Pet Talk
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Pet Talk

June 9, 2021

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka explains how to stop hand-feeding and bottle-feeding a puppy

By Maneka Gandhi

Why does my dog pant whenever I take him for a walk?

Dogs expel most of their body heat from their mouths. When your dog pants, he’s probably too warm, so it is regulating his body temperature. However, it’s important to pay attention to panting, as it may do it when in pain as well. Help your dog regulate its temperature and make sure it’s well hydrated before any physical activity — especially as the weather warms up. Some other health problems may also show increased panting as a sign, so don’t hesitate to contact your vet. 

How to stop hand-feeding and bottle-feeding?

The first step in the weaning process is to introduce your puppy to a bowl. This can be done when the puppy is about 3 weeks old. Fill the bowl with the milk replacement formula your puppy is used to getting in his bottle. At this early stage, your puppy may do more playing in the bowl than eating. This is how it comes to realise that this stuff in the bowl is really his food. You can dip your finger in the milk and let the puppy lick it off to help him understand that the bowl contains his food. 

Continue to bottle-feed your puppy during this time, though you may decrease the amount of milk given at each feeding, or the number of feedings, if it seems your puppy is starting to eat enough when he is offered the bowl. 

Once your puppy seems to have accomplished lapping up milk from its bowl, it’s time to introduce him to gruel. This can happen a few days after you first introduce the bowl of milk to him, depending upon his progress. Make the gruel by adding some of the milk replacement formula to dry puppy food. Let it stand for a few minutes so the kibbles become soft and soupy. Again, continue to bottle-feed during this time, though you may decrease the amount you feed, or the number of feedings, even more if your puppy is responding well to eating the gruel. 

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The weaning process is going to be messy. Your puppy is going to wade in his bowl. It is going to stick his entire face in the milk. Mostly likely, it’ll be filthy at the end of each feeding. It’s important to wash the puppy off and make sure it is dry and warm after each feeding. 

Always provide a bowl of fresh water between feedings. If you’re raising more than one puppy, it’s also important to monitor each puppy’s progress at eating on his own. The largest in the litter may be chowing down on the kibble within a few days and be done with the bottle by the time he is 4 weeks old, while the runt may need to be supplemented with bottle-feedings for a                            couple additional weeks. 

Monitor the puppies’ weights every few days to ensure they are continuing to gain and grow throughout the weaning process. By the time your puppy is 7 to 8 weeks old, the weaning process should be completed. This means that there are no more bottle-feedings and you’ve gradually reduced the amount of water in the       gruel to the point that the puppy is eating dry food.

How to stop my dog from begging?

Firstly, you will have to stop giving in. Every time you give your dogs a treat from the table it’s teaching them that begging works. It might not work every day, but dogs have good memories; they’ll keep trying if they know it worked last week. 

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You need to completely ignore the behaviour. If it receives a scrap from you one single time he knows that his efforts might pay off next time. Right before you sit down to eat, feed your dog, preferably in a separate room from where you dine. Eating in a room away from the dining area is also an acceptable way to manage begging behaviour by preventing them in the first place. 

You can teach your dog to lie down in another room while you eat, or keep them in a separate room. If you don’t want your dog to stay completely separated from you while you eat you can redirect its attention to some food, toys, or treats of his own. Give your dog something else to focus on while you eat. You can’t give in, no matter how much it begs or what sounds he’s making, otherwise it will put you back to square one.

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