So, you’re thinking of enriching your life with a new puppy but not sure where to start? Puppies are adorable but they take a big commitment of your time and expenses. If you’re ready to learn, here are some helpful tips on how to care for a puppy.
You can start your adoption search here to find a puppy near you!.
How to Find a Veterinarian
Ask your friends and neighbors to recommend a good veterinarian or use a good online resource like Vet Street-Find a Vet. Get your puppy or dog vaccinated and spayed or neutered as soon as possible and take your puppy or dog to the vet for his routine checkups. Your dog will live a much better (and longer) life with regular vet checks. Pet insurance for your puppy or dog is a very good idea. Consult your veterinarian as to your best options.
‘Puppy-Proofing’ Your Home Checklist
Puppies and dogs are curious and they like to investigate and try everything so make your home a safe space for them! Be sure to follow everything listed in this 10 Point Checklist. Keep all expensive things (like shoes, jewelry and clothes) out of your puppy’s reach. Also, keep anything dangerous away and out of reach (like poisonous plants, toxic chemicals, tin foil, plastic bags, batteries, xylitol, chocolate, etc). If you’re not sure what to do call the Pet Poison Helpline.
If you have a puppy, he is going to be chewing everything…your best shoes, favorite book, the edge of your coffee table, the wooden balustrade on your stairs, etc. You must provide plenty of chew toys and Nylabones to prevent the total destruction of your house. Adult dogs like to chew as well and like a good squeaky chew toy, tennis ball or plush toy. Be warned, some puppies and dogs will tear through plush toys!
Puppy Feeding Schedule Chart
Besides always having plenty of fresh water around for your puppy to drink, get your puppy started on a feeding schedule of healthy, grain-free dry puppy food like Wellness Core and grain-free puppy treats like Mother Hubbard. You can also try a really good grain-free wet puppy food like Merrick for your new arrival. Follow serving suggestions according to the weight and stage of your puppy and feed three times a day for the first year. I discuss grain-free dog food in my post ‘What is Grain-Free Dog Food?’
Best Way to Potty-Train a Puppy
It normally takes three-six months but it can take longer – the best way to potty-train a puppy – there are breeds that are fast and some are slower. Just stick with it and be very consistent about times and regimented with training and commands. No negativity toward the puppy, you must be very patient and consistent. Use treats and lots of praise each time the puppy goes outside! Puppies and dogs are sensitive to anything harsh in tone. Positive reinforcement is always the way to success! Make sure to give your puppy enough time to eliminate outside. Fifteen minutes should do it.
Crate-Training a Puppy
Caring for a puppy is a lot like caring for a baby – very rewarding but sometimes exhausting! And your puppy needs lots of sleep too. When he wants to go to sleep he will need a comfortable place to lie down. For adult dogs, and especially seniors, the best dog beds are the orthopedic memory foam ones and they come in all sizes to match your dog. These are a little expensive and not easy to machine wash (in the likely event of a puppy accident) so I would get machine washable kennel mats and some fleece blankets to put inside the crate at first. The travel crates are nice and work for some but if you have an active and/or large puppy your best bet is heavy-duty folding metal puppy crate (also in different sizes). If your puppy won’t go to sleep put a blanket or comforter over his crate and this will cut out all the visual stimulation and should help get him to sleep.
Remember to let your puppy out of the crate at minimum every four hours. Dogs should not be locked up in a crate for longer than that because they really need to eliminate and they won’t go in their crate. Another good item to get for puppies in addition to a crate is an puppy exercise playpen for extra space to roam while still being separated from the rest of the house.
Leash-Train a Puppy
You’ll need to begin “loose-leash” training your puppy as soon as possible. Be patient and gradually leash train puppy to “heel” (or walk by your side) and not pull you all over the place. You’ll teach him to stop at the curb and also not pay attention to other dogs or people walking past you. And much more. If it’s cold or damp and you have a short-hair puppy get him a sweater, coat and boots to keep him from catching cold. I talk about outdoor wear for dogs in my post ‘How to Keep Your Dog Warm in Winter’
Socializing Dogs with Other Dogs
Take your puppy to the local dog park or somewhere where he will be around other dogs and people. This is critical to socializing your puppy! Don’t walk them too far since they are still young. Bring a collapsible bowl and water bottle just in case he gets thirsty on the walk. Besides walks, train your puppy to behave around family members and friends who come your house. Be consistent but use treats in training and definitely no harshness in voice tone or action. Don’t overdo it with the training, let your puppy enjoy his ‘childhood’ for the first full year. That being said all puppies and dogs look to their masters for direction so it’s good to establish that you are the ‘Alpha dog’ right from the beginning. Strike a good balance of training and playtime.