Puppy Care Recommendations

That cute little puppy stole your heart and now he’s part of your family. You love him to death, but remember: He’s your responsibility and you need to take care of him.

Of course, taking care of your dog is a year round responsibility. You should keep a detailed medical file on each pet to remind you when vaccines are due, when the last fecal sample was checked and what special seasonal events are required, such as a trip to the groomer.

To keep him healthy and happy, there are several things you should do as part of his care.


Parasites are a common problem as your puppy ages. Ticks, fleas, heartworms and intestinal worms are the primary culprits. However, with a little planning and some medical help, your puppy can be kept parasite free. Your veterinarian has medications available to prevent these parasites from infesting your puppy and to eliminate the parasites if already present.

For more information, see the article Parasite Control.


There are topical and oral medications available to prevent and treat tick infestations. If a tick is found, careful manual removal with a tweezers or tick removal instrument is recommended.

For more information, see the article How to Remove and Prevent Ticks.


Preventing fleas is much easier than treating an already established flea infestation. Topical and oral medications are quite effective in keeping your puppy’s flea problem to a minimum and are safe in puppies. Monthly products now make flea treatment much easier than ever before. If fleas are allowed to proliferate, your pet and your entire environment – home and yard – must be treated.

For more information, see Flea Control and Prevention.


Heartworms are a preventable parasite in your dog. For dogs at risk of infection, monthly oral preventative is strongly recommended, based on geographical location and lifestyle. This medication is typically started around 4-6 months of age. Since mosquitoes transmit heartworms, the risk of heartworm infection is increased in the warmer months.

For more information, see the article Heartworm Prevention in Dogs.

Intestinal Parasites

Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, coccidia and giardia are common intestinal parasites. Most veterinarians recommend deworming all puppies since many can be born with roundworms. Even so, a fecal sample should be evaluated. After an initial deworming, your pup may need additional deworming. After reaching adulthood, an annual fecal exam is recommended. If parasites are found, early treatment can reduce the chance of serious illness. Currently, there are monthly medications available that help prevent some of these parasites from developing. Even if your dog is on medication to prevent parasites, annual fecal evaluation is still recommended.



In addition to parasite control, preventing contagious disease is also recommended. There are vaccines available to help reduce your puppy’s risk of acquiring diseases such as distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, kennel cough and rabies, just to name a few. Vaccines are started in puppies at 6-8 weeks of age and given every 3-4 weeks until the pup reaches 16-20 weeks of age. After that, boosters are given the following year.

For more information, see Vaccine Recommendations for Dogs.


Proper nutrition is essential in maintaining health and providing adequate nutrition for growing puppies. Supplements are not recommended. Giant breed puppies require some extra nutrition due to their rapid growth. Special diets are now available for these pups. By feeding high quality puppy food, you will be helping your puppy down the path of good health.

For more information, see Picking the Right Food for Your Puppy.


Grooming is an important part of caring for your puppy. By grooming your puppy early in life, you can get him used to being brushed, combed and bathed. Longhaired dogs should be brushed daily. Short haired puppies benefit from weekly grooming. Without proper grooming, accumulation of hair and mats and tangles can occur. Start bathing and brushing your puppy as soon as you bring your new pup home.

For more information, see the article Grooming Your Dog.

Exercise and Training

Puppies are quite clumsy but very active. Provide plenty of opportunity for your pup to run off that pent up energy. If it is hot and humid outside, try to limit the amount of time outdoors and don’t allow your pup to over exert himself. Exercise and play are very important not only to keep your pet fit but to provide socialization and teach your puppy what is acceptable play and what is not. Any misbehavior or aggressive play should be stopped immediately. Even though dog parks are popular and fun, they are not good ideas for puppies under 6 months of age. Puppies are very susceptible to contagious disease and dog parks can result in the spread of disease. Wait until your pup has received all his puppy shots before going to the park.



Obdience training is very important in puppies. It teaches them their place in the family and gives them an opportunity to show you how smart they are. Following your commands can keep your pet safe, especially when around other pets. Puppies learn very quickly and training while young is recommended. Remember, an obedient puppy makes a happy healthy dog.

Ten Things You Should Know About Your Puppy

It’s always a happy moment for parents and children when they first acquire a new puppy. Most people receive a few elementary instructions on how to proceed from the breeder and all except the most foolhardy will have made preparations at home for the youngster’s arrival at their home.

Food bowls and dog beds, collars and leads, toys, and an ample supply of puppy rations, should await the pup on homecoming. With luck, the breeder will also point out the necessity of vaccination and deworming, recommending a timely veterinary visit so that health matters are in hand.

