Puppy Care 101
These tips will help you have a happy and healthy puppy.
Made+Remade is dedicating this week to Pet Love, a celebration of our beloved, four-legged companions. Our bloggers will share cool projects and tips to help DIYers get the most out of pet ownership.
In the past year, we have been fostering puppies. Although they are fun and cute, there’s a lot we have learned since bringing them into our home. Puppies, like babies, have specific needs. It’s not complicated, but understanding their needs and providing them will make the first few months of puppy-rearing much easier.
Before you bring home your fur nugget, you need to make sure that your home is ready. Puppies love to explore and will get into places that you didn’t think they would go. Make sure all cords, shoes or other valuables are put out of reach—they will get chewed.
Find a Vet
Your new pup will require a series of vaccinations its first year. Find a reputable vet to help care for your new pup. Many big box pet stores and even drug stores also offer dog vaccines. Yearly vaccines will help your dog stay healthy and prevent many deadly diseases. Get vet recommendations from other dog owners to help you make a choice.
When selecting a crate, get one that will be large enough for your pup’s estimated adult size. Many of the wire crates come with dividers that are moveable and you can increase the size of the crate as they grow. They should have enough room to turn around and stand. Once you have a crate, it’s time to crate train.
Crate training a puppy is a valuable tool. Dogs are naturally den creatures. A dog's den can be a place of comfort and solitude. Crates are a perfect place for your puppy to sleep during the night and a place you can keep them safe and secure (and not shredding your house while you're not home).
Crate training also helps with potty training. Dogs tend not to eliminate where they sleep or eat. To help with making crate training less stressful for your new pup, feed and leave high value treats in the crate so your puppy associates the crate with a positive place. In a manner of days, your puppy will go to his crate to nap and have alone time.
Puppies will chew! As they teeth, they will need things to chew on. Buy sturdy toys and bones for them to chew on. They also love to play. You will be amazed how early puppies start to fetch and retrieve. Giving them an assortment of toys to play with will keep them busy and less likely to destroy your favorite slippers.
Just like human food, there are different qualities of dog food. Get the best you can afford. Puppies grow fast and need the proper nutrients to help them develop quick growing bone and muscle. Look for ingredients that start off with real food items like chicken, beef, salmon, lamb, beets, peas, sweet potatoes, etc. Stay away from anything that says “by-product” or “meal”—they are just fillers. Typically, you feed puppies 2-3 times a day (sometimes more). Make sure they have fresh water available with every meal.
Leash and Collars
It’s a good idea to start leash training with a puppy early. This teaches them to walk nicely on a leash and prevents pulling. The collar should fit snug, but have enough room for you to insert your fingers between the collar and the pup’s neck, but not too loose that the collar can easily slip over the dog’s head. As for leashes, a 6-foot leash is a good length. It’s long enough to give the dog freedom when out for a walk, but short enough to be manageable. Retractable leashes are not recommended in general. They do not allow you to control your dog when needed and can break. A standard 6-foot leash is ideal for walking and training your pup, especially if you have a large breed puppy.
Extendable pens are a great accessory for puppies. They allow the pups to have freedom, especially outside, without having to tether them to anything. Pens come in varying sizes and height. Just make sure the pen you get is tall enough so that your puppy cannot climb out or jump over. On nice days, you can place the pen outdoors for your furball(s) to enjoy the day without worry they will get into mischief. Always supervise puppies while in pens. Dog are resourceful and curious by nature and can get into a trouble in the blink of an eye.
Like children, puppies need a lot of patience. They are curious and will no doubt cause you a bit of frustration at times. Stay consistent with your training and in a short amount of time you will see your efforts pay off. With love and persistence, your puppy will grow up to be a healthy, well-mannered dog.