THINGS YOU WILL NEED IN ADVANCE
1. A crate in which to transport him. Do not make the mistake of getting a crate that’s too large. Dogs are den animals and they prefer a smaller, cozy feeling.
Most Papillons like a crate that is around 12- 13 inches wide, 16 – 24 inches long and tall enough for them to stand. Most are around 12 to 14 inches tall and that’s plenty. We think they also prefer one that has some privacy, such as a plastic crate, rather than a wire one.
2. A comfortable pad for his crate. It doesn't have to be fancy. Even an old towel would do, and might be best in case he got carsick on the trip.
3. A new, small, toy to cuddle up to. He most likely will take to a new toy rather than an old one because they are always attracted to new, interesting things.
Most research thinks that dogs only see colors in the Yellow and Blue range. There seems to be some debate if they can see Red, or if it just looks like another shade of Yellow. They are thought to see other colors in various shades of Grey, which they discern as their own version of colors. So, we look first for Yellow toys.
4. A leash, some water and a bowl, if you have a long trip. If you have a drive or flight more than a couple of hours, you may need to take him out for a walk.
Puppies can’t “hold it” for a very long time and they really don’t want to soil their "den". If you take him on a leash and if he is young enough that he is not lead-trained, don’t drag or fight him on the lead. Just let him wander around and investigate and only use the leash to keep him safe.
The leash should not be a heavy one. An inexpensive lightweight nylon one is ideal. We also do not recommend a choke chain. If you’re not sure, we can provide a small nylon collar that is actually made for cats. A long, retractible leash could make him feel more comfortable so he could walk around and not feel so restrained.
5. You may want to consider some litter and a litter box for your arrival at home. (See the discussion below to help decide if you want to try this).
6. Sleeping arrangements when you arrive home. As mentioned above, a puppy needs to relieve himself more frequently when he's younger. He can't last all night long and most don't want to soil their bed or den, but if forced to do that, he may develop a habit of using the bed for a toilet.
Some experts tend to disagree on how long a puppy can last, but our experience has been that it depends on the individual dog. Some last longer than others, but few can last all night until they are older. A general rule is to take the puppy's age in months and add an hour. If he is three months old he can probably last four hours, so that means you need to consider how to accommodate him.
Be aware that if you let him sleep with you, he will love it but probably also soil your bed in the middle of the night because he can't help it. We manage new puppies by providing a larger crate with a litter box in the back with room to sleep in front. One individual, with whom we placed a puppy, had a slightly larger plastic crate with room in the back for a small baking pan for litter, which left enough room for the puppy to sleep in front.
We will provide some food that he is used to. Many dogs cannot change diets quickly without some stomach upset. If you wish to change brands of food, do it gradually over several days by mixing a tiny amount in at first, slowly increasing the new food. We strongly discourage any food that contains corn. Dog food companies use it because it is a cheap way for them to show a high analysis of protein in their foods. Even though it looks great in a chemical analysis, the dog does not utilize it and it can cause allergies and skin problems. That applies to a large extent to most other grains although barley and rice don't seem to be a problem.
The better foods don’t cost much more than cheaper ones, plus your dog is likely to eat less because they are receiving the diet they need. An added benefit is that their stools will usually be smaller because they aren’t passing undigested grain. We were feeding our dogs Merrick's Grain-Free Salmon & Sweet Potato formula but we have recently switched to Victor Yukon River Salmon and Sweed Potato. The dogs prefer it and it is formulated for all life stages so it's good for puppies as well as adults and we've been having good luck with it. There are several very good grain-free foods but we like Victor because they have their own processing plant and don't use a contract processer. Many brands use a contract processer and we aren't as confident with that because of the possibility of cross-contamination. Be aware that most companies also make foods that contain grains so watch what you’re getting.
A young puppy should be fed two or three times daily. We generally give a puppy all he can eat. Also, try to feed your puppy a few hours before bedtime so he can have time to relieve himself. We feed our older dogs twice a day.
We only know of a few breeders who do this but we have had success in training our dogs to use a litter box.
