Whether you’re a first time pet parent, or an old pro with many furry friends, planning for your puppy is exciting and rewarding. Their first year is a critical time for a puppy to learn, grow, and build a healthy immune system to ensure a long, healthy life by your side. Additionally, understanding your puppy’s needs will help create a strong bond. The Pet Resort at Stone Ridge is excited to join you on your journey, and provide your go-to guide for all things puppy.
Puppies are born with lots of energy, sweet puppy breath, and kisses and cuddles for their pet parents, whom they totally depend on to learn how to survive and thrive in any situation. Puppies are most receptive to learning between 3 and 14 weeks of age, although learning is a lifelong process. Proper, positive socialization, which should begin outside your home as soon as they have completed their vaccinations, will ensure your puppy does not grow up fearful or anxious around new experiences. Introduce and expose your puppy to a variety of new sights, smells, and sounds, including:
- Different environments — Expose your puppy to as many different environments as possible, including cities, parks, bodies of water, woods, and mall areas.
- Vehicles — Help your puppy become comfortable in and around vehicles to ensure seamless travel, whether for a vacation, a trip to The Pet Resort at Stone Ridge, or an appointment at Stone Ridge Veterinary Center.
- New people and animals — Introduce your puppy to new people and animals, including other dogs, cats, and livestock.
- Accessories and objects — Familiarize your puppy with objects such as hats, hoods, jackets, sunglasses, canes, wheelchairs, and bicycles.
Always be ready with treats and praise to positively reinforce your puppy for being calm in a new situation. If you encounter difficulty, or if your puppy needs extra socialization help, consider enrolling them in one of our behavior training classes.
Potty and crate training your puppy
In addition to their fast growing bones, joints and muscles, your puppy’s bladder will develop as they grow, enabling them to more easily avoid house accidents. Always monitor your puppy for signs, such as whining, circling, wandering, or going to the door, that tell you they need to go outside. The following steps will help ensure a successfully potty-trained puppy:
- Initially, take your puppy outside every hour they are awake.
- In general, take your puppy out every hour for each month of age—for example, if your puppy is 2 months old, take them outside a minimum of every two hours when they are awake.
- Take your puppy out after they eat, drink, exercise, or wake from a nap.
- Take your puppy out on a regular schedule and to the same location.
- Always go outside through the same door, to teach your pet where to signal when they need to go out.
- Give your puppy praise or treats every time they eliminate outside.
- Use verbal cues before and during elimination, and eventually they will learn to go on cue.
Crate training is a great complement to potty training, but can take up to six months, so patience and consistency are essential. Most animals avoid eliminating in places where they eat, rest, or sleep. Begin by acclimating your puppy to their crate when you are gone for short periods or unable to supervise them, and build up to longer time periods.
Puppy feeding schedule
During your puppy’s first year, they will need extra nutrients for their rapidly growing bones, organs, joints, and muscles. Always ensure that your puppy’s food meets the Association of American Feed Control’s guidelines for complete and balanced nutrition. Feeding frequency will depend on your puppy’s breed, activity, and appetite, although most puppies will eat three to four times a day until they reach 6 months of age, when you can begin feeding them twice per day. Once they approach adulthood—around 9 to 12 months for small-breed and 18 months for large-breed dogs—you can transition them to adult dog food. Always consult with your veterinarian prior to changing your pet’s diet.
Preventive care for your puppy
Preventive care is key to ensure your puppy has a strong immune system to fight off diseases. Shortly after bringing your new puppy home, schedule an initial visit with your Stone Ridge veterinarian, who will perform a nose-to-tail exam to determine their health status and establish a vaccination schedule based on their lifestyle. At around 6 weeks of age, your puppy will receive a vaccination series every two to four weeks until 16 weeks of age. Your puppy will receive the core vaccines (i.e., parvovirus, rabies, distemper, and hepatitis), and vaccines for canine influenza, bordetella (i.e., kennel cough), Lyme disease, or leptospirosis may also be recommended.
Puppies commonly contract intestinal parasites or worms from their mother or original environment, so your puppy will also receive a series of deworming treatments.
Puppy spay or neuter
Depending on your puppy’s breed and behavior needs, most should be spayed or neutered between 6 to 12 months of age. Spaying or neutering provides many health benefits, including decreased risk of testicular or mammary cancer, and behavior benefits, such as a decreased desire to roam, and decreased aggression. Plus, the procedure helps reduce the number of homeless animals. You can also ask your veterinarian to microchip your pet when they are under anesthesia for their spay or neuter. Always talk to your veterinarian about the best plan for these procedures.
For more information on Stone Ridge Pet Resort’s puppy obedience training, or to schedule an appointment for your puppy’s health check and vaccinations, contact our office. We look forward to meeting your new puppy.