A Guide to Caring For Your First Puppy
Adopting your first puppy is equal parts daunting and exciting. On one hand, endless hugs, kisses, and games of fetch await, along with plenty of adorable photos to melt the hearts of all your friends and family. Then there’s reality, which is slightly less picturesque.
Training, feeding, cleaning, protecting, and puppy-proofing are all things that you’ll need to learn how to do. Failing to cover these aspects of raising a dog can prevent them from being their happiest and healthiest, so you need to know how to do it right.
It might take some work, but rest assured that your efforts will pay off, as the result is a loyal companion who will get you through life’s toughest moments for years to come. Here’s how to care for your first puppy.
Preparing Your Home
Before you let your puppy’s curiosity guide them towards catastrophe, it’s important to ensure that your home is safe for both them and your belongings. This is known as puppy-proofing and it involves the following steps:
● Reachable Surfaces: Low shelves, coffee tables, and other furniture are some of the places your puppy will inevitably explore. Check the surfaces they can climb onto for anything that can be knocked over or chewed on. This can include plants, vases, remotes, and so forth. A heavy-duty lid can stop them from opening the bin.
● Cables: Look out for any electronics that your puppy can chew on, especially when it comes to plug outlets and cables on the ground. If hiding them behind furniture isn’t an option, consider picking up some wire protectors.
● Poison: Make sure that your puppy can’t access any rodent traps or insect bait stations.
● Window Blind Cords: Keep any strings out of reach to prevent tangling and damage to your curtains.
● Bathrooms: If your puppy is tall enough, make sure to always keep the toilet lid closed.
● Chemicals: Toxic items, such as cleaning products, medicines, and chemicals should be out of reach.
Simply limiting access to certain areas by closing doors can go a long way in helping your puppy stay out of trouble while you train them. They’ll likely be teething, so keep some toys around to stop them from chewing your furniture.
It’s also recommended to avoid letting your puppy get away with things just because they’re young. If you wouldn’t let them onto the bed as an adult, for example, then it’s better to prevent that habit from building before it becomes more difficult to break.
Meeting the Family
It might be a better idea to keep your puppy on a lead when first bringing them in, as this ensures that they avoid any dangers while familiarising themselves with the environment. Some owners feel that crate training is too cold and isolating, but veterinarians say that puppies view them more as safe spaces, so you can use it to establish good habits.
Having a dedicated area of your home that’s closed off from the rest will also ensure that your puppy stays safe when you’re not around to watch them. Be sure to place a warm bed and blanket inside said area so that it’s more comforting. If you have kids, it’s important to teach them how to behave with the puppy and respect each other’s spaces.
Keep your puppy close by on a lead when exercising. Not allowing them to pull or lead you is a good way to establish dominance, which helps them learn to follow your commands. It’s also a good idea to teach your puppy to remain calm and not jump when visitors arrive. Give them a treat when they greet someone properly.
In the beginning, house training takes some time and commitment, but eventually, a routine will be established, and things will continue as usual. With puppies, positive reinforcement is key. You don’t want to react negatively when they do the wrong thing, as this can make them fearful and does nothing to teach them what they should be doing.
Instead, focus on reacting positively, such as with treats, when they do something right. Be mindful when setting a routine. There should be specific times for playing, eating, exercising, napping, and taking a bathroom break. This makes their behaviour more predictable and helps you consistently tick off everything from the daily to-do list.
What your puppy eats arguably plays the biggest role in their overall well-being. It would be wise to avoid processed foods and commercial kibbles, as they’re related to a myriad of health problems that can hinder your puppy’s growth. As the puppy feeding Guide on Bella and Duke’s blog points out, a raw diet is a better way forward.
Bella and Duke is one of the companies that offer a raw diet for puppies, which includes only natural foods that dogs have eaten for millennia, as opposed to the processed junk that has plagued the market for the past century. The company’s online store offers a meal plan tailored to your puppy’s needs and gets shipped to your door for free.
Many first-time owners make the mistake of feeding their puppy food from the table. It’s better to avoid the habit as this can cause them to lose interest in their normal food and only want human food. At the same time, there are some things that you should avoid giving them at all costs, most notably the following foods:
● Grapes and raisins
● Onions and garlic
● Fatty foods
● Any liquids except water
Keeping your puppy on a natural diet that’s formulated specifically for them will ensure that they get all the nutrients they need while also enjoying a moist meal that smells and tastes great. The same cannot be said for dry foods, which are linked to everything from inflammation to pancreatitis to cancer to obesity and much more.
While it isn’t necessary to spoil your puppy with countless expensive toys and accessories, especially from an eco-conscious perspective, there are some useful supplies that are worth investing in.
The following are the products you should aim to pick up first:
● Steel food and water bowls
● Lead and collar with identification tags
● A comfortable bed to sleep in
● Small treats for training
● Comb, nail clipper, and non-toxic shampoo for grooming
Walk into any pet shop and you’ll be bombarded with plenty of other products. In reality, most of them aren’t a must-have. You’ll quickly find that your puppy will be over the moon with even the simplest of toys, including those that you can create for free out of things you already have.
Successfully raising a puppy requires some patience, dedication, and at least one furniture leg. Unless they descended into your hands from the heavens, chances are that your puppy will test your ability to stay calm at least once daily for the first few weeks. It’s best to approach this with a cool temper and take it as an opportunity to grow.
This way, both you and your puppy can learn some valuable lessons together as you become your happiest and healthiest selves. Just like in your own life, you should remember to feed your puppy only the best food and keep them active on a daily basis. For anyone who forgets these golden rules, a hefty vet bill awaits.