Congratulations on your new puppy! Wondering how to give them the best start in life? Our veterinarians from Exeter have a few tips for caring for your puppy, especially for new dog parents.
Caring For Your New Puppy at Each Stage
Getting a new puppy is super exciting, but it also comes with a bunch of new things to do. To help you know what to do at each stage and what you'll need, our veterinarians have put together a step-by-step list of guidelines for you.
0 - 8 Weeks - Preparing To Bring Your New Puppy Home
Depending on where your new puppy is coming from and how old your pup will be when they join your household, the breeder, adoption agency, or you may take the first three steps.
- Between the ages of 6 - 8 weeks, your puppy should receive their first round of vaccinations.
- Start toilet training early and introduce your puppy to new people and dogs that are fully vaccinated.
Here are a few things you need to do to prepare for your new four-legged family member.
- Before bringing your puppy home, make a special space with a comfy bed and safe toys. Ensure it's draft-free but not too isolated. You might need a create or indoor fencing.
- Puppy-proof your home! Remove all plants that are poisonous to pets, clean up children's toys and store them out of your puppy's reach, and ensure that all chemicals (such as cleaning solutions) are stored safely out of your puppy's reach.
- Find a vet close to you who offers all the services your puppy needs. Check their hours to make sure they're concerning for you.
- Enroll your fur baby in puppy classes. Classes operated by reputable trainers can fill up fast, particularly in busy urban areas, so sign up early to guarantee getting a spot for your pup.
8 - 12 Weeks - Welcoming Your Puppy Into Your Home
Bringing your new puppy home is an exciting adventure. It's crucial to understand that what your puppy learns in these early days will shape their future behavior.
- When you get your puppy, ask for a blanket or toy that smells like their mother, sibling, or caregiver. This helps your puppy feel at ease in their new home.
- Remember that until your puppy receives all 4 rounds of vaccinations and booster shots. If your puppy hasn't had their first round of vaccinations and parasite prevention yet, booking your puppy's first vet appointment should be your number one priority.
- Socializing your puppy is vital. Have friends and family meet your puppy and introduce them to fully vaccinated pets.
- Introduce new experiences gradually, such as grooming, having their ears or feet touched, and being carried or held by family members.
- Carry your puppy in public until they are fully vaccinated to avoid contagious diseases.
- Establish routines at home for feeding times, play times, and bedtime. Also, begin setting rules by positively reinforcing good behavior and, when safe, ignoring bad behavior. Positive reinforcement will help your puppy to learn acceptable behavior quickly and help you to form a deep and lasting bond with your pet.
- Stick to a consistent, nutritious food to avoid tummy issues. Start with the breeder's food and gradually transition to new food.
- Begin to leave your puppy alone for short periods of time, then gradually increase the time as your puppy becomes comfortable with being alone.
- Continue toilet training using positive reinforcement for good habits.
12 Weeks - 6 Months - Puppy Training
During these weeks, your puppy starts having fun and discovering their world, making it both enjoyable and challenging. Remember to use positive reinforcement.
- Once your pup is fully vaccinated, it's time to head out and explore the neighborhood with on-leash walks, stopping to say hi to new people and other dogs along the way.
- Begin puppy training classes to establish good obedience and on-leash behaviors.
- Get some good insight into your puppy's likes and dislikes so that you can utilize their favorite toys and activities as part of positive reinforcement during training.
- Don't be alarmed if your puppy sleeps more than you had expected. Puppies are growing and learning fast, which means they need a lot of sleep to keep up with this learning curve.
6 Months - Adulthood - Ongoing Training, Parasite Prevention & Reproductive Surgery
Your puppy may be getting much closer to adult size, but remember, their brains and personality development are still in the early stages.
- Speak to your vet about when your dog should be spayed or neutered. Recommended ages vary widely these days. Your vet is in the best position to give you advice that applies to your pet's size, breed, and lifestyle.
- Since your dog is out exploring more of the world and meeting other dogs, parasite prevention becomes increasingly important. Speak to your vet to learn about parasites in your neighborhood and how to protect your pet.
- Attend obedience classes and work on your puppy's on-lease walking skills.
- Gradually switch to a high-quality adult dog food. Speak to your vet for advice on which brands or foods would be best for your dog based on their size, breed, and lifestyle.
The Bottom Line
Taking good care of your puppy in the first 6 months will greatly influence your lifelong bond. Spending quality time playing, training, and looking after their health, along with using positive reinforcement, will help create a wonderful relationship you'll both cherish. Enjoy the journey!
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.