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How to Raise a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

How to Raise a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

If you're welcoming a new puppy into your family, you'll want to know how to care for them properly in their early life. Here, our Springfield vets discuss what you should know about raising a puppy and a loose guide for that first year with your new friend.

Puppy-Proofing Your Home 

Are you thinking of bringing a four-legged bundle of fur home? While raising a dog from a young age can be an exciting experience filled with great memories, the art of raising a puppy can also be a bit overwhelming, especially if this is your first pet. Our vets at The Regional Veterinary Referral Center can help you prepare you for this wonderful experience in order to raise a happy, healthy dog.

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 

Puppies are energetic, curious animals that like to know everything about what's going on around them. Puppy owners will need a generous supply of patience to keep their pet out of trouble, teach them about the world in a safe manner and instruct them on acceptable behavior. 

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. 

Your pup will likely chew on anything they can chomp down as their adult teeth come in, which can lead to them destroying items around the house. One plus is that this behavior shouldn't last too long since your pup will be grown by the time they turn a year old. Most of these types of puppy tendencies will be left behind once they reach this milestone. 

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

Your new puppy requires quite a few supplies before you bring them home. Here are some things for you to pick up:

  • 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 The Regional Veterinary Referral Center for a consultation.

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The Regional Veterinary Referral Center is accepting new patients in emergency situations or by referral! Our experienced specialists are passionate about the health of Springfield pets. Contact us today to learn more.

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