As a first-time puppy parent, you want to give the best life to your new furry friend as you can. Rather than starting your new lives together only with good intentions, knowing how to raise a puppy that’s well–adjusted, happy, and healthy right from the start will strengthen your bond with your canine companion during those crucial first few months.
What to Know Before Raising Your Puppy
Incoming! Bringing home a puppy is an exciting time! When you’re looking for the perfect puppy to join your family, you should also be researching what to expect when you bring home a puppy. With proper preparation comes much success! Have everything you need beforehand so you don’t have to worry about scrambling to get supplies and instead enjoy that first week or so with your new family addition.
Make your home a safe place to raise a puppy
It’s so important to raise your puppy in a safe environment. Before your puppy arrives, start thinking like one – ”Hmmm, what can I get into? What would be fun to destroy?” You can even be silly with your investigation! Get down on the ground and observe what’s at your puppy’s eye level.
While you’re lounging on the floor, you’ll probably spy electrical cords, small trash cans, furniture legs, whatever you’ve been meaning to clean up from the floor of your pantry, houseplants, screen doors, shoes in the coat closet, toys, or maybe even a sock or two under the couch. All of these are enticing for a puppy to cause mischief!
Raise your puppy away from toxins
Check for any toxins your puppy can access. Ivy, peace lilies, elephant ears, jade, aloe vera, and sago palm are all houseplants that can be toxic or even fatal to puppies, so be sure to relocate or switch out those plants. You might keep your cleaning supplies in low cabinets. Use a childproof lock on the cabinet or move them to a higher level, but store them in a place that’s easily accessible to clean up any accidents. Stock up on non-toxic pet-friendly cleaning supplies as well. Store all medications far away from your puppy!
Look to see if you notice any food ingredients in your house that may be toxic to dogs. Chocolate, grapes and raisins, avocado, alcohol, some cores, seeds, and fruit pits, certain nuts, nutmeg, cinnamon, and the sweetener xylitol are just some foods that can be toxic and even deadly if your puppy ingests these items. Ensure any food toxic to puppies is stored safely and that all family members know how to safely eat these items to prevent your puppy from eating rollaway grapes or dropped chocolate chip cookie crumbs. Chocolate and sugar-free gum may also be items found in a purse, so put away any bags that are on the floor.
Now that your environment is ready to go, decide where your puppy will be spending most of her time. Purchase any crates, gates, cozy beds, or products assisting in potty training your puppy so you know where to tell your puppy to go in the specially designated areas.
Why You Need Regular Vet Visits to Raise a Healthy Puppy
In order to raise a healthy puppy, establish a relationship with a vet. Your new vet will recommend a wellness visit schedule and get your puppy up to date on any vaccinations needed. It’s important you follow through with regular visits to help keep your puppy healthy and ready to mingle.
A great veterinarian will help you identify any common medical conditions and help you prevent them before you start. Staying up to date on flea, tick, parasite, and heartworm prevention keeps horrible inside and outside infestations at bay.
Your vet will recommend when to get your puppy microchipped and spayed or neutered. Microchipping your puppy provides a permanent form of identification if your puppy is ever lost or stolen. Spaying or neutering your puppy is a simple surgery that removes the ability of your pet to reproduce. In addition to preventing any unwanted puppy litters, spaying females and neutering males can have health benefits such as the reduced need to roam away from home, chances of cancer, lessened aggression, extending her life, and reducing stains on your carpet from being in heat or marking.
Good Training Makes Raising a Puppy Easier
Raising your puppy with a solid training program is so important! If you’re not sure where to start, find a puppy class or puppy kindergarten near you. Essential skills to learn are potty training, walking on a leash, crate training, sitting, lying down, and staying in place.
When you have a good feel for what to do, practice the skills on your own by doing recall work at the dog park, getting used to busy streets, and behaving in public like at dog-friendly businesses. You can even add some fun commands like roll over and spin around.
