Astounding Ways of Knowing Your Bull Terriers (Fast)
THE NEW PUPPY
Happy in the new home.
Careful preparations must be made before introducing your puppy into his new home environment. This ensures the best possible start to the relationship between the puppy and his new family. Once the time has been settled for the collection of the puppy, it is most important that everything is arranged before the transfer of ownership takes place. Sensible management throughout the whole of the dog’s life will be of great benefit to all concerned. Preparation is the key. The guidelines set out in this chapter are intended to help with the decisions that new owners must make at each stage of the adventure.
BEFORE THE PUPPY ARRIVES
Some important arrangements need to be made before the puppy arrives in his new home. The following points cover the essentials.
Carefully choose where the puppy will be living, eating and sleeping. If he is to thrive and develop confidently, his place should be one that is easily accessible, warm and away from draughts, and well lit, and he must have easy access to the chosen toileting area. In any rooms the puppy can access, be sure to unplug electrical appliances when not in use and remove any dangling cables. Also remove any small objects that could be accidentally swallowed or may cause choking. There will, of course, be times when your Stafford will be left on his own during the day, but this is easier if he has a special place to go where he feels safe. Take this into account when choosing the place where he will be living. Always keep in mind that your Stafford will crave human company above everything else. It is far better for your puppy to live and develop in the company of the family and any other pets than to be kept away out of sight somewhere on the premises for long periods of time.
A puppy safe and comfortable in his crate.
The puppy will require somewhere comfortable to sleep, preferably in an exclusive den of his own to which he can retire undisturbed whenever he wants. If you choose to buy him a pet bed, select a tough one of hardy construction, preferably one with rounded corners that can be cleaned and maintained easily. Line it with machine-washable and comfortable synthetic fleece material. Avoid soft and comfortable dog beds as young puppies will chew them to piece in no time!
It is recommended that you purchase a purpose-built dog crate for your new puppy, ideally one that will be big enough even when he is fully grown. Again, line it with comfortable washable blankets. Leave him alone when he is in his den and he will quickly realize that it is his own personal space where he can escape the perhaps unwanted attentions of young children or other family pets. No matter what activity is going on, it will provide a secure place for the puppy. Leave the door open so he can go in and out as he pleases. At night he can sleep here uninterrupted, even possibly with the door open. The crate can also be the ideal place for the puppy to have his meals without the uninvited attentions of any other family pets.
For the owners, a crate can prove to be very beneficial. The readily accessible and removable base trays are easy to clean, making it easier to manage a puppy before he is properly house-trained. The puppy will soon learn to accept that the door can be closed when the owners leave the area or go out of the premises. This is an easy way to ensure that furniture and fittings remained unchewed in their absence! For portability, dog crates can be easily dismantled. Many hotels will accept dogs in their bedrooms if they are in a crate. Crates can also protect the upholstery in a vehicle, and for show people crates are an invaluable asset during their travels.
The only downside to the dog crate is that uncaring owners sometimes subject their dogs to long periods of incarceration with the door closed. Staffords generally accept their circumstances, but they will only fully enjoy life and thrive when they are able to be with their owners.
A puppy enjoying the freedom in a secure garden.
Check the security of your premises. Even the youngest puppies have an obsessive desire to explore the remotest parts of their territory. Do make sure there are no holes in fences or gaps through boundaries that can be exploited. Swimming pools and ponds must be made securely out of bounds – a young Stafford would definitely not be able to resist the temptation, and the outcome might be tragic. All means of entry and exit from the property should be checked, and locks and bolts examined to ensure your puppy will be perfectly safe wherever he is on the property. Staffords do get stolen, and your property needs to be as secure as possible to prevent this happening. Always remember that a puppy’s conception of what is clean and what is dirty is very different from that of a human being. Make sure there are no ‘obnoxious’ areas, such as accessible compost heaps or areas for rubbish that can be exploited. Exposed garden fertilizers and weed-killers must certainly be removed, as must any poisonous plants.
Food for the puppy will be required from the outset. Check with the breeder regarding what food and in what quantity the puppy will be fed prior to collection. Invariably you will receive this information together with a puppy menu, but it is sensible to have a supply of the right food already at home before the puppy’s arrival. All puppies must be wormed. Find out from the breeder what wormers have already been administered to your puppy, and when the next dose is due. This information is important for your vet on the puppy’s first appointment.
