Worming/other prevention medications

Your puppy was been wormed but sometimes multiple dosages are needed to completely clear up any worms. Bring a stool sample with you when you visit your vet for your pup's first shots to double check. Consult your veterinarian to determine what schedule and product s/he advises, some recommend annual or semiannual worming based on the region you live in. Be sure to ask about heartworm prevention and other preventative medications recommended for pets in your area. Some diseases, parasites are more prevalent in certain areas of the country and not a problem in others, your vet will be your best advisor for what is appropriate for your pet.


You will receive at the time of pick up the shot and worming records your puppy has received while in your breeders care, take this with you to your first vet visit so they also have the information.

Not eating or Diarrhea through the transition to home

Find out what your breeder is feeding for kibble and buy a bag of that same kibble if you can. If not, your breeder will probably send you home with a transitional supply. DO NOT CHANGE THAT BRAND FOR AT LEAST A WEEK. Your pup's food intake will go up and down on a regular basis. He may not eat a lot (in your mind) but he will eat when he is hungry. If he doesn't eat for 3 days, then you can worry. Your puppy will most likely get the runs too. The change of living situation is a very stressful time, no more brothers and sisters and no more mom and people that he knows. Different water, new smells and rules etc. your puppy is very nervous and his poop will prove it. Different water makes a big difference to your pup. If you don't drink the water, for the first couple of weeks use bottled water for your pup. Once he has adjusted to his new environment, you can gradually move him to your tap water.

Canned pumpkin is a great tool to help normalize your pup's digestive system. Feed a couple of tablespoons a day with a small amount of wet kibble. It is a special treat that most pups lap up like candy, and it is very good for them. Watch his stool, if it hardens up you can cut back on the pumpkin, if it loosens up go back to the pumpkin. Usually after the first couple of weeks, the problem resolves itself. Keep the pumpkin trick up your sleeve to use throughout his life to help him through changes.

Another great supplement to your puppy's food is plain natural yogurt. All the active ingredients in yogurt that are so good for human's work the same way for dogs. Add a tablespoon or two a day to a small amount of wet kibble. With newly acquired pups, we usually feed the pumpkin in the morning and the yogurt at night for the first two weeks. Then you can use them only as needed. The Yogurt is a great trick when you have to give your dogs medication in the future. The yogurt will coat their stomach so the medications won't upset it and will stay with your dog.

Food and Water

Clean fresh water and dry food should be available to your puppy at all times during the day. However, if you are crate training, pick up all food around 7 p.m. and water one hour before putting them in for the night. We usually take the last "outside break" sometime around 11 p.m. and then the pups usually go right through to about 5 a.m. after the first couple of nights. If you put them in for the night earlier than that, plan on getting up around 2 or 3 a.m. to take them out for the first week or so.

If you are crate training your puppy be sure to offer the puppy a drink after the nighttime potty breaks if not sleeping through. The puppy can go without water no more than eight hours overnight once she/he is sixteen weeks old and sleeping through the night, or if crated during the day for 3 hours or less, as long as you are conscientious about providing water at all other times, and your puppy remains well-hydrated.

Your puppy will eat a lot and grow at a very rapid rate the first year. Because a young puppy needs small amounts of food very often (they can only hold enough to last a couple of hours), it's important to keep dry food down where the puppy can eat all it wants, anytime it is hungry. This will also help them with teething since chewing the hard kibble helps their teeth and gums. After the first year, you will find your mastiff consumes no more food than any other large dog, such as a lab or shepherd. Our dogs always have food available. They will not overeat, and having food available all the time helps prevent bloat (often caused by eating too fast). They know the food is always there so do not "gobble" their food.

Choosing a dry dog food

Refer to the dog food rating system included in this package for some key things to look for when evaluating foods. The most expensive is not always the best.

