Your Puppy’s First Year
Puppies are without a doubt some of the most adorable things on the planet. Parenting a new puppy, however, is no walk in the park. Here’s a guide to help you care for the new addition to the family.
When the time comes to finally bring your new puppy home for the first time, you can count on three things: unbridled joy, cleaning up your puppy’s accidents, and a major lifestyle adjustment. As you’ll soon learn, a growing puppy needs much more than a food bowl and a doghouse to thrive. And while it may be a lot of work initially, it’s well worth the effort. Establishing good and healthy habits in those first few sleep-deprived weeks will lay the foundation for many dog-years of happiness for you and your puppy.
Vaccinations- 6 weeks, 9 weeks, 12 weeks, and 15 week Puppy Visits
DA2PP: (Distemper, Hepatitis or Adeno2 virus, Para influenza and Parvo-virus). This vaccine is given in a series and is one of the most important things you will ever do to protect your dog’s health. The first DA2PP is given at 6 weeks of age, and is then repeated every 3-4 weeks until the puppy is 15 weeks old.
Leptospirosis: Leptospirosis is a bacteria spread by wildlife and ingested by dogs drinking out of puddles. It can be contracted by people so it is a human health concern. It is given in a series of two injections 2-4 weeks apart followed by a yearly booster.
Rabies: This vaccination is first given at or after 12 weeks of age. The next booster is given in one year.
Bordetella: This vaccination is given to prevent contagious tracheobronchitis or “kennel cough.” It is given every 6 months.
Remember to keep your puppy out of public parks, boarding kennels, dog daycares and places with large numbers of dogs until this initial series of vaccines is completed.
Your puppy’s body is growing in critical ways which is why you’ll need to select a food that’s formulated especially for puppies as opposed to adult dogs. Look for a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) on the packaging to ensure that the food you choose will meet your pup’s nutritional requirements.
Small and medium-sized breeds can make the leap to adult dog food between 9 and 12 months of age. Large breed dogs should stick with puppy kibbles until they reach 2-years-old. Make sure your puppy has fresh and abundant water available at all times.
Feed multiple times a day:
• Age 6-12 weeks – 4 meals per day
• Age 3-6 months – 3 meals per day
• Age 6-12 months – 2 meals per day
Examples of premium pet foods we would recommend are Royal Canin®, Science Diet®, and Purina Pro Plan®. Puppies should always be meal-fed rather than allowed ad libitum (“free fed”) consumption.
Avoid chew toys that are very hard or that are less than 3 inches in diameter. The rule of thumb is that a chew toy should be soft enough to bend or be able to indent with your thumbnail. Rubber chew toys are ideal. We do not recommend real bones as they have the potential to fracture teeth. Avoid fabric toys that can be chewed up and swallowed. Puppies like to chew on almost anything! Be very careful of what your puppy is allowed to chew and swallow as intestinal foreign bodies requiring surgical removal are most common in dogs under one year of age.
Housetraining: The basic concept is to not allow your puppy the opportunity to make mistakes. Your puppy needs to be taken outdoors to the designated area frequently and shortly after each meal. Praise your puppy lavishly after performing. Punishment for making mistakes is not usually helpful. If you catch your puppy in the act of voiding in the wrong place say “NO!” or “YUK!” then take the puppy outdoors.
Obedience training: Puppy classes are best begun as early as 8-10 weeks of age. To learn more about available training classes visit the Love Them Train Them website. By teaching your puppy good manners, you’ll set your puppy up for a life of positive social interaction. In addition, obedience training will help forge a stronger bond between you and your puppy.
Tip: Keep it positive. Positive reinforcement, such as small treats, has been proven to be vastly more effective than punishment.
Just like obedience training, proper socialization during puppyhood helps avoid behavioral problems down the road. At approximately 2 to 4 months of age, most puppies begin to accept other animals, people, places, and experiences. Socialization classes are an excellent way to rack up positive social experiences with your puppy. Just be sure to ask your vet about what kind of interaction is OK at this stage.
A Passion for Pets
Julie Grimes, DVM
Melissa Joseph Miller, DVM
Sarah Foster, DVM