Puppies may be cute but they can be a huge responsibility. Here is some advice from our Santa Cruz County vets to help you raise your puppy and ensure your new friend grows up to be a happy, healthy, well-adjusted dog.
Things to Consider When Getting a Puppy
Once your new puppy comes home you'll need a lot of patience to keep him out of mischief and teach him to navigate the world. 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 his or her 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 Your Home
It is critical to prepare your home before introducing your new dog into it. Electrical cords should be secured, and potentially hazardous plants or chemicals should be moved out of reach. Close any vents, pet doors, or other openings that could lead him astray or get him stranded.
You must be prepared to begin house training your puppy as soon as you get him home. Prepare the crate if you intend to crate train him. Line it with blankets or a dog bed to make it more comfortable, but make sure it's big enough for him to stand up, turn around, and lie down.
If you do plan to crate your puppy, set aside a tiny area, such as a powder room or a kitchen corner, where he 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 some tiny breeds of dogs, it may be best to free feed. Toy and tiny breed dogs mature physically faster than larger breeds and can be moved to adult dog food and adult-sized portions between the ages of nine and twelve months.
Larger breeds should be fed many meals each day in appropriate portions to avoid issues like stomach bloat and protein or calcium buildup. Here's a general guideline for a large dog feeding schedule:
- Six to twelve weeks old: Four meals per day
- Three to six months old: Three meals per day
- Six months and up: 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 him to a portion of the yard where he won't be exposed to other animals until he's had all of his vaccines, and never punish your puppy for 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 he exhibits bad behavior, attempt to redirect him to something positive. Consider enrolling him in an obedience lesson as soon as he is old enough. This will not only teach him proper behavior, but will also aid in socialization.
Proper socialization is critical to the success of rearing a puppy. He needs 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 he has had all of his vaccines before taking him out in public or allowing him to interact with other animals, you may begin socializing your puppy right away by simply playing with him and introducing him to new people, 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 him 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!"
Exercise & Play
Bored dogs are more likely to engage in aggressive or improper behavior, so provide him with puzzle toys and outdoor exercise (walking, playtime) to keep his mind stimulated. Your dog must understand his place in your home, but this can only be accomplished by consistency and a firm, caring touch.
Your First Vet Visit
If you don't already have a veterinarian, ask around. Your family, friends, and coworkers will almost certainly be able to supply you with numerous references. One of the first things you should do after getting a puppy is to make an appointment with a veterinarian for a health checkup. At Aptos-Creekside Pet Hospital, we're always ready to accept new patients.
Your veterinarian will most likely recommend a parasite control program to keep fleas, ticks, and heartworms at bay. They'' also advise you on when to bring him in to be fixed, which can help lessen the chance of health and behavioral issues as the puppy ages.
They can also advise you on puppy care issues such as tooth brushing and nail cutting, and even show you how to do it. Your veterinarian 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 his 6-month vet checkup to check on his growth and progress. They can also start to give you advice on how to prepare for the adolescent years, which can be difficult for pet owners. This is also a wonderful time to discuss 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.