Improve the life for an old dogs

How To Improve the Quality Of Life For An Older Dog

As dogs start to get older it is important to provide age-appropriate activities to keep them mentally active and happy and to help them move around comfortably and safely. A dog over the age of seven is technically classed as an old dog, although some breeds of dog live much longer and show signs of aging slower than other breeds.

A dog who is over the age of seven could still be running around, eating well, and have some mild arthritis or joint mobility but nothing severe enough for it to be a major problem. However, a dog over the age of 12 is a different situation. The mobility issue is usually much bigger, they might have some cognitive dysfunction, struggle to jump into the car, have vision and hearing problems, and will need more adjustments to help them stay comfortable and pain-free.  

In order to maintain a healthy and good quality of life, adjustments need to be made to cater to your dogs' life stages.  

What do you do when your dog grows old? 

There are several steps you can take when your dog starts to grow older to ensure they live a comfortable and healthy life. This life stage requires some changes that you might already be noticing. Maybe your old dog is taking their time to get up from his bed, their joints might appear stiffer than before, and they're struggling to get into the car and walking slower.  

How can you keep a senior dog happy and healthy?   

There are several steps you can take to keep your old dog happy and healthy. One of the most common changes in nutrition. There are diets that are specifically formulated for seniors, but many old dogs can still thrive on their existing adult food. The concern for nutrition for senior dogs is obesity and inappetence. At least 56% of dogs are overweight or obese and this excess weight can lead to health-related problems, especially for senior dogs.  

Dogs don’t complain much, which is why it can be hard to figure out what they need but looking for subtle changes in normal behaviour can be a sign.  

Daily strengthening exercises where the difficulty gradually increases are a great option to keep your old dog moving, you can try activities such as walking over small poles or encouraging your dog to put their front two paws up on a slightly elevated surface for exercises.

rogz indoor flat pod for old dogs
Your Pet PA recommends: Rogz flat pod is perfect for your senior dog to stretch and laze in elegant style. Grab yours today.

You may also like to consider adjustments around the home to make it more comfortable for your old dog to move around. These will vary depending on your dog's needs but include:

  • Ramps or steps to help them get up or down from beds, sofas or cars 
  • Pee pads and diapers for incontinence issues 
  • Orthopedic dog beds for extra support and comfort when sleeping 
  • Rug markers for dogs with failing eyesight 

Another option is to invest in some non-slip mats so when your aging dog is getting up and down from the floor and walking into areas where there is tile or wood, they can move with ease.  

How can I properly take care of my old dog? 

Early detection of a disease means your senior dog will have more manageable symptoms and live more comfortably in their golden years. As dogs age, they may develop some sensitives which mean they might require a specific diet suited to their needs. This is best discussed with your veterinarian so they can decide which product will be most beneficial. 

Here are some six signs to look out for in your aging dog: 

  1. Changing your senior dog's food will help them with joint issues, and arthritis and provide the nutrients they need in their senior dog years 
  2. Take slower, shorter, and more frequent walks with more time allowed for scenting. For most older dogs' small amounts of exercise is still a fantastic way to prevent muscle atrophy, even if they can’t go as far as they used to 
  3. Teaching new tricks is a great way to mentally stimulate your dog if they are struggling to walk. There is an old saying that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” but you can with a little bit of patience and their favourite rewards 
  4. Another great activity for your old dog is foraging. Hide little treats with a strong, delicious smell around the house, yard or somewhere outside for your dog to use nose work and find. This is a great activity for dogs with failing eyesight 
  5. An orthopedic bed that is designed to ease old joints and provide comfort is a fantastic investment to fulfil your aging dogs' needs 
  6. A hydrotherapy pool or dog-safe body of water is ideal for joint mobility 

If you need further support around senior dog care you can read more articles here or book now to speak with our trusted Your PetPA veterinarian via our website or App. 

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Best Natural Supplement For My Dog’s Pet Joints

What Is The Best Natural Supplement For My Dog’s Joints?

The best natural supplement for your dog pet joint depends on specially formulated ingredients. We are strong believers in prevention being better than cure when it comes to caring for your dog's joint health.  Some breeds, such as German Shepards and Golden Retrievers are more likely to be associated with joint issues and may require extra support for joint function.  

