Puppy Care 101

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 pretty much 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.

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 & family  for recommendations. 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.

  1. Set up a vaccination plan with your vet.

  2. Discuss safe options for controlling parasites, both external and internal.

  3. Learn which signs of illness to watch for during your puppy’s first few months.

  4. 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. Establish a Bathroom Routine

Because puppies don’t take kindly to wearing diapers, house training quickly becomes a high priority on most puppy owners’ list of must-learn tricks. According to the experts, your most potent allies in the quest to house train your puppy are patience, planning, and plenty of positive reinforcement. In addition, it’s probably not a bad idea to put a carpet-cleaning battle plan in place, because accidents will happen.

Until your puppy has had all of her vaccinations, you’ll want to find a place outdoors that’s inaccessible to other animals. This helps reduce the spread of viruses and disease. Make sure to give lots of positive reinforcement whenever your puppy manages to potty outside and, almost equally important, refrain from punishing her when she has accidents indoors.

Knowing when to take your puppy out is almost as important as giving her praise whenever she does eliminate outdoors. Here’s a list of the most common times to take your puppy out to potty.

  1. When you wake up.

  2. Right before bedtime.

  3. Immediately after your puppy eats or drinks a lot of water.

  4. When your puppy wakes up from a nap.

  5. During and after physical activity.

  6. Watch For Early Signs of Illness


5. 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.

  1. Lack of appetite

  2. Poor weight gain

  3. Vomiting 

  4. Swollen of painful abdomen

  5. Lethargy (tiredness)

  6. Diarrhea

  7. Difficulty breathing

  8. Wheezing or coughing

  9. Pale gums

  10. Swollen, red eyes or eye discharge

  11. Nasal discharge

  12. Inability to pass urine or stool


6. Teach Obedience


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.

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.

7. Be Sociable

Just like obedience training, proper socialization during puppy-hood 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.


You've just adopted your adorable new puppy and you can't wait for everyone to meet him or her. But before you do, you may want to make sure your little one is properly socialized so he or she can interact with humans a dogs with ease. Here are a few tips for helping your pup socialize seamlessly with others.

The Best Age for Socializing Your Puppy

As puppies get older, it's more difficult to socialize them as they become extremely cautious of anything they haven't previously encountered.  the best age to socialize your puppy is after they have been fully vaccinated including rabies.  This would be at the age of 4 months. We socialize your puppy while they are with us to ensure that they will be highly adaptable to you and your life. Trying to socialize your puppy before this age can cause many issues, especially if the dogs they are socializing with are not vaccinated.  

The Importance of Socializing Your Puppy

Have you ever met a dog that was hesitant around new people or situations? Or perhaps was always excitable when venturing the new places? Or even acted out aggressively? Chances are it's because they were never properly socialized as a puppy. In order for your new addition to become a well-adjusted dog both now and later in life, proper socialization is key. Added bonuses? Your dog will be a safer, more relaxed and enjoyable pet - not only for you, but for any other dog or human it meets!

It's up to you to decide on the amount of socialization that's appropriate. Just keep in mind that the more experiences that your pup encounters, the more comfortable he will grow as an adult who is more likely to adjust to new and foreign experiences.

Socializing Your Puppy

To start, know that socializing your puppy is a big project. You'll need to be cognizant of the sites, sounds, people, places and a variety of other factors that your puppy will be exposed to throughout his life with you. If you live in a big city, you may want to get your puppy adjusted to the sounds of traffic - loud trucks, honking horns, police sirens - to the sounds of public transportation, loud groups of people and children and so forth. Keep in mind that it will likely be impossible to introduce your puppy to every sound he will ever encounter, but the more you introduce him to in that 3-to-12 week age period, the better he will adjust to new things over time.

Just keep in mind that making sure your pup comes encounter with the types of people, sounds, grooming, physical interactions and so forth that you would expect in his daily life, the easier it will be for him to socialize.

What You Need to Do for Your Puppy

First and foremost, make sure your puppy is comfortable in any situation you put him in. You don't want to overwhelm him. Be sure to keep an eye on how your puppy is reacting to the situations you put him in. There's nothing worse than trying to introduce your puppy to other puppies, only to find him hiding from the other animals out of fear. Adjust as necessary and keep trying until you and your puppy find your stride.

If you do find that your puppy seems frightened or scared during socialization, try to relieve him or make the experience more enjoyable. For example, if you're introducing him to other dogs at the park and he doesn't want to leave your side, try sitting further away from the action, which will allow your puppy to observe the situation, but at a more comfortable distance. Giving a treat whenever something loud or scary happens to show him that the place isn't so bad. Additionally, you can always try a quieter dog park or adjust the location as necessary.

If you're finding it difficult to socialize your puppy on your own, it's always beneficial to take your puppy to a "kindergarten" training class. Most pet stores offer these classes, which are a great way to introduce your puppy to other dogs. They encourage off-leash play, which helps teach your pup how to be gentle with other dogs, how to play without it becoming a harmful fight and how to get used to being handled by a variety of different people.

An added bonus? Most puppy classes also teach some obedience training, so your puppy will learn to be better behaved overall.


Final Tips

Socializing your puppy ensures that you'll have a well-adjusted pet that is able to adapt to a variety of situations as well as be an overall enjoyable pet.