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How to Raise a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

How to Raise a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

Bringing a cute puppy into your family is a joyful experience, but it's important to provide them with special care and attention. In this blog, our Walnut Creek veterinarians talk about essential info on how to raise a puppy, especially during their crucial first year. 

Puppy-Proofing Your Home

Taking care of a new puppy can be both joyful and challenging, especially if you're a first-time owner and aren't sure what to expect. Our team in Ygnacio Animal Hospital is here to assist you in preparing for this adventure, ensuring your puppy grows up happily, stays healthy, and behaves well. 

Even if you do your best, keeping an eye on your curious and energetic puppy all the time is really impossible. To prevent issues when you're not around, it's a good idea to puppy-proof your home before your new pup arrives. This means securing electrical cords and moving things like toxic plants, cleaning products, and insecticides out of their reach.

It's also a good practice to look at your home from a puppy's perspective. Remove any times they might want to chew or swallow and close off vents, pet doors, or other pending that could lead to them getting lost or stuck. Not only will this keep them safe, but it will also ease your worry about losing track of your new pup. 

You'll need to be ready to start house-training your pup as soon as you bring them home. If you plan to crate-train them, have your crate ready to go. Make it comfortable by lining it with blankets or a dog bed, but make sure it's large enough that they'll have plenty of room to stand up, turn around, and lie down.

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

Caring for a Puppy

Puppies are very energetic and curious about everything happening around them. Puppy owners will need a lot of patience to keep them out of trouble, instruct them on acceptable behavior, and teach them about the world in a safe manner. 

Luckily, you will get some breaks throughout the day, as puppies often sleep. That being said, they don't always sleep through the night, which can result in them whining and/or barking throughout the night due to being left alone.

As your puppy's adult teeth grow in, they might feel the urge to chew various things, leading to potential damage in your home. The good news is that this phase is temporary, usually ending when your pup reaches one year of age, leaving behind most of these puppy behaviors.

Taking care of a puppy is a big responsibility and time-consuming. If you're considering getting one, ensure you can be with them regularly. This way, you can take them outside from bathroom breaks and prevent bad habits from forming if they're left alone. 

Puppy Diet

Puppies need different nutrients and energy compared to grown-up dogs. To support their growth, choose a high-quality puppy food that's specially designed for their development. The right amount of food depends on factors like their age, size, and breed. It's a good idea to ask your vet about how much and how often to feed your puppy.

For smaller breeds, let young puppies eat as much as they want to ensure they get enough nutrition. Small breeds grow quickly and can switch to adult food between 9 to 12 months. 

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.

At 6-12 weeks old, feed your pup 4 times a day. From 3-6 months, provide 3 meals a day. As your puppy grows into an adult dog after 6 months, 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 looking to add a new puppy to your family? Contact our Walnut Creek vets to give you more information or to schedule your new companion an examination.

New Patients Welcome

Ygnacio Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Walnut Creek companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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