Learn the basics of puppy care before you bring your new family member home!
Think It Through
The thought of bringing home a new puppy can be very exciting, but if you haven't thought the idea completely through, you may wind up resenting the new responsibility you've taken on.
Before you dive in, ask yourself a few questions:
- Do I truly have room for a dog?
- Do I honestly have enough free time to devote to its training and care.
- Am I willing to make necessary changes in my daily routine to accommodate the puppy's needs?
- Can I live with some initial sleepless nights, the occasional potty training accident, and finding my favorite loafers chewed to shreds?
- Can I afford routine veterinary care, not to mention emergency veterinary services if needed?
Bet you can think of even more questions for yourself now that you are thinking in "new puppy owner" mode. Puppy care requires a great deal of commitment if you're going to lay a solid, positive foundation for a relationship that could easily last the next ten years.If you're still keen on the idea of getting a puppy, read on.
Puppy Care Basics
Here's an overview of basic puppy care needs.
Puppy Proofing Your Home
Puppies love to investigate, and anything can be fair game for chewing. Before you bring your new pal home, cover up exposed wiring, and pick up all loose items on the floor. It also doesn't hurt to have a bottle of bitter apple spray on hand to discourage puppy from chewing the furniture.
Teething time presents definite challenges, since even the mildest mannered pups will feel driven to chew you out of house and home. Be prepared with a few strong toys and chew bones so your pet has something he's allowed to chew on.
You may also want to have a baby gate on hand for times when you need to keep your puppy confined to a single room.
First Nights Alone
A puppy that has been freshly separated from its mom and siblings is a lonely puppy. At no time is this more apparent than on those first few nights spent sleeping alone, and if puppy can't sleep he isn't likely to let you sleep either.Here are a few tips to make the transition easier.
- Your puppy should have a definite place to bed down. A roomy crate with a comfy bed provides a restricted, but safe place to leave your pet for the night.
- A ticking clock can sometimes help replace the sound of mother dog's heartbeat.
- A nice warm towel straight from the dryer can also be quite comforting to a puppy that's used to sleeping in a huddle.
- Sometimes an appropriate stuffed animal can also become a surrogate bedmate. Fleece dog toys are a good choice because they have no parts to present a choking hazard.
- Avoid taking puppy into your bed unless you plan to make this your regular routine. Once you start he'll never be satisfied sleeping anywhere else.
Basic Veterinary Care
Every pup needs some routine veterinary care in those first few months of life.
- Worming- Many pups are exposed to internal parasites that can set up house inside of their intestinal tracts. Bring your vet a sample of your pet's stool for analysis. If necessary, your vet will give your pup a dose of medicine to kill and expel any intruders.
- Vaccinations- Your pup will need a series of three puppy shots to protect him from common canine illnesses, and a rabies vaccination. Your puppy will also need a yearly booster unless your vet advises otherwise.
Your puppy will grow quite rapidly during his first year, so he needs a quality food that will provide him with the nutrition he needs. Puppy food is generally higher in protein than adult dog food, and is usually a smaller size kibble that is easier to chew.You can also provide extra nutrition by choosing chew bones that contain added vitamins, minerals, and protein.
Different breeds have different coat care needs, but all puppies need to be kept clean.Basic grooming includes:
- Nail trimming
- Ear cleaning
- Tooth brushing
You can certainly learn to groom your pet yourself, or you can choose to use the services of a professional dog groomer, especially if you've chosen a more coated breed such as a Poodle, Maltese or Shih Tzu.
It takes work to turn a puppy into a model canine citizen.
- Potty training is essential if the two of you are going to live in harmony. Always use a single word command, such as "potty", and be sure to take your pet outside quite often in the beginning to cut down on indoor accidents. Praise your pet lavishly when he has a success, but refrain from punishing him for his accidents. He'll learn quicker if he feels he can trust you to care for him.
- Obedience training is a gift that will last the rest of your dog's life. Basic commands such as "sit", "down" and "stay" will help you gain a measure of control over your pet.
Puppy care requires your active participation, but well worth the time and effort you put into it. Before you know it puppyhood is over, and if you've done your job well you'll have a canine companion you'll be pleased and proud to share your life with. Visit LTK's cute puppy slideshow.