Puppy Care

When you see him with his mother and littermates, your new puppy-to-be is playful, affectionate, and happy. When you bring him home with you, your puppy is still playful and affectionate — but he whimpers at night. And gets frightened easily. And isn’t house-trained.

With the right preparation and training, your new puppy will adjust to his new family and life with minimal difficulty.

Preparing your home for a new puppy

If you have a yard, you need to prepare both indoors and outdoors for your new household member. The following Odor Destroyer articles provide tips on preparing your home and yard for a new puppy or kitten:

Have a collar with an ID tag ready for your puppy to wear right away. He may dart out the door or get through your fence or gate despite all your precautions. With an ID tag, someone who finds him will be able to return him to you.

Your puppy will also need a leash, food and water dishes, and (depending on his coat) a dog brush or comb. A variety of toys will keep him occupied and help with teething.

The first few nights in his new home may be difficult for your puppy. He’ll miss the warmth and companionship of his canine family. Confining him to a dog crate at first provides the security of an enclosed place and prevents him from destroying household items while you’re sleeping. A blanket or other object with the scent of his mother can also help comfort him. If you want to let him sleep on the bed with you, keep in mind that habits are hard to break, and he probably won’t want to give this comfort if you change your mind later.

Health care for puppies

Puppies need to be fed three to four times a day until they are about six months old. Commercial pet food for puppies is suitable until they are about a year old.

Your new puppy may have already had his first vaccination. Ask the breeder about vaccinations before bringing your puppy home.

When you take your puppy for his first checkup, your veterinarian can assess his health and provide advice about further vaccinations and health care for your puppy. You can also discuss with your veterinarian the best age to have your puppy neutered. Neutering is usually done within the first six months; some veterinarians recommend neutering dogs as early as eight weeks.

House-training puppies

Puppies need help and time to understand that they are supposed to go outdoors to "go." Take your puppy outside as often as possible, especially right after you get up, after meals, and before bedtime. Keep him confined to one area with newspaper on the floor until he learns to go outside. If you see him sniffing the ground for a place to go or starting to squat, pick him out and take him outside immediately.

When he goes in the house, say "No" firmly to him, but don’t punish him in any way — he won’t understand. He may not be able to control himself anyway until he’s older. When he goes outdoors, praise him.

Socializing your puppy

While your puppy is young is the time to help him become accustomed to a variety of experiences. Make each new experience a positive one, be patient if he’s timid at first, and encourage him with each new step.

Exposing your pet to experiences such as these will help your puppy become well adjusted:

  • People of a variety of ages, appearances, and personalities, both male and female
  • Groups and crowds, both children and adults
  • Urban environments and nature
  • Car rides
  • A variety of sounds, such as car traffic and vacuum cleaners
  • Being handled and groomed
  • Play time with other dogs
  • Cats and other animals

The socializing that you provide for your puppy during his first few months will shape him for the rest of his life.

A new puppy and other pets

If your household already has pets, all of the animals will need time to adjust to each other. Keep the animals in separate areas at first, and let them get to know the scent of the other animal. When you introduce the animals, supervise their time together until you are sure that they get along.

More information about introducing pets to each other is in the Odor Destroyer article Can Cats and Dogs Live Together?