Caring for your new puppy

Your Saint Bernard Puppy

by Daniel Simpson, age 12


The Saint Bernard breed originated in the Saint Bernard Pass in Switzerland. The breed is separated into two categories: smooth coat and rough coat. The smooth coat or short-haired dog was the original breed because the Saint Bernard was a rescue dog and the snow would get caught if the fur was long. Most people, however, prefer the rough coat. The rough coat developed from a cross between a smooth coat and a Newfoundland.

Saint Bernards love cold weather and in the summer it is vital that you keep them cool. Saint Bernards thrive on attention and must be loved every day. Saint Bernards are probably one of the most protective dogs of their families and they are very loyal. We know people who have been saved by their dogs. They tend to be very gentle around children if they are raised with young children.

When you get your new puppy make sure he gets plenty of sleep; don’t wear him out with constant play. At night time your dog will probably whine because he misses his mother and litter mates. If your dog seems scared to be at your home, do not pick him up every time he cries; you will not be able to do this when he is big. We have given you a piece of a blanket that was in your puppy’s birthing box. You can put it in your dog’s new bed for a time because it reminds him of his litter mates. If your dog is inside you may want to put a loud ticking clock outside the room. It might remind him of his mother’s heart beat. It is debatable whether this helps or not, but you might want to try if your puppy keeps you awake at night.

Feeding your dog properly is very important for him not to get sick. Your puppy has been eating Purina Puppy Chow, Large Breed Formula. When he is ready to switch to adult dog food, which your veterinarian will advise, mix the two kinds of food so you do not upset your dog’s stomach. Gradual changes of diet are best.

At about twelve weeks old your puppy will begin to lose his puppy teeth and get his adult ones. Your dog will want to chew on something or maybe even everything! To save your fingers and your household things, give your dog a chew toy.  Do not buy cheap chew toys that your dog can bite pieces off and choke on. If you want to give your dog a bone make sure it is not a chicken or pork bone. These bones splinter and could cause serious injury or death to your dog.  

Training your dog and teaching him obedience is an important matter. Make sure the dog knows you are the leader. Dogs are pack animals, so they see you as another member in the pack. Every pack has a leader; it is important that the dog knows you to be the leader. If you do not teach your dog submission, this will result in a spoiled and unhappy dog. Many animals have been taken to the pound because they cannot be kept under control. One way to teach your dog submission is to stare him down. Look at him in the eyes till he looks away. Another idea is to turn your puppy over on his back and hold his chest down till he stops squirming around. These training methods are painless to your puppy but help establish you as his leader. These are methods that pack leaders in the wild use with the dogs in their pack.

When you walk your dog he should walk on your left side. This keeps him away from cars when he is walking with you beside the road. Saint Bernards are very large and strong dogs, and it is important that they learn not to jump on humans. When you are training your dog, have it be fun for both of you. If your dog does something bad, use short phrases and not long sentences. “No” is the first word your puppy should learn, and it may save his life some day. When your puppy obeys you, praise him by a treat or cheerful words. You will want your dog to get used to all kinds of people: children, mothers with strollers, tall people, short people, etc. Be careful to limit his exposure to other animals that might carry disease. Doggy play parks are not good for young puppies who have not received all their shots.  Puppies’ immune systems only begin to develop around 12 weeks of age.

Bigger dogs such as Saint Bernards are more likely to have hip dysplasia than other dogs. We do not recommended frequent use of stairs or slippery floors for a young puppy. This could cause displaced hips. Obesity has been proven to be a common cause of joint problems as well.

If you are keeping your dog inside the house you will have to housetrain him. Put newspaper or cardboard on the floor where your dog is staying and your puppy will go potty on that. Then gradually remove the newspaper until there is only a small area of paper. Make sure the newspaper is far enough away from the place he sleeps because dogs don’t like their bathroom area near their sleeping area. If your puppy has an accident, quickly move him to the newspaper area.

Having a crate trained dog could be useful whether your dog stays outside or sleeps inside. To get your dog used to the crate, put it where your dog stays so he can walk in and out of it. Start with the door off the crate so he can come and go at will. Once the dog is used to the crate, leave him in there for short periods of time with the door closed. Do not use the crate as punishment in case you have to take the puppy somewhere he cannot freely walk. Your puppy should learn to enjoy his crate and feel secure there.

Your cute, cuddly puppy requires love, discipline, and patience from you if he is to grow up to be a happy, well-behaved dog.  Enjoy your new puppy!


American Kennel Club. New Puppy Handbook. Raleigh, North Carolina: 2006.

Gwilliam, George and Maureen. The New Saint Bernard. Gloucestershire, United Kindom: 2000.

Walton, Michele. Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. eBook from 2002.