What else then do new puppy owners need to know during the early weeks and months of ownership if they are to give their pup the best chance of becoming a well-balanced, well-behaved, and loving family dog? Below is a list of 10 important things that new puppy owners should know or realize if they are to stand the best chance of success:

  • Appropriate psychological support is required. It is extremely important that young puppies, of say 8 to 12 weeks of age, do not suffer any psychological trauma. They should be nurtured at this stage and allowed to develop confidence, which will remain with them as a positive aspect of their personalities for the remainder of their lives. In this respect, there should be no physical punishment, no yelling, no hitting, and no intimidating of the pup for apparent misdeeds. Negative punishment, i.e. withdrawal of a valued resource [such as your attention] can be employed later as a corrective measure to address any emerging problem behaviors. It is particularly important to ‘be there’ for puppies at times of need and not to leave them alone for long hours. This is especially important at night when the new pup cries for attention. While some folk say, “Leave the pup alone or you’ll make a rod for your own back,” or “Just let them cry themselves to sleep,” this is totally the wrong approach. Rather, the pup should be allowed to sleep in the owner’s bedroom and should be attended to and spoken to gently if it shows signs of distress. It is not necessary to allow the pup to come into the owner’s bed, simply for it to know that someone is there for it and is attentive.
  • Socialization is imperative. While a lot of people pay lip service to the word “socialization” as it relates to puppy training, very few people realize that this should be a carefully thought out, active and ongoing process if it is to achieve the requisite goals. The concept of “puppy parties” is a useful one which entails the introduction of young pups to an assortment of benign individuals of different ages and genders, wearing different types of apparel, whilst arranging for the circumstances to be pleasurable for the pup. This ensures that the pup comes to regard all people, familiar and unfamiliar, as potential friends and benefactors and staves off future fearfulness and even fear aggression. Socialization is an extremely important measure and one to understand and practice. Desensitization to various things that the pup is likely to encounter in its present and future environment is also important. Vacuum cleaners, ironing boards, various sounds, sights, and even smells can be introduced in a graded way for the puppy’s controlled acceptance.
  • Expectations for house training. There is a formula for the amount of time for which a puppy can go without having an accident on the floor. The formula is N + 1 hour, where N is the age of the puppy in months. So a two-month old puppy might be able to hold its urine for 3 hours and a three-month old puppy might make it as long as 4 hours. The point is that if you leave the puppy alone for greater than the time that it can contain itself, an accident is inevitable. Obviously, punishing a puppy for having an accident under these circumstances is totally inappropriate and will lead to great confusion on the puppy’s part. Instead, owners should realize that housebreaking is a time consuming business that requires their close supervision and attention. They must chaperone the puppy out into the yard and reward it for eliminating in the right place while they prevent accidents indoors by giving the pup proper attention and somewhat restricting its access to all areas of the house. 
  • How and what to feed the puppy. Hopefully most people now realize that puppies require somewhat specialized rations because they are growing. The safest thing to do is for the puppy owner to buy AAFCO-approved puppy food, either dry or wet or a mixture of the two and meal feed the pup an appropriate number of times a day. Initially, this may be 4 times a day, at three months it could be down to 3 times a day and later it can be reduced to twice a day. It is probably a bad idea to feed pups table scraps partly because human food will unbalance an otherwise properly balanced ration but also because it will encourage begging behavior at the table later on which is something that most owners do not want to experience with an adult dog.
  • No two puppies are the same. We’ve all heard about puppy temperament testing and, while the scientific jury is still out on this equivocal procedure, the fact is that different puppies do have different temperaments. There are different strokes for different pups. Owners need to appreciate this and adjust their interactions accordingly. Some pups, for example, may be very forward and do a lot of yapping, mouthing, and jumping up. These pups need to be gently reigned in to discourage their rowdy behavior. At the other end of the spectrum are the timid shy pups that need to be coaxed out of their shell. In the latter case, it is helpful to play games that the pup is allowed to win to build its confidence and self-esteem. ‘Tug of War’ is an excellent example of a game that can be used to the benefit of these timid dogs. 
