Puppy Guide

Puppy Guide - Useful Guide to a new Puppy in the house

This information sheet has been compiled to give prospective and new owners of Flatcoated Retriever puppies a guide to what to expect when they purchase a puppy from a breeder and to give some advice and guidance on what to do when they take the puppy home.

It must be stressed that this information sheet is a guide and should not be treated as the only way to handle new puppies. Every one will develop his or her own methods, however, if owning a puppy is new to you then this sheet may help you through the first few weeks of having a lovable bundle of mischief running around the house. Most reputable breeders will give new owners plenty of advice and guidance willingly and some will provide written information for you on how to manage your puppy when you take it home.

Before buying a puppy you should be totally committed to having a Flatcoat. They are wonderful dogs but not everyone appreciates the qualities that make them so unique. They are highly sociable so do not appreciate being left alone in the house for the day while you are at work so take time to be sure you can give a Flatcoat the time and attention they need. There are several excellent books on the breed which contain sensible and honest appraisals of what it is like to live with a Flatcoat. Alternatively, most breeders will be only too happy for you to contact them and ask questions before you decide to have a Flatcoat. Visiting any of the club events is another excellent opportunity to meet Flatcoats en masse and speak to breed devotees.

If you have decided that a Flatcoat is the right breed for you, the next step is to locate a reputable breeder who has puppies available or a litter due. Remember that breeders put a lot of time and effort into rearing their puppies and will want to ensure the puppy will be going to suitable homes so be prepared to answer a lot of questions. Similarly, you should be prepared to ask the breeder questions about the litter, the parents and what support you can expect. Flatcoats are not normally kennel dogs so puppies are usually reared in the home environment so they should be well socialised before leaving the breeder.

The Flatcoated Retriever Club of Scotland has a litter secretary who collates details of litters, bred by members, which are due or available and is the main point of contact for any prospective owner. The litter secretary can give you contact details for breeders looking to place puppies. The secretary will check that the litter has been bred according to the Club's code of ethics but you are advised to confirm details yourself when you contact the breeder. Contact details >>

Here is a useful checklist of questions to ask when you are enquiring about a litter.

How old is the mother of the puppies?
Bitches should be at least 2 and a half years old before they are bred from and should be no older than their 8th birthday when the litter is born.

Is this the bitch's first litter?
If she has had previous litters, ask how many litters and when. There should be at least 12 months between litters and bitches would not normally have more than 3litters.

Can the mother be seen with the litter?
If the answer is no then there needs to be a very good explanation as to why the puppies are not with their mother.

Have both parents had the appropriate health screening checks?
Both parents should have been hip scored under the Kennel Club/ BVA scheme for hip dysplasia. The score reflects the degree of abnormality in the hip joints, the lower the score, the less the degree of displacement. Flatcoats are one of the lowest scoring breeds which are tested. The current breed average score is 8. If either parent has a high score or has not been tested, ask further questions. Both parents should also have been tested under the Kennel Club/ BVA scheme for hereditary eye diseases. There are 2 different tests so make sure you ask about both. The general eye test looks for conditions such as hereditary cataracts and other eye diseases. The incidence of these problems in Flatcoats is low. The other test is called a gonioscopy and specifically looks for a condition called goniodysgenesis. This is an abnormality which may predispose the dog to developing primary glaucoma when it is older. It is not a test to diagnose glaucoma. Flatcoats are known to be a breed affected by this congenital abnormality so please ask about the status of the parents for this condition specifically.

Are/will the puppies be Kennel Club registered?
This should be standard practice but you should also ask if the breeder has requested any Kennel Club endorsements to be placed on the registration. If so, this should be explained and the breeder is obliged to have written confirmation that the buyer of the puppy is aware of the endorsement.

When will the puppies be ready to go to their new homes?
This will allow you to plan ahead and be prepared for the new arrival. Puppies would not normally leave the breeder until at least 7 weeks old although 8 weeks is also common practice.

What is the selling price of the puppies?
The litter secretary should be able to advise you about the current guide price for Flatcoat puppies. There should not be any significant variation in price between litters or between the price of dogs as opposed to bitches, or between liver and black coloured puppies.

What can I expect to get with the puppy?
The minimum you should expect is a signed copy of the puppy's pedigree and its Kennel Club registration certificate. Most breeders will also give information about diet, worming and offer a supply of food; some will also offer health insurance

The above is purely a guide and you will probably have questions of your own that you will want to ask. The breeder will probably have their own set of questions they will want to ask you to ensure that you can manage a Flatcoat and that your circumstances are suited to having one.

If you have managed to get to the point of purchasing a puppy, the following basic information about early rearing of your puppy may be of use. If you have received specific advice from the breeder about diet, worming or generally rearing your puppy, please follow it.

