How to Care for a New Puppy in the Family
How to Care for a New Puppy in the Family
Bringing a new puppy into the home is an exciting adventure for everyone. The new little family member is dependent on its humans to teach it proper behavior, provide nutritious meals, engage in play and exercise, and take care of its health. Depending on the breed you choose, there may be special attention needed in specific areas of health. When there are children in the home, it's important to teach them what is acceptable interaction with their new puppy.
Puppies and Children
Children need to be taught that puppies are not toys for their entertainment. They can be easily frightened if children play rough with them. Puppies must be respected and not teased. It's too easy to turn a puppy into an aggressive dog. The following rules will help your child learn to love and enjoy the new puppy.
- 'No roughhousing' is an important rule. Puppies are easily excitable and may nip a child during rough play.
- Puppies need sleep. Teach your children not to wake their puppy.
- Children should not touch the puppy's food or disturb it while it is eating. If children grab at its food, even playfully, the puppy will become protective and may bite the child.
- Children must not be allowed to take the puppy into rooms that are off limits. They should not place the puppy on furniture where it is not allowed to be. Doing these things counters any training you are doing.
- Puppies should only be given treats with your permission.
- Never feed the puppy food scraps from your plate while dining. The pup should not be allowed near the table while the family is eating, because it encourages food-begging. Many foods humans eat are poisonous to dogs and children should be made aware of this.
- A child must never hit or kick the puppy as it will cause the dog to become aggressive. Yelling at a puppy may scare it and cause trust issues.
- Don't leave toys on the floor or within the puppy's reach. All dogs are natural chewers and must be trained to prevent it.
- Don't allow children to pick the puppy up unless properly taught.. Being lifted off the ground creates a feeling of insecurity and puppies will wiggle and squirm trying to get down where they feel safe. Too often a child may hold the puppy in an uncomfortable or unsecured way and the puppy can fall. This can cause a physical injury as well as cause the puppy not to trust the child.
Eight weeks old is the average time for a puppy to be weaned off its mother's milk. Puppy food is designed for the still developing and growing young dog. Good nutrition helps the puppy to develop a strong immune system, lessen the risk of developmental orthopedic disease, and maintain a healthy weight. Avoid overfeeding and poor quality foods that may seem to make your dog grow faster but will contribute to health issues later on, including obesity, arthritis, and a shortened life span.
Your puppy should be consuming a diet that encourages optimal growth and health. Make sure the food you select is based on nutritional formulations for puppies. Your veterinarian can recommend food brands that adequately supply the right amounts of protein, fat, calcium, and digestible carbohydrates. Treats are just what their name indicates, and should be less than ten percent of the puppy's daily amount of food. Treats can be broken into two or more pieces--the puppy doesn't care about the size when being rewarded for good behavior.
Encourage your older children to help with the puppy's care and training. Your children can have play and exercise time with the puppy, pick up scattered pet toys and return them to a basket or crate, and brush the dog's coat. Children who are old enough can help at feeding time and with crating at bed time. Children shouldn't be expected to handle all the care, but explain that when they contribute the puppy will see their attention as love.
Your puppy will grow up quickly and will soon be entrenched as a family member, with all the privileges it includes. Family trips to the park or lake with your dog will create special memories to last a lifetime. Your excellent care when your dog was a puppy will encourage good health for years to come.