Adorable Orphaned Puppy Adopted By A Cat

The first few months of a puppy’s life are critical in establishing what kind of dog he or she grows in to. During this short time, the puppy’s attitudes, temperament and personality are set and are fiendishly difficult to change later on in life, hence the old adage, ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’.

Some of the important things that happen during puppyhood:

  • Puppy learns how to behave around other dogs – if this key step, called socialisation, doesn’t happen, puppies can grow up to be fearful or aggressive dogs, so it’s important to encourage lots of positive interactions.
  • Puppy builds positive reactions to humans – another part of the socialisation process, a puppy needs to learn how to be safe and friendly around humans. This is achieved through providing lots of opportunities to interact.
  • Puppy learns key training commands – in order to keep a dog, and other people and animals safe, it is imperative that puppies learn basic obedience commands. This helps them respond appropriately to different situations when they are older.
  • Puppy gets used to life and all its noise – a puppy kept in a silent room will not grow into a confident dog. A puppy needs to hear vacuum cleaners, music, shouting and traffic and experience new situations he will need to deal with as an adult, so that he is able to respond without fear to new encounters.
  • Puppy gets his adult teeth – like a toddler gaining their baby teeth, it can be pretty painful for a puppy aged around three to six months old getting their adult teeth. This is when the dreaded chewing phase can rear its head. To minimise chewing, freeze chew toys or ice cubes to ease the aching.


How Long Does Puppyhood Last?

With over 340 different dog breeds, it is difficult to pinpoint how long puppyhood lasts. In general, small breeds develop more swiftly than large breeds, with puppyhood ending around the six month mark, at which point the puppy enters adolescence (or the terrible teens!).

Important Points to Note

Before you bring your furry friend home, make sure you puppy-proof it to protect you, your new buddy and all your belongings.

Ensure that any puppy you bring home has not been separated from his mother and littermates before eight weeks of age. Any sooner and you may end up with an under-socialised puppy with bad manners that doesn’t get along with other dogs.

Look after your dog’s basic needs to keep him/her healthy and safe. Get all the required vaccinations, microchip your puppy and if required, spay or neuter. First vaccinations are due around the 8 week mark and can protect your dog from serious, sometimes fatal diseases.

Make sure you feed your puppy the correct food for his age, weight and health requirements. Consider all the options, including raw food diets, wet or dry food or cooking from scratch to ensure your dog is getting the nutrition he needs.

Keep your puppy indoors until the vet tells you it is safe to let them outside. They are at risk from different diseases from other dogs and the environment. Once your dog has had his first set of vaccinations, it should be safe for them to attend puppy classes and go outside, but keep a close eye on them. Before this time, carry your puppy outside, or place him on a blanket so he can experience the sights and sounds of outdoors.

Don’t isolate your puppy when he comes home. Dogs are social animals and need to interact with people and other animals to make sure the socialisation process is followed. There is no such thing as a “good outdoor dog”.

To ensure that your puppy grows into a confident, friendly and safe dog, it’s important that he gets to experience as much as possible of the world during his puppyhood. This includes:

  • All kinds of people
  • Other dogs and household pets
  • Grooming and handling by both you and other people
  • Household and neighbourhood sights and sounds – lawnmowers, traffic, people coming to the door etc.
  • People being around and touching his possessions and food

Experiences should be introduced gradually and within a safe and controlled environment to avoid fear imprints, particularly around the eight to 11 week old stage. This is where a puppy becomes startled or scared by an experience which then turns into a lifelong phobia.

Discipline your puppy in a positive way. Shouting or hitting your puppy won’t teach correct behaviour, it will just teach them to be afraid of you. Puppies go through a learning process so patience really is a virtue when raising your furry friend. Be consistent and firm, but fair.

Start training your puppy the day he arrives home. Puppies can be very smart and are eager to please so take advantage of this. Puppy classes are a great way of socialising your pup and most allow enrolment between 8 and sixteen weeks of age.

Housetraining is crucial for puppies, if only to save your carpets and furniture from annihilation. Teach your puppy where to eliminate and what things he is allowed to chew on. Entice your dog with chew toys and kibble so they don’t gnaw on your table legs.

Puppies look fairly robust when they are zooming around but their bodies are still developing. Avoid walking them on concrete and hard surfaces until their bones have had time to form and strengthen and wait until approximately 18 months old before taking him out for a jog.

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