Essentials of Puppy Rearing
These are our general puppy instructions. This is the basic stuff and is not intended to be all-inclusive. If you have a question that is not covered here, please feel free to e-mail or call us.
We feed a biologically appropriate dog food from fresh regional Canadian ingredients called Orijen, produced by Champion Petfoods Canada. We choose this label because of their supreme quality. Their Biologically Appropriate philosophy represents a new class of foods designed to nourish dogs in keeping with their evolutionary adaptation to fresh meat and protein-rich diets. Their ingredients are different too. They don’t buy the bulk commodity ingredients in conventional pet foods, and instead focus on ingredients that are sustainably raised within their region by people they know and trust and then delivered to their kitchens fresh each day and bursting with goodness. Contact us for advice before buying anything other than Orijen if you cannot locate it. Remember that if you switch your puppy’s food, you should do it gradually, blending the old food with the new. This will help enable your puppy to continue to utilize the nutrients he is ingesting. Read the labels: do not buy food that contains fillers, chemical preservatives, or cereal grains. Expect to switch to Adult formula at approx. 6 months of age.
The time the puppies leave our home we feed them three meals a day. Usually around six months of age you can increase to two meals, which is the final stage. The amount of food will need to be adjusted at least once a week. A good thing to do this is by looking fairly to the condition of your pup. He should be nice round fed. Not to thick as if he is going to burst. Not to skinny. A perfect fed adult dog looks like this: You cannot see any rib but you can feel them easily if you touch the ribcage with your flat hand.
Try not to give more than one inoculation during any visit to the veterinarian. We know that your vet will tell you that your puppy must be inoculated for rabies, but please hold out until the puppy is a little bit older. Unless you live in an area where he may come into contact with rabid animals, he can wait. You need to have your vet check your puppy thoroughly during the first week you have him. The reason for this strange request is simple: a puppy’s immune system is immature. Inoculations stress a puppy’s immune system to the max. Therefor never give more than one shot at a time. We have seen terrible reactions to inoculations, ranging from hallucinations to light sensitivity to aggression. It’s not worth the risk, just to save yourself an extra visit to the vet.
Your puppy has been socialized with people (young and old), dogs and other puppies. However, he needs to be exposed repeatedly to situations he won’t necessarily encounter in your home: children, stairs, other dogs (of all breeds and sizes), autos, bicycles, mailmen. To neglect this aspect of your puppy’s development is to condemn him to a life as a fearful, social misfit. If you can’t get to a puppy class or puppy play group, try a walk at a playground or shopping area. Most pet shops will let you bring your puppy inside. Do something at least two to three times a week to put forth a good effort. The time invested now will pay off in the future in a well-adjusted dog who is welcome everywhere.
Toys and Play:
Your puppy may have hard rubber toys. Do not buy anything with a squeaker or anything that can be ripped apart. You will be amazed at how resourceful AmStaff’s can be. Anything that can be eaten, will be eaten! Do not play tug of war with your puppy. You will misalign his bite. An AmStaff’s jaws grow throughout his lifetime, and your puppy’s bite can become “level” or “undershot” at some point in his life. This is a natural process and doesn’t need your help! Also, your puppy doesn’t need hard exercise: his bones are soft and his joints are too immature. Too much activity will cause lameness. Please do not let your puppy run down steps.
Your puppy is intelligent and wants to be clean. However, he is a baby and will get excited easily. Teach him which door to go to by using the same exit consistently every time you take him out. Take him outside every one to two hours while he is awake. Crate training is a must for an AmStaff. Most of all, be patient. He’s only a baby. Using a special treat (cheese, hotdog, etc) that you don’t use for anything else is very helpful. After a month, he should be able to go four hours in his crate without “going”.
Put your puppy on a schedule and stick to it! Dogs are creatures of habit, just like people, and do best when they know what to expect. Give your puppy lots of quiet time in his crate with a Nylabone, in between periods of activity. Always take him out after a meal and then let him take a nap. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon are good times for crate rest.
American Staffordshire Terriers do not need frequent baths to be clean. If your puppy should get dirty, a good rub with a warm, wet towel should be sufficient to have him looking clean again. A couple of things that you should do routinely are: ear cleaning and nail cutting. To clean ears, wet a cotton ball with a little baby oil (squeezing out any excess) and swab out the portion of the ear that you can reach. This should be all that is required. If you notice an unclean odor coming from your puppy’s ears, please do not stick q-tips down his ear canals! That is a job for your vet. Nail cutting is an area that must be attended to on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. AmStaff’s are supposed to have “cat feet”, meaning strong arched toes. Their toes should not splay apart when they are standing. To help keep their feet in good condition, you should trim their nails on a regular basis. Nails should be kept short and rounded. Check the pads of your pup’s feet. They should be kept smooth. If you notice callous growing unevenly on his pads, you can trim that back with a nail clipper. If the pads of his feet are dry and cracked, you can put a little moisturizer on them. Anything containing beeswax should be fine. To trim your puppy’s nails, sit on the floor with the puppy lying on his side between your legs. You may need to put one of your legs over the puppy to keep him in place. Starting with his back feet, trim across the nail, then trim each side, then trim the front – at least four cuts per nail. This will create a rounded effect, so that your puppy won’t scratch you. Always keep your Quick Stop handy for any bloody accidents. Most of all, stay calm. If you get all excited, your puppy will get whipped up, too. If you cut to much nail and draw blood, just calmly press a paper towel on the place to blot and push a pinch of Quick Stop into the area. Remember: there are no nerve endings in toenails – you are not hurting your puppy.