Getting Started: What to Consider When Getting a Puppy
Life with a puppy can be compared to life with a human toddler. While raising both can be a rewarding endeavor, you'll need lots of patience to keep them out of mischief and entertained, and to teach them about the world around them in a safe, secure, and positive fashion.
Since puppies use their mouths to explore their new world and will be teething shortly, they are compelled to chew excessively while their adult teeth are emerging. You might find the doggy equivalent of a teething ring on your living room rug, your favourite blanket or even your hand.
Owning a dog also means taking responsibility for another creature's health, happiness, and safety. It means budgeting for vet fees if your dog gets into something it shouldn't, and always planning supervision and care when you can't be around. It means possessing the emotional intelligence to remember that since your dog can't speak English, he won't understand your direction to stop chewing on the furniture.
Preparing Your Home
Before bringing your new dog home, it's imperative to prepare. Pet-proof your home by securing any electrical cords and storing them out of the way. Move potentially hazardous plants or chemicals out of reach of your dog's curious nose, and close any doors, vents, or other openings or passageways that may lead him into danger or leave him stranded.
We also recommend being prepared to begin house training your new puppy as soon as you get her home. If you plan to crate train her, get the crate ready beforehand by placing blankets or a dog bed in it to make it a comfortable, welcoming space for your new pet. Check that it's large enough for her to stand up, turn around, and lie down.
You may also want to dedicate a tiny area such as a corner of the powder room or kitchen, where she can still be in the house but confined away from other dogs and small children. Invest in some puppy training pads to catch any accidents, along with water and food bowls, a dog bed, and a toy or two.
Ensuring your puppy has the right diet and nutrition is key to helping them stay healthy and energetic enough to explore and live a happy life. High-quality puppy food has been specifically made to help puppies grow and develop as they should. It's a good idea to ask your veterinarian for guidance on how much and how often you should feed your dog, as the appropriate amount of food will depend on your dog's breed, age, size, and more.
You and your vet may decide that it's best to free-feed your tiny breed dog so they get enough nourishment. Both toy and tiny breeds mature faster physically than larger breeds, and can graduate to adult dog food and adult-sized meal portions between the ages of nine and twelve months.
Larger breeds should eat many meal portions of proper sizes throughout the day to avoid issues such as stomach bloat, or protein and calcium buildup. While you should speak with your vet about your puppy's specific needs, we can offer a general guideline for a large dog feeding schedule:
- Six to twelve weeks old: Four meals a day
- Three to six months old: Three meals a day
- Six months and up: Two meals a day
Dogs naturally try to avoid soiling their bed and the area around it. Use this to your advantage to create a potty area for your puppy, keeping in mind that small puppies will often need to go outside every couple of hours. Take him to an area of the yard where he won't be exposed to other animals until he's received all of his vaccines, and never punish your puppy for a mistake.
Instead, we recommend ignoring undesirable behavior or correcting your young dog with a simple but firm "no". Never yell at or smack your dog. When he displays bad behavior, attempt to redirect him to something positive. Consider enrolling your four-legged friend in an obedience course as soon as he's old enough. This will not only teach him proper behavior, but will also help with socialization efforts.
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 Limehouse Veterinary Clinic, 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.