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How to Raise a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

Are you preparing to bring a new puppy into your family? If so, you likely have a few questions about how to take care of them in their early days. In this post, our San Mateo vets offer a general guide to the first year of owning a puppy. 

Puppy-Proofing Your Home 

While raising a dog from puppyhood can be an exciting experience, it's also more challenging than adopting an adult dog. Not only are you responsible for training the puppy to behave well and have a good temperament early on, you'll also need lots of patience and time to dedicate to your new four-legged friend, since puppies are rambunctious. They are also curious and more likely to hurt themselves inadvertently.

You'll also need to be prepared to start house-training your puppy as soon as they arrive home. If you plan on crate-training them, have the crate ready to go with comfortable blankets and toys in a nice, calm spot in your home. 

The Art of Raising a Puppy 

Puppy owners should be ready to teach their new small companions how to explore their world safely. Teaching boundaries and properly socializing your dog from a young age can go a long way toward keeping your pooch safe and healthy as they grow. 

Fortunately, puppies tend to sleep a lot, so you'll soon develop a routine and have opportunities for breaks during the day. That said, they don't always sleep through the night. They may bark or whine during the night when they are left alone. 

As their adult teeth emerge, your pup will likely chew on anything they can find. This can cause much destruction to items around the house. However, one good thing is that this behavior shouldn't last too long since your pup will be grown by the time they turn a year old. Once they reach this milestone, they'll leave most of these types of puppy behaviors behind. 

Raising a puppy requires commitment and a significant investment of time. Make sure you can have someone with your pup at all times if you're thinking of bringing one home. This will allow for someone to be around to let them out to go to the bathroom and monitor their behavior to ensure you can discourage undesirable habits. These less desirable behaviors may become entrenched if your puppy is left alone to keep practicing them without correction. 

Your Puppy's Diet 

Puppies have different nutrient needs than matured dogs. Look for some high-quality puppy food that is specially formulated to support puppy development and growth. The proper quantity of food depends on factors like age, size, and breed. Consult your veterinarian to determine the appropriate amount of food for your pooch.

For some small breeds, it can be best to free-feed young pups to ensure they receive adequate nutrition. Toy and small breed dogs reach physical maturity faster than larger breeds and can be switched over to adult dog food and adult-sized portions between 9 and 12 months of age.

Larger breeds can take a full two years to reach physical maturity and have different nutritional needs than small breeds. They should be fed puppy food specifically formulated for large breeds.

Talk to your vet about the best time to switch your growing large-breed dog to adult food. They should also be fed multiple meals each day with controlled portions to prevent complications, such as stomach bloat.

When your pup is between 6 and 12 weeks old, a good feeding structure would dictate they are fed four times a day. At the three-to-six-month phase, they should eat three meals a day. After 6 months and on, as your pup matures and grows into an adult dog, two meals a day will suffice.

What You'll Need

Here is a list of resources you should get before bringing your puppy home:

  • A crate or dog carrier
  • A dog bed
  • Food and water dishes
  • High-quality puppy food and healthy dog treats
  • Fresh, clean water
  • A dog brush or comb
  • Puppy-safe shampoo
  • Puppy-safe toys
  • A collar with ID
  • Dog toothbrush and dog-safe toothpaste
  • Nail trimmers
  • Poop bags
  • Travel bag
  • Pet-safe home cleaner
  • Patience

Veterinary Care for Your Puppy 

Your puppy's first few months to a year may seem to pass by in a blur of teething, training, and activity. Fortunately, our vets at South Hillsdale Animal Hospital are here to provide advice, guidance and professional veterinary care for your canine friend. as they develop into a healthy adult dog.

Our team is always happy to meet new patients and answer any questions you may have during your puppy's first physical exam, which should be scheduled when they are around six weeks old. During this checkup, your vet will check for external parasites and look for symptoms of congenital defects. We will also administer your puppy's first round of vaccinations, along with hookworm and roundworm medications. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you have more questions about welcoming your puppy into your home? Contact our vets in San Mateo to schedule an appointment.

Contact Us To Get Started

At South Hillsdale Animal Hospital, our experienced vets are passionate about the health of San Mateo companion animals. Get in touch today to learn more about our services and becoming a new client with us.

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