Nutrition is important to your new puppy. Do not skimp on this by buying a poor quality food because it is cheap. A dog food that contains calcium is important through the developmental growth of your puppy. There are an infinite number of brands and kinds of foods. At a minimum we recommend Royal Canin, Nutro Natural Choice, or Nutro Natural Choice Ultra. These three brands are available at PetsMart. They are considered one of the best foods. They cost a little more, but you will notice that in the end, you will need less of it because there is more nutrition to it and it will last longer. There are other brands on the "best" list but it can be difficult to find a supplier. For those of you who live in Columbus, Georgia there is a supplier who sells Solid Gold or Canidae. Your puppy will be started out on one of these quality foods. We feed Canidae and Sojo's/Raw here at Red Rock German Shepherds. Please visit Laura and Jane at Peachtree Natural Foods on Veteran's Parkway in Columbus for your dog food needs. They sell the stuff that is rated good for your dog.
Do your own research and talk to your vet who can tell by your puppies health if it is lacking in any nutrients. Whatever food you choose, it should be one kind that you stick with.
You should feed a young puppy two or three times a day. Do not leave food out for your puppy all the time. This often leads to obesity in dogs. Remember, you are starting with a clean slate. You are setting your puppies schedule to something that works around your schedule, so that you can provide consistency and guidance for your puppy.
Keep in mind, there are whole books written on "the best" food. Some advocate the "raw" diet/food. After much research and testing I now recommend this type of feeding to new owners that are willing to go the extra step in homemade meals. Mixing up a raw food diet takes dedication, time, and know-how to make sure you are balancing the meal correctly. Sojo's helps make raw feeding simple and I have incorporated this feeding into our diet. I am happy to help old and new puppy buyers in this!
Are there better foods than what I recommend? Yes. Are there worse foods. Yes. What I am recommending is for the average person. It is meant to provide you with guidance on a decent food to start with. I can't stress enough the importance of doing your own research and talking to your vet. Please start your research by clicking on the following link. http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com
Grooming your shepherd...compared to some breeds the shepherd is somewhat easy to groom. Brushing three times a week helps to keep the shedding down and the coat looking good. A bath every other week with warm water and shampoo is fine for the average dog. My dogs usually get bathed more frequently because they are shown or they are therapy dogs and they require the extra care.
You will need to take care of your puppies nails. START THIS EARLY . I start handling pups feet and nails right from the beginning. If you never touch your dogs feet until they are grown you are in for a struggle. If you start touching each claw and each toe, at least every week, your nail clipping will be MUCH easier. For puppies, you can use regular human nail clippers to start. As they get older, you will need real doggie nail trimmers. I use a dremel for all of my dogs. This way I never worry about cutting into the quick. If you have bought your puppy from me, then they have received exposure to paw handling by the time you pick them up. It is important that you continue this though. Additionally, if you are buying your puppy from me, I will show you how to care for, and clip their nails, if you wish. If you are just reading this because you stumbled upon it and have not purchased a puppy from me, then your vet will be able to show you how to clip your dogs nails.
Teeth and ears. Dental care is important. I recommend that you brush your dogs teeth. I found that it is easier to use Dental pads or a finger brush rather than the actual tooth brush. Again, start this early and you will be glad you did. The ears can be wiped out with a normal baby wipe. I know that there are all kinds of ear cleaners, solutions and powders, but I have never needed them. A baby wipe works wonders. My dogs LOVE the feel of a nice cool baby wipe in the ear and will lean into the cleaning!
It is so very important that you provide training for your new puppy. I am not referring to obedience ring training (that comes later), but of basic house manners and simple obedience. There are books on this as well. Some things you need to teach your dog include "sit" "stay" "come" and "down". My dogs all sit patiently by their respective bowls. I can put their food down and they will "wait" until I give "okay" Sitting before going into or out of doors is another good command. Sitting before petting, will help to prevent the puppy learning the ole' "jump and greet".....cute for a 10 lb puppy, not cute for a 70 lb dog. I also strongly recommend crate training as shown below! There are so many things to train your new puppy and so many areas to cover, that I can not possibly list them all here. One thing is certain though, training is a must.
Shown below is Red Rock's Moonlight and Roses with young Mistress Katie Garrett showing her that Crate Training is no big deal! Still my all time favorite picture, years later!
Click on the link below for an excellent nail clipping guide:
Bonding to your puppy. This type of training comes from raising guide and other service dogs. It is sometimes called umbilical cording. To do this, you keep your new puppy on a leash which is either in your hand, or attached to you in some form. The puppy goes where you go at all times. Again, this is a necessity in service dogs, but the bonding that occurs from this process is special and works equally well for people who want a special bond with their dog. You do this for a couple of weeks. But then you will want to use a crate to teach the puppy that sometimes they have to spend time alone. It is equally important to teach the puppy "alone" time so that you do not get a puppy who develops separation anxiety. The umbilical cording also has additional benefits. If your puppy is with you, then your puppy is not off chewing something while you were not looking, or relieving itself, etc. It helps you, the trainer/leader to prevent bad habits from forming. It is MUCH easier to never let bad habits form, than to have to break them of bad habits that they have formed while you were not looking. On that note, even if you choose not to do U.C. described above, DO NOT just let your puppy run around unsupervised because they WILL get into something that is fun for them....not so fun by your standards though.