Going home ....
Taking your puppy home!
Here are some tips to see you through the first little while with your new family member.
Your puppy has been socialized to the extent that it is comfortable with adults, kids & other pets. It has been on short car rides, has been for a few very short hikes and of course trips to the veterinarian.
Bernese are very stable dogs and will fit in with their new family quite easily. The first day may be a little stressful, of course, as the puppy is put into a new environment and is away from it's family for the first time. With lots of attention and love, it will bond with your family very quickly. This is a crucial time in their development and you have to be there for them so that they can get used to their new home and feel comfortable.
This is the best time to establish who is the leader of your family pack and what the pups place should be in this. Your dog should always rank himself after all the children, even the very young ones, and must at all times respect their higher ranking. If your dog challenges this at any time during its life, it is up to the top person in your family to re-establish the rules.
The first few nights
We recommend that you have a kennel (Furrari or Vari kennels are great) for them where they can sleep and feel comfortable. No doubt that some of the puppies will be fussing through the night (no different than when people sleep in a strange bed). Before bedtime make sure to take the pup out and have a little play-session with him/her. ( do not go overboard and get the pup to excited) After 5 to 10 minutes take out once more to take care of business and put in the kennel with a treat, a blanket/towel, and maybe a chewy. It helps your pup if you have a ticking alarm clock in the room. The best place by far for your pup to spend its first nights is right by your bed, You will be able to respond if necessary, and the pup will smell your presence and be reassured by it, as well as taking in your smells and sounds will help him bond to you faster.
If he does sleep for a period of time and then wakes-up, this will be a good time to take him outside quickly to go potty. Big praise if he produces something!
We will provide you with a towel carrying the smell of home which you can place in the kennel and will give them some comfort. Some good quality chewy toys will also help to keep them occupied. Be careful with rawhide chews, as an eager dog can swallow big chunks, which can cause trouble. Raw bones, and nyla bones are best. Never give any cooked bones. It will splinter and can perforate the stomach.
Training your puppy starts the moment you pick them up.
Basic things like walking on leash, sit, come, heel, no pull are best taught at an early age.
All training is done with positive reinforcement (use treats & toys). Bernese do not react well to harsh corrections. If trained properly they will be happy to work with you. Every dog looks for a leader in the pack, and it is your job to ensure that this is you. Make sure that the primary training comes from you, and children will not be allowed to "train" the pup unsupervised. This will ensure that the pup will know its place in your "family pack", which is always 3rd place, behind adults (1), and children (2).
Home proofing your puppy
Messing, leaving plants alone, chewing, etc.
All pups go through a chewing and exploring stage. Make sure your house is puppy-proofed before he comes home with you. Poisonous plants and chemicals are put well out of reach. Access to stairs and decks is restricted to prevent accidental falling.
If your pup takes a bite out of something that is not fit for small puppy teeth, immediately correct by voice (uh-uh) and follow through by showing your pup the toy or bone he can have to chew on and play with. Do not leave your pup unsupervised for the first little while, as it is easier to prevent a bad habit, than it is to cure one ( chewing, messing etc.) If you can not be with your pup, either place him/her in his/her kennel, or restrict it's activities to a small area (kitchen, bathroom, laundry room).
If you have to be away for more than a half hour, it will help if you place a layer of newspaper in one spot, your pup will accept that as a place to relief himself if necessary. Of course it is much better to take him out each time he wakes up, each time he has had a meal or a drink, and after about 10 minutes of play in the house with you. the more frequent you take him out, the faster he will be house trained.
After you puppy has it's modified vaccination(s) you can enroll in obedience kindergarten! Go and observe some training sessions first to make sure it is the kind of training you would like for yourself and your dog (use motivators not harsh leash corrections!).
Exercising your puppy
Bernese Mountain dogs are strong sturdy dogs. In order for them to grow up healthy, you must take care not to over-exercise your puppy. Bernese are a large breed and have a tremendous growth spurt in the 1st year. They grow-up from tiny pups weighing 1 Lb. 4 Oz. to a dog measuring between 24-28 inches at the withers and weighing between 80-110lbs.
It is very important that they do not engage in repetitive exercises such as jumping, walking stairs and all other activities that put excessive stress on their bones as this can cause injuries, sometimes serious, that can stay with your dog for life. Only very limited stair climbing at a very young age and no jumping in or out of trucks unassisted until 7-8 months is strongly recommended.
Start of with short walks of about 10-15 minutes about 3-4 times daily. This is better than going on 30 minutes 2 x daily. As the dog grows-up you can extend your outings.
