The Ultimate Guide: How To Prepare for a Puppy

Puppy Training
Puppy Training

Our pets bring us endless joy, affection, and cuteness,  but parenting a puppy isn’t always a stroll in the park. We’ve all heard stories about those cute puppies ripping our favorite shoes to tears, peeing on everything we love, and misbehaving.

Picking out your puppy can be hard but taking care of a new puppy is a tasking feat. Before even deciding to get one, you must be completely ready for the responsibilities of caring for a new puppy.

Are You Financially Ready for a Puppy?

The expenditures of raising a healthy, well-mannered dog soon add up. You’ll have to pay for adoption fees, vet bills, pet supplies, dog food, training sessions, and other expenses throughout your puppy’s life. Grooming, pet insurance, doggy daycare, and on-demand pet services such as dog walking, boarding, and sitting are not included.

Preparing Your Home for Your Puppy

After you’ve sorted out your finances, the next step is to puppy-proof your home. You want to ensure your living environment is safe for your fur child like you would child-proof a house to protect toddlers. Here are some tasks to include on your puppy-proofing checklist:

  • Plants harmful to dogs should be removed or kept out of reach. There is a huge list of hazardous plants to dogs, so check your home and yard for any possibly harmful plants. If you have any concerns, consult your veterinarian or a vet professional right away.
  • When not in use, unplug chargers and cords. This is easier said than done, especially for items always plugged in, such as the television. Fortunately, deterrent sprays and cord coverings are effective!
  • Keep rubbish locked up. Your dog will not dig through the trash if you use a hands-free trash can or a garbage bin with a solid lid.
  • If necessary, close off rooms. Puppies enjoy meddling and pushing boundaries. Consider installing baby gates or keeping the doors locked to keep your fur baby out of particular rooms or regions of your home.
  • Keep dangerous substances out of your dog’s reach. This covers batteries, medications, food, and cleaning supplies.

Vaccinations Your Puppy Needs

When you welcome that soft, sweet-smelling tiny ball of puppy fur into your home, you immediately realize she relies entirely on you for everything. It is your responsibility to provide her with the care she needs daily. It can be frightening – she requires the best puppy food, plenty of attention, gentle training, safe toys, puppy socialization, a safe home, and proper veterinary care. This covers puppy immunizations for the first year.

Core Vaccinations

Between the ages of 6 and 8 weeks, puppies receive their first dose of the following essential vaccinations:

Distemper Vaccine

Distemper is a severe and widespread disease caused by a virus that targets dogs, raccoons, skunks, and other animals’ respiratory, gastrointestinal (GI), and nervous systems. It is transmitted through airborne exposure, like sneezing or coughing from an affected animal. The infection can also spread by sharing food, water bowls, and equipment. It causes eye and nose discharges, fever, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, twitching, paralysis, and, in some cases, death. Because it causes the footpad to thicken and harden, this illness was previously known as a hard pad.

Distemper has no treatment. Treatment includes supportive care and efforts to avoid subsequent infections and control symptoms such as vomiting and seizures. If the dog survives the symptoms, it is anticipated that its immune system will be able to fight it off. Infected canines can carry the infection around for months.

Parvovirus Vaccine

Parvo is a highly contagious virus affecting all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and pups under four months are the most vulnerable. The virus targets the gastrointestinal tract, causing vomiting, fever, and often severe, bloody diarrhea. Extreme dehydration can strike quickly and kill a dog in 48-72 hours, so early veterinarian care is essential. Because there is no cure, keeping the dog hydrated and treating secondary symptoms will keep him going until his immune system overcomes the sickness.

Adenovirus Vaccine

There are various advantages to employing adenoviral vectors to deliver viral antigens into host cells and elicit desirable immune responses. Adenoviruses, for example, are straightforward to alter genetically due to their relatively big and well-characterized genome. Adenovirus-based vaccinations are primarily safe and have few adverse effects since adenoviruses cause minor infections in people, and genetic alterations can reduce their viral multiplication.

