So you just got a new puppy. You can’t get over his chubby little belly, and his tiny high-pitched bark. You waited for, and carefully selected him from the group of rescue puppies at the shelter. He is everything you wanted in a dog, and you couldn’t be more enamored with him. OK, that’s great, but need some direction?
Raising a puppy is a time consuming, sometimes stressful task. It’s definitely not for everyone and depending on the type of dog and his age, you may be in for more than you expected. If you get your puppy from a breeder, there is a good chance he is probably around 8-12 weeks. If you get your puppy from the shelter, sometimes they can’t tell you the exact age, but can give you a good clue. What can you expect from your new bundle of puppy-love at this stage?
1. House Training/Paper training
This can be a personal choice, and is different for everyone. Not everyone has access to a yard, and for people who live in condos or apartments, paper training tends to be a great solution. At this point, whichever method you choose, you still may be ready to pull your hair out. Keep in mind that your puppy is still very much a baby, and it will take some time. Grab a good “how-to” book, visit some training tutorials on your favorite Internet site, watch your dog for cues, and keep plenty of cleaner on hand. Crate training is a great tool in teaching your pup the house rules. Not only will it help him feel safe and give him a space of his own, if you get the right size crate, your dog will not use it as a bathroom, and it will help him learn when it is an appropriate time to go.
2. The “I’m afraid of everything” phase
Even if he used to just go with the flow. This period is characterized by rapid learning but also by fearfulness. Because of this, it can be a good time to limit loud noises. It can take up to two weeks before your pup feels comfortable and safe in his new home. So creating a calm and inviting environment will help eliminate a lot of undue stress. Limit new sounds, people, and places until you feel that your pup is ready for the challenge. That being said, for proper socialization, some trainers believe that your dog should have the chance to meet at least 100 people/dogs before he is 16 weeks old. (Do not do this until your pup is fully vaccinated. See below.) Just be wise with who and what you introduce your new best friend to. You got this.
There is no debate on whether you need to get your dogs vaccinated. To keep your dog safe, it’s an absolute must. Parvovirus, for example, is a very serious, and highly contagious virus that many improperly vaccinated, or non-vaccinated dogs do not survive if contracted. Rabies, Parvovirus, Bordatella ( Kennel cough), and Distemper are just a sampling of what your new pup will most likely get vaccinated against. Depending on your location, you may also choose to have vaccinations for Lyme, Leptospirosis ( transmitted from rodents), and even rattle snake venom. Your dog should also receive a dewormer, and need to receive heart worm medicine regularly.
4. Proper Nutrition
Puppies need puppy food. Kibble is a great option for people on the go, but some kibble has more protein than others, so make sure you talk to your vet about the type of dog you have and how much protein he needs during this stage. If you plan on feeding your pup raw food, or home prepared, ask your vet what serving size is appropriate for his size and age. Be sure to learn which people-foods are not OK for dogs. Things like chocolate and grapes are extremely toxic, and should be kept well out of reach of tiny puppies who tend to investigate everything with their mouth.
There are many wonderful things about adding a new four-legged addition to your family. So many more than I have even mentioned, so as with anything you do in life, do your research, call a vet, ask a friend. This article is not intended to diagnose or direct, but rather help you on your journey. Understand there will be times when it definitely is not easy, but when you come home to the happiest bundle of fur ever, you will know that it’s definitely worth it.