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How to Raise a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

While puppies bring years of joy and make adorable family additions, they do require specific love and care. Here, our Gilbert vets discuss what you should know about raising a puppy and offer some tips for the critical first year. 

Puppy-Proofing Your Home 

Are you thinking of bringing a four-legged bundle of fur home? While raising a puppy can be an exciting experience filled with joyous memories, the task can also be a bit overwhelming, especially if this will be your first pet. Our vets at Crossroads Veterinary Hospital can help you prepare you for this one-of-a-kind experience so your pooch can grow into a healthy, happy and well-behaved dog. 

No matter how hard you try, it's virtually impossible to supervise your energetic, curious pup with around-the-clock supervision. To reduce the chances of your puppy getting into trouble while you aren't around, we strongly recommend puppy-proofing your home before they arrive. Move or replace those potentially toxic plants or substances such as insecticides and cleaning supplies and secure electrical cords. 

Consider crawling through your home to get a puppy's-eye view of their surroundings. Remove anything they may be tempted to chew on or swallow, and close off pet doors, vents, staircases and other hazardous openings. This will help keep your pup safe and ease your anxiety about your new four-legged friend becoming lost. 

You'll also need to be prepared to begin house-training your puppy as soon as they come home. Have your crate ready to go if you plan to crate-train them. Make it a comfortable place for them to go by lining it with a dog bed or blankets, but make sure it's large enough that they'll have lots of room to stand, lie down and turn around. 

Introduce them to the crate slowly by leaving the door open and letting them explore it on their own. You might help tempt them to go in by placing treats or a toy in the crate. The more comfortable they are with going into their crate, the easier training will be on both of you. 

The Art of Raising a Puppy 

Puppies are energetic, curious animals that like to know everything about what's going on around them. Puppy owners will need a generous supply of patience to keep their pet out of trouble, teach them about the world in a safe manner and instruct them on acceptable behavior. 

Fortunately, puppies tend to sleep a lot, so you'll catch some breaks during the day. That said, they don't always sleep through the night. They may whine or bark during the night due to being left alone. 

Your pup will likely chew on anything they can chomp down as their adult teeth come in, which can lead to them destroying items around the house. One plus is that this behavior shouldn't last too long since your pup will be grown by the time they turn a year old. Most of these types of puppy tendencies will be left behind once they reach this milestone. 

Raising a puppy requires a significant investment of time and much commitment. Make sure you can have someone with them at all times if you're thinking of bringing a new pup home. This will allow you to let them out to go to the bathroom and monitor their behavior to ensure you can nip undesirable habits in the bud that may become entrenched if they were left alone. 

Puppy Diet

Puppies have different nutrient and energy needs than matured dogs. Look for some high-quality puppy food that is specially formulated to support puppy development and growth. The proper quantity of food depends on factors like age, size, and breed. It's a good idea to consult your veterinarian about how much and how often to feed your pup.

For some small breeds, it can be best to free-feed young pups to ensure they receive adequate nutrition. Toy and small breed dogs reach physical maturity faster than larger breeds and can be switched over to adult dog food and adult-sized portions between 9 and 12 months of age.

Larger breeds can take a full two years to reach physical maturity and have different nutritional needs than small breeds. They should be fed puppy food specifically formulated for large breeds. Talk to your vet about the best time to switch your growing large-breed dog to adult food. They should also be fed multiple meals each day with controlled portions to prevent complications, such as stomach bloat.

When your pup is 6-12 weeks old, a good feeding structure would dictate they are fed 4 times a day. At 3-6 months, 3 meals a day should be provided. After 6 months and on, as your pup matures and grows into an adult dog, 2 meals a day will suffice.

What You'll Need

Your new puppy will require a lot of supplies that you should have prepared before bringing them home. Some supplies you will need include:

  • A crate or dog carrier
  • A dog bed
  • Food and water dishes
  • High-quality puppy food and healthy dog treats
  • Fresh, clean water
  • A dog brush or comb
  • Puppy-safe shampoo
  • Puppy-safe toys
  • A collar with ID
  • Dog toothbrush and dog-safe toothpaste
  • Nail trimmers
  • Poop bags
  • Travel bag
  • "Pop" sound when walking
  • Pet-safe home cleaner
  • Patience

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you hoping to add a puppy to your family? Contact our Gilbert vets today for helpful guidance and advice, or to schedule your pooch's first exam.

We Are Always Accepting New Patients

Contact us today to book your first appointment and find out the difference that caring, compassionate and knowledgeable veterinary service makes in your pet's health and happiness. 

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