Fact checked by Dr. Antoinette Martin, DVM
The first month with a new puppy can be an incredibly challenging period of time. While it can be somewhat stressful, it should also be an exciting and fun time for you and your family!
The key to taking any new pet home is to be as prepared as possible ahead of time. Our Hello Ralphie online veterinarians have put together a summary of everything you should expect during the first 30 days with a new puppy. Stop stressing and focus on making your home as welcoming as possible for your new furry friend!
1. The First Veterinary Health Checks
The first 30 days after you have taken your puppy home are extremely important. For starters, you must make sure your new dog has its first vet visit for a professional health check.
Our Hello Ralphie online veterinarians can provide an online vet consultation. During these virtual vet appointments, you will be provided with medical advice and an appropriate vaccine schedule. It is also an opportunity for you to ask any questions about how you should properly take care of your new pup.
One of our online veterinarians will be happy to explain a proper puppy vaccine schedule so you can make sure that your new puppy is scheduled for an in-person vaccine appointment at the right time. Staying up to date with vaccines is critical during the puppy years, as young dogs are vulnerable to a wide variety of illnesses and infections. Their immune systems are less developed, which means they need vaccines at the right time to stay healthy and safe.
Not only are these early vet visits important for vaccinations, deworming medications, and parasites prevention, an early and thorough overall health check helps set your little pup up for a healthy life.
Some puppies can be born with heart conditions, hip-related issues, and other health conditions that your veterinarian will look for. It is helpful to know if your new puppy has any condition that is abnormal so you can seek treatment for it before the issue becomes more severe.
Puppy Insurance for a New Puppy
It is also recommended that you consider signing up for puppy insurance during this early period of puppy ownership. Most dog insurance companies will offer free 30-day trials for young puppies, which gives you the chance to see if it is right for you. These insurance plans vary in what they cover, but most will cover some portion of medical bills relating to unexpected illness or accidents. New puppies are extremely curious and very prone to accidents, so pet insurance might be something you should consider trying out in your first month as a puppy owner.
2. Accidents and House Training
The first month at home with your new puppy will involve plenty of potty training. This will include multiple trips outside to teach your puppy where to do his or her business.
Depending on your housing situation, you may also be inclined to use potty pads in your training scheme. Typically, a new puppy should be prompted to go to the designated “washroom spot” every 30 to 60 minutes. When your puppy pees or poops on the grass outside, this should be rewarded with praise and a small treat.
Using positive reinforcement during house training will teach the young puppy where he or she is supposed to go. You can expect that your puppy will have accidents in the house within the first few weeks of coming home. While frustrating, this is completely normal, and you should remain calm and patient.
When these situations happen, try to catch your puppy in the act. Quickly redirect your puppy to where he or she is supposed to go (either outside in the backyard, or on a puppy pad). When the puppy has successfully peed or pooped in the designated zone, make sure to reward the dog.
3. Coming Up with Feeding Schedules and Choosing a Puppy Food
While all puppies are different, you can usually expect your puppy to have a less than ravenous appetite when it is first brought home.
It will probably feel a little bit timid when coming into a new home and may not want to eat right away. Our Hello Ralphie online veterinarians recommend feeding your puppy two or three times per day, and portions should be in line with the puppy’s specific size and weight.
In general, your puppy should be fed a good quality kibble or canned food that is specifically formulated for a puppy. These foods have a unique nutrient composition geared toward growing dogs that help them develop in a healthy way. While your puppy’s digestive tract is growing and developing, you should remember that its metabolism will be very fast.
This means that a lot of the food that your new puppy will eat will quickly travel through the intestinal tract. For this reason, you can expect your new puppy to produce softer stools on a fairly regular basis. A Hello Ralphie online vet can guide you through some nutritional information for puppies and recommend appropriate types of food for your puppy’s specific breed and age. While there is a lot to know, a virtual vet appointment is one of the easiest ways to learn everything you need to know about feeding a growing puppy. By assessing your specific puppy’s individual needs, a virtual vet will be able to calculate how many calories he or she should consume in a day to promote healthy growth. They can also assess the food you are feeding your dog and tell you if it is the right type and whether or not that food is made by a reputable brand.
4. Socializing the New Puppy
It is also important to make sure your puppy is getting properly socialized within its first 30 days in your home.
For many new puppy owners, this is a time when they begin thinking about enrolling the young dog in puppy classes. Not only are puppy classes good for basic training and learning healthy behaviors, but they are also a great way for your puppy to get used to other dogs and people.
Of course, it is important to keep in mind that your puppy will not be fully vaccinated until it is a little bit older. For this reason, it is important that you prevent your puppy from interacting with other dogs that are not up to date on their vaccines.