  • The territorial dog and the need for owner leadership. Dogs are a territorial species. With no proper guidance, some will take residence in your home and, as they mature, may gradually assume territorial responsibility for the home, deciding who is and who is not welcome at your door. At this stage, they may simply allow you to be there because you feed them. This is an untenable situation so it is important that from early age you display your leadership and control within your home. The way for owners to demonstrate their leadership is simple and, for some pups, essential. It is simply to insist, right from the getgo, that pups earn their food and treats from their owner. Young pups should be instructed, using a single-word command, to “Sit”, followed by appropriate positioning, before their food is served. Meal feeding is, of course, essential with this technique. Similarly, pups should be required to ear all treats: First a command, then a response, then the treat. It has been shown that these two simple measures, requiring a pup to sit for food and obey a command in order to receive treats, will prevent the development of dominance toward owners and will also likely help prevent untoward dominance-related territoriality.
  • Communication and proper training are key to successful puppy raising. Owners should understand that some kind of training is essential for their pup and the earlier this is started the better. While taking a puppy to puppy-training class at 4 months of age is better than no training at all, the general rule is that the earlier training is started the better – even if it simply involves pairing certain words with certain actions to build the pups vocabulary. It has been shown recently that pups can learn up to 200 words and some can learn many more than that, possibly as many as 500-1000 words. There’s no reason to stop teaching your dog once it has mastered Sit and Down. Proper communication between owner and pup, later young dog, is a sure way to minimize stress and ensure proper behavior. Training should not be about forcing the pup to obey under threat of punishment but rather should entail encouraging the dog to obey because of the positive consequences of its actions. Positive training using a clicker, for example [see clicker training elsewhere on this website] and early acclimation to a head halter control system are really all that is required, if used properly. Choke collars, prong collars, and electric shock collars should not be used to train puppies or adult dogs. Other techniques that are inappropriate (and perhaps even harmful) when training a puppy are jowl grabbing, chin chapping, and alpha-rolling (flipping the puppy on its back and pinning it until it stops struggling).
  • Desensitization to being touched is important. There are lots of things that people need to do with dogs once they grow up and it is as well to get puppies used to any many of these interventions as soon as possible. Handle the pup’s muzzle, pry open its mouth, play with its ears, gently grab folds of skin on its back, chest, abdomen and legs, handle its feet, and get it used to having its tail and nether regions touched and manipulated (your vet will thank you one day). Practice these things every day. 
  • Crates are forever. Many owners think that crates are just used as a tool to assist in housebreaking a pup. Once proper house training has been accomplished, they then pass the crate on to a friend or neighbor or store it indefinitely in the cellar. This should not be so. Dogs are den dwellers and appreciate having a crate around for life. There is no need to shut the door on the crate – simply provide it as a retreat for the pup from the madding crowd of life. A crate should be available at all times for the dog to ‘get away from it all’ or to use if it simply wants to rest. Preferably the crate should be solid-sided to make it den-like and preferably it should have a comfortable pad and bumpers making it a comfortable place for the dog to be. Food treats can be hidden in the crate for enticement and chew toys should be available inside. If you make your pup comfortable in its crate, make the crate a safe asylum from a busy world, it will appreciate it and would thank you if it could. If a dog is comfortable inside its crate, its not unacceptable to shut the door from time to time, if necessary, but not if this induces attempts to escape and not for too long (1-2 hours should be the maximum time and even so, only if the dog has food or toys to occupy it while sequestered). 
  • Health matters. Every owner should make it his or her business to learn something about their pet’s health. They should be cognizant of their dog’s disposition. They should watch out for changes in appetite and body weight and should be wary of other indicators of illness, such as coughing, breathlessness, exercise intolerance, alimentary disturbances and various discharges. If there is any doubt as to the state of a dog’s health it should be taken to a veterinarian immediately for a physical examination, diagnosis of the problem, and treatment, if necessary. Vaccination and de-worming are necessary for young pups. They should be undertaken at a veterinarian’s direction at the appropriate times, usually between 10 – 14 weeks of age. The vet should also be asked about neutering. Dogs that are not intended for breeding should be neutered for health reasons, for behavioral reasons, and for birth control.
  • What Your 9-month-old Puppy Needs

