If you have recently adopted a puppy or are thinking of adopting a puppy, we know there is a lot to do to help make the integration of your new family member into your home a smooth one. We are here to help you with all aspects of this process, from vaccines and general health care to tips on socialization and basic house training. Please see below for the most frequently asked questions we get from new guardians. We look forward to meeting you and your new puppy!
Most Frequently Asked Puppy Questions
Congratulations on your new puppy! We hope you have many years of health and happiness with your newest family member. Having anew puppy is very exciting butcan also cause some anxiety as you figure out how to incorporate this new furball into your life and schedule, so we have compiled a listof the most frequently asked questions to help get you started.
How often will I need to bring in my puppy for vaccines?
- Age 6-12 weeks:
- Age 12-16 weeks:
- Age 16-20 weeks:
- +/- Lyme
- +/- CIV
- Age 20-24 weeks:
- +/- Lyme
- +/- CIV
Based on 2022 AAHA Canine Vaccine Guidelines
What is the best food to feed my puppy?
You should feed your puppy a puppy formula made bya reputable and knowledgeable food company. If your puppy is expected to be 45 pounds or larger, feed them a large breed puppy formula. The attached hand-out What Should I Feed My Dog has more information on how to select the best food for your dog.
How often should I groom my dog?
Generally, dogs should be bathed about once a month,or whenever they are dirty. Regular bathing and brushing will help with skin health and reduce shedding. The monthly bath is also a good time to trim nails and swab out ears with a dog-formulate dear cleaner. You can also start brushing your puppies teeth, ideally once a day, using anon-fluoride dog tooth paste. Puppies should be desensitized to having their feet, ears,and mouths touched to make it a routine part of their life. When your puppy has settled in for a nap and is too tired to resist is the best time to start slowly and gently touching their feet, mouth, and ears to get them used to being handled. Slowly work your way upto a full grooming routine and reward cooperative behavior with treats. A regular doggy shampoo is fine to use unless your puppy is having any skin issues, in which case, we may recommend a medicated shampoo.
When can I start socializing my puppy?
Puppies go through a developmental critical period for socialization between 3 and 16 weeks of age. This means, they are the most receptive to learning about all the things they will be exposed to in life. This is when they are most open to meeting other dog sand people, and becoming familiar with what goes on day-to-day in their environment.On the other hand, this is also a time when they are most vulnerable to infectious diseases because their immune systems are still immature.This poses the challenge of taking advantage of this critical socialization period without exposing your puppy to deadly diseases. If we wait to socialize our puppies and keep them totally isolated until they are fully vaccinated, they won’t be exposed to the world until after the critical period is over. This may prevent our puppies from contracting parvovirus, but it puts them at arisk for developing fearfulness and anxieties when they are finally taken out into the world. Especially in our chaotic urban environment, we feel it is important to introduce your puppy to all the sights and sounds that the city presents so they can becom for table in the world they will live in. BUT we urge using common sense: Avoid dog parks or places that are heavily trafficked by other dogs. Avoid soiled areas of the sidewalk and don’t allow contact with other unfamiliar dogs until your dog is fully vaccinated.If you have friends and family with dogs that are healthy, fully vaccinated, and good with puppies, your puppy may socialize with them. Puppy classes will also provide socialization between puppies with similar vaccination statuses. Most importantly, good experiences that your puppy has in the world and with other dogs and people will give them confidence and help them become well adjusted adults.
What are the monthly preventatives my vet is recommending?
We recommend treating your dog with a broad spectrum parasite medication, year-round, to protect them against fleas, ticks, skin mites, heartworm, and some of the intestinal parasites. Most people are familiar with fleas and ticks and the variety of preventatives that are available. Newer oral formulations of flea and tick preventatives can also control skin mites. Heartworms are a potentially fatal parasite, transmitted by mosquitoes, that colonize the heart and lungs of infected dogs. Though heartworm is most prevalent in southern states, dogs positive for heartworm disease have been found in every state, including New York. A monthly preventative provides protection against heartworm disease, and also helps control intestinal parasites, including roundworms, hookworms, and in some cases, whipworms.We will talk to you about what preventative options we have available and what will work best for your dog’s lifestyle.
When should my puppy be spayed or neutered?
Puppy Vaccine Schedule
Puppies typically start the vaccination process at 6-8 weeks and are vaccinated every 2-4 weeks until they are 16-20 weeks old. The vaccines your puppies will receive depend on those best suited to you and your puppy’s lifestyles. Please remember that your puppy won’t be fully protected from the most deadly puppy diseases, such as Parvovirus and Distemper Virus, until they are fully vaccinated after 16 weeks of age. Please see below for more details on the puppy vaccine schedule, and click on the Canine Vaccines tab to learn what diseases vaccines protect against.
