The Chow is not the easiest of breeds to train and 100% obedience is rarely obtained due to their very independent outlook on life, but nevertheless, the basics should be taught and in the main the Chow will comply with your requests. Lead training can commence before vaccinations are completed by putting a collar and lead or slip lead to take the puppy outside in the garden and some practice in the garden is a good start before going out into the street, the basics of being led are taught before the puppy learns about traffic etc.
A rolled leather collar and lead with a secure clip are required and when fitting the collar make sure it is tight enough to prevent the chow from slipping his head out of it. Train the Chow to walk steadily and not to pull (one of the commonest failings when taken out on a lead - and they certainly are strong). Many owners do not let their Chows off the lead, certainly it is not wise until the Chow is totally 'yours' and always responds to your calls to return - it is best to train in a securely enclosed area without distractions. Chows are notorious cat chasers and will also chase sheep etc., if the opportunity arises. Come are known to burrow under fences and enjoy the opportunity to roam free, so beware. Any additional training is up to the individual owner but if you wish to show your Chow, visits to the local training classes will be of benefit to owner and Chow alike, also visiting busy shopping areas to get used to people moving around them will be helpful.
Get your chow used to the car by taking him short journeys first. Just a short ride before a walk will let him associate the car with something pleasant and trips to the shops are ideal as the dog can be left in the car for a short time while you shop (if cool enough). Car sickness can occur but 'persistence pays' and pups usually grow out of it.
As a Chow grows up the amount of exercise can be increased but long walks are not needed until at least a year old, short walks and freedom in the garden are the only exercise required as a growing youngster. During hot weather it is not wise to take a Chow for walks in the heat of the day. Take them out early morning and evening when it is cool and not for long distances if it is excessively hot. With their long coat it is easy for a Chow to get too hot. If you take your Chow in the car with you never leave him in it when parked if it is hot and sunny, leaving windows open is not enough to prevent the car becoming very hot and airless and a dog can so easily become distressed and even die if left to 'cook' in a car. It does not take long for a car to become unbearable even when parked in the shade.
A thorough down to the skin brushing should be carried out once a week with a tidy up session in between. You Chow will always look good if this is maintained with additional sessions when he is changing coat. Care should be taken not to drag out the soft undercoat but any tangles should be teased out and special attention paid to the thick hair on the back of the hindquarters and the front legs and also the soft fine hair on his chest to ensure that the skin does not get sore and inflamed beneath the coat. Chows are inclined to get uncomfortable and itchy in hot weather and may pull at their coats. If this occurs and they cause a sore area it is essential to clean this and left the air get to it so that it will heal. If this coat pulling and itching is persistent, and no fleas or other livestock are present, a change of diet to a lower protein content feed may solve the problem.
A chow puppy rarely needs a bath but if it does this must be done carefully to not frighten the puppy so that it is put off from the idea for ever more. Be very gentle when first putting the puppy into the bath onto a non slip mat or towel and then gently wet the coat and take great care not to pour water into the nose, eyes or ears. Talk to the puppy all the time and reassure it that all is well, use only a mild soap on a puppy and when thoroughly rinsed let the puppy stand and drip for a minute or two, gently squeeze each foot to release some of the water which has collected around the feet and then lift out and surround in thick towelling to endeavour to remove the maximum amount of water very quickly. Introducing a hair dryer can also be pretty drastic action so do this gently too if you intend to train the puppy to be dried this way. Often it is kinder to just keep the puppy inside in a very warm temperature until it is completely dry - this might take several hours. If it is sunny and warm outside a run around in a safe place in the sun will speed the process.
As a puppy the Chow needs four nourishing meals a day and plenty of rest as well as some play and gently exercise. They are heavy puppies and grow at a surprisingly fast rate and need a considerable amount of high quality food to maintain this rapid growth to develop into a sturdy strong animal. Vitamin and calcium supplements should be added to the diet to formulate strong bone etc. As an adult the amount of food required for a comparatively large dog is not as much as one would expect and certainly not a high proportion of meat - approx. 1/3 meat to 2/3 meal is an ideal formula. Approximately half a pound of meat is usually sufficient together with mixer or meal and added vegetables as available.
While growing up a Chow should be fed to appetite but a rough guide at 8 weeks would be two meat meals with approximately 4oz meat or some other source of protein and the same amount of mixer or biscuit meal and two milky meals of cereal and milk or rice pudding. Some Chows cannot take cows milk so it may be better to use powdered milk or evaporated milk diluted with water. Increase the volume of food as the Chow grows, from about 12-14 weeks stop one of the milk meals and continue with 3 meals until approximately 6 months, from then on two meals a day are sufficient and at one year old one main meal only if the Chow is satisfied with this. It is not recommended to give any dog 'tit-bits' but a few hard biscuits can be given to assist in keeping teeth clean and a bedtime or breakfast treat. Household 'leftovers' can be added to the main meal.
If you have acquired your Chow for the show ring discuss with the breeder how to start attending shows and go to a few without your dog first to see what actually goes on. When starting a puppy off do not enter every class available, maybe just minor puppy or puppy and novice for the first few shows and if there is a special beginners class do read the definitions and if you enter then do so as this is the class especially for the newer exhibitor and gives you the opportunity to compete in a class without coming up against the very experienced exhibitors. Remember your puppy is still only a baby and doesn't suddenly acquire masses of stamina to go haring about the country to every show available (even if you can manage to !) and start slowly and do not tire the puppy out and make it bored with the whole thing. It is wise to also bear in mind that shows should be a pleasure for both you and your Chow and win or lose it will be the same Chow going home with you, judges opinions vary and there will be good and bad days but at the end of the day you should still love him.