    Your 9-month-old puppy has certain needs to stay healthy! The following is a list of recommended wellness care for an 9-month-old puppy including tips and advise on dewormers, heartworm prevention, flea and tick control, spay and neutering and nutrition.

  • Vaccines – 9-month-old puppies should have completed all of their puppy shots. This means he or she should have received 2 to 4 sets of shots spaced every 3 to 4 weeks from age 6 weeks to 16 weeks. If your puppy has not had any shots, he needs 2 sets of shots 3 to 4 weeks apart and one rabies vaccine.
  • Dewormers – Most puppies at this age have already been dewormed and do not require additional deworming unless they are infested. Your veterinarian can check a fecal sample to determine if worms are present. Many heartworm preventative medications control worms which eliminates the need for routine deworming.
  • Heartworm Prevention – Canine heartworm disease is a serious parasitic disease caused by a long, thin worm that lives in the blood vessels and heart of infected dogs. The disease is spread by mosquitoes. Heartworm prevention is important to puppies. Before beginning heartworm prevention, any dog over seven months of age should first have a heartworm test. Heartworms are present in most parts of the United States. Ask your veterinarian if your dog is at risk.
  • Flea/tick Control – Depending on where you live and your current flea/tick situation, there are very good preventative medications to control flea and ticks. The best and safest products are prescribed by veterinarians.
  • Spay/Neuter – Most dogs should be spayed or neutered now, if they have not been already. Check with your veterinarian to determine their recommendations.
    • Diet – Your 9 month old puppy should be eating a good quality food formulated for puppies of his or her size twice daily. Some veterinarians recommend weaning to an adult food somewhere between 9 and 12 months, depending on the breed and size of your dog. Consider your pups age, weight, and activity level when deciding how much to feed. Every brand of food has different nutrients, caloric densities and feeding recommendations. There is no set formula for how much to feed a puppy. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations on how much to feed. As your puppy ages and his size increases, he will need more food each day. Weigh your puppy each week. Approximate caloric requirement for a 6 month old puppy varies with breed size and activity level. Estimations include Toy breeds – 230 calories, small breeds 600 calories, medium breeds 925 calories, large breeds 1700 calories and giant breeds 2800 calories.

    What to Expect from Your 16-week-old Puppy

    At four months old, pups are in full teething mode and chewing becomes an issue. Also, at this stage of development, puppies often exhibit fits of “the maddies” and periodically tear around the house, running across the furniture, practically bouncing off the walls. This is a release of their natural exuberance and is to be expected. At this age, puppies are “braver” and may get into things that they would have not done so when younger. This may be described as the pre-adolescent stage when puppies may show more independence.

    The following list will help you know what to expect from your puppy has he develops.

    • How Big? – Most 16-week-old puppies are in their rapid growth phase. Most puppies will gain or grow rapidly between birth and 6 months of age and how much they grow or gain will depend on their breed, diet, and ultimate adult size. Some formulas estimate that by 16 weeks of age your puppy is at least half of his adult weight.
    • Teething – The puppy’s first teeth are temporary and are soon replaced by permanent teeth. This is a very active teething stage as many of the adult teeth come in now and for the next couple months. As teeth first erupt, puppies like to chew. Make sure you have a good supply of appropriate chew toys. Don’t keep too many toys out at one time. Hide some of the toys and reintroduce them when your puppy seems bored.
    • Senses –16-week-old puppies will show fear, pain, pleasure, and excitement. They can see and hear fairly well. They are learning to differentiate between smells. Their ear muscles are maturing as they learn to manipulate their ears to allow the entrance of sound waves which adds to their keen sense of hearing.



    • Ability to Hold Urine – 16-week-old puppies can generally hold their urine for about 5 hours. This means you will need to take them out at least every 5 hours to get them “housebroken”.
    • Intelligence –16-week-old puppies are very interested in the environment. This makes them at higher risk for getting into “things” as they explore their environment. Some puppies have a brief phase of “fear” at this time as they may respond to noises or new objects. Exposure your puppy to new objects and allow them to investigate on their own terms until they are comfortable with the new situation.
    • Agility – Most puppies that are 16 weeks old are still a little clumsy but are getting stronger and more coordinated. They can generally romp, play, jump, and run with good accuracy. This is a time they have lots of energy and some of the fetch type toys can be a good release.
    • Sleep – Puppies that are 16 weeks old sleep approximately 18 to 20 hours per day. The rest is spent eating, playing and eliminating.
    • Physical Appearance & Hair Coat – 16-week-old puppies may begin to show some of their adult hair coat at this stage. It is important to get them use to being brushed and touched. They are continuing to grow in height and length but still look very much like a puppy.



    Tips on Best Ways to Raise Your 16-week-old Old Puppy


    • Continue crate training
    • Maintain a housetraining schedule
    • Take him out at least every 5 hours
    • Feed 3 to 4 times per day
    • Choose safe toys
    • Switch out safe chew toys
    • Don’t let your puppy chew on anything toy he can swallow
    • Get your puppy used to grooming and trimming his nails
    • Expose your puppy to different people to minimize fear
    • Socialize!
    • Never hit your puppy
    • Give positive reinforcement for work well done
    • Beware puppy hazards
    • Play with your puppy
    • Provide access to fresh water at all times
    • Make sure he gets his vaccines!Read about What your 16-week-old Puppy Needs to Stay Healthy!



    Why Water is Important

    “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.” W. H. Auden.

