This page is maintained by Donna Stekli, last updated 05/27/2003
This will touch on aspects of raising a puppy. It is by no means complete, but will cover many topics that I have found are of most interest to new puppy owners. l will address the kees puppy whether it is companion or show, however, specifics will be noted when referring to one or another. These are my beliefs, others may differ. The routine, care, feeding are what has worked for me. Others may have different routines and results.

Raising a kees puppy is a big responsibility. Whether your puppy is going to be a show or a companion, the most impact you can have on any one dog is in the raising of it. Attention must be paid to the elements, which are exposure- experiences the puppy is subjected to during its life, diet -what the puppy eats, including supplements, environment - the surroundings a puppy is in, care - how the puppy is cared for and trained.

The most promising show or companion prospect can be ruined by neglect of just one of the elements.

Topics covered are:

Before getting a puppy

I will not cover puppy selection, as that is a subject all to itself. I will say "get your puppy from a reputable source". Newspaper ads and pet stores are to be avoided. Take your time looking for a puppy. Consider rescue puppies because many of them are very loving and deserve a chance at a good home. The downside is that you don't really know their background and chances are they, nor their parents, were not reared in the best of situations. Chances are their parents were not screened for breed specific hereditary disorders. Chances are when you call looking for a puppy, they will not be readily available. They are not "stock items" that can be pulled of the shelf when you want them. Be patient and visit reputable breeders. Go to a regional keeshond club meeting and find out what a kees is all about. It is hard to wait for the right addition to your family, but the wait may very well save you time, heartache and even money in the end. This ends the speech.

From the time your puppy is born until you obtain it, is a critical time in its development. Dog psychologists have defined several different periods of a dog's development. Exposure to various stimuli during these periods can be either a negative or positive experience for the puppy. One of the best [direct, easy to understand and makes sense] books I have found on dog psychology is "Dog Psychology: The Basis of Dog Training" by Leon F. Whitney D.V.M. The book covers the basis of dog psychology, the ways in which a dog reacts through its senses and nervous systems, the dog's mental and emotional status. It covers how the history of the canine affects its outcome. Also covered are how neonatal experiences affect the future development of a puppy, the reflexes, instincts, drives, needs and hormones. You may or may not have control over these critical periods in your puppy's life, but if you know about them, they may help you in finding out why your dog behaves the way it does. If you do have control, you can use it to ensure your puppy is "exposed" to his benefit.

Some breeders use puppy testing to help determine the underlying personality of a puppy. Since good breeders are close to their puppies, raising them in their homes, they do get to know each one because of daily contact for hours and will have an opinion as to a particular puppy's temperament. I use my knowledge of rearing and day to day encounters with the litter along with the Puppy Aptitude Test (PAT) to determine the type of home a puppy is best suited for. The PAT is a series of ten tests that must be administered between the 7th and 8th week of life. Tests such as pinching the skin between the pads of the feet while counting to ten, throwing an object and having the puppy retrieve it or not, elevating the puppy and determining its reaction.... The puppy is scored using a point scale and based upon the test and the score, a personality profile is arrived at. An overall litter score can also be calculated.

As a breeder, it is important to place puppies in a home properly suited to them. I take my puppies back if they don't work out, but fortunately that has happened only a couple of times. Screening a prospective buyer is key. An outgoing puppy in a home with older folks that don't want a lot of activity isn't a good fit. An apprehensive puppy in a home with small children will most likely become a fear biter instinctively. An outgoing, "here I am" attitude in a show home is a perfect fit. A puppy that is a bit laid back, but doesn't over react to situations is good for a home with young children. Each puppy and each home must be put together carefully, and, knowing a puppy's personality is key to making things work out in the new home. Some people think the puppy personality tests are valuable and some think they are just a waste of time. I believe they are worth doing and I will continue to use the PAT.

Positive exposure to people and other animals is important. The best thing to do for a puppy is to enroll it in a Puppy Kindergarten class. I insist my puppy buyers to go to these classes when the puppy is between three and five months of age. They are usually an 8-10 week course, one night a week for 45 minutes. It is offered by most kennel clubs at a nominal cost. It teaches the owner how to train the puppy with the desired outcome being to teach the puppy how to behave in public and be a well adjusted companion. It gets the puppy out around other puppies of different breeds, around other people and they get [at least] a car ride a week. Puppies learn to walk on a lead without dragging their owners, how to be examined [teeth, bellies, ears, mouth, genitalia], how to get their toe nails trimmed [most important for keeshond cat feet]! The owners learn how to control their puppies, how to get their attention, and about the basics of animal care. Basic obedience commands are taught with most classes using the reward (the preferred method) method of training. Owners can talk to owners of the other puppies in the class and, along with the instructor, can find answers to common problems of housebreaking and care.

