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How to Raise a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

How to Raise a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

Puppies make an adorable four-legged addition to any family. That said, they do require specific love and care. Here, our Powder Springs vets explain what you should know about raising a puppy and offer helpful tips on navigating that critical first year.

The Art of Raising a Puppy

As a new pup parent, you're in for an unbelievably thrilling (and adorable) lifetime of experiences, but there are some challenges ahead. 

The thought of raising a puppy can be a bit overwhelming for first-time owners, especially if you don't know the ins and outs of what you're getting yourself into. Today, our vets at Powder Springs Animal Clinic want to help you further prepare for your new role, so your puppy can grow into a healthy, happy and well-behaved canine. 

Your curious and energetic bundle of fur will want to know everything that's going on in their world. Don't underestimate the amount of patience you'll need to teach them acceptable behavior, help them learn about the world in a safe manner and generally keep them out of trouble. 

Fortunately, puppies tend to sleep a lot so you'll get some breaks between all the action. That said, they won't always sleep through the night, which can lead to barking and/or whining in the middle of the night due to being left alone. 

Most puppies are phenomenal chewers and will sink their growing teeth into just about anything, especially during the teething phase. While you might lose a few items to this destruction, this behavior typically doesn't last too long since your pup will be grown by the time they turn one year old, leaving most of their puppy tendencies behind. 

Caring for a puppy is a huge endeavor and involves a significant investment of time. If you're thinking about getting a puppy, make sure someone is able to be with them at all times. This will allow you to monitor their behavior so you can nip undesirable habits in the bud, as well as give them the attention — and bathroom breaks! — they need. 

How to Puppy-Proof Your Home 

Even the most doting puppy owner will find it virtually impossible to provide a curious, energetic puppy with supervision around the clock. To reduce the chances your puppy will get into loads of trouble when you aren't around, we recommend puppy-proofing your home before they arrive. Move potentially toxic substances or plants such as insecticides and cleaning supplies out of reach, and secure electrical cords to avoid electrocution and strangulation hazards. 

Another good idea is to literally crawl through your home on your hands and knees to get a puppy's eye view of the environment. Remove anything they may be tempted to chew or swallow, and close off pet doors, vets and other openings they may become lost or stuck in. This will not just help keep them safe, but it will also help to ease your anxiety as your new puppy explores their home. 

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.

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

Puppy & Kitten Veterinary Care at Powder Springs Animal Clinic 

Soon after you get your puppy settled into their new home, it will be time for their first appointment with the vet. Our veterinarians in Powder Springs are here to offer experienced care and advice as you navigate your puppy's first year and beyond. 

From health checkups to vaccinations, booster shots and helping your four-legged friend feel better if they become sick, we're prepared to provide the highest quality veterinary care to ensure your puppy stays happy and healthy. We also offer tips on puppy training and valuable nutrition advice, so never hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have. 

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 Powder Springs Animal Clinic today to book an exam for your new canine companion.

New Patients Always Welcome

Looking for a vet in Powder Springs? Our experienced vets at Powder Springs Animal Clinic are passionate about providing outstanding veterinary care to pets and great customer service to their proud owners. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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(770) 943-1811