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Year One with Your Dog: What You Need to Know

Congratulations: you’ve adopted a dog! You can look forward to a year of lessons, for both you and the pup. What should you tackle right away, and what do you need to work on — to make sure your dog will grow up healthy on all fours?


Depending on the breed and required height of your dog when it  matures, it will grow at a different pace. Big dogs grow slower than smaller breeds, which reach their adult height by six months. In any case, you’ll have to tweak your growing pup’s diet and offer it not only something healthy, but tailored to this phase of development. The goal is to provide all the necessary nutrients it needs, adhere to a calcium to phosphorus ratio appropriate for its bone development, and to prevent obesity. Your veterinary team will always help you choose the right dog food after its physical.  


Your dog comes equipped with two things: its genes and its temperament. It’s safe to say that you can’t control its genes, but you can definitely work with its temperament with training. Your puppy is in its key socialization phase: from its fear phase (especially when it’s around a new family) right up until it reaches five months. It’s during this time that you need to expose it to different situations in order to reinforce that it’s safe and has nothing to fear. You want it to experience as many positive encounters and diverse situations: with children, men, travel, and weird things like bicycles. 

On veut lui faire vivre le plus d’expériences positives et agréables en diverses situations : avec les enfants, les hommes, le transport, à la vue de choses étonnantes comme des bicyclettes. Pack extra treats and reward it frequently. For socialization with other dogs: make sure that their furries friends have been vaccinated, are healthy and are “good dogs.” What I mean is that their friendly, excited by other dogs and they can teach your pup some good canine-to-canine manners.  


Yes, a puppy bites and misbehaves. It’s the hallmark of a growing and teething dog. That said, if you feel overwhelmed by its mischievous deeds like nonstop barking, resource guarding or pulling its leash, consider hiring a qualified trainer before the situation gets out of hand. The trainer should teach you how to manage its naughtiness and teach your pup to control its bad habits and outbursts. Also, set realistic expectations. You can model good behaviour, but you can’t control nature. There is no perfect way to train your dog, so it’s a good idea to shop around for trainers. Solicit advice from the people you trust. Also, your vet can always help narrow your search. Countless animal health practitioners are well-versed in canine training and socializing, so they’re a great place to start. 


The first year with a puppy is particularly important when it comes to its health. You should anticipate many visits to its dog following the adoption. You vet will assess its overall health and the shots it has gotten from the breeder or previous owner. Your vet will then set a vaccination schedule and will discuss spaying with you. Deworming is also important: certains species of worms can be contracted during pregnancy and lactation, and so this has nothing to do with cleanliness during rearing. 


Your puppy isn’t housetrained? Be patient and consistent. Puppies don’t housetrain at the same pace, and while it’s easy to be discouraged, know that there is a learning curve — this too shall pass. In terms of housetraining and walks: you need to walk it frequently and reward it once it does. Take your dog for walks after dinner and when it wakes up too. These are two optimal times to housetrain your dog. Don’t let your dog go out and reward it when it comes back: it will associate the reward with coming inside. Put on some shoes and go outside with it. 

I wish you all years of happiness, cooperation and friendship with your dog. I say this often, but it bears repeating: life is so much better when we share it with animals! 

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Year One with Your Dog: What You Need to Know