New Puppy Guide

beagle puppyYour new puppy will bring you lots of joy for years to come. S/he will be a close companion, a playmate, and a reliable friend.

However, this does not happen without some effort. You should begin to train him/her even in these early days, so that s/he becomes a welcome addition to your family. Not unlike a baby, your puppy requires regular feeding, sleeping, playing, and training. Of course, this means that your new puppy will need lots of attention and care.

We realize that new dog owners have many concerns. So we have put together this Puppy Care Guide to get you off to a good start. Included are basic tips on your pup's first day home, house-training, healthcare, feeding, behavior-training, and crate-training. Please note that with this guide, we have only scratched the surface. For more complete details, there are plenty of good books available, and obedience schools have a wealth of knowledge.

For further information on anything concerning your puppy, please contact our hospital.

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First Vet Visit

You should schedule a visit to the vet by 6 to 8 weeks of age. On your first visit, the veterinarian will give your puppy a general examination to make sure s/he is healthy. The doctor will check his/her teeth, ears, eyes, and listen to the heart and lungs. At this point, it is your opportunity to ask questions you may have about your new pup.

Your puppy will be given initial vaccinations and also be put on a deworming program at the time of the first visit. This is important to protect your pet against internal parasites.


When puppies are born, their immune systems are not mature enough to make antibodies until approximately 8 to 12 weeks of age. Nature provides for temporary immunity in the form of colostrum, which is very rich in antibodies. Babies who fail to suckle colostrum in the first few days of life will be extremely susceptible to disease until their own immune system matures and makes their own antibodies. We as pet owners assume that our healthy puppy did get its mother's colostrum. After weaning around the age of 8 weeks, it is now our responsibility to protect our new pet by putting him/her on a vaccination schedule. Vaccinations are safe and effective injectable agents that protect your puppy from major viral and bacterial diseases.


  • First visit at 6 to 8 weeks: DA2PPv +Cv { canine distemper virus, adenovirus type 1 (hepatitis), adenovirus type 2 (respiratory disease), parainfluenza, parvovirus, + coronavirus }
  • Second visit at 12 weeks: DA2PPv +Cv { canine distemper virus, adenovirus type 1 (hepatitis), adenovirus type 2 (respiratory disease), parainfluenza, parvovirus, + coronavirus }
  • Third visit at 16 weeks: Rabies + DA2PPv +Cv { canine distemper virus, adenovirus type 1 (hepatitis), adenovirus type 2 (respiratory disease), parainfluenza, parvovirus, + coronavirus }
  • Fourth visit (for certain large breed dogs) at 20 weeks: Pv {parvovirus}

The above vaccinations give protection against:

Distemper - Canine distemper is a contagious, incurable, often fatal, multisystemic viral disease that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. The canine distemper virus is spread in many ways.  An infected animal can easily shed the virus through exhalation implying that the virus is transmitted via air.  The virus is also shed through other bodily secretions and excretions such as urine and feces. Although it is more common in puppies than in adult dogs, all dogs are susceptible to it. We recommend yearly vaccinations against this dangerous disease.

Adenovirus Type 1 (hepatitis) - Hepatitis is a contagious viral disease . Symptoms include fever, lethargy, tonsillitis, abdominal distension and pain, loss of appetite and a pale color. Often there is vomiting. Some dogs will develop the classic hepatitis blue eyes. This is due to odoema (fluid swelling) of the cornea of the eye. In severe acute cases, especially pups, death can occur in 1 to 2 days. If dogs can survive the initial few days, they should recover and have lifelong immunity. However, regular vaccination is a preferential.

Adenovirus Type 2 (tracheobronchitis) - This virus is related to the hepatitis virus and is one of the causes of infectious tracheobronchitis, also known as kennel cough. Vaccination against adenovirus-2 will not prevent infection with this virus but limits its severity so the chance of secondary bacterial infection and complications occurring is minimized. In most cases of kennel cough, the disease is multifaceted and will include a combination of bacterial and viral agents.

