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Depending on breed or size, that little ball of fluff may be a rambunctious puppy and not reach adulthood for anywhere from nine months to two years. The bigger your dog will be as an adult, the longer he’ll stay a puppy – and the more patience you’ll need. An 18 month-old Labrador Retriever is likely to have more energy – than a Yorkshire Terrier of the same age.

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Making your own puppy pack will be a great start to your puppy’s life. This can include:

* Food and water bowls that fit your pup’s smaller mouth
* Adjustable Quick-Klip collar with a nametag
* Cotton or nylon lead
* Appropriately-sized Gumabones or other chew toys
* Plush toys or a soft, squeaky toy for your pup to cuddle with to remind him of his littermates, and rubber toys with holes to fill with treats to keep pup occupied
* Small treats such as Chewy Tasty Snacks to use as a quick “good dog!” reward
* Puppy Shampoo and a soft-tipped pin or slicker brush
* Chew Stop™ to spray on off-limits chewing areas such as the legs of furniture, or other precious and/or dangerous objects
* Nail trimming kit . If you get your pup used to having his nails trimmed as a little tyke you’ll have a much-easier time of it later on when he’s stronger and more agile.
* Puppy Cage for housetraining your new pup or a comfortable Pet Den , which can also be used for traveling with your pet
* Dental Supplies to keep your pup’s teeth clean and healthy
* Books on puppy care and behavior

Seven hints on giving your dog a great start in life

1. Research your breed (or in the case of mixed breed pups, the predominant breed). Breeds have certain characteristics and knowing these will help you choose appropriate toys and treats for your pup. A good breed book is always an asset.

2. Have a strategic housebreaking plan for your puppy and be consistent. It will make a great deal of difference in the future if you do it correctly in the beginning. Decide whether you are going to use a crate or cage to train your pup to “go” outside, or housebreaking pads (such as Piddle Pads™ ) to teach pup to go in a certain area inside. Consult your puppy care book for particulars.

3. Plan now to train your puppy in obedience. Your relationship with your pup will be much better if you allow time in your life for training classes. When he is old enough enroll him in a “puppy” class.

4. What kind of food was your pup fed before you got him? Purchase some of the same food the breeder was feeding even if you are going to switch his diet. We strongly recommend dry food, and that it is fed in its dry form. When you begin to switch your puppy’s food, be sure to do it gradually so as not to upset puppy’s tender stomach.

5. Start a complete preventive health care plan for your pup. This includes regular vaccinations , annual veterinary visits as well as flea and tick prevention . A regular heartworm preventive will protect your pet against heartworm. Your veterinarian may prescribe a heartworm medication such as Heartgard™ Plus , which treats roundworm and hookworm infections as well.

6. Start getting your puppy acquainted with dental care right away. Use a Dental Clens™ Pad wrapped around your index finger to gently scrub your pup’s teeth. Then advance to special canine toothbrushes and toothpaste . Drs. Foster & Smith Dental Care System has everything you need to start right. This will help you begin a regular dental plan that you can use throughout life and will save you money in dental bills later.

7. Start a regular ear-cleaning program. Don’t wait until your puppy’s ears are so dirty that infections can take hold. Ear Clens™ Pads or Ear Clens™ Solution can make the job easier.

Don’t forget to use a dash of patience and a large dose of kindness when you deal with your pup. This is probably the single most important thing you can do to begin a great relationship with your future adult dog. .

Originally published January 2006

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