Caring for your Puppy
Nothing beats the excitement of picking up a puppy and the feeling of optimism when we first introduce a new friend to the family. It’s a truly wonderful experience and the initial joy can last throughout your dog’s life, if you prepare correctly for their arrival and get them into good habits from the start of your relationship.
Great responsibility accompanies the introduction of any animal into the home, none more so than a dog. Here, we’ll be taking a look at what you need to consider when starting out together.
Puppy-proofing your house is probably the most important consideration prior to your dog’s arrival. Tape off any electrical cords and remove food and household chemicals from accessible cupboards. Remove plants, rugs and breakables from areas where your pet will roam and think about getting baby gates if you wish to restrict your dog’s movement between rooms. Once you think you’ve considered everything, lie on the floor to give yourself a dog’s eye view and look around again to see if there’s anything you’ve overlooked.
Collection & Comfort
Take a comfortable dog carrier, thick blanket, water and food if you’re taking a long journey to collect your new pet. On your return it’s worth remembering that removing a puppy from its litter and the only environment it has ever known, is likely to make it nervous. Bring comfort to your little one by:
• scheduling plenty of comfort breaks and taking spare bedding – puppies tend to wee when nervous or excited
• Minimising exposure to loud noises
• Stopping people from handling the pup too much if it’s nervous
• Keeping the dog carrier and car well ventilated
• Ensure you sit quietly and comfort your dog it if it shows signs of distress, such as whining
According to government figures, 110,000 stray dogs are picked up in the UK each year. In a bid to beat the problem, micro-chipping will become a legal requirement from next year and carry a fine of up to £500 for those who fail to register their dog. Getting your dog chipped will likely result in its speedy return, reducing stress for your pet and you if they go missing.
Eating and sleeping
During the first six months of their lives, a puppy’s nutritional needs change very quickly, so it’s wise to ask your vet or breeder for their advice on what to feed them. Most puppies will start eating solid food from about four weeks, though this may need to be moistened to the point of feeling quite spongy. Some experts recommend softening meals until dogs reach around eight weeks.
Your local pet store will have a good choice of specially made puppy foods, like HiLife’s Nature’s Essentials Puppy pouches. These are specially formulated to give your growing puppy all the daily nutrition that he needs to grow strong and healthy. HiLife’s puppy pouches have been made to avoid ingredients that are known to cause allergies and intolerances.
Designate an area for feeding with enough room for your pet to manouevre, also ensuring they have access to clean water at all times.
A nice warm bed will help your puppy quickly adjust to their new home and may remove the temptation for them to hop up on your couch when they need to rest.
Important learning and development takes place from birth to 16 weeks of age, when your dog starts getting used to different noises, environments, meeting other canines and people. To ensure they don’t develop any problematic behavioural issues it’s worth adopting a socialisation plan. Both the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust recommend www.thepuppyplan.com as an ideal prep.
It’s not likely to top many people’s priority list but full consideration should be given to neutering, if you don’t want to run the risk of a house full of puppies. As a rule of thumb, the six-month mark is the earliest you can take action to stop your dog reproducing. Guidelines vary by breed though, so it’s best to ask your vet for their opinion and start planning sooner rather than later.