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How to Raise a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

Puppies can be wonderful, but raising them presents its own set of challenges. Our New York vets have shared some tips to help you navigate the puppy stage.

What to Consider When Getting a Puppy

Life with a new puppy can resemble life with a toddler. You must be patient to keep them out of trouble and teach them about the world around them. Puppies tend to chew excessively as their adult teeth emerge, and you may find the canine equivalent of a teething ring in your living room rug, your favorite pair of shoes, or even on your hand.

Furthermore, having a dog means taking responsibility for the happiness, safety, and health of another being. You should be prepared to pay for vet fees if your dog ingests something it shouldn't, and always have a plan in place for their care when you cannot be there. It is important to understand that your dog does not speak English and cannot comprehend the words "stop chewing on the walls!"

Preparing Your Home

Before bringing your new dog home, it is important to ensure your house is properly prepared. Ensure that any electrical cords are secured and any potentially hazardous plants or chemicals are out of reach. Close all vents, pet doors, or other openings that could lead your dog astray or get him stranded. Taking these precautions can help create a safe and comfortable environment for your new furry friend.

You must be prepared to begin house training your puppy when 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.

Suppose you plan to crate your puppy and set aside a tiny area, such as a powder room or a kitchen corner, where he can be confined and kept away from other dogs and small children. Make sure you have some puppy training pads on hand to catch any accidents, as well as a dog bed, food and water bowls, and a toy or two.


When looking for food for your puppy, choosing high-quality food designed to help it grow and develop is important. The appropriate amount of food your puppy needs will depend on factors such as its age, size, and breed. It's always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian to determine how much and how often you should feed your dog.

For tiny breeds of dogs, allowing your puppy to feed free may be best to ensure they are getting enough nourishment. Toy and tiny breed dogs mature physically faster than larger breeds and can typically be transitioned to adult dog food and adult-sized portions between the ages of nine and twelve months.

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

  • 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 naturally strive to avoid soiling their beds and the area around them. 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.

It is generally best to ignore unwanted behavior or to correct your dog with a simple but firm "no." Avoid hitting or yelling at your dog. Instead, redirect your pup to something positive when they misbehave. Consider enrolling your puppy in obedience training as soon as they are old enough. This will not only teach them proper behavior but will also help with socialization.

Proper socialization is vital to raising a happy and well-adjusted puppy. Introduce them to as many new people, places, experiences, and situations as possible. However, please wait until your pup has all their vaccines before taking them out in public or allowing them to interact with other animals. You can start socializing your puppy by playing with them and introducing them to new people, sights, sounds, smells, and textures.

Reducing even minor resource-guarding habits in your dog is important to protect everyone, especially your puppy. Always supervise children when they are near your pup's food or favorite toy.

Teaching your puppy not to bite is one of the most important lessons. Establishing yourself as the pack leader will help your puppy remember that they must earn your respect and obey you, which will help them control this behavior. Remember that your dog desires your approval but also needs your direction. If your puppy nips or bites, discipline them with a calm but firm "no!"

Exercise & Play

Dogs that are bored are more likely to exhibit aggressive or improper behavior. To prevent this, provide your dog with puzzle toys and outdoor exercises such as walking or playtime to stimulate their mind. Your dog must understand their place in your home, which can only be achieved through consistency and a firm yet caring approach.

Your First Vet Visit

If you don't have a veterinarian yet, ask your family, friends, and coworkers for recommendations. It's important to take your puppy to a vet for a health check-up as soon as possible. At Rivergate Veterinary Clinic, we welcome new patients.

Your veterinarian will likely recommend a parasite control program to prevent fleas, ticks, and heartworms. They will also advise you about the best time to get your puppy spayed or neutered, which can help prevent health and behavioral problems as your puppy grows older. 

Moreover, your vet can teach you how to brush your puppy's teeth and trim its nails. They can also advise you on what type of food to feed your puppy and answer any other questions you may have about caring for your pet. 

While you're at the vet, you can also schedule your puppy's 6-month check-up to monitor their growth and progress. This is a great opportunity to discuss how to prepare for your puppy's adolescent years, which can be challenging for pet owners. It's also a good 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 a new parent of a dog or cat? Contact Rivergate Veterinary Clinic vets in New York today to schedule your furry friend's first check-up and set them up for a healthy future.

New Patients Welcome

Rivergate Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of New York companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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