Welcoming a puppy into your life is a joyful and enriching experience. However, it can also present some challenges. Before you bring your new best friend home, make sure to brush up on the basics of puppy care – so they stay safe and you stay sane!

Bringing a puppy home

You’ll need to prepare your home before bringing a puppy home by putting all toxic products into a lockable cupboard. Electrical cords should be kept out of reach, as puppies have a tendency to chew. Make sure to also move any breakable items out of the way – ideally in a room the puppy won’t have access to.

Your puppy will need a safe space where they can play, plus a cosy spot to sleep. You can create an area for your puppy by using baby gates to cordon off a part of your living room. If you don’t have baby gates, you should invest in a puppy pen (available at most pet stores). These can be lined with puppy pads (in case of accidents) and soft blankets for snooze time.

Basically, you’ll want to make sure that your puppy is kept away from anything that could be harmful. Keep them out of the kitchen and away from bins. Looking after a puppy is easy as long as you take care and prepare!

Feeding your puppy

Puppies need a complete, balanced diet to be strong and healthy. At this early stage of life, getting the right nutrition is especially important.

Puppies have different nutritional needs to adult dogs because they’re growing at such a rapid rate. They have small stomachs, so you’ll need to feed your puppy small meals frequently throughout the day.

Different breeds have different needs, so we recommend that you check with your vet to find a diet that’s right for your puppy.

You can use this as a general puppy feeding guide:

  • 6-12 weeks – 4 meals per day
  • 3-6 months – 3 meals per day
  • 6-12 months – 2 meals per day

Choose a puppy food that’s made from quality ingredients to ensure your puppy’s nutritional needs are being met. You should also make sure their water bowl is always fresh and clean.

Toilet training your puppy

Toilet training a puppy is a process that requires patience. You can start to house-train your puppy while they’re still young, but just be aware that most puppies can’t fully control their bladders or bowels until they’re 12 weeks of age. Beyond this point, it might still take some time for your puppy to get the hang of it.
Until your puppy reaches 12 weeks, we recommend placing puppy pads in their enclosure to catch any spills. Try to keep them away from rugs and carpeted areas until they are fully toilet trained.

How to toilet train a puppy

Follow these tips for puppy toilet training success:

  • Choose an outdoor toilet area that’s safe – Make sure you always take your puppy to the same place, and keep them away from other animals until your puppy has been vaccinated.
  • Establish a routine – Take your puppy to their toilet area every morning when you wake up, every evening before you go to bed, and each time after you feed them.
  • Use positive reinforcement – Use treats and praise every time your puppy does their business in the right location. Don’t punish them if they have an accident, because this can cause confusion and stress.

Vet care for your puppy

It’s essential to talk to your local vet about vaccinating and desexing your puppy. Puppies are vulnerable to a number of diseases, so it’s important to keep your puppy at home and away from other animals until they’ve been vaccinated.

Desexing has important health benefits for male and female dogs. It prevents unwanted pregnancies in female dogs, and it can improve the temperament of male dogs. Most vets recommend desexing puppies at around 6 months of age.

Regular checkups are essential to keep your puppy healthy. Your vet will also be able to microchip your puppy with your contact details.

Training your puppy

In addition to toilet training, you can reward your puppy for other good behaviours. This will help them transition into well adjusted adult dogs.

For those wondering how to train a puppy, the key – as with toilet training – is patience. Just remember to praise and reward whenever they do the right thing, and to be consistent.

Once your puppy has been vaccinated you can take them to puppy school. The first 17 weeks of a puppy’s development are where lifelong habits are formed, so it’s important to take the time to make sure that your puppy is learning the right behaviours during this time.

Give your puppy the best start

To recap, the most important rules for looking after a puppy are:

  • Give them safe spaces to play and sleep
  • Feed nutritious food regularly
  • Establish routines for going to the toilet
  • Reward when they’re well behaved

Remember, if you need expert advice about how to look after a puppy, talk to your vet. This way, you can get information that’s tailored to your puppy’s needs. Caring for a puppy is challenging but also incredibly rewarding, and if you establish good habits early, your puppy will grow into a loyal and loving companion.