What natural ingredients should I look for in my dog's supplements? Best Natural Supplement For My Dog’s Pet Joints

Ingredients such as MSM is a natural supplement used primarily as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant for conditions such as arthritis and some cancers in dogs. MSM can also be beneficial for the joints of horses and cats. 

Hyaluronic acid is a great natural ingredient that is known for its ability to lubricate the joint and help provide shock absorption, aiding the growth and development of cartilage within each joint.  

Green-lipped mussel is another fantastic natural ingredient found in pet supplements that can help with your joint health, arthritis, and osteo health. Green-lipped mussel is a rich source of glucosamine and chondroitin, vitamins C and E, antioxidants, and minerals such as copper, zinc, and selenium, all of which are vital to your pet joint health.  

What are the best natural supplement brands for my dog's joints?  

Antinol Rapid is an all-natural supplement that contains a patented blend of marine lipid oils that are traceable, sustainably sourced, and free from preservatives and fillers. Antinol can be used daily as a natural anti-inflammatory for joint and mobility support, for skin and coat conditions, and as a wellness preventative for those looking to be proactive in their dog's health.  

Antinol is also recommended for dogs with arthritis and joint health problems to help ease pain and help with recovery.  

This natural supplement is suitable for all dogs at any life stage including dogs with known joint conditions, sporting, and working dogs to assist in performance and recuperation, young dogs to support omega 3 demands, senior dogs who are slowing down, dogs who require extra cardiovascular, extra cognitive and renal function support and dogs requiring assistance with skin and coat health.  

4Cyte is another natural supplement for joint function in dogs that can support the joint long term and is backed by peer-reviewed papers and ongoing post-doctorate research. 4Cyte is specifically formulated to provide nutritional support after joint injury or surgery, support healthy joints at any stage of life and boost the body’s ability to meet performance and recuperation demands in athletic and working dogs. 4Cyte for dogs is safe for long-term use and is surgeon and veterinarian endorsed.  

What are the best natural supplements for my senior dog? 

Every life stage of your dog requires different kinds of care, from nutrition to dental and exercise. Senior dogs are best suited to a senior diet specifically formulated for their life stage. A great addition to your senior diet and care is supplements focused on joint mobility and support. While Antinol and 4Cyte can certainly help with your senior dogs' joint mobility there are other products on the market that are formulated to help dogs with arthritis and osteocare 

Rose Hip Vital Canine  is used for joint pain and joint mobility. It can also be used as a prevention of joint problems, osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, cartilage protection, and immune system support. This natural supplement can be taken daily for general health and wellbeing and for recovery after exercise if your dog has been for a long walk or play. 

For osteocare in dogs there are a few different products on the market.  

PAW Osteocare Joint Care Chews are formulated with glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate which may help improve joint function and health in old dogs over long-term use.  


Glucosamine sulfate helps to provide cartilage nutrition for optimal joint cartilage health and function while chondroitin sulfate is a major component of joint cartilage and is needed for cartilage and joint health in dogs. These chews also contain MSM to support joint health and a balanced blend of vitamins and minerals that work together to maintain the health of your dog's joints.  

These chews are a tasty kangaroo flavour that is easy to give to your dog on a daily basis.  For large breed dogs where joint health and function improvement is important, this supplement can help maintain the health of your dog’s joints.  

Although this natural supplement is used mostly in senior dogs it can also aid joint health in younger dogs that have a predisposition to some joint problems later in life and dogs who enjoy a high level of physical activity. 

Another natural supplement for your senior dog is PAW Osteosupport Dog Capsules These capsules contain a highly concentrated, green-lipped mussel powder that is clinically proven to provide relief from arthritis. The natural, green-lipped mussel powder in these capsules is manufactured using lower temperatures for a highly concentrated product and contains high levels of Omega 3 (EPA, DHA, and ETA) for joint pain relief for dogs. These capsules are also formulated with a natural source of glycosaminoglycans (Chondroitin 6 Sulfate) that are key nutrients in cartilage production to aid joint care in dogs. Osteosupport is beneficial for dogs who are displaying clinical signs of arthritis and reduced mobility. They can also be used alongside pharmaceutical pain relief for dogs, e.g NSAIDs. These capsules are highly palatable and easy to administer.  We suggest either placing the capsule in their food or sprinkling it over their food.      