Keep sessions short and frequent. It’s okay to stop a training session if it isn’t going well, as you can always try again under different circumstances.
Raise Your Puppy to Be Social
Every puppy needs to learn proper socialization skills to interact with her environment. Attending puppy school allows her to discover how to be around other dogs. Bringing up a well-adjusted puppy means learning manners like not jumping up on people or stealing food to teach your dog how to be pleasant company. In all your puppy socialization efforts, make sure they are consistent and positive interactions to set the tone for the rest of your puppy’s life.
Raise your puppy with noise stimulation
Exposure to different types of noises helps your puppy get ready for life. Introduce noises in a positive way so your puppy will know what to do when they encounter them.
Household noises like vacuums, exuberant children, doorbells
Neighborhood noises like busy streets, garbage collection, barking dogs
Groomer noises like clippers, electric razors, blow dryers, nail trimmers
Thunder and fireworks
Ways to Raise a Mentally Engaged Puppy
If your puppy gets too bored, your puppy can easily get into trouble with undesirable behaviors. Mentally engaging your puppy can be fun for everyone! Give her practical and fun stimulation activities to help her brain stay active and develop properly. Infuse fun while raising your puppy by playing training and socialization games.
New experiences give your puppy variety and confidence. Helping her associate car rides as something fun results in better experiences for when the errand is not a fun one, like going to the vet. Let your puppy know the car can be a fun place by buying your puppy a special treat at a drive-thru, visiting relatives and friends’ houses, and spending quality time to create a bond through a fun activity outside her regular routine.
Consistency Is Key When Raising A Puppy
Being consistent with your puppy is so important when raising an independent, well-adjusted puppy. A routine will tell your puppy what to expect, cut down on confusion, and establish order and daily rhythm. Use the same pleasant and firm tone of voice and praise often when your puppy responds correctly to what you want her to do. Get everyone in the household to agree on consistent rules and follow the puppy protocols you set together.
Why Should You Raise Your Puppy With Physical Touch?
This recommendation won’t be difficult to do because puppies are so cute! It’s important to get your dog used to the human touch. Snuggling with your puppy is a natural way for you to show your love for her. Gentle pets and cuddles will help your puppy feel loved and close to you and will pave the way to forming an unbreakable bond.
Touching your puppy can also have health benefits. What puppy doesn’t love belly rubs or scratches behind the ears? Giving puppy massages can help relax your pup after a long day. A puppy massage can also help you check for strange lumps or bumps that may appear. Touching can also get your puppy ready for vet and groomer visits to get your puppy used to having her nails trimmed, ear exams, and body checks. Learning to accept a treat calmly and graciously directly from your hand will teach your puppy good food manners.
Humans should learn the proper way to interact with their puppies physically, too. Most people think picking up a puppy by putting their hands under their armpits and lifting up like you would a child is the right way, but that method could hurt your puppy. Instead, slip one hand between the rear legs from behind and slip the other hand in between the front legs, then lift up your puppy in one smooth motion. Roughhousing with your puppy can be a fun way to spend time together and teach bite inhibition, but don’t let any wrestling get out of hand.
Never hit your puppy or bop her on the nose to attempt to correct her. It will only cause her pain and create fear and distrust. Children should be supervised around your puppy and practice gentle ways to touch your newest family member. Demonstrate to young children the proper way to interact with your puppy and constantly remind them about proper puppy handling methods.
Proper Nutrition For a Healthy Puppy
So many options are on the market to feed your puppy! Always choose high-quality puppy food and treats. Be cognizant of any supplements recommended for your breed. Maintain a regular feeding schedule to help digestion and regular bowel movements.
Be Patient & Manage Expectations While Raising Your Puppy
Just like humans, practice makes perfect. There’s going to be a learning curve when raising a happy and healthy puppy, so give it time. You can’t expect instant results after one or two times without putting in consistent work. Above all, have patience and be real with your expectations. Your hard work will pay off!