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How to Raise a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

How to Raise a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

Adding a cute puppy to your family brings joy, but giving them special care and attention is important. In this article, our Santa Clarita veterinarians talk about essential info on how to raise a puppy, especially during their crucial first year. 

Puppy-Proofing Your Home

Caring for a new puppy brings joy and challenges. It might feel overwhelming if you're a first-time puppy owner, especially if you're unsure what to expect. Our Sweetwater Veterinary Clinic  vets are here to help you get ready for this experience, so your puppy can grow up happy, healthy, and well-behaved. 

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 a good idea to crawl through your home to get a puppy's-eye view of their surroundings. Remove anything they might be tempted to chew or swallow and close off vents, pet doors, or any other openings that might allow them to become lost or stuck. Not only will this help keep them safe, but it will also ease your anxiety that your new pup is lost.

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 significantly responsible and requires a lot of time. If you're considering getting a puppy, it's important to have someone with them consistently. This ensures you can let them outside for bathroom breaks and observe their behavior, proving unwanted habits that might develop 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, it's best to let young puppies eat freely to ensure they get enough nutrition. Toy and small breed dogs mature faster than larger breeds. They can switch to adult dog food and 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

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 Santa Clarita vets to give you more information or to schedule your new companion an examination.

New Patients Welcome

Sweetwater Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our friendly and experienced vets are passionate about the health of Santa Clarita companion animals and horses. Get in touch today to book your four-legged friend's first appointment.

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