Raising a puppy comes with its own set of challenges, even though they are adorable. Our veterinary experts at Franklin offer tips on how to successfully raise a puppy, enabling you to navigate through this stage and raise a healthy, content, and well-behaved dog.
Getting Started: What to Consider When Getting a Puppy
Raising a puppy can be compared to raising a human toddler, requiring a great deal of patience to guide them toward positive and safe experiences.
During their teething phase, puppies tend to chew excessively as they explore their environment with their mouths, resulting in unexpected chewing on items such as furniture or clothing.
Owning a dog involves being responsible for their happiness, health, and safety. This includes being financially prepared for unexpected vet fees and having plans for their care when you're unavailable. Additionally, it's essential to understand that dogs don't understand human language, so it's necessary to communicate with them through actions and positive reinforcement.
Preparing Your Home
Preparing your home before bringing a new dog home is crucial. This includes securing electrical cords, moving any hazardous chemicals or plants out of reach, and closing doors, vents, or other openings to prevent danger or potential confinement.
It's also essential to start house training your new puppy immediately upon arrival. If you intend to crate train your puppy, prepare the crate beforehand by providing comfortable bedding and ensuring it's large enough for them to stand, turn around, and lie down.
When crating your puppy, select a designated area, such as a kitchen corner or powder room, keeping them confined yet still in the house and away from children and other pets. To ensure your puppy's comfort and well-being, provide them with food and water bowls, a dog bed, a toy or two, and puppy training pads to address any accidents.
A crucial part of raising a puppy is ensuring they receive a proper diet and nutrition to maintain their health and vitality. High-quality puppy food is specifically designed to support their growth and development. Consult your veterinarian to determine the appropriate amount and frequency of feedings, as this may vary based on factors such as breed, size, and age.
In some cases, tiny dog breeds may require free feeding to ensure adequate nourishment. These breeds mature faster than larger breeds and may switch to adult dog food and portions between the ages of nine and twelve months.
On the other hand, larger breeds should have multiple properly portioned meals throughout the day to avoid issues like calcium and protein buildup or stomach bloat. Here's a general feeding schedule for large dogs:
- 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 instinctively avoid soiling their bed and surroundings. Establish a potty routine for your puppy, taking into account that they may need to go out every few hours. Select a part of the yard that is free of other animals until your puppy has received all their vaccinations, and avoid punishing them for mistakes.
Rather than yelling or hitting your puppy, correct negative behavior with a stern "no" and redirect them towards positive activities. Consider enrolling them in obedience lessons to teach good behavior and socialization.
Socialization is crucial in raising a well-adjusted puppy. While waiting for all vaccinations, expose your puppy to new people, places, and experiences through play and sensory exploration. Supervise children around your puppy's food or toys to prevent resource-guarding behavior.
Teaching your puppy not to bite is one of the most important lessons. Establishing yourself as the pack leader will help them understand the importance of respecting and obeying you. Remember to provide positive reinforcement and clear direction, and discipline any biting behavior with a calm and firm "no."
Exercise & Play
Bored dogs are likelier to engage in aggressive or improper behavior, so provide him with puzzle toys and outdoor exercise (walking, playtime) to stimulate his mind. 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
A veterinarian will suggest a parasite control plan to prevent fleas, ticks, and heartworms and advise on when to neuter or spay your puppy to reduce health and behavioral issues in the future. They can also offer guidance on puppy care, such as teeth brushing and nail trimming, and provide advice on feeding your dog.
You can also schedule a 6-month follow-up at the checkup to monitor your puppy's growth and progress. It's also an opportunity to prepare for the adolescent years and 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.