Your new best friend needs you. Puppies need food, water, shelter, socialization, training, and a bunch of love to set them up for success. Here is our puppy-survival checklist of items you will need on hand when you bring your puppy home:
- High quality puppy food such as Purina One puppy formula
- Food and water bowls
- Treats for training, and general rewards
- A crate large enough for your puppy to stand, turn around, and lay down comfortably
- Potty pads
- Wellness exam at Riverbend Veterinary PetCare Hospital
Let’s tackle one item at a time.
Feeding your puppy
Your puppy will need high quality puppy food based on her breed, to ensure her bones grow properly. Feed your puppy three or four small meals per day, rather than free-feeding, which encourages overeating and can predispose your puppy to obesity as an adult. Ensure your puppy always has access to fresh water. Choose food and water bowls carefully. Ceramic or glass bowls are preferable, because some plastic bowls may irritate her mouth, and cause a reaction. She will also need a soft, size-appropriate bed.
Playing with your puppy
Play time is important for physical exercise and mental stimulation, and for bonding with your new pup. Buy toys that are made out of a material you can dent with your fingernail, because toys that are too hard can chip or fracture your puppy’s teeth. Give your puppy choices, and buy several different toy types, including a food-puzzle toy to keep her mind occupied, and a chew toy that holds peanut butter, which you can use to redirect her attention when she starts chewing on your shoes and furniture, or potential hazards like electrical cords.
Socializing your puppy
The most important time to socialize your puppy is between 3 and 14 weeks of age. During this window, ensure your puppy has many different experiences with all kinds of people and outdoor environments. Use treats to ensure she forms positive associations with those experiences. For example, without early life exposure, dogs can become fearful of hats, facial hair, glasses, or children. Puppies can also develop a fear of cars, buses, bicycles, and scooters. Take a look at this important checklist of puppy socialization targets.
Training your puppy
Start training your puppy soon after you bring her home. Training will help develop your bond, while also teaching your pup how to interact with her environment without fear.
- Behavior training — Use simple commands, and when she learns to obey, reward her instantly with a treat. Never yell at or scold your puppy when she does not do what you want, because scolding only creates fear, and will not help her understand what you wanted.
- Crate training — Keep your pup’s crate accessible and open, so she can come and go as she pleases. Put treats and a special toy inside, to make the crate a happy, safe place. Never use the crate as a punishment or time-out spot. Once your puppy forms a positive association, she will be happy when confined in the crate. To create a positive association, put your puppy inside and close the door. You should stay in the room. When she becomes calm, give her a treat, praise her, and open the door. Continue this process, keeping the door closed for longer amounts of time, still with you in the room. Eventually, you should close the crate, and leave the room. Ensure you reward your puppy when you return, and she is calm and quiet in her crate.
- Potty training — The key to potty training is letting your puppy choose a surface preference. Plan your potty training around where you would like your puppy to go—if you would like her to eliminate outside, give her plenty of opportunities to go out, especially after meals and playtimes. If you plan to use potty pads, create a surface preference by bringing your puppy to the potty pad often, and rewarding her generously when she uses the pad. Once your puppy gets used to the potty pad’s surface and you decide you would like her to transition to eliminating outside instead, start taking the pad outside, placing it on the surface—usually grass—you would like her to use. When your pup uses the new potty location regularly, switch to a smaller pad. Eventually, you will need no pad at all, and your puppy will know to go outside. Pet parents often will use a bell on the back door for their puppy to ring when he or she has to go outside, or will train their puppy to tap at the back door to communicate the need to go out.
Veterinary care for your puppy
A yearly veterinary wellness exam is of utmost importance for keeping your puppy healthy, and ensuring she maintains her good health as she matures. Riverbend Veterinary PetCare Hospital is here to help. Our veterinary team will physically examine your puppy, and consult with you on a proper diet, the appropriate vaccinations to help prevent the most common, sometimes deadly, infectious diseases, and preventive medications for fleas and heartworms. Prevention is the best medicine. Through our telemedicine partnership, we can also answer any first-time-puppy questions, such as the appropriate time she will need spay or neuter surgery, and whether she needs to see a veterinarian if she is sick.
Give us a call and make your puppy’s first veterinary appointment—we are excited to start a lifelong relationship with you both.