Since youíve gotten this far, you will already recognize that your new Puli is not a dog, itís a Puli. Some of the dog training books, especially the older ones, are totally unsuited for guidance in raising a Puli. The best rule of thumb to use is to consider how you yourself would feel if you were subjected to any given method of training. The second best rule is how you would raise your child. Actually, thatís pretty good advice to follow for any breed.
Your puppy should be eating dry puppy chow, with water available free choice at all times. The necessary amount for each individual will vary, but about one cup per day is a good guess for an 8 week old Puli puppy. The best way to judge if this is enough or not is to put down a measured amount, say ½ cup, initially, then pick up the dish after ½ hour, even if there is food left. Feed the same amount later in the day, in the same way. If the puppy eats all of the food immediately, he may need a bit more. If there is some left after ½ hour, you are giving him plenty. A puppy should never be fat. The food a puppy eats should go into growth or play; a fat puppy may develop orthopedic problems, and this is a totally inexcusable situation, since it is something totally in control of the owner. A soft, spongy feel over the ribs means your puppy is fat. The skin should cover the ribs in a Ďdryí fashion with no loose skin.
House breaking your puppy should be your first concern because bad habits once learned are hard to break. It is your responsibility to watch the puppy and see when he is ready to go out. While your puppy will wish to use papers, since there were papers in his exercise pen while he was still at the breederís, this should not be encouraged, as it will become a habit hard to break later on. If the puppy has been in an indoor/outdoor fenced run, with a doggie door at the breederís, he will be able to satisfy his instinct to be clean, but as he had the opportunity to go outside at any time, he will not have learned to Ďaskí to go, so once again, it is up to the owner to read the signals and notice when the puppy is restless and running around as though ready to squat. Pick up the puppy and rush it outside. Put it down and donít play with it or distract it. If you must go back indoors and your yard isnít fenced, fasten the puppy to a lightweight vinyl coated wire cable which is attached to the house or porch
Donít make this trip outside a play time. Play time only happens after business has been taken care of. If you fail to establish these good habits immediately, you may have a lot of trouble housebreaking this puppy or any puppy of any breed. It canít be emphasized enough that time spent here is essential and richly rewarded with a puppy who learns quickly and naturally when and where to relieve itself. Of course, the very best instructor for a puppy is a well conditioned older dog, who knows what behaviors are indicated, and the puppy learns by imitation, rarely needing correction by the owner. Times when any puppy will need to go out are after waking up in the morning or from a nap, after eating, and during and after play. If you leave your puppy outside for a while, make sure there is shade and water present for him, in case you should forget to let him in immediately.
Your puppy will come to you with all appropriate vaccinations for his age and in good health. You should take him to your veterinarian within the period specified by your contract with the breeder - 24 hours, 48, hours, 1 week, et cetera. Your veterinarian can confirm that your puppy is in good health and condition, and let you know what vaccinations he needs to get next, and when. All puppies should have Parvo and Corona vaccinations two times after 16 weeks of age, no matter what the earlier vaccination series has contained, to reasonably assure protection from these endemic killer viruses. If he does not receive these vaccinations, some sales contracts are likely to be rendered void, as these viruses are always present in his environment, and are puppy killers. We strongly advise lyme shots, and our own puppies do not go outdoors until they have been vaccinated for lyme. We give Ďtemporaryí lyme vaccinations to our puppies at an earlier age than specified by the vaccine manufacturers, so serious is the problem in our area.
