Raising a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

While adding a new puppy to your home is incredibly rewarding, there are a number of things you should keep in mind when you do. Here, our Doraville vets offer some advice on how to raise a puppy and some considerations that could make raising your new furry friend a little easier.

The Art of Raising a Puppy

One thing you will need a lot of when raising a new puppy is patience. Puppies are compelled to chew excessively as their adult teeth emerge, your puppy will probably try to chew everything including the living room rug, your shoes, or even your hand.

Having a dog means assuming responsibility for their happiness, safety, and health. It means being able to pay for vet fees when your pet gets hurt or eats something they shouldn't, and having a plan in place for their care when you can't be there (pet sitter). It means not constantly screaming at your dog  because your dog does not speak English and does not understand the words "stop chewing on my shoes!"

Puppy Proofing Your Home

Before bringing your new addition home, you should be sure to complete the necessary preparations. A good way to figure out what to do is to think of it as child-proofing your home. Electrical cords should be secured, and potentially hazardous plants or chemicals should be moved out of reach. Close any vents, pet doors, windows, or other openings that could let them run away or get them stranded.

Prepare to begin house training your puppy as soon as you get him home. Have the crate ready if you intend to crate-train him. Line it with blankets or a dog bed to make it more comfortable. Make sure it's big enough for him to stand up, turn around, and lie down.

If you do plan to crate your puppy, set aside a tiny area, such as a powder room or a kitchen corner, where he can be confined and kept away from other dogs and small children. Make sure you have some puppy training pads on hand to catch any accidents, as well as a dog bed, food and water bowls, and a toy or two.

Providing Your Puppy With Adequate Nutrition

Look for high-quality puppy food that has been specially prepared to help puppies develop and grow. The appropriate amount of food is determined by characteristics such as age, size, and breed. Ask your vet about how much and how often you should feed your dog.

To guarantee enough nourishment for some tiny breeds of dogs, it may be best to free-feed. Toy and tiny breed dogs mature physically faster than larger breeds and can be moved to adult dog food and adult-sized portions between the ages of nine and twelve months.

Larger breeds should be fed several meals each day in appropriate portions to avoid issues like stomach bloat and protein or calcium buildup.

Here's a general guideline for a large-bred of dog to be fed:

  • Six to twelve weeks old: Four meals per day
  • Three to six months old: Three meals per day
  • Six months and up: Two meals per day

Training Your Puppy as a Foundation to Good Lifelong Behavior

Like toddlers potty training needs to be undertaken with your puppy. Your dogs will try not to soil their bed and the area around it. Create a potty pattern for your puppy, bearing in mind that small puppies will often need to go out every couple of hours. Take him to a portion of the yard where he won't be exposed to other animals until he's had all of his vaccines. Your puppy is still learning so don't punish your puppy for a mistake.

It's usually best to ignore undesirable behavior or to correct your dog with a simple but strong "no." Don't hit or yell at your dog. When he exhibits bad behavior, attempt to redirect him to something positive. Obedience lessons are a good way to teach him proper behavior, and they will also aid in socialization.

Proper socialization is critical to the success of raising a puppy. They need to be introduced to as many new people, places, experiences, and circumstances as possible to grow into a well-adjusted dogs. 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 but, you may begin socializing your puppy right away by playing with him and introducing him to new people, sights, noises, smells, and textures.

Always supervise children or other pets while they are around your puppy's food or favorite toy to reduce even minor resource-guarding habits.

The most crucial lesson is to teach a puppy not to bite. Establishing your position as pack leader will help your puppy remember that he must earn your respect and obey you. 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".

Ensuring That Your Puppy Gets Enough Exercise

When a dog or puppy is bored, they will be more likely to behave poorly and get into things that they shouldn't. Providing them with toys and outdoor exercise helps to keep their mind stimulated. 

The Importance of Routine Care When Raising a Puppy

You should make an appointment with a veterinarian for a health checkup to evaluate the health of your puppy.

Speak with your vet to determine the best preventive care program for your new puppy. They can suggest when to bring them in to be fixed, which can help lessen the chance of health and behavioral issues.

You can ask your veterinarian any questions you have regarding care for your dog, such as what kind of food is best to feed them. They can also advise you on puppy care issues such as tooth brushing and nail cutting and even show you how to do it.

While you're there, you can also try to schedule his 6-month vet checkup to check on his growth and progress. 

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.

If you would like more tips and tricks for raising puppies or would like to schedule a routine visit for your furry friend, please contact our vets in Doraville.