Anna O Brien, DVM, a vet in America wrote an article on Buzz feed about the important things to know and do when getting a new puppy. We borrowed this blog and have added our own tips.
The original article can be seen here.
1. You will need to puppy-proof your house.
This means tucking electrical cords out of sight, keeping shoes and other items off the floor, placing the rubbish bin in an out-of-reach area, and keeping all small items like hair ties, rubber bands, loose change, yarn and dental floss, jewelry, and even socks away from the edges of tables or counters. It’s also a good idea to keep the bathroom door closed and off-limits to your puppy. Puppy gates are an easy way to section off areas of your home.
2. You’ll need a Dog Licence for your puppy.
A dog license can be purchased at your local post office. You can buy an annual licence or a lifetime licence. The revenue from dog licences finances the operation of dog control services in local areas throughout the country.
3. Your puppy needs ID.
One of the first purchases for your new puppy should be a well-fitting collar along a tag that includes their name and your contact information. Microchipping of all is now required by law. The details of this microchip should be registered with a recognised authority e.g. Fido.
4. Your puppy needs to go to the vet and get vaccines.
You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your vet, at least for the first six months of your puppy’s life. So take time picking your vet; find someone you and your puppy click with. There are lots of easily preventable contagious diseases, like parvovirus, distemper, influenza, and kennel cough, that are potentially deadly for your pup, and they should be vaccinated for those too. Most puppies can get their first set of shots around six to eight weeks of age and will need boosters two weeks later. Talk to your vet about which vaccines are right for your pet.
5. Your puppy also needs protection from fleas, ticks, and external parasites
All of those pests can cause some serious health issues for your puppy. A severe flea infestation can cause blood loss and weakness. Fleas also transmit tapeworms, which cause gastrointestinal issues and weight loss. Ticks are even nastier, since certain species can transmit diseases like Lyme disease. The good news is that there are very good oral medications and topical products that protect against fleas, ticks, lice. Talk with your vet about which preventative product is best for your puppy and then set a monthly reminder on your calendar or phone to administer it.
6. There’s a chance your puppy might have parasites.
Internal parasites such as tapeworms and roundworms are common in the intestinal tract of young puppies. These worms, often transmitted from the environment and from the puppy’s mother, can cause diarrhoea and weight loss, as well as irritation and inflammation to the lining of your puppy’s digestive tract. Hookworms are particularly vicious, as they hook onto the wall of the intestine and suck blood from the tissue, resulting in sometimes severe blood loss in young animals. Diagnosing intestinal parasitism is as easy as delivering a fresh stool sample to your vet. There are numerous safe and effective de-worming medications that your vet can provide to treat common gastrointestinal parasites in dogs.
7. You should get your puppy spayed or neutered.
Most vets recommend spaying your female puppy or neutering your male puppy between four and six months old. While some recent studies have shown that spayed and neutered animals can be at higher risk of developing other forms of cancers when compared to unneutered animals, the proven benefits of the procedure, in general, outweigh owning an “intact” animal. Intact pets are more likely to roam and get into fights, not to mention the issue of unwanted litters of puppies. Additionally, a neutered dog won’t get testicular cancer because, well, he doesn’t have any, and spaying your female puppy prevents her from developing potentially life-threatening uterine infections.
8. Your puppy needs a social life.
You can really influence your puppy’s emotional development at a young age. The period roughly between 3 to 12 weeks of age is called a puppy’s socialization period. This is the time to show your puppy the world — take them to parks, in the car, and let them meet other dogs and people once they have been fully vaccinated. Puppy socialization classes are helpful for making sure your puppy is getting the right kind of controlled pup-on-pup interaction.
9. Keeping your puppy entertained will keep them out of trouble.
It’s probably an amendment to Murphy’s Law that a bored puppy will cause destruction. Of course, they won’t mean to destroy, but since their means of exploring the universe are to taste everything, this may involve chewing on your couch. Therefore, keep your puppy busy. This includes lots of outside exercise as well as providing the right toys. Sturdy chew toys like a Kong or thick rope are great for busy puppy mouths.
10. But it’s important not to give your puppy too MUCH exercise.
For some larger breeds, it can take up to a year of age before their joints and bones are fully developed. So take into account your pup’s breed and size, and don’t force them on long hikes, jogs, or agility training until they’re at least a year old. Relaxed, natural movement and play outside, however, is fine at any age.
11. Patience and consistency are the keys to house-training.
One of the biggest challenges of owning a puppy is toilet training them. Regular trips outside are key to help them form the connection that outdoors is the right place to relieve themselves. Key times to take the puppy outside for a bathroom break are right after meals, in the morning, and right before bed. Bringing them outside about every two hours for the first few weeks is a good guideline. Obviously, the time between breaks will increase as your puppy gets older, their bladder gets bigger, and they start to learn how to let you know when they need to go.
12. It’s important for your puppy to get the right food — and to eat often enough.
Puppies grow fast so they need properly balanced nutrients in order to foster healthy growth and development. Most brand-name commercial puppy foods are solid choices. A general rule of thumb is to feed your puppy three meals a day until three months old. Between three and six months, you can decrease meals to twice daily.
If you are giving treats to your puppy frequently, make sure the treats are very small amounts of food and are safe for your puppy. Feeding human food and table scraps is a habit that’s better never started. If you start giving your puppy treats from the table when they’re little, it’s very hard to discourage a full-grown dog from begging at every meal.
13. You need to know your puppy poisons.
Common foods we enjoy on a daily basis are actually toxic to dogs. Chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, coffee grounds, garlic, and sugar-free food containing xylitol are some of the most common toxic foods for dogs from the table. Human medications like antidepressants and cold medicines can also be trouble, so keep them well out of reach, and never give your pup any medications or supplements unless specifically directed to by your vet.
14. Puppies’ teeth need brushing, too.
Dental care is also important in dogs. And while your puppy shouldn’t be building up plaque just yet, now is a great time to get them used to a toothbrush. Regular brushing, every week or so, should be a part of your puppy pet-care routine that will carry on into their adult life. Human toothpaste is off-limits due to the high levels of fluoride, but there are plenty of pet-friendly toothpastes and toothbrushes out there.
15. Your puppy should go to school.
Puppy training classes are designed for puppies around eight to twelve weeks old, and allow them to socialize and begin learning basic commands like “sit” and “down,” and to walk on a leash. Puppy classes are great for owners, too, since you’ll be the one interacting with your pet. These classes help both pet and owner learn basic commands and consistency with training. Ask your vet for recommendations for a good local puppy class; some clinics even hold their own. If you find a class on your own, ask for references before signing up.
16. Special breeds have special needs.
If you have a purebred puppy, get familiar with the breed’s history and traits, because some breeds are known for specific health problems. The more you know about your breed, the better you’ll be able to watch for warning signs of a specific problem and maybe even be able to prevent it.