Puppy Care Tips & Your Questions Answered

The day has finally come, your new puppy is home! Now the real fun and work begins.

Puppies receive their first DHPP vaccination from our vet at 7 weeks old, and you’ll need to schedule the next vet appointment at 9-10 weeks old. Your vet will give the recommended vaccines for your area at 2-3 week intervals. Before your puppy is fully vaccinated you can socialize them with other vaccinated dogs and attend puppy classes, but try to avoid high traffic places like dog parks.

Your puppy will need protection from three things: Fleas, Heartworms, and Intestinal Worms. Your vet carries once-a-month pills that can keep your puppy free of these pests and they can recommend a good option for you. Brands I've used personally are Bravecto for fleas, Heartguard for Heartworms & Intestinal Worms, Advantage Multi for fleas and worms. Liquid flea controls such as Revolution and Frontline are not as effective in my experience. Avoid ALL Cheap flea collars and drops as they can be dangerous and pets have gone to the vet due to severe skin and neurological reactions to them. It’s not worth the risk!

Puppies are on a schedule for deworming that is administered at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks old for hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms. Specifically we use Strongid at 2 & 4 weeks for 3 days each time, and Safeguard for 3 days at 6 weeeks old, and Wormout pills at 8 weeks old. When you take them to the vet for the first time your vet will recommend a deworming schedule for your area. Many of the once-a-month pills include treating for intestinal worms, in which case you will not have to do anything extra.

Your puppy comes to you not spayed or neutered, as health problems can develop due to pediactric neutering and spaying. We recommend spaying or neutering your puppy at around 6 Months Old. Your pet could live a longer and healthier life because of it. Male dogs begin marking if not neutered and could wander off to look for a female. Female dogs could escape while in heat and be bred by a larger dog, prossibly having complications with the puppies. The Spay or Neuter surgery is very quick and recovery takes just a few days. I’m amazed every time I see a puppy neutered that morning running all over the place. Females are Spayed and males are Neutered, both can be done around 5-6 months old to avoid females coming into heat and males lifting their legs to mark. If they are not fixed then females will come into heat every 6 months, during which time they will bleed and males will be attracted to them, with the female even running away to find one or a male digging under your backyard fence to get to them. Spaying lowers the chances of certain cancers in females, and neutering eliminates prostate cancer in males.

When your puppy first comes to your home it can be a scary time for him, as he’s just left his siblings, mother, and familiar surroundings. As a result of this he can suddenly become a quiet puppy who sleeps a lot. This changes pretty quickly though and within a week you could have a little whirlwind on your hands. While being sleepy and quiet can be normal during the first few days you bring your puppy home you want to watch for signs that something is actually wrong and they need a vet visit. These are: Extreme lethargy, loss of appetite, disinterest in his surroundings, dull eyes, vomiting, and an inability to keep food down.

Hypoglycemia, a situation where a small puppy’s blood sugar levels fall below a safe level, needs to be countered quickly by giving Nutrical, Karo syrup, or Honey as soon as you notice any of these symptoms: drowsiness, collapsing, disorientation, pale gums, muscle weakness and tremors.

Once the puppies get their teeth in they start chewing on dry kibble. Puppies nurse in addition to eating kibble but by 8 weeks the puppies are weaned and solely eating dry food.

Puppies are used to eating in a group of pushy siblings, thinking of eating when they hear someone else chewing kibbles, and having a routine that involves downtime where they don’t have distractions. When you take them home these things are all very different and puppies can take a little while to get used to their new routine. Some puppies eat with great gusto right away, others like to have you around or you may have to give them the first few kibbles to get them started.

To feed them in the morning take the puppy outside to go potty, then bring him back in and play with him a little, since he’ll be very happy to see you. Once he has relaxed again offer him the food bowl or place him in a pen with the food in it. Not interested? Just wanting to play with you instead? Puppy may need a little more playtime then, and maybe another potty break. Then try again, and even hand him a kibble or two. You can also use hollow kibble holding dispenser toys that slowly give out kibbles one by one. This entertains your puppy for a lot longer than eating it all at once from a bowl. You can also try putting their food into a puzzle or even just using their whole meal as treats or a reward for when they come to your call.

