Getting a New Puppy -What do I Need to Know
Getting a new puppy can be both an exciting time and an
uncertain one. You have this new living, breathing, chewing
addition to your family and you aren't sure what to do next.
Setup an Appointment with Your Local Vet
The first thing you should do once you have gotten your new
puppy home is set up an appointment with your local
veterinarian to have your new pet examined. Your
veterinarian will be able to detect or rule out any potential,
congenital, or acquired problems. He or she will also be
able to help you decide on the vaccination schedule that suits
your pet's needs. This brings me to the first of my top
three topics when speaking to a new pet owner.
Get your Puppy Vaccinated
Vaccinations are an essential part of keeping your pet safe,
healthy, and happy. There are a number of things your
veterinarian may want to vaccinate your pet for depending
on your pets age, prior vaccination history, environment and so
Top Two Diseases Vaccinations Will Prevent
The two diseases that are in my opinion at the top of the list
for puppy vaccines are canine distemper and canine parvovirus.
Both diseases are potentially fatal diseases for dogs, especially
puppies, but they can be easily prevented by proper vaccination
of your pet. Remember that it is always necessary to have your
pet's vaccines boostered (a booster shot is a dose of an
immunizing substance given to maintain or renew the effect of
a previous one).
Spay or Neuter Your Puppy
The second thing that I discuss with new puppy owners is
spaying or neutering their dog. Spaying and/ or neutering your
dog simply makes he or she a better companion in many cases.
There are numerous health reasons why it is beneficial to
alter your pet at an early age, not to mention your
responsibility as a pet owner to help control the overall
The Health Benefits of Spaying or Neutering
Health benefits include:
A decreased incidence in certain types of diseases specific
to both male and female dogs, ensuring that your female dog
will not have a potentially fatal disease called pyometra
Eliminating the chance of any pregnancy or birthing problems
Mental health benefits.
The bottom line is that if your pet was not bred or intended
to be a breeding animal, then it is in their best interest and
yours to have them spayed or neutered.
Heartworm Disease and Prevention
The last of the three topics that I discuss with new pet
ownersis heartworm disease and heartworm prevention.
Every day I speak to people who have no idea what heartworm
disease is, where it comes from, or how to prevent it. Most
of these people are fantastic pet owners and would do anything
to keep their family members safe and healthy. The problem is
either a lack of client/ owner education or misinformation/
misunderstanding of the disease.
How are Heartworms Spread?
Heartworms are spread to dogs by the mosquito. When an
infected mosquito takes blood from a dog, the heartworm is
passed to the dog where it slowly makes its way to the heart
and stays. Over time the infection becomes worse with larger
numbers of worms infecting the heart and reproducing, making
this a downward cycle for your pet's health.
Diagnosing Heartworm Disease
Heartworm disease can easily be diagnosed by your
veterinarian with the use of a simple blood test. Thankfully,
most cases I diagnose are asymptomatic cases and the dog is
diagnosed on his or her yearly physical exam. Dogs with
heartworm disease can be treated effectively and go on to
lead happy and healthy lives.
The point of this topic is to make it so that we are treating
our pets less for diseases like these and spending more time
and often less money preventing these diseases.
What Types of Heart Worm Prevention are There?
There are a wide variety of different types of heartworm
prevention available - from a monthly tablet to a topical
solution, and even an injection that is administered every six
months. Not all medicines are appropriate for all animals.
Ask your veterinarian what he or she recommends to use as
a heartworm preventative for your dog.
Our pets are our best friends and all they do is give us
unconditional love. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves
and do what we can to give them the happiest and healthiest
lives possible. If you have a new puppy or you simply have a dog
who has not been to see your veterinarian, then please contact
your local vet today and set up an appointment. Your dog will
thank you for it.
Why Puppies Need Special Food
Just like babies, puppies require a diet that is different from
adult dogs. The reason for this is exactly the same as the
reason for babies needing different food to grown human beings,
different nutritional needs and different processing abilities.
Younger puppies have a considerable amount of growing to do in
order to reach their adult size and in order to grow to that size
and remain healthy, it is imperative that they obtain the right
levels of vitamins and minerals their bodies need.
There are many things to think about when you look at
bringing a new puppy into your family. From how to pick
out the right puppy for you to what you will need to prepare
for your puppy's arrival, there is so much to plan for! The
planning doesn’t stop after your newest family member comes
home either. The life of a new puppy owner is almost as
hectic as the life of a new parent; however, fortunately
for a new puppy owner, the baby phase is much shorter and
much less expensive than having a human child.
