Caring for Your Puppy
How exciting! Adding a new puppy to your family is such a thrilling time and filled with joy, excitement, anxiousness and questions. Whether you’re new to the world of puppy parenthood or experienced, everyone is sure to find helpful and useful information here.
Preparation before puppy comes home:
Having your home and family ready before bringing your new puppyhome is very important. Most of our puppies are long awaited for so families have time to prepare–but sometimes a puppy is available and adopted to a non-deposit family. Even then, when a family buys the puppy, I encourage them to return 3-5 days later to actually pick their puppy up. That’s because I think preparing ahead of time is that important!
Shuffling things around, running out for supplies & deciding where important items will go like a crate and pet dishes are all going to distract you from your new arrival, as well as potentially confuse your puppy and make him or her feel insecure. These are things I recommend having together and decided before the big day!
- Supplies from the shopping list purchased
- Crate – set up and put in its place
- Pet bedding, washed (washing off the pet store smell and using your home’s detergent is going to help settle your puppy faster into your home’s scent)
- Food and water dishes – washed and in their proper place
- Toys opened/unwrapped and placed a basket or box of some sort. Believe me, these puppies learn fast where their toybox is!
- A veterinarian chosen and your first appointment made
- Puppy proof your home by hiding/covering exposed cords, a place for shoes, the remote and children’s toys. Install a petgate or doggie door if needed.
- Have a Family Meeting
For the first few weeks, your puppy will be taking in a lot of new information. If one family member is teaching her not to jump up by saying “get down” and another is saying “off” – it’s going to take longer for her to learn. Decide what works for everyone, make a plan and stick to it.
Family meeting agenda:
What commands will be used for jumping up on legs/people? I suggest “off” as “down” generally means to lay down. Will you say “come” or “here”? Decide if your puppy is allowed upstairs, in the kitchen while cooking, on the couch or bed… and everyone be on the same page. Talk to children about rough play, animal respect and proper toys.
Read through the Crate Training instructions and delegate who will play what part in the process.
The trip home:
Hurray, hurray! The time has finally come for your new four legged family to come home. What a sweet time. Take lots of photos because they grow up fast!
Whenever possible, we recommend having a passenger hold the puppy in their lap on the way home. A blanket on your lap, a chewy toy and the puppy. They almost always fall asleep about 20 minutes into the drive. If you don’t have a teenage or adult passenger, a crate is the safest option. I use a small carrier so the puppy feels snug and safe. Still, if you are using a carrier, expect some crying and howling at first as he/she accepts this new confinement. Be sure to let your puppy potty in a non-public area before starting the trip and anytime needed during the trip. Avoid any “pet areas” until your little one is fully vaccinated!
First week home:
Go slow! I recommend gating off an area and starting your puppy in a smaller space such as the kitchen or livingroom. Give him/her time to smell everything and adjust to the new environment. Some puppies act at home immediately and are ready for a game of tug-of-war, and others are shy and/or reactive and need patience. We do all we can to prepare yourpuppy for this new adventure but each dog has their own personality and some are more cautious than others. A loud and excited child can scare anew puppy with a cautious temperament. No matter what your unique puppy is like, it won’t be long before he’s zipping around the house with his favorite toy in tow!
Be sure to offer your puppy several small meals throughout the day to avoid hypoglycemia. If he/she is refusing food, try some canned food that I’ve sent home with you.
If you cannot have eyes on your puppy, put him/her in the crate or an x-pen. Potty training will be your main focus for a while and every missed accident is a missed opportunity for correction. The first week, take your puppy outside every 15 minutes of his/her awake time. Don’t wake a sleeping puppy, however. But during play, after meals, after a nap, etc take him out to potty. Reward proper elimination with praise and a high drive treat. If your puppy begins to potty in the house, you will be right there to see it. Clap your hands and say, “No!” Don’t say his/her name or other words. Keep it simple. Swoop up your little fluff ball in your arms and high-tail it outside. Set the puppy in the grass and wait. When he/she finishes outside, throw a praise and treat party. It won’t take long before they get the idea!