Prevention is better than cure when it comes to supplements for your dog joints 

We are advocates for the pet joint support of dogs at all stages of life, not just when something goes wrong. We believe that prevention is better than cure and starting your dog early on a natural supplement for their joints is a great way to support their wellbeing and mobility for their entire life. 

If you need further support around what natural supplements to give to your dog or changing their diet due to lifestyle, book an appointment to speak with a Your PetPA veterinarian or nurse via our website or App

Shop at Your PetPA online store for these vets’ recommended brands and treats. Thriving Pets+ members receive a 10% discount on all purchases. 

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5 Ways To Keep Your Dog Entertained While You’re At Work

While some pups can sleep away the day waiting for their hoomans to return, off the back of recent prolonged periods at home, there are the many dogs who are struggling to adapt to being home alone again. If you are worried that your fur baby may be bored - or know for sure thanks to some ruined shoes or chair legs - then we have some tips on keeping your pooch entertained whilst you’re at work.

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TV

Yes, screen time for dogs is a thing! Pop on the nature channel and allow your dog to be stimulated by the sights and sounds of other animals.

Chew or puzzle toys

There are many amazing toys on the market now ranging from for food dispensing puzzles to chew toys that you can fill with treats such as peanut butter. Leave them hidden in various locations around the house or garden to make it more fun for your companion!

Engage in high-energy activity before you leave

If you’re short on time, some quick fun play will engage the senses however if you can fit a walk, run or park activity, your pooch will be more relaxed and prone to enjoy the downtime alone.

Introduce new toys

Whether it be a new toy or some tried and tested goodies on rotation, make sure to leave out a toy for some playtime and stimulation through the day.

Consider a friend

Not a consideration to be taken lightly and also not to be used as a solution to manage separation anxiety, however, if you do think your dog would enjoy a furry friend and it would work in your family scenario, then what better form of entertainment than a play mate!


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De-sexing: What To Expect

After welcoming a puppy or kitten to your family and ensuring you’ve adhered to the vaccination schedule the next significant health consideration lies around the timing of your fur babies de-sexing.

There is no reason to not de-sex your pet. Adoption and rescue groups are overflowing with un-homed dogs and cats, with many euthanised each year so in addition to safeguarding unwanted litters, other reasons to de-sex include:

  • Preventing unwanted behaviours including marking and humping (particularly in dogs)
  • Minimising distractions of other animals in season (which can lead to ‘heroic’ efforts of escapism and in turn injury)
  • Blood deposits whilst females on heat
  • Health benefits

desexing-recoveryTraditionally, the ‘best time’ for de-sexing cats and dogs was considered for females to be before their first heat, and males before 7 months - this was thought to be optimal for reducing cancer risk. However, there really is no right or wrong answer as to timing given it can be breed and size dependant, as well as reliant on individual medical and behavioural issues.

It is best to discuss your fur baby’s individual requirements with a veterinarian and in turn book the procedure at an agreed time. Your vet can also talk you through preparation, not only for your puppy or kitten pre-operative i.e fasting, but also what to expect for their post-operative care as this can be quite confronting and emotional as a pet parent.

In general though, here’s what to expect when the time comes for your fur baby to be de-sexed:

Procedure Appointment

On the day of the surgery, after signing a consent form and being given an estimated cost, it is time to leave your beloved in the caring and capable hands of the veterinary team.

Catheter placement will take place allowing fluids and medications to be administered efficiently whilst in surgery and post-operative. Your pet will be monitored throughout their sedation and anaesthesia including coming around in the recovery phase.

desexing-discharge

Discharge appointment

Your vet or duty nurse will speak with you regarding the surgery and homecare (including medications) before your fur baby is brought out. Wound care and post op checks will be discussed but you will normally also receive a sheet with written instructions.

All animals recover differently - some pets drag their owners out of the building however it’s best to be prepared that others can still be very drowsy and need to be carried out.

Homecare

The wound must be kept clean and dry (it may or may not have a dressing over it) and exercise and movement must be minimised for a period after surgery to ensure the wound can heal and prevent infection. Beware, once your pet starts to feel better, keeping an active pooch quiet, can be quite an ask!

A post op check is normal between 2-4 days after surgery. Common issues are clipper rashes, seromas forming, wounds failing to heal normally or infection of surgical wounds.

