Puppies are a lot of work when you first get them. Depending on their age, the amount of training needed will vary. You will need to know where the puppy is going to be able to eliminate safely whether you need to put up a fence, a gate, or use a leash until the puppy gets used to where it should go.
12. Potty Training
15. Brushing Teeth
17. Puppy Breed
It is helpful to establish a sleeping area for the puppy before bringing it home. Crate training puppies is normally easy when they are young and a good idea to have the puppy feel comfortable in a crate. Anytime the puppy must stay at the vet they are comfortable in a confined space and most dogs like having a confined area that they can go to if they get scared, stressed, or just need a place to go to get away.
Do you know why you should not walk a puppy outside where other dogs have access to until they are fully vaccinated? They can encounter viruses that can be fatal to the puppy before it is fully vaccinated. Puppies normally get their last vaccine of DA2PP or canine distemper virus, adenovirus type 2 (hepatitis), canine parvovirus, and parainfluenza virus. There are different variations of this vaccine but most of them have antibodies against these four viruses. It takes about two weeks for the antibodies to develop in the immune system therefore your puppy is considered fully vaccinated at about 18 weeks of age, if your puppy got its vaccines at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age.
Canine distemper virus is a highly contagious disease and is often fatal. The virus attacks the respiratory and gastrointestinal system. Symptoms include discharge from the eyes and nose, fever, coughing, lethargy, reduced appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. As the disease progresses the puppy can start having neurological signs including walking in circles, head tilt, lack of coordination, muscle twitches, jaw movement, drooling, seizures and/or partial or complete paralysis. If the puppy is infected prior to its permanent teeth emerging their permanent teeth may be damaged. Half of the dogs that develop distemper will die from the infection and the dogs that do survive may have permanent nervous system damage. Distemper is spread through sneezing, coughing, or barking of an infected animal, can be transmitted through shared food, water bowls and from wild animals.
Canine adenovirus symptoms include dry hacking cough, retching, gagging, coughing up white foamy discharge, fever, lethargy, anorexia, nasal discharge, and eye discharge. This virus is normally self-liming but can lead to pneumonia. There can also be vomiting, diarrhea, and possible jaundice which if it gets to this phase can be fatal.
Canine parvovirus is transmitted from the virus being deposited on a surface from the feces of an infected dog. The virus can survive outside for months and even through the winter and is resistant to most household cleaning products. After it rains it can spread the virus further. Once infected the virus attacks the bone marrow and the cells lining the small intestines and destroys young immune cells. When the lining of the small intestines gets destroyed the bacteria from the intestines enter the bloodstream. When the intestines are weakened nutrients are not absorbed and the pet becomes ill with severe vomiting and diarrhea. If left untreated puppies can die from dehydration and sepsis. The first symptoms of parvo include lethargy, depression, and loss of appetite. If your puppy develops any of these symptoms, talk to your veterinarian right away to have them tested for parvo. The test works like a pregnancy test with a fecal sample and takes about 15 minutes to get the results. Early detection accounts for the best outcome for a puppy that has parvo. After the initial symptoms they develop vomiting, diarrhea often with blood, abdominal pain, fever, or low body temperature.
Canine parainfluenza is a highly contagious respiratory virus and is one of the most common pathogens of infectious tracheobronchitis. Parainfluenza is part of a group of viruses called canine infectious respiratory disease complex which is one of the many forms of kennel cough. Bordetella is another bacterium that causes kennel cough which includes a hacking cough. And other symptoms same as adenovirus. If your dog is around other dogs often and goes to places where other dogs hang out they should be vaccinated against multiple forms of kennel cough.
Rabies is another vaccine that is normally given to puppies. There is no cure for rabies so getting your puppy vaccinated against rabies is important. Rabies is transmitted by a bite from an infected animal or through infected saliva that comes in contact with mucus membranes. Rabies is spread through the nerves to the brain resulting in death. Symptoms include restlessness, irritability, inability to swallow, paralysis, and death. Depending on the state you live in will determine when your puppy can get their first rabies vaccine. In most states in the U.S. puppies can be vaccinated for rabies between 12-16 weeks. Talk to your veterinarian about the best time for your puppy to have their rabies vaccine. They then will get one a year later and then every three years and most counties’ dogs need to be registered with the county that they have had a rabies vaccine.