Let your puppy explore. Keeshond puppies by nature are inquisitive. Let them have time to explore things. If you are fortunate to live in an area that is wooded or live near a park that you can feel comfortable taking your puppy for walks in, do so. Very young puppies can be taught to come when called off lead. Most young kees puppies want you in their sight and will run back every so often to check up on you. We live on 3 acres and all of our puppies are taught off lead to come when called. When they are little, we do use treats as an incentive, but the habit of them checking up on you can be life saving.

There are many wonderful books on how to raise a puppy and one I recommend "The Art of Raising A Puppy" by the Monks of New Skete [Little & Brown publisher].

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Adjustment to a new puppy

When the new owner comes to get their puppy, I ask that they don't call me for about 3 days afterwards. That gives them a chance to adjust, as long as everything is going normal. However, if any problems are suspected, they should call. I find that homes with another dog in them already are the ones that have an easier time adjusting to a puppy. That is because the owners know common sense things for adjustment and puppies generally fit well into homes where another dog exists. The other dog actually can help with training as habits for the first dog are already established. The puppy will readily follow an older dog and mimic their habits. That is not to say those getting an only puppy won't have an easy time, but it does depend on the home and the puppy. It does depend upon routines and sticking to them. Introducing a puppy into a home with a senior age dog can be a challenge. Again, this is another subject and won't be covered in this article.

Plan that your new arrival is not going to be happy by himself. He/she is use to having fun littermates around to play with and sleep with. We have found the best thing to do is have a ticking clock near the crate, place the crate in your bedroom [the standard crate training method of housebreaking is used; the new owner is given this information before the puppy goes home with them] so the puppy can hear breathing and not feel isolated.

A good exercise session just before bedtime; be sure you know if the puppy went to the bathroom outside. No water in the crate. If it is very hot, an ice cube or two can be given in the crate. Toss a small treat in and use a word like "PUPPY IN" and assist them in by pushing them slightly on the rear as they dive into the crate for the treat you just tossed in. Lights out. Soft plush toys around him will make him feel more like he is with his littermates. If your puppy does not settle down in the crate under these conditions, tell him "QUIET" in strong tone of voice. Usually this works. If the puppy wakes up in the middle of the night, chances are they did not get adequate exercise before bedtime to clean them out. Don't make this middle of the night outing a regular thing because it will become that if you don't exercise well before bedtime. First thing in the morning, open the crate door and CARRY the puppy to the door to "GO OUTSIDE" [or use whatever term you want consistently]. Praise when they go to the bathroom outside. With business done, breakfast is next.

Don't let your puppy have the run of the house. This will only result in accidents and the puppy getting into things you don't want them to. The rule of thumb is, if it is within reach of a puppy, it is in their territory and, therefore, their property. You must puppy proof your home. Shoes, plants, kid toys, all of it must be out of touch. When crate training, if you will not be home for more than four hours, with a young puppy, plan to have someone come and exercise him. A young puppy left in a crate for more than this amount of time is going to have an accident (there are exceptions) and it would be cruel for him to have to endure being locked in a crate for more than four hours trying to be good. Another rule is, you must catch the puppy in the act of doing what you don't want it to to correct them. If you don't, you can't correct them. Their memory is short and it is unfair, besides non-effective training, to do so. An alternative is an outside run or kennel (small fenced area) that the puppy can be put in while you are away. Of course, it must be "puppy proof" as they are good at finding and/or digging their way out of confined areas when the world is calling them to explore.

Most folks want to keep their cute, little teddy bear in a warm environment. But, these teddy bears have lots of fur, and will get hot. They don't like hot. They seek cool places like tile floors and metal crate pans. A hot puppy will pant and cry.

If you are going to be gone during the day, a radio on a talk station is good to leave on near the puppy. We put ours on different stations so the puppy will get use to hearing various voices and levels.

Before bedtime, make sure your puppy has been exercised and is tired. This may require a walk outside to tire them. An awake/active puppy will be a noisy one at bedtime. Save yourself trouble and walk them well before then. If the puppy seems thirsty at bedtime, don't let them have a bunch of water or you will be in for walking them at 2am! Give them an ice cube instead (in the crate). If the lights are on in the bedroom, the puppy is not going to want to sleep. Most likely the first night or two is going to be noisy. You will have to be persistent. Again, routines are important to stick to. This applies to days when you work and days when you are off. The puppy will not know the difference and you should continue on schedule.

