Please ask your vet for individual advice on caring for your dog - they will be happy to help!
But here is some basic information to answer some of your questions.
Provide a good-sized bed - big enough for the dog to turn around in whilst sleeping - in a quiet corner of a room, away from draughts. A rigid plastic bed lined with blankets - or a cardboard box - is ideal for puppies who will normally try to chew their beds. Beanbags are a good choice for adult dogs.
If you have a dog and live in the city, be careful: in addition to the many (sometimes aggressive) stray dogs, you will find that many Russians own pitbull terriers, bull terriers, and aggressive Rottweilers and Caucasian shepherds. If you see such a dog on the street, don't let your dog go near it - even if the other dog is wearing a muzzle.
If you have a dog that likes to pick up things on the street, get a muzzle and put it on every time you go for a walk. Rats are a problem in Moscow, and accordingly, lots of rat poison is placed on the streets and sometimes also inside staircases. This is particularly important for all hunting dogs and Labradors.
Never let your dog go for a swim in any of Moscow's ponds! If your dog likes to swim, take your dog to a pond or riverbank outside of Moscow, but make sure that the water temperature is above 15 oC (59 oF) Celsius.
Take your puppy or dog outside regularly and praise him when he goes to the toilet outside. House training can take a few months so be patient and never scold your dog for accidents. If you're having problems, ask behaviorists for advice.
This is the most important part of a puppies' development and the right sort of socialising will mean a happy well-adjusted dog. Even if your puppy has not been vaccinated, he can still be socialised with other healthy dogs and introduced to the outside world.
Allow a couple of days at home for the puppy to settle in and meet the family, then begin introducing your puppy to people, places and other animals, making sure these new experiences are pleasurable.
Get him used to traveling. Take him for short trips on buses, trains and in the car, if you have one.
Expose him to as many different situations as possible - introduce him to friends and family, children and babies (make sure he has been wormed first). You should also ensure that any handling is very gentle - and never leave a puppy and children alone together! The nicest of children can unintentionally hurt or tease a puppy if play is unsupervised, and a teased puppy will inevitably end up snapping at its tormentor!
Familiarise him with street life by carrying him for short walks around the local streets. This way, he'll get used to the noise of traffic, and when he takes his first walk on the streets it won't be so traumatic. It is also very important that he is socialised with other dogs from an early age, so introduce him to healthy vaccinated dogs (e.g. friends' or neighbours' dogs). His first meeting with a dog should be a pleasant experience, so set up a 'meeting' with a placid, gentle dog, or another puppy. A dog will very rarely attack a puppy anyway, but the puppy may be nervous, so just reassure him and let them play.
Many people keep their dogs on a lead whilst exercising because they are frightened they will run off. With the introduction of the flexi lead this practice has unfortunately become more and more acceptable.
All dogs should be kept on the lead whilst walking the streets but all dogs need daily exercise off the lead in the park or countryside. It is extremely frustrating for a dog to be kept on a lead - dogs are active creatures and they need to be able to run, play and socialise with other dogs. Curtailing this natural craving can lead to severe behavioural problems.
<< Index Preparation for the first walk
One of the first things that your puppy needs to learn is that coming to you when you call him is normally going to be a pleasant experience. Anytime you call him in to the house, garden or outside and he obeys, be sure to make a fuss of him or give him a treat.
Have a few biscuits or treats in your pocket then throw a ball or toy for your puppy, and when he has run after it, call him back to you. If he responds to your command by coming towards you, be sure to praise him, make a fuss of him, and give him a treat. He will begin to associate you calling him with a pleasant experience, and is therefore more likely to respond as you wish. Practice this sort of 'recall' as often as possible, lengthening the time between recalls.
Your puppy's first walk
Take your puppy to a park or common you are familiar with. When you are a safe distance from the road, let your puppy off the lead, walk on and call him. It is highly unlikely that he will run away. Allow him to meet other dogs and people on this walk.
Type of dogs and walking
Large or small, all dogs need to be taken out for a walk at least twice a day to a park or common and have a good run off the lead. Highly active dogs like Collies, Labradors, Dobermans, Alsatians and some terrier-types will need more than this.
There are many different opinions on feeding.
A puppy needs 3-4 meals a day of good quality tinned or dried puppy food; follow the guidelines recommended by the manufacturer.
Adult dogs need meat, fish and cereal - tinned dog food with mixer, dry dog food, or home-prepared food of meat and biscuits. Most dogs have one main meal a day, but elderly, small or extra-large dogs may prefer two meals a day. Be careful about bones - cooked bones and small bones may splinter.
