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Your Puppy's First Year: What You Need to Know

Puppies are cute and cuddly, but caring for a puppy certainly comes with challenges. Our Bellevue vets offer some tips on raising a puppy to get you through the first year and build a solid foundation to help your new four-legged baby grow into a healthy, happy well-adjusted dog. 

Getting Started: What to Consider When Getting a Puppy

Similar to caring for a human toddler, you'll need lots of patience to guide your puppy, ensure he stays out of mischief and teach him about the world in a secure, safe fashion. Puppies are compelled to explore their world with their mouths and will likely chew excessively as their adult teeth emerge. You may find a doggy equivalent of a teething ring in your living room chair, your favorite pair of shoes or even your hand. 

Having a dog also means taking responsibility for another being'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 aren't able to be there. It means being emotionally astute enough to understand that dogs don't speak English, so correcting behavior isn't as easy as saying, "Stop stealing my food!"

Preparing Your Home

Preparing your home before introducing a new dog is critical to their health and safety - and to preserving your sanity. Secure electrical cords and move potentially hazardous chemicals or plants out of your furry friend's reach. Close any pet doors, vents or other openings that may lead him astray or lead to injury or your puppy becoming stranded. 

Prepare to start house training your puppy as soon as you get him home, along with the crate if you intend to crate train him. Use a dog bed or blankets to line it and make it more comfortable. Ensure he'll have enough room to stand up, turn around and lie down. 

If you do plan to take the crate training route, dedicate a tiny area such as a kitchen corner or powder room where he can be confined and kept away from small children and other dogs. Stock up on puppy training pads to catch any accidents, as well as a dog bed, water and food bowls, and a toy or two. 


When your puppy is growing, look for high-quality puppy food to feed them. The appropriate amount of food is determined by your pup's breed, age and size. It's a good idea to discuss with your veterinarian in Bellevue, WA how much and how often you should feed your dog. 

When it comes to tiny breeds of dogs, it may be best to free feed to guarantee enough nourishment. Since toy and tiny breed dogs mature physically faster than large breeds, they can progress to adult dog food and adult-sized portions between the ages of nine and twelve months. 

Larger breeds should be fed many meals each day in appropriate portions to avoid issues like stomach bloat and protein or calcium buildup. Here's a general guideline for a large dog feeding schedule:

  • Six to twelve weeks old: Four meals per day
  • Three to six months old: Three meals per day
  • Six months and up: Two meals per day


Dogs strive to avoid soiling their bed and the area around it naturally. Create a potty pattern for your puppy, bearing in mind that small puppies will often need to go out every couple of hours. Take him to a portion of the yard where he won't be exposed to other animals until he's had all of his vaccines at our Bellevue veterinary clinic, and never punish your puppy for a mistake.

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 our Bellevue animal hospital. At Aerowood Animal Hospital, 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.

Do you have a new puppy and need to schedule its first veterinary appointment? Contact our vets at Aerowood Animal Hospital in Bellevue today!

New Patients Welcome

At Aerowood Animal Hospital, we are always accepting new patients. Our experienced veterinary team is passionate about the health of companion animals in the Bellevue area and can't wait to welcome you and your pet to our veterinary family.

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Contact (425) 746-6557