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Housebreaking, crate training & quiet time

For ease in housebreaking, I suggest a crate (a dog cage). I give out a standard crate training handout [by the Nicki Meyer Educational Effort of Wester CT]. Crate training will save both you and the puppy grief while going through the housebreaking period which can last up until the pup is 9mos. It is important to know that most dogs do not have complete muscle control, therefore control of their bodily functions, until they are about 8 months of age. The size wire crate to get for a keeshond is [minimum] : 18 1/2" wide, 24" tall, 30" long. This will be a size it can still fit into when fully grown. Contrary to what you might believe, a dog crate is a dog's safe haven. It acquaints to the "den" dogs were use to living in the wild state. Do not use the dog crate as a place for the dog to go for punishment! The crate should be situated where the puppy can see most of your active area, such as a kitchen or living room where you spend most of your time. We locate our "house crate" in our bedroom. The door remains open when the puppy is out of the crate. Many times, we find the puppy asleep in the crate with the door wide open. Our adults, when it is their turn to be in the house, also seek out the crate when they want some "private time". It is also a good idea to serve the puppy meals in the crate with the door open. This accomplishes two things: 1) the puppy will feel good in the crate by having a good thing happen there (eat food) 2) you can use the hook on pans and raise it as your puppy grows to the ideal height for them to eat at.

I would assume the puppy will have a fenced yard or supervision if there is no fencing while it is outdoors. Dogs that are chained up tend to develop social problems that are extremely difficult, if not impossible to reverse. No dog should ever be chained out or on a cable line tied outside as a way of life!

The basic rule for housebreaking is to take the puppy out at these times:

10-15 minutes after a meal

after play

immediately upon waking from a nap/sleep

If the pup should have an accident in the house, pick the pup up immediately, whether in the midst of the "accident" or not and take him outside. Let him finish his business there and praise profusely. NEVER, NEVER rub the puppy's nose in his accident! This does nothing more than make the puppy stink. They do not connect feeling good from defecation with the act of having to have urine or stool rubbed in their nose. Clean the mess up after you get inside the house. Use a disinfectant or an odor removing cleaner.

Until your puppy is completely housetrained, he should not be given the run of the entire house when you are away even for a short trip.

Sleep is very important to young puppies. Be sure your puppy is given enough nap time to go with the play time.

As with a feeding schedule, effective housebreaking is a matter of routine and schedule. It can be less of a problem if there is another dog to show the puppy the ropes, such as going to the door when they want out.

Have a quiet time each day with your puppy. This is a time when you will hold your puppy on its back while you are sitting in a relaxing chair or on the floor. The purpose is to teach the puppy to "settle" and provide more bonding time. Do it when your puppy is a bit tired and when the household is settled too, perhaps in the late evening. Holding the puppy on its back, gently stroke the belly and talk to him in a soothing voice. Start out with about a 5minute Quiet Time and work up to 15-20min. If the puppy struggles, say firmly "settle". You might have to hold onto them firmly, but reinforce with the "settle" command.

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When selecting dog dishes, don't use plastic because some dogs are sensitive to chemicals in plastics. It can cause the pigment around the nose and mouth to "fade". Also, most puppies will chew plastic. Ceramic crocks or stainless steel pans are the best for a puppy.

I elevate my dog bowls about 7" (for adults) off the ground to aid in shaping the feet. Kees are suppose to have a cat shaped foot and if they have to constantly be stooping to the floor to eat or get a drink, it can break down the pasterns on the front legs, thus leaving them "flat footed". It also causes them to strain their neck. If you don't want to invest or make a special dog feeding bench, then you can use the top of a weighted coffee can. If you are feeding your puppy in the crate, hook pans elevate nicely and they are adjustable as your puppy grows.

Most keeshond puppies love water and many will "dig" the water out of the bowl. This habit usually doesn't carry on into adult hood (ha ha) and it is best to let the puppy do this, if you can put up with it. Sometimes using the small stainless steel buckets discourage puppies from digging water. If it is a problem, just use ice cubes or use a rabbit water bottle that they have to lick.

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Teething & chews

Your puppy will be getting its adult teeth around 4 months of age. This means you must provide some good chewing things for it around this age or the puppy will chew things you don't want it to. Teething puppies will tend to be "cranky" because their gums hurt. Provide rawhide, nylabones or good hard soup bones during this stage. Ice cubes also help alleviate some of the pain in gum swelling during this time. Rubbing the gums with your fingers helps too.

You will want to get some rawhide chews; American made (some come from foreign countries and have questionable ingredients). Ask when you buy; the supplier should be able to answer. Get some flat round chips and also a couple of knotted bones. Pig ears are too thin and the dog eats them in no time. Cow hooves are great. They last a long time and the dogs love them. They provide a residual amount of protein. If the hooves do get chewed to "nubs" or start to splinter, throw them out. Some people think they are bad and contain chemicals, but anything you would use for chewing may have some kind of chemical on or in it. Get the non-smoked kind. Since keeshonds can't chew up one cow hoof a day (ones at our house last a month or more) they are not eating them as part of the main diet.

