1. Find a Good Vet
The first place you and your new puppy should go together is, you guessed it, straight to the vet for a checkup. This visit will not only help ensure that your puppy is healthy and free of serious health issues, birth defects, etc., but it will help you take the first steps toward a good preventive health routine. If you don’t have a vet already, ask friends for recommendations. If you got your dog from a shelter, ask their advice as they may have veterinarians they swear by. Local dog walkers and groomers are also a great source of ideas.
2. Make the Most of Your First Vet Visit
Ask your vet which puppy foods he or she recommends, how often to feed, and what portion size to give your pup.
- Set up a vaccination plan with your vet.
- Discuss safe options for controlling parasites, both external and internal.
- Learn which signs of illness to watch for during your puppy’s first few months.
- Ask about when you should spay or neuter your dog.
3. Shop for Quality Food
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
4. Watch For Early Signs of Illness
For the first few months, puppies are more susceptible to sudden bouts of illnesses that can be serious if not caught in the early stages. If you observe any of the following symptoms in your puppy, it’s time to contact the vet.
- Lack of appetite
- Poor weight gain
- Swollen of painful abdomen
- Lethargy (tiredness)
- Difficulty breathing
- Wheezing or coughing
- Pale gums
- Swollen, red eyes or eye discharge
- Nasal discharge
- Inability to pass urine or stool
5. Teach Obedience
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.
Teaching your pup to obey commands such as sit, stay, down, and come will not only impress your friends, but these commands will help keep your dog safe and under control in any potentially hazardous situations. Many puppy owners find that obedience classes are a great way to train both owner and dog. Classes typically begin accepting puppies at age 4 to 6 months.
Tip Keep it positive. Positive reinforcement, such as small treats, has been proven to be vastly more effective than punishment.