See our section on Moscow's pet food suppliers
Grooming is not only important for the dog's coat, it also provides an opportunity to check the dog over for lumps and skin problems. Check ears for mites, and check the pads for anything that may have been picked up. Longhaired dogs need to be groomed thoroughly frequently, using a brush and a comb. Make bathing and grooming a pleasant experience for both you and your pet.
Fleas, worms and vaccinations
Ticks are a big problem in Moscow - especially from about mid-March until the end of September (or the first snow) and pose a real danger to dogs. Peroplasmosis is transmitted by ticks and is considered the most dangerous and often deadly infection for dogs in Moscow. If your dog catches this disease, it can only be saved within three days. Signs of peroplasmosis include weakness, loss of appetite, sometimes excessive water intake, fever and most importantly, a change in the color of urine - it turns red. In order to prevent your dog from catching this dangerous and often deadly disease, you must purchase "Front Line" tick drops and apply them to your dog every thirty days from mid-March to late September. These drops are available in different dosages depending on the weight of your dog. If in doubt about which kind to buy please consult with your vet. Tick collars are not nearly as effective as "Front Line" drops - despite the promises on the package - and should not be used. "Front Line" drops also protect your dogs against flees. If you find a tick on your dog try to remove it (make sure you get the head out) and then apply some very strong alcohol to the place where the tick was. Call your vet immediately so that a blood test for peroplamosis can be done as soon as possible. The blood test will show if your dog has caught the disease or not. Please remember that despite being very effective, "Front Line" drops do not offer a 100% guarantee. We recommend not taking dogs into forests/woods particularly from mid March to the beginning of June and again from the end of August till the end of September - both are high seasons for ticks in Moscow.
Ringworm disease (called "leeshay" in Russian) is a fungal infection and pretty common in Moscow. Dogs can catch the disease from infected cats (and so can people). Patchy hair loss, particularly apparent on the animal's head, can be a sign of ringworm disease (although other problems such as vitamin-deficiencies and ear mites cause hair loss as well). If you take in a stray cat or dog from the street call your vet as soon as possible to have the animal checked for ringworm. The disease is NOT life threatening or dangerous and can be easily treated and cured within a matter of weeks. The treatment of choice consists of antibiotic shots combined with antifungal creams or sprays, followed by a ringworm vaccination. You may also choose to have your pets (cats in particular) vaccinated against ringworm as a matter of precaution. Ringworm in people is treated by applying antifungal cream.
Ear mites are also a problem, particularly in stray dogs. They can easily be treated by applying special ear drops, which are available from veterinary pharmacies. Look at your dogs ears - if you see a lot of dark brown or black patches inside, they are most likely ear mites. Ear mites itch and can cause the animal to scratch their ears intensively, resulting in hair loss and wounds around the ears and eyes. If left untreated, ear mites can cause more serious infections and can even lead to hearing loss.
All dogs should be de-wormed twice a year, preferably at the end of March and the end of October. The medicine of choice is "Drontal Plus" for dogs. They are freely available at Moscow's pet food & supplies stores. One tablet of Drontal Plus is for a dog weighing 10 kg. The tablets should be administered on an empty stomach about 30-40 minutes before the animal's first meal of the day. If in doubt about dosages or if you have problems giving the tablet to your dog, please contact your vet.
Remember to keep your dog's vaccinations up-to-date. Adult dogs must be vaccinated against rabies and canine/feline infectious diseases once a year and the vaccinations should be documented in your dog's health documents. You can carry canine infectious disease into your house on the soles of your shoes, on gardening equipment and other items that have been in contact with soil (e.g. bicycles, skis, sleighs); therefore it is imperative that your animal is vaccinated REGULARLY.
Puppies are vaccinated three times - once at the age of 2 months, the second time three weeks after the first vaccination and a final time three weeks after the second vaccination. Thereafter the dog must be vaccinated regularly once a year.
Try to take your holiday in a dog-friendly place, and make sure your dog is used to traveling in the car before the day of the journey. Never leave your dog in the car in warm or sunny weather, even with a window open.
If you are leaving your dog behind whilst you go on holiday, visit recommended boarding kennels in advance to make sure that you are happy with the facilities and care offered.
Ask your vet to microchip your dog - this is a painless procedure, which puts a tiny microchip under your dog's skin. If your dog strays, the information on the chip can be read and matched against a central database.
Dogs need to feel part of the pack - access to all parts of your home and being treated like a member of the family is the best way to ensure a happy, well-adjusted animal. And don't forget, dogs need stimulation - toys, chews and lots of playtime with you!
We strongly suggest that your dog should be neutered - due to the overwhelming population of unwanted dogs!