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Extra food, toys, etc.

Economical "free" toys are emptied, washed plastic milk containers, plastic juice containers, coffee cans (with lids & no sharp edges). You can fill these with ice cubes to provide a cool toy that can be refilled and reused. You can fill them with rocks to provide a noise the puppy should get use to. Using metal (coffee cans; take care sharp edges are removed), will get your puppy ready for metal articles such as those used in utility obedience should you decide later on to pursue that. Fun games of "ice cube hockey" can be played in the summertime on tile floors.

Plush toys are good, but take care the pup doesn't chew and get to the "innards". At dog shows or fun matches, vendors have plush balls, and different shaped toys for sale, some with squeakers, made just for dogs. I have a variety of these that my dogs (and these puppies) play with. They are machine washable. Yard sales and flea markets are places you can get used children's stuffed toys at dirt cheap prices. Just take care and choose the ones without hard plastic or attachments that can be chewed off and cause problems.

I do not give my dogs scrap bones of any kind leftover from our dinners. Chicken bones are a definite NO. Steak bones can tend to splinter and result in damage to the intestines. Pork bones do splinter. When the puppy is older, soup bones from the meat case in your grocery store can be given to the dog.

Contrary to some beliefs, I do give my dog table scraps to some degree. I do mix yogurt and/or cottage cheese in three times a week in the meals of growing puppies. This gives them extra calcium their bones need to grow. Yogurt is an especially good source of usable calcium as well as keeping the digestive system in good working order. Give the puppy about 2 tablespoons three times a week mixed in the meals.

Fruit is good for them, grapes, apples. Vegetables are good for them, greenbeans, yams, carrots, tomatoes. Raw veggies are good. They can even have fun playing with these raw items and then eat them when they are through.

The general rule is: Anything other than dog food is given in moderation. Anything a puppy eats that becomes more than 15% of their daily food intake is considered part of their diet.

You can give a calcium supplement, such as "Cal D Trons" or "Pet Cal" at most, 3x a week or you can use powdered milk. I do give puppies a multivitamin called "Pet Tabs Plus" every day. J-B Wholesale has a good multi vitamin called "Rick's", which is good. I also use an herbal puppy formula I put together.

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[Refer to the Reference Material info for sources.]

I do have several recommendations on brushes, combs and nail clippers. For all over body grooming a pin brush: Scalpmaster #125, or PSI (toy or medium sized), or Safari. They range in price from $4- $10. [catalog prices]

For use during blow drying, or using on a dog with sensitive skin or a dog who has blown coat, a Mason- Pearson combination boar bristle - nylon bristle brush or any king that has this combination. Prices are, for Mason-Pearsons $30+, but you can purchase look alikes for $5-$10. [catalog prices]

For cleaning out a coat after brushing, to comb out feathers, heads or just getting dead hair out: the Original Belgium Greyhound Comb or a Resco # 80 coarse comb. These range in price from $6-$12. [catalog prices]

For brushing young puppy coats, when they look like little lambs, for hocks, legs and head, use a soft slicker brush. The gentle small slickers are very handy and don't rake skin. The test is to take a slicker and run it up and down your arm. If it doesn't irritate you, it is fine. Slickers range in price from $4-$8. [catalog prices]

For cutting toenails, there are two types of clippers: the scissors style [Miller's Forge] or guillotine style [Resco or Twinco]. I personally like the scissor style because I get better control with it. They range in price from $3-$5. They do need to be replaced if the blades get dull [it costs about $7 to have them sharpened] or you will end up pinching the toenail before the cut happens. The puppy will get to the point where they won't want the toenails done because they will associate the pinch with the clippers. If you want to invest in a nice nail grinder, get a Sears Dremel type tool. They sand off the harsh toenails so you won't get scratched. You can get the quick down further too. You can buy grinders made just for pet nails, but I find the Sears tool is cheaper and you can find the replacement whetstone attachments easier. You can make your own dog emery boards (people emery boards just break too easily) with a small piece of soft wood with a small piece of coarse sandpaper stapled over it. Use it as you would an emery board.

For getting hair off ears and head and for flea removal, a flea comb comes in handy. I like the ones that have metal teeth and plastic grippers with no handles. They will go for $2-$3 [catalog prices].

See if a local kees club is having a grooming clinic to demonstrate tools and grooming techniques. Our club, the Capital Keeshond Club, has one of these each year. A different member conducts it and I think everyone learns something new no matter what their experience level. Always groom your puppy towards the head of a kees. That is the natural way their hair goes on a keeshond.

