Raising a Bernese Puppy
The growth rate of some larger breeds can be quite dramatic and this is why some extra care must be taken when raising a Bernese puppy. The priority for concern is in the growth and development of the pup's joints during the more erratic growth periods (up to 10 months of age). The joints basically carry the weight of a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy
and although to a degree the conditions / diseases (see Health Section) affecting these joints can be genetic - there is very strong evidence to suggest that 'environment' plays a critical role here also. For this reason, one should not allow a Bernese pup to jump from any height greater than itself. This would include the bed, couch, down stairs and from the car etc. Lifting the puppy down gently will avoid the joints jarring on impacting with the ground. Likewise, slippery tiled or lino floors can also cause damage to growing joints, particularly if the puppy is allowed to run around inside. The best solution here is teach the pup that running inside is not permissible and better outdoors and add rugs to your slippery floors.
Rough play is not advised, play with a larger dog or dog with higher energy levels should be monitored at all times. Short play bursts are best and polite play learning is essential.
THE GROWTH RATE
The growth rate of the puppy is often something owners feel makes their pup 'special'. For some extraordinary reason ‘biggest is best’ and it is this attitude that can and does cause problems. A pup carrying excessive fat is carrying more weight than it should on those fast growing joints. The ideal is to keep the pup lean enough so you can 'easily' feel his ribs. A Bernese pup will have you believe you are starving it to death - but the truth is - if you let them, they'll eat you out of house and home and still act like they're deprived! Lean and mean is what the aim is here. One cannot make their puppy bigger by feeding it more – only fatter.
For this reason when training with food, divide out their their food quota for the day t use for training, rather than feeding in the bowl. The size of all dogs is ultimately decided by genetics.
It is absolutely paramount to socialise your puppy well in as many situations as you can from as early as you can. With a breed such as this, they can become quite sensitive and lack confidence in strange surroundings and circumstances they are not properly socialised to. They are definitely creatures of habit. For example…if a Bernese pup has never encountered another dog, a busy road, a young child or an older person, you may find that an encounter later in life leaves the poor dog stressed and unsure. Socialising a breed like the Bernese is imperative to ensuring a well-adjusted, confident and easy going adult dog.
Training is a great way to get your pup accustomed to strange dogs and it also instill a level of focus in your pup so that its attention is on you in situations where it may like to concentrate on something else…like another dog! It’s true to say these dogs grow big and strong so suitable training is imperative.
Socialising in a controlled environment is best, walking on the other side of the road from another dog, taking your puppy in the car for rides to just watch other dogs playing in a park is a great way to start when they are waiting on final immunisations.
You must always have your puppy’s back, watch their body language, if they are unsure, take them out of that environment and enjoy from a distance until they are more comfortable.
Great book links for Socialisation and Body Language:Doggie Language
A great book with cute pics for the whole family to enjoy:
Link: Doggie Language Book
Link: Puppy Socialization
THE PUP AT HOME
These dogs are not going to be your average, happy to sit outside alone all day kind of dog. They demand your time and will become very bored if ignored. If your house is not up to a Bernese puppy (expensive trinkets, garden perfect etc.) and you work full time - then perhaps you may need to evaluate the situation and choose a better time to own a Bernese.
Baby gates, crating and enrichment/food games, lifting anything off the ground or within reach and positive training are great tools for your Bernese puppy kit.