You’re going to be surprised at how little a puppy eats each meal, but remember, their stomachs are quite tiny at this age. As long as they’re eating until they walk away (not running out of food or getting distracted by someone new coming in the room) and they’re playful then you should be good to go.

Switching foods should be done slowly and it would be best to wait several weeks after you take your puppy home before you do. Why? Because sudden diet changes can be hard on a puppies stomach and cause diarrhea. Especially when they’ve been eating the same thing their entire lives. Keep an eye on how many treats you give your puppy, as a small puppy can quickly eat an entire meal of just treats, and can get diarrhea from it.

Cockapoos need to be groomed every 1-2 months. We start your puppy off with a sanitary cut before they leave that includes trimming in front of the eyes, feet, tummies, rear, and a nail trim.

Once fully vaccinated your puppy may be ready for its first trip to the groomers. Your options include taking them to a grooming shop, having a mobile groomer come to you, or learning to groom yourself. To help get that perfect trim you could bring pictures with you to the groomer to help give them an idea of what you’d like, but be aware that fur types and body shapes vary a lot between dogs even in the same breed, so your puppy won’t look exactly like the picture. Just to give you an idea of how long fur can be left, groomers do have Comb Blades that can leave fur 1/2" or 1", so you can come out of the groomers with an adorable fluffy cockapoo. Just bring them to groomers mat/tangle free and be specific on how much hair you want off. Tell them if you would like half off, a quarter off, etc instead of just saying "trimmed but not short", which can be up to interpretation. If the groomer does have to shave them due to matting ask for specifics on where the matting was, and tips on how to prevent it for the next time. If they are not busy a groomer may take the time to show you proper combing techniques. If you love the job the groomer did be sure to tip, and get their name so you can request them the next time.

While your puppy doesn’t really need brushing at this age, it’s a great idea to introduce them to being brushed as soon as they’re settled in. For just a few minutes set them on a table, brush them all over, and to help out your vet, exam their ears, eyes, and toes. If they are mouthy try to be firm about it not being a playtime, and give them treats when they stand still for you.

Long fur can develop mats when your puppy’s adult coat grows in. A mat is a knot in the fur that can develop into large tangles that are painful to brush out. To prevent these mats you need to comb through your puppies coat with a toothed comb. Don’t just use a slicker or soft bristle brush as these can go right over the mat. To remove mats carefully try to untangle them from the bottom with your fingers or the tip of the comb, you can carefully cut them out if they are too painful to remove. If heavily matted your puppy should be shaved rather than subjecting it to painful dematting.

Visit our page on Puppies First Day Home for more information. Your new puppy will bond with you very quickly, probably on the ride home! In the absence of your puppy’s siblings your family becomes everything to them, and they’ll want to be with you every chance they get. If they cry when they’re apart from you, it’s not because they have a desire to be bad, but because they want to be with you.

Help your puppy to succeed by creating an environment he can’t get in trouble in. Puppies are supposed to be curious explorers who play with and chew on every interesting thing they find, so this can be hard! You can start by confining your puppy with playpens when you’re not actively watching or playing with them. Fill the pen with interesting things he can play with, investigate, and chew on. I find having a playpen in both the living room and kitchen works wonderfully, in your case if you spend a lot of time in a study put one in there next to your chair.

Try to set your puppy up for success! Imagine you have a son who is potty training age. Would you yell at them every time they have an accident and then lock them in the bathroom for 15 minutes? Then when they come out they have another accident and you yell at him again since he should know not to do that! Later on you have to go to work, so you feed your son and then put him in his room and say see you later. When you get back that evening it looks like a tornado hit! He’s hungry, crying, and has made messes while you were gone, so you yell again. He looks scared so he must know what he did was wrong.

Does this sound insane? Yet many puppy owners act this same way towards their new puppies.