No choke collars or metal/chain leads on babies! Rolled leather collars or nylon buckle collars only. Leather or nylon leads. A good first collar for a puppy is a cat collar. It has an expandable elastic strip and is lightweight and inexpensive, as your puppy will not be small for long! When your puppy gets older, you can invest in a nice rolled leather collar. Choke collars or pinch collars can be used on dogs over six months if you want to obedience train them. Get proper instruction on the use of metal collars. Only use them to train and take them off afterwards.

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Fleas and environmental things

Unless you are at a very high elevation or in a climate that is extremely dry and very cool, you will have to consider the pest problem.

During the summer time with heat and humidity, your Keeshond should be indoors in a cool place. If left outside in the heat, it will develop skin and coat problems. We have fleas and ticks in Maryland, but we think we have a control program that is effective. Remember, you must treat the whole environment and not just the dog for flea problems. Fleas don't live on the dog, they just go there for dinner. If you have neighbor dogs and cats (or rabbits and squirrels) that frequent your yard (or near) they will carry their pests into your puppy's territory.

Flea collars do not work; don't waste your money. In many cases they make the dog sick and cause skin and coat problems because they get into the dog's system. Be careful about the types and kinds of flea chemicals you use in the environment and on the dog. Some combinations can be lethal.

We try to stick to natural methods of pest control. Using brewer's yeast, fresh garlic and fresh parsley in the food can help. If the brewers yeast doesn't do much, add some thiamine (Vit B1) to it. On the dog, I have been experimenting with a line of natural products called "Green Ban". Their product, a skin soother you sprinkle on the dog, contains peppermint, cajuput, eucalyptus & myrrh. It smells great! You can also sprinkle brewers yeast directly on the puppy although it will turn them brown. Garlic powder sprinkled liberally and rubbed into your dog's fur will keep fleas away. If you want it to stick in the coat better, rub in a small amount Avon Skin So Soft oil first, then add the garlic powder. Pennyroyal powder or oil added to either mixture can help but do not to use it on pregnant bitches. In the environment, you can use diatomacious earth and oil of citronella.
If you must use some other flea control, the PROGRAM is the only true safe one. This is because PROGRAM doesn't contain systemic poisons as all the other ones do. PROGRAM contains an enzyme that causes the flea that bites the dog to not be able to reproduce.
More tips on environmental control will be introduced in another MNR article.

Houseplants you may have in your home or around your house can be potentially fatal to your puppy if he eats them. A list of these plants can be found in many puppy care books. Some of them are: poinsettia, amaryllis, various yews, bird of paradise, fox glove, poke weed, wisteria, larkspur and daffodil. The best thing to do is to get them out of puppy's reach - in a place where the puppy will not to be able to ingest them. Most puppies outgrow the urge to grab at plants, but do be careful.

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Vaccinations (shots), worms and other health related issues

My pups are wormed at least two times before they leave. The first worming should be done at age 3 weeks and a subsequent follow-up worming at age 5 weeks. This is most important. Members of some litters have been know to suffer "worm-seizures" if they are heavily infested with worms and are not wormed early on. After that I suggest you should purchase "NEMEX" wormer from one of the supply catalogs and worm two more times two weeks apart. I provide worming schedules with my puppies. After that have a stool sample checked on your puppy about a month after the last worming. It is possible, if your puppy has been raised during the hot weather, it may have tapeworms. These are evidenced by "rice" looking debris on the britch or tail areas. Roundworms are common pests in puppies. Many puppies are born with them because the catalyst is the mother's mammary glands. Your pup may pick up coccidiosis (a common protozoan disease) from bird or rabbit droppings, with the symptoms being much like those of worm infestations. Worm problems are characterized by a "bloated" looking stomach, the puppy eating more than usual and not getting the appetite satisfied, loose stools, blood or mucus in the stool or other symptoms.

Sometimes puppies will get "sick" after having shots, but a puppy who gets lethargic, convulsive or runs a temperature over 103 after a vaccination should be taken to the vet immediately. Puppies should be treated like infants in these cases. Don't take chances.

The best indicator of an oncoming illness is the dog's temperature. Invest in a digital thermometer. It is easy to use and may save your dog/puppy's life. Use the thermometer anytime your dog appears to not be normal. Take the dog's temperature rectally using Vaseline on the end of the thermometer before inserting. Clean by wiping off with rubbing alcohol. The normal rectal temperature of a dog is 101.3 degrees F. If it is 103 or above, get your dog to a vet.

Many diseases and complications can be caught early if you take the time to take your dog's temperature. The normal temperature for a dog is 101.3 degrees F (rectal temp), but a variation of 1 degree in either direction is ok, according to my experience. Any deviation and you should have your puppy checked out by a vet. If your puppy passes blood in it's stood or urine, or gets lethargic or convulsive, get it to a vet immediately. The general rule for a puppy is, if it isn't eating normally AND/OR it's activity level is not normal, there could be something wrong.