Avoid having your puppy meeting too many new people as he/she bonds to your family.
Have another dog? Introduce them outside in a neutral area like the front lawn or side-walk. Then carry your puppy inside. Supervised play and greetings is crucial the first week or until you’re confident in the older dog‘s acceptance of the new pack member.
Go to the vet for a health check-up as advised in your Sales Contract. Do NOT give a canine distemper, adenovirus or parvovirus vaccine as he/she just had one. Bordatella and Lepto are optional.
Your puppy has probably really opened up since that first day and is running a muck! This is a great time to begin daily training sessions at home teaching basic commands like sit. There are MANY youtube videos on how to teach your puppy basic commands from home, until he/she is fully vaccinated and can attend puppy classes. I love clicker training, personally. I also do “long-line recall training.”
- You can go to three meals a day now, feeding your puppy all he will eat in a 15 minute setting then picking it up.
- Stay vigilant on potty training! Remember, if you need a break, a crate or x pen is an excellent tool.
- Take your puppy on short car rides like a coffee run, gas run or a nice 20 minute drive.
- Set up your vet appointment for his/her 12 week vaccines needed next week. Set up your puppy classes to begin after the vaccines.
- I start leash training at this time to prepare my puppy for public walks and exposure after my vet appointment.
- Continue potty training, commands, car rides and household manners.
- Go to the vet for his/her last vaccines (except Rabies isn’t until 6 months)
- Continue training and prepare for puppy classes
- Continue 3 meals a day
- Continue car rides
- After vaccines you can start taking your puppy to Home Depot or Lowes and other pet friendly places! Go slow and remember the experiences your puppyhas now, he/she will remember forever so do all you can to make them positive!
- Continue him/her sleeping in a crate at night when when you leave the house until around 15 months when you can start testing “free roam” time unattended
- Go to the vet for a Rabies vaccine and deworming and discuss spay/neuter scheduling
- Check into your county laws for licensing
- Begin giving two meals a day, rather than three
- Continue dog socialization as well as exposure to noises and strangers
- Most dogs are ready to look into advanced training at this point such as fancy tricks, agility, flyball, musical freestyle, dock diving, etc. Remember – no high jumping or extended running (especially on pavement) until after 24 months of age
Below, you will find important milestones.
- 8-9 weeks: He will have 28 puppy teeth and need plenty of things to chew on (but not people!)He is forming relationships with people. Let him meet a lot of new people with different traits (men, men with moustaches and hats, little children, old people, etc.) He’ll need to eat about three times per day. He will want to play, play, play!
- Begin house training your puppy by bringing her outside often and praising for every piddle. Choose a word like “Potty!” and use it when she potties so she can begin associating the word with the act. At night, begin using our crate training method. Don’t reprimand for any accidents you didn’t catch happening, she isn’t old enough to be in complete control, so just clean them up.
- 8-11 weeks: Make a loving, secure, calm life for your puppy–traumatic events will likely cause her fear for the rest of her life!
- 12 weeks: Chase games will be a favorite activity!
- 14 weeks: Adolescence begins. Continue socializing him with a variety of other dogs and people.
- 2-5 months: Permanent front teeth emerge.
- 4-5 months: permanent premolars emerge.
- 5 moths: permanent canines (“fang teeth”) emerge
- 5-6 months: Males reach sexual maturity. Your dog may already be neutered (depending on you and your vet’s plan for neutering). Permanent molars appear.
- 5-18 months: Females have their first heat. Your dog may already be spayed(depending on you and your vet’s plan for spaying).
- 6-14 months: Males lift their leg to pee. Permanent teeth are coming in.
- 36 months: your dog is now “mature.” You can now begin training for jumping and agility skills (the skills that are avoided when the puppy is not yet mature that can cause damage to legs, backs.)