Puppies are cute, but raising a healthy and happy dog has its challenges. Today, our Concord vets share some tips on raising a puppy that can help you get through the puppy stage and help you raise a happy, healthy, well-adjusted dog.
Getting Started: Things to Consider When Getting a Puppy
Life with a puppy is similar to life with a human toddler. You'll need a lot of patience to keep them out of trouble and safely teach them how to interact with the world around them. Puppies are compelled to chew excessively as their adult teeth emerge, and you may find the doggy equivalent of a teething ring in the living room rug, your favorite pair of shoes, or even your hand.
Further, having a dog means assuming responsibility for the happiness, safety, and health of another being. It means being able to pay for vet fees if your dog consumes something it shouldn't, and always having a plan in place for their care when you can't be there. It means being emotionally astute enough to see that your dog does not speak English and does not understand the words "stop chewing on the walls!"
Preparing To Bring A Puppy Home
It is critical to prepare your home before introducing your new pet into it. Potentially dangerous items like electrical cords, plants that could be toxic to pets, and household chemicals (e.g. cleaning chemicals) should be moved to an area not accessible by any of your household pets. Close any vents, pet doors, or other openings that could lead them astray or get them stranded in an unfamiliar or hard-to-reach part of the home.
You must be prepared to begin house-training your puppy as soon as you get them home. Prepare the crate if you intend to crate train them by lining it with blankets or a dog bed to make it comfortable. Ensure that the crate is large enough for your puppy to comfortably stand up, turn around, and lie down.
If you do plan to crate-train your puppy, set aside a tiny area such as a powder room or a kitchen corner, where they can be confined and kept away from other dogs and small children. Make sure you have some puppy training pads on hand to catch any accidents, as well as a dog bed, food and water bowls, and a toy or two.
Look for high-quality puppy food that has been particularly prepared to help puppies develop and grow. The appropriate amount of food is determined by characteristics such as age, size, and breed. It's a good idea to talk to your vet about how much and how often you should feed your dog.
To guarantee enough nourishment for certain small and tiny breeds of dogs, it may be best to free feed. Toy and tiny breeds mature physically faster than larger breeds and can be moved to adult dog food and adult-sized portions between the ages of 9 – 12 months.
Larger breeds should be fed many meals each day in portions deemed appropriate by their vet. This can help to avoid issues like stomach bloat and protein or calcium buildup. Here's a general guideline for a large dog feeding schedule:
- 6 – 12 weeks old: Four meals per day
- 3 – 6 months old: Three meals per day
- 6+ months: Two meals per day
Dogs strive to avoid soiling their bed and the area around it naturally. Create a potty pattern for your puppy, bearing in mind that small puppies will often need to go out every couple of hours. Take them to a portion of the yard where they won't be exposed to other animals until they've had all of their vaccines. Above all, remember that puppies are just babies – never punish them for making a mistake!
It's usually preferable to ignore undesirable behavior or to correct your dog with a simple but strong 'No.' Never smack or yell at your dog. When they exhibit bad behavior, attempt to redirect them to something positive. Consider enrolling your puppy in an obedience lesson as soon as they are old enough. This will not only teach them proper behavior, but will also aid in socialization.
Proper socialization is critical to the success of rearing a puppy. They need to be introduced to as many new people, places, experiences, and circumstances as possible to grow into a well-adjusted canine. While you should wait until they have had all of their vaccines before taking them out in public or allowing them to interact with other animals, you may begin socializing your puppy right away at or nearby your home. Simply play with them and introduce them to receptive new people, as well as interesting new sights, noises, smells, and textures.
Working with your dog to reduce even minor resource guarding habits protects everyone, including the puppy. Always supervise children while they are around your puppy's food or favorite toy.
One of the most crucial lessons is to teach pups not to bite. Establishing your position as pack leader will help your puppy remember that he must earn your respect and obey you, which will assist them in controlling this behavior. Keep in mind that your dog desires your approval but also requires your direction. If your puppy nips or bites, discipline with a calm but firm "No!", or make a high-pitched sound like a yelp. This will teach the dog that you (and other playmates) don't like this behavior and will stop the fun.
Exercise & Play
Bored dogs are more likely to engage in aggressive or improper behavior, so provide them with puzzle toys and outdoor exercise (walking, playtime) to keep their mind stimulated. Your dog must understand their place in your home, but this can only be accomplished by consistency and a firm (not harsh!), caring touch.
Your First Vet Visit
If you don't already have a veterinarian, ask around. Looking at online reviews, talking to your family, friends, and coworkers that have dogs are some potential ways to get started with your search. One of the first things you should do after bringing a puppy home is to make an appointment with a veterinarian for a health checkup.
Your veterinarian will most likely recommend a parasite control program to keep fleas, ticks, and heartworms at bay. They'll also advise you on when to bring them in to be spayed (female dogs) or neutered (male dogs), which can help lessen the chance of health and behavioral issues as the puppy ages.
Your puppy's veterinarian can advise you on care for your new animal companion including grooming tips such as tooth brushing and nail cutting, and even show you how to do it. They can also help you with any questions you have regarding care for your dog, such as what kind of food to feed them.
While you're there, you can also try to schedule your pup's 6-month vet checkup to check on their growth and progress. Your vet can give you some advice on how to get ready for your puppy's adolescent years, which can be challenging for new pet owners. Your puppy's first check-up is an excellent way to get information on what to expect as your puppy matures into adulthood.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.