Adopting a new puppy is one of the most joyous occasions in life. Getting that little one home and playing, cuddling, and caring for them will be both challenging and rewarding. If you have never gotten a puppy, you may be asking what the first year with puppies looks like.
Today, we take a closer look at what you can expect in your first year of puppy ownership.
Puppies: The First Year
The First Two Months
Unless you actually had your own litter of puppies, you likely won’t be doing much for a puppy in the first two months of their life. During this time, a puppy is learning everything they can about their environment and the people or animals around them.
A puppy’s eyes don’t actually open until they are about a month old. Until that time, they are navigating their environment through sound, smell, and feel. This allows them to become familiar with their siblings and their mother. During this time, the best thing you can do is make the mother feel comfortable. Also, only help handle her puppies if she allows it.
It is not recommended to remove a puppy from their mother during this time. A responsible breeder will provide stimulation during this period of a puppy’s life, however. Puppies should be provided stimulating toys that will provide a number of different textures. Toward the end of the puppy’s first two months, they become weaned from their mother’s milk and will be eating solid food. Provide them time to use their teeth in a safe way.
Months Two Through Four
Once the puppy has started eating solid food, they can safely be taken from the mother. If you adopt a puppy, you’ll likely get one that is older than sixteen weeks. Now’s your time to begin training.
You’ll first want to work on housetraining your puppy. It’s actually not too hard either. Be sure to take your puppy outside every few hours. Take them out first thing in the morning and before bed as well. Always praise your puppy when they go potty outside, and never punish them when they go inside. This can make them fearful of you.
You’ll also want to get your dog socialized. You can begin taking them for walks around the block to see the sights and get used to their new home. Introduce them to as many people as you can. Just be sure you do not introduce them to other dogs until your vet gives you the OK. Speaking of which…
At this time, your puppy is ready for their first vet visit. It’s important to introduce your puppy to their vet, have them begin a vaccination program and have them microchipped. You can also discuss a de-worming and flea prevention program at this time.
During this period, here are some things you can work on with your puppy:
- Crate training – Most dogs see their crate as a safe place. Crate training your dog can offer your dog some security when you leave the house. It’s also a great way to teach your dog how to spend some time alone.
- Basic commands – Commands like “come” or “sit” can be taught as soon as your pup learns their name. Learning their name is the basic building block of training though so make certain they’ve got that down first.
- Teething/nipping – It’s natural that your pup will explore the world with their new teeth, but those new teeth are sharp. If you find your dog chewing on furniture or even nipping at hands, calmly tell them no. You can also swap the unwanted item for an acceptable item like a chew toy.
- Leash training – This is the perfect age to teach your dog about walking on a leash. There are many methods for teaching a dog to walk on a loose leash.
Four Months On
Once you’ve gotten through most of the normal speed bumps in training, now’s the time to get your dog ready to take on the world. Your dog is now old enough to start spending extended time outside. Of course, you should never leave your dog outside unattended. We mean that you can start traveling in the car with your puppy. Just remember that the safest place for a dog in the car is in their crate.
Since your dog will be spending a lot more time outdoors with you, you can also consider getting them neutered at this point. Not only will this save you from having more unexpected puppies, but there are numerous health benefits to both male and female dogs who have been neutered.
Once your dog has been neutered and their vaccinations are up to date, they are ready to take on the world. They can now head to the dog park, go on family vacations or just settle down on the couch for a good snuggle. Just remember that good socialization never really ends. Your dog will look to you to read situations and will want reassurance.
Training a puppy in their first year is an incredibly rewarding experience that can set you both up for a long and wonderful relationship.