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How to Raise a Puppy: Guide for the First Year

Puppies are devilishly adorable. However, raising a puppy doesn't come without its challenges. Here, our Astoria vets share some advice on how to raise a puppy to help you get through the puppy stage and ensure your four-legged friend grows to be a happy, healthy, and well-adjusted dog. 

Getting Started: What to Consider When Getting a Puppy

Some people have compared life with a puppy to life with a human toddler. While raising both can be extremely rewarding, you'll also need a lot of patience to keep them out of mischief and help them discover their world in a secure, affirming, and positive way. 

Since they use their mouths to explore their new world and will soon be teething, puppies are compelled to chew excessively as their adult teeth erupt through the gumline. You may find the doggy equivalent of teething ring in your favorite sweater, your living room rug, or even on your hand.

Being a dog owner also means taking responsibility for another creature's health, safety, and happiness. It means being able to pay vet fees if your dog gets into something it shouldn't, and always planning for his or her care when you can't be around. It means possessing the emotional intelligence to remember that because your dog cannot use words, he won't understand your command to stop chewing on the furniture.

Preparing Your Home  

It's critical to prepare your home before welcoming your new dog. Move any potentially hazardous plants or chemicals out of reach of your dog's curious nose, and secure any electrical cords. Close any vents, doors, or other openings that may lead him into danger or leave him stranded. 

We also recommend being ready to start house training your new puppy as soon as he arrives home. If you intend to crate-train him, prep the crate beforehand by furnishing it with blankets or a dog bed to make it a comfortable space for your new pet. Confirm that it's large enough for him to stand up, turn around, and lie down. 

If you plan to crate-train your puppy, dedicate a tiny area such as a powder room or corner of the kitchen, where he can still be in the house but away from small children and other dogs. Invest in some puppy training pads to catch any accidents, along with water and food bowls, a dog bed, and a toy or two. 


It's imperative to ensure your puppy has the right diet and nutrition to keep them healthy and full of energy. High-quality puppy food has been specifically prepared to help puppies grow and develop as they should. Ask your veterinarian for guidance about how much and how often you should feed your dog, since the appropriate amount of food will be determined by your dog's breed, size, age, and more. 

To help some tiny breeds of dog get enough nourishment, it may be best to free feed. Because toy and tiny breed dogs mature faster physically than larger breeds, they can graduate to adult dog food and adult-sized portions between the ages of 9 and 12 months. 

Larger breeds should eat many properly portioned meals throughout the day to prevent issues such as protein and calcium buildup or stomach bloat. Here is a general guideline for a large dog feeding schedule: 

  • Six to twelve weeks old: Four meals a day 
  • Three to six months old: Three meals a day 
  • Six months and older: Two meals a day 


Dogs will naturally strive to avoid soiling their bed and the area around it. Keeping in mind that your small puppy will often need to go out every couple of hours, create a potty pattern for your young dog. Take him to an area of the yard where he won't be exposed to other animals until he's had all of his vaccines, and never punish your puppy for an accident. 

It's usually preferable to ignore undesirable behavior or to correct your dog with a simple but strong "no." Never smack or yell at your dog. When he exhibits bad behavior, attempt to redirect him to something positive. Consider enrolling him in an obedience lesson as soon as he is old enough. This will not only teach him proper behavior, but will also aid in socialization.

Proper socialization is critical to the success of rearing a puppy. He needs to be introduced to as many new people, places, experiences, and circumstances as possible to grow into a well-adjusted canine. While you should wait until he has had all of his vaccines before taking him out in public or allowing him to interact with other animals, you may begin socializing your puppy right away by simply playing with him and introducing him to new people, sights, noises, smells, and textures.

Working with your dog to reduce even minor resource-guarding habits protects everyone, including the puppy. Always supervise children while they are around your puppy's food or favorite toy.

One of the most crucial lessons is to teach pups not to bite. Establishing your position as pack leader will help your puppy remember that he must earn your respect and obey you, which will assist him in controlling this behavior. Keep in mind that your dog desires your approval but also requires your direction. If your puppy nips or bites, discipline with a calm but firm "no!"

Exercise & Play

Bored dogs are more likely to engage in aggressive or improper behavior, so provide him with puzzle toys and outdoor exercise (walking, playtime) to keep his mind stimulated. Your dog must understand his place in your home, but this can only be accomplished by consistency and a firm, caring touch.

Your First Vet Visit

If you don't already have a veterinarian, ask around. Your family, friends, and coworkers will almost certainly be able to supply you with numerous references. One of the first things you should do after getting a puppy is to make an appointment with a veterinarian for a health checkup. At Steinway Court Veterinarian, we're always ready to accept new patients.

Your veterinarian will most likely recommend a parasite control program to keep fleas, ticks, and heartworms at bay. They'' also advise you on when to bring him in to be fixed, which can help lessen the chance of health and behavioral issues as the puppy ages.

They can also advise you on puppy care issues such as tooth brushing and nail cutting, and even show you how to do it. Your veterinarian can also help you with any questions you have regarding care for your dog, such as what kind of food to feed them.

While you're there, you can also try to schedule his 6-month vet checkup to check on his growth and progress. They can also start to give you advice on how to prepare for the adolescent years, which can be difficult for pet owners. This is also a wonderful time to discuss what to expect as your puppy matures into adulthood.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you the proud owner of a new puppy? Contact our vets at Steinway Court Veterinarian today to book your four-legged friend's health checkup.

New Patients Welcome

At Steinway Court Veterinarian, we are always accepting new patients. Our vets are dedicated to keeping pets healthy and happy in our Astoria clinic. Contact us today to book your first appointment.

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