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How to Raise a Puppy

While puppies are devilishly cute, raising a puppy doesn't come without challenges. In this post, our Southgate vets share some tips on the art of raising a puppy to help you get through it and ensure your canine companion grows up to be a healthy, happy and well-adjusted dog. 

Getting Started: What to Consider When Getting a Puppy

You might compare life with a puppy to life with a human toddler. While raising both can be rewarding, you'll need a lot of patience to keep them out of mischief and teach them about the world in a secure, affirming and positive fashion. 

Because puppies use their mouths to explore their new surroundings and will be teething soon, they are compelled to chew excessively as their adult teeth emerge. You might find the doggy equivalent of a teething ring in your living room rug, your favorite sweater, or even on your hand.

Having a dog also entails accepting responsibility for another animal's happiness, health, and safety. It entails being able to pay vet bills if your dog gets into something he or she shouldn't, and always planning for his or her care when you aren't present. It requires emotional intelligence to remember that because your dog does not speak English, they will not understand the words, "Stop chewing on the furniture!

Preparing Your Home

Before welcoming your new dog into your home to raise them, you must first prepare it. Secure any electrical cords and keep potentially dangerous chemicals or plants out of reach of your dog's curious nose. Close any doors, vents, or other openings that may put them in danger or leave them stranded.

We also recommend that you start house training your new puppy as soon as you bring them home. If you plan to crate train them, prepare the crate by lining it with blankets or a dog bed to make it a comfortable environment for your new pet. Make sure it's big enough for them to stand, turn around, and lie down.

If you intend to crate your puppy, designate a small area, such as a kitchen corner or powder room, where they can remain in the house but be separated from small children and other dogs. Purchase some puppy training pads to catch any accidents, as well as food and water bowls, a dog bed, and a few toys.


Part of raising a puppy is making sure they have the proper diet and nutrition to stay healthy and energetic. High-quality puppy food has been specially formulated to help puppies grow and develop normally. It's a good idea to consult your veterinarian about how much and how frequently you should feed your dog, as the amount of food required will vary depending on your dog's breed, size, age, and other factors.

To ensure that some small dog breeds receive adequate nutrition, free feeding may be the best option. Toy and tiny breed dogs mature physically faster than larger breed dogs, and they can transition to adult dog food and adult-sized portions between the ages of nine and twelve months.

Larger breeds should consume multiple properly portioned meals per day to avoid calcium and protein buildup or stomach bloating. The following is a general guideline for a large dog feeding schedule:

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


Dogs strive to avoid soiling their bed and the area around it 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 them to a portion of the yard where they won't be exposed to other animals until he's had all of their vaccines, and never punish your puppy for a mistake.

Never hit or yell at your dog. When they engage in negative behavior, try to redirect them to something positive. Consider enrolling them in an obedience class as soon as they are old enough. This not only teaches them proper behavior, but it also helps with socialization.

Proper socialization is essential for successfully raising a puppy. They must be exposed to as many new people, places, experiences, and circumstances as possible in order to develop into a well-adjusted dog. While you should wait until your puppy has received all of their vaccines before taking him out in public or allowing him to interact with other animals, you can start socializing them right away by playing with them and introducing them to new people, sights, sounds, smells, and textures.

Working with your dog to reduce even minor resource guarding behaviors benefits everyone, including the puppy. Always supervise children when they are near your puppy's food or favorite toy.

One of the most important lessons is to teach puppies not to bite. Establishing your position as pack leader will remind your puppy that they must earn your respect and obey you, which will help them control this behavior. Keep in mind that your dog wants your approval but also needs your direction. If your puppy nips or bites, respond with a calm but firm "no!"

Exercise & Play

Bored dogs are more likely to engage in aggressive or improper behavior, so provide them with puzzle toys and outdoor exercise (walking, playtime) to keep his mind stimulated. Your dog must understand his place in your home, but this can only be accomplished by consistency and a firm, caring touch.

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 Southgate 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 them in to be fixed, which can help lessen the chance of health and behavioral issues as the puppy ages.

They can also advise you on puppy care issues such as tooth brushing and nail cutting, and even show you how to do it. Your veterinarian can also help you with any questions you have regarding care for your dog, such as what kind of food to feed them.

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.

Are you the proud new owner of a sweet little puppy? Contact our Southgate vets today so we can help keep your pup healthy for years to come.

New Patients Welcome

Southgate Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Southgate companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Book Online (734) 284-9122