your first puppyPuppies are one of the greatest joys in life. When you first bring your new puppy home, you can count on many moments of fun and laughter, at least a few accidents that need to be cleaned, and a few other sleepless nights. A growing puppy needs much more from you than a food dish and a place to sleep, though. As you’ll see, when all is said and done, parenting a new puppy is no walk in the park!

With a few tips from Harris Parkway Animal Hospital, you can be sure that those first few weeks will set the tone for a lifetime of friendship and fun with your first puppy.

Caring for Your First Puppy

Here are some of the basics.

Find a great veterinarian – The first place you and your puppy should go together is the veterinarian. That first checkup is critical to help you both get off on the right foot with preventive care. We will make sure your puppy is healthy discuss the following:

  • Your puppy’s vaccination schedule
  • Safe options for controlling parasites
  • Nutrition, including how much and how often to feed
  • Suggests about training and behavior
  • When to bring in your puppy for spay or neuter

Start with great nutrition – There is a plethora of information out there about pet nutrition. Stick with the highest quality puppy food you can afford. Like people, pets can greatly benefit from a healthy diet, and pet foods are not all created equal. To start, we’ll be happy to give you our recommendations based on your puppy’s breed and lifestyle. Look for the AAFCO symbol on pet food packaging to ensure it’s nutritionally balanced and complete.

A bathroom routine – Ah, those first few weeks. One of the best things you can do for your own sanity is to establish an outdoor routine quickly, while building trust and a loving bond with your puppy. Our best tip: think about a schedule and then let your puppy go outside before they have to go. This sets them up for success and saves you some clean-up. Let them out:

  • Immediately upon wake-up
  • Right before bedtime
  • After naps
  • After physical activity
  • After your puppy eats or drinks a lot of water

Make sure that you give lots of praise when your puppy goes to the bathroom outside, and just as important, never punish your puppy for an indoor accident.

Teach obedience – Until your puppy is fully vaccinated, they should not be around other dogs or go to public places in order to minimize disease. However, there’s a lot you can do around your home to begin good habits and start teaching obedience. Basic commands like sit, stay, and come, are necessary for good doggy manners. Keep training sessions very short (5 minutes tops) and offer lots of praise and your loving reassurance. Later, a puppy class is a great way to go, and most offer classes starting at 4-6 months.

Make time for play – This is the easy one! Your puppy will love to play, and this is such a joy with puppies. Make playtime a routine and your puppy will bond with you quickly. Exposure in a safe way to new people, animals, and experiences will avoid behavior problems down the road, so make proper socialization a priority.

Watch for Illness

You’ll be spending lots of time with your new puppy, and you’ll quickly get to know them. Although we never want any health problems to occur, it’s important to be prepared and know what to look for if something does. Watch for:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Poor weight gain
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen or painful abdomen
  • Diarrhea
  • Pale gums
  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Swollen, red eyes or eye discharge
  • Discharge from the nose
  • Inability to pass urine or stool

If you notice any of these, call us right away or bring your puppy in. it’s also important to know where to take your puppy in the event of an emergency. Hopefully, you’ll never need it, but planning ahead can save a lot of anxiety!

Congratulations on your first puppy! We hope these basics have given you a head start on caring for your little one, and we can’t wait to help you get started. Give us a call to set up a first appointment today.