Congratulations on getting your new best friend. The first few weeks can be overwhelming, so here are a few guidelines to help you through. Always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your pup’s health and welfare.
Puppies generally receive 3 vaccinations:
At 6-8 weeks
10-12 weeks - after which puppy can go to puppy class but no other outside areas.
14-16 weeks - after which puppy is ready to take on the world.
Make sure which vaccinations your puppy has had before leaving the SPCA. Discuss with your vet about boosters and when to have vaccinations renewed.
Puppies' socialisation period is between 4-16 weeks. This is the period when your puppy becomes familiar with, and learns to interact with, a variety of humans, dogs, other animals and different environments as well as forming positive emotional responses to them. Without suitable and adequate socialisation, your puppy is at risk for developing behavioural problems later.
This socialisation window is short, and it is highly recommended that after your puppy’s second vaccination you take them to an accredited positive reinforcement puppy class. Here they will be exposed to a variety of dogs and people, learn how to be handled, etc.
Until your puppy has its final vaccinations do NOT take it to a park or expose it to any unvaccinated dogs. Your puppy can be introduced to new places, while limiting risk of exposure to infection, by carrying them when outside of your home.
Feed your pup the highest quality puppy food you can afford. They are growing fast and have special nutritional requirements. From 10 weeks you can feed them twice a day, the packaging on the puppy food should provide feeding amounts based on weight.
Place their food on the ground and remove it after 15 minutes. Having access to food all day can promote over eating and unhealthy weight gain. For small-medium size dogs you can switch to adult food from around 10-12 months. For large/giant breeds, switch over at approximately 18-24 months of age. Different breeds and sizes have different needs, so consult with your vet.
Sleep & Rest
Puppies need a LOT of sleep - on average 16-20 hours a day. Yes, it’s a bundle of cuteness that you want to play with and love, but make sure your puppy is getting adequate amounts of UNDISTURBED sleep in his own demarcated area. This is especially important to teach children.
CONSISTENCY is key! Puppies don’t know automatically where they must do their business, it takes time and patience.
Take your puppy out to toilet at the same spot:
First thing in the morning and last thing at night.
After sleeping, playing, eating, drinking.
Approximately every hour during the day and every 3-4 hours at night (puppy can only hold their bladder through the night from 6 months).
Don’t carry your pup. Guide/coax them to the spot so they can learn to walk there on their own, when your pup has finished, reward them IMMEDIATELY afterwards with praise and a treat you have on hand.
Management! Don’t allow your puppy free access to your house. Keep doors closed and keep puppy in one area where you can keep an eye on them. Watch for behaviours such as sniffing the ground and circling as signs that they need to go outside.
Mistakes will happen. DO NOT punish your puppy by rubbing their nose in it or by punishing them. They didn’t do it on purpose and this will only harm your developing relationship with your pup. This will also teach them to eliminate when you aren’t around which will result in little surprises in the house and this makes it hard to teach puppy to eliminate with you when outside.
Interrupt if the puppy is peeing and take them to the correct spot outside. Reward them for finishing there. If puppy is defecating let them finish and remove your puppy outside before cleaning up.
Clean the area with Sunlight Liquid or Biogen Classic to break down the smell of the elimination. To be extra sure, you can rub over with rubbing alcohol or vodka. Do not use products that contain ammonia as this is similar to the smell of urine and will attract your puppy back to the same spot.
Patience is key.
Enjoy your new puppy and watching them discover the world around them and building that special bond with you!