Mental and Physical Development
Puppy Personalities Although the idea of animals having individual personalities has only recently been taken seriously by the scientific community, many pet owners maintain that animals do indeed have their own personalities.
Similar to a young baby who grows into a toddler with likes and dislikes, a 19-week-old puppy has reached a stage in which their unique personality has begun to shine.
Puppies exhibit their own identity at a young age, but it isn't until they grow older that their individuality is really noticeable. Environmental and genetic influences are both believed to contribute to the development of a puppy's personality, but puppies from the same litter in the same environment often show signs of very different personalities from the start.
Natural and Organic Dog Food Just as it has been with human food, the popularity of natural and organic pet food has been on the rise in recent years. However, no controlled studies have been done to compare the long-term health effects of feeding pets conventional food versus natural or organic food. The American Veterinary Medical Association's position is that "an organic label in no circumstances implies any assurance of increased food safety.''
The choice between conventional and natural or organic dog food is more of a lifestyle choice than a health choice. If you decide to make the switch, there are important things to be aware of when reading organic- and natural-food labels.
Natural ingredients, according to the Association of American Feed Control Officials, are those ingredients that come from plant, animal or mineral sources and do not contain any synthetic additives. Natural foods cannot contain artificial preservatives, flavors, colors, fats or any other artificial ingredient. Organic foods, as determined by the United States Department of Agriculture, cannot contain synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, genetically modified organisms, hormones or antibiotics.
Before making a change to your puppy's diet, you should first consult your veterinarian.
Health and Veterinary Care
Hookworms Hookworms -- tiny parasites that feed on blood -- attach themselves to animals' intestines with their sharp teeth to keep them in place while they feed. Since hookworms ingest blood, they can cause anemia, which is a potentially life-threatening condition.
Female hookworms produce eggs that are expelled from a dog's body through their stool. The eggs mature into larvae and live in the soil, where animals may pick them up or ingest them. Once the larvae enter the body, they move to the intestinal area and mature into adults.
Your veterinarian can diagnose a hookworm infection with a stool-sample analysis.
Roundworms Roundworms are the most common parasite in puppies, and most dogs get roundworms at some point in their lives. However, treatment for roundworms is simple and effective.
Puppies can contract roundworms either by ingesting roundworm eggs or from their mother during pregnancy or nursing. Large amounts of adult roundworms, which reside in a dog's intestinal tract and resemble spaghetti, can obstruct the intestines, causing a potbelly appearance. Some dogs also lose weight, are lethargic or have a dull coat. An obvious sign of roundworms is seeing the actual worms in your puppy's feces.
Owners should treat a puppy for both hookworms and roundworms at two, four, six and eight weeks of age, followed by monthly preventive treatment. You should medicate your dog at least twice a year once they have reached adulthood, but monthly treatment is recommended. Several monthly heartworm preventive medications also treat roundworms, so ask your veterinarian for their recommendation.
Training: Mealtime Habits
Puppies at 19 weeks of age may show possessive traits over their food. A regular schedule and consistent feeding area may help to decrease any food-related squabbles.
Remove your puppy's feeding bowl in between meal times to reduce the likelihood of possessive behavior. It is a good idea to pet your puppy while they eat to get them used to sharing their feeding area.
If your puppy displays aggressive behavior such as jumping, clawing or nipping when you are preparing their food, stop what you are doing and ignore them until they calm down. Do not reward bad behavior with food or attention.