When you bring your puppy home for the first time, you are bound to spend a lot of time cuddling with them, cleaning up accidents and snapping every cute moment. But being a responsible pet parent requires certain lifestyle changes, like spending a significant amount of time on puppy care and puppy training, especially in the initial stages of your pooch’s life. It is very important to establish good habits, behaviours and routines in the first few weeks to lay the foundation for a happy life and a mutually beneficial relationship with your furry friend. Read on for our top 7 puppy care essentials that can help kickstart your pet parenting journey…
#1 Establish a feeding schedule
While adult dogs eat once or twice a day, puppies require to be fed at least thrice a day. Establishing a feeding schedule (preferable one that matches yours) will help regularise your pup’s digestion. Moreover, dogs are creatures of habit, so they thrive when they know what to expect and when. Besides this, it also gives you a good idea of when your pup will need to relieve themself. If you’d like to learn more about puppy nutrition, click here.
#2 Take your pup for frequent bathroom breaks
Take your pup to the designated ‘potty spot’ every two hours, immediately after they wake up and after each meal or drink of water. If they get it right, make sure to reward them with praise and a treat. Do not yell or scold them if they slip.
#3 Begin socialisation early
The best time to socialise your puppy is between 3 to 12 weeks. Start by introducing them to new sights, sounds, different ground surfaces and flooring as well as neighbourhood objects like parked vehicles, gates, trees, etc. Then you can move on to introducing your pup to a wide variety of people like men, women and children of all ages. Lastly, socialise your pup with other dogs or pets either on walks or by setting up meetings with friends that have pets. Remember not to push them to interact if they are wary, instead use treats to establish a positive association with new experiences.
#4 Stay on top of grooming and oral care
While your pup will be ready for their first professional grooming session (if required) by 11 or 12 weeks, it is important to prepare them for it as early as 4-6 weeks. Consult your veterinarian about the right tools to use for brushing, dental hygiene and nail clipping, and about when and how your pup should be given their first bath. Try and set up a specific area in your home when grooming your pup, so that they will know what to expect each time you take them there. When it comes to oral care, it is recommended to start brushing their teeth between 8 to 16 weeks. You can also give them oral care treats like Pedigree Dentastix to keep their teeth clean.
#5 Conduct brief training sessions every day
Puppy training is one of the most important aspects of puppy care. The best time to start training your pup is at 7-8 weeks. At this time you can begin with easy commands like ‘sit’, ‘stand’, ‘stay’ and ‘paw’ Once your pup gets a hold of this, you can move on to complex commands and tricks. Remember to use the positive reinforcement technique coupled with a calm and gentle voice. Puppies have short attention spans, so make sure to keep the sessions short and the treats small. If the treat is too big or too chewy, your pup might run off with the treat to enjoy it in a quiet corner, so make sure to use bite-sized treats like Pedigree Tasty Minis, Tasty Bites and Biscrok biscuits exclusively for puppy training.
#6 Maintain a timely vaccination and vet visit schedule
During the first year, your puppy will need to visit the veterinarian regularly for weight and health checks as well as for their vaccinations. Your puppy should be given their first vaccine between 6 to 8 weeks, followed by new vaccines and boosters every 3 to 4 weeks until they are 16-17 weeks old. They will also need a booster shot 1 year after completing this vaccination series.
#7 Consider buying pet insurance
While you might do your best to keep your pooch safe and healthy, there is no way to predict accidents or illness. That's why buying pet insurance proves to be a wise decision as it protects you from unexpected medical costs. It also allows you to avail the best medical services without being restricted by your finances or dipping into your savings.
Life as a new pet parent can be demanding, but the effort you put into puppy care in the first year will be well worth it. We wish you the very best as you navigate through your pet parenting journey.