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New year, new puppy

New Year, New Puppy

Here's some good advice on making your home a safe haven for your new puppy.

Get everything ready for your puppy before you bring them home.

First, make a nice bed for them. An old box or durable, chew-resistant basket raised off the floor away from drafts makes an adequate bed for a puppy. Don't spend too much at this stage on an expensive bed which is likely to be chewed. The inside of the bed should be lined with an old blanket so your puppy can snuggle into something soft and warm.

Put the bed (or crate/kennel) in a spot that's relatively quiet so your puppy can sleep undisturbed whenever they're tired. Many people find that a quiet corner of the kitchen or family room is ideal. You may want to partition off an area around the puppy's bed for a few days to create a little 'den' where they can feel secure and be out of harm's way.

Your puppy should have their own food and water bowls. These should be designed so your puppy can eat and drink comfortably without getting their nose and ears wet. Have a supply of food ready for your new arrival. Find out from the breeder or rescue organisation what the puppy is used to eating. It's best to maintain the same diet for a few days, and then you can make a gradual transition to a new diet if desired.

All puppies like to chew. This is normal behaviour, and it helps with the teething process. Give your puppy some toys of their own to chew, which will help deter them from chewing your possessions. Toys don't need to be elaborate, but make sure they are non-toxic, large enough that they cannot be swallowed, and relatively indestructible. Objects that are small enough to be swallowed may become stuck in the throat, stomach or intestines, and can be a serious threat to your puppy's life. Objects that are too hard can damage a puppy’s teeth.

Although you will not be able to take your new puppy for walks with other dogs until they've completed their course of vaccinations, you will need a suitable collar and leash for them. The collar should be soft and well fitting. For the first few days, your puppy will need to wear it only for short periods when you are there to supervise. It must not be too tight, since this is uncomfortable for the puppy and could hurt them, but neither should it be too loose, as it may catch on a protruding object or they could chew it up. The collar should fit so that two fingers easily fit underneath it. The collar is likely to need replacing as the puppy grows. 

You may want to consider a collar with a quick-release feature. Check the collar daily and loosen it as your puppy's neck increases in size. Do not buy a choke chain for a young puppy. If used incorrectly, it could cause irreparable damage to their neck.

You also need to buy a brush and comb—the type depends on the hair type of the breed. Ask the breeder or a groomer to show you how to groom your puppy properly and to recommend some suitable grooming equipment.

Finally, make sure you have the name and address of a good veterinarian. Ask your breeder, rescue organisation and friends to recommend one.

While your puppy is small, keep everything in your home that might be dangerous to them out of reach. Puppies may tug or chew anything they find, including plants, cleaning chemicals, blinds and electrical cords.

Check your yard to make sure the fencing is secure, and that there are no small holes through which your puppy could disappear. Make sure your gate shuts securely, and that your puppy won't be able to squeeze through or under it.

Keep pools and ponds covered.

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