Parvovirus - Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious disease that causes vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. It is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated feces (stool), environments, or people. The virus can also contaminate kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, and the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs. It is resistant to heat, cold, humidity, and drying, and can survive in the environment for long periods of time. Even trace amounts of feces containing parvovirus may serve as environmental reservoirs of the virus and infect other dogs that come into the infected environment. Parvovirus is readily transmitted from place to place on the hair or feet of dogs or via contaminated cages, shoes, or other objects. We recommend vaccinating your dog once a year for adequate protection against this deadly virus.

Parainfluenza - Canine parainfluenza is caused by a virus that produces a mild respiratory tract infection. It is often associated with other respiratory tract viruses. In combination these viruses are usually transmitted by contact with the nasal secretions of infected dogs.

Coronavirus - Canine coronavirus is a virus that affects the intestinal tract of dogs. It causes gastroenteritis similar to parvo. Canine coronavirus is a highly contagious virus affecting not only puppies, but older dogs as well.

Rabies - Rabies is a fatal viral disease that affects all warm-blooded animals including man. In New York State, dogs must be vaccinated against rabies by law.


It is important to protect your puppy against the fatal disease of heartworm. Heartworms are parasites that actually live in the dog’s heart. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes so dogs generally only need to be treated in mosquito season (May to November); however in warmer climates dogs should be kept on preventive medication year round. Dogs should not be started on medication unless they are heartworm free. If your puppy has not been exposed to mosquitoes, you can start heartworm medication at 4 to 6 weeks of age and 2 pounds or more of body weight. If there is doubt about mosquito exposure we can perform a simple blood test to determine if your puppy is negative for heartworms prior to giving medication. Click heartworm for more information.

Feeding Suggestions

Your dog's nutritional requirements may never be more demanding than when s/he is a puppy. Therefore it is essential that you choose a high quality food that is nutritionally complete and balanced for optimum nutrition during this critical growth stage.

Good feeding habits start as soon as you get your puppy. Your puppy's diet will influence his/her health status, development, appearance and attitude. How you feed your puppy will influence many behavior aspects, from house training to begging. It is also important to prevent your puppy from gaining too much weight, which can predispose him/her to obesity and its associated health problems later in life.

The following tips will get you off to a good start. Click the topic to quickly go to that section; click your browser back button to return to this list:

  1. Choose your puppy's diet carefully.
  2. Do not "free choice feed" your puppy.
  3. Avoid feeding your puppy "human food".
  4. Familiarize yourself with healthy treats.
  5. Use meals as a house training opportunity.
  6. Food is an excellent training tool.
  7. Feed your puppy in a quiet place.
  8. Change diets slowly.
  9. Bones and milk

1. Choose your puppy's diet carefully.

There is excessive misinformation in the market regarding puppy foods. We know it's confusing, particularly with all the advertising and marketing efforts by competing companies. The old adage "you get what you pay for" probably applies more to pet foods than anything else. We encourage you not to compare foods by the "Guaranteed Analysis" on the label - it is a chemical analysis only and it measures gross quantities of ingredient types - it tells you nothing about the quality or digestibility of the ingredients. Don't hesitate to ask your vet about any issues you may have regarding your puppy's diet.

2. Do not "free choice feed" your puppy.

Free choice feeding is essentially feeding your puppy as much as s/he wants to eat. Free choice feeding can contribute to digestive upset (vomiting and diarrhea), bloating, difficulty in house training, and obesity. The best approach is to feed your puppy's daily allotment of food in two or three measured meals a day. If your puppy hasn't eaten his/her measured amount of food within 15 minutes, remove it. Continue on with the same measured portion at the next meal. If you find your puppy consistently isn't finishing his/her meal but is otherwise doing well, cut back on the total daily allotment. On the other hand, even if your puppy devours the meal in a few minutes, do not give more food. Watch his/her body condition and review this with the doctor at each visit.

3. Avoid feeding your puppy "human food".

Establishing right from the start that "human food" is off-limits will reduce begging and an increased opportunity for obesity. It also helps minimize the chance of dogs becoming very picky eaters.

If you must feed some "human food", stick to small amounts of low calorie options such as vegetables, rice, etc., but always put them in your puppy's bowl. Never feed your puppy from the table.

4. Familiarize yourself with healthy treats.

We all like to treat our puppies. It helps us in socializing, training, and just plain loving them. There are several healthy treat options now on the market. Remember many treats on the market have more calories than you find in a 1/2 cup of puppy food!

