By: Debbie Reynolds, DVM
There is so much to love about new puppies! The puppy breath, the long naps, play time, all the energy and tail wags! They are such a joy.
There are a few down sides - like potty training and teething, but those are short lived. If you just got a new puppy or are getting ready to introduce one into your family - let us help you prepare!
Most puppies should arrive in their new human family home around 8 weeks old. This is variable upon each circumstance but it is important for them to stay with their mom and siblings until this age.
To prepare for your new bundle of joy, you will want to choose what puppy food you want to feed your dog and have some ready. If the breeder or shelter was feeding another kind, ask for some of it so you can mix them together and transition over to the desired food in a week or so. After the puppy is weaned, milk isn't such a good idea anymore and can cause diarrhea. Water is best at the point of weaning.
You should think about whether you want to potty train your new dog outside or inside on puppy pads. If outside, select a designated "potty area" and if not, get a supply of puppy potty pads.
Your puppy will be teething until he is about 6 months old. You should buy about 5 or 6 teethers and rotate them in and out so he has new ones each day. If he is chewing on something inappropriate, just redirect him to his teether. You can watch and see if he likes chewing on soft toys or wood or harder textures. Antlers and buffalo horns, or even ruff bones are great for wood chewers. Hugglehound toys, or binky teethers and such are great for dogs who like softer toys.
You should also get them used to having their nails touched and perhaps even file them or trim the sharp tips off so this is something they will easily except throughout their life.
You will also need to see your veterinarian to begin the series of puppy shots, deworming, selecting safe flea control, and a good overall checkup.
Soon after you get your new puppy the socialization period begins in which you need to expose your puppy to all the things they may see in life. This includes different ages and colors of people, different noises such as vacuums, clapping, car engines and such. All this should be done in a way that is not scary and it will acclimate your puppy to all of these outside world influences for his years to come.
During this socialization period is the perfect time to introduce your puppy to having his teeth brushed. You can get dog toothpaste and use a toothbrush or finger brush (here are a few options). Starting them out young makes this just a routine thing for them and NOTHING will help keep your dog healthier than having clean teeth!
Puppies are worth every minute of trouble they may cause in the beginning. You will have a best friend for life, none more loyal and loving, completely devoted to you. Those puppy months are very short lived in the span of their lifetime so enjoy all the adorable moments spent with your new puppy.
Please comment if you have any questions for me!