Never feed anything (treats or food) preserved with BHAIBHT or ethoxyquin. Look for food that is preserved with tocopherols, a source of natural vitamin E. (Please see page on rating your food)

•      BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) - know to cause kidney and liver dysfunction

•      BHT (butylated hydroxytolulene) - know to cause kidney and liver dysfunction

•      Ethoxyquin - suspected of causing cancer

Once considered a filler by the pet food industry, the amount of grain products, especially corn, used in pet food has risen sharply over the last decade to where it is usually one or two of the top three ingredients. For instance one brand lists ground yellow corn, poultry by-products and corn gluten meal as its top three ingredients. Notice that two of the three ingredients are corn based products from the same source. This is an industry practice known as splitting. When components of the same ingredient are listed separately (ground yellow corn and corn gluten meal) it appears that there is less corn then poultry-by products, when it truth the corn ingredients when added together may weigh more than the chicken by-products.

•           Propylene glycol (also used as automotive antifreeze) causes destruction of red blood cells-and is also commonly found in many treats.

When you change your dog food, it is critical to do so gradually over a two to three week period. YOU CAN ACTUALLY CREATE IRRITABLE BOWL SYNDROME IN YOUR DOG WITH ABRUPT CHANGES IN FOOD. Start with 90% current food adding 10% new food, after a couple of days change the mix by another 10%, repeat until your dog is completely transitioned..

Do not feed onions, chocolate, grapes or raisins to dogs, as they can make them very ill or (rarely) result in death.


Bare wood floors and tile can be slippery, and running, klutzy puppies run a risk of serious injury. Try to keep your puppy on carpet as much as possible. If you have slippery floors, just pick up several rubberized bath rugs and create islands of safety. This will also help your puppy get used to the floor.

Jumping up and down

Do not let the puppy jump off anything higher than six inches for the rest of their lives. Do all you can to minimize high-impact activity for the first year to 18 months. Jumping down from heights or over things can injure rapidly developing front legs. Moderate exercise "on the flat" is fine; given you keep the safety of developing bones and joints in mind.

If you drive any vehicle besides a low car with easy in and out, buy a ramp... teach your dog how to use it early. At four months your pup will weigh more than 50 Ibs. Save his/her joints and your back. There are great ramps that retail for about $100 and weigh less than 20 Ibs. We use the Pet Step II and highly recommend it.

Early Training

Rough play during puppy hood with more exuberant dogs is particularly risky. It is very important that puppies have socialization and play opportunities with dogs you know are safe, but supervise them closely so undue exuberance can be discouraged. Keep in mind that if your puppy is raised with another "hyper" dog, your puppy will learn to be "hyper" which could be a potential danger to his joints and limbs. Mastiffs are bred to be a large, gentle, quiet and calm dog but puppies are definitely influenced by the behavior of the other dogs they come in contact with; it is by far the best to keep your puppy away from very active or "hyper" dogs.

Puppy Crying/whining

Crying is very normal behavior for your puppy when first left alone, especially when initially confined to a crate or safe room. He is used to being surrounded by his canine family members, Mom, brothers and sisters etc. Your puppy has a long road ahead in the next two weeks. The changes can be traumatic initially but it will get better within two weeks. Do not add to the situation and make it more than it is. If your puppy has gone out to the bathroom (both pee and poop) has eaten, than ignore him when he is crying.

Be brave, be strong, and be consistent. Sometimes it helps to leave the room, even the house when the volume really peaks. Covering the crate with a blanket and turning up the radio helps, too.

Never praise him or pet him when he is crying or whining. You can teach your pup a command like quiet and then good quiet when he stops. Do not let him out of the crate or safe room while he is still crying. Wait until the pup is quiet and calm before releasing him. Otherwise you are training your pup that crying or whining get him results and you are encouraging a behavior you do not want.

These giants are bred to be a quiet, calm, loving companion. What they will become depends entirely on what they learn as puppies; If they are raised in an environment of rough and tumble activities you will probably end up with an over 200 Ib rough and tumble mastiff; Not a good idea. Your puppy wants to PLEASE YOU. So what he sees you doing, he will want to do.

Separation Anxiety

You can create separation anxiety in your pup if you give into his crying. Be calm and quiet when you put your pup into his crate/safe place. Use a treat; toss it in the crate and say, crate. The command means go into your crate. Then say wait. That command means hang around in the general area until I come back. (This is a really handy command for you in the future when they are out of their crate more and more). Then just walk away. When you release him from the crate, use that same quiet, calm tone. If you make a big deal about releasing him from the crate, your pup will think that the crate is a bad place to be and will start to really fuss when he hears you coming to let him out. Wait until you are outside, or he does something worth praising, and then make a fuss over him.