Bringing a New Puppy Home: Everyone On Board?
The first thing that you should take into consideration when
you are looking to bring home a new puppy is whether everyone
in your household is on board. From roommates to family
members, it is important to make sure that every single member
of the family is happy about the newest addition. Adding a new
puppy to a family that is not completely welcoming can be
difficult both for family members as well as the puppy itself.
Puppies are extremely sensitive to changes in behavior and mood
so living with an individual who resents the puppy can cause the
dog undue stress. There also exists the possibility that bringing
a new puppy home to a household where not everyone is accepting
could open the puppy up to abuse – some roommates have been
known to feed dogs beer when the dog’s owner wasn’t home
simply because they felt no sincere attachment to the dog and
wanted to “see what would happen.”
The Owners' (and Families') Responsibilities
Once everyone is on board to bring your new dog home it is
of them once the dog comes home. Taking care of a new dog
(especially a puppy) is hard work and involves a variety of
chores. Someone must be willing to feed your new puppy,
walk it, pick up after it when it goes to the bathroom, train
it in basic obedience, reinforce housebreaking, and someone
must even be willing to play with the puppy.
Some of these tasks can become extremely repetitive
(particularly taking your dog out to reinforce potty training)
so it sometimes helps to put chores on a rotating schedule so
that no one family member comes to resent the new puppy due
to their repetitive chores. Aside from the chores of puppy
ownership there are also the more fun duties such as whose
room the puppy’s crate will be placed in, who will get to wash
the puppy, who will get to shop for (or pick out) toys. If there
are younger children in the household it is important to highlight
the positive as well as the not so positive chores of taking care
of a new dog.
Getting Your House Ready For Your Puppy
Now that the chores have been designated and your puppy has
been selected it is time to puppy proof your house. Puppies, for
the most part, will chew. Puppies will chew anything and
everything they can get their teeth on so it is important to
emphasize picking up toys and clothes that should not become
puppy food. It is important not only for the safety of your
possessions but also for the safety of the puppy – intestinal
obstructions from ingested toys and clothing cost thousands to
remove and put the safety of your puppy at risk.
Just as with children it is also important that you childproof
items like electrical sockets that your puppy can reach, tie up
and cover wires that can be chewed and remove small items
that can be choked on from your puppy’s reach. Puppy proofing
a house does not just entail proofing items in the house but it
also includes teaching children in the house acceptable and
unacceptable behaviors when it comes to their new family
member. Toddlers especially have a difficult time understanding
the importance of gentle play, not only can rough play scare an
eight week old puppy but it can also physically hurt the dog as
Young children should also be warned about the sharpness of
puppy teeth and reminded to keep their hands out of the puppy’s
mouth. A helpful trick to teach young children is to have them
give the puppy an acceptable puppy chew toy in replacement of
the hand that the puppy was trying to chew on.Lastly it is
important to teach a child that they should never wake a
sleeping dog. Like people puppies are unaware of their
surroundings when they are sleeping and being shocked awake
by a young toddler can lead to biting incidences.
Bringing a Puppy Home: Must Have Items
Now your family is ready to accept your new puppy and your
house is puppy proofed it’s time to go shopping for those must
have items for your new family member. Most people tend to
overshop for their new puppy and there are really only a few
items that absolutely have to be on the puppy list.
List of Must-Have Items for a New Puppy
Stainless steel bowls (stainless steel bowls are more sanitary
and less likely to cause puppy acne)
A crate that is just big enough for your puppy to stand in;
dividers can be purchased for larger crates to make them
smaller and prevent the need for buying more than one
(crates give your puppy somewhere safe to sleep and assist with
housebreaking and training)
Carpet cleaner (there will be accidents)
Bedding for the crate (a large blanket or a fleece crate liner)
An entertaining teething toy .
A comforting item (a soft toy that mimics a heartbeat or a
t-shirt that has been rubbed on the puppy’s mother or siblings –
just be sure this doesn’t get ripped and ingested)
A bag of dog food.
Finding the Right Dog Food for Your New Puppy
Picking a dog food for your new puppy can be incredibly
confusing. With so many dog food brands it can be extremely
difficult to pick one that is right for your dog and one that
works with your budget. Most breed specific rescues, breeders
and shelters will all have a puppy chow that they have been
feeding their puppy, it is important if you intend on changing
away from this food that you do so gradually, replacing ¼ of
the old puppy chow with ¼ of the new puppy chow over the
course of a few days until you are feeding all new puppy chow.
