We recommend introducing your puppy to your veterinarian of choice, (we recommend finding a vet prior to rehoming) for a routine wellness check within the first few days and establish that relationship for ongoing vaccines and pet health care. While at the vet visit, they will review their best practices for puppies and answer new questions should they arise. Follow their health protocols and guidelines for a healthy and happy puppy!
Likewise, your neighborhood groomers and trainers will have the best advice and be able to assist you should you have trickier grooming and training questions.
I will review a few products we use, grooming we follow and training tips that we use in our program but always follow your trusted professional's advice!
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Food: We use Rachel Ray "bright puppy" and have found that some Bernese Mountain dogs have sensitive tummies (therefore some bernedoodles do as well) Bright puppy is easy on the tummy as it doesn't use B vitamin as preservatives in the food. If you decide to switch food brands, we suggest looking on the bag for instructions on feeding per lb of weight and they will have instructions for switching the diet.
Treats: Typically, we like to use a plain chicken or turkey as treats and lean towards treats with minimal preservatives and chicken or turkey based. Give lots of treats when your puppy does the right thing but keep the treats small. Break store bought treats into pieces or use small bits of chicken or turkey. Beef seems to not sit well with our dogs, and I don't recommend it. Table food should be off limits! (Never give them chocolate, onions raisins or grapes)
Overfeeding and underfeeding can be dangerous. Keep referring to puppy food bag based on weight to change amount you are giving them and avoid highly fatty foods or foods with sugar... even natural sugar such as apples and carrots should be limited!
Dishes: You will want a bowl and watering dish to be elevated as this promotes proper digestion. We prefer to have a pad to catch spills underneath and a gravity fed water bowl available for fresh water throughout the day.
There are automatic water dog bowls that connect to a garden hose that are perfect for your puppy if they like to spend time running around the yard.
Brushing: We recommend a standard pet brush or a short slicker brush when the puppies are young. The fur doesn't really need much brushing until puppy fur falls out and adult hair grows in. It is ideal to start brushing your puppy's fur every few days to maintain a habit and have your puppy be more comfortable during the process. As the adult hair grows in, you will need to switch to a slicker brush. Brushing more often will reduce the amount of shedding and make for easier grooming.
If short on time, I highly recommend brushing the legs, tail, chest and ears! They are the first places to get tangled and that can lead to matting.
Bathing a Puppy: If you have a very dirty puppy and water won't do the trick, we use an all-natural dog shampoo and dry completely with a towel and hair dryer, make sure puppy is also brushed. There isn't any other product you need to use when the puppy is so small.
Adult Coat Care:
Bernedoodle: As your puppy gets older you will need a better shampoo / conditioner for curly hair like curly and wavy coat by perfectfur, large slicker brush and typically a spray to reduce tangling, like cowboy magic or biosilk for after a bath. Do not let your doodle air dry and always brush them after getting wet! We bathe them every other week and brush every other day. If you dog does get a mat, try sprinkling dry matted coat with cornstarch and brushing out. If it is causing pain when brushing, your dog will need to be shaved where it is matted.
Bernese: Your puppy will need to remain accustomed to being brushed, even though the brushing will only need to be about once a week when full grown. I do brush mine more often as it reduces the amount of shed around the house. I try to limit bathing to once a month unless really needed and use baking soda with water. Dry shampoo seems to help freshen them up and I use as needed.
Nails: We trim the puppies nails every 7-10 days with an electric nail file and with cut with clippers when they are very small. I highly recommend using an electric nail file if you are uncomfortable or unsure about where the quick is on the nail. It can be difficult to see on dark or black nails!
Teeth: It can be difficult to brush your dog's teeth and it isn't needed when the puppies are little, but it is good practice to brush them twice a week and starting when they are puppies, it will make this process easier. You can use coconut oil mixed with a little baking powder or a dog toothpaste.
Trimming hair: This is really best left to the professionals but if you can't make it to a groomer for a trim; make sure the hair in front of eyes is trimmed and they can see. It can grow quickly, and you want to ensure they have visibility!
Crate training/ potty training: We do beginning stages of crate training and after 10 weeks of age they will be sleeping overnight in the crate but still may need to go out to potty 1-2 times during the night. Sometimes a puppy cuddle buddy will help them sleep through the night. They must be monitored to ensure they are not tearing it apart or eating the toy.
When they wake up at night and go potty give them a treat but just take them out long enough to go potty and place them back in the crate. Try not to spend a lot of time soothing them too much nor using negative reinforcement of any kind. You can try use white noise like the sound of a small fan or sound machine in the room and mostly but not entirely cover crate with a fabric that can ventilate well like a towel or sheet.
Finish feeding your puppy about 2 or 3 hours before bedtime and remove access to water 1 hour before bed. Do not give them food or a lot of water when they wake up at night. If they get too much water it may cause them to wake up again needing to urinate.
I feel that crate training and potty training go together. We have a schedule for them that allows play time indoors with potty pads and plenty of time outside with crating in between.
(Play, eat, potty, crate. Play, potty, crate) on repeat all day! Consistency is key!
Do not scold puppy for going potty in the wrong place but give a firm NO and take them where they should go and clean up the mess. When you can give lots of positive reinforcement and attention when they go in the right place.
We use potty pads inside if we are playing with them and have found that it doesn't confuse them if we use consistent rewards when going in the correct place. (wear a fanny pack of small or cut up treats or simply use dog food!) We always watch them inside and will take them outside when we see the potty cues like heading for the door! Potty pads are only if we didn't catch them in time. The disposable potty pads are only for when we have eyes on them! Also clean where they have gone inside with an enzyme cleaner.
Some people want to sleep with the puppy and that is just fine. Keep in mind this can cause the puppy to become very attached to you! It is a good idea to still crate your dog on a schedule and allow them time to be independent of you or it can lead to attachment issues if you need to be away later.
Watch a Video about potty training:
Puppy pen: There are times that you cannot be with your puppy. Crating for more than 3-4 hours is not recommended! If you need to leave them for longer, or just have times when you don't have direct eyes on them; we recommend a puppy pen with attachment to crate and left indoors. Try feeding them and giving them lots of time to play before you go. Cover the floor with a large washable potty pad and an additional smaller reusable potty pad. These pads are not prone to tearing and puppies will eat the deposable potty pad if left alone with it. The puppy can be left with a blanket, dog toy that they cannot chew apart or choke on such as a kong and secured water system that they will not tip over. Keep in mind this will slow down potty training but be consistent with taking them outside to potty when you are home!
Watch a video about how to set up your puppy pen:
Putting the harness on them daily and walking them throughout your house and yard is a great idea.
Watch the video about harness training:
We follow the Zak George method of training and that has worked for us. He has videos on YouTube in addition to books.
Watch his videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZzFRKsgVMhGTxffpzgTJlQ
Your puppy will have the at least the first round of vaccinations and fecal testing done. They will continue to need updated vaccinations during the first year and we highly recommend finding a trusted veterinarian to give you guidance on caring for your new puppy.
Always check with your vet before giving your puppy new foods. Check in with vet when your puppy is vomiting or has loose stools.
If your puppy has a bacterial or virial infection it is important to start veterinarian treatment immediately; I always give my dogs "Silver Doc" but check with your vet before administering.
Most of all enjoy this time with your puppy and know that it takes a lot of patience and consistency to get a well-trained dog. If you have gotten a puppy from Doodle Mountain, we will always be available to answer questions and be super excited to see cute pictures of your puppy!