Mental and Physical Development: Overeating and Portion Control
Allowing your puppy to eat as much as they want, whenever they want, may lay the foundation for adulthood obesity and a shortened lifespan. Studies have shown that dogs that remain slim throughout life can live several years longer than those allowed to eat freely.
Make sure to feed your puppy at approximately the same times each day. The recommendations on the puppy-food bag regarding how much to feed your puppy are just a starting point. For most breeds, feed your puppy enough so that you can easily feel -- but not see -- their ribs, and so that they have an hourglass figure when viewed from both the side and the top.
Overfeeding puppies also increases the risk of hip dysplasia in breeds that are susceptible to the condition.
Health and Veterinary Care
Spaying and Neutering Most veterinarians recommend that a female puppy be spayed -- have her ovaries and uterus removed -- before her first "heat" period, which typically occurs around six months of age. It is recommended that a male puppy be neutered -- have his testicles removed -- between six months and a year old, but your vet can make a recommendation for your puppy. Many communities offer low-cost neutering or spaying.
Spaying, which is a more time-consuming and expensive procedure than neutering, eliminates the risk of pyometra, a common and sometimes fatal infection of the uterus. It also decreases the risk of breast cancer, especially if performed before the first or second heat. However, it may cause weight gain and increase the risk of some cancers and urinary incontinence, especially in large dogs or dogs spayed before three months of age.
Neutering eliminates the risk of testicular cancer, reduces prostate enlargement in older dogs and may lengthen your dog's lifespan. It also reduces aggressive behavior, roaming and urine marking. However, it may cause weight gain and increase the risk of some cancers. The benefits outweigh the risks, however, and most dogs should be neutered between six months and one year old.
Behavioral Changes after Being Spayed or Neutered Six months is the most common age at which to have a female puppy spayed, and most male puppies are neutered between six months and one year old. If the surgery is done at this age, the puppy's behavior should not change drastically after the procedure, which is ideal.
Puppies' hormones are at their peak between eight and 10 months old. By spaying or neutering your puppy before this age, you and your puppy won't have to go through these hormonal surges.
Spaying or neutering will not affect your puppy's intelligence or mental development in any way, and will make them gentler and more affectionate. They will become less interested in other animals, and they will want to spend more time with you.
Training: Traveling with Your Pet
It is getting easier to travel with pets as hotels become more pet-friendly and more laws are being passed to ensure pet safety.
It is important to bring all of the necessary paperwork if you're flying with your puppy. Call the airlines beforehand, and read up on restrictions and requirements for carrier dimensions so you don't run into any snags at the airport. It's also extremely helpful if your puppy is crate-trained. If they're not, they may panic.
When driving with your puppy in the car, make sure they are properly secured in the seat, no matter how old they are. It is never safe to allow your puppy to sit or play on the dashboard or in the seats while you are driving. There are many safety harnesses and restraint systems available that will ensure a safer trip.