5. Use meals as a house training opportunity.

Puppies normally eliminate 5 to 15 minutes after eating a meal. Therefore, after the feeding take your puppy outside to the appropriate place in your yard where you would like him/her to eliminate, and wait for the magic moment. Praise your puppy for a job well done! Puppies also need to eliminate after nap and play sessions. Use this to your advantage in training and avoiding "accidents".

6. Food is an excellent training tool.

Food makes training easier and more positive for you and your puppy. Click training to go to puppy training suggestions.

7. Feed your puppy in a quiet place.

Avoid feeding just prior to or just after exercise. This helps establish consistency, reduces excitement around a meal, and reduces the incidence of stomach upset.

8. Change diets slowly.

If you are changing your puppy's diet, mix the new food with the previous diet in small amounts the first day or two. Then the portion of the new diet can be gradually increased over a week or so until your puppy is completely on the new diet. This will reduce the likelihood of vomiting and diarrhea. Your puppy should make a formed stool, which is easy to pick up.

9. Bones and milk

Please do not feed your puppy any bones. Digestive disturbances, bone fragments, and their resulting damage can require the use of medication and possibly surgery. Many puppies cannot digest milk, and it ends up giving them diarrhea. This can also interfere with the absorption of nutrients from the intestinal tract.


Puppies love to chew! It is our responsibility to give our puppy safe chew toys with which to play. Puppies teeth between the ages of three to six months, and they need to chew on something to help the teeth come in. Dogs have 28 baby teeth and 42 permanent adult teeth. At 6 months all adult teeth should be in. Help avoid destructive chewing by giving your puppy a choice of good indestructible objects to chew on - a really hard rubber ball (large enough so the puppy can't swallow it) or a tough rubber bone. Giving a puppy an old shoe or any shoe-like material, as so many people do, will make him/her think all shoes are acceptable for his/her chewing enjoyment.


As we mentioned above, don't give your pup real bones - cooked or uncooked. These could splinter, hurt his/her mouth, cause choking if a sliver is swallowed, or cause vomiting and diarrhea.


Make the puppy's rubber ball or chew bone especially attractive to him/her by playing games with it. Whenever s/he starts to chew on an unacceptable object, say no sternly, take the forbidden object away, and replace it with the rubber ball or chew bone. When your puppy starts to chew on her own toy, praise him/her for good behavior. Your puppy will respond happily.


Puppies seem to enjoy chewing on our fingers and may even appear to be biting. Use the same procedure as above and replace your fingers with the toy. S/he will soon get the idea that chewing on your hands is forbidden. Remember to praise him/her when s/he begins to chew on his/her toy.


Keep in mind that puppies often forget, so you may have to repeat the chewing corrections many times. Eventually s/he will get the right idea. Once again we need patience to train our puppy. Your puppy will be less likely to feast on your best pair of shoes if s/he has his/her own toys to chew on. Help your pup avoid the wrong things by keeping them out of reach.


Puppy toy boxes work well; your puppy will soon learn that his/her toys are in the box and, when s/he feels the urge to chew s/he will go to his/her toy box and retrieve a toy.


Remember to keep cleanser, paint thinners, household chemicals, and other harmful substances out of your puppy's reach.

Your Puppy's Place

Give your new friend a special place to call his/her own. Your puppy will use this place to rest and sleep, an s/he will feel safe and protected there. Make it a warm and cozy home for him/her, in a draft-free corner in an area near family activity.


The ideal situation would be a training crate and, when your puppy is very small, a small box inside the crate will make it feel more secure. Why do this for your puppy? A cave was home to dog's wolf-like ancestors, so your puppy instinctively feels cozy and safe in anything similar. Add some warm, washable bedding for him/her to snuggle up in.


With crate training you will know that s/he is not getting into any mischief, even when you cannot be there to watch him/her. You will not have to worry while you're out on a short errand that s/he is getting into something. Training crates are very useful tools when house-training your puppy, because the dog's instinct is not to soil his/her bed.


Although some people do not like the idea of crate training, most dogs learn to love their crate, which provides for them security and comfort.