Your puppy should have a total of 3 sets of vaccines for DHPP (no Lepto). One set given after 8 weeks of age, another set 3 weeks after that, a 3rd set after 16weeks of age and a final set after 6mos of age. After that, the puppy does not need additional vaccines *IN ITS LIFETIME*. I do not recommend at all Corona or Lyme vaccinations. There have been documented cases of puppies given the all inclusive shots with DHLPP, Corona and/or Lyme shots which have resulted in immunity problems in the pups. What this means is, the puppy may have a "shot reaction" and actually get the disease it was being vaccinated for OR WORSE. Also, Keeshonds are susceptible to "auto immune disorders". Vaccinations do activate the immune system and sometimes a Kees will get very ill or die from a vaccination. The puppy may not be protected against the disease because it was not vaccinated at a time when the maternal antibodies were out of effect. New information tells us that the vaccines we give may be affecting the hormonal system of the dogs. Once you screw up this with over-vaccination, you can't ever undo the damage done to the dog internally. What this means is, many problems related to immunity may actually show up later in life as various skin & coat disorders, digestive problems, as well as breeding disorders. What you inject into your puppy at this stage may stay with him for life. That's why an abbreviated vaccine schedule is in order. Currently, I purchase my vaccines from Foster & Smith or the Omaha Vaccine folks (see references).

It is very important for your puppy to get a DHP and Parvo vaccine AFTER 16 weeks of age to ensure protection because of the maternal antibodies that could be present before this age. If you are giving any other vaccine or medication, be sure it is given at least 3 weeks from any other kind of vaccine/ medication as a precaution. As a note, if you have an "intact" female, DO NOT give any vaccines close to or during the heat cycle!

I do not give Coronavirus, Leptospirosis or Lyme vaccines. I believe we inject and give our dogs too many unknowns. In my opinion, these vaccines are not safe and we don't know the long term affects of them. Lyme vaccines have been hyped to the point where the vets are pushing them. In reality, lyme ticks are so small that you wouldn't be able to find them on yourself easily, let alone a coated dog. I would caution you in using too many of these unproven injectibles in your dog. Think of the number of vaccines you have given your kids and think of the number you could potentially give your pet if you tried to protect it against every disease known. I choose not to give these.

Many states require the puppy have its first rabies vaccine at three to four months of age. If I can, I put off giving rabies until the puppy is 6 months of age; best at one year of age. At that time, I have the vet give the rabies puppy shot, which is good for a year. At age eighteen months, the puppy can be given either a one year or three year rabies vaccine. I choose the three year. Almost all vets give a killed rabies vaccine. No keeshond should ever be given a live rabies vaccine.

More and more folks are getting onto the limited vaccine or no vaccine bandwagon. This is for the health & welfare of the dogs. To proove immunity, you can have a titer-test run. For immunity, you can give "nosodes". For more info on this, please email me privately.

The current vaccine schedule I recommend and follow is: (rev 05/2003)

DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvo) - vaccine given after 8wks of age
DHPP - vaccine given 3 weeks after the first vaccine
DHPP - vaccine given after 16 weeks of age
DHLPP - vaccine given at age 18mos (this vaccine should contain Lepto)
Rabies (killed) - first vaccine given at one year of age; be sure to tell your vet this is a FIRST rabies
Rabies (killed; 3yr rabies vaccine) - second vaccine given one year from the first rabies vaccine
No boosters or any other vaccines except as required by law (rabies) for the dog's lifetime.

If you are giving any other vaccine or medication, be sure it is given at least 3 weeks from any other kind of vaccine/ medication as a precaution. As a note, if you have an "intact" female, DO NOT give any vaccines close to or during the heat cycle!

I am not the only one proposing limited vaccination. Go check out the University of California at Davis and the University of Colorado's veterinarian pages on recommended vaccine programs. Other sites to visit are:
Click here for the Dog Logic website info on Vaccines

Heartworm is a big problem in many areas. Usually areas where bodies of water exist, because it is carried by the mosquito, but sometimes this is not a criteria for heartworm risk areas. If you are going to start your puppy on a heartworm preventative, you may start as soon as you get the puppy. If you wait until later, a blood test must be performed to determine if your dog has heartworm first before preventative medication can be given. If the test is negative, a daily preventative can be given orally and there is a once a month preventative too. Many vets require a yearly or every other year blood test on dogs that are receiving heartworm preventative, just to be sure. I am currently using Interceptor for heartworm. It also takes care of other worms such as whipworms, hookworms, round worms that may be picked up by dogs attending dog shows, or other events. Either type of heartworm pill contain poison in small doses. They get into the system of your dog to kill of any heartworm in development. Because the long term affects of these poisons are not known, I choose not to give them about a month prior to any female kees that I am intending to breed. Click here to return to topics list.
Grooming and toenails

It is important to develop a weekly grooming time with your puppy. It helps to establish a bond and to keep your puppy in good skin and coat health. When you brush it is towards the head and down to the skin.