Don't walk your dog in parks frequented by other dogs that you don't know, until all modified vaccinations are complete .Diseases such as parvo (transmitted through the air like the flu) can put your dog at risk. It is very important to socialize with dogs you know and are healthy. Young dogs need the interaction and learning in this critical phase in their lives, as well as building up immunity through contact with others.
When playing, the puppy will go all out and that is fine, as long as it doesn't get out of hand. Don't play rough! Your pup must understand what it means to be gentle and careful when it comes to your hands, fingers and toes. If you occasionally play tug, make sure the pup quickly learns the release word. This could be very helpful when he has something undesirable in his mouth. (Playing tug-o-war is not a recommended game for children) When the puppy has had enough he will let you know. He will find a spot to lie down and take a nap. If you have children, please ensure that they will always respect the dogs "time-out". No one should disturb the pup during his naps. Of course the best place for these power naps is in his kennel, which is off limits at all times to children.
When buying toys for your puppy please be sure to buy a good quality product. Bad quality toys (many of the squeaky toys) don't stand up to the task and could cause danger to your dog (i.e. dog ripping out the squeaker and swallowing it). Good toys are playropes, good quality solid rubber balls, some frisbees (the fabric kind, not the solid plastic ones), nyla bones, kong toys. We find the very best for them to chew on are raw beef bones. We provide our dogs with raw beef bones, in addition to their raw diet, from time to time with some meat attached and the marrow still inside. It provides them with hours of chewing pleasure and keeps their teeth and gums healthy, as well as their minds occupied away from trouble. Make sure that from day one you are in charge of all toys and food, and are able to remove any object when the pup is chewing on it. Growling is NOT acceptable.
A basic rule is that you should never allow your pup to do anything that you will not allow him to do as an adult dog ( sleeping on couch, on your bed, jumping up, begging for food etc.). Good luck! It can be difficult to resist those eyes!!
Your puppy will have had its first set of shots and will come with a veterinarian health certificate. Several more vaccinations will be required.
Once you take your puppy home be sure to arrange for a visit to your veterinarian within 48 hrs, to make sure that you are happy with the health of the puppy that you have received.
Make follow up appointments for the remainder of the vaccinations that will be required. Check with your vet for heartworm problems in your area. Usually Vancouver Island is ok for heartworm but if you travel to or live in the interior or the U.S. please check with your vet for need of preventative treatment. Also check for incidences of lyme's disease which is transmitted by ticks.
As with all things in life, it is best to stay away from chemicals as much as possible. A bath with Ivory traditional dish washing liquid is a safe way to kill fleas on your dog.
If you need a more serious approach to flea infestations, successful Flea products on the market are Program and Advantage. Program is a pill taken 1 x month and prevents the build-up of fleas in your home through a hormone substance which prevents the fleas from multiplying. Advantage is a liquid that is placed onto the dog's back and is absorbed by the skin. It kills the fleas after they have bitten the dog and is an insecticide. We do not recommend Sentinel or the new multi-products that treat more than one problem such as fleas and worms etc. in one dose. We are strong believers in less chemicals is better! The more natural you raise the dogs, the better chances of a longer healthier life.
Deworm your pup at week 9, 11 & 13 with Strongid or a puppy wormer against roundworm. Refer to your Veterinarian for other treatments.
Grooming your pup should begin the first week. With a brush, gently brush the hair and then run a comb through it. The brush should be a slicker or pin brush and the comb a stainless steel wide/narrow teeth.
Once a week place your dog on an elevated non-slip surface (picnic table, kitchen table) and after brushing also check teeth, ears, nails and make sure the hair in-between the pads and toes is not matted and the coat is still flea and tick free. The Bernese sheds twice a year, usually spring and fall, and this time you will need to brush every day to keep the coat healthy and shiny.
Bathing your dog can be done if necessary. Make sure all dead hair and tangles are removed before getting him wet, or you may find that these mats double in size during the process if not removed beforehand!
Always use a top quality dog shampoo, rinse really well and apply a dog conditioner after the bath, then rinse once more.
Most dogs really enjoy the grooming sessions, and it builds a strong bond between them and the owner.
We have tried to set out some guidelines for you in this small pamphlet. Of course we can not go in-depth on each subject as this would mean writing a book.
Don't forget, we are only a phone call or e-mail away and we will be happy to help you with any problems/questions that may arrise. We feel responsible once they leave our home. After all, they will always be a "Double Dutch Berner"