Bringing a new puppy home is one of the most exciting things in life. They are not only adorable but will grow to be your best friend and constant companion.
Beloved for their good nature and loving personalities—dogs show off their unique characters from a young age. And if you are fortunate enough to meet your furry companion when they are small pups, you will get to witness this first-hand.
Read on for a few tips on how to properly care for a puppy to help it grow into the perfect furry friend.
Choose the Right Breed
The first step in caring for your puppy is choosing the right one. Make sure you don’t opt for a breed that is too difficult regarding their needs, whether it be feeding, socialization, or health concerns.
For example, large-breed dogs need more care and time than a smaller breed!
And while picking a breed can be difficult if you are going to an animal shelter, it’s important to understand all care aspects that each kind of dog will generally require before bringing a new puppy home.
Puppy Proof Your Home
Before your new furry friend arrives, you need to ensure that all areas that the puppy will have access to are made safe for them. Puppy proofing is an essential step to caring for your pet.
Puppy or baby gates are great for making sure your dog doesn’t go where they aren’t supposed to. Block off rooms or stairways that lead to dangerous places for your puppy to keep them out of trouble.
Dogs are notoriously nosey, and any totes, backpacks, or purses left out are likely to get rummaged around in. However, many people carry things with them that are dangerous to puppies, such as medications, wrappers, or items they could choke on.
Always keep your bags off the floor and out of your puppy’s reach. Consider storing them within a cabinet or in a different room with a closing door to make it completely safe.
You would be surprised at how agile a curious puppy can be when faced with a closed door. Sometimes, closed cabinets can be jimmied open by inquisitive paws or a snout.
Using baby latches on ground-level cabinets is a good idea, at least while your puppy is learning what good and bad behavior is. This is particularly crucial for locations that store products or items that could be dangerous to your dog.
Always put away your supplies when you finish cleaning up to prevent a nosy dog from knocking a bottle of chemicals off the counter and ingesting them. Also, ensure cleaning products and other toxic materials are stored well out of reach.
Protect your new puppy from chewing on electrical cords by investing in cord covers that prevent sharp little puppy teeth from chewing through the cable and risking electric shocks. These can typically be found at your local hardware store or pet supply outlet.
An even safer option is removing all cords from the floor and running them where your puppy cannot reach. Or, opt for a DIY home improvement project and lay baseboard over wires and cables that run where the flooring and drywall meet.
For the first little while, most puppies are relatively fragile. For example, falling from a significant height, such as furniture, can damage their soft bones or dislocate a limb.
Even if you are alright with having pets on the furniture, it’s best to keep your puppy at ground level until they are a bit older. Make sure they cannot jump up onto tall furniture, and prevent kids from holding puppies when standing up in case they wiggle free.
Not all houseplants are dangerous for your pets, but some are incredibly toxic for pups to chew on. In that case, ensure you remove all hazardous plants from rooms where your puppy will be allowed to roam or place them well out of reach.
Make sure your garbage is safely stowed away from prying puppy paws. Trash cans are the ultimate canine temptation, with many smells and items to chew on.
However, many things you throw away may be toxic for dogs, pose a choking hazard, or both. Food items that your puppy should not eat include:
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Bread Products
- Chicken Bones
- Coffee & Caffeine
- Grapes & Raisins
- High-Fat Meats
- Macadamia Nuts
- Raw Meat or Raw Fish
- Sugary Foods
So, keep your garbage out of a puppy’s reach and secured against tipping. It’s also wise to take out the trash regularly to keep smells down.
Find a Vet
You should research and choose a vet for your puppy before they come home. Not only will you need to visit veterinary clinics for sickness or unforeseen injuries, but you also need to get your puppy their first visit to the vet for a checkup as soon as possible.
This first visit to the vet will not only help your puppy get used to visiting the vet’s office but also determine any underlying health issues or infectious diseases that your new puppy might have. It’s important to know as soon as possible so treatments can begin immediately. You can rely on your vet to provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment for various issues your new puppy might face.
The vet may even be able to help teach your puppy good manners and give you tips for proper puppy care.
As your puppy grows, it’s important to keep taking them for a vet visit yearly to ensure the puppy’s body and overall health are on track!
