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How to Raise a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

Getting a new puppy sure is an adventure, but what do they need and how should you prepare? Here, our Southern Wisconsin vets share a handy guide, including tips and advice on raising your new puppy and what to expect during the first year.

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, shoes, or even your hand.

Having a dog means assuming responsibility for their happiness, safety, and health. It means paying for vet fees when your pet gets hurt or eats something it shouldn't and having a plan for their care when you can't be there (pet sitter). It also means not yelling at your puppy; they don't understand English anyway. Here is a guide, including tips, on how to make your puppy's transition into your home seamless.

How to Prepare for Bringing Your New Puppy Home

Your new puppy will require a lot of supplies that you should have prepared before bringing them home. To make sure you're prepared, be sure you have:

  • A crate or dog carrier
  • A dog bed
  • Food and water dishes
  • High-quality puppy food and healthy dog treats
  • Fresh, clean water
  • A dog brush or comb
  • Puppy-safe shampoo
  • Puppy-safe toys
  • Leashes
  • Dog toothbrush and dog-safe toothpaste
  • Nail trimmers
  • Poop bags
  • Travel bag
  • Pet-safe home cleaner
  • Patience
  • A collar with an ID

How to Raise a Puppy

Raising a new puppy? Our tips and advice can help make the first year go smoothly.

Take some time to puppy-proof your home.

Be sure to properly prepare for your new puppy before bringing them home. 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.

Once your puppy is home, house training will likely be the first thing you do. If you intend to crate-train him, have the crate ready. 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 plan to crate your puppy, set aside a tiny area, such as a powder room or a kitchen corner, where they can be confined and kept away from other dogs and small children. Ensure you have some puppy training pads (to avoid accidents), a dog bed, food and water bowls, and a toy or two.

Ensure that you meet their nutritional needs.

Your puppy should have high-quality food specifically made for their age group. The appropriate amount of food is determined by characteristics such as age, size, and breed. Ask your vet how much and how often you should feed your dog.

Small breeds of dogs may benefit from free feeding. This can help ensure that they get enough nourishment. 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 daily in appropriate portions to avoid issues like stomach bloat and protein or calcium buildup.

Here's a general guideline for a large breed 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

Provide your puppy with ample training.

One of the first aspects of training your new puppy will be potty training. To ensure success, you will want to create a potty schedule for your new puppy, taking them out every couple of hours for a walk. Until they are fully vaccinated, you will want to take them to a portion of the yard where they won't be exposed to other animals.

If your dog has an accident or displays undesirable behavior, you should never yell or become physical. Redirection to a good activity is an ideal solution when they are naughty. Obedience lessons are a good way to teach them proper behavior and aid in socialization.

Proper socialization is critical to the success of raising a puppy. To grow into a well-adjusted dog, puppies need to be introduced to as many new people, places, experiences, and circumstances as possible. You should wait until they have had their vaccines before taking them out in public or allowing them to interact with other animals. Still, you may begin socializing your puppy right away by playing with it and introducing it 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.

Teaching your new puppy not to bite is a very important lesson. Establishing your position as pack leader will help your puppy remember that it must earn your respect and obey you. Remember that your dog desires your approval but also requires your direction. If your puppy nips or bites, discipline it with a calm but firm 'no.'

Play with your puppy lots to curb boredom.

Bored puppies cause mischief, such as chewing on things they shouldn't and getting into places and things that may be potentially dangerous. Providing them with toys and outdoor exercise helps to keep their minds stimulated. 

When should you bring your puppy to the vet?

Once your puppy is around six to eight weeks old, you should make an appointment with a veterinarian for a health checkup to evaluate its health.

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

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

Your vet may also suggest scheduling the next appointment before you leave. This next visit is typically once your puppy is about six months old.

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.

Is it time to schedule preventive care or a routine checkup for your new puppy? Please contact our vets in Southern Wisconsin. We are here for all your veterinary needs.

New Patients Welcome

Badger Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients. Our team is passionate about the health of animals from across Southern Wisconsin. Contact our closest location to book your first appointment today!

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