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A Guide to the First Year of Raising a Puppy

Puppies are undoubtedly adorable, but raising a puppy requires a considerable amount of effort. To help you get through the first year with your new puppy and ensure that they grow up to be a healthy, happy, and well-adjusted dog, our vets in Douglasville have shared some valuable tips on puppy raising.

Things to Consider When Getting a Puppy

Owning a puppy is similar to raising a toddler. You will need to have a lot of patience. Puppies tend to chew excessively as their adult teeth emerge, and they may try to chew everything in sight, including your shoes, the living room rug, or even your hand.

Having a dog means taking responsibility for their happiness, safety, and health. This involves being able to cover vet fees in case of injury or illness and having a plan in place for their care when you are unavailable (such as a pet sitter). It also means avoiding constant yelling at your dog, as they do not understand English and cannot comprehend phrases like "stop chewing my shoes!"

Preparing Your Home

It's important to prepare your home before bringing your new dog in. Think of it as child-proofing your house. Secure electrical cords and move potentially hazardous plants or chemicals out of reach. Close any vents, pet doors, windows, or other openings that could pose a risk for your new pet.

Start house-training your puppy as soon as you bring him home. If you intend to crate-train him, have the crate ready and lined with blankets or a dog bed to make it more comfortable. Ensure the crate is big enough for him to stand up, turn around, and lie down.

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

Nutrition

When it comes to feeding your puppy, it's important to choose high-quality food that has been specially formulated to support their growth and development. The right amount of food to feed your puppy depends on factors such as their age, size, and breed. Your veterinarian can provide guidance on how much and how often to feed your puppy.

For some smaller breeds, leaving food out all day (free-feed) may be necessary to ensure they get enough nourishment. Toy and small-breed dogs develop more quickly than larger breeds and can typically be transitioned to adult dog food and adult-sized portions between the ages of nine and twelve months.

Larger breeds, on the other hand, should be fed several smaller meals throughout the day, with appropriate portion sizes, to avoid issues like stomach bloat and the build-up of protein or calcium. 

As a general guideline, here's how much to feed a large-breed dog:

  • 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

Training your puppy to use the potty is similar to potty training a toddler. Your puppy will try not to soil its bed or the surrounding area. You can create a routine for your puppy, but remember that small puppies may need to go out every couple of hours. Take your puppy to a part of the yard where it will not come into contact with other animals until it has received all its vaccinations. Remember that your puppy is still learning, so refrain from punishing it for mistakes.

It's best to ignore undesirable behavior or correct your dog with a simple, but firm "no". Avoid hitting or yelling at your dog. Instead, redirect it to something positive when it displays bad behavior. Obedience lessons are a great way to teach your puppy good manners and encourage socialization.

Proper socialization is crucial to raising a well-adjusted puppy. It would be best to wait until it has received all its vaccinations before exposing it to public spaces or other animals. Still, you can start socializing it right away by introducing it to new people, sights, sounds, smells, and textures. Always supervise children or other pets around your puppy's food or toys to prevent resource guarding.

The most important lesson to teach your puppy is not to bite. Establishing yourself as the pack leader will help your puppy remember that it must earn your respect and follow your commands. Remember that your puppy craves your approval and guidance. If it nips or bites, discipline it calmly but firmly with a "no."

Exercise & Play

Bored dogs are more likely to engage in aggressive or improper behavior. Providing them with toys and outdoor exercise helps to keep their mind stimulated. 

Your First Vet Visit

You should make an appointment with a veterinarian for a health checkup to evaluate the health of your puppy. At Douglasville Veterinary Hospital, we're always ready to accept new patients.

Your veterinarian can recommend a parasite control program to keep fleas, ticks, and heartworms away. They can also suggest when to bring your dog in to be spayed or neutered, which can help reduce the risk of health and behavioral issues.

You can ask your veterinarian any questions regarding your dog's care, such as the best type of food to feed them. They can advise you on puppy care issues like tooth brushing and nail trimming and even demonstrate how to do it.

While you're there, you can also schedule your dog's 6-month vet checkup to monitor their 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.

Do you have a new puppy and need to schedule its first veterinary appointment?  Please contact our Douglasville vets to make an appointment.

New Patients Welcome

Douglasville Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Douglasville companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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