Bringing home a new puppy or welcoming your dog’s litter is an exciting time! But as adorable as puppies are, they can also be overwhelming if you’ve never taken care of them before. To help you out, we put together this guide about the different stages your puppy will go through during the first year. 

What to Expect in the First Year with Your Puppy

Birth to 3 Weeks

Newborn puppies rely fully on their mother, and should not be separated from her for the first three weeks after their birth. Puppies don’t even open their eyes until they’re at least two weeks old! They also start learning to walk around this time—they will start to crawl around and navigate by their sense of smell until their hearing improves.

If you’re caring for a newborn puppy that’s been separated from its mother, you’ll need to bottle-feed every 3 to 4 hours. Talk to your vet about how to keep an orphaned newborn puppy healthy and the supplies you’ll need. 

1 to 2 Months

Once the puppy is four weeks old, you can start gradually weaning them off milk. The process takes several weeks and should not be rushed. Weaning too early or incorrectly can cause behavioral issues. 

Adopted puppies can go to new homes at around 7 to 8 weeks of age, as long as they have been fully weaned. If you’re bringing a new puppy home, make sure you puppy-proof your house beforehand, because they will be ready to explore. Keep hazardous items like electrical cords, plants, medications, cleaners, sharp objects, and toothpaste (which may contain xylitol) out of reach.

When do puppies get their first shots?

Puppies need to get their first shots when they’re around two months old, so make sure to ask for their vaccination records when you adopt. 

If your puppy hasn’t been vaccinated already, your vet may recommend any of the following puppy vaccinations:

  • Rabies (this vaccine is required in many states, including Arizona)
  • Canine distemper 
  • Canine adenovirus types 1 and 2 (canine hepatitis)
  • Parvovirus
  • Parainfluenza
  • Bordetella (kennel cough)
  • Leptospirosis
  • CIV (canine influenza)

Your puppy will need booster shots every two to three weeks until they are 12-16 weeks old, and after that they’ll need booster shots every one to three years for protection. 

Even if your puppy has already been vaccinated, it’s still important to schedule a checkup. Puppies need wellness checks at around 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age to ensure that they grow up healthy.

3 to 4 Months

Did you know that dogs lose their baby teeth, just like children? Puppies start to experience this at around 12 weeks old and will chew more until all of their adult teeth have grown in at around six months. Provide your pup with plenty of chew toys to help relieve teething pain. 

The best time to start housetraining your puppy is during this stage, between 12 to 16 weeks of age. They will have trouble learning this any earlier, so make sure to have plenty of puppy pads around in the meantime. 

When potty training your puppy, be patient and give them frequent opportunities to go outside, especially after activities like waking up, playing, eating, or drinking.

Now is also a good time to start leash training and socializing your puppy so you can take them on regular walks

4 to 6 Months

Puppies start growing rapidly during this time, so they will be extra clumsy and full of energy. Always supervise puppy play, and don’t overdo it with exercise—too much might injure their growing bones and muscles. Call your vet right away if you notice any swelling, limping, weakness, depression, or other signs of distress in your puppy.

6 to 12 months

Your puppy will continue to be playful and full of personality throughout the end of their first year, and well into adulthood, too. Many dog breeds are considered adults when they turn one year old. However, some larger breeds are still considered puppies until they are a year and a half or two years old. Consult your veterinarian before transitioning your dog from puppy chow to adult dog food, to ensure that they’re getting the right nutrients. 

Bring Your New Puppy to Anasazi Animal Clinic in Gilbert

Whether your puppy is due for vaccinations, a wellness check, or needs other services, our team would be happy to help. We love meeting puppies and want them all to grow up healthy and happy.

We offer a wide range of preventative services and treatments to keep your pup in the best of health. We’re also happy to answer any questions you may have about how to take care of a new puppy. Give us a call at 480-497-0505 today to schedule an appointment. 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (12/7/2022). Photo by freestocks on Unsplash