When you or your children leave for an hour or a day and come home at night, your first thought may be a big, dramatic goodbye or I'm back. That couldn't be more wrong. You are setting your dog up for problems. There really must be something wrong because they are making such a fuss, is what is going on in your dog's head. Calm and quiet departures and homecomings are the best for your dog. Save the fussing and kisses as reward for something he does to earn them. This doesn't mean never to snuggle or hug your dog, but don't do it as part of leaving or returning home.


Never play tug of war or other competitive contact sports with your mastiff. Tug of War encourages aggression as do many other contact sports. It might seem "cute" as a puppy but you should always consider "Do I want this dog to behave this way when he is full grown?" The instinct of this breed is to be quiet and calm; they like to play but not for long periods of time. They love to go for walks, go camping, ride in the car; they want to be with you doing what you do. But they are not long distance hikers or jogging partners. I like to say, never walk your puppy further than you can carry it home. They can work up to a mile twice a day, any further than that is excessive for these dogs.

Giants are not "Frisbee" dogs and should not be taught to jump up to catch a ball or for treats as that will backfire putting too much compression on their joints. They love training and working with their owner and can have lots of fun with things like agility or rally as long as you are aiming at precision and not speed. Agility is lots of fun as its helps cement the team you are building with your pup. Take the course on your own rules and avoid impact obstacles like jumps.

Raising a puppy is much like raising a child. Most is just common sense reasoning with a picture of a full grown mastiff always in your mind.

Puppy play biting

Every puppy play bites. They interact with their littermates that way. What you need to do is teach them what behavior is appropriate for people, other dogs, and toys for example. The fact that puppies bite is actually good, because you now have your first training opportunity to teach them how to replace an unacceptable behavior with one you want. Read the separate handout on bite inhibition training.

Here are a few simple tips to help with play biting.

•    Do have plenty of chew toys for your teething puppy.

   •   Do give a loud "Ouch" to let them know it hurts, when your pup starts to chew on inappropriate things, like fingers or furniture, and then redirect them to an appropriate chew toy.

•    Do not wave your hands in front of the puppy's face.

•    Do not play tug of war.

•    Do not allow the puppy to pull on your clothing.

•    Do not allow the puppy to lick your hand, fingers or to chew on your fingers.


Children and puppies

Teach your children to pet the puppy from top of the head back, gently stroking. Never leave a young child alone with the puppy, regardless of breed. If your child is in a room with your puppy you need to be in the same four feet. Don't leave the room even for a minute with a child and a puppy unattended. If you cannot be right there, put the puppy in a crate until you have time to properly supervise them. Close supervision is required when the young child is close to the puppy to be sure the child does not offer his/her fingers or put fingers in the puppy's mouth, poke or pull on the pup. The pup sees little children as litter mates and you need to help them learn how to deal appropriately with a child as you are teaching the child how to deal appropriately with a puppy.

Your puppy will love your children, and never want to hurt them in anyway, but a finger in the eye may result in a startled reaction from the puppy. Both the puppy and the child must learn mutual respect and what their boundaries are. Dogs actually appreciate boundaries, and like children, feel far more secure when they know their boundaries. In raising your puppy always be aware these are highly intelligent dogs. A super smart dog will learn a bad habit just as quickly as it learns a good habit. Good loving dispositions are bred into our dogs. This breed is known for its gentleness. But in the end it really is all up to you. The way you raise your puppy is the way the grown dog will be.

Safe Room

Prepare a "puppy safe" room such as large bathroom, laundry room, etc. ensure there are no electric wires the puppy can reach or bite thru (instant death). Cover the floor with newspapers, (or the like) so puppy has a place to go "Potty." Place his bed or open door crate on opposite of the room with water and food always available. The puppy will want to go as far away from his bed and food as possible to "potty."

Leaving your Puppy at home while you go to work, etc.

There are several options when you need to leave your pup for an extended period of time. Both crates and safe rooms work well if you have the right set up.


