Blue Cross blog
Caring for your new puppyPosted on 14 Sep 2012
Getting a new puppy is extremely exciting but it can also be a little daunting. As part of Puppy Awareness Week, Blue Cross has put together some advice to help…
Before you get a puppy
Taking on a new puppy is a wonderful experience for all of the family but it’s also a huge responsibility. After all, they could be with you for 15 years or more.
Think about the long term commitment you’re making and whether there’s time for a dog in your home and your life. Our factsheet finding the right pet can help.
Also think about your lifestyle and what type of dog will suit you – have a look at our factsheet choosing the right dog breed for more information.
As well as lots of TLC, puppies need regular meals, exercise, veterinary care, training and socialisation. And costs will continue throughout their lifetime.
There are some initial costs when you get a puppy, like neutering, microchipping, bedding, equipment and toys etc, which can add up to several hundreds of pounds.
It can easily cost over £1,000 a year to look after your dog once you factor in food, vaccinations and worming treatments, insurance, grooming, training classes, vet bills and boarding when you go on holiday.
Getting your new puppy
There are several different ways to find a new pup and rehoming one from an animal charity is an excellent option. Read our blog post about finding your new puppy.
Feeding your puppy
Puppies should leave their mums when they are around eight weeks old. Feed them the diet they’re used to at first, and introduce any new food gradually, but always use a food suitable for the puppy’s breed and size.
Several small meals are better than fewer large ones. Always make sure fresh water is available and don’t give them milk.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when feeding and be careful that your puppy doesn’t get fat – obesity is a problem for dogs just as much as for humans.
When you get your puppy, make an appointment for a check-up with the vet as soon as possible. If there are health problems, get in touch with the breeder or charity you got the puppy from immediately.
We recommend that you get insurance – you’ll be really grateful for it if anything goes wrong during their lifetime and you end up with a hefty vet bill.
If your pup’s had any vaccinations ask for the record or certificate, which should also show brand and batch numbers. You’ll need this to continue vaccinations and they may ask for it if your dog has to go into kennels later on in life.
Regular vaccination boosters will be needed throughout your dog’s life, as will regular worming and flea treatments. Speak to your vet for advice.
A day or two before picking your puppy up, take a blanket to put in their bed. When you collect them, transfer the blanket to their new bed to help them feel at home.
Make sure you have food and water bowls, grooming equipment and plenty of toys – play is an essential part of growing up.
The best place for your puppy’s bed is a draught-free corner of the kitchen. Kitchens tend to be warm and to have washable floors.
Remember the bed is your puppy’s refuge, so keep young children away from it and never allow a tired puppy to be dragged out of bed to play.
On the first few nights, expect your puppy to whimper. Before you go to bed, play with them to help them get to sleep.
After the first few nights, the pup should settle quite happily. Take them out to the garden to spend a penny (with plenty of praise when it happens) and put paper on the floor for your puppy to use as a toilet.
If you do have problems with your puppy making noise, there is an alternative approach. For the first few nights, keep your puppy in your bedroom, in a high-sided box so there is no chance they can get out.
Any noise can be quietened by a few kind words or a reassuring pat. After a few nights the puppy will be used to being away from littermates and can be moved into the kitchen.
This method may also help the house training process as the puppy can be taken out if the need arises in the night.
In the morning take your puppy straight out to go to the toilet and praise them when they “perform”. Don’t be angry if your pup has toileted overnight, but do praise when there is no mess.
Always give lots of praise when your puppy goes in the right place – and make sure you take your pup back there whenever they look likely to go.
Chewing is a natural pastime for puppies so don’t discourage your pet, just ensure you let them chew things you have chosen, rather than your shoes.
Rawhide chews, nylon bones and large hard biscuits are ideal. If the puppy does chew something inappropriate, distract them by arranging for something interesting to happen elsewhere and then give them something else to chew.
Socialisation is vital if your puppy is to grow up as a well-adjusted member of your family, so try to expose them to as many new experiences as possible – travel by car and by bus, for example.
Vacuum cleaners, traffic, radio and television are all noises the puppy will have to get to know. It’s possible to overwhelm them though, so take it slowly.
Your puppy needs to learn how to get on with other puppies and dogs as soon as possible. But, until they’re fully vaccinated, they should not be allowed to mix with dogs of unknown vaccination status.
Some of the viruses which cause disease can persist in the environment, so puppies should not be taken to parks or walked in areas where other dogs have fouled.
They can be taken out as much as possible in non-doggy areas, and can be carried if necessary to avoid unwanted contact from other dogs or soiled areas.
Your pup also needs to meet children, but make sure the children understand the ground rules first – your puppy is not a toy. Kids must learn not to tease or bully the pup, and the pup must learn not to jump up or nip during play.
A collar and tag are essential – we recommend microchipping, but it’s still a legal requirement for your dog to have a collar and tag as well.
Remember to check their collar regularly because puppies grow quickly and their collar can become too tight.
Regular grooming is essential to keep your dog in good condition, and it’s also a good way of showing affection.
Teeth brushing is important, as dental disease is common in dogs. Don’t use toothpaste for humans on your dog – vets have special products available.
Dogs should ideally be neutered at less than a year old. Females can often be neutered before their first season, speak to your vet for advice.
For more information about any of the things we’ve discussed here, please visit our pet advice section, where we have lots of factsheets about caring for animals.