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How to Raise a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

The art of raising a puppy requires specific and constant care to keep them healthy and safe. In this article, our Williamsburg vets share some tips and advice on how to raise a puppy successfully.

Puppy-Proofing & Preparing to Bring Your Pup Home

Raising a puppy is an exciting and adorable experience but does come with some challenges and a lot of responsibility. The task may be a bit overwhelming for first-time puppy owners, especially if you aren't quite prepared for what you've gotten yourself into. Our vets at Godspeed Animal Care want to help prepare you so your new furry friend can grow up to be a happy, healthy, and well-behaved puppy.

No matter how hard you try, it is virtually impossible to provide your curious, energetic pup with around-the-clock supervision. To reduce the trouble your puppy can get into when you aren't right by their side, you should puppy-proof your home before you bring them home for the first time. Secure electrical cords and move potentially toxic plants or substances, such as cleaning supplies and insecticides, out of harm's way.

You'll need to be ready to start house-training your pup once they walk in the front door. If you plan to crate-train them, have your crate set up and ready to go. Make it comfortable by lining it with blankets or a dog bed, but make sure the crate is 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 for both of you during the training process.

Caring for a Puppy

Puppies are very energetic as well as curious about the new world going on around them. Puppy owners will need a lot of patience to keep them safe and out of trouble. Instructing them on acceptable behavior and teaching them about the world in a safe manner can also be a large task, but it will be well worth it in the long run. 

Thankfully, you will get frequent breaks throughout the day as puppies tend to sleep a lot. That being said, they don't always sleep through the night which can result in them whining and/or barking as they find themselves on their own.

Your pup will likely be motivated to chew on just about anything as their baby teeth fall out and their adult teeth come in. This can result in the not-so-cute destruction of items all over the house. On the bright side, this behavior won't last too long as your pup will be all grown up by the time they turn a year old, as most of those types of puppy tendencies will be in the past.

Caring for a puppy is a big commitment and a large investment of your time. If you're thinking about getting a puppy, you should make sure you can have someone tend to their needs around the clock.

Feeding Your Puppy

Puppies have different nutrient and energy needs than matured dogs. Look for some high-quality puppy food specially formulated to support puppy development and growth. The proper quantity of food depends on factors like age, size, and breed. Ask your vet how often they should be eating and how big the portions should be.

For smaller dog 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 their smaller counterparts. They should be fed puppy food specifically formulated for large breeds to assist in growth and bone development. 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 bloating.

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 as your pup matures and grows into an adult dog, 2 meals a day will suffice.

How to Prepare

Your new puppy will require a lot of supplies that you should have prepared before bringing them home. To make sure you're prepared, be sure you have:

  • 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 an ID
  • Leashes
  • Dog toothbrush and dog-safe toothpaste
  • Nail trimmers
  • Poop bags
  • Travel bag
  • 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.

Have you recently brought a new puppy home? Contact our Williamsburg vets for more tips or to book your puppy their first veterinary appointment.

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