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How to Take Care of a Puppy

Taking care of a puppy is a big responsibility, and there is a lot of conflicting information out there about how to take care of a puppy. Here are a few things to remember when you add a new canine member to your family.

Set a Schedule

When you bring home a puppy, it's important to make the adjustment as smooth as possible. Dogs respond well to routine, so try to find out his meal times and stick to a schedule similar to the breeder.

If the breeder is feeding him a low quality food, don't switch right away. Switch his food to a high protein puppy food slowly, 1/4 new to 3/4 old for a week, then 1/2 and 1/2 for a week and then 3/4 new and 1/4 old to wean him off. Don't free feed. Set the food down for 10 to 15 minutes. If he doesn't eat, wait until his next meal. Puppies usually need three meals a day.

Start to fit him into your own routine by feeding him and taking him out at similar times. You will want to provide him with a crate and bed in the family room where he can be a part of the family. Put a bone and something that smells like you in the crate and put him in there for a little while each day to get him used to it. Setting a routine and getting him used to a crate will also help you with potty training.

Socialization

When they are 16 weeks old, puppies have all their neural pathways set, so by then, they need to be exposed to everything you don't want them to fear. They need to see men, women, children, other dogs, cats, joggers, skateboards, bicycles, lawnmowers, people who walk funny, men with hats or beards and much more.

Make the sessions positive. If your puppy is afraid to approach someone, don't make him. Let him hide behind you and come out when he's ready. When he does, give him lots of treats. If he is brave enough, let him take a treat from the stranger. Keep the sessions short and fun. Without socialization, your dog is likely to develop fear aggression later in life.

Importance of Exercise

Puppies need lots of mental and physical stimulation. While their bones are growing, limit jumping and climbing and other activities that might affect their joints, especially in large breed puppies. However, they still need at least two 20 minute sessions of full-blown running each day.

Use this time to teach them to play tug and fetch. Use this as a part of your puppy training. For example, if your pup won't drop the tug toy when you say "drop," drop the toy and end the game. If he nips you, storm out of the room.

This is also a great time to teach your puppy commands such as come when called, sit and down. Cute tricks are also a great way to interact with your pup and provide him with mental stimulation.

Bringing home a new puppy is the beginning of a fun and exciting journey. With the right preparation and training, your puppy will be off to a great start!

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