In the animal world, God has yet to make something which is more adorable than a newborn puppy or kitten. They just melt your hearts with their cuteness. However, caring for a puppy is no easy task and should not be undertaken by the faint of heart. Caring for a new puppy is only a few steps behind caring for a toddler. Both bring unbridled joy but also tend to put everything they find in their mouth. In this article, I bring you the steps to prepare yourself and making the new member of your family as comfortable as possible.
When it is finally time to get your new member, you can be sure to expect three things: the joy of having a child, cleaning up the accidents caused by her puppy and finally a huge lifestyle adjustment. If you have been preparing for a while now, you would know that puppy during their growing stages, need a lot more than just the food bowl and a place to sleep in. Even though it may seem like it’s a lot of work during the early stages, it will increase your bonding with your pup and is definitely worth the effort and sleepless nights.
During those initial sleep deprived weeks, the foundation, habits and training you form in your pup will be the base for many years of happiness for both you as well as your canine kid. Read on to understand all the points that you must be prepared for before you get your puppy home.
1. Choosing the right puppy for your home:
The first step to being a good dog parent is choosing the right puppy who suits your current lifestyle. If you lead a very busy lifestyle, you will obviously not have a lot of time to get your puppy to exercise. Hence go for breeds which require less exercise. If you are a lot into outdoor hiking walking trekking etc. then you should go for a puppy who enjoys outdoors more. If you live in warm climate, do not go for dogs like Siberian husky who are used to living in icy conditions. How often you clean your house and whether you’re allergic or not will determine whether you should go for shorthaired or long-haired dogs. This will also determine whether you should go for dogs who shed a lot or comparatively lesser.
Do not forget to conduct your research on the potential health issues and temperament before you choose a dog breed for yourself.
If you decide to go with the breeder, remember to look for a responsible breeder. Unfortunately, there are many irresponsible breeders and it is because of them that the dogs develop bad habits at very early stages. Irresponsible breeders may not administer the right kind of nutrition that the mama dog needs during pregnancy and thus the puppy you adopt may have congenital defects.
2. Puppy proof your house
Puppies are one of the most curious creatures on the planet. They tend to get into everything they see. Hence, puppy proofing is a good idea, especially if you’re a first-time dog guardian. Puppy proofing is a lot like toddler proofing your house with a few differences.
Get down on all fours and look at your surroundings. This will give you a puppy eye view of the house. Remove anything which might hurt your puppy or which if your puppy can hurt will cause you harm like breakable items, toxins, electrical cords, gaming consoles etc. Remember to put these things in a place where only you will have an access as puppies are expert climbers, scratchers as well as chewers.
Remember to secure lower cabinets with metal hardware. Metal is generally chew proof. Hence, the cabinet and the contents inside should be safe. Install pet gates to keep your pup away from trash cans, stairs as well as any other regions don’t want the puppy to get into.
Proper manner of puppy proofing will not only keep your puppy safe; it will also ensure your peace of mind.
3. Look for a good veterinarian near your location:
Even before you get your pup, make sure that you have a veterinarian consultant’s phone number in your cell phone. Once you get your pup, the first stop should be to the vet clinic. This visit is mandatory as this will help your vet to determine whether your pup is completely healthy and free of any serious health issues, congenital defects, has good eyesight and hearing etc.
Your vet will also guide you regarding vaccinations and other preventive health routines. In case you do not have a vet nearby, you can also ask your friends who are dog guardians or join validated Facebook groups which have vets on the platform to get more information. In case you’re getting your puppy from a shelter, you can ask the people working at the shelter for advice. The shelter may also have a hands-on veterinarian who you can consult. Another option is to go to your local groomer or dog walkers to gain more knowledge.
4. Make sure you extract the most out of your visit with your veterinarian:
- Consult your veterinarian about what puppy food he or she recommends, how much portion should you feed every time and how often should you feed your pup.
- Set up your pup’s vaccination card. Discuss about the different vaccines and set up your puppy’s vaccination schedule.
- Discuss options about controlling fleas, ticks and other parasites, both out and in the house.
- Learn which diseases are most common during puppy stages and what are the symptoms which you should watch out for.
- If you plan to spay or neuter your dog later in life, when would be the right time to do this.
5. Shop for good food
Remember to look for food which is specific for puppies. During the growth stages, puppies require a lot of nutrition and specific quantities of different vitamins and minerals. Therefore, you must go for food which is specifically formulated for puppies and not for adult dogs. When selecting a commercial dog food for your pup, check the packaging for a statement from Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This way you can be sure that the food you plan to give your pup will meet his or her nutritional requirements for growth.
