[caption id="attachment_292" align="alignleft" width="267" caption="The litter of puppies at 5 weeks old"][/caption] Choosing our pup We had decided the time was right to get a second boxer for all sorts of reasons. Most importantly, it was right for our older boxer to get a new companion while she was still young enough to enjoy her instead of finding her a chore. We chose a breeder who owned both parents of the litter and went to see them all when the pups were 5 weeks old. We met both parents and found them to be lovely dogs. We wanted a bitch puppy and were lucky enough to have 4 to choose from. Luckily we both liked the same pup best, so we paid our deposit and went home to prepare for her arrival. [caption id="attachment_308" align="alignright" width="293" caption="Tilly came to our house at 8 weeks old."][/caption] Tilly comes home We had decided as a family on the name Tilly, although her full pedigree name is Milkyways Mad Discovery! The middle name is particularly apt. Like most pedigree puppies who are Kennel Club registered, she came with 6 weeks pet insurance cover and we made sure to take out our own policy before this expired. Although I’m a vet myself, I want to be sure that even if she needs specialist treatment one day, she will be able to have it. House training We chose to use a crate for Tilly, which worked really well. The idea is that because the puppy will not soil its bed area, as long as she is taken outside every time she wakes and after each feed, she will quickly learn to toilet outside. It’s vital that the puppy does not think of going into the crate as a punishment; it must be a comfortable den which becomes the pup’s own space. Microchipping I implanted a microchip as soon as Tilly arrived, to make sure she was permanently identified. Although she was not going to be out of our sight, we weren’t taking any chances! It was painless and she was as good as gold. Feeding We chose a good quality proprietary puppy food and Tilly was a good eater from the start. Having another dog can encourage a healthy appetite! Vaccinations & Worming Tilly had her first and second puppy vaccinations at 10 weeks and at 12 weeks old. She had a full examination first and was completely healthy. She also continued her worming course, which is very important as most pups are born with worms even if the dam was wormed properly. [caption id="attachment_319" align="alignleft" width="293" caption="Tilly looks up to Martha and has learned a lot from her. Martha scolds her when she gets too big for her boots."][/caption] Training Classes A week after vaccinations were finished, Tilly could start exploring the outside world and get used to walking on a lead. She didn’t like it at first, but soon grew in confidence when she saw that Martha liked it. We enrolled her in a puppy training class because we think that all puppies benefit not just from training but from the socialisation that goes with it. The first few months are a very formative time in a puppy’s life and an ideal time to learn from new experiences. With this in mind she was taken for walks in the country, in town and on the beach. We took her on a train ride and visited a dog-friendly café. It was also important to us that she should get used to young children. Kennels We also wanted Tilly to be used to going into kennels from a young age. This was easy for us as we run our own kennels and we have made a point of boarding both dogs regularly. Luckily, she loves it. Sometimes when the kennel staff go back to work after tea breaks she tries to tag along with them! Neutering Tilly has not been neutered because we have not yet decided whether to breed from her. We will only do so if she has a suitable temperament and is free of hereditary conditions common in boxers, so she will be seeing a cardiologist before deciding. If anything is amiss we will not breed from her and will have her spayed. I would always recommend spaying a bitch which is not going to be used for breeding. Although spaying is a major operation, great care is taken to make sure that the risks involved are very small. The benefits are much greater than the risks. Spaying will prevent several serious conditions such as pyometra (infected womb), ovarian cancer and uterine cancer. It will also minimise the risk of mammary cancer and, importantly, will prevent unwanted pregnancies. First Birthday At one year old, Tilly has almost reached full adult size, but still behaves very much like a puppy. One minute we are very proud of her mature behaviour; the next she is chasing her tail like a whirling dervish, or doing a double take at her own reflection in the oven door. When the oven is opened, I think she half expects the dog that lives inside to pop out! We are looking forward to many more years of fun with Tilly. [caption id="attachment_327" align="alignleft" width="288" caption="Tilly can’t understand how the cats manage to use this door "][/caption] [caption id="attachment_328" align="alignright" width="275" caption="She has just a few favourite toys at any one time, but they have to be close to indestructible"][/caption] If you have any concerns about your puppy's health, please contact your vet or use the interactive dog symptom guide to help you decide what to do next.