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How to Raise a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

How to Raise a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

Puppies are cute, but raising a puppy can be a bit of a challenging experience. Here are some of the tips on raising a puppy from our Lebanon vets to help you to get through the puppy stage and assist your young pet in growing up to be a happy, healthy and well-adjusted dog.

Getting Started: Things to Consider When Getting a Puppy

Life with a puppy can be quite similar to life with a human toddler. It will require lots of patients to keep them out of mischief and to teach them about the world. Puppies are compelled to chew as their adult teeth emerge and you may find the that your young dog chews on anything they can get their mouth around, from carpet to shoes, furniture or even your hand. 

Further, having a dog means assuming responsibility for the happiness, safety, and health of another being. It means being able to pay for vet fees if your dog consumes something it shouldn't, and always having a plan in place for his or her care when you can't be there. It means being emotionally astute enough to see that your dog does not speak English and does not understand the words "stop chewing on the walls!"

Preparing Your Home

It's incredibly important that you prepare your home before introducing your new dog to it. The electrical cords will need to be secured and potentially hazardous plants or chemicals should be moved firmly out of reach. Close any pet doors, vents or other openings that could lead your pup astray or even stranded. 

You will also need to be prepared to start house training your puppy as soon as you get them home. Prepare the crate you intend to use for them and line it with blankets or a dog bed to help make them more comfortable. When choosing a crate, make sure it is one that is large enough for them to stand in, turn around in and lie down.

If you do plan to crate your puppy, set aside a tiny area, such as a powder room or a kitchen corner, where he can be confined and kept away from other dogs and small children. Make sure you have some puppy training pads on hand to catch any accidents, as well as a dog bed, food and water bowls, and a toy or two.


Look for high-quality puppy food that has been particularly prepared to help puppies develop and grow. The appropriate amount of food is determined by characteristics such as age, size, and breed. It's a good idea to talk to your vet about how much and how often you should feed your dog.

To make sure that small-breed dogs get enough nourishment, it may be best to free-feed them. Toy and tin breeds of dog natural much faster physically than larger breeds and will be able to be moved to adult dog food and adult-sized meal portions between the ages of 9 and 12 months. 

Larger breeds should be fed many meals each day in appropriate portions to avoid issues like stomach bloat and protein or calcium buildup. Here's a general guideline for a large dog feeding schedule:

  • Six to twelve weeks old: Four meals per day
  • Three to six months old: Three meals per day
  • Six months and up: Two meals per day


Dogs strive to avoid soiling their bed and the area around it naturally. Create a potty pattern for your puppy, bearing in mind that small puppies will often need to go out every couple of hours. Take him to a portion of the yard where he won't be exposed to other animals until he's had all of his vaccines, and never punish your puppy for a mistake.

It's usually preferable to ignore undesirable behavior or to correct your dog with a simple but strong "no." Never smack or yell at your dog. When he exhibits bad behavior, attempt to redirect him to something positive. Consider enrolling him in an obedience lesson as soon as he is old enough. This will not only teach him proper behavior, but will also aid in socialization.

Proper socialization is critical to the success of rearing a puppy. He needs to be introduced to as many new people, places, experiences, and circumstances as possible to grow into a well-adjusted canine. While you should wait until he has had all of his vaccines before taking him out in public or allowing him to interact with other animals, you may begin socializing your puppy right away by simply playing with him and introducing him to new people, sights, noises, smells, and textures.

Working with your dog to reduce even minor resource guarding habits protects everyone, including the puppy. Always supervise children while they are around your puppy's food or favorite toy.

One of the most crucial lessons is to teach pups not to bite. Establishing your position as pack leader will help your puppy remember that he must earn your respect and obey you, which will assist him in controlling this behavior. Keep in mind that your dog desires your approval but also requires your direction. If your puppy nips or bites, discipline with a calm but firm "no!"

Exercise & Play

Bored dogs are more likely to engage in aggressive or improper behavior, so provide him with puzzle toys and outdoor exercise (walking, playtime) to keep his mind stimulated. Your dog must understand his place in your home, but this can only be accomplished by consistency and a firm, caring touch.

Your First Vet Visit

If you don't already have a veterinarian, ask around. Your family, friends, and coworkers will almost certainly be able to supply you with numerous references. One of the first things you should do after getting a puppy is to make an appointment with a veterinarian for a health checkup. At Cumberland Animal Hospital, we're always ready to accept new patients.

Your veterinarian will most likely recommend a parasite control program to keep fleas, ticks, and heartworms at bay. They'' also advise you on when to bring him in to be fixed, which can help lessen the chance of health and behavioral issues as the puppy ages.

They can also advise you on puppy care issues such as tooth brushing and nail cutting, and even show you how to do it. Your veterinarian can also help you with any questions you have regarding care for your dog, such as what kind of food to feed them.

While you're there, you can also try to schedule his 6-month vet checkup to check on his growth and progress. They can also start to give you advice on how to prepare for the adolescent years, which can be difficult for pet owners. This is also a wonderful time to discuss what to expect as your puppy matures into adulthood.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Have you recently gotten a new puppy and need to schedule their first veterinary appointment? Contact our vets at Cumberland Animal Hospital in Lebanon today!

New Patients Welcome

Cumberland Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Lebanon companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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