Because of their broad tissue tropism, these viruses can infect both dividing and nondividing cells. Other advantages of adenovirus-based vaccines include: Their better thermostability. Ability to increase significant titers. Ease of administration by systemic or respiratory mucosal routes.

Non-Core Vaccinations

Depending on where you reside, your puppy may receive the first dose of the non-core vaccinations listed below:

Canine Influenza

Vaccines for both H3N8 and H3N2 canine influenza are available. There is also a bivalent vaccine that protects against both strains. There are currently no approved canine influenza vaccinations for use in cats. Vaccination can minimize a dog’s chances of developing canine influenza. Although vaccination cannot completely prevent infection, it can lower the intensity and duration of clinical illness.

Lyme Disease

Unlike the well-known “bull’s-eye” rash seen in people with Lyme disease, no equivalent symptom develops in dogs. Lyme disease (or borreliosis) is an infectious, tick-borne disease caused by a kind of bacteria known as a spirochete. Infected dogs generally limp, their lymph nodes expand, their temperature rises, and they stop eating. If left untreated, the condition can harm his heart, kidneys, and joints and cause neurological problems. A course of antibiotics is particularly beneficial if diagnosed immediately, though relapses can occur months or even years later.


Unlike most diseases on this list, Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria, and some dogs may not exhibit any symptoms. Leptospirosis can be found in soil and water all around the world. It is a zoonotic illness that can transfer from animals to humans. Fever, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, lack of appetite, extreme tiredness and lethargy, stiffness, jaundice, muscle pain, infertility, and kidney failure are all possible symptoms (with or without liver failure). Antibiotics work, and the sooner they are administered, the better.

Canine Parainfluenza

Canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV) is a highly contagious respiratory virus that is one of the most common pathogens of infectious tracheobronchitis, also known as canine cough. While the respiratory symptoms may resemble canine influenza, the viruses are unrelated and require different vaccines to protect against.

Boosters and Vet Visits

Puppies receive booster doses for their primary immunizations at 6 or 12 months. After that, your hound will be relieved to learn that they will not be pushed or prodded quite as frequently! Depending on the duration of immunity, follow-up boosters of core vaccinations are delivered every three years. Some rabies immunizations provide immunity for one year. Other non-core vaccines may be provided again every year.

How To Find the Right Veterinarian

When picking a veterinarian for your family, employ the same care and criteria as you would when selecting a physician or dentist. Consider what is essential to you. Location, office hours, payment choices, and the scope of medical treatments offered are all crucial factors to consider. The warmth and devotion of doctors and staff is the most significant element for many pet owners. Your goal should be to choose a veterinarian you believe can best fulfill your pet’s medical needs and with whom you are comfortable developing a long-term doctor-client-patient relationship.

The veterinarian you choose will keep an ongoing record of your pet’s health, including preventive treatment (immunizations, heartworm test results, preventative drugs, deworming, and tracking your pet’s weight), illnesses, surgical operations, and medication reactions. They will also advise you on the best preventative care regimen for your pet’s health based on their particular needs and disease risks.

How to Find a Good Veterinarian?

Ask for a Recommendation

Friends who keep animals are typically good sources of information. Inquire as to why they choose their veterinarian. If you believe their service expectations are similar to yours, you should schedule a visit to the institution to examine it yourself.

Special Interest Organizations and Breed Clubs

Local breed clubs or rescues can provide valuable information if you own a purebred dog. They frequently have a strong relationship with a clinic that is particularly familiar with the potential health-related issues for the specific breed. Suppose you have a non-traditional (i.e., not a cat or a dog) pet. In that case, special interest groups in your area may be a valuable source of information about vets who are interested in and have experience with your pet.

The Internet and Directories

A phone book’s yellow pages or business pages can be used to find contact information for area vets. However, physical books may have fewer resources than online alternatives. Many state or municipal veterinary medical societies keep a directory of local practices.