In case you are adopting a dog who belongs to a medium-size breed or small sized breed, you can switch to adult dog food during the period of 9 to 12 months of age. However, in case your pup belongs to a large dog breed like Great Dane, you should stick to giving your dog puppy kibbles still your pup reaches the age of two years.
Remember to feed your pup multiple times in a day.:
- If your puppy belongs to the age of 6 to 12 weeks: feed your pup four meals every day.
- If your puppy belongs to the age of 3 to 6 months: feed your pup three meals every day
- If your puppy belongs to age of 6 to 12 months: feed your pup two meals per day.
6. Get some good toys:
Toys are very important during the puppy stages of a dog’s life. These are not only for entertainment of your pup; they are also educational. Go for toys which are specific for puppies. Do not get bones for your puppy to chew on. If your puppy is teething, you can buy toys like rope toys, balls, Frisbees etc. If you get your puppy toys made of plastic, keep a close eye on your pup. Puppies have very sharp teeth. They can chew off the plastic and may ingest it as well. Hence, it is not advised to give your puppy soft plastic toys.
7. Work on establishing a bathroom schedule
Puppies hate to wear diapers. This is the reason housetraining becomes a high priority on most dog guardian’s dog care schedule. Remember to be very patient, provide plenty of positive reinforcements and plan bathroom breaks every hour or two during the initial days. This will help you avoid accidents at home. You can also add a carpet cleaning plan to your schedule because accidents are likely to happen. Using puppy pads for training is another great option.
When your pup pees or poops outside, reward the good behavior with plenty of praise and treats. In case there is an accident in the house, do not punish your puppy. It takes time for dogs to learn a new behavior. Punishing will only drive your dog away from you. It will not help with the training process. Therefore, if there is an accident, quickly clean it up and go back to training. It has been observed that puppies who are punished for being or pooping indoors at the young age, develop behavior like eating the poop or drinking their own urine to hide the evidence.
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The best way to avoid accidents is to take your dog out at times when the urge to defecate is the maximum. You may consider taking your pup out during the following times:
- Right when you wake up
- Just before bedtime
- When your puppy has drank a lot of water or has had meals.
- When the puppy wakes up from nap time
- During and right after any kind of physical activity
Till your puppy has received all necessary vaccinations, do not take your kid to the places which other dogs or animals have access to. Dogs at very young age are highly susceptible to getting infected with parvovirus. Since parvovirus spreads fairly easily from one dog to another, hence this precaution is advised.
8. Be on the lookout for any kind of illness
Just like human kids, during the puppy stages dogs are also susceptible to a variety of infections. These diseases can become very serious very quickly if they have not been caught at the early stages. Keep an eye out for the symptoms mentioned below. If you observe any of these in your puppy, do not delay in contacting your veterinarian.
- Poor weight gain
- Painful or swollen abdomen
- Lethargy or extreme tiredness
- loss of appetite
- inability to pass feces or urine
- discharge from the nose
- Eye discharge
- Paleness in the gums
- Coughing or wheezing
- Difficulty in breathing
9. Stop biting behavior and teach obedience
Puppyhood is the stage when you start training manners to your pup. Good manners will help your pup later in life during social interactions. Along with this, obedience training will also forge a strong bond between your pup and you.
Start with simple commands like sit, come, stay, down. These commands are the basic commands and help keep your puppy safe in hazardous situation.
You can also enroll in puppy training courses and obedience classes. These are a great way to train the dog guardian as well as the dog. Classes typically accept puppies who are ranging from 4 to 6 months of age and have been vaccinated for parvovirus.
As I mentioned before, training your puppy will need a lot of patience and high-value treats. Don’t hold back on either.
10. Start puppy socialization
Socialization is equally important as obedience training. Early socialization will help your puppy avoid behavioral problems once he or she grows up. Once your puppy has received the first vaccination, you can begin socializing your puppy with other animals and people. Around the age of four months, most puppies start to accept other people, animals and places. You can also take socialization classes for the same. However, have a talk with your vet about the kinds of interactions which are okay for your puppy at this stage.
Puppies may take up a lot of your time, patience and resources. But at the end, the unconditional love, loyalty and affection that you receive from your kid is incomparable and makes all the previous hardships worthwhile. No one will love your pup more than you and no one will love you more than your pup. Remember to give your pup lots of cuddles, kisses and time so that he or she can bond with you at the psychological level. Wishing you and your new puppy a very long happy and healthy life full of many adventures ahead.