Puppy Care: An Owner's Guide

Bringing a new puppy into the home can definitely be an adventure, whether it is your first time or you’re an experienced pet owner. There is just something special about puppies. That sweet puppy smell, their endless source of energy, the way they can charm anyone and everyone around them - all of these things add up to just a small portion of why they can so quickly find their way into our hearts. 

We love puppies at WINPRO Pet, and we want to make your experience bringing one home as smooth as possible. With that in mind, here’s our owner’s guide to everything you need to know about puppy care.

Preparing To Bring Your Puppy Home

Making sure you have everything you need before bringing your puppy home is the best way to ensure as easy of a transition as possible. 

Here’s a few of what we think are the most important things to focus on prior to picking up your puppy, whether you’re a first time dog owner or not. 

Puppy Proof Your Home

Good puppy care involves treating your new family member like you would any toddler in the home. You wouldn’t just let a 2 year old roam around your home unsupervised, right? Think of your new puppy the same way. Get down at their eye level and try to think like a dog. What looks like it would be chewable? Are there areas where they may fall and get hurt, or even get stuck? Try to keep all cables and electrical cords out of the way, and use baby gates to keep them out of any rooms that you want to stay “off limits.” 

You’ll also want to pick up an appropriately sized dog crate. While most people have issues with the idea of crate training their puppy, it’s well worth all of the tears (from both of you!). 

Ultimately, puppies need a place where they know they can go to feel safe and have a little solitude. Crates function a lot like dens do for dogs in that regard, so making sure that you have one and that you keep it a place of safety for your dog (and never a punishment!) is key. 

Have A Plan For Food

You don’t want to be rushing around, trying to find food last minute, especially when you could be spending that time bonding with your new pup! Making sure to have a plan for food before your puppy’s paws touch the floor is essential. 

Check with the breeder or shelter where you are getting your puppy from to see what they are already eating, or ask your veterinarian if they have any advice about what the best foods are (check with them about supplements too, we recommend WINPRO Gut Health as a great way to promote overall health in young dogs). Keep in mind that, if you plan on switching foods, you should always do it gradually to reduce the risk of tummy troubles. 

It’s a good idea to invest in new bowls, too. Generally speaking, stainless steel bowls are best because they are more easily washable, don’t hold onto germs, and won’t break if dropped or kicked. If you have a larger breed of dog, it’s worth putting them on an elevated platform (aim for “armpit” height) to help with their digestion and reduce the risk of bloat. 

Puppy Training Tips

While we wish it were always smiles and cuddles with a new puppy, another part of responsible puppy care is making sure that you always keep training in mind. 

Unfortunately, new pups don’t come with their manners installed. It is up to you to help teach them the right way to behave, and what is right or wrong in their new home. A common mistake that new dog owners make is not training their dog until it is too late and their habits are much harder to break. However, with a little forethought this doesn’t have to be the case!

If you’re a first timer, it’s well worth the time and money to take a few puppy training classes. This not only helps you better socialize your pup (which is super important to having a well-adjusted adult dog later on), but also gives you access to professionals that can help you help your puppy be the best version of themselves. 

If you’d rather go it alone, do some research and find good training tips from reputable sources, like the American Kennel Club. Remember, your puppy really is a baby, and they aren’t immediately used to you speaking English or knowing what to do. Positive reinforcement works way better than negative, and you’re learning alongside your new dog so go easy on yourself (and your pup) if you don’t get it right the first time. Life is a series of learning experiences, after all!

Vet Care Is Essential

Everyone’s goal is a healthy puppy. But that isn’t always the reality, and pups can get sick just as easily (if not more easily!) than adult dogs can. Having a veterinarian in place before bringing your new friend home is essential puppy care planning. You don’t want to be caught in an emergency situation without a place to go or someone to call. Establishing that contact ahead of time will not only guarantee you have a resource if an emergency happens, but also someone to help guide you through every step and stage of your pup’s life. This will be one of the closest relationships your pet is likely to have outside of your family, so find one that you feel comfortable with. 

In addition, your vet will be the one making sure that your dog stays up to date on all of their necessary vaccines. Keeping your pup on the recommended vaccine schedule means greatly reducing their risk of catching the big, scary illnesses that may lead to serious issues and even death. Things like rabies, distemper, parvo, and bordetella are still out there, and vaccines are really the only way to protect your pet against them.  

It’s recommended that you have your pup checked out by a vet within 48 hours of bringing them home, for the safety of your puppy, your family, and any other pets in the home.

What To Look For In A Sick Puppy

It’s also helpful puppy care to know the signs that you may be dealing with a sick pup, especially if this is your first dog. Sick dogs don’t always look like sick humans, so you’ll want to pay attention to the more subtle symptoms, too. Here are just a handful of things that should trigger you to give your vet a call:

  • Lethargy (excessive sleepiness) - Yes, puppies sleep a lot. But if your puppy seems to be doing nothing but sleeping, or is hard to wake up, it may be a red flag.
  • Lack of appetite - Most puppies are voracious eaters. If your pup doesn’t have much of an appetite, or if they vomit immediately after eating, check with your vet. 
  • Goopy eyes - Puppies eyes should always be clear. If you notice any squinting, watering, or discharge, schedule an appointment with your vet.
  • Diarrhea - Parvo, one of the scariest diseases your puppy can get, often counts diarrhea as its first symptom. While diarrhea can happen for a bunch of reasons, it should always be evaluated as soon as possible (especially in puppies).

To Summarize

At WINPRO Pet, we love your puppy almost as much as you do. That’s why we wanted to share all of our experience, tips, and tricks about bringing a puppy home with you. When you have everything prepared ahead of time, you can focus on the stuff that really matters. 

After all, isn’t it much more fun to have a cuddle session on the couch with your new pup than to be running around at the last minute, trying to find supplies? We think so. Congrats on your new addition!


Sources:

Crate training 101 | Humane Society

Dog Training Tips: How to Train a Dog | American Kennel Club

Canine and Feline Vaccination Guidelines | School of Veterinary Medicine