Total skin healing time is 10-14 days so if skin stitches are present, you will need to pop back into the clinic for their removal. This quick appointment is usually included in the cost of the surgery.

After sutures are removed and healing is complete, your fur baby can return to normal life!

Every pet is different so to discuss your fur baby’s individual requirements with respect to de-sexing, please book a vet chat. Here we can cover any further questions regarding the procedure, post-operative care, and as with any surgery, potential risks. We are also happy to outline our Thriving Pets Plus Plan which includes a discount of $100 off de-sexing.


dog_playing_with_boy

How To Train Your Puppy - Basic Cues

We understand how crucial the formative years are to a child’s development. Well, the same can be said for the first few months of your puppy’s life. What they learn in this period can set them up with the foundation for lifelong behaviours, emotional response and bonds.

Teaching your puppy basic training cues is fun, rewarding and an important part of learning puppy manners. There are many different cues you can teach your puppy. The following ‘How To’ basics are great for general puppy manners and are the basis for more advanced cues or tricks!

Before you get started though, don’t forget, puppies learn by association, repetition and reward. And always keep things short and positive to create a love of learning.

puppy-training-sit“SIT”

Show your puppy your have some of their food or treats. Wait for them to sit, when their bottom hits the floor, immediately say “yes” and promptly give them a treat. Step backwards or sideways to encourage them to stand and wait for them to sit again. Give another treat as soon as they sit. After a few repetitions, you can begin saying “sit” at the moment they begin to sit.

“DOWN” (LAY DOWN)

Hold a treat in your hand to your puppy’s nose and slowly lure down to the floor. Give the treat when the puppy’s elbows touch the floor to start. After a few practices, their elbows will relax and they should lie down. Give the treat as soon as their chest meets the floor. When they can reliably follow your hand signal, begin saying “down” as you move your hand.

“WAIT” (PUPPY MANNERS FOR STAY)

Stand with your puppy in front of you and simply ask them to go into the easiest position (sit, stand or down). Wait a second or two and give a treat. Extend the time that your puppy is in the position before you give a reward, up to 5 seconds. A release cue is important so your puppy knows when the ‘wait’ is finished.

“MAT” or “BED”

Lure your puppy onto the mat with a treat. Once they have all four paws on the mat, say ‘yes’ and immediately give them a treat. The main thing you want your puppy to learn is that placing their paws on the mat = treats!

puppy-school-training“COME” (RECALL)

Start your training in a slow, low-distraction environment. Show your puppy a toy or a treat, praise them as they are coming to you, and then give them the treat or toy. After a few repetitions, whenever your puppy looks at you and starts to move towards you, say ‘come!’ Make sure to only say ‘come’ when you are confident your puppy is moving towards you.

Whilst you can teach the basics (and have a lot of fun in doing so!), to ensure that your puppy gets the best start possible, attending Puppy School is recommended. Here at Your PetPA, our online Puppy School offers expert advice and unwavering support all from the comfort of your own home. Each live session will guide you and your family to ensure you are creating a safe, secure and stimulating environment for your puppy to grow plus allow you to ask any questions you may have in real time.

Click here for further information about our 4-week online course.


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Exercising your dog

If you have a dog or puppy, or plan to get one, it’s important they get exercise on a regular basis. Exercise is not only good for their physical and mental health, but also helps them to socialise with other dogs and puppies, a crucial element of their behavioural development. And as a bonus, exercising and being active together is a great way to strengthen bonds! However, there are some safety considerations you should take into account when deciding on what exercise is best for your dog…

  • Assess the individual needs and fitness level of your dog as each will have different exercise requirements. In general, dogs need a walk or visit to the dog park once or twice a day.
  • Dogs with shorter snouts find it harder to breathe and exercise can often exacerbate their breathing difficulties.
  • Older dogs may have joint problems that can slow them down or make it uncomfortable to exercise.
  • Check the temperature outside as it is not uncommon for dogs to overheat if exercising in high temperatures. A dog only sweats through their pads and they lose body heat through panting, during the warmer months it is best to exercise in the morning or late evening when the temperature is cooler. Also remember that hot pavement or sand can burn your pet’s feet.
  • Don’t exercise your pet immediately before or after they’ve eaten as this can cause bloating, especially in deep-chested dogs.
  • Speak to your vet and get a physical assessment of you have any concerns at all.