Puppies should start on a heartworm preventative prior to six months of age. It takes heartworms about six months to develop in the heart and if they start prior to five months of age they normally do not need a heartworm test. Most places in the United States have heartworm disease and it is much easier and healthier for the dog to prevent heartworm infections than it is to treat it. See the article on Heartworm Treatments to learn more about heartworm infections.
Puppies should have a spay if they are female or neuter if they are male. These are important to help with the overpopulation of dogs which is a problem in most areas. Talk to your veterinarian about the best time for you and your puppy to have the surgery done. Normally dogs must wear an e-collar after the surgery to prevent the dog from licking the incision and allowing the incision to heal properly. Crate resting is also helpful to allow the dog to heal properly and prevent the puppy from needing further treatments.
It is important that your dog wears a collar with your information on it in case the dog gets out. Have your dog microchipped in case your dog’s collar comes off, this way when someone finds your dog they can get them back to you as soon as possible. Updating your information regularly and checking that everything can still be read on the tag at least once a year is helpful. If you change your phone number make sure to also update the microchip information.
Puppies should have access to different types of toys. See the article on Puppy Toys to learn what types of toys are best for puppies and which ones you should stay away from. Having a toy with you can help redirect the puppy from chewing on things you do not want them to.
Potty training a puppy is important so that as your dog gets bigger it knows where to go pee and poop. Make sure when you start you put your puppy where you want it to go about every hour or so and then as they get used to where to go and have fewer accidents in your house you can increase the time between them going to their bathroom spot. It is a good idea to have some kind of pee pad down in front of the door you want your dog to use to go outside. Then as they get better at letting you know they need to go make sure to pick up the pee pad, so they do not continue to use the pee pad. If you leave your puppy in a crate it is a good idea to use newspaper or something that is not harmful for the puppy if ingested. Pee pads should not be ingested.
Check out our Healthy Dog Food and Toxic Foods for Dogs articles to make sure you do not feed your dog something that can make them sick. Puppies grow fast and should be on puppy food until about 12 months old. Smaller dogs normally do not need puppy food for as long and larger breeds should have puppy food until they are almost completely grown. Talk to your veterinarian about what is best for your puppy’s breed as some breeds have different requirements for food and nutrients.
Most people get beds for their dogs. It depends on where your puppy is going to be sleeping and what would be best for you and your puppy. If the floor is hard where you want your puppy to sleep you might want to look into cot beds for dogs. These beds are great for larger dogs as they help to keep pressure off their joints which can help if the dog gets arthritis as an adult. (lucky dog link)
Brushing your puppies’ teeth is important to start doing daily. Using a dog/cat toothbrush and toothpaste is important since the puppy/dog will be swallowing the toothpaste. Do not use human toothpaste on your pets. Human toothpaste can make your pet sick and most of them have xylitol which is toxic to dogs. Check out the article on Dog Mouths for more information on dog mouth health.
Touching your puppy’s ears, paws, legs, and mouth is important to help as the puppy gets older if something happens to one of these areas the dog will be used to it being touched and might need less sedation or no sedation at all. Also make sure to have your puppy comfortable on its back and side so that it is used to being in these positions. You do not have to force them to do these things but when you are playing with them you can lightly touch these areas.
Picking a breed of puppy that you want is important too. If you want a small dog, medium dog, or large dog will narrow down the breed you will end up getting. Temperament is also important when picking a breed of dog you want to get. For example, if you live in an apartment you would not want to get a hyper or herding breed dog. Doing your research to know what breed would work best for you, where you live, and your family is important since you want to get a dog that you can have for the life of the dog.
Puppies are a lot of fun but are also a lot of work. Having time to be able to train your puppy is important to help for the life of the dog. Trained dogs can be happier, calmer and have less stress. This also helps with potty training the puppy. Dogs love to please people and training is a great way to help build a great bond with your dog.