What to Expect in the First Year After you Adopt a Puppy Page 2

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Water is crucial to a dog. Always make water available to the puppy after feeding time, especially if they are eating dry food. Make sure that the puppy has access to water at all other times as well.

House Training

One of the first things most new puppy owners want to know is how to house train their new family member.

Opinions and expectations vary greatly on this matter, though there are some common truths. Some maintain that pups can be adopted already house trained at the age of 9 weeks, but you have to understand certain physiological limitations. More realistically, it is probably par for the course to bring home a 2 or 3 month old pup that when unsupervised, has occasional accidents on the floor, and it is probably reasonable to expect to have the pup fully trained by 4 months of age. In order to achieve this goal one has to know what one is doing, to invest some time and attention, and to have a consistent schedule in place.

Young puppies of 2, 3, and even 4-months of age have limitations when it comes to the time for which they can contain their urine. The younger they are, the less control they have over the muscles that start and stop the flow of urine. The usual formula for estimating the number of hours for which a puppy can hold its urine is N+1, where N is the puppy’s age in months. So, for example, a 3-month old puppy should be able to hold its urine for approximately 4 hours in a pinch. This means that if you have a properly toilet trained 4-month-old puppy that, theoretically, can hold its urine for 5 hours, and you shut that pup in a crate for 6 or 7 hours, you are courting disaster.


What to Expect from an 8-Week Old Puppy

Your 8-week-old puppy has certain needs to stay healthy. Recommended wellness care for an 8-week-old puppy includes dewormers, heartworm prevention, and flea and tick control.

It’s also a time to start thinking about your spay or neuter plan. Some puppies are spayed and neutered at an early age or later, closer to 6 months of age. If your puppy is not “fixed”, discuss when is the best time with your veterinarian. Pet overpopulation is a serious issue and by allowing your dog to have litters, you are adding to the problem. Pets that are spayed or neutered are quieter and not prone to roam looking for a mate and tend to be more gentle and affectionate. Also, fixing your pet reduces the risk of developing breast and prostate cancer and eliminates the risk of uterine infections.

Since your puppy should have been weaned before you brought him home, your 2-month-old puppy should be eating four meals per day of a good quality food formulated for puppies of his or her size. There is no set formula for how much to feed a puppy. But know that energy requirements of a puppy, based on body weight, are nearly double that of an adult.

What to Expect from a 6-Month-Old Puppy

At about 5 to 6 months, if you have more than one pup, you may find that play becomes more aggressive and exhibits some nipping, growling, and other general displays of dominance. Many males, and some females, will begin humping each other at this stage as they rehearse for their adult roles. Such behavior is acceptable as long as it is not directed towards you.

At this age, puppies can be taught to sit, lie down, wait, stay, leave it, and other such useful commands that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Once these behaviors have been learned they should be reinforced periodically throughout life. This is the usual time for formal puppy training classes outside the home. Such classes are extremely helpful as long as they are conducted in a non-confrontational way.

Beyond this, your puppy is going through a lot of other physical changes that can lead to lots of chewing, keen senses and a large improvement in agility and coordination.


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