It is normal practise to worm puppies at 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks and 8 weeks. Check with the breeder when you collect your puppy when worming took place, when the next dose is due and what product was used. Worming tablets can be bought at most veterinary practises. Thereafter it is normal to have them wormed every 6 months throughout the rest of their lives.

It is essential that all puppies be given a course of vaccinations to protect them against diseases such as Distemper, Parvovirus, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis and Para influenza. The breeder does not normally complete the course of vaccinations as puppies need to go to their new homes before they are old enough to have the second injection therefore arrangements should be made with your local vet to start or complete the course of treatment as soon as possible after taking the puppy home. Until the initial course of treatment is completed the puppy should not be allowed to walk or play in areas were other dogs have messed, this is normally when they are around 14 weeks old although different Veterinary practices vary in when they complete the course of vaccination. You do not have to keep them separate from other dogs you have in the household or your friend’s dogs, as you will have ensured they are fully inoculated.

Do not over exercise your puppy!

Remember that the puppy’s bones and muscles are at a very delicate stage during the first 6 to 12 months as they grow and form. Over exercise can lead to complications in later life. Regular exercise is good for them but not long walks or climbing up steep hills until they have fully formed into adult dogs.

Do not exercise immediately before or after meals even when they are fully grown.

House Training
In all forms of dog training consistent repetition is the key.
Your puppy will need to relieve itself as soon as it wakes up and after it has been fed, so if you put the puppy outside at these times house training will progress more quickly.

It will help if you use a word or phrase to help him/her along e.g. ‘be busy’ or ‘be clever’ or something similar. This way you should eventually be able to have the puppy do its business on command.

Remember to use the puppy’s name before every command whenever training him to do anything so that he or she will always know you are talking specifically to them.

Lastly but by no means least always praise them when they oblige, even if it has taken ages to happen, so that they know it is a pleasurable experience when they do something you want. Praise is not just a pat on the head with the words ‘good boy’ but should consist of making a big fuss of the puppy with lots of ‘good dog’ and much ruffling of their coat.

In all forms of dog training consistent repetition is the key.

Training a puppy takes a lot of time and patience, but you will be rewarded when they are older by having a well-behaved, sociable dog. Traits that seem appealing in a puppy and are allowed to go unchecked can be difficult to eliminate in an adult dog. For example if you do not want your adult dog jumping up at someone, especially when they have muddy paws, then do not allow it to happen at the puppy stage when you think it is cute.

A few golden rules in training:
  • Never give a command that you cannot enforce. For example if you know your dog will not always sit on command then do not give it the sit command when it is 40 feet away and you cannot reach it to make it sit.
  • Once a command is given it should always be followed through with praise when the puppy obeys. If a dog learns that it is ignored or does not get praise when it ignores a command then it will stop doing what ever it is doing to get your attention. The golden rule is praise and award [in the form of a treat] and not punishment.
  • Dogs learn by repetition. Pick the words you want to use to command your dog e.g. sit, stay, here etc and stick to them.
  • Always say your dogs name in the front of each command to get its attention.
  • Do not encourage your puppy to jump or to go up and down stairs as this can damage soft bones.
  • Involve the children when training the puppy so they also get trained on how to handle the puppy and to give the right commands.
  • Do not leave young children alone with a puppy or an adult dog.
  • You can never give a dog enough praise when it has done what you wanted it to do. Always make a big fuss of the dog when it is good until it will do it consistently. Even then, at various times, make a big fuss over it to show that your still happy with what it is doing.
Dogs need to be socialised with other dogs to ensure a well-balanced adult dog. A good way of doing this is to join a local dog-training club. This will not only help it to get used to other dogs but will also help the dog and the owner in the basic training needs. The local Vet usually has notice boards giving details of training clubs. If not, then contact gundog.training@flatcoat-scotland.com and we should be able to point you in the right direction.

It is the aim of all good dog breeders to ensure the breed is of the highest quality with the least possible incidence of inbred defects. In order to maintain this high standard it is necessary to only breed from dogs and bitches that meet the correct standard. To ensure your dog or bitch meets this standard you need to have their hips x-rayed and their eyes tested. From these tests your vet or the Flatcoated Retriever Club of Scotland will be able to help you decide whether breeding from your Flatcoat is advisable when taken into account with all the other factors which need to be considered in making this decision.

Bitches should not be used for breeding until they are at least two and a half years old. Rearing puppies involves a great deal of time, expense and hard work so you need to be committed to the task.

If breeding is something you are considering then why not contact the our Litter Secretary (More details>>) and we will be happy to provide further information. Remember that demand for puppies is often much less than the available supply and it may be difficult to place all of the puppies. Are you prepared to keep any surplus puppies that cannot be found homes?
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