Whether this is the first time you’ve had a puppy or you grew up around dogs, you want the newest member of your family to have a great life. Here are 10 tips to help make your puppy happy.
1. Safe Environment
Your new puppy might feel either terrified or curious once in your home. Your first priority is to convince your pet that the new environment is safe and to allow some exploration. Potentially hazardous areas and items like medications should be off limits, however.
Some owners find it helpful to limit a puppy’s initial environment to just one room after allowing the little guy to look around the home first.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), socialization helps your puppy be comfortable within the family as well as around other people, environments, locations, smells and animals.
You should make sure that a puppy frightened at the sound of a door closing doesn’t become an adult dog scared by the same sound. Your veterinarian will tell you when it’s safe to start exposing a puppy to other dogs.
3. Obedience Training
Obedience training is a lot more complex than housebreaking or teaching a dog to heel. Training should also help a puppy feel happy because of a sense of accomplishment.
Positive comments should reinforce a job well done. While it will be necessary to correct some behavior, no dog is happy if all the owner says is “bad dog” or “No!!!” Obedience training also teaches a puppy to be happy with his place in the family. Remember, your puppy wants to please you.
4. Food and Water
Part of making a puppy happy with the right food and water is keeping dishes clean. Wash them daily in the dishwasher or at least in soap and water.
The Placerville Veterinary Clinic suggests using a dry food formulated especially for puppies. Ask your vet about the correct amount and if the dog needs any special formula.
Young puppies should be fed three times a day. At 12 weeks, the interval should be twice daily. Avoid providing people food. Water should be changed at least once a day.
A healthy puppy is a happy puppy. Most vets start the series of vaccinations for distemper, adenovirus and parvovirus at the initial exam if the dog is old enough.
The vet might also recommend vaccinating against leptospirosis and Lyme disease. Bordetella immunization is important if the dog will ever visit a kennel or a groomer. The last vaccine a puppy receives is normally to prevent rabies.
6. Parasite Control
You’ll want to have your new puppy tested for and protected against parasites associated with roundworms and hookworms.
7. His Own Stuff
To be happy, every puppy needs his own bed, toys and treats. Don’t allow access to anything small enough to swallow if it can’t be digested. Bones from chicken and meat, which can cause diarrhea and choking, are off limits. The best choices are synthetic bones or rope chew toys.
Energetic puppies need daily exercise. It might be a romp around a room, running in the backyard or a controlled walk once the dog is leash trained.
It’s more than exercise. It’s purposeful, supervised activity–games like fetch. It merits praise for playing well. It’s also the ideal time for the physical contact like petting that dogs crave.
Your puppy wants to spend time with you. Some pups also need interaction with other dogs. Human companionship should include active interaction, not just sitting in the same room while answering emails.
If you manage to accomplish all 10 tips, you’ll have not only a happy puppy, but a very contented adult dog.