Ensure that you have food and water bowls ready for the new arrival. This equipment is readily available from pet stores. Buy easily cleanable sorts that cannot be damaged by chewing. If you can, get non-slip bowls that cannot easily be tipped over or moved around. Should you have decided to purchase a dog crate, water bowls can be attached to the inside of the crate.
For the puppy’s first night try to obtain a stone hot-water bottle that can be well wrapped up in heavy towelling or a similar material. The puppy will appreciate the comforting warmth of this, as he will be missing the close contact with his mother and litter mates. Rubber hot water bottles must never be used for obvious reasons. A ticking clock can be placed by the side of the puppy’s bed for the first few nights. This replicates the heartbeats of his mother and litter mates and can sometimes help the puppy to relax and sleep.
Stock up with essentials such as disinfectant and canine odour sprays to ensure a clean and healthy environment. Your puppy will also need plenty of bedding, preferably machine-washable. Vet bedding which can be supplied by your vet or most good pet shops is an ideal choice. Make sure you have all you need before the puppy arrives.
Make an appointment with the veterinary surgeon of your choice for an initial health examination of your puppy. This is necessary to ensure you have indeed purchased a fit and healthy Stafford. Arrange this appointment in advance of bringing the puppy home for the first time.
On an administrative note, it is important that you understand the arrangements for your puppy to be registered with the Kennel Club as a pedigree Stafford. Without exception, the only person who can register your puppy is the Kennel Club-registered owner of the puppy’s mother. In almost all circumstances this will be the breeder you are dealing with, but it is best to have this confirmed. Registration can take place at any time during the first twelve months from date of birth. (After that time registration can still be done but it becomes a very expensive option and cannot happen if the breeder for any reason refuses to oblige or cannot be located.) Most responsible breeders will have registered your puppy’s litter in time for you to receive the registration document at the time of collection.
Settled and comfortable at home.
At the time of registration the registered keeper has the option to include a choice of two endorsements: firstly, a restriction on any future offspring (progeny) of the puppy; and secondly the prevention of the issue of an export pedigree. You must be aware of, and have agreed to, any such endorsements before registration takes place. Having them removed at a later date will require the full written consent of the initial registered keeper to be sent to the Kennel Club.
Your puppy’s registration certificate will contain his unique registration number, together with his own and his sire and dam’s details. On the reverse the registered keeper will have signed the transfer declaration and handed it over to you for completion. To complete the transfer, you need to sign the declaration, fill in your details and send the document, with the required remittance, to the Kennel Club. A new registration certificate will then be issued and sent to you. Congratulations! You are now the new registered keeper of a pedigree Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy.
THE BIG DAY
It’s an exciting time for you, but remember that your puppy may not feel the same! It is a very big change in his young life.
The breeder may be able to provide suitable materials in case the puppy suffers from travel sickness during the journey, but it’s safer to go equipped with your own. As far as you can, try to prevent the puppy looking out of the windows on the journey home as this can bring on sickness. Placing the puppy in a comfortable spot below window level can help.
When you collect your puppy, you should also receive his registration certificate (if he has already been registered with the Kennel Club) and the necessary paperwork to complete the transfer to you, plus a copy of his pedigree. This can be in any form the breeder chooses. Once the puppy is registered in your name, you will be able to obtain a formal Kennel Club pedigree at very reasonable cost, if required.
Example of a useful puppy gift pack from the breeder.
A diet sheet should be provided, clearly explaining your puppy’s feeding arrangements and frequency of meals. Good breeders will usually include a small quantity of the food the puppy is accustomed to.
Before leaving with your puppy, you must come to an agreement with the breeder regarding the course of action to be taken by the parties involved should an undisclosed health defect be detected during the initial health examination by your vet. Also, you must be clear on the procedure regarding any future need for rehoming. Most reputable breeders will take back any dogs in such circumstances.
