Puppy Guide

Boxer proofing your home

Before you pick up your puppy it’s advisable to puppy proof your home in much the same way you would for a toddler. Be sure that electrical cords are out of reach and table cloths are out of reach.Make sure that  your trash can, especially in the kitchen, is out of reach. Older boxers can learn to open cabinets and doors.This is more true with the lever type door handles so be sure to stop this form happening by securing cabinet doors or using baby gates to cordon off areas where your pet may get into trouble.

I recommend keeping bathroom doors closed.Once your boxer becomes tall enough they will drink from the toilet even if they have fresh water set out in a bowl. Bath room cleaners are often very caustic and can make your pet sick or even cause death.

Pesticides,mouse traps/poisons,and roach motels need to also be considered. In garage areas glycol based anti-freeze can also be a danger.A very small amount of glycol can cause renal failure.These items should always be kept away from your boxer.

Medications should always be kept in a high cabinet and off of counters.This includes shampoos,toothpaste,and sunscreens.

Boxer proofing your yard

Your home is not the only place you will need to prepare for a Boxer.

If your yard is not fenced in it is not advisable to let your boxer run free.It only takes a moment for your dog to get hit by a car,be stolen, or be killed.Due to their muscular appearance boxers are often mistaken for an aggressive breed. This can lead to them being shot by a fearful neighbor.

It is not advisable to keep any dog on a chain for long periods. Using a tie out is ok but not ideal if you do not have a fenced in yard and want to let your boxer out for a short amount of time.Chaining a dog is a liability not only is there a choking hazard but it can isolate a dog and cause them to become aggressive. If another dog or a child crosses into the area of chained dog the territorial attitude nurtured by a chain can cause a dog to attack.

Wooden privacy fences and heavy chain link fences are good for keeping a boxer confined. Personal experiences has taught me that some adult boxers can easily clear a six foot fence so always keep that in mind.Digging under a fence can also be an issue. A hidden electrical fence in concert with a shock collar and and sturdy tall fence are ideal

If you have an existing fence be sure to walk the perimeter before letting your dog loose to check for gaps.If there is an outside gate I suggest investing in a padlock.This will not only deter would be dog nappers but will keep children from possibly leaving a gate open.

Do you have a pool? It is not recommended to let dogs around a pool alone.Some boxers enjoy water and some do not. If you are going to allow your boxer to swim be sure that they know where the steps are and can get out. If you have one of the older style plastic covers there is a very real possibility that your pet could drown by sinking in the water and becoming entangled in the plastic.The newer style fabric type covers are expensive but ideal.

Supplies to buy before picking up your puppy

Buying a crate is a must.

Boxers are not outside dogs.Like all bully breeds boxers are brachycephalic.This means they have an underbite which makes self regulating their temperature harder.Also since they have a very short coat the risk of a sunburn is real.

The best crate that I have found for housebreaking is the wire type with a divider that can be moved as your puppy grows.Be sure to buy a large or XL size crate. These also have a plastic tray that can be removed.Tractor Supply is good source for these but any pet store will have one suitable.I do not recommend buying one online despite the enticing price.The eBay models are often very small gauge and will not contain a large dog.Buy a quality crate once and save yourself some money.

While the wire types are better for house training a puppy the plastic type pet carriers are better for traveling and can mimic a more den like environment for your dog when used in your home. Personally I have both.

I would not buy a dog bed until your puppy is housebroken.An old blanket will suffice until then.Kong makes an excellent dog bed that is virtually indestructible and will fit a wire kennel perfectly.

Toys are important.The more the better.These will keep your puppy from getting bored.A bored dog will get into trouble.

*When buying toys be sure to check that there is nothing that can break off easily—chew toys should never break off into small pieces.
*Avoid toys with stuffing.Stuffing if swallowed can lead to an intestinal blockage.
*Avoid toys for small breeds.Small toys that are soft and squeaky are not meat to withstand the jaws of a dog originally bred to hold onto a man’s arm.
*I’ve found that tennis balls,the Kong brand of toys, nyla-bone(nylon chew bones),rope toys,and natural deer antlers hold up best. The large cow bones are good too but they can make a mess when new.