Gather Essential Supplies
Like any new arrival into a household, your puppy will need some essential supplies to make them feel comfortable and at home. Some of these items include the following:
- Car Restraint
- Crate or Kennel
- Dog Toys
- Dog Treats
- Food & Water Bowls
- Grooming Brush or Comb
- Poo Bags
- Puppy Playpen
- Registration Tag
- Shampoo & Conditioner for Dogs
- Soft Beds
- Toilet Training Puppy Pads
- Toothpaste & Toothbrush for Dogs
Keep an Eye Out for Initial Illnesses
While your puppy might be perfectly healthy when you bring them home, you may discover some digestive upsets or initial sicknesses. It can be due to a change in routine, habitat, and even food, so see if it settles down in a few days.
However, if you notice repeated warning signs, such as the following, it’s time to bring your puppy to the vet’s office:
- Difficulty breathing
- Discharge from eyes or nose
- Inability to pass urine or stool
- Lack of appetite
- Pale or swollen gums
- Poor weight gain
- Swollen gums
- Swollen or painful abdomen
- Visible changes to the puppy’s coat
Make a Routine
Routines and schedules are part of everyone’s lives, and it should be no different for your new puppy. And establishing a routine early on will make things exponentially easier for both dog and owner.
This routine should include bathroom breaks, walks, playtime, feeding, and even naps. The sooner your puppy gets used to a regular schedule, the better! And always ensure that your puppy has positive reinforcement and understands when it’s time for a specific activity.
This helps with house training and will assist you in crate training your new dog, which is an essential step in proper pet care.
Enroll in Obedience Classes
While training your new puppy at home is doable, you should also supplement these activities with professional obedience classes. As your puppy begins settling into a new home, it’s a good idea to start training them immediately.
Not only will obedience training reinforce all the training you are doing at home, but you will undoubtedly learn some new tips and tricks for getting your puppy to behave properly.
After all, obedience training is not just for the dog participating but also for the humans interacting with them.
Set Aside Bonding Time
This might seem obvious—who wouldn’t want to spend time with their new puppy? But it’s absolutely crucial to set aside ample time to bond with the newest addition to your family.
This can be done through cuddling, playtime, grooming, and even training your puppy. For example, dog sports are a great way to mingle love, and positive reinforcement as your puppy begins to show interest in spending time with other pets.
This form of positive social interaction in a new environment with thorough physical activity is a great way to help your dog get used to others.
Socialize With Other People & Dogs
Dogs are not solitary creatures, so socializing them early on is a good idea. Socialization should be done with family members and other people who might come to the house.
Unsocialized puppies may see visitors as a threat and act territorial, so it’s wise to show your new pet that guests are safe to enter. Invite friends over to help acclimate your puppy to people coming and going from their space.
This also goes for other dogs. You should encourage socialization in a safe setting where no pets are stressed, and owners can step in and intervene if the situation becomes too tense.
Start training your new dog early to encourage proper behavior and avoid aggression with people and other animals. If this is difficult, it’s a good idea to take your puppy to an obedience training professional who can help you with positive social interaction.
Buy the Right Food
Another consideration is what to feed your puppy. Their diet during the first portion of their life will ultimately determine their health in adulthood, so it’s important to find the best food for your dog.
Talk with your vet, breeder, or other pet professionals about the best brands or diets for your puppy. Remember that certain minerals and vitamins are essential for puppies to grow properly, so sticking with a puppy mix might be wise.
Always read the ingredients and ensure your dog’s food is as healthy as possible. Some dog food brands use fillers to round out their product, which can cause health problems later in life.
Additionally, make sure your puppy has access to fresh and abundant water sources at all times.
As a general rule, don’t feed your dog table scraps or encourage bad habits like licking plates or jumping up to reach the table.
It might seem cute at the time, but it’s a bad idea and could even lead to intestinal parasites from the wrong kind of food or serious illness that needs a trip to the vet.
Keep your new dog on puppy food until it is time for them to transition to adult dog food, as your puppy’s diet is formative to their overall health. Whatever your puppy eats will determine their well-being, and a good diet is essential for a growing puppy.
Invest in Pet Insurance
After taking all the right steps to ensure your puppy is happy and healthy, it’s time to invest in further protection. With a pet insurance policy, you can rest easy knowing that your furry friend will always be kept safe and sound.
Thank you for the five-star rating, Larry! Please let us know if you have any additional insurance questions. We would be happy to help answer them.