HOME AT LAST
So at last your puppy is home. Don’t expect too much: most likely he will be confused and stressed from the journey to his new home and the separation from all he has known. With lots of attention and kindness any anxiety will soon be overcome. Let him meet his new family, and introduce him to his new surroundings, which he will quickly get used to. Put him down and let him have a run round. Go with him, and gently encourage him to explore with words of praise as he discovers his new world.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are renowned for their love of children, but if you have children in the home, they must be taught from the start that he is not to be treated like a toy. Too often, excited young children pick up a young puppy only to drop him, sometimes causing severe damage to the puppy’s limbs. If they are sensibly and firmly instructed, children will quickly begin to respect the puppy and learn just how far they can go in their games with him.
It is important to introduce the new puppy to other family pets. Only very rarely will a family dog or cat harm a young puppy. Dogs will usually sort themselves out quite quickly, and the family dog – provided his nose is not put out of joint by any obvious preferential treatment for the newcomer – will quickly learn to accept the puppy and they will become loyal friends and companions. This is especially the case if the puppy is of the opposite sex. Cats and dogs have a natural dislike for each other, and a little more time and patience may be required before they can form a bond of friendship. A small puppy will usually cause no problems and simply wants to play, but the cat may clearly show his dislike for what he sees as an unwelcome intruder. Great care should be taken to ensure the cat’s sharp claws do not inflict any real damage on the youngster. Patience is required, but eventually the cat, realizing that his position in the home is not going to be challenged, will invariably pal up with the puppy. Staffords and cats living in the same home often become the very best of friends and companions. Correctly taught, the puppy will also quickly learn to respect other family pets such as rabbits or hamsters, and will not harass them or treat them as toys. Always keep the puppy’s food separate from that of any other family pet, and well away from temptation. Carelessness in this regard can lead to unnecessary and avoidable problems.
The golden rule with puppies is to start as you mean to go on. This means that the training and socialization of your puppy starts as soon as you bring him home. It requires kindness, gentle persistence and patience, but never any form of corporal punishment. It is great fun, of course, and a source of constant amusement to join in with the entertaining antics of a young puppy doing just about anything he likes. But remember, if you let him get away with it as a puppy, with only the minimum of correction and training, then he will think it’s still acceptable when he is a powerful full-grown adult. By all means, love him, play with him and cherish the time when he is very young, but always try to channel his behaviour in the right direction so he will become an adult you can be proud of.
My new friend has arrived.
Persistence and patience are required from the moment the puppy arrives. Allocate an area for his normal toilet functions and gently persuade him to use it. Choose a word of command such as ‘toilet!’ or ‘outside!’ and always use that word at the appropriate moment. The puppy will soon learn what it means. Never smack him or scold him if he gets it wrong. A very young puppy in particular will have no idea why you are cross with him. Persist with the quiet routine and it will all come right with time. Puppies may not appear to respond at first but all the time they are learning and identifying with their routine. When he eventually starts getting it right, he will look forward to any praise or fuss he receives. Before he goes to bed at night, every time he wakes during the day and after each of his meals, take him to the toilet area and use the word to encourage him to go in the correct area. As he grows, you will find your Stafford will become a very clean dog and all the early training will have been well worthwhile.
Ready to obey the ‘toilet’ command.
THE FIRST NIGHT
After all the excitement and new experiences of the first day, the time will soon come for the puppy to spend his first night in his new home. Gently place him in his new bed and make him comfortable, ideally with a well-wrapped hot water bottle to lie against, and with a ticking clock nearby. After all the stress and excitement of the day he will probably be tired and will easily fall asleep. But be prepared for the sleep not to last for very long. And when he wakes up, he may feel lonely and somewhat bewildered, at which point he will start to cry for attention. Unless he becomes very distressed or frightened, and is clearly not going to stop crying, it is best in the long run just to be patient and wait for him to go back to sleep. If you go to comfort him whenever he cries, he will quickly learn that crying will bring the attention he wants. Whatever you decide to do, resist any temptation to have him on the bed with you. You could well regret that decision as the puppy will not want to sleep anywhere else after that. After a few disturbed nights most Stafford puppies settle down as they become familiar with the new routine.
At the end of a long day.
The breeder should have provided you with details of the puppy’s feeding regime up to the time you collected him. A small supply of food may also have been given to help ensure he settles in properly in his new environment. Four meals a day are recommended for the young puppy. Two of the meals should be protein based and two of them milk or dairy based. An appropriate puppy menu is given below.
