FEEDING, HOUSING AND CARE OF YOUR SIBERIAN
Originally written by Cynthia Nist, Synordik Siberians, minor modifications made by Jamesa Maulden.
The young puppy, like any infant, finds his security and happiness in the attentions of his "people", in food, comfortable surroundings, adequate rest and routine. In fact, the same applies to the adult Siberian, except that he doesn't need as much sleep! Make your puppy part of the family, introduce him to the world gradually when the opportunities arise. Take him with you on walks and brief outings (on lead, of course!) and let him know that his world is going to be a happy place. He will eat three times a day at first - early morning, early afternoon and evening - and should have an appropriate amount for his age and his size. If you overfeed your puppy, he will develop chronic diarrhea. Needs and appetite vary and a puppy turning down a meal occasionally is no cause for alarm. He will probably cut himself back to two meals a day by age 3 - 4 months. One feeding a day is adequate from about 7 - 9 months onward, depending on the puppy's size and growth rate. Studies have show that a puppy of this age is quite able to eat and utilize his day's growth requirement in one meal. I recommend choosing a good quality commercial dog food from your pet store or feed store and sticking to it. Supplementing or feeding your Siberian table scraps will throw off the balance of the dog food and do more harm than good. Feeding canned dog foods often lead to diarrhea and/or a finicky eater. Occasional treats such a dog biscuit in the morning when he is on once a day feedings is fine. Dog biscuits may be used a treats and rewards during training if used within reason and your pet is not already overweight. After eating, after a nap or after extensive play, it's time for your puppy to go outside to relieve himself. A full stomach quickly signals the bowel to empty in a young puppy. He will also be thirsty within an hour or so after eating - fresh water should be available to your puppy at all times. Siberians do not require extreme protection from weather, but the consideration of a dry, draftless place to curl up is basic. A chronically wet dog is more prone to skin problems and disease. Of course, he needs a place to exercise. A fenced yard is the only way in most cases, double-check for those little "escape hatches" or potential "dig-out" spots. Cinder blocks make good "hole fillers" as they are too heavy to move and can be sunk partially into the ground. Landscaping timbers or railroad ties can also be used to line the perimeter of the fence to prevent digging out. Another option is 2x4 mesh field fence can be laid on the ground and secured to the fence to prevent digging. A chain-link kennel run is recommended for absolute security and to provide for a clean environment so that your Siberian can join the family in the house even in rainy weather. Your dog should be kept here whenever you are not able to supervise his play then you can allow him to run in your fenced back yard when you are available to supervise digging and escape attempts. This run should have a concrete floor--concrete patio blocks provide a portable and affordable solution to the concrete slab and they often drain better. I suggest a roof of plywood and a tarp to protect them from the weather. I also use cedar shavings to absorb urine and eliminate the need for daily hosing out of the kennel. This setup simply requires that you scoop the poop and the urine soaked shavings daily. The shavings should be completely removed, the kennel hosed out and new shavings put in once the old ones begin to smell of urine rather than cedar. A 50 gallon wooden barrel makes an excellent dog house when it is set on a snug base of 2x4's to prevent rocking. Eventually, the Siberian will love to sit, stand or lie on top of his "doghouse". The barrel will do, but even better is a simple plywood cube. This can be built out of 3/4" plywood and the suggested size is 3' x 4' x 2' high. You can leave the front entirely open or half open to provide a "cave" for your Siberian. This type of dog house is inexpensive and can be cleaned easily. You should avoid buying an expensive dog house for your Siberian as you will find that he will "customize" it to fit his personality--digging a skylight in the roof, chewing the doorway to just the right shape, etc. Leash training should be done gently and firmly, with a buckle collar and not a choke-chain. At first let the puppy get used to the collar and lead by dragging it around the house (under your supervision) for a few days. Then take your puppy out for a "walk". At first follow the puppy where it chooses to go and slowly begin coaxing the puppy to follow you. Eventually, you will be walking the puppy and not the other way around! Do not allow your puppy to pull or drag you on these walks. Praise your puppy profusely when he cooperates. Training for the show ring begins early, but without pressure. Exposure to different situations, crowds and handling by "strangers" are all important in building the self confidence a show dog needs. There are classes available for you and your dog. There are local matches also which provide excellent experience for you and your dog. Obedience training may not be the Siberian's forte, but it is necessary. You should take your puppy to a "puppy kindergarten" class at about 4-5 months of age to teach your puppy social rules and some beginning obedience. You should follow that up with an obedience class at about age 12-18 months to teach him "obedience" and to gain control of an adolescent who is now testing your authority. If you plan on showing your puppy in conformation classes, you can teach the dog to sit in obedience class, but you should teach it conformation exercises and "baiting" before teaching the sit exercise. Teaching the conformation exercise first seems to be less confusing to the puppy. In obedience training, it is not nessary to use force, but to be consistent and persistent. Remember that patience, praise and persistence are the only way to train him. He will not respond favorably if subjected to undue force or temper. He is intelligent, sensitive and quickly bored. Still, he wants to please you (or can be motivated by treats!) and will continue to try as long as you treat him with affection and respect. Do not give a command without insisting on his following through - be consistent with your corrections also. Above all, praise him for a job well done. Siberians "housetrain" easily, although you should not expect full control on your puppy's part until he is several months old. The best method is preventing an accident by constant supervision while your puppy is in the house. When housetraining, there is no need to be rough - a quick "no" and a trip outside the instant he makes a mistake are the best correction. Do not rub his nose in it as this is not an effective method of housetraining. Nor should you correct him in any way if you did not catch him actually in the act. Within a few seconds of an accident, the puppy forgets his error and learns to fear your unpredictability if you correct him for no apparent reason. Praise is equally important, the minute he does the right thing in the right place. If you have children, watch carefully and introduce them to the puppy only when you are supervising. Caution small children about stepping on, hitting, grabbing or chasing the puppy. If pushed to the limit and frightened, any puppy will follow his instinct to protect himself. Provide him with appropriate toys that are his, but teach him that you have the privilege to take them away (take the toy, give it back to the puppy and praise him, then repeat several times). Teach the puppy that the children's toys are not his. It is also important that the puppy not be allowed to jump on small children or bite any family member - even in "fun". Biting or nipping is absolutely forbidden. When you have had your puppy a month or so, he will probably be due for a booster shot. You should visit your vet for this. At this time, you should take a fresh stool sample with you for your vet to check for worms. Puppies inevitably need frequent wormings until about a year of age. At six months of age, he should have a rabies shot. At this time, he usually receives a DHLPP & Corona booster - this should be repeated annually. Rabies are usually only required every three years, but this depends on the vaccine your vet uses. The more you put into your Siberian, the more he will reward you - with a rich personality, many tender and amusing moments and his companionship. Show him that you value him highly by protecting him from the many dangers of "running loose". Ignore the myth of a "born free" dog and keep him fenced, leashed or kenneled at all times. You will both be better off and with a little effort on your part, his world will be complete and your friendship/companionship will last between 10-15 years.