    As Auden alluded, water is the basic stuff of life. Living creatures, like young pups, may go for some considerable time between meals, but not between drinks. Like us, their bodies comprise mainly of water, perhaps as much as 75% water, for an 8-week old pup.

    Water is the substrate in which all the chemicals of the body are dissolved, all cells are bathed, and all cell contents are suspended. It is also the essential vehicle of the circulatory system.

    Nothing in the body goes anywhere without water. As little as a 10%-15% reduction in total body water can result in death.

    And water doesn’t just sit there in a static pool. It is constantly lost and replenished resulting in a dynamic status quo. On the outputside of the equation are a) urine output and b) “insensible loss” caused by from evaporation from the lungs (plus a small amount from the digestive tract). On the intake side, water is obtained in food and free water and some is produced by metabolism. Water output and intake must balance if things are to remain the same. If output is greater than intake, dehydration results. If intake is greater than output, overhydration results (though the latter is somewhat rare).

    24-Hour Water Balance

    Water Intake(20-30 ml/lb) (+ metabolism 2-3 ml/lb)= OUTPUT

    Output=Urine (10-15 ml/lb) and Lung (10-15 ml/lb) 

    In Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, Mr. Macawber says, with respect to money,“Income 6 pence a week, expenditure 5 pence a week, result happiness: Income 6 pence a week, expenditure 7 pence a week, result misery.” The same dynamic holds true for water balance. The two sides of the above equation must balance for things to remain the same and for life to go on as usual. 

    In order to ensure that water intake is not compromised, clean fresh water should be available for puppies 24/7. There is never an excuse not to have water around. If the puppy has “accidents” on the floor and some unknowledgeable person volunteers, “I would pick up his water if I were you,” don’t listen. Leave the water down. When your pup is older and perhaps going in for surgery, water should be available to him until an hour or two before the procedure. During surgery, the veterinarian may hydrate the pup by means of intravenous or subcutaneous fluid administration. It’s important to make sure the pup resumes drinking as soon as possible after surgery. 

    The actual volume of water the pup needs to take in, in the form of free water, depends on whether it is eating dry food or wet food. With dry food, the water intake will be at the higher end of the range indicated above. However, wet food contains 75% water (approximately) so an amount closer to the low end of the scale may be more appropriate. But don’t worry about how much you pup drinks. Internal mechanisms closely regulate pups’ water intake unless they are sick. If problems of water consumption become apparent (too little or too much), contact your veterinarian immediately. 

    On the output side, a pup’s continuous production of urine means that it is being properly hydrated. One of the first things to happen when there’s not enough urine around is that the puppy secretes anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), which reduces urine production – sometimes to a very low level. In one physiology textbook, it says that the urine output in Baghdad is like “a puff of dust.” This is because water is so scarce that Baghdadians secrete large volumes of ADH to conserve their body water. Under these circumstances, urine is very concentrated, though hopefully concentrated enough to remove waste products. Though this compensatory mechanism exists, it is better not to put it to the test with a young pup. Anyway, insensible loss continues and cannot be tailored in the same way. 

    Loss of water from the lungs occurs during the process of breathing as a result of evaporation of water from the lung lining. Evaporative cooling that occurs during this process is the prime way that dogs achieve thermoregulation (temperature control). If a pup becomes overheated, it will pant to increase evaporative heat loss, but note, panting also increases water loss from the lungs. Increased water loss in this way requires that water intake increases in compensation, if urine output is to remain uncompromised. So, if it is hot outside, it is even more important to make sure that your pup has a constant supply of water. 

    From the above discussion, you will see how important water is to pups, to their very makeup, and to the functional processes that ensure their viability. Shortage of water, or uncompensated, or excessive loss of water, as occurs in heat stroke and some metabolic disorders, will rapidly cause dehydration and a pup’s premature demise, if unattended. As Leonard DaVinci said, “Water is the cause, at times, of life or death,” and as Benjamin Franklin is quoted, “When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water.” All very true.

    House Training Schedules for Puppies

    Almost the first thing a new puppy owner needs to know is “how do I house train”? How do I do it, what can I expect, what should be my goals?

    Without the right advice, owners can flounder around trying to house train their puppies for months and, in some cases, years.

    Opinions and expectations vary greatly on this matter, though there are some common truths. Some maintain that puppies can be adopted already house trained at the age of 9 weeks but you have to understand the certain physiological limitations if you are to achieve and maintain this utopian state. At the other end of the spectrum are certain terrier breeders who maintain that their puppies cannot be fully house trained until they are 1 year of age, but I suspect these folk are doing something wrong.

    It is probably par for the course to bring home a 2 or 3 month old puppy that, when unsupervised, has occasional accidents on the floor, and it is probably reasonable to expect to have the puppy 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 be very patient.