Weetabix or similar with clear honey. Add a mix of milk and warm water.
Puppy complete food with minced beef or chicken.
Same as at 12 noon.
Same as at 8.00am.
A bowl of fresh water must be available at all times.
You may decide to change the puppy’s diet to a food of your choice. There are many complete puppy foods on the market. Select one of proven good quality, ideally containing no artificial colours or additives. Cheap foods will not necessarily provide the best nutrition for strong, healthy and vigorous development. To avoid any tummy upsets, always mix the old food with the new, and gradually introduce the new food over a few days. This will help the puppy adjust to the new diet. At about fourteen weeks your puppy will start to lose interest in milk meals. Gradually reduce the number of meals your puppy has, until by the age of about nine months he is having only one meal a day.
VISITING THE VET
The first visit to your vet is most important. Your vet will examine the puppy and discuss with you his current health status. This should be sufficient for you to be sure that his health and overall conformation are as you expected.
Inform the vet about what worming treatments the puppy has had to date. He will be able to advise you about future worming requirements. Health vaccinations are not required for very young puppies, as they retain a natural immunity acquired from their mother. The vet will advise on the correct time for the vaccinations. They usually take place in two stages, and your vet will be able to tell you how long after completion of the course you should wait before taking your puppy out and about.
Your puppy may already have been identification microchipped by the breeder. If not, your vet will be able to make the necessary arrangements. It is strongly advised that your puppy is microchipped.
Other benefits can arise from this first visit to the vet. Take the opportunity for some socialization by introducing your puppy to staff members such as veterinary nurses and receptionists.
SOCIALIZATION – THE EARLY MONTHS
Correct socialization, nutritious feeding and regular exercise are the keys to owning a healthy and contented Staffordshire Bull Terrier you can be proud of. The process is much easier if your puppy has come from a breeder who has socialized him properly during those vitally important early weeks. Ideally your Stafford should be brimming with confidence from the very start in the company and security of his new family. From the very beginning talk calmly and gently to him. When he does something wrong or needs correction, always use the word ‘No!’, spoken calmly but firmly. Although at first you will be dealing with an apparently scatterbrained youngster, do persist and he will eventually learn the meaning of this command. Of course, when he does something right, then enthusiastically heap praise on him and let him know that you are pleased with him. Spend time with your puppy and handle and fuss him as much as you can. This will help with his confidence and bonding. Always remember that you have a Stafford: he is not a lap dog, nor when he is older will he appreciate being picked up.
A young puppy happy and confident.
After he has had his vaccinations, you can begin to take your puppy out. Take every opportunity to introduce him to friends and agreeable strangers. Walk him among crowds, but be careful to avoid people who are not comfortable with dogs. Allow friendly people to come up and fuss him. He will very much relish any attention because Staffords simply love people, and especially children. When in public places, however, always be aware of other dogs in the vicinity: Staffords are not always as well disposed towards unfamiliar dogs as they are to people.
Lead training your puppy is the responsible way to present your puppy to the outside world.
Play is a crucial part of growing up. With ever-increasing confidence, your new puppy will soon be sniffing out and exploring everything within the bounds of his territory. His sharp little baby teeth will certainly target any shoes or slippers left lying around. Anything that can be grabbed will be played with and quite possibly ripped up and destroyed, so be careful to keep anything that is valuable well away from him. A stair gate can be useful to prevent him venturing upstairs. Open fireplaces should always have suitable fireguards and any exposed electrical wiring should be well concealed from attention.
Provide a number of dog toys for the puppy to play with. This will help to prevent damage to items in your home and will give him something play with in bed at night and when he is alone. Choose the toys with care. Even very young Staffords have powerful jaws and teeth. Soft toys are likely to be ripped up and destroyed in minutes and can prove to be dangerous if parts are swallowed. Hard ‘indestructible’ toys such as kongs are best; they will keep the puppy busy and help to further develop his already strong jaws. There are many forms of dog tugs and pulls available, and most puppies love to participate in a grip, tug and pull game with their owners. Such toys play an important part in exercising the young puppy. Played on hard surfaces, vigorous games will do much to help the development of soundness in the body and strength in the feet. It also helps to keep the claws short.