Your Current Veterinarian

If you are moving to a different city or state, ask your present veterinarian if they can recommend practice in the new location. They frequently have colleagues in other places who implement policies and provide services comparable to their own. Your current veterinarian should also submit copies of your pet’s medical records to the new office to ensure the new staff can access your pet’s medical history.

What to Expect at Your Puppy’s First Vet Visit?

Your puppy’s first vet visit will include a complete physical assessment and core immunizations. The veterinarian will examine your dog’s weight, heartbeat, and temperature. They may also provide worm and flea treatment.

Deworming and Flea & Tick Preventive Measures

Roundworms develop in puppies from their mothers’ milk, whereas tapeworms develop from infected fleas. Deworming your puppy of those pesky parasites is a painless procedure. How often should your puppy be dewormed? That is dependent on the situation and the medication you are taking. Puppies are routinely dewormed every three weeks, followed by monthly heartworm prevention.

Annual fecal exams are advised to confirm that there are no resistant parasites. Deworming every three months is recommended for dogs not on heartworm preventive medication that also treats other parasites. Dogs who exhibit clinical indications such as diarrhea, vomiting, or loss of appetite may require deworming more frequently.

Major pet merchants sell a variety of flea preventatives and treatments, including collars, oral pills, and topical treatments. Remember to take care of both your home and your pet. All linens should be washed in hot water, vacuumed thoroughly, and an exterminator should treat the yard.

Spay or Neuter Options

Spaying or neutering your dog can aid in the fight against pet overpopulation. Spaying and neutering not only help avoid diseases like uterine cancer and prostatic cysts, but it also promotes excellent conduct! Spaying or neutering your dog reduces hostility toward other canines of the same gender. Learn more about the advantages of spaying or neutering your dog.

When should you have your dog spayed or neutered? Although a dog as young as eight weeks old can be spayed or neutered, most dogs are spayed or neutered between 6 and 9 months. Adult dogs and those overweight or with pre-existing diseases are more likely to develop complications.


Nobody wants to think about disasters like their dog running away or becoming lost, but it’s essential to be protected and ready for the worst-case scenario. The microchip insertion is painless and non-invasive. Register your contact information and the microchip ID number in a pet recovery database. Keep your contact details up to date at all times.

Grooming & Hygiene

Every breed has distinct grooming requirements, so do your homework and figure out how frequently your dog should be cleaned and brushed. Whether you do it yourself or take Sparky to the groomer, here’s everything you need to know about keeping Sparky looking sharp!


Keep a few towels on hand if you intend to scrub that coat squeaky clean in your tub. Fill the tub to the point where the water touches your puppy’s belly. If your pet is afraid of bathtime, a squeaky toy may help distract them. More strategies for keeping your dog quiet and collected can be found in our advice on how to bathe your dog in the tub.


Excited puppies may not respond to brushing in the way you expect. Introduce the brush and allow them to sniff it. Brushing should be done quietly and in small bursts. If you come upon a mat or tangle, treat it gently to avoid making a bad association.

Nail Clipping

Trimming your dog’s nails might be difficult, so start early to get them acclimated to it. Place the nail inside the clipper and apply light pressure to determine where the quick is. If your dog yelps, move the clipper closer to the tip of the nail and repeat until they do not react. Treats and games can help keep Tucker quiet while you learn how to cut your puppy’s nails. How frequently should you trim your puppy’s nails? Once a month, “Ruffly.” It’s time for a nail cut if their nails are clicking on the floor!

Dental Care

The sooner you introduce your dog to the toothbrush and paste, the easier it will be to keep their teeth dazzling white. Purchase a dog toothbrush and toothpaste (preferably one with a yummy flavor, like peanut butter or chicken). Put some toothpaste on your fingertip and give it to your dog. Allow them to examine the toothbrush. Lift their lips lightly and brush their teeth in circular strokes once they’re at ease. Reward them with dental treatment and lots of compliments!