    Physiological Limitations Within Young Puppies

    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 and the more frequent “bathroom breaks” need to be. 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 puppy in a crate for 6 or 7 hours, you are courting disaster. Puppies that are crated for longer than they can contain themselves will be forced to soil where they stand. This creates problems down the line as soiling within the crate destroys a valuable reflex to keep the nest clean.

    Sample Schedule for a 3-Month-Old Puppy

    • Working on the basis that a 3-month-old puppy can hold its urine for up to 4 hours, any house training schedule for a young puppy of this age must be designed with this fact in mind.
    • Starting at the beginning of the day, it is important to take the puppy outside first thing to a carefully selected area and to encourage it to void urine and feces. It is best to have the puppy on lead so it doesn’t wander off and become engaged in some other absorbing activity. It is also important to use some word cue that the puppy will associate with elimination. The late, great Barbara Woodhouse popularized the expression, “Hurry up,” as the verbal cue but others have used words like, “Make,” or even “Poopies.” Note: The significance of the chosen area can be imparted to the young puppy via its sense of smell by depositing a small piece of urine-soaked newspaper in the vicinity.
    • Assuming a successful mission at, say, 7:00 a.m., the latest time that the pup can be taken out for its next “bathroom run” would be 11:00 a.m. The same ritual as before is engaged.
    • The next times for this learning puppy to be taken out are 3:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m., and then 11:00 p.m. The ritual is always the same.
    • A puppy of 3-months of age will probably not be able to make it through the night without a trip outside. Setting the alarm for 3:00 a.m. may be the only way to stop the puppy from soiling at night, but don’t worry, this stage of puppyhood doesn’t last long. (Read here for advice on paper-training your puppy.)
    • In addition to the aforementioned times for taking the puppy outside, the youngster should be taken out 10 or 15 minutes after each meal, as eating stimulates the gastrocolic reflex. Note that different puppies will have slightly different times after a meal at which they need to go to the bathroom. Learn how long it takes for your puppy to “feel the urge” and be cognizant of this fact.
    • Another key time to take puppies outside is when they transition from one activity into another. For example, when they wake up after a nap, when they have finished a period of vigorous play, and when they have just completed a bout of chewing.


    Common Puppy Training Situations…What TO DO if…

    What to do if Your Puppy’s “Bathroom Run” is Successful

    How to Choose Safe Puppy Treats

    Treats aren't just a welcome snack or special surprise; given incorrectly, some can be dangerous to puppies.

    Choosing treats that are the wrong size or type can create serious problems for your dog.
    If you give them a treat that is too small, for example, your dog might not chew it properly. The swallowed food could become lodged in their mouth, esophagus (windpipe), or even their lungs. Treats that are too big can also be dangerous for the same reason.

    Here are some tips on how to choose the safest treats for your puppy:

    • The ideal dog treat is one made of good quality ingredients, moderate to low in calories, consistent in ingredients (thus unlikely to cause stomach upset from bag to bag), very appealing to your dog, and safe. Higher-quality treats tend to be more consistently produced, so avoid discount and supermarket brands if possible.
    • A great guideline is to look at the sizes based on the manufacturer's recommendations. Most often, these are based on the dog's body weight. For example, some treats are recommended for dogs less than 20 pounds, other for dogs 21 to 40 pounds, and so on.
    • Monitor how your dog eats his treats. If your dog chews off big chunks quickly, you might be in for a problem if the pieces get caught in their esophagus. If your dog is one that eats quickly and doesn't chew their treats well, snacks which have a crumbly texture that breaks apart more easily are a better choice.
    • Look for the seal of approval from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), which publishes feed regulations and ingredient definitions. If the dog food or treat follows their guidelines, the label will include a statement that proclaims it "formulated to meet the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profile for Puppies/Adults/Senior.” Some companies create treats specifically to be compliant with the AAFCO standards. It is not a requirement to meet AAFCO standards in order to sell pet food, so buyers beware: your dog's current treats could be lacking in this department.
    • Good nutrition may be the most important factor affecting your dog's health. This is especially true in growing puppies. Feed the best quality food you can afford and remember that treats are like candy bars for dogs: not something they need, but something they may like. Treats are never a replacement for a good quality core dog food.
    • Consider low-calorie treats for dogs with weight control problems. Another alternative is to break up treats into small pieces to make them last longer, thus giving less food (and fewer calories). Not all treats are created equal; always read the labels for caloric content before purchasing if this is a concern.


