So you have finally decided to get that puppy. If you have made your selection from a litter at a breeder, you may well have to wait for a couple of weeks before the puppy can be weaned from its mother. The earliest time for weaning is around the age of six weeks, but having made your selection there is plenty for you to do before the day you finally collect him (or her) and bring him home.
To begin with, your puppy is going to need a bed to sleep in. In order to keep down costs, it is best to get a bed which will fit him when he is fully grown. Yes, to begin with he will be almost lost in that great big bed, but puppies grow rapidly and at the age of about six months he will be fully grown. You can get a blanket called “vetbed”, or something similar, which is a simulated sheepskin, completely non-allergenic, and machine-washable. It is also chew-resistant. Ideally, you should get two, so that he can use one while the other is in the wash.
Feeding and water bowls should be non-slip. Change your puppy’s water every day.
Collars come in a wide variety of materials and sizes. Ideally you want to get your puppy used to a collar as early as possible, but not on the day you bring him home: give him a chance to get used to his new surroundings. Get a collar made of a soft material. It should neither be too loose, nor too tight. You should be able to get two fingers underneath it comfortably. Since puppies grow quickly, you should check it on a daily basis.
Much the same applies to leads, as regards materials. Get something soft to begin with.
Grooming should also be started early, so that your puppy gets used to the idea. Short haired breeds need daily grooming, especially when moulting, as the hairs can stick into everything – furniture, carpets, and so on. Long-haired breeds also need regular grooming in order gently to remove any tangles. Your pet store will have a range of different combs and be able to advise the best for your puppy.
As he grows, your puppy may need his claws trimmed occasionally: this can be done by your vet. In particular, if your puppy has dew claws (one on the inside of each foreleg about two or three inches above the paw) these do not get worn down and can grow in a circle puncturing the leg. They can also get caught in undergrowth and ripped out causing considerable pain, so they will need regular trimming.
You will need an identity disc to attach to your puppy’s collar. When you take him to the vet for his initial vaccinations, you should also get him micro-chipped so that he can be returned to you if he ever gets lost: collars and identity discs can come loose and get lost, but micro-chips can’t.
Your puppy will like to play with toys in the same way as any baby or other youngster. Your vet or pet store will be able to help. Ensure that toys are not too small to be swallowed nor have any projections which might catch on his mouth. In that respect, never, ever throw sticks for a puppy or even a fully grown dog. Caught in the mouth the wrong way, it is quite possible for a stick to cause fatal injury.
When you first take your puppy home it is best to feed him the same food and brand that he was already eating. The breeder and your vet will be able to advise. If you need to change him to a different food, don’t do it overnight. Start by mixing 25% of the new food with 75% of the old one and feed that for a few days, then go to 50/50, then 75/25 over the course of a couple of weeks overall before moving him entirely on to the new food. If at any time your puppy suffers from unusual stools or vomiting, slow the rate at which you change over.
It is best to discuss foods with your vet. Many vets will tell you that some of the well-known and highly advertised brands contain things that they would never consider feeding to a dog.
Do not feed table scraps. For one thing, they are usually high in calories, and they do not contain all of the nutrients that a puppy or dog needs. Not only that, once you start feeding table scraps, your puppy/dog will pester you for life every time you eat a meal.
Set a feeding schedule for your puppy and stick to it. Puppies of less than six months need feeding three times a day, and any left-overs should be removed rather than leaving them for him to return to in an hour or two. When your puppy is fully grown, he can be fed twice a day.
Ensure that your puppy has fresh water available at all times.