It is also recommended that you refrain from taking your puppy to areas where wild animals – such as raccoons, rats, squirrels, and foxes – tend to roam. They can all carry harmful bacteria and viruses that could make your puppy very sick. These viruses and bacteria are typically spread through the excrement and urine of wild animals, which is concerning for curious puppies that tend to eat and lick everything they find.
These are also areas where your puppy is very prone to picking up parasitic infections from dirty water, bug bites, and more. For more advice about socialization guidelines and safe ways to introduce your puppy to new people and dogs, schedule a Hello Ralphie virtual vet consultation today.
5. Crate Training Your New Pup
Our Hello Ralphie online veterinarians can also discuss tips and tricks on how to properly crate train your new puppy! Crate training is one of the most important stages of training a young dog.
The sooner your new puppy is introduced to its crate, the easier training them will be. The crate should be used as a safe zone, similar to a toddler’s bedroom. When done correctly, the puppy will grow to see its crate as a safe and comfortable place where it can sleep and nap, or even just spend time when it feels like being alone.
During times when your puppy is overstimulated, or just needs to be kept away from guests, a crate is a good place for it to go.
6. Introducing Leash Walking
The sooner you can teach your new puppy to walk properly on a leash, the easier your daily routine will be! The first 30 days with your new puppy are a crucial time for habituating them to leash training and proper walking manners.
Take your puppy for short walks. Remember not to go overly far, as it will not be fully vaccinated yet. One of our Hello Ralphie virtual vets will be able to provide behavior and training consultation and explain how to teach your dog to walk on a leash.
They can also provide tips and tricks you can use for training your new dog to be polite and calm while walking. Teaching the puppy how to go on walks properly at a young again will prevent pulling during walks when the dog is much stronger and larger.
7. Occasional Nipping
Your new puppy will also come with a full set of very sharp baby teeth! It is to be expected that the first 30 days with your brand-new puppy could involve plenty of nips and bite. This is normal behavior for a young puppy and is typically the result of the teething process.
It is very important to make sure that you have ample chew toys around the house and many other things to keep your dog stimulated, both mentally and physically. When your puppy starts to nip, or play-bite, discourage this behavior by redirecting it toward a chew toy. Some breeds are more likely to be nippy, especially herding dogs like Australian shepherds and collies. Make sure to do plenty of research prior to choosing your new puppy so that you are prepared and know what to expect in terms of their behavior.
8. Providing Treats
While you are training your new puppy, you will be going through plenty of different treats, as they really help with positive reinforcement.
Our Hello Ralphie online veterinarians will be able to explain some of the best treats to use when training a new dog. Popular treats for puppies include freeze-dried liver snacks. These treats are handy as they break apart into smaller pieces. This gives the illusion that your puppy is getting many treats when, in reality, one treat has lasted for four or five rewards!
Other treats that are safe to use include a variety of vegetables and fruits, such as carrots, cucumbers, red peppers, and apple slices. Avoid grapes and raisins, as these can be toxic to dogs.
For an extra special treat, invest in a Kong, or rubber toy, that can be stuffed with peanut butter or frozen vegetable broth. The broth can be frozen in the freezer inside the Kong toy to make a puppy-friendly popsicle!
These treats are mentally stimulating and keep an energetic dog occupied. They are also great for teething dogs. If you’re using peanut butter, our Hello Ralphie vets recommend avoiding any products that contain artificial sweeteners, like xylitol, as this can make some puppies sick.
9. Puppy-Proofing Your Home
The first 30 days with your new puppy will be a very busy period. These first few weeks often involve a large learning curve, but they can also be very exciting!
It is very important to make sure that your home is properly “puppy-proofed” before bringing your new puppy home. The first month of new puppy ownership involves a lot of house-proofing and adjustments to make sure there is nothing dangerous that your dog can access.
Make sure that all electrical cords are out of reach and safely tucked away in an area where your new puppy cannot chew them. Small objects and plastic parts, like toddler toys, shoes, socks, and more, should be kept out of reach of your young and curious puppy, as you want to make sure they do not swallow and choke on something they should not be eating.
Make sure all household cleaners are safely kept out of reach of your new puppy. The kitchen is also a potential hazard zone. It is important to familiarize yourself with foods that are harmful to puppies. These include grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, caffeine-rich substances, and chocolate.
Some household plants can also be toxic to curious puppies. If you have plants in the house, make sure to do your research so you know which types are toxic to dogs.
While there is a lot to know, taking a puppy home for the first time is an incredibly exciting time that you will remember forever. If you have any questions, or you just want to make sure you have everything you need, book an online vet appointment today.