Mental and Physical Development: Wet or Dry Food?
As long as your puppy's food is nutritionally complete and free of preservatives, most veterinarians agree that there is essentially no nutritional difference between wet and dry food -- it's a lifestyle choice for you and your dog.
Dog owners tend to choose what's most convenient for them. Wet food is easier to store and has a higher water and oil content, which is needed for healthy coats, but it requires refrigeration after being opened and regular bowl cleaning. Dry food stays fresh in a resealable plastic bag and generally has less fat than wet food, but it often contains artificial flavoring.
The best way to choose a puppy food is to consult your vet, and then consider which type works best for your lifestyle.
Health and Veterinary Care
Microchips A microchip is a tiny computer chip that stores an identification number for your dog. It is about the size of a grain of rice, and is inserted under the puppy's skin between the shoulder blades using a large hypodermic needle. Most puppies will hardly notice it. If your puppy gets lost and is turned in to a shelter while not wearing identification tags, the shelter can use a scanner to detect the chip and read the identification number. The shelter could then contact the microchip database, which would have your contact information.
There's no evidence that microchips cause any health problems, except in the extremely rare case of rejection or infection. By the time your puppy is nine weeks of age, you should ask your veterinarian about microchipping.
Grooming Your puppy may not need a lot of grooming yet, but they should get used to the process so they're calm and happy about it later. Start the grooming regimen with the following steps, and be ready to give your puppy treats throughout.
- Handle their feet, touching each toe and nail. Use the nail clipper to cut a small bit off of each nail. Don't go too deep! - Rub your finger along the puppy's teeth, and then use a soft toothbrush with dog toothpaste. There's not much to brush at this age, but you want them to learn that it's no big deal. - Use a cotton ball to gently swab away easily reached debris in your puppy's ears. - Gently stroke your puppy with a soft brush. You can start with them in your lap or lying beside you, but you may want to practice grooming them on a table if they will need extensive grooming later. - Use rinse-free shampoo to wash your puppy, or practice bath time by washing only a leg or two at a time. - If your puppy is a breed that will need blow-drying or clipping, get them used to the sound and feel of these tools.
Training: Crate Training
Many people feel that crating a dog is a cruel and restrictive practice. However, "denning" (seeking out a safe, den-like space) is a natural instinct for canines. If your puppy doesn't have a crate, they will often seek a spot under a desk or dining-room table as the next best thing.
A crate should always represent a positive experience for your puppy. Begin by crating them for short periods of time, and don't make a big deal about putting them in the crate or letting them out. You may choose to feed your puppy their meals in the kennel to create an additional positive association.
Crating your dog at bedtime and when you leave the house will also prevent destructive behavior while you are unable to supervise. Once your puppy is used to the crate, you may leave the gate open to allow them to come and go as they please.