Crate training is useful in a variety of circumstances:

  • It prevents vocalization at night because the crate can be moved to your bedroom
  • It prevents chewing or destructive behavior
  • It is the best method for house training
  • A crate-trained dog will travel calmly and will not need to be tranquilized
  • Crate-trained dogs are happier when boarded (you can take the crate along)

The only disadvantage of crate training is that it cannot be used if the pup is isolated for long periods. Do not leave your puppy in the crate for more than 6 hours during the day without checking on him/her and letting him/her out to eliminate. However, it is fine to leave the puppy in it all night.


1. The crate should be large enough for the adult to stand up and turn around.

2. The crate should be kept in the kitchen or bedroom. You may want to keep it in the kitchen for the day and move it into the bedroom at night. It should not be left in isolated areas.

3. To start with, put toys in the crate so the pup can go into it on his/her own. Associate the crate with fun things.

4. Put the pup in for a few minutes with the door closed. If s/he misbehaves try to distract him/her. Try to leave the puppy in his/her crate for 10 minutes. Let the puppy out only when s/he is quiet. Do not let him/her out of the crate if s/he is barking, howling or whining, as you are reinforcing this behavior (i.e. if I cry I get let out). Instead, try to distract your puppy by making a noise (shake a tin can containing pennies), and if the puppy is quiet for a few seconds, let him/her out of the cage and praise or reward her with an appropriate treat. Gradually extend the amount of time you leave him/her in her crate. Once the puppy is comfortable in the crate for about a half-hour without making a fuss, then s/he can be left alone. By crate training in this manner you will teach your pup that s/he will not get out of his/her crate by making a fuss, and you are rewarding quiet behavior with praise and attention.

5. Respect your puppy's privacy when s/he is in his/her special place; don't just reach in and pull him/her out, let the pup come out by his/herself. Don't let children bother or tease your puppy. S/he needs to feel safe when in his/her special place.

You'll be glad you gave your pup his/her own place when s/he goes there for naps or happily snuggles down for the night without whimpering and crying. And you'll know that your puppy is not getting into mischief, even when you can't be there to watch him/her.

Regular Checkups

Your dog should have regular checkups to make sure all is well. Get your puppy used to being handled; s/he should accept stroking, grooming, and a thorough once-over as part of the daily routine. Once every week or so, take a good look at your puppy's eyes, ears, mouth, paws, nails, skin and coat . It pays off should you find a problem early, before it becomes serious. If you notice anything unusual, be sure to consult your veterinarian.


Check your puppy's eyes for :

  • redness or inflammation
  • a half-closed lid
  • excessive watering
  • a yellow-green discharge or discoloration

A pup with an infected eye will rub it, so if you notice a lot of rubbing going on, have a closer look. You can prevent problems by keeping your puppy's eyes clean. Wipe around each eye gently with a clean cotton ball soaked in warm water.


Check ears for:

  • discharge
  • excessive wax build-up
  • an unpleasant odor

Your pup will scratch at his/her ears or shake his/her head violently if they are bothering him/her.

Take a look: healthy ears are pale pink, clean looking and odor free. If your puppy's ears are not, please consult with your vet. Help keep your puppy's ears healthy by gently cleaning easy-to-reach external areas. You can use a cotton ball moistened with warm water or commercially prepared ear-cleaning solutions that are available at our clinic. DO NOT PROBE INTO THE EAR.

Frequent cleaning is especially important with floppy-eared dogs, which are prone to ear infections. Even if your puppy's ears seem very healthy, you should handle them frequently. That way your puppy will be used to it and if there ever is a problem, s/he won't mind letting the veterinarian take a good look.


Since puppies explore their environment by putting everything in their mouths; you should check the mouth frequently. At 4 to 6 months, your pet will lose his/her baby teeth and adult ones will come in. Examine the mouth for any soreness, discoloration, broken or loose teeth, and inflamed or receding gums.

Pets, like people, need regular dental care. Dental disease is one of the most common health problems in pets, yet it can be easily prevented. You should begin brushing your puppy's teeth two or three times a week when your puppy is very young. Special animal toothpaste and toothbrushes are available at our clinic. Do not use human toothpastes as they contain foaming agents that may upset your puppy's stomach. Regular preventive care at home can help save you money and keep your pet healthy. Click pet dental care for more information.

