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How to Raise a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

How to Raise a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

Are you considering welcoming a brand new puppy into your family? You'll want to know how to best take care of them in their early age. Our Benton vets have provided this loose guide to the first year of caring for a puppy.

Puppy-Proofing Your Home 

Raising a dog from a young age can be an exciting experience, but it is also considerably more difficult than adopting an adult dog. You are responsible for forming your puppy's behaviors early on and training them.

That first year of your puppy's life is formative to their behavior and personality, which means they are very rambunctious and curious! Start by puppy-proofing your home. Make sure your new pet can't reach anything dangerous if chewed, scratched or ingested. If you have stairs, try to make some sort of physical boundary at the top and bottom that your puppy can't get past so they don't hurt themselves.

You'll also need to be prepared to begin house-training your puppy as soon as they come home. If you plan on crate-training them, have the crate ready to go with comfortable blankets and toys in a nice calm spot of the house.

The Art of Raising a Puppy 

Puppy owners should be ready to teach their new little companions how to safely explore the world. Teaching boundaries from a young age can go a long way in keeping your dog healthy and safe as they age.

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. 

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 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. Consult your veterinarian to determine the appropriate amount for your pooch!

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

Here is a list of resources you should get before bringing your puppy home:

  • 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.

More questions about welcoming your puppy into your home? Contact Saline County Animal Clinic today.

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Saline County Animal Clinic welcomes cats, dogs, and their people to our clinic! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Benton dogs and cats. Get in touch to book your pet's appointment.

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