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How to Raise a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

How to Raise a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

Raising a puppy may seem like a walk in the park, given their adorable appearance, but the truth is, it comes with its own set of challenges. Don't worry, though! Our Pittsboro veterinary are here to help. In this post, we'll share some invaluable tips on how to raise your new furry friend properly. 

Getting Started: The Art of Raising a Puppy

Raising a puppy can be compared to caring for a human toddler. Both require ample amounts of patience, dedication and love to guide them through their journey of discovery. As they navigate their surroundings, puppies will use their mouths to explore and may engage in excessive chewing as their adult teeth come in, potentially causing damage to your belongings.

Owning a dog also entails taking on a significant level of responsibility. You must be prepared to ensure your furry friend's happiness, health, and safety, which includes being financially equipped to handle veterinary expenses and having a plan in place for their care when you're unable to be there.

Understanding communication limitations is also crucial, as your dog may not comprehend commands like "stop chewing on the furniture." Embracing the challenges and joys of puppy-rearing takes a special type of person, but the rewards of watching them grow and flourish make it all worth it.

Preparing Your Home

Prior to bringing your new furry friend home, it's crucial to make sure your living space is ready for their arrival. To keep your pup safe, secure any electrical cords and remove any hazardous chemicals or plants that may be within reach. Additionally, it's important to close any doors, vents, or other openings that could pose a danger or cause your pup to become stranded.

To ensure a smooth transition into their new home, we recommend starting house training your new puppy as soon as they arrive. If you plan to use a crate, make sure it is ready and comfortable for your pup by lining it with a soft blanket or dog bed. Ensure that the crate is the appropriate size, allowing your pup to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. 

If you choose to crate train your puppy, dedicate a small area such as a kitchen corner or powder room for them to be confined in while still being in the house. This will keep them away from small children and other dogs. Stock up on puppy training pads, food and water bowls, a comfortable dog bed, and a few toys to keep your pup entertained. 


Nurturing a puppy involves providing them with the proper diet and nutrition to maintain their health and vitality. Specially formulated high-quality puppy food helps support their growth and development. To determine the right feeding schedule and amount, it's recommended to consult with your veterinarian, taking into consideration factors such as breed, size, age, and more. 

For smaller breeds, free feeding may be the best option to ensure adequate nutrition. Toy and tiny breed dogs mature faster physically and may transition to adult dog food and portion sizes between the ages of 9 to 12 months. 

In contrast, larger breeds require multiple, properly portioned meals throughout the day to prevent health issues such as calcium and protein buildup or stomach bloating. As a general rule, a large dog feeding schedule should be as follows: 

  • Six to twelve weeks old: Four meals a day
  • Three to six months old: Three meals a day 
  • Six months and up: Two meals a day


For a happy and well-behaved puppy, it's important to establish a potty routine and avoid soiling in the bed and surrounding area. Schedule frequent trips to a designated area in the yard, away from other animals until your pup is fully vaccinated. When accidents happen, it's best to redirect your puppy's behavior rather than punishing them. 

In addition to potty training, it's important to socialize your puppy by exposing them to a variety of people, places, and experiences. This will help your pup grow into a confident and well-adjusted dog. Start by playing with your puppy and gradually introducing them to new sights, sounds, smells, and textures. 

To prevent resource guarding, always supervise your puppy around their food and toys, and teach children how to interact with your pup safely. Establishing yourself as the pack leader will also help prevent biting behavior. If your puppy does bite, discipline with a calm but firm "no." Consistency and patience will help your puppy learn and grow into a well-behaved and happy companion.

Exercise & Play

Dogs that are bored are susceptible to exhibiting aggressive or inappropriate behavior. To keep their minds stimulated and prevent this, it's important to provide them with interactive toys and plenty of physical activity through walks and playtime. Establishing a clear hierarchy in your home is crucial for your dog's well-being, but this can only be achieved through a consistent and loving approach.

Your First Vet Visit

At Hope Crossing Animal Hospital, we understand the importance of finding the right veterinarian for you and your furry companion. If you're in search of a trusted and experienced vet, reach out to your family, friends, and coworkers for recommendations. They'll likely have numerous references to share with you. 

As soon as you bring your new puppy home, make an appointment with your chosen veterinarian for a comprehensive health checkup. During this visit, your vet will evaluate your pup's overall health, recommend a parasite control program to protect against fleas, ticks, and heartworms, and advise you on when it's time to have your pup spayed or neutered to prevent potential health and behavioral issues in the future. 

Your veterinarian will also be a valuable resource for all of your puppy care concerns, from tooth brushing and nail cutting to feeding and general health. They can even show you how to care for your pup properly.  

Don't forget to schedule your pup's 6-month checkup to monitor their growth and progress. During this visit, your vet can also provide advice on preparing for the adolescent years and what to expect as your pup matures into adulthood. Trust Hope Crossing Animal Hospital to be your partner in pet health and wellness.

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.

As the proud owner of a darling puppy, it's important to ensure their health and wellness for years to come. That's why we invite you to connect with our Pittsboro vets. Don't hesitate to reach out and schedule an appointment today!

Welcoming New Patients

Our vets at Hope Crossing Animal Hospital are now accepting new patients! Our talented veterinary team is passionate about caring for the pets of Pittsboro. Contact us today to book your first appointment. 

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