All pets require regular cleaning with an ultrasonic scaler done by your veterinarian. Untreated dental disease can cause bad breath, bleeding gums, loose or rotting teeth, and tooth loss. If periodontal disease progresses far enough, it can even cause heart, liver or kidney disease.


You'll know something is wrong with one of your pup's paws if s/he licks constantly or favors it when s/he walks. Examine the paw gently for cysts, and make sure nothing is sticking between the pads or in the fur around them. If you can't find an obvious wound, it is probably best to bring your puppy into our clinic where we can do a thorough examination.

Keep your pup's paws clean. Remove grass seeds, thorns, burrs, or any foreign object you find sticking to the paws. If something has to be cut out from the fur between or around the paws, use blunt tipped scissors and be very careful not to cut into the web between the pads.


Clip your pup's nails frequently. If you can hear them clicking on the floor when s/he walks, it is time for a trim. If you let your pup's nails get too long, they will break and cause soreness. Dog nail clippers are better than scissors for trimming. Hold the paw firmly and clip a little at a time. Be careful not to cut into the "quick", the sensitive flesh underneath the back of the nail. Should you accidentally cut too far and bleeding occurs, use baby powder or flour to help stop the bleeding (it takes quite a while!). There are products on the market designed to help stop nick bleeding.

Don't try and trim all the nails at one sitting. Pick a time when your puppy is tired and quiet, and trim a couple of nails only. Be sure to reward your puppy if it accepts its nails being trimmed quietly.

If you have never trimmed a puppy's nails, have your vet show you how. If you would rather leave the nail trimming to the groomer or the veterinarian, it is still important to handle your pup's feet often. If the puppy has never had his/her feet handled before, then s/he may make a big fuss and find nail trimming very annoying.


Watch for any changes in your puppy's skin and hair coat:

  • increased shedding
  • dandruff
  • raw areas
  • dryness
  • itchy skin
  • rashes
  • lumps
  • or anything unusual

A healthy coat is a sign of a healthy pet. Regularly running your hand over the puppy's body is also a good way to determine if there are any lumps, swollen joints, or painful areas. Should you notice any changes please contact your vet. Grooming should begin at an early age so that the puppy gets accustomed to the procedure. If your puppy gets dirty, wipe its fur with a wet cloth. NEVER use paint thinners or gasoline to remove paint, grease, or tar from the hair of a dog because the agents will burn the dog's sensitive skin. To remove these materials, dissolve the grease or tar with vegetable oil and shampoo.

House Training

Begin house training your puppy right away. If you follow our crate recommendations and establish a warm cozy environment for your puppy, house training will be much easier because a dog's instinct is not to soil in her den or bed.

Start by putting your pup on a regular feeding schedule and by making frequent trips outside. If you are feeding a good quality puppy food, you will find that the training period will be shorter because your puppy's feeding and elimination schedule will be more routine.

There are certain signs that you should watch for to alert you that it is time to take your puppy outside. Your puppy may walk around in circles or sit or whine at the door.

When to take your puppy out:

  • first thing in the morning
  • right after naps
  • after play sessions
  • upon returning home to a puppy who has been left alone
  • right after meals
  • last thing in the evening before bed

Always stay outside with your puppy to watch and encourage it. When your puppy has finished eliminating, quietly praise him/her and bring him/her back inside. S/he will soon connect elimination outdoors with praise, and will be eager to please you. If you always want your puppy to eliminate in the same spot, always take him/her to that spot on a leash and wait for "the magic moment" to happen. Praise your puppy for a job well done.

Coprophagia (stool eating) can be a normal behaviour in puppies. To avoid this undesirable behaviour, be sure to clean up after your puppy`s bowel movements. If you also have a cat, be sure the cat's litter box is inaccessible to your puppy. Keeping the cat`s food and water in an elevated place may also be necessary.

Accidents will happen. Should you discover a mess, do NOT raise your voice, spank your pup, or rub his/her nose in it. While s/he will certainly cower in fear, s/he is too young to connect your reprimand with his/her mess. If the puppy is caught in the act, immediately take him/her outside to finish. When s/he continues outside, praise him/her for his/her efforts. You must catch your puppy in the act for him/her to understand what s/he is doing wrong.


