If your family is expanding by one set of paws, you might be wondering how to best look after your new addition. Chris Socratous, from pet healthcare specialist Bob Martin, shares his top tips on keeping your puppy happy and healthy in their forever home.
If you’ve recently become a pet parent, you’ll know that alongside the excitement of bringing your new pup home, there’s also a lot of responsibility in owning and raising a dog.
From toilet training and starting walks on the lead, to ensuring a good diet and parasite control, there are lots of things to consider. So, if you need a little help with where to start, we’re here to offer you some top tips and advice for keeping your bundle of fur happy and healthy.
1. How to toilet train your puppy
While it might not be the most glamorous or adorable part of puppy life, house training and ensuring that you have puppy-proofed your home is crucial. When they’re very young, putting newspaper or other absorbent pads around your furry friend’s bed is a good precaution to take so that any inevitable accidents have less impact on your floors!
Always avoid shouting. Instead, simply clean up any accidents and continue with your training routine. Give them plenty of opportunities to go, and whenever they show signs of being ready, take them to the same designated place outside (or if you live in a flat or apartment, a pee pad). Make sure to reward your pup with plenty of praise and treats, and they’ll get used to their bathroom routine before you know it.
2. When to microchip a puppy?
The first thing you must do when bringing your new puppy home is to register them with a vet. While you may want to rush them home and introduce them to the family, they must be properly registered and receive their vaccinations and microchip. This is also a good opportunity to consider puppy insurance!
Since 2016 in England (and 2012 in Northern Ireland), it has been a legal requirement that all dogs and puppies over eight weeks are microchipped. Not only this, but it’s also crucial that all the important details on this microchip — such as their current owner, address, and vaccination history — are accurate and kept up to date (GOV.UK).
Unfortunately and tragically, dogs can be stolen from even the most vigilant pet owners. However, with the right puppy insurance plan in place, should the unthinkable happen, expenses for local advertising and even cash rewards for your pet’s return could be covered.
If you’re worried about hurting them, remember that microchipping is a quick, painless appointment that will reunite you with your beloved pup if they ever get lost, stolen, or harmed. Making sure these important jobs are done quickly and efficiently means you can get your puppy home and enjoy their new life with you as soon (and as safely) as possible.
3. Flea and tick treatments
The next step in your puppy’s healthcare is establishing a regular tick and flea treatment. Especially in young, growing dogs, a bad flea infestation can lead to anaemia, which you can recognise by signs like weakness, lethargy, and pale gums. Whether you opt for topical treatment on your pup’s coat or use a spray around your home to prevent fleas from invading and breeding, protecting them from pests is an important part of your job as an owner.
As well as giving them regular pest treatments, it also benefits your puppy to do a spring clean. Fleas like warmer weather, so as the seasons start to change, wash their bedding and any of their favourite blankets with warm, soapy water to kill any fleas (and their eggs). Using a citrus scent in your household cleaning products can also help to repel fleas from settling there in the first place. Similarly, when vacuuming, pay extra attention to any spots your pup regularly sleeps or plays in to keep them as clean and pest-free as possible.
Your puppy will need training (and fully vaccinating) before going on long walks or being let off the lead, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep them active in the meantime. While you want to keep them stimulated, remember that too much exercise when your pup’s bones and joints are still developing can do more harm than good. Chances are, you’ll be so excited about your new bundle of fur that you’ll want to play and roll around together for hours. However, young dogs need lots of sleep in their first year of life, so be sure to step back and give them enough rest in between play dates.
Playing with toys in a garden or enclosed yard is, therefore a great way to keep your puppy active without them getting overtired or straying too far from your sight. Teaching a few basic commands can also be a good form of exercise, as this helps with obedience and keeps them mentally stimulated.
Before you start heading out for walks, it’s wise to get them used to wearing their lead and harness in the house and garden. You can then reward them with treats and praise until they’re comfortable wearing it for longer periods of time. When they are ready for walks, start off small and stick to short, quiet routes in your local area, so they don’t get overwhelmed or overtired. Always follow your pup’s pace, bring a supply of treats and water, and save longer walks or hikes for when they’re older.
5. Grooming and dental care
Grooming is not only important for your puppy’s health, it’s also a wonderful bonding experience for you and your new pet. Grooming your pup is a great way to spend some quality time with them, at the same time as taking care of their coat. You can talk to your vet about what the right brushes might be to take care of your dog’s coat, as you’ll want something that is gentle but is still able to remove any dirt or grime. The right brushes for them will depend on your dog’s coat, and what stage they are at in their growth.
When grooming your puppy, go slowly and get them used to the feel of the brush. Take the time to check your puppy’s healthy by monitoring them for bumps, tenderness, and scratches that they may have picked up when exploring outside; getting into this grooming routine will help you find problems early if they do happen.
When bathing your pup, choose a shampoo specially formulated for puppies; these soaps are designed not to irritate your dog’s skin or eyes, while still cleaning them. You can also get shampoos specifically for your dog’s hair type, e.g. long- or short-haired. Forming a grooming routine early on is important, as it allows your pup to immediately get used to all the new aspects of being groomed, meaning they will grow up to be relaxed during it.
As well as grooming, dental care is very important for your pup’s health, and getting them used to having their teeth cleaned is as useful as introducing them to the grooming routine. Regular teeth cleaning removes plaque and tartar, avoiding future dental problems. While your vet will professionally brush and check over your dog’s teeth during appointments, brushing them in between will help too. Your vet can demonstrate how to do this correctly. Brushing your dog’s teeth also gives you an opportunity to check your puppy’s mouth for bad breath, bleeding gums, and plaque, all of which should warrant an extra vet check-up.