It is important, when your puppy starts "rolling" puppy coat, to get the old dead coat out each week by keeping with a weekly grooming routine. The "rolling" occurs as your puppy grows and gets in new coat to replace the old.

Contrary to what you may believe or what a groomer may say, Keeshonds should not be shaved. They need their hair to protect them from the cold and from the heat. A shaved keeshond in the sun will become sunburned with no relief. Their hair will protect that from happening, but, that does not mean you should leave your coated Kees in the sun.

Although some sunlight is good for your puppy's overall health (Vit A), extended time in sunny areas (winter and summer) can turn your dog's coat red tinted.

Toenails should be trimmed once a week. Many a dog cannot walk without pain because it's owners cannot keep the toenails trimmed! Just think of how you would feel if your toenails grew so long you had pain from walking around. The same thing can happen with dogs. Keeshonds need very short toenails, so you must keep them cut short. Picture a cat's foot. That is how a kees foot should look. Hair between the pads of the feet needs to be trimmed so the pads are exposed. Dogs perspire only in two places: the tongue and the pads of the feet, therefore, keeping the hair trimmed between the pads will allow the dog to get proper air circulation.

I also use a nail grinder. I use a Dremel MiniMite cordless, Model 750. It has 2 speeds and a rechargable battery pack. I use a coarse sandpaper wheel on it. After clipping the toenails with a nail clipper, I grind them down further with the nail grinder. This will take the sharp edges off and get the nail even closer to the quick (the part in the nail that bleeds). It is self-cauterizing, so if you get too close to the quick, the nail residue that has been ground off will clog the bleeding. My dogs don't mind the nail grinder as much as they mind the nail clippers! Click here to return to topics list.
Poisonous household items, plants

A dog's sense of taste is different than ours. Something that appeals to you may not appeal to them and vice-versa.

Common household items that can be toxic are toilet bowl cleaners, turpentine, pine oil, and kerosene. One of the most common killers of pets is anti-freeze (ethylene glycol) used in car radiators as a coolant. It has a sweet taste to pets and may be the last thing they taste. So, be careful where you drain this and if your care leaks, it can cause a puddle of death.

Cough and cold medications, sedatives, blood pressure medication and the like can all be dangerous to your kees. Store them as you would for a child.

People often forget about household products such as insecticides, rodenticide, etc. They contain small doses of poison for small creatures to eat, although the appeal of the stuff may be to your darling Keeshond puppy. This stuff can kill them too.

Have the phone number of your vet, an emergency vet and the local animal poison control on hand near your phone.

Lawn fertilizers, weed killers and the like can cause problems for your puppy as well. If you think of the lawn as your puppy's playground, then consider what that stuff on the grass may be doing to the outside and inside of your kees. It is certainly not natural and may be the cause of allergic problems and internal problems in your pet. Wouldn't you rather have a few dandelions and a healthy puppy?

House and outdoor plants and flowers often prove a deadly snack for unsuspecting pets. The list of harmful plants is a long one and includes: tulips, rhododendra, poinsettias, rhubarb leaves, schefflera, philodendra, and mushrooms. Check with your vet and/or florist before leaving plants in areas where your pets might have access to them.

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Tattooing, Microchip & Identification

To ensure your dog is properly identified, in the event that it be lost or stolen, get it IDd in some way!

You can have Microchip ID "installed" in your puppy at any time, however, most tattooing clinics require your puppy to be at least six months old. So, look for clinics as soon as you can. They are usually sponsored by kennel clubs. Get your puppy tattooed (it is put on the inside rear leg) or microchipped for identifying, safe return and to keep it out of the laboratories. It is safe and not traumatic if done correctly by folks who have done it time after time.

The tattoo numbering scheme doesn't really matter as long as it is registered with a service. I have all of my dogs tattooed with the same suffix. I don't use their AKC numbers or my Social Security number. They are identified with a generic prefix given out by Ident-A-Pet followed by a unique code for my kennel. I have these numbers with me at all times and my vet has them on file. Register your puppy with either "IDENT-A-PET" or "THE NATIONAL DOG REGISTRY".

The latest in dog identification is the microchip. It has been proven to be safe (implanted between the shoulder blades via an injection, much like a vaccination). I have a few of my dogs microchipped. The earliest age I had one implanted was in a 3month old kees. The registry for Microchips is AKCs CAR (Companion Animal Recovery). You can find out more about this by going to AKCs website at You should consider this option for identification of your kees.