Puppies like to chew, and they also need to chew, while teething. The permanent teeth come in at about 4 moths of age, and we strongly advise a real, natural beef marrow bone (also called a soup bone) from your butcher. Beware of those bones which have been cut in half and have spongy bone showing in joint areas; these are not marrow bones. A marrow bone has a roughly cylindrical shape and is only the shaft of the bone, not the joint ends. Never give ham bones, or pork bones of any kind, lamb bones, or any kind of poultry bones. You may boil the bone to remove the fat, but you should not overdo this, as we want the bits of meat and membranes present on the bone to flavor it and thoroughly engage his attention. If your puppy has a fresh natural marrow bone, this is the best way to remove his baby teeth, much better than a visit to the doggie dentist. The household items that will be most attractive to the puppy are those things which are at eye level, like electric cords, and those things which hold your odor, such as shoes, underwear, and the book you are currently reading. If you are not intelligent enough to remove these items from his reach, why would you expect him to be intelligent enough to leave them alone! It is unceasingly amazing how few people are intelligent enough to do this. It is foolish to punish a puppy for these actions, when you would remove items you didnít want your 2 year old baby playing with!
Your puppy will sleep best in your bedroom. On the bed , even at 8 weeks old, the puppy will sleep through the night. You might rather start him out in a cage beside the bed, where he will have the benefit of being in your Ďdení without the danger of falling off. Also, being where you can hear him, you will know if he needs to go out during the night. But be aware: there are a lot of people who get up in the middle of the night for the next 15 years because they allowed the puppy to get them up for purposes of getting attention, or of manipulating you into a midnight snack, rather than a genuine need to go out!
Your puppy should never be left outside unattended unless in a securely fenced run. The rule of thumb here, once again, donít leave your Puli puppy in a situation you wouldnít leave your 4 or 5 year old child in. And donít forget how much more intelligent and athletic your Puli puppy is than most 5 year olds. By all means have a micro-chip identification device implanted in your puppy so that you can get him back if he should, God forbid, ever become lost.
If you are going to leave your puppy for a period of over 10 minutes, you should put him where he cannot get into trouble; an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure. If you donít leave your puppy where he can get into trouble, he wonít get into trouble. And as sure as death and taxes, if you do leave him where he can get into trouble, he will. Then you will have to discipline the puppy, for what was only in his nature to do. Until your puppy is a mature and dependable adult (15 years old for some Pulik), he should not be in a situation primed for disaster. Other household members must understand that the puppy is not responsible for their failure to pick up shoes, underwear, CDís, and Barbie dolls. Bedroom and closet doors must be shut, and if they donít latch securely, a hook or something should be installed. It is never either fruitful or reasonable to go against natural tendencies. Itís up to you to be intelligent enough to foresee and avoid disaster. The safe place you leave him may be a cage for short periods, or an enclosure in the garage or basement. If you wish to leave him free in the garage or basement, these areas must be policed as carefully as the house itself. A puppy will die from eating plastics, drinking antifreeze, and so on, just as surely as from chewing an electric cord, or contracting Parvo virus. Puppies will be able to be reliable about relieving themselves much more easily in a confined area than in a large area, such as the whole house, the whole basement, or the whole garage. An outside run must be chain link and have a top and an impervious bottom, as well as a padlock on the door for your puppy to be safe. Eventually he will be able to climb or jump any height, or dig under any fence, so start with something secure so you wonít be constantly adding higher and stouter barriers! Once again, water, shade and shelter should be available in a run. The surface should be pea gravel (1/4"), preferably on top of concrete. The gravel will allow urine to drain away from the coat immediately, rather than splashing up onto it. Gravel will keep your puppyís nails nice and short so they donít have to be constantly trimmed. The gravel can easily freed of fecal matter, and disinfectants can be sprayed on and washed through.
Fleas are a problem for any dog. We finally have a safe new product called "Defend" manufactured by Pitman-Moore, available at your vetís and some pet and feed stores; it is non-toxic, lasts 4 weeks, and applied as drops on the dogís skin.
Your Puli puppy is a representative of a hardy natural breed. He does not need "Super Premium" dog foods. If they are recommended, beware of the marketing tendencies of your vet, or remember that your dog food supplier is benefiting at the possible detriment of your Puli. Marketing and profit are everything in dog food. Good old Purina Puppy Chow, and Purina Dog Chow have suitable nutrition for your Puli.