There's absolutely no doubt that one of the most exciting times for a family is the day they bring a new puppy home no matter what breed the little four-legged friend happens to be. Puppies are glorious creatures, full of energy, fun and mischief. It doesn't matter if it's a tiny little Toy Poodle or a larger Labrador Retriever, these little characters are great fun to have around because they are so very enthusiastic about everything they encounter!
However, you need to know how puppy is developing and that everything is progressing nicely both physically and mentally. The first few weeks and months of your puppy's life are crucial to how they will turn out as adult dogs. At 8 to 12 weeks, your little furry friend is at a very funny stage of their growing up which can only be described as I am scared of just about everything I come across – yet I want to investigate""! This is when puppy starts to be aware of things around them.
It's a time in your puppy's life when they're learning things fast but it's also a time when they are a little afraid of everything too. You may notice they suddenly get scared of something they once took in their stride so it's important they are not subjected to loud noises and other traumatic experiences or events. At this stage of puppy's life they are very impressionable which means you need to make sure their environment is nice and calm to minimise any stress they may experience. You should never yell or shout at a puppy even when they have an accident or been a little bit naughty!
Puppy should be on the right track for 'potty training', although there may be a few ""accidents"" which you would need to be prepared for and again, you should never tell them off if they do leave a puddle on your kitchen floor. Puppies need lots of ""pit stops"" during the course of the day so it's important to plan for these. You shouldn't expect them to make it through the entire night at this stage of their lives but if they do then all well and good.
You have to remember that puppies need lots of sleep – up to 18 to 20 hours a day which they need for brain development. When they wake up, the first they usually need to do is go to the toilet which means you have to be prepared for this.
At this stage of your puppy's life they have started to learn how to do all the important stuff and this includes how to play – in fact ""play time"" is really important to pups at this age and it's the best time to start their training making sure it's not only fun but safe too! You need to make sure you do the following:
Your puppy will be in to everything which is why it's not a good time to leave them unsupervised for too long. Whenever you go out, you need to make sure puppy is left in a safe place namely a room, in a large crate or even a playpen. When pup is a little naughty the best way to react is to gently tell them off because any punishment will fall on deaf ears and might well affect the bond you are building up with them.
When people come to the house, it's a good idea to put pup on a lead and if they try to jump up, gently tug on it to stop them doing so all the while telling them ""no"". When puppies get a bit mouthy, it could be their way of telling you they are hungry or thirsty. They might well be bored or they could need to go out to do their ""business"".
Puppies at 8 weeks old, really start to show their personalities. Just watching a pup interact with their litter mates at this age will be a good indication of how bossy or submissive they are or how adventurous or timid they might be. The way they start to interact with people will show what type of character they boast too – some pups will be more demonstrative whereas others might be a little shy and retiring.
At 8 weeks old puppies have learnt a lot from their mums and are ready to face the world on their own but you need to think of this period in their lives as a ""boot camp"" for pups and it's when they need to be gently taught all the rules that help them become well balanced, happy adult dogs.
The nutritional need of your pup will depend on their breed and because dogs come in all shapes and sizes with some weighing in a a couple of pounds whereas other can be well of 100, what they need to be fed will vary quite a lot! The one constant is that puppies need to be fed regular meals because these little characters have high metabolisms so be prepared to feed them three or four meals a day up to the age of 10 weeks. As pup gets older, you can gradually reduce this to just a morning and evening meal although it's perfectly okay to feed them three times a day making sure the portions aren't too big.
It is really important to feed your puppy good quality puppy food and one that is specifically formulated for pups according to their breed and age. If you need any advice, the best person to talk to is your vet who will be able to offer you all the advice you need on the type of puppy food to give your little four-legged friend.
Puppy might have already been given their first vaccinations before you bring them home but you need to make sure you have all the relevant paperwork. You then need to take them for their first visit to your own vet and do this as soon as possible so they get a thorough check over and to schedule the next lot of vaccinations for them. This would be a good time to ask about diet if you have any questions or queries.
This is the best time in your puppy's life to start their training – it's when they are the most receptive but you need to start off with very simple things and just work on basic commands. You also need to start handling puppy as much as possible and this includes feeling their paws, having a look at their claws, ears, eyes and basically getting them used to being gently prodded and poked around. This is also a great way to start forming a strong bond with your puppy.
This is also the right time to do as much socialising as possible with pup and although you should not take them out into the big wide world, it's a good idea to invite people over to your home so puppy gets used to seeing other people and how to behave around them. This will get them nicely prepared for life in the great outdoors when they have had all their shots and can meet up with other dogs, people and other animals.