Chows love to play in the snow and enjoy dry cold weather and will happily lie outside for hours on end but they are not really lovers of very hot weather and care should be taken not to let them get overheated in the height of summer. Never leave a chow in the car when it is hot or when there is strong sunlight with a breeze, the air does not ventilate sufficiently to keep the temperature down in a parked metal box !
Patience is needed to train a Chow but the basics can be taught and a well behaved dog is much easier to live with than an unruly big dog you cannot rely on. A Chow puppy is very adorable but training must begin from the day you take him home, and often requires plenty of firmness, it's too late if he learns bad habits then you try to change him and twice as much work for you. Re-training can be achieved with an older one but it is a much slower process and some habits are extremely difficult to break.
Most chow owners remain faithful to the breed for many years and would not have any other breed of dog but if it is your choice, do remember that you will not get a fawning lap dog (unless it is a rare exception) as the Chows character was formed a very long time ago. A regularly groomed and well trained Chow will be a constant joy to his owners and always attract compliments from other people which are what existing Chow owners wish to perpetuate, so do try and do your best with your member of the breed.
Most breeders' worm at 6 and 8 weeks of age but this should be checked. When the vaccinations are done check with your vet as to whether further worming is necessary. Many vets advise worming at 6 monthly intervals and it is best to obtain worming products from a vet rather than a pet store.
Chows rarely take to a basket or a bed but a new puppy needs his own area so a blanket or piece of carpet in 'his place' or a cut down cardboard box can be used.
Your Veterinary Surgeon is there to help if you think that your Chow has any serious health problem but careful checking of the dog regularly will often prevent costly visits to the Vet as so many things can be prevented before they become serious.
Keep an eye on claws and trim them carefully if they are getting long, road work and exercise on hard ground will normally keep them worn enough but check dew claws to make sure they are not curling into the leg. If a claw splits trim it tidily and avoid rough ground for a few days so that the Chow does not keep catching it until it has hardened.
Chows are one of the easiest breeds to house train and often a new puppy seems to be already trained. Put the puppy out first thing in the morning, after every meal, when he wakes from a sleep and last thing at night and he will soon learn to be spotlessly clean. Overnight it is best to put some newspaper on the floor nearest the door through which he normally goes to the garden and if the puppy needs to spend a penny he will almost certainly use this as most puppies are used to going on paper.
THE CHOW CHOW CLUBS
There are a number of clubs for the breed and enquiries in your area will tell you if there is one whose area of operation is close to your home, but there are also three nationwide clubs, The Chinese, The National and The Chow Chow Club, the oldest and largest, membership of the clubs is not expensive and in the case of The Chow Chow Club ensures that you will receive two newsletters a year and also schedules of the club shows should you wish to enter. To apply for membership, click here
A puppy will normally be vaccinated at 12-14 weeks and should not be taken out into any public areas until this initial vaccination programme is completed. Some breeders have puppies done earlier and this can be checked at the time of purchase. The vaccinations can be boosted annually or when your vet advises.
In the summer check no hard seeds have got into ears, between toes or buried into the coat as they have a nasty habit of working their way into the skin. If you find one in the skin, pull it out carefully, clean up the 'hole' with salt water, dry and apply either antiseptic cream or powder. If you can see one deep in the ear and are unable to remove it easily do not push it further in but get your vet to remove it, they have the tools for the job.
Firtsly check feet and claws, sharp stones can cut the pads or get wedged between toes, claws can get split or broken. Clean up any cuts with warm salty water, immersing foot for a few minutes and then dry thoroughly. Deep cuts may require veterinary attention. If you suspect a more serious injury, rest the chow and consult your vet. Cruciate ligament injuries are fairly common an often a period of rest and controlled exercise will allow the injury to heal - it is only very serious injury which requires an operation. If H.D. is suspected X-ray is the only certain way to diagnose this and this is a matter to be arranged with your vet.
Chows are often seen to have wet eyes and sometimes this is caused by a condition known as entropian - inturning of the eyelids. If your Chows eyes are wet consult with your vet who will establish if it is entropian or even blocked tear ducts. Entropian usually requires an operation to remove the offending excess skin and your vet will perhaps wish to wait until full facial development has taken place before operating and providing no damage is being caused to the actual eye, then this may be the wisest course to take, but you have to be guided by your vet.
Some Chows (usually the heavier headed ones) suffer from breathing problems, this is usually due to an unusual condition described as elongated soft palate and it found to be very serious, may require surgery. This is usually noticed in particularly hot weather and if your Chow appears to struggle for air it might be wise to consult with your vet. Sometimes an otherwise perfectly normal breather may get overheated in very hot weather or due to stress, and sever constriction, can cause heat stroke and immediate action is needed to cool the Chow down, the easiest method is to stand or sit the Chow in a quantity of cold (not icy) water its body temperature drops, also seek urgent veterinary attention.
If you have any problem with your Chow or you require further advice or information, then the breeder of your puppy or any other good breeder should be able to advise you.