Check With Your Previous Owner/ Shelter
When you talk to the current owner about your puppy make sure
to ask why they are feeding a certain food. Often times puppies
are fed a certain brand of puppy chow due to special offers
shelters receive on that brand, sometimes breeders have great
results with a certain brand of puppy chow and use it for that
reason and sometimes the particular puppy you may be looking at
might have a food allergy and be on a special needs puppy chow
diet. Whatever the reason your puppy is feeding on a certain
food brand it is important for you to know before you switch
your puppy to a new food. If you are considering switching your
new puppy to a different brand of food do so gradually as
Finding Good Quality Puppy Food
Need a little help in picking a good puppy chow? Look at the
ingredients list, a good quality dog food can be determined
from the first three ingredients on the list. A dry dog kibble
that lists grains as the first ingredients should be passed over
for a better quality food that lists meat as the first
It is also crucial that you feed your puppy
a puppy formulated food as the needs of a young dog are much
different to the needs of an adult dog.
Finding a Veterinarian for Your Puppy
So now your family is ready, your home is ready, you’ve
been shopping and you’ve picked out your food, what’s next?
Finding a good vet to help you take care of your new family
member! It may seem silly to find a vet for your new puppy
before you have even brought it home but it is important to
find a vet that you are comfortable with before your puppy is
in need of veterinary care. One great way to find a vet is to
ask friends who they use, or ask your breeder, shelter manager
or rescue group owner who they can recommend in your area.
Don’t be afraid to visit vets offices and interview vets to find
one that you are comfortable with. It is important that you are
completely comfortable with your vet since it is entirely possible
that you will be visiting them more than once a year for shots –
because some dogs are just born making trouble!
Schedule Your Puppy Shots and Vaccinations in Advance
You can also find out from your shelter, breeder, or rescue
group when your puppy is due for its next round of puppy shots
and set up an appointment with your new vet to get these shots
done on time. It is crucial for your puppy’s health that it stays
current on vaccinations so if your puppy does not come with all of
its puppy shots it is your job to find out when they are due and
make sure they get done.
Welcoming a New Puppy Into Your Home: Checklist
So now you are ready to bring your puppy home, what should you
know about bringing your puppy home? Firstly it is important to
remember that your puppy has only been in the world for a very
short time and as such it will be fragile and sensitive to sound
and touch as well as changes in its routine.
Establish a Routine for Your Puppy
It is important to establish a routine from the beginning of
your puppy’s life and enforce it as closely as possible. It is also
important to refrain from over stimulating your puppy during its
first few months of life. Puppies sleep a lot and the reason for
this is because they grow a lot. It is advised that you resist the
urge to wake up your puppy every few seconds to play with it as
though it were a toy, much the same as babies; puppies need as
much sleep as they can get. You will find that as your puppy ages
it will become more playful and you will find yourself wishing that
you had those sleepy days of puppyhood back! You should also
always be conscious of your puppy’s whereabouts; many trainers
attach a leash to their belt look and carry the puppy everywhere
with them to ensure that the puppy is not getting in to something
it shouldn’t be.
Housetraining Your New Puppy
What else should you be working on with your puppy from
day one? Housetraining is always the big one on the list of
things to work on. Puppies can be very easily housetrained by
ensuring that someone is available for the first few weeks of
its life to let it out every few hours. If someone is available
24/7 the fastest way to housetrain your puppy is to take them
out every hour on the hour as well as immediately following naps,
playtimes and mealtimes. Such repetitive actions will quickly
teach your puppy that it is
expected to use the bathroom outside.
How Long Can My Puppy Go Without Peeing?
If you are not available 24/7 it is a good rule of thumb to
remember that your puppy can hold its bladder for one hour for
each month of age plus one, so a four month old puppy can hold
its bladder for five hours; however, particularly young puppies
have very little control over their bladder muscles and as a
result they have accidents. Accidents should be reprimanded
with a short firm “no” and cleaned up, if you do not catch your
puppy in the act do not reprimand them. Remember, they are
learning - they have no idea what's good and bad, and the way
to teach them is through positive reinforcement, not by being
mean and condescending.
