Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs

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Puppy Help

Suggestions and Recommendations

Do not let your puppy get too heavy during the growth stages. They should be well covered but lean until their bones set.

 No forced exercise, jumping, jogging, field training or road-work, until the dogs are 2 year old and the bones are set. Puppies are just that until at least 18 months of age, when dealing with the large breeds. They are fragile and need supervised exercise in a fenced in area or daily walks with you. The key is moderation and common sense in raising your puppy. For strong bones they need normal moderate exercise in order to develop the proper muscle to support the bone. A good rule of thumb on exercise is: 5 minutes of walking per month of life. If for instance your puppy is 3 months old, it could go for a 15 minute walk.

 Your puppy should not be crated more than 4-6 hours at time during the course of a daytime, and less is better. This is their den, and never punish and then put them in a crate; it should be their safe place. Their crate should be in a place where there is family activity so they don't feel they are being punished. If your puppy is crated during bedtime, and in the day time, 12 hours of his day is spent in a crate. If you are working and out of the house more than the desired time please try enclosing an open crate in an exercise pen. This will give your pup a safe place to sleep, plus a place to use as a potty area.

 NO FREE CHOICE FEEDING. (leaving food down all the time) Some dogs over consume, some pick all day long and don't ever get hungry enough to consume the proper amount of nutrition necessary.

 Watch the amount of "treats" you give your puppy, the calories add up. Break the Milkbone into several pieces. Use carrots, a slice of apple as treats. This will not disrupt the balance of the diet nor add too many calories to the diet.

If you need treats for puppy training, use Cheerios. They're cheap and they don't add a lot of calories when given.

 Feeding Time: Allow your puppy a safe, non stressful environment to eat in. Try feeding in a crate. Allow 10 minutes, if they do not eat in that time remove the food, and refrigerate until next time. They will not starve, do not try to beg them to eat. You are developing a bad habit if you entice them into eating. Do not let them linger or be distracted. My dogs eat in less than 5 minutes. Monitoring their food this way is an excellent way of telling when they are not feeling well.

 Always keep lots of fresh water available so the animal knows there is water around, and is less apt to over-consume. Some breeders withhold water to house break a dog. This is cruel and totally ignorant. It sets up bad drinking habits (gorging) and bladder infections, potential dehydration which can cause muscle cramping and potential bloating.

 Amount to feed: I'd rather see a thin puppy during growth than a roly-poly one. We want to use a moderate protein/fat/calorie food (discussed below). A high protein/fat/calorie food does not mean a bigger animal. It may mean your puppy will develop nutritionally caused bone diseases (CHD, OCD or Pano).

NO FEEDING A FOOD WITH A HIGH FAT CONTENT  as they promote accelerated growth. It is important these dogs grow slow and even, so the bone develops at the same rate as the muscle. If not they may have growth deformities and early arthritis.  By the same token NO LOW PROTEIN/FAT FOODS, they are not high enough in calories.

 Toys/Bedding: You have to think like a dog, which things are you more apt to get into trouble with here! I use fleece beds or towels for my crates. Never use carpet, as the pups are attracted to the glue and a continuous loop carpet can cause their bowels to strangle if they eat it. No cedar, pine bedding it causes allergies. No detergent, Carpet Fresh, Lysol, Murphy's oil soap, fabric softener or anything that is a pine derivative. You are asking for allergies. Wash bedding in a mild solution of bleach, it will dissipate when dry, leaving no residue. Same with cleaning crates, make sure you are well vented!! Use only dog shampoo, nothing else for a bath. No pig ears, rawhide, string toys, booda bones, booda velvet bones or cooked bones. Keep safe toys around so they are not eating furniture and your best shoes.

The reasons for no rawhide chewies are many. First, the majority are processed with lye, something your dog does not need in his/her stomach. Also, they are not digestible and can lay in the stomach or intestines and not pass through, causing an obstruction or causing pathogenic bacteria to grow. Something we do not need with animals that are prone to bloat and gastric torsion is encouraging pathogenic (bad) bacteria to develop in the gut. They are also a very serious choking hazard. So to be on the safe side, for nutritional and safety reasons, I suggest something other than rawhide chewies.

As for pig ears/snouts/cow snouts and cow hooves. There are two reasons for not using these, Salmonella (bad bacteria) and the fact that the ears/snouts will splinter and can puncture an intestine and the same is for the cow hooves. Frequently, vets are removing them because they cause an obstruction.

What is safe? Nylabones! Do not use imitations or cheaper brands! You do not need your animals gut cut up from pieces of plastic which is not safe to eat.  Also Kong toys.   They have Kong stuffing recipes located at BE SURE TO BUY THE APPROPRIATE SIZE FOR YOUR PUPPY. These are easy to find at most pet stores or online pet supply businesses.

Raw/Cooked: Fruits/Veggies - These include fruits and veggies, in small amounts. Berries, melons, apples, banana, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, oranges, squash, sweet potato, green beans, zucchini for example of foods you can use. NO raw onions, grapes, garlic or raisins.

Drinking Water: It is very important to never withhold water from your dog. This can lead to over consumption and bladder infections. Use common sense, do not let them drink excessively after exercise or dinner. Like a horse, let them cool down and then drink. I have found if I have water available, they never overdo it since they know it is available to them when they need it. That way they drink less amounts of water, but more frequently.


As a general rule of thumb is based on the assumption that a dog may be crated or less active during the day, while the owner is at work. Remember, we'd rather have a thin puppy at this time rather than a roly-poly one!

The following amounts need to be split into two daily feedings.

Approx. Food and Weights for Puppy
7 weeks
2 cups
9-10 #
8 weeks
2 cups
13 #
9 weeks
3 cups
15 #
11 weeks
3 cups
20 #
13 weeks
4 cups
22 #
15 weeks
4 cups
33 #
18 weeks
4 cups
37 #
5 mo.
4 cups
43 #
5 mo.
4 cups
50 #
6 mo.
4 cups
55 #

Feed the breeder's recommended puppy food.  Buy 2 20# bags, then you may switch to an adult (maintenance) formulated food after these are gone, for the rest of the dog's life. Try to stay on a food that has no more than 26% protein and 15% fat at least while the dog is under 2 years of age. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES DO YOU FEED YOUR DOG A PERFORMANCE FOOD WHILE THE DOG IS UNDER 2 YEARS OF AGE!!! NO NO NO, NEVER!    

If the dog gets a bit heavy and you need to cut back, ease up on the amount of food and add a small can of sodium-free green beans to each meal. (If you can't find sodium-free, you can drain and rinse the beans before letting the dog eat them) The dog thinks its getting its full amount of food, but is actually receiving less but the green beans help fill up the dog. Unsalted, unbuttered popcorn or rice cakes also make a good addition to a dieting dog's food.