Purina has pursued this concept, making litter from recycled newspaper compressed into pellets. We got away from the Purina litter for a few years but like what they are produciing now.
We have experimented with just about every kind of litter. We were using a litter made from pine sawdust. It is compressed into small pellets that dissolve back to sawdust when wet. We use a large spoon to pick up the solids and then a cat litter scoop as a "sifter" and sift the sawdust into a pail. There is one called "Feline Pine," but we have found there is a similar product made for horse bedding that is FAR less expensive. There are several brands of it but they are all about the same, sold in feed and farm supply stores. Look in the horse bedding section. It works OK but is pretty messy.
There are a couple of brands made for cats that we have used and think are OK, also made from recycled newspaper. One is called “Yesterday’s Mews,” compressed into small pellets. The other is "PapPurr" that resembles ordinary cat litter. The clay-type cat litters work very well but the particles tend to stick on our dog’s coat and get spread around and become very messy so we no longer use it.
A dog bred and raised by us will be litter trained. We do it very simply by placing a small litter pan at their whelping box when they begin to move out of the box. The very first thing they encounter is the litter and they naturally learn to use it.
A dog is not as reliable with litter as a cat. We generally say that they are about 80% trustworthy because they will still miss. They are also not totally aware of where their back end is, so frequently, they will stand in the litter box and go over the side. Also, it depends on how large an area they have in which to make mistakes. If we have a box in the laundry room, for example, and the dog is in some other room, he may or may not think to go to the laundry room box. If he is confined in a smaller area, he is more likely to use the box.
We use individual pans made for cats. They work just fine traveling in our RV, and in larger crates at home. Deeper pans are best to keep litter from scattering out in the floor.
Arrival at Home, first few nights:
A young puppy will most likely never have been alone until he arrives at your home. He will find that to be an uncomfortable situation and will probably cry and complain at first. Some people say that you shouldn’t let a pet sleep with you because that puts him on an equal hierarchy with you and you really want to be his pack leader.
We think that the least stressful way to spoil your puppy is to provide a crate with the litter pan mentioned above and then place that crate on a chair or stool right next to your bed. If he gets restless during the night, you can put a finger in the crate to console him and he will usually settle right away. A good time to make the decision for his permanent sleeping arrangement is after he is old enough to last all night and is trained.
You will want your dog trained to walk on a lead or leash so you can take him to parks and other fun places. (Remember though, if he isn't finished with his shots, be careful about places where diseases might be present). Start by letting him get familiar with a lead by smelling and investigating it. Then, don’t drag him along, but let him wander around and check out the new, exciting things where you may be. For the most part, he is likely to want to stay near you, so you can walk along and sometimes give a gentle pull on the lead to see if he will follow. You might want to use a favorite treat to encourage him. After a few sessions, he will begin to come along with you and honor the lead. As with any training session, only a few minutes each time is needed. We figure that about five minutes is generally enough for most training exercises.
We have heard people say that Papillons are difficult to house train but we do not agree with that statement. They are considered to be one of the more intelligent breeds (and not just by us, but from studies done on various breeds) so they can “get it” when you work with them. A prime concept to remember is this. NEVER PHYSICALLY PUNISH YOUR PAPILLON! Physical punishment is completely counterproductive for a dog as intelligent and sensitive as these. The absolute most that should be done is to mildly scold your dog, and only for a few seconds and you must only do that WHEN YOU CATCH HIM IN THE ACT OF MISBEHAVIOR.
If you don’t see him make a puddle or chew your newspaper to shreds, it’s too late. Just clean it up and watch him closer. A dog’s attention span is only seconds and if you scold (or rub their nose in a mistake) for something they did 30 seconds ago, they have no idea what all this is about. If you catch them starting to potty, for example, call their name in a somewhat louder, more urgent voice, and say NO. Then, pick them up and take them to where you want them to go.
