Bringing home a new puppy is an incredibly exciting time, no matter where you are. In places like Los Angeles, where an estimated 5.3 million pet dogs reside, the responsibility feels even more pronounced. Getting around this busy, dog-friendly city requires ensuring your pup is well-prepared for the world around them. As a new pet parent, you want to make sure you give your puppy the absolute best care right from the start to set them up for a happy and healthy life.
Here is a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about caring for your new furry friend:
Get Your Home Ready
In preparation for your puppy’s arrival, take time to properly puppy-proof your house. Puppies are naturally curious creatures hardwired to explore their environment with their mouth. You’ll need to remove any potential hazards or valuables a teething puppy could destroy or be harmed by.
Do a sweep of each room and put away any wires, cords, small objects, toxic houseplants, medications, cleaning supplies, or other dangerous items a puppy could choke on or be poisoned by if ingested. Also, keep toilet lids closed and secure any unstable furniture or TVs to the wall. Make sure to remove any tripping hazards and block access to any rooms or areas like the garage, basement, or laundry room you don’t want your puppy wandering into. Use baby gates in doorways as needed.
Thorough puppy-proofing prepares your home for the whirlwind of energy that is a curious puppy; this prevents potential accidents and destruction, keeping your belongings and puppy safe.
Start Training & Socialization Early
As soon as you bring your new puppy home at 7-8 weeks old, you can and should begin training and socialization. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure about where to begin, considering hiring a puppy trainer in Los Angeles can be invaluable, especially if you’re hiring an expert like I Said Sit.
They can guide you through foundational training techniques and ensure your puppy is getting the socialization they need. Keep the initial training sessions very short (around 5-10 minutes). Also, always make training fun, positive and reward-based. Work on teaching basic commands like sit, stay, come, down, and leave it. Use lots of verbal praise and small treats to reinforce desired behaviors.
Get your puppy comfortable being gently handled, having their paws, ears, and mouth touched. Introduce them to a variety of sights, sounds, people, and safe animals. These early socialization experiences are invaluable for preventing behavior problems later on. Sign your puppy up for a puppy kindergarten class when it is 10-12 weeks old for continued socialization with other puppies and dogs.
Frequent, short, and fun training sessions will get your puppy off to the best start and lay the foundation for more advanced training down the road. Early positive experiences will help build their confidence and prevent problem behaviors like fearfulness.
Find a Reputable Veterinarian
Choosing a qualified, experienced veterinarian is one of the most important decisions you’ll make for your new puppy’s health. Look for a veterinary clinic in your area that specializes in puppy care and has veterinarians well-versed in puppy medicine specifically. Ask trusted friends and neighbors for recommendations of the vets they consult and love.
Schedule your puppy’s first veterinary visit within a few days of bringing them home or as soon as possible. The initial puppy exam allows the vet to establish a baseline of your puppy’s health, discuss preventative care, answer any questions you have, and begin forming a relationship with you and your puppy. This first vet visit is crucial for getting your puppy started on the right paw health-wise.
During the first visit, the vet will likely do a full physical exam, deworm your puppy, and administer the first round of core puppy vaccinations. Vaccines protect against deadly and contagious diseases like parvovirus, rabies, distemper, and kennel cough, which puppies are especially susceptible to. The vet will outline the entire vaccination schedule needed to fully protect your vulnerable puppy. Heartworm and flea preventatives may also be prescribed.
Establishing a relationship with a trusted, qualified vet early on helps ensure your puppy receives the absolute best preventative, wellness, and medical care starting day one. Your vet becomes a valuable partner in raising a healthy, happy puppy.
Stock Up on Essential Supplies
There are a few key supplies you’ll need to properly care for a new puppy:
- A crate for housetraining, naps, and bedtime
- A leash and collar or harness that fits their size
- Food and water bowls
- Puppy food specifically formulated for growth
- Potty training pads or spray
- Chew toys of different textures
- Interactive puzzle toys
- A soft bed, crate mat, or blankets
Shop for these essential items before bringing your puppy home so you have everything you need. Stock up on puppy food, potty pads, and other consumables so you don’t have to worry about running out.
Feed a High-Quality Puppy Diet
Puppies require more calories, protein, fat, vitamins, and nutrients compared to adult dogs in order to support their rapid growth and development during the first year. It is extremely important to feed puppies a diet specifically formulated for their needs, not adult dog food. Look for premium quality puppy food that states it meets the “AAFCO guidelines for growth” on the label. Carefully follow the feeding guidelines on the puppy food package based on your puppy’s expected adult weight when fully grown. Feed the puppy on a consistent schedule of 3-4 meals per day to meet their high caloric needs.
When selecting puppy food, choose one designed specifically to support large-breed puppies if you have a large breed. For small or medium breeds, an all-life stages puppy food is appropriate. Look for high-quality ingredients, particularly quality animal-based proteins, as the first ingredient. Avoid puppy foods with lots of filler ingredients. High protein, fat, and nutrient levels are crucial for proper growth and development.
Establish a Predictable Schedule
Puppies thrive on structure and consistency. Set up a predictable routine for your puppy right away that includes feeding, potty/play breaks, training, exercise, playtime, and sleep. Try your best to stick closely to this schedule to help with housetraining. Puppies quickly learn a routine and know what to expect.
Get your puppy on a regular sleep schedule. Puppies need 18-20 hours of sleep per day. Provide plenty of opportunities for exercise and play, including multiple short walks per day, play sessions, and chew time. Interactive toys and games will help stimulate your puppy’s rapidly developing mind.
The predictability of a consistent schedule helps reduce stress for puppies. They learn when to expect meals, potty time, training, sleep, and play. Routines make puppies feel secure. But make sure to build in variety, too, with socialization experiences and exposure to new environments.
Caring for a new puppy takes a lot of time, patience, and diligence – but it is extremely rewarding! Follow this guide, and you can ensure your puppy gets off to the best paws-sible start in their new home. Enjoy this special time with your furry new best friend!