Ear Cleaning

When do you begin cleaning your puppy’s ears? A piece of gauze and some warm water should work to clear out dirt and debris as soon as “possible!” Never use cotton swabs, rubbing alcohol, or human ear drops. Once a month, inspect and clean your dog’s ears. Drooping ears in dogs require more regular cleanings than prick ears in dogs.


The tricky part of pet parenting comes: from teaching your dog to behave! It will take a lot of time, patience, positive reinforcement, and delectable treats to introduce your new fur baby to the rules of the roost. Do you need assistance with training your obstinate dog? Wag’s dog trainers! have you covered!

Puppy Training Timeline

Continue reading to determine when to begin working on behavior and obedience training. Remember that training your puppy isn’t a straight line. To refresh your dog’s memory, you’ll need to continue reinforcing orders throughout their life!

TIP: Keep your sessions brief, no more than 5 minutes, to avoid overburdening your pet’s brain. Set a goal of 15 minutes of training per day. Treats will be helpful, but as your dog gets the hang of it, gently phase them out and replace them with praise.

7 – 8 weeks:

  • Potty training Creating a timetable for bathroom breaks will help you train your puppy to go potty. Puppies require more frequent elimination than older dogs, approximately every 2 hours. Mark the behavior with a verbal prompt or a clicker. Puppy mats and crate training will come in helpful.
  • Crate training. Training your dog to use a crate will make them feel safe and secure in your house (while protecting your furniture from your teething pup’s wrath). Make their room as comfortable and enticing as possible by including luxurious bedding and their favorite toys.
  • Socialization instruction. The socialization period lasts 8 to 15 weeks. It is critical to develop calm conduct in stressful situations and expose your puppy to various social situations to avoid unwanted tendencies such as hostility. Plan puppy playdates, go for walks in public parks, and visit as many dog-friendly establishments as possible.
  • Simple orders like sit, stay, down, and leave it. Focus on one command at a time, keep your sessions brief, and reward good behavior with positive reinforcement tactics such as food and praise. Our blog post on basic puppy training suggestions is jam-packed with helpful information.
  • Good grooming behavior includes not jumping and sitting motionless. Maintain a calm yet firm tone when training your dog to stay still as you brush its coat and teeth to establish yourself as a pack leader. To prevent reinforcing a negative association, be soft.

10 weeks:

  • Waiting: Teaching your dog to wait peacefully by the door instills patience (and prevents you from being run over by an enthusiastic puppy). This command builds on the commands “sit” and “down.”
  • Come when called. Perfect recall skills are vital for protecting yourself, your dog, and other animals while off-leash. Set a verbal signal, such as “coming,” instead of calling your dog’s name. Begin training in a distraction-free (ideally gated) location.
  • Stop barking and be quiet. Establishing yourself as the pack leader is essential for educating your dog to quit barking. Ignore any excessive barking and remove any stimulation. Close the curtain, for example, if they bark at passersby through the window.
  • On a leash, walk calmly. You should train your dog to wear a collar or harness as soon as you bring them home. First, deal with leash pulling. When your dog starts pulling, come to a complete stop until they settle down. Continue practicing until you reach the “heel” command.

12 weeks:

  • Long stay. Once your dog understands the fundamentals of “stay,” it’s time to improve things. Increase the distance and duration of the order gradually until your puppy can stay for a full minute without releasing. Continue working on it until your pup understands when to let go of your order.
  • Go to their bed. If you’re cleaning or throwing a party, you might want to tell your puppy to go to bed. This command is similar to the lengthy stay – the ultimate goal is for your dog to stay in bed until you indicate it’s acceptable to get up.

16 weeks:

  • A well-planned walk. Now that your dog knows how to walk gently on a leash, it’s time to introduce the structured stroll. The idea is for your dog to stay close to you and focused on you to reduce distractions. Teach the “watch me” command to ensure an excellent structured stroll.
  • Polite greetings. During socializing, you should educate your dog on appropriately meeting other humans and animals. You’ll want to keep your distance from other dogs on your walks until you’re convinced your dog won’t respond aggressively. Reduce the distance gradually and keep practicing.