An excellent, alternative way to train, if you can be at home and with them for a few days, is to train them to lead. Then, attach a short lead, about six feet long, to your belt with the dog in tow and keep him there all day. Go about your activities, computer, mail, etc., but keep a close eye on him, watching any hint that he may be needing to go out. If he hasn’t gone in a couple of hours or so, take him out for a walk where you can use whatever command you want to use to signal him to go. If he does go, praise him profusely, as if he just won the Nobel Prize. In 10 days to two weeks, you will have a house trained dog.
We used this method on our first pet Papillon and he picked up on it quickly. When he needed to go outside, he would come to us with an urgent whining that we could recognize. If we asked him if he “needs to go outside,” he would jump up and down as if he were saying “hurry up, I almost can’t wait,” or if he didn't, he would sit.
We think that treats are very valuable in training and getting our dogs to respond to our wishes, but we are careful about the quality and not giving too much. (NEVER give chocolate to your dog; it’s poisonous to their system. Check the Internet for other foods that can be dangerous to them.) We like to use a product by RedBarn (we get it from Amazon.com) that comes in a log or roll. It's actually a food log that can be sliced off into thin slices and broken into pieces about the size of a Cheerio, and that’s all that’s needed. We even use it in the show ring to get their attention and we’ve found that all dogs think it’s wonderful. It’s also nutritious for them, but very rich. If they have too much, it can make their stools thin.
We have read articles on the Internet regarding a chew product generally referred to as “greenies.” They are a green chew toy in various shapes and sizes and many dog fanciers have had problems with them, some serious enough to require surgery. We tried a free sample several years ago when they were being introduced and the result was diarrhea for our pet. We don’t use them.
Dogs are very oral animals and do need to chew. We generally use rawhide rolled chews. We only buy the white ones because other colors can stain carpets, etc. We generally avoid the rolled, thin sticks sold in packages. The dogs like them but they are too easy for them to simply eat the sticks and it can’t be providing much nutrition. Also, many of them come from overseas and we can just imagine the unsanitary conditions under which they are made. Sam’s Club sells large packages of big, long rawhide chews and we now prefer those. It’s comical to see a puppy working on a chew that’s nearly as big as he is but he thinks he’s up to the task. The big thing we watch for is when they work the chew down to small pieces. They can choke on those.
Depending on the age of your puppy, he may not have a complete set of vaccinations. This is the latest protocol that we use: first set of puppy shots at 9 to 10 weeks of age, second set at 14 to 15 weeks and the final set at 18 weeks. Rabies at 20 weeks or later. You may need to confirm what shots are still needed. We will provide you with a record of vaccinations. Also the puppy will probably still need a Rabies shot. We don't like to give ours too young, so we typically wait until 5 or 6 months for that. The first shot is a 1-year shot and then one every 3 years.
It’s very important to keep your dog’s teeth clean. We try to brush our dog’s teeth frequently with an enzyme type toothpaste. DO NOT use human toothpaste, and we don’t recommend some of the brands sold at discount stores or pet shops that do not contain enzymes. We use CET brand, and we use enough that we buy it online in quantities that allow us to get it at a more reasonable price. Some dogs can go for a couple of years if they are getting brushed and some may need their teeth cleaned even before a year, but they all need to get their teeth cleaned. Question your Vet to see if they clean thoroughly under the gums and if they polish the teeth because this is needed to keep gum disease under control. Many serious problems can be avoided by keeping your dog’s teeth clean.
Your Papillon loves to sit in laps and lounge around but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is a total couch potato. It is extremely beneficial for him to be able to go out in a yard and run and play. We have a large yard for our show dogs and they will run at high speed with those tail plumes flowing behind them. That exercise is highly valuable in keeping them in good show condition. Physical condition is one of the items a judge is looking for in the show ring and there’s a reason for that. AKC recognizes that a well-conditioned dog is also more likely to be a healthy dog.
General Health Maintenance:
Your Veterinarian will surely recommend that you continually treat to prevent heartworm infestation. If you acquire a dog from us that is more than four to six months old, it will already be on a heartworm prevention program. We use a brand called “Iverhart Plus” which is a small, flavored pill given monthly.