Looking for mischief.
For a young puppy, avoid toys and games that promote excessive stretching, leaping and jumping as such activities can result in often severe damage to young tendons and ligaments. Be aware that your Stafford may get excited almost to the point of frenzy if a game becomes too exciting. This can cause trouble, especially when other dogs are involved. Watch your puppy’s eyes and if they appear glazed over, then stop the game at that point and allow him to calm down.
Teaching the very young puppy the ‘No!’ command.
Children in the home should be taught to respect the puppy’s privacy, and to leave him undisturbed when the games are over and he flops down to sleep. During sleep he will be developing and growing and should be left alone until he awakes normally. In turn, the puppy must learn that the children are not his litter mates and must not be subjected to rough-and-tumble and biting games.
In the early stages sometimes ‘No!’ may not be enough to stop a young puppy having fun!
There will inevitably be occasions when the magic command ‘No!’ is required. You may not want your energetic young puppy jumping up onto the furniture and chairs, tugging at or swinging from your curtains, or joyfully scrambling up the legs of visitors and people he meets. These canine ‘asbo’ offences need to be corrected as early as possible; if they are allowed to become habitual, they will become very difficult to control as the puppy grows. So for these and any other anti-social behaviours, no matter how amusing they may appear to be in a very young puppy, start straight away with ‘No!’ every time. That is all that is required, and your puppy will soon learn what it means.
Check the puppy’s health daily. He will probably enjoy the attention and handling that goes with this, and it’s a good idea to incorporate some gentle grooming into the session. Staffords are one of the shortest coated dog breeds and their coat requires little attention and no trimming. You can use a soft brush or a grooming glove. If the coat is groomed regularly, there will be little need for bathing your Stafford. The natural oils in the coat should keep it in good condition. Of course, if he has rolled in something obnoxious then a bath is certainly necessary. Be sure to use a shampoo formulated for dogs; human shampoo is not suitable.
Safe and sound.
Introduce a routine for those times when your puppy has to be left alone. If he has a dog crate as his den, and he is to be shut in it, then before closing the door make a fuss of him and give him a special treat or chew that will help him settle.
Never show favouritism between family pets. If you have another dog, always make sure you treat them equally to prevent jealousy. If you make a fuss of one, or give him a treat, you must do the same for the other. A young puppy may not be jealous of an older dog, but it will be a different story as the puppy grows up. Likewise, any preferential treatment shown to the puppy can cause resentment and jealousy if the older dog feels he has been pushed aside.
A very young puppy will not be ready to go for walks, but it is most important that he starts to wear a collar as soon as possible. An inexpensive puppy collar is all that is necessary. It should be adjustable to allow for growth. You may find you get through several collars before he can wear a proper adult collar. Some puppies take to wearing a collar without any problems, but many don’t and will do all they can to remove it. Persist and encourage with praise until the puppy accepts it. Choose one that is neither too narrow nor too wide, and avoid heavy cumbersome ones. Adjust it so that it fits comfortably. Take care that the collar is not too loose: a puppy running around and catching such a collar on a protruding object can lead to disastrous results.
When your puppy is happy to wear his collar, start to introduce the lead. As with the collar, some Stafford puppies will start to walk on the lead without any problems, but most will protest vigorously from the word go and do all they can to resist this new restriction on their freedom. Persist with patience and encouragement. Take the puppy outside, preferably on a hard surface, and gently but determinedly persuade him to move with you for a few minutes at each session. A small dog treat and much praise when things start to go right will eventually do the trick. An older family dog walking on a lead in front of the puppy can be a great help as the puppy will follow his pal. Once the skill of walking on a lead is learned, there should be little to worry about when he is old enough to be taken out for his first walks outside your premises. An identity disk giving your contact details must be attached to the collar. Should your puppy escape or go missing, this will be an invaluable aid in helping to get him home safely and quickly. The microchip offers the ultimate identification method but requires your puppy to be taken to be scanned.
A puppy in the garden and ready to play.
