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How to Care for Your New Boxer

Buy a Collar, Leash, and Name Tag Today
Even before you get your new Boxer home, you should purchase a collar and name tag for it. Some places make nice engraved tags on site, others send off for them. If you can't get an engraved tag immediately, be sure to purchase some sort of temporary name tag you can use right away. Remember, your new dog does not yet know you or your home, and despite the greatest care, it is possible the dog will accidentally run off as soon as you get home.

It works best if you include the words "Reward if Found" in large letters on the collar and/or on the name tag itself. Unfortunately, there are many strays wandering the streets, however, if someone sees clearly from a distance that there is a reward for the return of your dog, they are much more likely to pickup the dog, call you and return the dog to you. You can order collars with the words "Reward if Found" on them from PetEdge by calling 1-800-738-3343. Ask for item TP59210 for a 10-16" neck (puppies), TP59214 for a 14-20" neck (most boxers), or TP59218 for an 18"-26" neck (extra large boxers). You can choose from different colors, I recommend red (color #83) for highest visibility. Tell them you want the collar to read "Reward if Found." They also have instant engraved name tags available (item TP600). I recommend that the name tag says something like this:
(706) 555-555

If you have a cell phone, use that number, as you will most likely have that phone with you if you go out searching for the dog at some point. And, remember, if you ever change your number, get a new tag immediately. Don't even wait one day! As luck might have it, that could be the day your dog accidently gets out.

Adequate Fencing is Required
You must take special care when bringing a new boxer into your home. Some will jump over, climb over, or dig under fences, even extremely tall ones. Until you are certain your fence is adequate, do not leave your dog alone! Too often we learn of boxers escaping from inadequate fences, so please be careful.

A few dogs do fine with shorter fences, but if your dog seems like it might be able to get out, do all of the following things to make your fence nearly 100% escape-proof:

1) Make the fence at least 7 feet tall to deter jumping over the fence.
2) Use extra-strong chain link or other fencing that the dog can't chew through.
3) Pour a 1" thick by 6" wide layer of concrete around the inside perimeter of the fence to deter digging out (this is easily mixed in bags purchased from Home Depot or Lowe's; one bag will create enough concrete for 6 to 10 feet of fence).
4) If the dog still tries to jump out, buy an inexpensive 'invisible' fence system from Lowe's or Home Depot ($50 to $100) and run the wire around the very top of your regular fence. Set it to the minimum warning distance so it will only shock the dog if it actually jumps up toward the fence, and raise the wire up higher around gates so the dog doesn't get shocked when going in and out of fenced area. If the invisible fence doesn't seem to deter your boxer, it is likely that the collar isn't on tight enough.

These steps are not very difficult or expensive, and usually just take one afternoon to complete. It is possible to build an escape-proof dog fence! If you have questions about any of these steps, call Jeff Gold at (706) 769-1000.

Boxers are Very Energetic
Most boxers are very energetic. It is rare for them to be aggressive, however, some will jump a lot and if their nails are long, they can easily scratch you or your children. If the dog you adopt likes to jump, take steps to teach the dog not to jump or scratch.

Boxers tend to be extremely good with kids. Though sometimes their energy may seem overwhelming, they tend to be careful around kids. Of course, each dog is unique, so only you and your vet can evaluate the safety of your own dog.

I have five boxers (plus four honorary boxers!) of my own, and when I take them with me to town people always comment on how "calm" they are, and ask what I do. I haven't trained them to be this way, though what I do is take them on one or two 1 to 2 mile walks everyday. This lets them release their energy so they are more calm at home and when walked in town.

If your dog is too energetic in the house, this could be relieved by longer walks. This is also extremely healthy for the dog owners as well. (I probably wouldn't be in as a good physical shape as I am myself if my nine dogs didn't force me to walk them so much!)

Exercise is the necessary first step, and if the dog is still too playful, then you have to train it not to play rough. This takes consistent repetition for several days in a row, but doesn't take long to train.

The key is to never allow the dog to play rough. If it does play rough, you must loudly say no and then put it in another room, or outside, for a few minutes. When he comes back, say "gentle," act calm, and praise your dog as he remains calm.

The reason sometimes training doesn't work is if every now and then you "allow" the dog to play rough, or if not everyone at the house, or certain guests, allow the bad behaviour, even for a few minutes. The dog won't learn unless the training is constant all the time with everyone.

Heartworm Treatment
Heartworm infections, transmitted by mosquitoes, are very common in the Southeast. They are easily prevented by giving monthly Heartgard treats.

If you adopt a dog with an active heartworm infection, this can be expensive and sometimes dangerous to treat. If you call around, though, you should be able to find a vet to do the treatment for $200 to $300.

If you rescue a heartworm-positive dog, but can't afford the expensive heartworm treatment, there is a very effective and low cost treatment available using a combination of oral Ivermectin (about $40 for a one-year supply) and Doxycycline (a low cost antibiotic, which is even available for free at some supermarkets such as Publix). This treatment slowly kills off the heartworms over a period of approximately one year, and may even be a safer treatment path (compared to conventional treatment) for older animals or younger ones who are unusually hyperactive. Details are available here: Ivermectin and Doxycycline Heartworm Treatment

Please be sure to visit your vet for more information to help ensure proper dosing of the Ivermectin (it can be deadly if given in the improper dose, or to certain breeds of dogs, but is very safe at the proper dose). Also, you will need the vet to give you a prescription for the Doxycycline. If your vet is not familiar with this low cost treatment, consider printing the abstract at the link above, and bringing it to your vet. If your vet refuses to help with this low cost treatment, try calling another vet in your area who might be willing to help.

Other Useful Links:

Nutritional treatments for cardiomyopathy published by Wellness Review.

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