Behavior Training

The first step in teaching your puppy to behave is to gain their trust. To accomplish this, you must respect their space, allow them to approach you, and keep a firm, calm manner to establish yourself as a pack leader. This will lay the groundwork for a love attachment and make your dog more inclined to accept your directions. Training your dog to use a crate will make them feel safe and secure in your house (while protecting your furniture from your teething pup’s wrath). Make their room as comfortable and enticing as possible by including luxurious bedding and their favorite toys.

Obedience Training

Begin training your dog’s obedience as soon as feasible. You should teach your puppy basic commands such as sit, stay, come, lie down, and leave. Focus on one command at a time, keep your sessions brief, and reward good behavior with positive reinforcement tactics such as food and praise.

Socialization Training

The socialization stage lasts 8 to 15 weeks and is critical for imparting excellent manners and a calm demeanor in stressful situations. When socializing your puppy with other dogs and people, expose them to various social circumstances to avoid unwanted habits such as hostility. Plan puppy playdates, go for walks in public parks, and visit as many dog-friendly establishments as possible. Maintain a calm but firm manner, stay aware and keep your pup under control.

Potty Training

First and foremost, adopting a routine for feeding and toilet breaks can help you train your puppy to go potty. Puppies require more frequent urination than older dogs, approximately every two hours. You could use a verbal signal or a clicker to mark the behavior. When they do the right thing, make sure you reward them with plenty of snacks and praise!

Food and Nutrition

Hounds are known for their voracious appetites. Many pet parents struggle to keep their pets from begging at the dinner table or perking up whenever they hear food packaging crinkle.

Distinct breeds have different dietary requirements. However, most puppies should be fed tiny amounts of puppy-specific kibble 3 to 4 times each day. Feed according to the package directions. Before transitioning your puppy to adult food, gradually introduce adult food. For additional information, see our wellness guide on feeding your puppy.


Delicious snacks are an essential element of your puppy’s training routine that also gives joy to their life. How many treats may you give your dog? Treats should not exceed 10% of your dog’s daily caloric requirement. Consult your veterinarian for the most accurate calculation. Consider using individual bits of kibble as a reward during training rather than calorie-rich snacks. Bones and chews, in particular, should be provided in moderation.


Even low-energy mutts require a daily walk around the block. Puppies are incredibly rambunctious, but they must not overwork their young bodies. Getting the correct amount of exercise can help prevent joint problems later in life. That is why it is crucial to investigate your dog’s breed and get guidance from your veterinarian when unsure about how much exercise your dog requires.

To determine the duration of daily exercise, calculate your puppy’s age in months by 5 minutes, then double it. For example, if your dog is three months old, it will require 15 minutes of exercise twice daily.


Daily walks not only keep your puppy fit, but the change of scenery also stimulates their thoughts and helps them to use their senses. Walking your puppy mindfully and making an effort to be there will assist in strengthening your bond. Most puppies will require 30 minutes of walking per day (ideally split into two walks). Avoid traveling long distances or along tricky paths.

Work overload, or caught in traffic and unable to get home to walk your puppy? There is an app for that: Wag! To be specific, a walking app! Schedule a walk with a pet sitter near you to ensure your puppy receives the exercise they require when life gets crazy.

Off-Leash Playtime

Most off-leash dog parks do not allow dogs under four months. You should check your dog’s manners, socialization, and recall skills before taking them to the dog park for the first time. Read the dog park guidelines and the local ordinances governing licenses, permits, and mandatory vaccinations. Always watch your pup while they play, and be ready to interfere if necessary.

Canine Sports

Do you want to try exhilarating canine sports like agility, rally, or dock diving? Keep the leash on! Dogs should not engage in such strenuous exercise until they are completely grown. Even yet, certain breeds are better adapted to such activities.


Your puppy may surprise you by being a sofa potato! Did you know that puppies can sleep up to 20 hours every day? Expect your pet to take regular naps ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours.

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