Choosing the right puppy for your family
Sometimes you can meet a puppy, and the connection is already there. However, before taking the plunge, you should consider your lifestyle and what puppy would be a good fit. Consider if you need a small or big dog, how much exercise each breed needs and what temperament suits your family – mixed-breed or pure-breed?
Next, you need to decide where you're going to get your puppy. A lot of puppy owners choose to adopt. There are Kennel Club Assured Breeders and other responsible breeders too. Make sure you research the breeder you choose to ensure they are a trustworthy breeder.
Preparing your home for your puppy
Before bringing your new family member home, you need to make sure it’s puppy-proof. Get an idea of the pup-eyed-view of your home, move anything away that's chewable (electrical cords, small bits of plastic), toxic (cleaning supplies) or anything you don't want to be broken! Remember puppies can jump – and they grow super fast, so move things way out of reach or in a lockable cupboard.
We recommend investing a heavy bin that isn't easily knocked over by a curious pup. Purchase a crate for crate training or baby gates to keep your puppy in one place.
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Choosing the right food for your puppy
A growing puppy is the same as a growing human – their diet is super important. Luckily, today's society is incredibly dog friendly, and there are plenty of excellent puppy food options. If you're unsure what to choose, speak with your vet or another dog professional.
Many dog owners buy premium dog food brands, but homemade and raw diets are becoming increasingly popular. When researching the best food for your puppy, consider the ingredients and proper nutrients. Be sure to get food specifically for puppies and growth. Most dog food bags will have the dog's age and size on the front, so they’re easy to identify.
You should also feed your growing puppy four meals a day until the age of four months and then reduce their feed to three times until the age of six months. Then you can feed them twice a day for the rest of their life.
Some treats contain high amounts of sugar, colourings, milk products and fat. Use them sparingly and never exceed 15% of their calorie intake. Always read the label to be sure you're giving your pup something helpful.
What you need to buy for your new puppy
You will need to buy quite a few things for your new puppy. You'll need to purchase food, treats, a water bowl and a feeding bowl. You'll need a strong leash, a collar and identification tags for the collar. Your puppy will need a pillow, bed or blanket for its crate and a comb and non-toxic shampoo for the puppy.
What vaccinations does your puppy need
Vaccinations protect your puppy from deadly disease and are usually a requirement if your dog goes into kennels or travels abroad. They will generally need to start vaccinations at six to nine months. Until your puppy’s vaccination course is complete (usually eleven to thirteen weeks) they shouldn't go to public places or into the garden where an unvaccinated dog has been.
Your puppy is usually vaccinated against diseases like:
- Parvovirus: a highly infectious disease that can pass through dog faeces and can stay on a surface for up to nine months.
- Canine distemper: a virus spread by an infected dog's saliva and occasionally urine, and usually contracted through direct contact.
- Leptospirosis: a severe and life-threatening disease which can progress quickly and lead to organ failure. It is spread through the urine of infected animals, which can contaminate water or soil.
- Adenovirus 1 and 2: a viral disease with two strains, the first of which causes hepatitis, an infection of the liver.
- Canine parainfluenza: a highly contagious and airborne respiratory infection, like a cold. It is not usually serious, but necessary to vaccinate against.
House training your new puppy
House training your puppy takes patience, a good routine and lots of positive reinforcement. A general rule of thumb is to take a puppy outside as many hours as their age (in months) plus one (for example, a two-month-old puppy will need to go outside roughly every three hours.)
How to bond with your new puppy
Just like obedience training, proper socialisation helps avoid issues further down the line. It would help if you gave your puppy positive reinforcement when it plays, cuddles and behaves well. You can nurture your bond with your puppy through training, grooming, playing and general exercise. You might want to join classes with your dog or enter dog shows. A puppy is a part of your family, and you will want to spend as much time with it as possible.
The process of getting a new puppy can be an overwhelming one amongst all the information to digest. There is a lot to take in from the moment you decide you would like a new puppy, all the way through to actually having one in your home. Whilst all the preparations, techniques, tips and tricks are key, remember to simply make the most of all the wonderful memories that you will create with your new puppy, and the joy that having them around will bring.