Once your puppy reaches six months old they should be able to
fully hold their bladder for up to seven hours; however it is not
recommend that you frequently make your puppy hold their
bladder for such a long period of time. Imagine if you had to
hold it for that long!
Obtaining a Crate for Your Puppy
Leaving a puppy home alone can be a huge step for a new puppy
parent, there is constant worry about what the little guy is up
to which is why it is recommended that you crate your puppy
from the beginning. The crate not only gives your puppy a safe
place to sleep but it also keeps your puppy safe from getting in
to danger when you are out of the house. When leaving your
puppy in its crate you should always remember to return home
for potty breaks or to hire a dog walker who can do this for
you. There is also the option of doggy daycare after your puppy
has been spayed or neutered and has received all of their shots.
Doggy daycares offer your dog the chance to socialize with other
dogs and develop social skills as well as run off all that extra
energy that you can’t seem to burn off on your daily walks!
Teaching Your Puppy Social Skills
Social skills must also be taught to your puppy in the form of
formal training classes. Training classes are not only of benefit
to you by giving you a well behaved dog, but they are also of
benefit to others who experience your dog, as well as to your
dog itself. Dogs thrive from structure, routine and having a
purpose. As your dogs master you give it a purpose each and
every time you issue a command and it obeys you, something
as simple as “sit–stay” can bring more joy to your dog than
you could ever imagine!
Basic puppy training classes will serve to introduce your puppy
to other puppies as well as teach them the basic commands
expected of them including: sit, stay, down, off, leave it, heel
and wait. After graduating puppy class with your puppy it is also
recommended that you enroll in a more advanced obedience class
to firm up the lessons that your puppy recently learned as well
as to ensure that your dog does not turn in to one of those dogs
who drags its master through café at peak business hours in
pursuit of a cream puff. Following obedience classes if you are
so inclined you can even research specialty classes to turn your
dog into a therapy dog, a dock dog, a hunting dog, a search and
rescue dog, a tracking dog, an agility dog and much more!
Puppyhood is a time of joy, much like new parenthood; however,
that joy on four legs also has ways of testing you to your limits.
There will be nights of howling, accidents on the carpet and
perhaps even that emergency trip to the vet at3am after your
dog contracts giardia from infected lake water (this can be
avoided by keeping your puppy inside until your vet recommends
that it be allowed outdoors, as well as avoiding standing water!),
but in the long run puppyhood can be one of the most rewarding
moments of a dog parents life. Take every day as it comes and
always keep in mind that while you are frustrated with your
new puppy’s lack of understanding, your new puppy is just as
bewildered by what you are asking it to do. Take puppyhood
and add a lesson of patience and you’ll enjoy watching your
newest family member growing old with your family.
Common Mistakes Made by Puppy Owners
The first few weeks of owning a puppy can be tiring and
frustrating. It is common during this time, even for those who
have had puppies before, to make some common mistakes.
While all new parents make mistakes, it is important to be
able to recognize them and avoid repeating them in order to
raise a healthy well balanced dog. There are a number of
common mistakes that puppy owners make, whether they
are first time puppy owners or not.
Taking Him Out of the Crate
Many puppy owners choose to crate train their dogs. Crate
training is a great idea for many reasons but primarily because
it provides a dog with a safe personal space where they are
unable to harm themselves when not being watched.
Unfortunately, many dog owners who claim allegiance to crate
training give up after their first sleepless night. It is not
uncommon for puppies to cry through the night when they are
first placed in their crate. Many new dog parents especially,
find this crying heartbreaking and decide to take their puppy
out and let it sleep on their bed instead. While allowing your
dog to sleep on your bed is not necessarily a bad idea, allowing
a puppy to sleep on your bed may be. Puppies do not have the
bladder control that older dogs have and allowing a puppy to
sleep on your bed may soon result in accidents. Accidents are
not the biggest concern with taking a puppy out of his crate at
nighttime however. Responding to a puppy’s cries when they are
unhappy in their crate lets your dog know that they can cry for
you and get what they want. This behavior may make you feel
needed but when your dog continues it in their adult years it can
become annoying and problematic particularly if you live in an
apartment or a townhouse.
If your puppy cries when placed in their crate at night try to
help them to fall asleep by covering their cage to leave them in
darkness. If you feel that your puppy may be “missing home”
you can try placing a ticking clock outside their crate or playing
a heartbeat sound effect to try to soothe them. In the long run
however, the best thing you can do for your puppy is to let them
fall to sleep by themselves. Do not allow your dog to “rule the
roost” even at 8 weeks old.
