Puppies are without a doubt adorable and parenting a new puppy is not easy. Here’s a guide to help you care for the new addition to the family. When the time comes to finally bring your puppy home, you need to be mindful of three things: unbridled joy, cleaning up your puppy’s accidents, and a lifestyle adjustment. A puppy needs much more than food and a home to be happy and well adjusted and although it may be stressful initially, it’s worth every effort. Establishing good and healthy habits will lay the foundation for many dog-years of happiness for you and your dog.
1. Find a Vet
Take your new puppy to the vet for a checkup. This visit will not only help ensure that your puppy is healthy and free of serious health issues, but it will help you take the first steps toward a good preventive health routine. Ask your vet which puppy food is recommended, how often and what portion size to give. The following points should be:
- Set up a vaccination plan
- Discuss options for controlling parasites
- Learn which signs of illness to watch for
2. Quality Food
Select food that’s formulated especially for puppies as opposed to adult dogs. Small and medium-sized breeds can make the leap to adult dog food between 9 and 12 months of age. Large breed dogs should stick with puppy kibbles until they reach 2-years-old. Make sure your puppy has fresh and abundant water available at all times, especially during the hot summer months.
Feed multiple times a day:
- Age 6-12 weeks – 4 meals per day
- Age 3-6 months – 3 meals per day
- Age 6-12 months – 2 meals per day
3. Establish a Bathroom Routine
Puppies do not like to wearing nappies and house-training quickly becomes a high priority on most puppy owners’ list of must-learn tricks. To housetrain your puppy you need patience, planning, and plenty of positive reinforcement.
Knowing when to take your puppy out is almost as important as giving it praise whenever it poos or pees 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.
- After a nap.
- During and after physical activity.
4. Watch For Early Signs of Illness
In the first few months, puppies are in danger of contracting illnesses that can be serious if not caught in the early stages.
5. Teach Obedience
By teaching your puppy good manners, you’ll set your puppy up for a life of positive social interaction. Obedience training will help create a stronger bond between you and your puppy.
Obeying commands such as sit, stay, down, and come will help keep your dog stay safe and under control in any potentially hazardous situation. 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.
Tip: Keep it positive. Positive reinforcement, such as small treats, has been proven to be vastly more effective than punishment.
6. Be Sociable
Just like obedience training, proper socialisation during puppyhood helps avoid behaviour problems. At approximately two to four months of age, most puppies begin to accept other animals, people, places, and experiences. Socialisation with other dogs and humans is an excellent way to have positive social experiences with whatever the occassion.