Puppies have specific nutritional needs that must be met in order to allow them to grow up healthy and happy. Avoid using generic brand foods as they may contain inferior ingredients. Feed your pet food that is specifically recommended for puppies, which will contain all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are essential for growing strong bones and muscles. Puppies are very active and grow at an incredible rate. Be sure to follow feeding guidelines recommended on the puppy food that you choose. It is important that fresh drinking water is available for your puppy at all times. Dogs thrive on routine, therefore, feeding should occur at the same time and place every day. Avoid feeding your puppy from the table as this will encourage him to beg every time you eat and can lead to health problems. Food and water bowls should be washed and dried on a regular basis using hot soapy water. Placing a mat under the food and water bowls can make clean-up much easier.
“Puppy-Proofing” Your Home
Puppies are energetic and mischievous pets that require your protection to ensure their safety. Be sure to keep all poisonous substances up high and safely out of puppies’ reach. This would include cleaning products, insecticides, medications and many common houseplants. Cover all waste cans or secure them behind a tightly closed door; it is amazing what a dog will eat. It is a good idea to crate your puppy when you are not available to monitor his activities.
Puppies under 16 weeks old should not be bathed unless absolutely necessary. If a bath is needed, use a very gentle dog shampoo. When bathing, be careful to protect your dog’s eyes and ears from soap and water. Make certain that you rinse your pet well. Keep your puppy warm and out of drafts until it is completely dry. Dogs need to be brushed frequently and this routine grooming will alert you to problems your pet may be experiencing with fleas, ticks or mites. A puppy’s nails should be clipped to ensure his comfort and promote good foot development. Your puppy’s teeth should be brushed daily. Your pet store will carry all products required for your dog’s dental health care. Brushing is beneficial in fighting plaque, keeping tartar build-up to a minimum and freshening bad breath.
A new puppy will require lots of peace and quiet as it adjusts to its new home. Provide a dog bed, crate or box lined with blankets. A crate should be your first choice as it is also beneficial in housetraining. Children should be supervised with a new pet to avoid unintentional injury. Handling and playtime should be kept to a minimum. Children should be instructed in the proper way to pick up and a hold a puppy. Place one hand under the puppy’s chest and the other under his hindquarters. Hold him by cradling in your arms. Never pick up a puppy by his front legs or under the armpits. Dogs should not be allowed to roam freely outside where there is danger of injury from cars, animals and disease. Keeping your dog on a leash will prevent him from getting into potentially harmful or poisonous trash and help protect him from other dangerous situations. One of the simplest ways to protect your dog is with an ID tag. The tag should provide your name, address and telephone number and should be hung from a collar around your dog’s neck. If your dog happens to wander off, it will be easy for the finder to locate you.
Learn to anticipate your puppy’s needs. A new puppy will have to eliminate about every two hours. Place your puppy in the same spot in the yard the first thing in the morning, the last thing in the evening, after every meal and every two hours in between. Stay with him until he has performed and then praise him for his accomplishment. Do not punish him if he has an accident in the house as it will only cause unnecessary fears and anxiety.
New puppies do not have the control necessary to make it through the night with out a trip outside. The first week with your new pet, set your alarm for every four hours to get up and take your puppy for a walk. The next week, increase the time to five hours and the next, six. It is highly beneficial to use a crate when training your puppy. Puppies feel very secure in their crates and should always be kept in them at night and when they can not be supervised. Make sure that your puppy has plenty of chew toys to play with while he is crated.
Puppies love to play, and exercise is essential for their good health. Time should be set aside every day for exercise, like a nice long walk on a leash. When your pet has achieved basic obedience training, you may take him to a dog park and unleash him so that you may play a game of fetch with a ball or Frisbee. Chew toys are very important for puppies; they assist your puppy in the cutting and shedding of baby teeth and the cutting and setting of permanent teeth. Providing chew toys for your puppy will also prevent him from choosing something more valuable or dangerous to chew on.
Take your new puppy to the vet as soon as possible after you bring him home. Your veterinarian will administer or schedule the vaccinations necessary to protect your puppy from several serious diseases. A series of vaccinations, for most puppies, will be administered at 6 weeks, 9 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks of age and then annually. Your vet will also address deworming, heartworm and Lyme disease.
Spaying and neutering is the safe and common practice of surgically removing the animal’s reproductive organs. This will not only reduce the population of unwanted pets, but it also reduces the risk of reproductive cancers and can make your pet calmer and more affectionate. Contact your vet for an appointment or check your local S.P.C.A. to locate a low cost clinic in your area.
Supplies to Have on Hand
- puppy food
- food bowl & water bowl
- stain & odor neutralizer
- pet carrier (for traveling)
- bed or mat for sleeping
- collar and ID tag
- dog toothbrush & toothpaste
- ear cleaner
- flea prevention medication