As a proud pet parent, you’re probably excited to take one zillion photos of your little bundle of fur. But don’t forget to put down the phone long enough to do some serious prep. Puppies grow up fast, and they need a lot of nutrition, training, and care along the way.
THE NEW PUPPY KIT
PUPPY-PROOF YOUR PLACE
- Cover electric outlets and exposed wires
- Put away all bags and shoes, get rid of poisonous plants
- Keep garbage shut and toilet closed
- Clean up small items that could be swallowed
WELCOME THEM HOME
They might not end up sleeping in it their first night, but you’ll want to give your puppy a bed. The snugger and cozier it is, the better for helping them sleep on their own. A crate with dividers is great for house training — you can create a perfectly-sized space just right for hanging out but not so big they feel comfortable using the crate as a bathroom. If you decide not to do a crate or crate training, stock up on pee pads and don’t forget the pet-specific odor-removing cleaners — they keep dogs from smelling and marking the same spot againwhile potty training. Once your puppy has learned to “go” in the great outdoors, have poop bags ready. It’s poor form to not scoop and throw away, so don’t get caught empty-handed. If you already have a pet at home, there will be an adjustment time as you introduce them to each other. For a smooth transition, consider these tips for bringing home your 2nd best friend. Make sure to properly welcome home your newest family members with all the essentials they need.
VISIT THE VET
Try one of our in-store VIP Vet clinics. After they shake paws and get to know each other a bit, the vet will make sure your puppy is microchipped and up to date on all of their routine vaccinations as well as generally healthy overall. Before you leave, be sure to ask when your little one will be ready for their spaying or neutering procedure.
BABY’S FIRST WALK
You’ll need a leash no longer than 6 feet and preferably not a retractable one, as little guys aren’t ready for that much freedom. They may not know their name yet, but have a collar and ID tag waiting. We also recommend a harness. Puppies are leash-pullers, and a harness discourages pulling while also protecting dogs from choking themselves.
TRANSITION THEIR FOOD
Puppies sure can eat – up to 3 times per day to be exact. But they’ll need a chance to get used to a new diet, so keep some of the food they’re used to on hand and stick with the same type of protein in their first new bag as well. A probiotic and, if needed, pumpkin, will smooth out any digestive woes plus improve their gut health and strengthen their immune system.
Here’s how the transition should go:
Days 1-2—75% old/25% new
Days 3-5—50 old/50 new
Days 5-7—25% old/75% new
Days 7-10—only continue to transition if the transition has been difficult.
BUILD THE RIGHT DIET
So what kind of food are you transitioning them to? You can start by taking a look at all-natural puppy food or an all life stages diet. We recommend considering raw food or freeze-dried raw. It’s what puppy stomachs were made to digest, and it’s the best source of nutrients due to being the least processed. Even if raw is not their main food, incorporating small amounts of it as treats has huge health benefits (plus, it’s good to add raw to their diet slowly). You’ll generally want to vary the kinds of foods, brands, and proteins you feed your puppy to help them get a more balanced diet. Another way to do this is by adding toppers (like canned, freeze-dried or raw) or hydrators (like goat’s milk or bone broth) to their dry food. It’s a sneaky way to trick them into not only finishing dinner but eating more nutrients. Always remember to read the feeding guidelines on everything you give them as puppies can eat 2-3X the amount listed for their weight.
TEACH THEM TABLE MANNERS
Don’t want your puppy to eat like they were raised in a barn? Laying out a placemat keeps their bowls from sliding so the floor stays cleaner, and an elevated stand discourages them from splashing around in their water dish. Try to put their food area away from all the action as noise and commotion can make dogs defensive about food. If you feed raw, a stainless steel bowl is the easiest to keep clean. Have a dog that won’t eat? Try swapping out their bowl for a different type.
FEEDING A LARGE BREED?
Big puppies don’t just take up more space on your bed, they also have a higher risk of getting a developmental orthopedic disease. Sometimes they can grow at a rate that’s too fast for their skeletal system to keep up, so it’s extra important not to overfeed them. That’s why there are special large-breed puppy foods with reduced fat and calorie content to help make this easier.
BRUSH MORE THAN JUST THEIR FUR
Grooming starts with the correct brush/comb for their hair type and booking regular appointments for baths and nail trims. But you’ll also want to get your puppy a toothbrush. Bad dental health can lead to serious issues, and the sooner you start brushing the easier it will be. Remember, only use dog toothpaste — the human-grade toothpaste can be toxic for them — and if brushing your puppy's teeth isn’t going great, get an assist with a dental supplement.
WORK ON GOOD BEHAVIOR
Even the sweetest and smartest of puppies need help learning how to behave. Start with puppy training classes, and don’t forget to reward their hard work with some extra motivating training treats. Lots of plush toys and satisfying chews make it way less tempting to gnaw on items around the house, so stock up on both.
TAKE THEM ON THE GO
Surprise, puppies really can’t be left alone for too long. Plus, with the changing seasons, they want nothing more than to go with you on all of your exciting adventures, and the not-so-exciting ones too. Travel-specific dog crates or bags, water bowls and treat pouches and safety seatbelt harnesses are key. For summer fun, think about a life jacket and a cooling mat. When the days get colder, paw booties, sweaters, and safe salt should about have you covered.
ALL GROWN UP
At about 12 months old, your baby is officially an adult dog. It’s time to transition off the puppy food or give them less of their all life stages diet. Each breed is different, so follow what’s right for your dog and watch out for unnecessary weight gain. At this point they’ll also need adult-size collars and harnesses, along with more adult dog toys, treats and chews. Wow, they really do grow up so fast.