Housetraining is really about supervision more than anything else. An unsupervised puppy that’s allowed free run of the house may never be housetrained, so putting the effort in early pays off! The more space a puppy has the more likely he is to run to some far off room and go potty there since it’s not his main living area. If you already set up your puppy’s playpen and sleeping crate then you’re already halfway there. Praise him like crazy when he does his business outside, bring him inside for some supervised playtime or cuddles, and then when you can no longer watch him like a hawk put him in his pen. Plan on taking him out every 30 minutes to an hour at first, and as he gets older you’ll be able to go longer in between potty breaks. If you have a fenced in yard don’t just put your puppy outside to go potty though, he’d probably just sniff around and then come whine at the door to get back with you. Instead take him out and walk around with him until you see him go potty. Then praise him and go back inside.

A puppy will often wake up, be taken outside, go pee, and then come back inside happily to play with you. A few minutes in he suddenly realizes he needs to go poop, but he’s inside now! Since he doesn’t know how to signal he needs to go outside he’ll suddenly be circling looking for a good place to poop. You may need to walk around for a few minutes more to avoid this, or just bring him back inside and know that in the next few minutes watch for him to start sniffing and then take him out again. If you have to leave your puppy for longer than a couple hours then you can put down puppy pads in his playpen (A puppy pad holder helps if they use them as toys instead). Then when you come home take it up and return to your normal routine of taking him outside.

Puppies like to nap a lot, and for housetraining it’s very important to notice when they do go to sleep as you can almost guarantee they’ll need to go potty when they wake up. So if you see them nodding off put them in their pen or crate for a nap. Then when they wake up carry them right outside to go potty first thing. Or just cuddle them on the couch the whole time they’re sleeping and twitching their feet.

Your puppy will really miss his siblings the first few nights you have him home. This is normally shown by increased whining and crying, especially at night when they have to sleep alone. This can be minimized somewhat by having your puppies crate located on the floor right by your bed, but many families start their puppy in a crate in the living room or laundry room. If your puppy isn’t allowed in the bedroom then it may be good to start them out in another room, if you plan on letting them sleep in the bed eventually then having the crate in the bedroom would be fine. If they’re in the bedroom then if they do cry a reassuring hand and murmur is close by to let him know he isn’t alone. If he does wake up and won’t stop crying, take him outside to go potty. Then you can either put him straight back in the crate or spend some time calmly petting him first. You can put a chew toy in his crate too, to give them something to do. Always play with your puppy until he is tired before putting him to bed, that way he’ll be more likely to go straight to sleep. If your puppy is in another room then to help them not wake up turn the lights off in the room, close the doors so the puppy doesn’t hear you or see other pets, and try not to walk back through the room. A fan for white noise might be a good idea next to the puppies crate and in your bedroom if you can hear the puppy crying at first.

Socialization is a very important aspect of your puppies first few weeks with you. Why? Because it’s the only time in your puppies life when you have the ability to really change what they believe is normal and safe. If your puppy never goes anywhere or meets anybody from his 8th-16th week he could be less comfortable going new places or meeting new people. Nobody wants this for their puppy, so it’s your job to make socialization a priority.

Because they won’t be fully immunized for several more weeks it’s best not to take them to dog parks, beaches, or around possibly unvaccinated dogs. That still leaves plenty of other places though, such as city sidewalks and outdoor restaurants, Home Depot & Lowes, a friend’s house, and obedience classes with only vaccinated puppies and dogs. Puppy obedience classes are a must for any puppy, as not only do they get socialization but they learn new things too.

If possible try to aim for your puppy meeting at least 1-2 new people every day. Make sure they meet a large variety of people, since puppies can be very sensitive about differences that we might not notice. While women may be deemed wonderful to get pets from, a man with a large hat can be a dangerous threat to run from. A puppy used to calm adults could see children as fast noisy things to be afraid of. If you can’t make it out with your puppy then bring people to him. This includes neighbors, mailmen, friends, co-workers, anyone you can get to come over and pet your puppy.

We have a socialization schedule based on the Vaccinations they've had Available Here, as well as a Socialization Checklist.