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In preparation for your puppy, I recommend you feed one of the following puppy foods:

Eagle Puppy
Precise Puppy
Natural Life Puppy
BilJac Puppy

If none of the above foods are available in your area, then attempt to obtain a formula that satisfies the particulars in the paragraphs below. Look up pet food outlets in the yellow pages of your phone book or on the Internet. You won't find good dog food in your grocery store.

My puppies are fed a mixture of Eagle Puppy and Natural Life Condition formula mixed (3/4 Puppy to 1/4 Condition). I am quite picky about the kinds of dog foods that are suitable. Some foods contain red dye and/or sugars which will result in hyperactive dogs. Also, the preservative "ethoxyquin" is a problem. The first three ingredients listed on the bag of dog food are the main ingredients. Many "cheap" brands of dog foods (and one considered "good" by veterinarians; Science Diet) list Corn as the first ingredient. Those dog foods are not good for keeshonds, as corn is roughage and goes right through the dog, and besides, dogs are not farm stock and can't live on a corn diet! Chicken based dog food tends to spoil quicker than a meat based food, therefore, you may obtain bags which cause your dog to get sick or have loose stools although this is rare. It would be similar to a case in which you would get food poisoning. The protein level is not as important as the source of the protein. Even shoe leather has a good amount of protein in it, but dogs should not be raised on shoe leather. Look for meat meal as one of the first ingredients with protein levels around 28%. I strongly recommend that you make "Chipper's Favorite Cupcakes". [Recipes for MNR.] If you are so inclined to make the pup turn out to it's best potential, I also have a "Hearty Canine Combo" recipe that they eat and you can mix up and feed as well. It is in the Pitcairn book [Refer to the Reference Material info for sources.] It is most important to start your puppy out on good food while he is developing to ensure he will be able to grow to meet his potential. Genes play an important role, but you can optimize good health by providing good food.

The puppy should stay on puppy food until it is about 10mos - 12mos of age. Then switch to the adult formula of one of the above foods. I do not recommend a high protein-type dog food; it can result in liver damage. I also do not recommend using Iams dog foods as I have found them to cause red coats in my Kees. A soybean based food can result in thyroid problems. I don't recommend lamb based foods for Kees. The meat source does not result in good coats in my experience.

General Puppy care:

Feed cottage cheese (about 2 tablespoons) 2 x a week.

Feed yogurt (plain, unflavored, about 1 tablespoon) 3 x a week.

For young puppies, up to 6 months of age: If the pup isn't as plump as you think he should be, soak the food a little longer, use more hot water. This will allow the puppy to get more food without having to crunch and waste energy.

The basic rule is, the pup should weigh a pound for each week of life until about 3 months of age. If you can pinch an inch of extra fat/skin on a puppy, then that is good. Kees puppies should be filled out; neither fat nor thin. An adult kees male should be 18" at the shoulder (when measured from the floor) and weight 38-45#. A female kees should be 17" at the shoulder and weigh 32-40#.

The Future

The idea behind "Modern Natural Rearing" is to be able to produce healthier, solid (mind & body) kees over time. It will not be in our lifetime ... it will take generations. I am not doing all I could do as it takes time to get on a program, but I am doing what I can within the limits of my lifestyle. If we, as concerned futuristic-Kees folks, do what we can, the future of our breed will be more assured. Are you short term or long term?

To me the art of raising a puppy is extremely valuable to the future of our breed. I cook for my puppies and I try not to use chemicals if at all possible. I am striving for a complete package that has breed type and good temperament. This can only be achieved by careful attention to the elements: exposure, diet, environment and care.

Too many of our keeshonds have allergies, nervous temperaments, skin and coat problems and breeding problems. These cannot all be attributed to bad genes, but if there are weaknesses, perhaps we as breeders can make a difference by being careful about what we do, how we raise and what we feed.

There will come a point in time, and the trend is beginning, when more keeshonds are raised in a natural way, thus eliminating "breed specific" problems over a period; it could take years or eons. There will come a time when breeders will only select puppies, brood bitches and stud dogs from more naturally minded kennels than those today. I am already seeking out breeders with the same ideals as myself on raising keeshonden. I am trying to develop a breeding program that may alleviate breed problems because of the things I am NOT putting into and on my kees. I believe the change can happen and I am looking forward to it.

Are you part of the future or a contributor to the demise of the breed? If we don't get a group of serious folks to participate, our breed will suffer. I have been seeking out folks with similar concerns who want to make a difference. There will come a day when serious kees folk will only breed and obtain dogs from others who have a holistic approach. It is already starting to happen. I am excited about the future of our breed in that respect.
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