No one can resist an adorable puppy. Although small and cute, puppies are a lot of work. Properly caring for a puppy requires time, money and energy. If you are thinking about getting a puppy, there are many things you need to know in order to ensure that your puppy becomes a happy, healthy and well-behaved adult dog.
Before your puppy comes home, you will need the proper supplies. Besides a high-quality puppy food, your puppy will also need water and food bowls, leash, collar and ID tag. Your puppy will sleep most of the time at first, so a comfortable bed, carrier or dog crate is a necessity. Toys that are suited for puppies allow your dog to entertain himself when you are not around.
Your puppy should already be on solid food by the time he comes home with you. There are many types of puppy food, so which one do you choose? The label on the dog food bag should specifically state that it is for puppies. If you bought your puppy from a breeder, the breeder will be able to guide you as to what brand of puppy food is best. Your vet can also recommend a puppy food that is right for your puppy’s nutritional needs.
Assess your puppy’s food after a month or so by checking his appearance. He should have a shiny coat and lots of energy. The puppy’s feces should not be loose. If they are, you may need to switch to a different brand of puppy food.
Your puppy should eat three times a day until he is six months old. After that, feeding your dog twice a day should be sufficient.
Probably the most expensive part of owning a puppy is the vet visits. Having your puppy vaccinated may be costly, but it is worth it. Without vaccinations, your puppy could potentially die of a virus.
Your puppy will need to be protected against hepatitis, parvovirus, distemper and rabies, and this will require multiple vaccinations at various ages. The vaccines will likely start at around 8 weeks of age and continue every 3-4 weeks until the puppy reaches 16 weeks of age.
Although vaccinations are typically safe, they do carry the risk of side effects, such as:
- Pain, redness and swelling where the vaccine was injected
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of energy
Your puppy will also need flea, tick and heartworm protection. Ask your vet about when you should start your puppy on these medications.
Playing is not only fun, but it is also necessary for your puppy to grow up into a sociable dog that enjoys human interaction.
Tug-of-war is a fun game to play with your puppy. Using a stick or rope, you can both pull on it. Sometimes you can win, other times you can let the dog win. The trick is not to let the dog win every time. The game is about control and teaching your puppy commands such as “release” or “let go.” After a while, your puppy should let go of the rope or stick himself without you having to take it out of his mouth.
Hide and seek is also a good way to teach your puppy some commands. You tell your puppy to sit and stay while you show him a treat. Then you hide and call his name. This game teaches your puppy to come when called, and it also teaches him to look for you when you cannot be seen.
Fetch is a common game that most dogs love to play. However, be sure to add in some commands. Tell your puppy to “sit” while you throw the ball. Then tell him to “go get it” and when he brings back the ball, tell him to “let go” or release. Be sure to show your puppy lots of praise when he follows a command correctly.
Because you want your dog to behave when in the house, outside or around other people, it’s best to train him when he is a puppy. One common puppy problem is mouthing or biting. Puppies love to use their mouths to taste and play with things, so at some point he may try to bite your hands. One good way to break this habit is to let out a high-pitched yelp whenever this happens. That should startle your puppy and make him stop. If the biting happens a few more times, continue with the yelping. If that does not work, try a timeout.
Potty training is another thing that you will want your puppy to learn, especially if he lives primarily in the house. You should start when he is about 12 weeks old. It is important to keep him on a regular feeding schedule, with no food between meals. He should be taken outside at set intervals to go potty. The best times are first thing in the morning, every hour after that and after every nap and meal. He should be taken to the same spot each time so that he associates that spot with going potty. Always praise and offer a reward when the puppy does as instructed.
Tricks are a fun way to train your puppy. You can teach your dog to shake paws or bark on command. You want to simulate the behavior several times first before associating it with a command. The trick should be practiced regularly, but no so much that the dog tires of it and loses interest. DoggieBuddy.com has some fun and unusual tricks that you can teach your dog.