    Remember, treats can go bad and become stale. No one wants to eat spoiled food, even dogs that seem to eat anything they come across. Check your dog's treats regularly and toss them in the trash if it is past their expiration date or if the treats smell or look rancid or unpalatable.


    What to Expect from Your 8-week-old Puppy

    At this age, your puppy‘s focus is the basic needs of eating, drinking, sleeping, eliminating and playing. Your puppy can remember which behaviors he is allowed and where and when he is fed. He can even begin house-training and start becoming used to being groomed. He is ready to leave his mother and littermates to go home with you, fully capable of taking his place in the family.

    The following list will help you know what to expect from your puppy has he develops.

    • How Big? – Most 8-week-old puppies are only a fraction of their adult height, length and weight. Most puppies will gain or grow rapidly between birth and 6 months of age. How much they grow or gain will depend on their breed, diet, and ultimate adult size. Growth is generally steady until they attain their adult size.
    • Teething – Puppies at 8 weeks will have all 28 of their baby teeth and may develop their first adult front teeth, called the incisors, between 8 and 12 weeks of age.
    • Senses – 8-week-old puppies will show fear, whimper when hurt and bark when excited or wanting attention. You need to build trust with your puppy. Don’t ignore crying but address the cause for the crying with attention and care. Touch is the first sense a dog develops and remains a powerfully important sense throughout his life. The entire body, including the paws, is covered with touch-sensitive nerve endings. Although they can see and hear, their sense of vision and hearing is quietly maturing. They are also developing their general sense of smell.


    • Ability to Hold Urine – 8 week old puppies can generally hold their urine for about 3 hours. This means you will need to take them out at least every 3 hours to get them “housebroken”.
    • Intelligence – 8 week old puppies are becoming increasingly curious and interested in the environment. Although capable of learning, they have a very short attention span. Keep a variety of simple toys for your puppy to investigate. He will also play rough and tumble with his littermates and will gradually begin learning to play by himself. It is extremely important that puppies socialize with people at this age. Include lots of people of varying ages, sizes and shapes to interact positively with your pup. Some puppies have a brief phase of “fear” at this time as they may respond to noises or new objects. Expose your puppy to new objects and allow them to investigate on their own terms until they are comfortable with the new situation.
    • Play & Agility – Most puppies 8 weeks old are “clumsy”. After all, most puppies just learned to walk at 3 weeks of age and run at 5 weeks of age, which was just a few short weeks ago. They are developing their gross motor skills that help them to run, play, and “hunt”. Their fine motor skills will come later. Puppies also learn to jump up at this stage. This is a normal behavior that can turn into an undesirable behavior when the puppy reaches adult-hood and jumps on every visitor. You can begin correcting your puppy and giving him positive reinforcement for good behavior.
    • Physical Appearance & Hair Coat – 8-week-old puppies have a baby type hair coat that is very fine and does very little shedding. Get your puppy used to the brush and comb by gently using them on him for very short sessions that are kept positive. Don’t hold your puppy down to be brushed or combed if he does not want to be. Their muzzle is getting longer but overall they have the characteristics of a puppy. The ears may begin to stand up in some breeds.
    • Sleep – Puppies that are 8 weeks old sleep approximately 18 to 22 hours per day. The rest is spent eating, playing and eliminating.


    Tips on Best Ways to Raise Your 8 Week Old Puppy

    • Start crate training
    • Take him out at least every 3 hours
    • Maintain a housetraining schedule
    • Be patient
    • Get your puppy used to grooming and being touched
    • Feed him 4 times per day
    • Never hit your puppy
    • Give positive reinforcement for work well done
    • Expose your puppy to different noises to minimize fear
    • Socialize!
    • Puppy proof your home
    • Make sure he has an ID tag
    • Provide good chew toys
    • Play with Your Puppy
    • Make sure he gets his vaccines!Read about What your 8-week-old Puppy Needs to Stay Healthy!



    What to Expect from Your 12-week-old Puppy

    At 12 weeks of age, your puppy‘s focus is still to eat, drink, sleep, eliminate and play. Your puppy should be underway to learning right from wrong and in the process of being housebroken. He should be playful and curious. You need to make sure your home is puppy proof and safe. This is a critical time for housetraining and you should carefully support your puppy with a good housetraining schedule.

    The following list will help you know what to expect from your puppy has he develops.