Age 6-12 weeks
Age 12-16 weeks
Age 16-20 weeks
Age 20-24 weeks
Based on 2017 AAHA Canine Vaccine Guidelines
Here are 5 keys to success
1) Numerous Trips Outside
a. Soon after waking up– after a nap and when first waking in the morning. Puppies sleep several times a day, thus have several waking periods.
b. After eating- the gastrocolic response produces a bowel movement. With three or four feedings each day, young puppies require a considerable number of trips outside.
c. Intense activity(e.g. playing or exercising) stimulates elimination.
d.Bedtime–dogs normally eliminate before bedding down at night.
Take the puppy out frequently. Give a consistent simple cue word or phrase (i.e. “Go potty”) andpraise the puppyand/or give a food rewardfor eliminating in the correct area.
Schedules andregular routinesfor rest, eating, and play regulate the elimination process. In households where the puppy is left alone for 8 to 10 hours at a time, a dog walker should be hired to allow the puppy outside to eliminate.
Occasional accidents may happen; a puppy can not hold its bladder for long periods of time. In general, puppies can be expected to hold their bladder for one hour for each month of age plus one. For example, an 8-week-old puppy should be taken outside at least every 3 hours during the day.Even adult housetrained dogs need to be taken outside a minimum of 5 times per day.
Never punish the puppy for eliminating in the wrong area! Punishments such as rubbing the puppy’s nose in the urine or feces or spanking it after an accident has occurred do absolutely nothing to teach the puppy what it should do. If anything, this will delay housetraining because the puppy will be afraid to eliminate in front of the owner even outside.
2) 100% Supervision When Not Confined
If a puppy eliminates in the house, it learns that it is acceptable to do so. Early in the learning process, the puppy may assume any place can be used to eliminate. To prevent this behavior from occurring, the owner must watch the puppy every second if it is out of its crate or confinement area.
3) Confinement During Unsupervised Times
If the puppy is to be left alone or if you are unable to supervise it –even for a just a few minutes, the puppy should be confined in a small area such as a bathroom, utility room, or a small crate/pen. A space this size is large enough for a water bowl and clearly defined bedding area yet limits the amount of space for accidents to happen. Dogs generally avoid soiling theirbed area, making them inclined to retain urine and feces until they can access an acceptable location for eliminating.However, puppies raised exclusively in cages, kennels or other close confinement areas may learn to preferentially eliminate in their cage area rather than elsewhere.
Puppies given the run of the house without supervision or access to a dog door may not learn to hold their bowels and bladder or signal when they need to eliminate because elimination areas are readily available. If a puppy must be left for long periods of time without a dog walker, it should be confined to a pen or room with access to its kennel. The puppy will be forced to eliminate on the floor or potty pads but can retain the desire to keep its bed area (the crate) clean.
Dogs often learn to prefer one surface for elimination, possibly to the exclusion of all others. This preference occurs around 8 weeks of age. Newspaper, grass,concrete, or asphalt commonly becomes the chosen surface at the prompting of the owner. Dogs that will be expected to eliminate outdoors as adults should learn such as puppies. Do not start the puppy on puppy pads and then expect it to adjust to something different later. Similarly, when dogs raised outside are allowed into the house, carpet often serves as the surface most closely resembling grass.
4) Interruption during unwanted Elimination
Accidents may happen during the housetraining regimen. If the puppy begins to urinate or defecate in an inappropriate area, a simple distracting noise may serve to interrupt the action. Immediately take the puppy to the correct area to finish and praise itfor eliminating in the acceptable location
5) Positive Reinforcementfor Correct Behavior
Rewards are strong motivators to reinforce the learning process. Quiet praise is best given while the dog is eliminating. The puppy can then be given a food treat immediately as it finishes. Giving the puppy a treat afterit returns to the house will reinforce the puppy for coming back into the house, not for eliminating. In order to consistently reinforce the puppy for eliminating in the correct area outside, someone must go out with the puppyevery time during the learning process.
Housetraining need not be a painful, stressful experience for owners or their puppies. Patience, supervision, and positive rewards are the keys to a happy, housetrained puppy or dog.
The use of a crate is a controversial, and sometimes contentious, topic. While some people think it is cruel to confine a dog to a crate, crates can be an extremely beneficial tool in a dog’s training program, particularly for puppies. With proper preparation, most dogs find their crate a comforting safe place. However,it is important to note that some dogs show extreme distress when confined in a crate even after reasonable training steps.
