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Common Questions For New Puppy Owners

Congratulations! You are the proud pet parent to a new puppy!

Whether you had a pet growing up, currently have a pet in the home, or you are a first-time dog owner, bringing a puppy home can be both an exciting and stressful experience. Many new puppy owners have lots of questions: what do I feed my puppy? What kind of toys are best? Do I need to buy a crate? How long can my puppy be alone?

Common Questions For New Puppy Owners - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal HospitalWhile your vet is often the best resource for information about your new puppy, we’ve compiled a list of the five most common questions new dog owners have.

1. What do I need to buy for my puppy?

Pet stores can be overwhelming! With aisles and aisles of food, treats, collars, toys, and more, it can be difficult to discern what are the must-haves for puppy. Before bringing your new four-legged friend home, there are a few essentials to stock up on. Your new puppy will need:

  • An appropriately-sized dog crate. Dogs are pack animals; a crate gives them a small, snug space of their own. Dog crates should be big enough for the dog to turn around and lay down comfortably, but not so big that there is room for the puppy to potty inside the crate. Have a puppy that is going to grow much bigger? Some large crates come with a movable grate that allows you to adjust the size of the crate as the dog grows.
  • A leash and collar. Introducing your puppy to a collar, leash, or harness early will make learning how to go on walks easier. Most puppies do not enjoy the leash at first; avoid dragging them along, and let them go at their own pace as they learn.
  • Food and water bowls. Establish a spot in your home where the dog’s bowls will go. Afraid of spills? Look for silicone mats that can be placed underneath the bowls to catch water spills or stray food.
  • An enzyme cleaner. Even the best-behaved puppies have accidents! An enzyme cleaner is the best choice for puppy accidents. In addition to removing stains and odors, they help remove odors only dogs can detect; this reduces the chance puppy will potty in the same spot again.

2. What food should I feed my puppy?

Just like people, puppies eat three times a day! Puppies of all breeds should eat puppy food; this ensures they are getting all the nutrients they need to grow. Your veterinarian can help you determine which food choices are appropriate for your puppy and the amount your puppy should be eating based on his breed, age, and weight.

Before buying any dog food, check with the breeder or shelter to find out what food the puppy has been eating. Even if you plan on changing his diet, make sure to do so slowly. Transitioning to new food can be done in seven days; days one and two should be a mix of ¼ new food and ¾ old food, days three and four are a mix of ½ new food and half old food, days five and six are a mix of ¾ new food and ¼ old food, and day seven is all new food.

3. I have to go to work! How long can I leave my puppy alone?

Puppies crave interaction, play, and attention – particularly in the first three to six months of life. Plus, they can’t hold it very long! If you work fulltime and cannot return home frequently to check on and let out the puppy, consider hiring a pet sitter or dog walker to provide part-time care for the first few months of puppy’s life.

4. Can I crate my puppy?

Crate training is an important part of having a new puppy. For most dogs, their crate is a safe, protected space where they can rest and relax away from the hustle and bustle of the family. Crate training is also a good way to make sure your puppy is safe and contained – and out of trouble – while you are out of the house.

Like any kind of dog training, crate training should start slowly. Puppies 8-10 weeks old should only be in the crate for about 30-60 minutes at a time; 11-14 week old puppies can be crated for 1-3 hours, while 15-16 week old puppies can last 3-4 hours at a time. The older puppy gets, the longer they can tolerate being in their crate. Outside of the crate, puppies should get lots of human interaction and attention!

5. Am I picking up my puppy too much?

Puppies, like babies, cannot be spoiled by holding them too much! In fact, holding your new puppy is an excellent way to introduce them to the sights, sounds, and smells of the world. Before puppies are fully vaccinated, it is important to limit their exposure to harmful diseases; carrying them on a walk or holding them as you sit outside exposes them to new things from the safety of your arms.

Take care to pay attention to your puppy’s cues while you are holding them. If they are wriggling, crying, whining, or nipping, they may be overwhelmed or overtired. Try to encourage habits you want to continue as your puppy grows. While a mastiff puppy might be lap-sized, you may not want a 150-pound dog as an adult jumping into your lap! If you have a large breed puppy, try sitting on the floor next to them and letting them rest their head in your lap.

The addition of a new puppy is an exciting time! The professionals at 5 Points Animal Hospital are always here to help with any questions you have about your new puppy along the way!

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