When playing with your puppy I would hold off on playing with tugging toys until your dominance has fully been asserted. There is some debate about tugging toys leading to dominance issues.

Treats are a good idea and help with training.Some dogs are food motivated and some are affection motivated.It’s something you will have to discover on your own.

I buy the bulk five pound packaged small size store brand “milk bone” treats from tractor supply.There are other healthier grain free options but they do cost more. I recommend not buying the chicken jerky type ones as there have been several recalls on these.

Your puppy will need to be on a dog food designed for puppies.Currently they are being fed Diamond Naturals Puppy Food(dry kibble).It comes in a purple bag. I’ve found that for the price this is the best on the market. You may decide to go with a different brand and that is fine but I do recommend staying with a grain free dog food and steering clear of any that list fish as the main protein source. The reason is most dogs have a gluten allergy which causes them to shed more,can cause skin issues,and leads to a doggy smell sooner between baths. Personal experience has taught me that if you feed your puppy a fish based dog food,especially salmon, when they have an accident your house will smell like fish.

How much and how often you feed your puppy is based on age and weight.There is a chart on the back of every dog food bag to help with this.Your vet will help recommend amounts also.I do not recommend free feeding.I personally feed my dogs twice a day and do not leave food out. Puppies especially will over eat and it will make housebreaking harder.With adult dogs I do leave water out but with puppies I recommend monitoring water intake as well.

Once again, tractor supply has the best price and selection of quality dog food that I have found.They also offer discounts if you buy 10 bags or more at a time.

The first night

No matter how great a boxer owner you are or intend to be you are not going to be a suitable replacement for a dog’s mother and litter mates—at first.With some exceptions a typical boxer puppy will cry and whimper the first few nights—especially when left alone.

There are a few things you can do to make a puppy’s transition to a new environment easier and less stressful.

*One way is to provide a familiar smell. Your puppy will come with a small towel that is has been in their kennel for a few days.This smell will help comfort them.

*another trick is to wrap a mechanical clock in a sock or several socks.The ticking sound is thought to mimic their mother’s heartbeat.

*choosing the right crate can help.I believe that the plastic type ones foster the best feeling of a den. However, for housebreaking wire kennels work best. You can drape a sheet over a wire kennel to help achieve this.Be aware some puppies may drag a sheet in through the gaps on a wire kennel.

*leaving a TV or radio on will help.

After the first week or first few days your puppy will get more predictable.Keeping them on a schedule will help with this.


Training your puppy is more of mindset than an act. Don’t wait to start correcting undesirable behavior once they are grown.Start on day one. If you sit down to eat for example and your puppy begs or jumps up on your leg think to yourself, “do I want a full grown boxer doing this?.”

Your puppy will naturally learn his or her call name but commands like sit or stay will take some practice.There are plenty of online resources for this.I suggest youtube as a good place to start.

When you house train your dog it will try your patience.Don’t get mad at the dog. It will only lead to more negative behavior. I suggest using a divider to restrict the space your puppy can occupy within their crate.This will help encourage bladder and bowel control sooner. Also,and this is especially important with puppies,keep them on a schedule.When you feed them let them out immediately and do the same when you first let them out of their kennel.Physically pick up your puppy and carry them to a designated potty area.They will learn from doing this.Reward good behavior with a treat and affection.

Personally,I use remote controlled shock collars on adolescent to adult dogs.This allows them to be off the leash and to have more freedom but deters any stubborn behavior. Ive used a couple of different brands and have found the Dogtra brand to be the best for the money.They are rechargeable and come with a vibration function that the dogs learn to adhere to when it is used.Most often shocking is not necessary.

