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puppy steps - top 10 tips for new pet parents

  • Dr. Kim
  • Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on
    Staff Veterinarian and Pet Health Writer of Petplan

National Puppy Day is March 23rd. In honor of puppies everywhere, we will dedicate a five-part series of blogs to all things puppy - from bringing your puppy home to keeping him happy and healthy for years to come!


Let’s start with the fundamentals: what to do before you even bring your puppy home.


1)   Research your breed. This is probably the most important thing you can do before you pick out your pup. Know the breed characteristics of the puppy you are thinking about getting and decide if he will be a good fit for your home. This is harder to do if you are adopting a mixed breed from your local shelter, but don’t let this discourage you. Often, the shelter employees will be able to tell you the breed and background of the pup’s mom

2)  Teach your children how to interact with a puppy. A puppy can be rambunctious and may nip your children during play times, just like he would if he were playing with his litter mates. Teaching your children how to pick up, handle, and play with a puppy will avoid potentially harmful situations (for both the child and the pup!).

3)  Buy a crate to train your new puppy. Also purchase baby or puppy gates to create a safe environment in which to raise your new addition. Puppies are naturally curious and will want to explore all areas of the house. Putting up gates to block off “forbidden” or dangerous areas early will teach the pup where he can and cannot venture.

4)  Buy chew toys. Everyone knows that puppies LOVE to chew, but it is important to encourage them to chew on the proper things. If you catch your pup chewing on your favorite pair of shoes or the leg of your antique chair, sternly tell him “No” and give him something appropriate to chew.

5)  Buy a leash and collar. Your puppy will not naturally know how to walk on a leash. Allow for some supervised time each day to wear his collar and leash so that he can get used to how it feels when you head out for your daily walks. 

6)  Buy ID tags and consider getting your puppy microchipped.  Tags with your address and phone number will be invaluable if your puppy wanders from home. For added peace of mind, get your new puppy microchipped. Unlike tags, they won’t ever get lost and will increase the chances of bringing your best friend home. 

7)  Plan to bring your puppy home when you’ll have extra time to spend with him if possible. Holiday weekends or the start of vacation time are perfect opportunities to bond with the new member of your family – provided you’re not hosting the holiday party at your place.

8)  Plan for lost sleep, especially during the first week. Your new puppy has been through a lot, and he may be nervous to be without his mom and litter mates overnight. Having a new puppy is a lot like having a new baby--plan to be awakened several times during the night.

9)  Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian within 48 hours to get your new puppy checked out. Your vet will check for any congenital abnormalities and can answer any questions you have about how to care for your puppy.

10) Learn how to raise a puppy BEFORE you bring him home.  House training, crate training, and behavior training do not come naturally to puppies and will be a learning process for both of you.  Do your best to know what to expect from your puppy during his early life with you.


Raising a puppy is hard work, but by putting in an extra effort in his early years, you will be rewarded with a well behaved, healthy adult dog to keep you company for years to come. 

In the next blog, we'll talk about puppy's first visit to the vet!

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Dr. Ernie Ward, Jr.Veterinary Advisory Board of Petplan
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