For older puppies and adult Staffords various types of lead are available. Make sure that the lead you select is comfortable and offers sufficient control when necessary. Choke chains or leads of any description or design should be avoided as there is a risk of strangulation, and they do not give much control in an emergency. An extending lead is a useful option, especially for puppies. Although somewhat cumbersome to hold, it will allow your Stafford a degree of freedom to run around, but you still have control and can haul him in when necessary. For the adult Stafford a leather lead of manageable length and sufficient width is recommended. A harness offers certain advantages. All Staffords, no matter how well trained, have a desire to push forward with great enthusiasm. A harness will eliminate chafing of the fur on the neck and any choking caused by a collar in these circumstances. A harness will not, however, allow as much control as a sound collar in an emergency. Perhaps the best option is to use a harness in combination with a separate collar that you can clip on to if necessary.
Most Staffords love to be taken out in the car. They enjoy looking out of the windows (closed of course) and seeing everything passing by. Some do get car sick, especially on long journeys. Always be prepared for this with a young puppy and have cleaning-up materials available. Do not scold the puppy, as this will only inhibit his recovery and hinder your efforts to overcome the problem, and try not to make a big issue of the situation. Instead, calmly reassure him. As the puppy grows up, take him on lots of short journeys and make the whole experience fun for him and he will soon get over the problem and wholeheartedly welcome any opportunity to jump in the car
Never leave him alone in the car for more than a few minutes. Staffords do get stolen, so be warned. Always ensure there is adequate ventilation. Dogs can perspire only through their pads and their tongue, and overheating can be fatal. A high temperature sustainable by a human being can be lethal to a dog.
Your young puppy will be equipped with a set of small sharp teeth that will serve him well for the first months of life. Get into the habit of regularly checking his mouth and teeth. It is a fairly simple task with a puppy, but it’s a different matter with a reluctant adult so getting your puppy used to it will help him to accept his mouth being examined when he is older.
Oh, those sharp teeth!
When your puppy reaches the age of about four to five months, his baby teeth will start to drop out and be replaced with new adult teeth. It is normal for the mouth to be painful and his gums will be swollen. You can help him by providing sturdy things to chew, such as the chews obtainable from pet shops. During teething you must check that there are no complications and that the emerging new dentition is coming through correctly and not being inhibited by baby teeth that remain in the gums. Generally there is nothing to worry about and the transition will proceed perfectly well. Sometimes, however, the baby teeth are reluctant to come out and one or more of the gums will contain both a baby and an adult tooth. This is usually only a temporary problem but if you are concerned, have his mouth examined by your vet. Do not attempt to extract the old baby teeth by any means.
One problem that can occasionally arise in Staffordshire Bull Terriers during this debilitating and painful teething time is a temporary lowering of a puppy’s resistance. One of the symptoms is coat loss. It shows up as patches of baldness and in extreme cases can be quite worrying. The bald patches vary in size, most often appearing on the head, flanks and legs. The skin sometimes looks inflamed and sore but more commonly shows up as areas of grey. Staffords affected by such unsightly patches do not appear to be in any way concerned about the condition. Vets will often diagnose a form of mange, with small mites in evidence. In severe cases, a veterinary consultation is advisable. In most cases the problem clears up quite naturally, the mites vanish and the fur grows back by the time the new teeth are well developed at about nine months of age.
Various treatments have been suggested, but they tend to be very expensive. A sensible diet occasionally containing some oily fish products such as sardines or pilchards does seem to help the process of recovery. Applying benzyl benzoate – a milk-like liquid obtained from a pharmacy – can also help to cool down any inflammation of the affected areas.
EXERCISE AND THE YOUNG PUPPY
A healthy diet and the correct amount of regular exercise will keep a Staffordshire Bull Terrier in optimum condition. Be careful not to overdo the exercise with a very young puppy. For the first few weeks all he needs is plenty of opportunities for running and playing on some hard surfaces. By the time he has completed his initial vaccinations and can go out, short walks a couple of times daily will suffice. Your Stafford, being a Stafford, will gladly dash along to the point of exhaustion, but you must not allow him to do too much as it can cause damage to developing ligaments and tendons.
Something to chew with my puppy teeth.
Happy and healthy.
As the puppy grows and strengthens, the walks can be gradually increased. About two miles a day at the age of six months should be enough to keep him in good condition. After the age of nine months you can take him as far as he wants to go. There is no better exercise to ensure a fit and hard condition in an adult Stafford than regular walks on hard surfaces.