Good Tips on Caring for your New Puppy
Bringing home a new puppy is truly one of life’s joys. Thoughtful pre-puppy preparations and a well-planned first 24 hours can give your fuzzy bundle of promise a head start and make your dreams of the perfect family dog come true. Here’s some tips on managing your new puppy:
- Spay or neuter your dog. This reduces the chances of cancer of the reproductive organs, solves many behavioral issues that develop, and it’s recommended to pet owners who do not plan on breeding their pets. Spaying or neutering will decrease your pet’s metabolism, so you’ll feed on the low end of your pet food’s recommendations.
- Provide your dog a collar with ID tags and discuss applying a HomeAgain microchip to your pet. You can’t guarantee that your dog won’t ever get out of your house or yard, whether by accident, during a natural disaster, or by theft. His ID tags and microchip could be his only chance of returning home to you. We prefer to schedule this procedure during your pet’s spay or neuter procedure.
- Take him to us for a complete physical. Puppies need vaccinations every 3-4 weeks until they’re 16 weeks of age, starting at six weeks. Furthermore, puppies should be dewormed every two weeks from two weeks of age until eight weeks of age.
- Discuss your puppy’s diet with your veterinarian, as it can vary by size and breed. Studies show between 50-60% of household pets are overweight, and pet obesity can lead to serious health issues. Table scraps are a no-no and could be dangerous for your puppy, so stick to your veterinarian’s recommendation. Please pay attention to your dog’s body condition score throughout his or her lifetime.
- Housebreaking can be a time-consuming process. A puppy should be taken outside every two hours, up to six times a day, particularly after meals. Crate training or limited roaming access in a small, gated area works well, as puppies usually don’t soil where they sleep. Look for signs like circling that your puppy has to go. Don’t punish him for soiling after the fact. If you don’t catch him in the act, then he won’t understand why you are correcting him five minutes or more after an incident. Consistency is key in whatever housebreaking method you choose.
- Crate training provides your new puppy with a secure, safe area where he or she can retreat. Put in some soft bedding and even a treat to help coax him in at first, so he learns it is a good place to be. A crate is not to be used for discipline or punishment.
- Training is one of the most important things you can do for your pet—and your family. Puppies need to learn boundaries and need to know you’re in charge. A group class gives him the socialization he needs to build relationships with people and other dogs. He’ll gain self-confidence knowing what’s expected of him, and you will learn how to get the best out of your dog. Most puppy training classes start after they’ve been through their full immunization series (typically after 16 weeks).
- Puppy proofing is very similar to baby proofing—keep your puppy away from anything that could potentially hurt him. Purchase electrical cord protectors from your local hardware store. Remove poisonous plants and toxins. Puppies love to chew, so it’s important to redirect them to their safe chew toys, such Kongs, that won’t fragment and possibly lead to choking. Never leave young children unattended with your puppy, and teach them to touch him gently.
- Dogs are social animals and form a pack—which is now you, your other animals, and your family. The more people he comes in contact with, whether it’s in your home or out and about, the more comfortable and well-behaved he will become. It is also important to get an early start socializing your puppy with other dogs so he learns how to get along with them. This will help prevent territorial, aggressive behavior.
- Taking your puppy to new places is a great experience for both of you, as is car safety. Puppies like to explore, which is distracting while driving. Put your pet in a crate or secure him with a dog seat belt harness. Also available are car seats and boosters used in conjunction with a dog seat belt. These products will also keep your dog from being ejected in case of an accident or from jumping out of your vehicle.