Veterinary care and Health

Your puppy will come vaccinated with their first round of vaccines.I use a combination 5-way vaccine at 6 weeks old which is the first in a series for canine distemper, canine adenovirus types 1 and 2, parainfluenza, and parvovirus.Some of you may have seen a 10 way vaccine listed on the puppy purchase agreement.That was a typographical error. The ten way vaccine is not given until at least 12 weeks of age because it contains a vaccine for Leptospirosis and it is immunosuppressant when first given.That’s not suitable in a puppy since they have little to no immune system.

I recommend making a veterinary appointment as soon as possible to schedule your puppy’s next round of vaccines.Most likely you vet will recommend giving them at 9 and 12 weeks of age.Your vet will also discuss which vaccines are best suited for your puppy.

Many vaccines require yearly boosters.Rabies is one of these. Unlike the common “puppy” vaccines which can be bought over the counter it must be administered at a clinic or by your vet.Records of the vaccination will be kept on file and your dog will be given an ID tag.In some states and municipalities this is required by law.

Flea,tick,and heart worm prevention is a must even for inside dogs. Heart worms which are carried by mosquitos can, be especially deadly and hard to treat. It is for that reason prevention is a must. There are multiple proven medications that work well for this but not all are suitable for puppies.I recommend discussing this with your vet.

Intestinal parasites come in a wide variety.Most are not life threatening but should be treated.These include round worms,whip worms,pin worms,tape worms, and hook worms.Your puppy will come de-wormed but your veternarian will likely recommend a second round and can help you with identifying signs of intestinal parasites and prevention.

If you or a family member gets strep throat be aware that it is zoonotic.This means that not only can your Boxer contract the illness but they can transfer it to you as well. A dog may be asymptotic but still contagious.Strep can be very serious in both humans and dogs if untreated so be sure to seek medical care for both you and your pet if you suspect strep throat.

Regular checkups by your vet will lead to a longer healthier life for your Boxer. Remember, unlike a child a dog cannot tell you if they are not feeling well so be conscious of their eating habits and activity levels. If you notice any change take them in for a check up.


Boxers are low maintenance in this department. A quality grain free dog food will be the biggest help but a good brushing once a week will decrease shedding and extend the length of time between baths. There are several different types of de-shedding combs and brushes available but I have found that the cheapest and most effective brushes are the horsehair ones designed for polishing shoes or the stiff bristled ones found in the ethnic hair care section.These are also known as wave brushes.

The best time to brush your dog or to bathe them is after playing with them.Tiring them out makes it easier.This is also a good time to work on training them to sit.

Bathing a Boxer is not hard.Their short coats make it very quick and easy. A large cup or shower spray attachment will make rinsing easier. If fleas are not an issue, I recommend using baby shampoo or Mane and Tail brand shampoo. Mane and Tail is designed for horses but many people use it too. It has a stronger fragrance than baby shampoo and it will help cover up the wet dog smell.

You can extend the time between baths with a dog deodorant or dry shampoo. Kong makes good line of dog deodorants in different fragrances.I prefer the citrus spray.Spray a generous amount on and towel it in.

Try to stay clear of your dog’s eyes and ears when bathing. I use alcohol to clean my Boxers ears.You can gently massage their ear with a little isopropyl alcohol.This will dissolve any excessive wax and kill any bacteria present. Be sure to give their ears a good wipe.If it smells like an infection you will know and there may be a discharge from the infection.If this is the case take them to the vet.Outer ear infections can lead to serious complications including hearing loss.

Boxers need their nails trimmed regularly and you can do this yourself.If their nails are too long they can cause walking to be uncomfortable or they can split or break off.

With puppies a good sturdy pair of toenail clippers is sufficient. Adult dogs will require a set of trimmers that can be bought for very little at any store that sells pet supplies. Be careful not to trim them too short.If your dog has light colored nails you can see where the quick stops.The quick is the part of the nail with the blood supply. cut just past this line.If they have dark nails you can use the line on an adjoining clear nail  as a reference.If your dog has all black nails make incremental cuts so as to not cut too much. Having a towel or some styptic powder handy is not a bad idea if you happen to cut a nail too short.