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Caring for your new puppy

Your cutie pie Puppy is home

Your cutie pie is home and everyone is in love with him. If you haven’t had a family meeting prior to the puppy’s arrival, now is a good time to gather everyone to discuss the caring of the furry baby before he is let loose to explore. If you have young children, make sure they don’t fight over who gets to hold and play with the puppy first. And make sure they don’t roughhouse with the puppy—that will send a negative message to the puppy that playing rough is okay. One of your kids may get hurt and the puppy will be confused when you scold him.


Recommended Products

The Puppy Baby Book

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This unique “fill in the blanks” book gives dog lovers the same opportunity to chart their puppies growth and progress, as parents of infants do with their baby books.


Everyone needs to use the same language for commands, otherwise you may end up with one confused pup. It may be a good idea for someone to type up a list of agreed upon language and tape it to the refrigerator so everyone can reference the list. The puppy is just a baby and he has a lot to learn when he enters your household. Plus, he will be in sensory overloaded with his new home and everything it contains.

Some of the most common language he should learn, if he doesn’t know these words already are as follows:

  • His new name and nicknames
  • Come
  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Down (to lie down)

When I brought my dog home, the shelter had named her Brundie, and I wanted to call her Shasta. For several days I called her a dual name and this seemed to work quite well. She was Brundie-Shasta every day, multiple times a day, then after a week or so I transitioned her to Shasta and she knew that was her name.

Dogs pick up language pretty quickly. My dog understood the word wait when we were out for a walk—I used this when we came to an intersection. She would stop when I said wait, and we would resume walking when I said okay. She also learned that off meant for her to get off the sofa or whatever she had climbed onto. When someone in your family comes up with a new command, it should be added to the list and verbally shared with everyone so the puppy’s language learning is enforced. They are pretty smart critters and you can grow their vocabulary as they grow. All family members have to be responsible for making this puppy’s learning experiences the best they can be. Consider having a rotating shift for taking him to the yard to go potty, or if you are using paper or pads on the floor, bring him to that area often until he understands that is where he is to relieve himself.

When the adoption place released the puppy to your care, they may have provided a little sack of the food he had been eating. If not, get the brand name immediately. It is important to slowly introduce new food so the puppy does not have problems digesting. For three or four days provide a mixed blend of the old food with a small portion of the new food. The rule of thumb is one part of the new blend with three parts of the old blend. After a week you should be able to switch to the new food without any problems.

Like infants, puppies require small meals three or four times a day. Do not feed a puppy adult dog food. They will require puppy food for the specific nutrients while they grow. You also do not want to feed your puppy the minute you get home. This may encourage separation anxiety which will be difficult to overcome. When you first arrive home, either play with him, or brush him, or take him for a walk, or let him run in the back yard if it is fenced. He will then associate you coming home with fun experiences, not food. Great snacks for puppies include small bites of carrot or pieces of apple. My dog would stalk me when I ate a banana, which I shared with her.

The American Kennel Club has wonderful content for feeding a puppy at different stages and different breed sizes, along with discussions about different types of foods that meet the puppy’s nutritional requirements.

To read or save the article, click here: Be sure to keep his water bowl full at all times, and to wash it daily to avoid nasty bacteria. If you are going to be gone for a long time, consider multiple water bowls. The heavier the bowl, the better. Those clumsy paws have a tendency to stumble and
bungle and there may be more water on the floor than in his bowl if it isn’t heavy enough.

Don’t forget to document your puppy’s progress in your The Puppy Baby Book!