Eleven Tips for Your New Puppy
By Breona Baines
Go slow! It's been a very big day for your puppy and he will become overwhelmed easily. Once your puppy has grown fond of you, begin to familiarize your puppy with lots of contact right away-- get him used to having his ears, paws, nails and teeth touched. This will help basic care, like nail trims, tooth brushing and ear cleanings, go much more smoothly for you (and your vet!) in the future.
A few basic supplies that you'll need for your puppy are a crate, leash and collar, stainless steel or ceramic food dishes, soft, durable bedding, and durable toys (such as Kongs or soft squeaky toys) with no small parts or choking hazards.
Good nutrition is very important during your puppy's growth and development stage. In most cases, you'll feed puppy food for the first year of life, unless instructed differently by your veterinarian. And as far as feeding amounts go, it's best to follow the instructions on the bag, as these feeding guidelines are based on your puppy's weight, and are measured out perfectly to give your puppy the right amount of nutritional content that he needs.
Your puppy's crate should be his safe place. Get your puppy accustomed to sleeping in it at night, and being crated while you're away. His crate should be just large enough for him to turn around comfortably. Start by crating puppy for 15 minutes at a time, and be sure to reward him each time you let him out. Gradually increase the time he spends in his crate. Keep toys and maybe a few treats in his crate to make it a positive experience.
The first few months of your puppy's life are going to be the most critical for teaching him new skills. Make training a positive activity, with lots of incentives for your pup, like treats, toys, and attention. Check out this article on reward based training to learn more.
You should take your new puppy to see your veterinarian within the first few days of arriving home, just to ensure that they are healthy, even if they are not ready to be vaccinated yet. Beyond your first wellness check up, you should also start their vaccine series around 8 weeks of age.
Along with your puppy's collar, you should have a personalized ID tag made with your contact information. You can create one of these tags at many local pet stores, and they are generally very inexpensive. Another great form of identification is microchipping. A microchip is a permanent form of identification that is placed under the skin with minimal discomfort. This microchip carries a unique number that links back to your contact information.
Spay & Neuter
Spaying and neutering is very important. Spaying your female helps prevent uterine infections and and certain cancers, while neutering also helps with behavioral issues like roaming and marking.
It's going to be very important to not allow your puppy to get used to having table food. Also, many dog treats are very high in calories, so it's best to give these in moderation. Some other things to avoid are any food items with onions, garlic, grapes/raisins, chocolates, or anything with artificial sweeteners. Avoid items like bones and anything that would hurt your own teeth, and if you choose to give rawhides or similar treats, always give with supervision, as these present choking hazards. Check out this article to learn more about food toxicities.
Familiarizing your puppy with dental care early on can save you many headaches later on. Gradually getting your puppy used to having his teeth brushed at an early age will help prevent discomfort, serious infections and costly procedures in the future. Talk to your any staff member to get a demonstration!
Your new puppy won't have the same bladder control as an adult dog, so it's very important to make regular trips outside. Take him to the exact same spot during initial training, and reward him at this spot only. For more in-depth housebreaking guidance, check out this handout from Dr. R.