Puppies are, without a doubt, some of the most adorable things on the planet. Parenting a new puppy, however, is no walk in the park. Here’s a guide to help you care for the new addition to your family.
When the time comes to finally bring your new puppy home for the first time, you can pretty much count on three things: unbridled joy, cleaning up your puppy’s accidents, and a major lifestyle adjustment. As you’ll soon learn, a growing puppy needs much more than a food bowl and a doghouse to thrive. And while it may be a lot of work initially, it’s well worth the effort! Establishing good and healthy habits in those first few sleep-deprived weeks will lay the foundation for many dog-years of happiness for you and your puppy.
Find a Good Vet
We recommend that you bring your puppy to his first vet appointment between 10 and 12 weeks. He will be due for a 5-way booster and a rabies vaccine (not recommended before 12 weeks). If you don’t have a vet already, ask friends for recommendations. Local dog walkers and groomers are also a great source for ideas.
Make the Most of Your First Vet Visit
- Set up a vaccination plan with your vet.
- Discuss safe options for controlling parasites, both external and internal.
- Learn which signs of illness to watch for during your puppy’s first few months.
- Ask about when you should spay or neuter your dog.
Shop for Quality Food
Your puppy’s body is growing in critical ways which is why you’ll need to select a food that’s formulated especially for puppies as opposed to adult dogs. We recommend a high-protein (over 27%), small pebble puppy chow with a chicken, lamb, or meat based protein instead of grain. Small and medium-sized breeds can make the leap to adult dog food between nine and 12 months of age. Large breed dogs should stick with puppy kibbles until they reach two years old. Make sure your puppy has fresh and abundant water available at all times.
Feed multiple times a day:
- Age 8-12 weeks – 4 meals per day
- Age 3-6 months – 3 meals per day
- Age 6-12 months – 2 meals per day
Establish a Bathroom Routine
According to the experts, your most potent allies in the quest to house-train your puppy are patience, planning, and plenty of positive reinforcement. In addition, it’s probably not a bad idea to put a carpet-cleaning battle plan in place, because accidents will happen.
Until your puppy has had all of her vaccinations, you’ll want to find a place outdoors that’s inaccessible to other animals. This helps reduce the spread of viruses and disease. Make sure to give lots of positive reinforcement whenever your puppy has success eliminating outside and, almost equally important, refrain from punishing her when she has accidents indoors.
Knowing when to take your puppy out is almost as important as giving her praise whenever she does eliminate outdoors. Here’s a list of the most common times to take your puppy out to potty.
- When you wake up.
- Right before bedtime.
- Immediately after your puppy eats or drinks a lot of water.
- When your puppy wakes up from a nap.
- During and after physical activity.
Watch For Early Signs of Illness
For the first few months, puppies are more susceptible to sudden bouts of illnesses that can be serious if not caught in the early stages. If you observe any of the following symptoms in your puppy, it’s time to contact the vet.
- Lack of appetite
- Poor weight gain
- Swollen of painful abdomen
- Lethargy (tiredness)
- Difficulty breathing
- Wheezing or coughing
- Pale gums
- Swollen, red eyes or eye discharge
- Nasal discharge
- Inability to pass urine or stool
By teaching your puppy good manners, you’ll set your puppy up for a life of positive social interaction. In addition, obedience training will help forge a stronger bond between you and your puppy.
Teaching your pup to obey commands such as sit, stay, down, and come will not only impress your friends, but these commands will help keep your dog safe and under control in any potentially hazardous situations. Many puppy owners find that obedience classes are a great way to train both owner and dog. Classes typically begin accepting puppies at age 4 to 6 months.
Keep it Positive
Positive reinforcement, such as small treats, has been proven to be vastly more effective than punishment. Introduce new food or treats gradually because he/she is not accustomed to them. Cut treats into very small pieces, so they are less likely to upset his/her tummy.
Just like obedience training, proper socialization during puppyhood helps avoid behavioral problems down the road. Our puppies here at Rockadoodles, are raised in our home, where they are socialized on a daily basis until they are ready to go to their new forever homes.