Puppy Care Checklist

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A new puppy is an exciting addition to any family. Bringing a new pet into your home, however, takes a lot of work, especially when the new addition is still a baby. With a little bit of special care, training, and patience, you can help your puppy settle into his new home.

Taking Care of Puppies:

  1. Feeding: Puppies have different dietary requirements than adult dogs. Make sure your puppy is getting all the nutrients he needs to grow by purchasing a high-quality dog food formulated specifically for puppies. Your puppy also needs to eat more frequently than an adult dog. A feeding schedule of 3-4 times per day is ideal until he is 6-8 months old. Consult with your vet to make sure your puppy stays at a healthy weight, and increase or decrease feeding as needed.

  2. Sleeping: Every dog needs a cozy place to curl up, and your new puppy is no exception. Their smaller bodies don't retain as much heat as a full-grown dog, so you'll need to make sure that your puppy's pet bed has plenty of insulation. A memory foam dog bed is a great choice because it will retain heat to keep your little guy warm. You can add extra warmth and padding with old towels and blankets. For the first few weeks, keep his bed close to where you are so he can feel secure as he gets used to his new home.

  3. Playing: Puppies are active and energetic and use playing as both a way to develop skills -- such as hunting and protecting themselves -- and as a way to bond with their human owners. Give your puppy plenty of toys to chew, chase, and tug on to keep him active and learning. Playing with your puppy is important, too. Games like tug-of-war and fetch will delight your puppy, help him learn important skills, and help him learn loyalty to you.

  4. Chewing: When your puppy is around 4 to 6 months old, he'll start teething. At this age his deciduous, or baby, teeth will be replaced with permanent adult teeth. Puppies already like to chew everything in sight, and this will only increase during teething. To help his teeth make the transition and to keep him from chewing on furniture, electrical cords, and other dangerous items, make sure you have plenty of toys for him to sink his teeth into. There are even specific teething chew-toys you can buy to help your puppy teethe better.

  5. Pottying: One of the biggest challenges you'll face while raising a puppy is potty training. Your puppy is likely to have accidents, and it's important to encourage good behavior rather than punish bad behavior. Start by training your puppy to go on newspaper or training pads. Place him on his potty pad and reward him with treats and praise for going there. As your dog grows, you can start taking him outside to potty and even start using crate training as a way to instill a denning instinct. Your puppy won't be fully potty trained until around 6 months old.

  6. Safety: Keeping your pet healthy and safe should be your primary concern. Start with a trip to the vet and vaccinations. Make sure all electrical cords, shoes, and other items in your home that may be enticing to chew on are well out of reach, as well as all chemicals and cleaners. When you venture outside, keep your puppy on a leash unless you're in a fenced yard, and always place him inside a crate while riding in the car.

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