Getting a new puppy from a breeder, shelter, rescue, or other source is a wonderful way to expand your furry family. Puppies are adorable with their round bellies and floppy feet. Their exuberance for life is infectious. No matter what breed or mix you decide on, every dog is a unique individual, but some aspects of puppy care are universal:
1. Puppies need great nutrition. Do a little research on the types or brands of food recommended for the type of dog you have. Talk to your vet and knowledgeable staff at independent pet stores, read online reviews, and call the manufacturer if you still have questions. Avoid foods with corn, wheat, soy, by-products or artificial dyes and preservatives. Choose foods with quality ingredients – real meat should be the first item listed. Look for foods with quality fiber, as good fibers (prebiotics) help support good bacteria (probiotics) that help puppies digest their food. Examples of good fibers are brown rice and oatmeal, or grain-free options such as sweet potato and pumpkin. Look for foods with a protein listed between 22-28% and a balanced calcium to phosphorous ratio (the latter is especially important for larger dog breeds).
2. Puppies need to chew…a lot. Dogs who are given a variety of chew toys and encouraged to use them, not only learn appropriate chewing habits, but also have stronger, healthier teeth and gums in later life. Puppies have a biological need to chew, but they also have short attention spans, so providing them with different textures and shapes and rotating toys can stop most boredom chewing before it starts. Even so, set clear boundaries for chewing and be sure to keep dangerous or fragile things out of their reach.
3. Puppies need training. If you’re an experienced dog owner, you may have trained a few dogs already and feel pretty confident with the methods that work for you. However, if this is your first puppy, or a puppy of a breed or type you don’t have experience with, you may want to consider brushing up on your training skills. Many pet stores, dog groomers, or even city governments offer training classes taught by certified dog trainers and aimed specifically at puppies. Most of those classes are in a group format and inexpensively priced. You can also ask friends, Yelp!, or visit a local pet store to enquire about which private trainers are most highly recommended in your area.
4. Puppies will have accidents and setbacks. Little setbacks are part of any animal’s learning curve and are not something to be feared or punished. Learning what NOT to do is just as important as learning what TO do, and the best way to move past a mistake or a period of backsliding behavior is to focus on the positive rather than the negative. If you can keep on the lookout for good behavior and praise each effort to do the right thing, you can teach your puppy how great it feels to please you, which encourages them to keep trying, rather than getting frustrated and giving up. And when those accidents happen, Skout’s Honor is there to help you clean up the mess! Shop Skout’s Honor here!
5. Puppies need lots of love. A dog will change your life, so be mindful of the dog you want your puppy to become. Teach her or him early on to be the companion you can’t wait to come home to, or better yet, the companion you take on every new adventure. Give your puppy all the love and attention they need, so that when the road of life gets tough, the nose that nudges your hand will make the going a little smoother!
6. Puppies are a wonderful (and adorable!) addition to your life. Just like children, they grow up fast, so make sure to take time to enjoy every snuggly cuddle, playful moment and of course, that unforgettable puppy breath!
About the Author
Samantha Grant is a life-long animal lover. She has been a horse trainer, PATH, INT. certified therapeutic horseback riding instructor, animal nutritionist, and writer. Samantha, or “Sam” to her friends enjoys spending her free time playing with her animals, working around the ranch, and reading.