14 min

How To Care For Your New Puppy

Taking care of a new puppy can be both exciting and exhausting. Here are some basics you should know to correctly care for your new dog.

Bridget Reed

Updated November 06, 2022 • Published September 14, 2021

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How To Care For Your New Puppy

While getting a new puppy is an exciting event for the entire family, there are also plenty of things that you need to be aware of when it comes to taking proper care of your new addition. To say a puppy is a lot of work would be an understatement, but they can also be incredibly warm, loving little creatures. 

Whether you have had puppies in the past or you are a first-time dog parent, it’s always good to get a refresher on how to properly care for a new dog. This helps ensure that you don’t make any errors that could prove detrimental for both yourself and your dog.

The team at Pawp is passionate about providing you with the support that you need to correctly care for your puppy. Read on to gain a robust understanding of the basics you must be aware of before your new addition arrives. You will learn about picking the correct breed of dog for your family and the proper puppy preparation. This includes choosing the right food for them, as well as stocking up on household must-haves. 

Continue reading to learn about the importance of bringing your pup to the veterinarian. If you’re unsure of how to begin house training, that will also be covered in this article, as well as all the details you would need about vaccinating, socializing, and house training your puppy. 

Consider your lifestyle while picking a puppy breed

While you might have a preference for a certain breed due to your history with them, their appearance, or word-of-mouth you’ve heard about their trainability or behavior, it’s essential that you pick the correct puppy for your lifestyle. This will help ensure that your dog is not just the right match for your family, but your family is the right match for them, too. 

It is your job as a responsible, mindful dog owner to choose a pet whose needs you will be able to attend to. Assess the situation of your current lifestyle before you commit to a dog. Are you able to take an active dog out for long walks daily? Are you living in an apartment? Do you want a dog that loves to cuddle? Do you have small children in your family? Do other pets live in your home?

Dogs can be a wonderful addition to any home, but in order for there to be a fit, you have to earnestly examine the present situation. While it’s understandable to want to choose a dog based on personality or appearance, the reality is that this is not the best tactic.

Instead, take notes of your current lifestyle situation, and then look into dog breeds that could be compatible. It’s better to go into new dog ownership with the confidence that your lifestyle matches what the dog will need. 

There are several ways that you can tackle finding the right breed for your family. You could use a digitized breed matcher, such as one offered through the American Kennel Club. Alternatively, you can research dogs that work well with your current living situation. 

Prepare for a new puppy properly

So much of properly caring for a new puppy is ensuring that you are prepared for their arrival. This will ease the transition for both your family and the dog. Begin by puppy-proofing your home. Think of this process as similar to toddler-proofing your home. Nevertheless, there are some crucial differences. 

Of course, you will want to make sure that you have electrical cords, breakable items, and potentially toxic items out of reach for new pets. It’s also crucial to recall that puppies are curious creatures, and they are capable of chewing, jumping, climbing, and scratching. 

You will also want to get the right items to set your dog up for success. This includes food dishes, a crate, dog beds, the right food, dog toys, a gated area, and training pads, to name a few. Having these on hand before your new puppy arrives will help ensure that you’re able to handle whatever they throw at you. 

If you have other pets, keep your puppy’s first introduction in mind as you plan for their arrival. Make sure you purchase a harness and a leash for your new puppy, even if you’re not planning on taking them outside for their first few weeks of life while you wait for their vaccinations to take effect. 

As Pawp veterinarian Dr. Laura Robinson says, “Introducing your new puppy to your current, older pets can be an enjoyable experience, but not all pets react joyfully.” 

Your new leash and harness will come in handy during this initial meeting of your furry friends. Dr. Robinson recommends keeping both pets on a leash and supervising the introduction diligently.

“Don’t hesitate to pull the puppy back,” she said, “and give your older dog a break if they start to act overwhelmed.”

Choose the correct food for your puppy

The food that you provide your puppy with is of paramount importance as it helps provide them with the nutrients they need. To correctly choose the right food for your pet, you should consult with a trusted veterinarian. They could provide greater insight as to what you should be looking for in your new puppy’s food. 

Whatever you do, do not switch your dog over from one food brand to another without easing them into it. Puppies have fragile, delicate stomachs, and a surefire way to give your new puppy a bellyache is to not properly transition them from one food brand or another. This is a gradual process that typically takes somewhere between five and seven days. 

Bring your puppy to the vet

Even if the breeder or shelter you are getting your dog from has already brought the pup to the vet, you should follow up with your own vet for a new puppy visit. This will ideally occur within the first few days after you picked up your new pet. 

This appointment is necessary for the vet to review their records, as well as provide them with any necessary care. In addition, your vet will examine the dog and even run some laboratory tests in various instances. This could help you figure out if your dog has any health problems as soon as possible. They can also make sure that your dog is microchipped. 

Also, there are a myriad of health and behavioral benefits of getting your dog spayed or neutered. You can address the timeline of when it will be appropriate to get this surgery done with your vet at the first visit. 

When you have a new puppy, there are doubtless many questions you have, and going to your local vet can become expensive quickly. Instead, look into veterinary telehealth services like Pawp.

Have access to trained veterinarians 24/7 for anything you might need help with, from behavior questions or even whether you should go to your emergency vet in the middle of the night. 

Ensure your puppy has the correct vaccinations

Vaccinations are your puppy’s best defense against several illnesses that prey on young dogs. Therefore, it’s essential that at your dog’s first vet visit, you get an understanding of when these vaccinations will need to be complete. 

Some vaccinations your dog might need to wait a while together; others they might be eligible for right away, depending on the age of your dog. Part of taking care of your new pet is making sure they have the right vaccinations for their environment, too. There are some shots that a dog that lives in the city will need that a dog in the countryside may not (and vice versa), for example. 

House train your new puppy

House training your dog will require an abundance of several things, namely patience, consistency, and plenty of commitment. Nevertheless, it is one of the most important things you will complete, and teaching your dog how to properly defecate and urinate is one of the most important things you will do to care for them. 

It’s essential that you establish a routine for your dog to successfully become house trained. Puppies are fond of regular schedules, so they can begin to get into a routine. House training is no exception. Take your dog out at the same times every day or whenever they display signs of needing to relieve themselves.

You shouldn't expect your dog to be able to hold it for more than two hours — so take them outside to use the bathroom in those intervals. You should also always take them to the same spot so that they begin to recognize that this is where they go to the bathroom. Finally, using praise methods after your dog correctly goes to the bathroom can be an effective strategy, too. 

Train your new puppy when they're old enough

Think of a training course as the best way to put the polish on all of your puppy’s behaviors. When your dog is of an appropriate age, you can begin to enroll them in a training course. This could prove valuable for socialization with people and other dogs. 

Another excellent thing to take into consideration is the value of crate training. This can begin from the moment that you get your new puppy home, so there’s no reason to wait on that. There are a variety of reasons why crate training is an excellent idea for your pet. Your dog will eventually begin to see it as an escape or sanctuary, just for them. 

Enjoy this time with your puppy

There are a lot of things to keep in mind when it comes to properly taking care of your puppy, but don’t forget to take time to bond with your new pet. Your dog will be a friend for life, so create a strong connection with them from the start. 


Dog Breed Selector - What Breed Of Dog Should I Get? | AKC  

Spay/Neuter Your Pet | ASPCA 

How to Switch Dog Foods: Transitioning Your Dog's Diet | AKC  

Creativity & Critical Timing Are Key to Puppy Socialization | AKC

Crate training 101 | Humane Society

How to house-train your dog or puppy | Humane Society  

Puppy Shots Schedule | AKC

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