Adding a new canine family member can be quite an exciting time. That tiny little ball of curtness almost makes you forget about the world around you. Being a new pet parent is extremely fun but brings along its own set of challenges. It is also often followed with that overwhelming thought of; “oh no, what have we done.” No matter how much or how little planning you did beforehand, your new addition can really have you doubting your decision. Don’t give up just yet! We here at Space Coast Pet Services are dedicated to helping you along the way.
Health and Wellness
Our pets rely on us to make informed decisions for their well-being.
- The first thing you should do is establish yourselves with a local veterinarian and start on your puppy’s vaccine schedule. Be sure to keep your puppy in a controlled environment and away from group play until they are fully vaccinated. There are also several other critical preventative measures like heartworm and flea preventative that should be considered. Especially here in Florida, the tropical weather can be a breeding ground for internal and external parasites. Be sure to make at the least, yearly follow up appointments and keep them. Animals can hide a host of medical issues (it is part of survival after all) so be sure to visit your veterinarian often. If there are any concerns, they can be caught early and worked with accordingly.
- Diet is a well talked about but little understood topic that is worth mentioning. The pet food industry is a billion-dollar market; keeping overhead low and sales high with great marketing campaigns. Be sure to talk with a professional who has experience in the nutrition and diet field specifically for dogs. Typically, independent pet food retailers have great options. Choosing a food that is designed for all life stages with at least 2 or 3 animal proteins on the top of the ingredient list is a good start.
- Be sure to avoid food and treats with a lot of plant ingredients (especially any corn or soy variations) and any chemical preservatives. Providing lots of fresh water in clean bowls can go a long way too. You can even add water to their dry food as dogs can live in a chronic state of mild dehydration. You can have lots of fun making your own healthy treats by dehydrating strips of chicken breast in the oven.
Training and Behavior
It is critical to invest as much time as possible in your dog’s training in their first year.
- Find yourself a local trainer who uses good industry standard science-based training. The most important thing you can follow is to manage your puppy. 100% always keep an eye on them. Preventing the habit of unwanted behaviors is the best way to develop the strength in the behaviors you want.
- Gate your dog off in small areas of the house, preferably the one you are in, and slowly give them the freedom of the home after their “good” behaviors have been enforced by you and your family. Using a crate to manage your dog when you are not around is highly advisable. Creating positive associations with a crate as their own personal space is a great way to start. Give your puppy special treats or feed them their meals in the crate. Never use a crate as a punishment and always make it positive.
- Investing the help of a good pet sitter is always a great idea for many benefits. As a general rule of thumb, it’s advised not to expect a puppy to hold potty breaks longer than an hour per each month old they are. Dog walkers can be an integral part of raising your new puppy. They can help with not only potty breaks but give the much-advised dose of daily exercise, enrichment, and training.
You want to remember to teach your dog what is expected of them but never force them into following you. If your dog is not complying, he or she simply doesn’t understand. Stay patient with puppies. We know that their energy levels are through the roof and their attention spans are shorter than a goldfish. Just have fun with training and recognize the small goals you meet each day. Having an arsenal of fun toys that keep their busy little minds engaged can be quite helpful. Toys that dispense their food are great options as it gives an opportunity to get some of that mental energy out in acceptable ways. Chew toys are also a great option as puppies like to explore the world with their mouths. Find options that are sturdy but safe if they do ingest portions like bully sticks, dehydrated trachea, and horns are all excellent choices.
Remember, your dog was not born to know how to interact in a human world appropriately. We must guide them along the path we create with patience. Lots of it. Investing in your new puppy’s future is always worth the money and effort. They trust in us to keep them happy and healthy. Work on creating an army of great professionals in your corner like your veterinarian, groomer, pet sitter, and dog walker. Space Coast Pet Services is always here to help you along the way!
After traveling the world as a ‘military brat’, Melanie settled in Brevard County, FL in 2013. She is the mother of 2 amazing children and 2 adorable pups. She volunteers at her children’s elementary school, Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds (HART) and served on the Committee of her son’s Cub Scout Pack. When not being a Mom Taxi between hockey practices, Cub Scouts, fire stations, horse riding lessons and various school activities, she enjoys reading, swimming, hiking in the mountains and traveling. (And naps!)