January is always an exciting time at River Road Veterinary Clinic, often because we get the opportunity to meet new puppies (and kittens) who have come home over the holidays. Getting a new puppy can be an overwhelming experience, especially if a long time has passed since you last had a puppy in the house. To help you overcome these hurdles, we’ve compiled a list of our most frequently asked puppy questions:
- How Should I Introduce My New Puppy to Our Home?
Introducing a new puppy to your household should be done carefully and under close supervision. Young children should be seated on the floor and the young pup placed on the floor beside them. The environment should be as calm and quiet as possible and your new puppy should be allowed to approach the children at his/her own speed. Treats can often help to speed up the interaction if your puppy is nervous or unsure. Introducing your puppy to the other animals in the home should be done in a similar manner. The environment should be calm and quiet, and the puppy should be placed on the floor with your other pet. If you have more than one animal already at home, separate introductions can be much less intimidating and less likely to result in aggression. As difficult as it may be, try not to be overly protective of your new puppy, as this can facilitate a negative introduction experience. As long as your puppy is not in danger of being hurt it is best to watch from the perimeter as your pets interact.
- Should I Crate Train My New Puppy?
Although many puppy owners feel guilty for putting their new companion in a crate it is important to remember that crate training has some important benefits. As long as your puppy is provided with an adequate amount of exercise and socialization, crate training is a great tool. It provides a safe environment for your new puppy, makes house training easier, keeps your home and belongings from being chewed, provides your pet with a safe place to escape to, and makes boarding in a kennel or staying in a veterinary hospital much easier on your pet should those situations ever arise.
- How Can I Stop My New Puppy from Biting?
It is important to remember that all puppies bite and chew. It is a normal part of development, and does not necessarily indicate aggressive tendencies.* Your job as the owner of a new puppy is to provide him/her with the correct outlet for play biting and teething/chewing. If your new puppy nips or bites you, try correcting him/her with a firm “No” and redirecting the behavior to an appropriate chew toy. If this is not effective, a loud screech or shaking a can of pennies can often startle the puppy into stopping the undesired behavior. Always provide a suitable outlet for play biting by then providing them with a toy. Remember that consistency is vital and many puppies require months of consistent training and correction before they learn what is appropriate.
- How Often Will My New Puppy Need to Come to the Vet?
Most new puppies will need to be seen every 2-4 weeks from the time they are 8 weeks old to the time they are about 16 weeks old. This depends upon the vaccinations that you and your veterinarian decide are appropriate for your dog and what treatments and vaccines he/she may have had prior to their first visit with the veterinarian. Most vet clinics will require that your puppy have an examination each time they are seen, due to the rapid rate of growth your new companion will experience over their first 6 months of life.
*If your puppy lunges or bites out of fear or while protecting or “guarding” a favorite toy or food bowl, this can be a more serious problem that should be addressed as soon as possible by an experienced behaviorist. If you have any questions about whether or not your puppy’s level of biting is appropriate, please consult a trainer or veterinarian.