Picking Her Up
There are two reasons that we pick our puppies up, one is that
we want to cuddle with them; the other is that we are afraid
for them. Both of these reasons are poor reasons and can result
in severe maladjustment for an adult dog.
Turning Your Dog into a Person
There is nothing wrong with cuddling and playing with your new
puppy, but try to limit picking them up to do so. Constantly
holding your dog can make them begin to feel as though they
are human and can encourage behavior that causes dominance
struggles within your home. Your dog should understand that
their place is on the floor where they are not equal to you.
For the same reason that you are discouraged from getting on
the floor with your dog to play in “their territory,” you should
not bring your dog in to your territory. It is difficult not to want
to cuddle your new puppy every
minute of the day but try
to limit affection to petting and playing behaviors rather than
constantly lifting your dog up and holding them.
Turning Your Dog into a Nervous Wreck
Just as we do with human children, most of us have the instinct
to protect our dogs. This instinct is particularly strong when we
have new puppies that are so small and appear so defenseless.
As dog owners we become nervous when an 80lb dog comes
lumbering towards our 12lb puppy and our first instinct is usually
to pick them up. It is important not to give in to this instinct
however, because it encourages fear rather than curiosity in a
puppy. Puppies are naturally curious and the only way they can
learn to socialize with and understand other dogs is through
interaction with them. If you have concerns as to whether an
approaching dog is friendly, simply ask their owner if their dog is
friendly and if you can allow your puppy to greet them. Picking up
a dog because we are afraid for them instills that same fear in
the dog and leads to a terrified and mentally unstable grown dog.
Allowing Hiding Behavior
Hiding behavior is another behavior that should be discouraged.
Just as some of us are driven to pick up our puppy when we feel
afraid for them, many of us allow our dogs to hide behind us as
well. This type of behavior should not be cooed at or encouraged
in any way because it also encourages fear that can lead to a
fearful adult dog. If your puppy tries to hide behind you simply
push them forward and encourage them to face what they are
It should be noted that if at ANY time your puppy shows
extreme fear responses along with hiding behavior or begging
to be picked up, immediate professional intervention should be
sought. Extreme fear responses include snapping, biting or fear
Feeding Table Scraps
Feeding table scraps is one of the hardest habits to break
which is why it should never be started. Eating at a family
dinner can make you feel guilty, particularly if your 9 week
old puppy is watching and drooling over your pot roast. It is
important not to give in to feeding table scraps however,
because once you feed your puppy one scrap of food they
will come to expect food every time you eat at the table.
Not only is human food unhealthy and the cause of a number
of common dog ailments such as pancreatitis, but it is also
extremely bothersome once the dog is older and takes to
drooling on dinner guests. Avoid this situation altogether by
teaching your puppy to go to their crate during your mealtimes.
The "What If’s" of Bringing a Puppy Home
There are a number of “what if” situations that may arise
shortly after or even a few months after bringing home your
new puppy. Most what is scenarios never happen or if they do
the resolutions to the problems are easy with a visit to the
vet, a little puppy training or simply some patience. Not all
what if’s are as easy to cope with. Below we will take a look
at a few of these situations.
What If My Puppy is Poorly Behaved?
One of the most commonly asked questions and most frequently
worried about concerns for new puppy owners. Puppies are like
children and require education, patience and stimulation. The
best way to prevent a puppy from misbehaving is to ensure
that he or she is tired out. Tiring out a puppy does not
take much, a couple of short walks (after the puppy has
completed their shots) and a few games should tire them
out and leave them sleeping for most of the day.
There are times when misbehaving is more than problem
chewing however. Examples of this type of behavior are signs
of aggression and dominance. These types of behavior should be
addressed immediately and if they are more than you are
prepared for as an owner, you should consult a professional
behaviorist as soon as possible. This type of behavior is usually
not seen in very young dogs; however, in some cases it can
become evident and it is crucial to put a stop to it immediately
to avoid the same behavior from the dog when they are fully
In most instances when this type of dominant behavior is seen
it is the result of an imbalance in the natural hierarchy in the
home. This frequently happens when one human treats the new
puppy like a child and gives them the impression that they are
human and more important than other family members.
Treatment for this type of behavior should be active in which
you and your dog are learning causes of behaviors and ways to