Is anything better than welcoming a new baby animal into your family? Whether the new arrival is a calf, a foal, or a puppy, introducing a new addition is cause for celebration. The real work, however, begins immediately, and your responsibility is to ensure they receive the best start in life. Before bringing home your new puppy, read our Walnut Creek Vet Hospital team’s guide, and learn how to jump-start your furry pal’s journey to a lifetime of health and happiness.

#1: Good nutrition sets up your puppy for proper growth

No matter their breed, your puppy is growing rapidly as their bones, organs, and muscles fully develop. A small-breed puppy can reach their adult size by 6 to 8 months of age, but a giant-breed puppy may grow until they are 2 years of age or older, making proper nutrition critical during the early months. Feed your puppy a diet that is geared toward their specific needs, such as activity level, breed, and life stage. Keep in mind that you may need to switch your tiny Chihuahua puppy’s food to an adult diet when they are as young as 6 months of age. However, your Great Dane may require a special puppy diet throughout their first 2 years. Feeding the appropriate diet—in the proper portion size—helps your four-legged friend live a longer, healthier life.

#2: Positive socialization helps your puppy remain calm and confident

During your puppy’s first 4 months, they form their worldview. This critical time is your puppy’s socialization period, and it lasts from 3 weeks to about 14 weeks of age. Inadequate or negative socialization during this time can lead to lifelong behavior problems, so take steps to ensure your pup is positively exposed to a variety of new stimuli. Ensuring your puppy has positive interactions and experiences with other dogs, cats, vacuum cleaners, thunderstorms, and bathtubs can make both of your lives much easier and happier. Set up your puppy’s positive introductions to:

  • People
  • Animals
  • Environments
  • Places
  • Sounds
  • Sights
  • Household items
  • Grooming tools
  • Handling

#3: Consistent training teaches your puppy how to be a great family pet

When training your puppy, always remain consistent and positive in your interactions. Keep in mind that your cute puppy’s current antics can become problematic behaviors when they grow to adulthood, so teach your pup good manners early. For example, teach your puppy to refrain from jumping on people for attention by removing what they want (i.e., attention) when they jump. Rather than pushing your puppy away from you, raising your knee and shrieking, and telling your puppy no while attempting to hold them down, turn your back on your puppy and ignore them until they stop jumping. As soon as their four paws are on the floor, reward your puppy with attention. If they jump again, turn back around and ignore the pup. Soon your puppy will learn they only receive attention if they do not jump on people. This practice is only effective when everyone your puppy encounters reacts the same. So, ask friends, neighbors, and strangers on the street to ignore your pup unless they remain on all four paws.

#4: Through regular grooming, you can help your puppy avoid some health issues

Regardless of your puppy’s fur length and type, they need regular grooming to maintain a healthy coat and skin. Acclimating your puppy to brushing, bathing, ear cleaning, toothbrushing, and nail trimming when they are young help prevent future battles of the wills. By being able to groom your puppy with ease, you have the opportunity to detect health issues, such as allergic skin reactions and potentially cancerous growths, at an early stage. In addition, you can help your puppy avoid problems such as skin and ear infections, overgrown and torn nails, and dental disease.

#5: Wellness care can protect your puppy from life-threatening diseases

During your puppy’s first few months, they will be visiting our Walnut Creek Vet Hospital team about once a month to receive a series of vaccinations and other preventive care services. Each appointment is important, as your puppy’s maternal antibodies (i.e., the immune protection they received from their mother) is waning, as their own immune system develops. Vaccination boosters during this period ensure your puppy remains fully protected from infectious disease, and helps them ward off serious illness in the future. Your veterinarian will also initiate your puppy’s parasite prevention during these visits, because fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites can easily overwhelm a young puppy’s internal defenses. In addition, to ensure your puppy receives the maximum growth benefits their hormones provide, and minimize their reproductive-related issue risks, your veterinarian will recommend the best age at which to spay or neuter your precious pup.

Your puppy’s first year is full of important events, and we are here to guide you every step of the way. Schedule your puppy’s wellness visit with our Walnut Creek Vet Hospital team, and jump-start your furry pal’s journey to a lifetime of health and happiness.