Aqueos - How to look after a Puppy
Welcoming a puppy into your home is an incredibly exciting time, but it’s also a huge responsibility. That means it’s really important to do your research, and to ensure that you are properly prepared. Here are our top tips on how to care for a puppy.
Before you consider a puppy
First things first, it’s important to be sure that you can offer a puppy a suitable home for life. That cute bundle of fluff will soon turn into a fully grown dog, who will hopefully enjoy many many years with you. Things to consider include:
- Puppies are surprisingly time consuming: training, socialisation, playing, walking, feeding, company… the list goes on! Puppies also can’t be left alone for long, and even adult dogs shouldn’t be left for more than around 4 hours at a time. Do you have the time for a puppy? Are there reliable puppy day care or pet sitter options near you for when you’re out?
- It’s important to consider the cost of owning a dog over their lifetime. You’ll need to factor in food, accessories, toys, pet insurance, dog sitting or kennels, vet bills and preventative treatments.
- Is your home puppy friendly? Do you have space for a fully grown dog? Do you have a secure enclosed garden, or access to a safe space? Does everyone in your home want to care for a puppy
Different breeds have different needs and personality traits; be sure to do your research so you’re choosing a breed that fits well with your lifestyle. It’s also important to be sure you’re not being scammed into buying from a puppy farm, or a poorly puppy.
There’s a lot to consider before deciding on welcoming a puppy into your home. If you do decide to go ahead, the joy they can bring is so worth the commitment!
Before you bring your puppy home
So you’ve decided that you can provide a puppy with everything they need; there’s still lots to consider before you bring your puppy home. You’ll need to register with a vet, prepare your home, arrange pet insurance and go shopping!
In order to prepare your home, you’ll need to designate a quiet bedding area where your puppy can enjoy some undisturbed rest. They’ll also need a separate feeding station. Check your home for potential hazards, for example ensure that all household chemicals are well out of reach of your puppy. Remember, puppies explore with their mouths, so make sure they can’t chew on (or eat) anything dangerous! Many human foods are poisonous to dogs, so make sure you do your research. Look for poisonous plants in your garden and remove them beforehand.
In terms of shopping, you’ll need:
- a bed,
- a crate if you’re choosing to crate train,
- food and water bowls,
- a lead,
- a collar and tag (this is legally required),
- a safe restraint method for the car,
- poo bags,
- a brush,
- puppy treats,
- puppy toothbrush and toothpaste
- and plenty of toys!
Now you should be ready to welcome your new addition!
Bringing your puppy home
Puppies can become overwhelmed very quickly. Take things slowly and let them explore at their own pace. It will help your puppy to settle if you decide on a daily routine from day one,and stick to it.
Over the coming weeks you will need to start, or continue, toilet training. You’ll need a lot of patience here! Offer positive re-enforcement with lots of praise and treats when they get it right. You should never scold a puppy for having an accident, this is guaranteed to make the situation worse. Instead, ignore them and clean them away without any fuss.
Puppies need a good quality, complete puppy food. Puppies have different nutritional needs from adult dogs, so they need food specifically designed for puppies.
It’s best to stick with the same food the breeder was feeding initially, to allow your puppy to settle in. If you then wish to change their food, you’ll need to do so gradually over a couple of weeks, otherwise your puppy is likely to have diarhoea.
Make sure your puppy always has access to clean, fresh drinking water. Cow’s milk isn’t suitable for puppies, but it’s ok to offer a little puppy milk as a treat every so often.
The sooner you introduce grooming as part of your routine, the better your puppy is likely to accept it! Use a soft puppy brush initially and remember to reward your puppy afterwards. Start cleaning their teeth with a soft puppy toothbrush and toothpaste for dogs. If they seem nervous, you may find it helps to start with a finger brush.
Puppies have sharp claws, so it’s a good idea to start regular nail trims too. It can help if you start slowly, over a few weeks. Show your puppy the nail clippers, then give them a treat. Next open and shut them, followed immediately by a treat, so they get used to the noise. Before attempting to clip your puppy’s nails, it’s a good idea to ask your vet or vet nurse to show you how.
During grooming, it’s a good idea to acclimatise your puppy to being handled. Open their mouths, look gently in their ears, feel their toes and lift their tail. This will help to make a vet visit feel more normal to your puppy.
Vaccinations, flea treatment and de-worming
Your puppy may have already had their first vaccinations with the breeder, in which case you need to make sure you have their vaccination certificate. You will need to show this to your vet, so that they can continue the course of vaccines. Your puppy will need a vaccine and health check every year, for life. They will also need regular worm and flea treatment. Your vet will be able to advise you on which preventatives they are due, and when.
Socialisation is a really important part of bringing up a puppy. Over those first formative months, you need to introduce your puppy to as many different people, dogs, environments and situations as possible. It’s important to do this in a controlled manner, with plenty of rewards and space to move away if they seem anxious. This needs to be a slow gradual process, moving at a pace your puppy is comfortable with. Puppy classes are a great place to start!
Bringing home a puppy is naturally a very exciting time! It’s important to be prepared for this great responsibility. It will be a big help to have a consultation with a vet for advice before, or shortly after, you bring your puppy home. Finally, enjoy this precious time with your new addition!