Puppy Care Tips for New Puppy Owners
Puppies are adorable. They’re cute, they’re fun, and they’re a great addition to any family – but they also need trained and cared for, and they will need help to adapt to living in your home. Here are a few tips to make the transition that little bit easier for you.
Choose a Good Vet
As soon as you adopt a puppy, you should take it to the vet. Do this without delay, because there are many health issues and birth defects that puppies are susceptible to that can be managed if they are caught early. The vet will give you peace of mind that your puppy is healthy, and will set you on the path to taking good care of it. If you are adopting a puppy from a shelter, then ask them for a recommendation for a local vet. They will be able to give you impartial advice. You can also get good recommendations from local groomers and dog walkers. At that first visit, ask for a schedule of vaccinations for the dog, and also ask about the right time to get them spayed or neutered. In addition, find out if there are any illnesses that your particular breed of dog is susceptible to, what the warning signs for those illnesses are, and what you should do if you have any concerns.
Feeding Your Puppy
Puppies grow very quickly, and they need slightly different nutrition to adult dogs. There are some dog foods that are formulated specifically for puppies, and that’s what you should use for the first year, for smaller dogs, and two years for larger breeds. Look for a puppy food that bears the Association of American Feed Control Officials mark on it to ensure that it meets the pup’s nutritional requirements. During the first 12 weeks of a dog’s life, they will need to eat four times per day. Between the ages of three and six months, you should feed them three meals a day. From six to twelve months they can be fed twice per day. Make sure that there is always plenty of fresh water available for them, at all ages.
Housetraining a Puppy
One of the first parts of training a puppy is housetraining. This takes patience and lots of positive reinforcement. There will be a lot of accidents, so be ready to do a lot of cleaning when you first get a puppy. If your puppy is not fully vaccinated yet, then you will want to keep them away from other animals, so find a spot that is outdoors, but away from other animals, that you can use to let your puppy go potty. When your dog does go potty outside, give them a lot of positive reinforcement. If they fail and have an accident indoors, then do not react. Punishment can have the wrong effect. Be attentive, and make sure that you take your puppy outside at the right time. It is a good idea to take them outside when you wake up, and just before you go to bed. In addition, take them out after their meals, or after they drink a lot of water. In addition, let them out to go potty when they wake up after a nap and make a potty stop after their walks as well.
The earlier you start obedience training, the more likely it is to be successful. Try to teach your pets the basic commands such as come, stay, down and sit. These are not just party tricks, they are commands that will keep your pet safe when you take them out for walks around other animals. You can train your pet at home, but if you do not have a lot of experience you might find it challenging. There are obedience schools that you can take puppies to, and they will usually accept them from four month’s old. You can also hire trainers that will come to your home and work with your dog one on one if you feel that they are particularly challenging. When you are training your puppy, remember that it is important to be positive. Give small treats, and be consistent and patient. Punishment is less effective than positive reinforcement, so should not be used unless there is something serious happening, and even then it should be short, and immediately after the incident. Consider a puppy to be like a small child. Taking a child’s toy privileges away on an evening because they ran in front of a car on the way to school that morning is unlikely to make much impact because the child will not understand fully why they are being punished. It is more effective to tell the child what they did wrong immediately after the incident, and the same applies to puppies.
Paying Attention to Their Health
Just like babies, puppies are more vulnerable to illnesses than adult dogs. If your puppy is not gaining weight, is not interested in food, or is lethargic, then this could be a sign of illness. Watch out for the same sorts of symptoms you would see in an adult with colds or the flu, too – coughing, wheezing, discharge and vomiting for example. Constipation and/or diarrhea are also signs of illness. Call your vet immediately if you notice any of those issues.
Socializing With Other Dogs
If your puppy has not been immunized, then they should have limited contact with other dogs. Once they are immunized, then they should be exposed to other animals to get them used to the contact. Between two and four months of age, they are usually ready to be exposed to the wider world, and they should be taken to meet other people and animals and to learn how to act around other dogs – especially other breeds. Seek advice from your vet about when to begin socialization classes, and what level of exposure is safe for their age, but do begin as early as you can.