How to Raise a Puppy: A Guide for the First Year

Puppies are cute, but the art of raising a puppy is not without its difficulties. Here are some tips on raising a puppy from our Simi Valley vets to help you get through the puppy stage and guarantee your new four-legged baby grows up to be a happy, healthy, well-adjusted dog.

Getting Started: Things to Consider When Getting a Puppy

Life with a puppy is similar to life with a human toddler. You'll need a lot of patience to keep him out of mischief and teach him about the world securely. Puppies are compelled to chew excessively as their adult teeth emerge, and you may find the doggy equivalent of a teething ring in the living room rug, your favorite pair of shoes, or even your hand.

Having a dog also entails taking responsibility for another being's happiness, safety, and health. It entails being able to pay for vet fees if your dog consumes something it should not, as well as always having a plan in place for his or her care when you are unable to be present. It entails being emotionally astute enough to recognize that your dog does not understand the words "stop chewing on the walls!"

Preparing Your Home

It is critical to prepare your home before introducing your new dog into it. Electrical cords should be secured, and potentially hazardous plants or chemicals should be moved out of reach. Close any vents, pet doors, or other openings that could lead him astray or get him stranded.

You must be prepared to begin house training your puppy as soon as you get him home. Prepare the crate if you intend to crate train him. Line it with blankets or a dog bed to make it more comfortable, but make sure it's big enough for him to stand up, turn around, and lie down.

If you do decide to crate your puppy, choose a small space, like a kitchen corner or a powder room, where he can be kept segregated and away from other dogs and young children. As well as a dog bed, food and water bowls, and one or two toys make sure you have some puppy training pads on hand in case there are any accidents.


In order to promote the growth and development of puppies, look for a high-quality puppy food that has been specially formulated. Age, size, and breed are some of the variables that affect the amount of food required. For advice on how much and how frequently to feed your dog, talk to your veterinarian.

For some small-breed dogs, free feeding might be the best option to ensure adequate nutrition. The transition to adult dog food and adult-sized portions can be made between the ages of nine and twelve months for toy and small breed dogs because they physically mature faster than larger breeds.

Larger breeds should be fed many meals each day in appropriate portions to avoid issues like stomach bloat and protein or calcium buildup. Here's a general guideline for a large dog feeding schedule:

  • Six to twelve weeks old: Four meals per day
  • Three to six months old: Three meals per day
  • Six months and up: Two meals per day


Dogs strive to avoid soiling their bed and the area around them naturally. Create a potty pattern for your puppy, bearing in mind that small puppies will often need to go out every couple of hours. Take him to a portion of the yard where he won't be exposed to other animals until he's had all of his vaccines, and never punish your puppy for a mistake.

Usually, it's better to ignore unwanted behavior or firmly but simply tell your dog "no." Never slap your dog or yell at it. When he behaves badly, try to steer him toward a constructive activity. As soon as he is old enough, think about signing him up for an obedience course. This will help him socialize and teach him how to behave appropriately.

Proper socialization is critical to the success of puppy rearing. To develop into a well-adjusted canine, he must be exposed to as many new people, places, experiences, and circumstances as possible. While you should wait until he has received all of his vaccinations before taking him out in public or allowing him to interact with other animals, you can start socializing your puppy right away by playing with him and introducing him to new people, sights, sounds, smells, and textures.

Working with your dog to lessen even minimal resource-guarding tendencies safeguards everyone, even the puppy. Always keep an eye on kids when they are near your puppy's favorite food or toy.

One of the most crucial lessons is to teach pups not to bite. Establishing your position as pack leader will help your puppy remember that he must earn your respect and obey you, which will assist him in controlling this behavior. Keep in mind that your dog desires your approval but also requires your direction. If your puppy nips or bites, discipline with a calm but firm "no!"

Exercise & Play

Maintaining mental stimulation with puzzle toys and outdoor exercise (walking, playing) will prevent your dog from acting aggressively or inappropriately, which is more likely to happen when they are bored. Only by being consistent and applying a firm, loving hand to your dog can you help him understand where he belongs in your home.

Your First Vet Visit

If you don't already have a veterinarian, ask around. Your family, friends, and coworkers will almost certainly be able to supply you with numerous references. One of the first things you should do after getting a puppy is to make an appointment with a veterinarian for a health checkup. At Park Animal Hospital, we're always ready to accept new patients.

Your veterinarian will most likely recommend a parasite control program to keep fleas, ticks, and heartworms at bay. They'' also advise you on when to bring him in to be fixed, which can help lessen the chance of health and behavioral issues as the puppy ages.

They can also give you advice and even demonstrate how to do puppy care tasks like brushing their teeth and trimming their nails. If you have any concerns about how to care for your dog, including what food to give them, your veterinarian can also assist you.

While you're there, you can also try to schedule his 6-month vet checkup to check on his growth and progress. They can also start to give you advice on how to prepare for the adolescent years, which can be difficult for pet owners. This is also a wonderful time to discuss what to expect as your puppy matures into adulthood.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you have a new puppy and need to schedule its first veterinary appointment? Contact our vets at Park Animal Hospital in Simi Valley today!