To clean up the mess, deodorizers and repellents may work effectively. Do not use ammonia- based cleaners. Chemically, ammonia and urine are very similar.

Once you have cleaned the area, barricade the spot until it is dry. Otherwise, your puppy will be back to investigate the scent and may feel the urge to repeat the mess.

House training your puppy will take time and patience. If all goes well, your puppy could be house trained in about a week. However many dogs take longer. Persist with your training in a consistent manner and don't give up.

Training Suggestions

Training is fun and very rewarding for both you and your puppy. Puppies have an amazing capacity to learn complex demands quickly.

1. Start training as soon as you obtain your puppy. Puppies learn very rapidly but their attention span may be short, so spend 10 to15 minutes twice daily.

2. Training should be conducted when the puppy is not excited and when the home environment is quiet. Once the puppy has learned a response in one environment, move the training location to progressively more complex and more stimulating environment. The puppy will have to be trained in each environment that you wish him/her to respond in.

3. Learning occurs more rapidly if one person trains the puppy first and then the other family members get involved. Train the puppy using one-word commands like "come", "sit down", and "heel". Try not to use the puppy's name in association with the command, as too much verbiage is confusing and slows the learning process.

4. Reward appropriate behaviour as soon as possible after giving the command (best within ½ second). Give valued rewards such as food; touch and praise every time the puppy responds to a command. You will quickly learn which reward is more valued by your puppy. Once the response is learned, give the rewards intermittently. This will result in rapid learning and make the response more permanent.

5. If the puppy fails at any level of training, stop, don't reward, and start the training again at a simpler level. How consistently a puppy responds to a command is a function of the degree of training. If a puppy responds only when he feels like it or when the environment is quiet, start again and train more intensely.

6. Be patient, never punish. The opposite to reward is no reward, not punishment. A punishment causing pain or excitement does not work and generally causes problems. Punishment may also interfere with the owner/animal bond. If the puppy is doing something that is inappropriate, distract it or use a reward for responding to a command which is incompatible with the unwanted behavior. A trained puppy is a happier puppy and a great companion!

Spaying and Neutering

Dogs become sexually mature after six months of age. Females also begin their reproductive cycle at this age. This cycle involves recurrent periods of heat or estrus, during which males are attracted from great distances by an odor coming from the females. It is only during heat that females will accept a male. This period of intense desire to get out and find a mate is correlated with egg release from the ovaries.

In the bitch, heat occurs about every six months and lasts for two or three weeks. It is accompanied by swelling of the vulva and a bloody discharge from the vagina. Maximum fertility usually occurs from the ninth to the thirteenth day after onset of bleeding (1 to 2 days after bleeding stops).


The surgery is performed under sterile operating room conditions with the animal under a general anesthetic, and involves the removal of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus (womb) through an abdominal incision. After this operation, the female will not come into heat, and will have neither the interest nor the capacity to breed.

There is NO ADVANTAGE in waiting for the female to have a heat period or litter before being spayed. Apart from sexual activity, spaying has no effect on a female's temperament. A bitch will not be ruined for obedience training or hunting.

Advantages of Ovariohysterectomy:

  • Males are not attracted to your property.
  • Less tendency to wander from home.
  • No bloody discharge from the bitch in heat.
  • No unwanted pregnancies, thus contributing to the control of the pet population and the problem of unwanted litters.
  • No reproductive problems in later life, e.g. false pregnancies, uterine infections, birth complications, including cesarean sections, milk fever, breast tumors.
  • Reduced rate dog license after spaying.


This operation involves removing the testicles, thereby eliminating the source of sperm and male hormone. It is routinely recommended for all male dogs that are not intended for breeding purposes.

Neutering controls the following problems:

  • wandering
  • mounting other dogs and people
  • aggressiveness
  • excessive territorial marking with urine

Neutering at a young age also eliminates the possibility of tumor of the testicles and prostrate gland.

Lakeside Veterinary clinic assumes no liability for injury to you or your pet incurred by following these descriptions or procedures.