Frequently Asked Questions about Puppies Pt 2

There isn’t much that tugs at our heartstrings more than a puppy.

We just want to hold those little beings and protect them from the world. At some point after we bring home a puppy, however, reality strikes and questions arise.

I’ve been teaching puppy kindergarten classes for more than two decades and have found that many questions are asked over and over. In the first Puppy FAQ post we talked about the best age to bring home a puppy, why puppy proofing your home is so important, when your puppy should see the veterinarian, and more. Here are some other questions that puppy owners ask often.

Can I put a collar and tag on my puppy?

Yes, you can put a collar with an identification tag on your puppy and you should. Puppies can be fast and since they haven’t had any training yet, they don’t know that they shouldn’t dash out an open door or gate. Although it’s horrible to think your puppy might get lost, that identification tag would, hopefully, get him back home.

However, I have two warnings. If your puppy wrestles with another puppy or dog, take the collar off during those wrestling sessions. If one puppy grabs the other at the neck (which is normal play) a collar get get caught in the other dog’s jaws and both could be hurt (or worse). Put the collar back on after playtime is over.

Check the collar’s fit often. Puppies, especially medium and large breed puppies, grow quickly and a collar can become too tight within a few weeks. A tight collar can become uncomfortable, might choke your puppy, or even be so tight the skin will begin to grow over the collar. It can become the stuff of nightmares. Just check it often.

Can I use flea and tick products on my puppy?

I always check with my veterinarian before using any flea or tick products on my puppy, Hero. I remembered what I had used on Bones, my older dog, for flea and tick control, but talked to my veterinarian anyway.

Products change, new products are introduced, old ones may be discontinued, and there may be knowledge of reactions or problems with previously used products. In addition, there may be new instructions about the use of certain products. Maybe it had been okay for puppies under four months, for example, but now is recommended for puppies over six months.

Once a product is okayed by your veterinarian, make sure you follow the directions on the product exactly as written. If you see and kind of a reaction or side effects, call your veterinarian right away.

I just brought my puppy home and he has diarrhea. Why?

This isn’t unusual. Many puppies will develop diarrhea (or soft stools) when faced with changes in their life. The stress of going from one home to another, leaving his mom and littermates, and the car ride home can upset his gastrointestinal system. Just the change in water will set off some puppies.

To keep this reaction as minimal as possible, fed him the same food as he ate previously, and if you wish to change his food, do so gradually. When I brought Hero home he developed soft stools so I kept him on the food his breeder was feeding him, added a spoonful of pureed pumpkin to each meal (to soothe the tummy and digestive tract), and added a tablespoon of unflavored Pedialyte to each meal, too, to help prevent dehydration. Then when it continued after a couple of days I took him in to see his veterinarian. He turned out to be fine and she had me continue on his new regime.

When you wish to change the puppy’s food, do so gradually. Even a spoonful of the new food is enough for some puppies in the beginning.

Significantly limit treats and snacks at this time. If you are starting a puppy class and need training treats, use your puppy’s food for this. Anything new, including snacks, could continue to upset your puppy’s digestive tract. If it continues, though, talk to your veterinarian.



When can he play with other dogs?

This is a tough question because there is no hard and fast answer. Socialization is important, vitally important, yet until he’s had all his vaccinations, exposure to other dogs could mean exposure to disease.

If a friend or neighbor has a healthy, well vaccinated, friendly dog who does not go to dog parks (and other places where he could be exposed to disease) you could consider play dates with your puppy. Perhaps ask the dog to come to your house and yard rather than taking your puppy to that home and yard.

However, do not take your puppy to dog parks, dog beaches, popular dog hiking trails, or other places where many other dogs are found. The risk is simply too high. When you are walking your puppy, even around your neighborhood, do not let him sniff other dogs’ feces or places where they have urinated. Many of the worst diseases, including parvo, are most easily transmitted through urine and feces.

When your puppy has finished all of his vaccinations, then he should be safe to meet a variety of other dogs.

When will he calm down?

I do believe some new puppy owners are surprised by the activity level of puppies; especially those between four and six to seven months of age. These puppies are fast, curious, energetic, and fearless.

Several factors can increase or decrease a puppy’s activity level. Some breeds (or mixtures of breeds) are more prone to a high energy level than others. Jack Russell Terriers come to mind as busy little puppies while Rottweiler puppies are often more laid back. What food the puppy eats can also affect energy. A high fat, high carbohydrate food can turn some puppies into a whirling dervish. Then, too, there is the personality factor. Some puppies are simply busier than others.

You can, however, help your puppy to calm himself. After playtime, when he’s had a chance to exercise, give him a chance to relieve himself and then bring him inside. Put him in an exercise pen or his crate and give him something to chew on. Let him chew and nap for a while. Then, when he’s calm, let him out of the exercise pen or crate to spend some quiet time with you.

Enjoy Puppyhood

Although raising a puppy can be a lot of work (And it is!) enjoy it. Puppies grow up so quickly. Already I see Hero changing from a puppy to a pre-teen and I know adolescence is right around the corner. He’s long legged and gangly and has lost all of that puppy roundness.

So hug your puppy, love him, and enjoy all the challenges of puppyhood. It doesn’t last long at all.

Meet the Author: Liz Palika

Liz Palika is a Certified Dog Trainer, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, and the co-owner of Kindred Spirits Dog Training in Vista, CA. Liz is also an award-winning author and writer specializing in pets. She writes about cats, cat behavior and health, dogs, dog behavior and health, living with pets, and pet nutrition. Liz’s works have been recognized with many awards, but her most recent book, “Idiot’s Guides: Dog Training” (Penguin Books, 2014) recently won the Best Nonfiction book category in the San Diego Book Writing competition. Liz shares her home with two dogs; Bashir, an Australian Shepherd, and Bones, an English Shepherd. Three cats, Spock, Scottie, and Kirk, provide motivation for her articles about cats. And yes, she is a Star Trek fan. For more information go to

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