Beginners guide to puppy care

Beginners’ Guide to Puppy Care

If you have a puppy, you’ll know just how much care they require. If you don’t have one, you may not fully appreciate the challenges of looking after a puppy – just like a human baby, they require careful nurturing, lots of affection and a certain amount of discipline if they are to grow up happy, healthy and well-balanced.

In this article we’ve compiled some advice on caring for your puppy in the early months of its life – from about 6-8 weeks through to around 6 months, when puppies start to enter adolescence. During this time, a puppy does a huge amount of growing-up, and habits instilled during this period will remain for the rest of their life.

Feeding Your Puppy

Puppies grow extremely fast, and consequently have fairly high calorie requirements. At first, they should be fed regularly three times a day. Once they are around twelve weeks old, consider reducing your puppy’s meals to two per day.

At mealtimes, leave the food dish in its position for about fifteen minutes, then take it away – whether your puppy has finished eating or not. Allowing dogs to eat whenever they want (“free feeding”) prevents them from ever becoming truly hungry at mealtimes, and can lead to them overeating or becoming overly fussy eaters.

Training Your Puppy

Puppies learn a lot of their lifelong habits during the first few months of their lives. It’s particularly important to instil good toilet habits in your puppy from a young age – start training once your puppy is around five or six weeks old.

Toilet Troubles

Over the first year of their lives, puppies gradually learn to control their bladder, and should develop reliable and consistent toilet habits. However, this won’t happen without your help.

Understanding that puppies will naturally avoid soiling their own sleeping areas is important – try to leave your puppy in such an area overnight and for short periods during the day to encourage it to learn bladder control.

Decide where you would like your puppy to go to the toilet, and take them there at every opportunity – in the morning, whenever they eat or get overexcited, when you go to bed, and no less frequently than once per hour during the day. Stay with them, and if they go, praise and pet them.

Don’t punish your puppy for going in the wrong place, and don’t let them see you clean up – this can encourage them to go again in the same place! Ensure when cleaning up that no odours are left to attract your puppy back to the wrong spot again.

Praise, Not Punish

There is a lot more to know about caring for a puppy, but feeding and house training are perhaps the most important areas to concentrate on early on in a dog’s life.