If you're considering adding a puppy to your family, you have lots to think about. After all, they do indeed require special love and care. Here, our Dallas vets share some insights about the art of raising a puppy, especially in that critical first year.
Caring for a Puppy
Have you recently brought home a puppy? Perhaps you're thinking of adopting or going to a breeder. No matter where you are in the process, you're likely excited about adding a pet to the family - and raising a puppy as they mature. Plus, we can't forget the adorable photo opportunities to come!
However, for first-time pet owners, the task can feel a bit overwhelming, especially if you're considering the advice and experience of friends and family and reading about how to raise a puppy, but aren't sure exactly what you're getting yourself into.
In this article, our vets at New Hope Animal Hospital will share some of their best insights about raising a puppy, from safety tips to a practical list of supplies you'll need to help the first few months go smoothly. Keep these handy and you'll be on your way to helping your pup frow into a happy, healthy, well-behaved dog.
Puppies are very energetic and curious about everything happening around them. That means that as a puppy owner, you'll need a lot of patience to train and socialize them so they understand how to behave. You'll also be tasked with teaching them about the world in a safe manner and keeping them out of trouble.
Luckily, puppies tend to sleep a lot, so you'll get some breaks during the day. However, keep in mind that they don't always sleep through the night, which can lead to them barking or whining throughout the night due to being left alone.
Your pup will also likely chew on anything they can find as their adult teeth emerge, which may lead to the destruction of some of your favorite items if left around the house if you forget to keep them out of the way of your puppy's reach. On the bright side, this behavior shouldn't last too long as your pooch will leave most of their puppy tendencies behind by the time they turn a year old.
Caring for a puppy requires a large ongoing investment of time and money, and is a significant obligation for everyone involved. If you're thinking about getting a puppy, confirm that someone can be home with them at all times. This will allow you to monitor their behavior, put an end to undesirable habits as soon as they start to form, let them out to go to the bathroom, and develop a bond with your pet.
Puppy-Proofing Your Home
While you may try your hardest, it's virtually impossible to supervise your curious, energetic pup around the clock. To minimize the trouble your puppy can get into while you aren't in the house, we recommend puppy-proofing your home before they arrive. Moving potentially toxic plants or substances out of their reach and securing electrical cords to avoid the danger of electrocution should be first on your list.
To find all those hidden hazards, you might want to crawl through your home to get a puppy's-eye view of their surroundings. Remove anything they might be tempted to chew or swallow, and close off openings such as pet doors or vents that may allow them to become lost or stuck. This will not only go a long way to keeping them safe and preventing accidents, but it should also help ease your anxiety that your new pup will get lost or hurt.
You'll need to be ready to start house training your pup as soon as you bring them home. If you plan to crate train them, have your crate ready to go. Make it comfortable by lining it with blankets or a dog bed, but make sure it's large enough that they'll have plenty of room to stand up, turn around and lie down. Slowly introduce them to the crate by leaving the door open and letting them explore it on their own. You can help tempt them to go in by throwing in a toy or using treats. The more comfortable they are with going into the crate, the easier it will be on both of you during training.
Puppies have different nutrient and energy needs than matured dogs. Look for some high-quality puppy food that is specially formulated to support puppy development and growth. The proper quantity of food depends on factors like age, size, and breed. It's a good idea to consult your veterinarian about how much and how often to feed your pup.
For some small breeds, it can be best to free-feed young pups to ensure they receive adequate nutrition. Toy and small breed dogs reach physical maturity faster than larger breeds and can be switched over to adult dog food and adult-sized portions between 9 and 12 months of age.
Larger breeds can take a full two years to reach physical maturity and have different nutritional needs than small breeds. They should be fed puppy food specifically formulated for large breeds. Talk to your vet about the best time to switch your growing large breed dog to adult food. They should also be fed multiple meals each day with controlled portions to prevent complications, such as stomach bloat.
When your pup is 6-12 weeks old, a good feeding structure would dictate they are fed 4 times a day. At 3-6 months, 3 meals a day should be provided. After 6 months and, as your pup matures and grows into an adult dog, 2 meals a day will suffice.
What You'll Need
Your new puppy will require a lot of supplies that you should have prepared before bringing them home. Some supplies you will need include:
- A crate or dog carrier
- A dog bed
- Food and water dishes
- High-quality puppy food and healthy dog treats
- Fresh, clean water
- A dog brush or comb
- Puppy-safe shampoo
- Puppy-safe toys
- A collar with an ID
- Dog toothbrush and dog-safe toothpaste
- Nail trimmers
- Poop bags
- Travel bag
- Pet-safe home cleaner
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.