FAQs on Crate Training
Why use a crate?
There are a variety of benefits to using a crate for both puppies and adult dogs.
Crates may be most useful for puppies. They allow for a more effective house training protocol and help to keep the puppy out of trouble when it cannot be supervised. A crate prevents the puppy from chewing on undesirable things or potentially ingesting toxic or dangerous substances. The crate also gives the puppy its own space where it can escape the hubbub of activity in the house or the unwanted attention of certain individuals such as visitors or children. Children should never be allowed to play in, or near, the puppy’s crate, even if the crate is empty.
Crates also give your dog or puppy the safest way to travel in your car. Confining your dog in a crate can prevent injuries from sudden stops or accidents. Crating the dog also prevents the dog from interfering with you while you are trying to drive. (It is unsafe even for small dogs to ride in your lap while you are driving.) Crates can help reduce barking at outside stimuli since many dogs ridequietly in a crate, particularly if you cover the crate so they cannot see people or dogs outside. The crate canprovide a familiar safe place ifyou stay overnight in a hotel. (Mesh crates are useful for travel since they fold up well and are light weight but they donot provide your dog much protection in the car in the event of an accident.)
Crates are sometimes used to control destructive behaviors from dogs with noise phobias and separation distress. While some dogs with these problems are calmer in crates, it is important to know that crating is NOT a treatment for these anxiety disorders. More often than not, crating accentuates the dog’s anxiety and crated dogs can panic so severely that they injure themselves trying to break free of the crate. If your dog has one of these disorders, immediately seek help from your veterinarian.
How long is too long?
There is no definitive standard on what is too long to crate your dog at one time or the total number of hours per day. Standard house training guidelines for puppies suggest that puppies be crated for no longer than one hour per month of age plus one. This means that a three-month-old puppy should not be crated for more than four hours during the day without having an elimination break.
For adult dogs crating durations for six hours or less may be ideal in terms of welfare. While many adult dogs seem to handle crating for eight or more hours, crating over six hours without a break is likely to have a negative impact on your dog’s health and welfare. For owners that work all day, having a friend or dog walker come in the middle of the day is ideal.
Which crate to choose?
There are three basic types of crates: wire crates, plastic crates, and mesh crates. Mesh crates are popular with people that travel, but may be less suitable for puppy training at home. Which crate is best will depend on your dog. Some dogs feel more comfortable in the darker, den–like feel of the airline crate, whereas other dogs will prefer the openness of the wire crate. You may need to try each type to discover which your dog or puppy prefers.
Whichever type you choose, the crate should be large enough that the dog or puppy can stand up fully, turn around, and lie down completely on its side. To aid with house training, you may need to start with a smaller crate and then get a larger size as your puppy grows. Alternatively, block off the back part of a larger crate and then remove this barricade as the puppy gets bigger.
How do I introduce my dog or puppy to a crate?
Slowly!If you acquired your puppy from a breeder or foster home, hopefully they introduced your puppy to a crate already. If the puppy is new to a crate, often the best initial arrangement is to place the crate inside the pen with the door openand potty pads on the floor. This allows the puppy to slowly start exploring the crate without having to be locked into it immediately. The pen prevents the puppy from getting into trouble and also limits where the puppy may eliminate if it does so. Place a bed inside the crate and periodically leave toys and treats inside the crate to encourage the puppy to go inside.
Do not close the door at first. Let the puppy explore in and out at will. When the puppy is freely going into the crate, and perhaps resting in there voluntarily, then you can begin to close the crate door for very short periods of time. Ideally when you first start closing the door, give the puppy it’s meal or some other enrichment toy such as a stuffed food toy while it is closed in the crate. This helps the puppy learn the extra good things happen when the crate door is closed. Over time, gradually keep the crate door closed for longer periods. Initially when you close the crate door, you should stay in sight so the puppy can see you. When your puppy is comfortable resting in the crate with the door closed for several minutes, you can begin to briefly step out of sight.
Lightly spraying scents, such as lavender or chamomile in the crate may help the puppy remain calm. Pheromone products are particularly helpful when acclimating puppies to a new home and\or a crate(authors use Adaptil®).A stuffed dog with a heartbeat and a heat source (see for example (http://www.snugglepetproducts.com)can be placed in the crate as well.
You can use similar techniques to train an adult dog to use a crate. How long it will take to acclimate your dog or puppy to a crate will depend on the individual animal and how methodically you implement the gradual confinement. If you have difficulty with the training process, or your pet shows significant distress in the crate even with a few seconds or minutes of confinement, you should seek professional assistance immediately from your veterinarian and behavior consultant.