exercising_your_dog

Exercising on lead

One of the ways you can let your dog or puppy exercise is while on the lead:

  • Walk your pet at a normal walking pace.
  • Walk your pet based on how long they should be exercising for e.g. take a puppy for short walks only.
  • Stop to rest if your pet sits or lies down during the walk, and then continue walking when they are ready to get up again.
  • Stop walking and return home if your pet seems too tired to continue.
  • Avoid over-exercising your puppy. Over-exercising puppies can negatively impact on their musculoskeletal development and this is of particular concern in large and giant breed puppies (some of the large and giant dog breeds can continue to grow up until 18–24 months of age).

Exercising off lead

Another way to let your dog or puppy get the exercise they need is while they’re off the lead running freely in a safe environment, such as your backyard or a designated dog park. This way they can regulate their own pace and the amount of exercise they get. However, don’t over exercise your pet by doing too much throwing and catching, especially if they’re still young and growing. Sometimes the temptation to chase is too strong!

General tips

  • Watch out for signs of fatigue, such as your pet panting, slowing their pace, or lagging behind you or stopping. If you notice this, allow them to rest.
  • Watch for overheating, such as your pet panting excessively, drooling, showing signs of agitation/confusion or vomiting. If this happens, move them to a cooler place and shade immediately. Apply tepid/cool water to their fur/skin, belly and under legs followed by fanning, to cool them down quickly then take them to the nearest veterinarian immediately as heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency.
  • If you’re walking in the snow, avoid roads that have been treated with salt as they can sting your pet’s feet. If they lick their paws this can also upset their stomach as well.
  • Keep your pet hydrated by offering them water to drink at regular intervals during exercise and importantly, have water available for them when you get home.

Forced exercise such as the following should be avoided:

  • Jogging or running with a puppy or dog.
  • Excessive ball or frisbee throwing and catching.
  • Running your pet alongside your bike. This is against road rules in some states. In NSW, for example, the RTA states that a bicycle rider mustn’t lead an animal while the bike is moving, including by tethering.
  • Take fast paced or very long walks with your puppy.

With these tips in hand you can ensure your pet’s safety when it comes to exercise, as well as keep them healthy and happy for years to come!

~ Dr Peter Elliott

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Produced by RSPCA Pet Insurance

Ref: How To Safely Exercise Your Dog | RSPCA Pet Insurance


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Dental Care

From a young age, we learn that looking after our teeth and yearly dental check-ups are extremely important for maintaining optimal dental health. However, we aren’t always told that it’s just as important for our beloved pets to have similar care and treatment!

Dental disease is the number one health condition diagnosed in our pets...  Four out of every five dogs and cats over the age of three years have a degree of dental disease, which only becomes more severe with age. The good news is that periodontal disease is preventable in pets, and with proper dental care you can prevent your pet from developing a wide variety of dental health issues (and pain) related to the condition.

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What is dental disease?

Just like in humans, dental disease in animals is caused by the build-up of dental plaque and tartar on the teeth, which triggers inflammation and can negatively affect the health of the teeth, gums and surrounding bone structures.

The mouth begins to smell, and it is often incredibly painful for our companions with some pets stopping eating to minimise pain they feel when chewing. In turn, weight loss can be the first obvious health issue however, without veterinary treatment, dental disease can also lead to gum infections, bone loss, loss of teeth and over time, other serious health problems.

Common signs of dental disease:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Unwillingness to eat hard food
  • Drooling
  • Bad breath
  • Plaque or tartar build-up on teeth
  • Swollen, red, or bleeding gums
  • Missing or broken teeth
  • Weight loss
  • Pawing at mouth

Bad breath

As with people, occasional bad breath can occur (especially after eating tuna or some wet foods), however, ongoing bad breath can indicate a problem.