    • How Big? Most 12-week-old puppies are only a fraction of their adult length and of weight. Most puppies will gain or grow rapidly between birth and 6 months of age and how much they grow or gain will depend on their breed, diet, and ultimate adult size. Growth is generally steady until they attain their adult size. Some formulas estimate that a puppy’s adult weight will roughly be double of their weight at 14 weeks of age.
    • Teething – Puppies 12 weeks old will have most of their 28 baby teeth and may have their first 2 to 4 adult front teeth, called the incisors. Over the next three months, your puppy will be getting in all of his adult teeth. Because they are entering an active “teething” stage, they will want to chew. Provide lots of safe chew toys. Begin the first steps toward brushing their teeth by opening their mouths and looking or gently touching their teeth. Make each event positive.
    • Senses – 12-week-old puppies will show fear, pain and excitement. They can see and hear fairly well. They are learning to differentiate between smells.



    • Ability to Hold Urine – 12-week-old puppies can generally hold their urine for about 4 hours. This means you will need to take them out at least every 4 hours to get them “housebroken”.
    • Intelligence – 12-week-old puppies are very interested in their environment. This makes them at higher risk for getting into “things” as they explore their environment. It is estimated that a puppies brain is fully developed at this age and this is the ideal time for them to begin “training”. They can begin to understand right from wrong and remember the consequences (reward!). Get your puppy used to the collar and leash.
    • Play & Agility – Most puppies that are 12 weeks old are still quite clumsy but are getting stronger and more coordinated. They have all the gaits of the adult dog, just not fine-tuned. They can run, play and stop with better accuracy. You may see bouts of “spurts of energy and play” when your puppy runs around like crazy. Enjoy this time! If your puppy is wreaking havoc in your home, redirect this energy toward appropriate balls and toys.
    • Sleep – Puppies that are 12 weeks old sleep approximately 18 to 20 hours per day. The rest is spent eating, playing and eliminating.
    • Physical Appearance & Hair Coat – 12-week-old puppies have a very soft baby hair coat and do very little shedding. They still have puppy characteristics but are getting slightly taller, longer and their muzzle is lengthening.



    Tips on Best Ways to Raise Your 12-week-old Puppy


    • Continue crate training
    • Maintain a housetraining schedule
    • Take him out at least every 4 hours
    • Feed him 4 times per day
    • Get your puppy used to grooming and touching his feet and mouth
    • Expose your puppy to different people to minimize fears
    • Socialize!
    • Never hit your puppy
    • Give positive reinforcement for work well done
    • Beware of puppy hazards
    • Provide safe chew toys
    • Play with your puppy daily
    • Make sure he gets his vaccines!
    • Start/discuss heartworm prevention with your vet
    • Make sure he has a good ID tag and microchip!Read about What your 12-week-old Puppy Needs to Stay Healthy!



    Introducing A New Puppy to Other Pets

    You may already have a dog but then you come across that puppy – perhaps a homeless mutt or a purebred beauty – that you simply can’t resist. If this happens to you, here are a few suggestions for introducing that irresistible new puppy into your household.

    Make Sure He’s Healthy

    Before you take a new puppy home, take him to your veterinarian for a full physical examination. It’s important that the newcomer doesn’t have any diseases that might affect your other pets. Make sure he has been de-wormed and is up-to-date on his vaccinations before bringing him home. It’s also important for your other pets to be healthy and be current on their vaccinations before introducing your new puppy to them.

    Introduce Him Gradually

    Introduce your new puppy to other members of the pet population s-l-o-w-l-y. If there is more than one other animal in your menagerie, introduce the newcomer to one pet at a time, so you don’t overwhelm him. Let your new charge and the incumbent(s) sniff and inspect each other. They may growl and bark at first, but this may simply be a sign of insecurity.

    Try reassuring all of your pets that everything’s fine. Make sure you don’t neglect them as you try to make the new pet welcome. Don’t use physical force to put the older animals in their place; this may make them wary of the new arrival. Never leave your new puppy unsupervised with any of your older pets until you’re sure they all get along well.

    To cut down on sibling rivalry, let your older pets know they’re still an important part of the family and that the new puppy isn’t a replacement for them. Spend 10 to 15 minutes alone with each of pet, so that each one gets your undivided attention for a while, at least.

    “Puppy-Proof” Your Residence

    Your new dog may need to spend some time alone in the house or in a room of his own until all of your other pets have come to accept him. Puppies are very inquisitive and have an insatiable need for mouthing and chewing things. Make sure the pup has his own toys to play with so that he doesn’t wind up chewing on electrical cords, etc.

    Be Patient

    Remember to spend lots of time with all your pets – and be patient. They will usually get used to each other – eventually.

    Editors note: If you have any reason to believe that your dog may be aggressive to the new family member, it may be best to conduct the initial introduction on neutral territory. This way, aspects of dominance and territoriality will be minimized or may even be negated. Also, introductions should probably be on leash just in case a fracas should develop.