While puppies bring a lot of adorable mischief to a household, raising a puppy isn't without its challenges or obstacles. Today, our Los Angeles vets share some advice on how to raise a puppy and help your four-legged friend grow to be a healthy, happy and well-adjusted dog.
Getting Started: What to Consider When Getting a Puppy
Ask friends and family who are dog owners what they remember about their pup's early years. If those people are also parents, they might compare life with a puppy to life with a human toddler. While raising both can certainly be a rewarding experience, you'll need patience in spades to keep them safe and out of mischief. Like young people, they also need to acquire experience and learn about the world in a secure, positive and affirming fashion.
Because puppies use their mouths to explore their new, ever-expanding world and will soon be teething, they'll also be compelled to chew excessively as their adult teeth develop. You may discover the doggy equivalent of a teething ring on your favourite hoodie, your living room rug, or even on your hand.
While a dog can be one of the best and most loyal friends you'll have, you'll also be taking responsibility for another creature's safety, health and happiness. You'll need to plan how you'll afford vet fees if your dog eats something it shouldn't, and always plan for his or her care when you're away from home or can't be around.
Being a dog owner means having the emotional intelligence to remember that because your dog does not speak English, he won't understand the words, "Stop chewing on that paper!"
Preparing Your Home
Once you decide you're definitely welcoming a dog into your life, one of the first things you'll want to do is prepare your home before your little bundle of fur arrives. Place any potentially hazardous plants or chemicals out of reach of your dog's curious nose, and secure any electrical cords so your pup won't be able to chomp on them. Close any doors, vents or other openings that may lead him into danger or leave him searching for a way out.
We also recommend being ready to begin house training your new puppy as soon as you can get him home. If you intend to crate train him, line the crate with blankets or a dog bed before introducing your puppy to it. Doing this prep work will make the crate a comfortable space for your new pet. Check that it's large enough for him to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably.
If you plan to crate your puppy, place the crate in a small area such as a powder room or kitchen corner, where he'll still be in the house but far enough away from small children and other dogs. You'll also need some puppy training pads to catch any accidents, along with water and food bowls, a dog bed and a toy or two.
Ensuring your puppy has the right diet and nutrition to supply their growing body with the energy it needs will go a long way to keeping them healthy. High-quality puppy food has been specially made to help puppies grow and develop as they should. You may want to ask your veterinarian for advice about how much and how often you should feed your dog, since the appropriate amount of food will be determined by your dog's breed, size, age and more.
To ensure some tiny dog breeds get enough nourishment, it may be best to free feed. Toy and tiny breed dogs mature faster physically than larger breeds, and can graduate to eating adult dog food and adult-sized portions between the ages of nine and 12 months.
Larger breeds should eat many properly portioned meals each day to avoid issues such as calcium and protein buildup or stomach bloat. Here is a general guideline for a large dog feeding schedule:
- 6 to 12 weeks old: Four meals a day
- 3 to 6 months old: Three meals a day
- 6 months and up: Two meals a day
Dogs strive to avoid soiling their bed and the area around it naturally. 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, and never punish your puppy for a mistake.
It's usually preferable to ignore undesirable behavior or to correct your dog with a simple but strong "no." Never smack or yell at your dog. When he exhibits bad behavior, attempt to redirect him to something positive. Consider enrolling him in an obedience lesson as soon as he is old enough. This will not only teach him proper behavior, but will also aid in socialization.
Proper socialization is critical to the success of rearing a puppy. He needs to be introduced to as many new people, places, experiences, and circumstances as possible to grow into a well-adjusted canine. While 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, you may begin socializing your puppy right away by simply playing with him and introducing him to new people, sights, noises, smells, and textures.
Working with your dog to reduce even minor resource guarding habits protects everyone, including the puppy. Always supervise children while they are around your puppy's food or favorite toy.
One of the most crucial lessons is to teach pups not to bite. Establishing your position as pack leader will help your puppy remember that he must earn your respect and obey you, which will assist him in controlling this behavior. 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!"
Exercise & Play
Bored dogs are more likely to engage in aggressive or improper behavior, so provide him with puzzle toys and outdoor exercise (walking, playtime) to keep his mind stimulated. 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
If you don't already have a veterinarian, ask around. Your family, friends, and coworkers will almost certainly be able to supply you with numerous references. One of the first things you should do after getting a puppy is to make an appointment with a veterinarian for a health checkup. At Washington Dog and Cat Hospital, we're always ready to accept new patients.
Your veterinarian will most likely recommend a parasite control program to keep fleas, ticks, and heartworms at bay. They'' also advise you on when to bring him in to be fixed, which can help lessen the chance of health and behavioral issues as the puppy ages.
They can also advise you on puppy care issues such as tooth brushing and nail cutting, and even show you how to do it. Your veterinarian can also help you with any questions you have regarding care for your dog, such as what kind of food to feed them.
While you're there, you can also try to schedule his six-month vet checkup to check on his growth and progress. They can also start to give you advice on how to prepare for the adolescent years, which can be difficult for pet owners. This is also a wonderful time to 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.