Some Veterinarians sell “Heartguard” which is considerably more expensive and contains the identical compounds used in Iverhart Plus. They all require a prescription, so you will have to contact your Vet for this. An added advantage is that it also helps control some types of internal worms.
We also treat our dogs, mostly as needed, with “Frontline,” at least, through the warm months. It prevents fleas and ticks and will actually kill them before they bite and cause problems.
We routinely treat puppies for internal worms every few weeks and mature dogs every 60 days if we are traveling with them. It is unlikely that you will need to worm your pet that frequently but we have found better results doing that when our dog are out at shows where they can pick up a lot of stuff. Your Vet may want to check with a stool sample to insure that nothing new has been picked up.
Fortunately, Papillons are not afflicted with very many genetic problems but they can exist. The most common are “Patellar Luxation,” which can be most simply described as a kneecap/knee joint problem, and “PRA,” standing for “Progressive Retinal Atrophy.” This is a serious condition that causes a dog to slowly go blind. There is now a DNA test for the worst type of PRA and ALL of our breeding dogs have that test.
Be extra certain that you check the upper canine teeth (or “fangs”) if your puppy is young, around the age of four to six months. All toy breeds can have a tendency for the permanent tooth to grow beside the baby tooth and not push the baby tooth out. If you see the permanent tooth coming in, not more than half-way, with the baby tooth still firm, it’s time to check with your Vet. The baby tooth should be loose, ready to fall out on it’s own and if it doesn't, it can cause the permanent tooth to grow crooked to the point of almost slightly deforming the mouth. Your Vet may have to pull the baby canine.
Papillons are often referred to as “wash and wear” or “nylon” dogs because even though they can have luxurious coats, they don’t require a large amount of care. They will do best if they are brushed every few days, or even better, brushed every day. It doesn’t have to be a long, extensive brushing but just enough to remove any hair they might be shedding. It also helps to remove any tangles before they turn into a wad that has to be cut out.
You might want to bathe your dog weekly, but they probably don’t need it. Use your nose as a guide. Papillons are an extremely clean dog and you will be surprised at how long they can go between baths. Also, you will probably notice your dog “washing” his face just like a cat will do. That is a genetic trait that we see in most Papillons.
When you do have your Papillon groomed, most professional groomers love to do them because they are so easy. We have had some quote lower grooming fees because of that. Request your groomer to clip their toenails, or you can do it. Just be careful about cutting too deeply, into the quick. Also, ask your groomer to occasionally check the anal glands, which are glands in the anus that all dogs have. They are a scent gland (that’s why all dogs are always sniffing there) that can become plugged and cause problems. Most groomers will squeeze those to be sure they are cleaned.
Finally, the “UGLIES”:
Most show breeders will probably smile at this one. (Puppy mills probably don’t even know what this means because they don’t keep their dogs long enough). Baby Papillons can be lovable, round and fuzzy creatures that you only expect to look better as they mature. Be patient, they will look better, but as they reach an age of approximately three to six or eight months, depending on how fast they mature, they go into what show breeders call the “uglies.” One well-known show breeder remarked, “during the uglies, you couldn’t give one of them away.”
They will shed their soft, fluffy puppy coat as so-called “guard hairs” begin to grow through. These hairs are actually the mature coat growing and the dogs get into the look of tall, skinny, scraggly looking creatures that make one wonder if this is really a purebred Papillon. Generally, by the age of six months, they begin to fill out and put on lots of mature coat. By the age of nine months, most of them are starting to look like the beautiful, full-coated Papillons that they are destined to be, though some do have a mature coat change at around a year of age.
This coat growth will continue with some nearing the age of 18 months or more to fully “coat out.” It will usually fill and grow even more after that age. Most of the big-winning Papillons (we call them “specials”) that compete in Best of Breed, Best of Group, and Best of Show competitions are at least two years old and many don’t really come into their own until around the age of three. That’s when you will be even more proud to own your Papillon and glad that you got your dog from a quality line of dogs with a fine pedigree.