Training Manners:
Most people just want a dog that is well mannered in the house, plays well with others, and doesn’t have accidents. This goal is very achievable even without a degree in dog training! You can start out by including simple manners training into your day to day life with your puppy. Opportunities for training come up all the time, you just have to look for them.

Don't let your learning stop here! There are many amazing training books out there. Here are just a few:
Parenting Your Dog
How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves
Training & Socializing Puppies to Become the Best Possible Dogs

Do you like podcasts? If so try Canine Conversations
These authors and podcasts try to not only tell you how to train your puppy but also change how you think about the puppy’s behaviors and how you can communicate what you want in a way they understand

The bad news is this: Puppies bite. I know, I'm sorry to have to say it. But they do. They're exploring and interacting with their environment with their mouths because they don't have hands like we do. The first month or two will be hard but if you can make it you’ll be home free. Several recommended tactics to counter biting are:

Try to always have a toy at hand when playing with a puppy. Toys, sticks if outside, anything as an alternative to your hands.
When they bite you try squealing like another puppy and stop playing with him. Hang your hand limp and stop whatever playtime was occuring.
Freeze, give him a hard look and say no, then redirect their biting to a toy.
If he continues to bite and he’s just too worked up put him in his pen for a few minutes, or see if it's his normal naptime.
Granny Smith Bitter Apple spray can be sprayed on hands as the bitter taste will make puppies not want to mouth or bite what has been sprayed.
Sometimes one of the best ways to prevent biting is taking away the ability to be bitten. Wearing boots while the puppy has its active playtime can really save your ankles!

Are you afraid you brought home a shark when you try to give your puppy a treat? To teach them to take it gently try putting a smelly treat in your hand, make a fist, and offer it to your puppy. Your puppy will try to take it by pawing, mouthing, and whining. Don’t move your hand or pull it away even if it’s taking a few minutes. Eventually your puppy will back off from your hand, as soon as he does open your hand and give it to him. Repeat this a few times until he’s backing up from your hand automatically. At that point you can start not making a whole fist, just holding the treat unless he lunges for it, in which case you make a fist again. You can also refuse to give him a treat while he is jumping up. If you are consistent then they can quickly learn that jumping up means he does not get the treat.

Upon getting home your puppy is so excited! He just wants you to pick him up and hold him! So he jumps, and you pick him up. But, your puppy just learned that jumping is the way to get attention. While it’s adorable in a puppy, as an adult this can be bad. Our cockapoos can jump over 2 feet in the air easily, by the way. In order to not reinforce jumping try to ignore your puppy when he’s jumping up on you. Wait it out, and when he stops jumping squat down on his level and give him attention or pick him up. If he’s not growing out of it you can try training him to sit to get pets.

Does your puppy always seem to be getting into something he shouldn’t? Like a toddler that has a lot of pent up energy your puppy may just be in need of a chance to run around and use his muscles. Spend some time playing active games with him, fetch, hide and seek, tug-a-war, until he’s ready to relax. As he gets older an he’s an adolescent you should give them substantial exercise at least twice a day, playing ball, or going for athletic walks or hikes, not just quick 5 minute strolls. Our cockapoos enjoy 30+ minutes of running through the fields twice a day, and after getting back home they’d still jump at the chance to go again! Check out Flyball or Agility if you have an active puppy and you’re interested in dog sports.

Do you call your puppy’s name and get no response? Maybe it's because he doesn't really know the come command. In that case you can quickly train them to respond by saying their name, making noises to attract their attention, and as soon as they look your way or come give them a treat. You can also use their own food for this too. Other times call them and then give them a toy, pet them, or take them outside. Try to avoid every calling your puppy when it’s for something negative, just go get them and carry them in that case.

Rushing out doors is a dangerous habit for a puppy, as front doors open onto the street and car doors open into parking lots. To train your puppy to wait for you take them to a door and start to open it slowly. When he tries to get out correct him and close the door. Repeat. Eventually your puppy will pause, unsure what will happen next. You can ask for a sit here too if you’d like. Finally, open the door and turn around, facing the puppy. Back up and call him to you. With a few repetitions he should figure out what you expect of him in no time.


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