If you crate, you should arrange for someone to come in twice a day for the first week and then once a day for the first months. Your pups cannot be confined to a crate for 8 to 10 hours without a break. Besides needing to go "Potty", their growing bodies and joints need to move around. Schedule at least a ~/2 hour visit (potty break, feed, play and potty break again). During the day, your pup can comfortably be in the crate for about 3 hours and then needs some people time.


Leave a TV or Radio on for the puppy. My pups have been raised with Country music in the kennels. Your puppy will spend most of his day sleeping, eating, playing with toys, listening to the voices. Works great! This is far and away a much better situation for the puppy than day care.

Leaving the puppy

Make your leaving calm and routine. Do not make a fuss over the pup, simply but the pup in the crate and leave. I use the command wait whenever I leave my dogs, whether for a minute, an hour or a day. I say wait as I walk out the door and just quietly leave. Don't make it dramatic, or traumatic, and your dog will just quietly settle in to wait for you. Owners create separation anxiety issues, not dogs.

Home Coming

Make your homecoming as low key as your leaving. Don't fuss over them. Just quickly and quietly let them out to "go potty". Make a fuss over them when they do something to earn it, not because you missed them.

Then be sure to include them in every family activity that you can while you are available.

Even at the vet's office, we carry puppies and keep them off the floor until after their third round of shots has been given.

Though it's neither possible nor desirable to isolate your dog from any and all possible exposure to pathogens, be cautious about exposing your young puppy to strange dogs or high-traffic "potty" areas, etc., where sick dogs may have been. Limit "sniffing" activity in public areas. Sniffing is not a required component of potty activity and should be kept to a minimum when you're out and about with your dog.

Housetraining your puppy

Most people define housetraining as:

"Housetraining is teaching a dog not to go to the bathroom in the house."

Here is what it really is:

"Housetraining is KEEPING THE DOG FROM HAVING AN ACCIDENT in the house, until the HABIT of not going in the house is firmly established."

Keep these points in mind as you start housebreaking.

l.   Don't punish the puppy if s/he has an accident inside. No newspaper on the nose or rubbing the pup's nose in the accident. Old wives tales.

2.  If a puppy needs to go more frequently than every two hours and progress does not seem to be made, have the pup examined by a vet, as there may be a urinary tract infection or parasites. 

3.  Each time your puppy is allowed to have an accident in the house, the process of  creating the habit of going to the bathroom outside suffers a setback, and must begin again.

4.Normal cleaners will not clean up organic substances sufficiently to keep your puppy from detecting the scent and possibly repeating the mistake Use products like Nature's Miracle, Spot Shot, or Pet-tastic to eliminate the odor completely.

So how do you avoid an accident inside?

Take your puppy outside on the following schedule:  

  • Immediately after it wakes up,
  • Immediately after a play session. If play goes on for a while, take a potty break every 10-15 minutes;
  • Within 20 minutes after a meal;
  •  Immediately when you see signs the puppy needs to go out - circling, whining, or sniffing/looking for the "bathroom".
  • Minimally, every two hours.

If your pup falls asleep in a room, and you can't guarantee you will be there when it wakes up, crate your pup. You would be amazed how well that will help with housebreaking. The pups are used to getting up and going to the bathroom as soon as they wake up when with their littermates. If you miss the wake up because you were out of the room, you will come back to a mess. Pups will tend to not mess in their crate (their space) and let you know they are awake so you will have some advance warning to get them out.

When you are outside:

1.         Always go to the same spot in the yard.

2.         Verbally give a command. (I use "go potty").

3.         Stand in that spot and pay no attention, give no pats, say nothing else.

4.       The very instant the act of going is over, just as the little butt leaves the squat position to resume standing posture, praise warmly with the verbal acknowledgement "good potty" and lots of hugs.

5.       Stay in the spot a few minutes longer. Repeat the command, quiet time and praise again. Some pups will "pee" more than once and then "poop". So be patient. Be sure say "good potty" every time they perform.

If your dog does not go when you are out, CONFINE the dog in its crate for 20 minutes and then try again. Repeat every 20 minutes until they go.

If your puppy does have an accident in the house,

* Sorry but that means you were at fault not the pup.

