You want your new pup to grow into a healthy, well-behaved, lovable constant companion, but it’s not something that happens without effort. Raising a puppy is hard work, takes time and patience, and is also worth the effort you put into it. If you’re not sure where to start or have questions along the way, this article covers all the essential information you need. on how to raise a puppy.
What should a puppy eat?
Above all, the food you give your puppy should be high in energy. This means healthy fats and proteins to keep their batteries charged for a full day of play. Protein should be around 30%, fat around 15-18%. It’s important that your puppy’s diet contains enough fat to sustain him, but not enough to increase his risk of obesity or orthopedic problems.
Puppy food should also contain DHA, a fatty acid that plays a major role in brain and vision development. DHA is a naturally occurring fatty acid that is found in their mother’s milk and should remain in high levels during those early puppy days until they reach adulthood.
Large and extra large breed puppies have special dietary considerations. If you have one of these puppies, you’ll want to feed them foods specially formulated for large breeds. These diets are restricted in calcium and phosphorus to slow bone growth. This is necessary to prevent growth deformities which may require extensive treatment.
The most common question when feeding puppies is when to switch to adult formula. Unfortunately, there is no fixed date that you can mark on your calendar. Dogs reach adulthood when they stop growing, which depends on the breed and weight of the dog. In general, small and medium sized puppies are considered adults between nine and 12 months old, with the smaller breeds being the earliest. Large and giant breeds usually don’t stop growing until they are 18 to 24 months old. For a more accurate estimate, the AAHA Canine Life Stage Calculator calculates your dog’s life stage based on its breed and current age. Still not sure? Talk to your veterinarian for a personalized plan for your pup.
How to Train a Puppy
Training your new puppy begins on day one; it’s never too early. With that in mind, it’s also important to remember that there’s a learning curve for every puppy. It may take longer than others to master what you are trying to teach them. Puppy training falls into a few basic categories:
- Basic Commands: Whether or not you’re looking for a puppy that will play dead when you shoot it or dance to a specific song, every puppy should learn a few basic commands. Sit, stay, lie down and come are important items to have in your pup’s back pocket. Not only do they help create a well-behaved dog, but they are also important for your dog’s safety.
- Potty Training: Perhaps the most sought after tip for raising a puppy is about potty training. We’re all tired of cleaning up messes and dreaming of the day our pup asks out. Being patient and establishing a routine are your best friends for this process.
- Socialization: Socialization is crucial for every dog. A dog that is used to meeting new people and creatures is more likely to be calm and accepting of everything that is happening around it. Once they’ve had their round of vaccinations, take them to the dog park, obedience class, a neighbor’s house, etc. is encouraged.
- Leash Training: Walking on a leash is an important skill for your pup to master. A leash gives you control of your dog and helps keep him safe. Your puppy should always be on a leash when outside of a fenced area.
With any puppy training, positive reinforcement will help your puppy grow into a confident, happy, and obedient dog.
How to Exercise a Puppy
No doubt about it, puppies have a lot of energy. Puppies that receive positive outputs to burn off this energy tend to sleep better and are healthier and happier. Your puppy needs two types of daily exercise: physical and mental.
Physical exercise should be varied. Don’t count on a walk around the block every day. Try shaking it up with different routes, runs, games, and play dates. Toys are great additions to exercise and can also get you involved, helping to strengthen your bond with your pup.
Mental stimulation is necessary to keep your puppy’s mind sharp and interested in his surroundings. Fetch or hide-and-seek games are great, as well as interactive toys that let your pup solve a puzzle in order to get a treat. Mentally stimulating games are great options when you can’t be with your pup to avoid boredom and separation anxiety.
While it may seem like your pup can do anything, it’s important to remember that as puppies grow, and with that come shaky joints. This means that you need to be aware of your puppy’s activities to make sure he doesn’t injure these joints. Don’t ask them to do too many jumps or twists, like catching a frisbee. You may also want to consider getting a dog ramp to help them get in and out of the car or onto the bed to prevent wear and tear on developing joints.
Raising a puppy comes with a great deal of joy and excitement, as well as a bit of frustration and uncertainty. Establishing care with a trusted veterinarian is a necessity in raising a puppy. Your veterinarian becomes a partner in your pup’s health and well-being and can help answer some of the concerns and questions you may have. Above all else, raising a puppy is supposed to be fun, so remember to enjoy the good times and laugh at the hard times.