small child hold a puppy off the ground. Puppies are squirmy and could easily be dropped causing serious permanent neurological damage. Puppies also have very sharp teeth and will gnaw on anything and anybody. Always supervise any interactions between your puppy and small children for both their sakes.
If you have other pets, it is best to put the puppy in a travel crate (not wire crate) and let the existing pets in for sniffing and introductions. Remember to stay calm and reward the existing pets for reacting positively to the puppy. If it doesn’t go well the first time, separate them and try again later. Note, if you punish the existing pets for growling, barking, etc. it can cause a negative association with the puppy. Also, never leave your new puppy alone and unsupervised with an older puppy or dog. Things can go bad quickly and the puppy could be injured or killed before you could stop it.
SOCIALIZATION: It will be tempting to take your new puppy everywhere with you, but be careful about what you expose him/her to prior to having all his/her innoculations. Remember that just because you are diligent about keeping your puppy current on vaccinations it doesn’t mean everyone else is. Some canine infectious diseases are airborn and others can lay dorment on surfaces for extended periods, which includes the floors of popular pet supply stores. And, unfortunately, vaccinations are not a 100% guarantee against infection. Common sense goes a long way!
Since you want your puppy to be well-socialized, it is best to do so in places that are safe. Have friends and family over who can interact with your puppy in a positive manner – no rough play! Have other puppies or dogs over that you know are healthy and up to date on vaccinations to play. Be sure to watch them at all times! Take your puppy to friends’ and family members’ homes. Avoid places like parks, dog parks, and pet supply stores until your puppy has had all its vaccinations.
LOVE, LOVE AND MORE LOVE: Your new puppy will try your patience at times. But it will be worth every sleepless night, stepped in piddle puddle, stepped on poop plop, shredded pee pee pad mess, chewed up belongings, whining/barking headaches, and any other mistakes they make during the learning process we call life. One look into those eyes that reflect the unconditional love they have for you makes the memories of all the aforementioned fade away. If you can love your puppy as much as he or she loves you, then you will truly live happily ever after!