*  If you did not see the accident happen, just clean it up. Take no action to correct the puppy – s/he has long since forgotten it even happened and will not understand a thing if you try to remind/explain/correct.

* If you see an accident in progress, move quickly but calmly to pick the puppy up, take the puppy out to the chosen spot. If you interrupt them inside, they will typically "finish their business" outside.

When you cannot follow the potty schedule or be vigilant for the signs your puppy needs to go out, you must confine the puppy. This is not being "mean" to your puppy. Plus, it's just one of many things to which a dog must become accustomed in order to live successfully in the world of humans. If you teach them about this while young, it will be much easier on the puppy/dog and on you when confinement is necessary.

Sometimes a puppy will progress quite nicely for a while and then experience a setback or a period in which they seem to have forgotten everything you thought they had learned. This is normal. When this happens, just back up a step or two and work your way through the program again. And remember, how long you follow this program depends on how long it takes to housetrain your puppy. If the puppy isn't housetrained, keep doing the things outlined here until it is. Most of our adoptive families report back to us that their puppy housetrained within two to three days, some even less!

New Places, Other Dogs, Puppy Day Care, Dog Parks.

Your puppy will not be fully protected by vaccinations until about 24 weeks old. We usually minimize contact with other dogs, high traffic areas and are cautious with the pup until after their second or third round of shots.

Puppy day care and dog parks really are not the best places to take your young puppy. Your puppy is much better left at home alone in safe area than left at a day care center for dogs.

Older puppies or adult dogs can deal with those environments better than young puppies. Remember it's not your dog that will be of cause a problem, but those other pups that aren't well trained or well socialized that will cause the issue. When your pup is older and has some basic training and socialization skills then would be a more appropriate time to experience some of those places. When you do visit them, try to have your pup interact with dogs more its size.

Canine Hip Dysplasia: How You Can Help

The term "dysplasia" means improper growth. Canine Hip dysplasia or "CHD" simply means the improper growth or development of the canine hip joint. CHD is usually characterized by lax or loose hips, which allow excessive movement in the hip joint.

Both heredity and environmental factors are important in the development of CHD. Even dogs that are not genetically predisposed to develop CHD can contract the disease if they are pushed too hard when young by over-nutrition and the wrong kind of exercise.

Genetics: Initially, it was thought that CHD was only caused by genetics. However, research now shows us more. Most owners and breeders believe that the absence of CHD in canine parents guarantees dysplasia-free puppies. Unfortunately, for breeds affected by CHD, 25 of every 100 puppies from parents with normal hips will suffer from CHD. Genes for this disease are believed to be masked or hidden in some generations, making the elimination of CHD from breeding stock even more difficult. Adding to the complex genetics of CHD is the interplay between heredity and the environment.

This is where you come in.  You can find many discussions which assert that CHD is due to 50% genetics and 50% environment. But the approach supported by the latest research is to think of CHD as 100% genetics, then 100% environment. Genetic considerations are the responsibility of the breeders. But, once the puppy is born, it is solely the puppy's environment that will determine how well he will adapt to his genetic limitations.


Nutrition has been found to play a part in the development of CHD. Puppies that are fed an overabundance of high protein/high calorie diets show an increased risk of developing crippling CHD. To help prevent this:

•  Feed your American Mastiff or "AM" a high quality food that has been specially formulated for large and giant breeds. The nutritional needs of a Golden Retriever do not compare to those of an American Mastiff.

•  Exercise should be consistent, and limited to certain activities, such as running and swimming. Always avoid jumping or rough and tumble play.

• Quickly changing direction, especially on unstable footing, can cause severe injury, which often leads to the development of CHD.

• Never allow your dog to jump off anything higher than 6 inches. Purchase a ramp for your vehicle, and discourage your dog from any type of jumping throughout his life. At a young age, carry him down stairs or, if he is too heavy, hold his collar to help stabilize him on the stairs.

•    Do not encourage your dog to over-eat, or provide a high protein food so he'll "get as big as he can." This often leads to obesity. Dogs that are overweight tend to show more symptoms of CHD, as the added weight puts pressure on affected joints.