Common causes of bad breath:

  • Dental diseases such as gingivitis
  • Stomach or oesophageal problems
  • Eating malodorous food such as garbage or faecal material
  • Intestinal disease
  • Metabolic disease

There are distinct types of bad breath that can indicate serious problems:

  • Sweet breath may indicate diabetes
  • Urine-like breath may indicate liver or kidney disease
  • Foul-smelling can indicate an intestinal problem

Management

To maintain your pet’s dental health, you need to keep their teeth clean. On occasion, your pet may require a veterinary dental procedure. If this is required, you can expect the following:

  • General anaesthesia
  • Oral examination
  • Radiographs depending on the assessment
  • Teeth scaling to remove tartar and plaque
  • Teeth polish
  • Gum irrigation to remove debris and remaining polishing paste
  • Application of anti-plaque system such as an oral sealant
  • Assessment of abnormal gum pockets
  • Tooth and gum procedures depending on findings
  • Administration of pain relief and antibiotics, where required

Home care

Taking care of your pet's teeth at home is extremely important in reducing plaque formation and the development of dental disease – and the earlier you get your fur baby used to it, the better!

Remember only proceed if your pet allows so don’t expect this to be something that can necessarily be introduced overnight.

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Plaque control can be achieved through mechanical removals such as brushing teeth or using dental chews or chemical means using veterinary dental products. Nothing is 100% effective and therefore like us, your pet will still require regular dental check-ups and professional cleaning procedures.

Tooth brushing

  • Brushing your pets’ teeth is the most effective and cheapest form of plaque prevention!
  • Tooth brushing is considered "gold standard" when performed at least once daily.
  • Toothbrushes come in varying sizes and designs: a fine bristle toothbrush head on a standard straight brush is ideal.
  • When using toothpaste, it is important to use a veterinary one as they are flavoured for pets, have low levels of fluoride and do not foam (note: human toothpaste can cause stomach irritation if ingested).
  • Always use a circular sweeping motion, pushing the brush away from the gumline.

Dental Chews

  • The natural chewing motion can help reduce plaque with some dental treats and commercial dry foods also containing chemical plaque control agents.

Chew toys

  • Avoid toys that can be broken into pieces such as plastic or non-durable rubber toys as these can become lodged in your pet's stomach.
  • Be mindful that harder toys such as ropes (plus rocks and sticks) can cause damage to your pet's teeth.

Prevention

Here are the top tips from the Your PetPA veterinary care team in helping prevent dental disease in your loving companion:

  • Daily rinsing and brushing of teeth
  • Hard food such as kibble as it is proven to leave fewer food particles on the teeth than soft food
  • Dental chews
  • Special foods such as veterinary prescription dental diets
  • Annual veterinary dental checks to pick up early disease
  • Veterinary dental cleaning as required
  • Applying sealants (usually applied professionally for the first application and then at home weekly by the owner)
  • Control of diseases such as diabetes, thyroid disease, feline leukaemia virus (FeLV), and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)

Did you know Thriving Pets+ members receive $100 allowance on dental? And 10% discount on all purchases from Your PetPA Online Store?

~ Dr Peter Elliott


When is the best time to start Puppy School?

When is the best time to start Puppy School?

Congratulations on your new addition to the family… Who knew this little bundle of energy could take up so much space in your heart so soon?! And like the whirlwind of activity that happens when a puppy joins a household, your puppy’s development also comes at a frenetic pace.

puppy-school

Puppies develop vital communication and socialisation skills in their first few months of life.  A ‘sensitive period’ between 3 – 17 weeks of age is a crucial period of learning and development (with a critical period around 12 weeks), where the experiences your puppy has, can influence and shape their behaviors’ both as a puppy and into adulthood.

Generally, puppy school is for puppies between the ages of 8 – 16 weeks however the earlier you start puppy school, the more time you will have to understand this sensitive period enabling you to provide your puppy with positive experiences.

Sometimes questions may arise around ensuring your puppy is vaccinated prior to attending a puppy school or socializing which can push out the start date of your puppy joining.  On the same token, a face to face puppy school should have a controlled, safe environment where the space can be cleaned effectively to reduce the risk prior to your puppy being fully vaccinated.

Your PetPA offers an online puppy school so there is no need to worry about your puppy’s vaccination status.  You can join as soon as your puppy comes home, giving you more time to learn about your puppy, develop a strong relationship and create positive experiences!  Our online puppy school program has been created to guide you and your family on building a strong lifelong relationship with your puppy and with both live and ‘on-demand’ sessions, this can be done at a time that suits you. Join now or find out more about our online puppy school.