Puppy Care

JOIN THE
HEALTHY PETS CLUB

GET THE BEST FOR YOUR PET. JOIN THE HEALTHY PETS CLUB FOR ADVICE, INFORMATION AND EXCLUSIVE OFFERS.

JOIN NOW


*Conditions apply

Download the Puppy Guide Join the Healthy Pets Club

BRINGING YOUR PUPPY HOME

Preparing your home

When you first bring your puppy home, it can be a big change – for you and for them. To make the experience better for everyone, it’s a good idea to make a few preparations before they arrive.

Potential hazards to look out for
!
Ensure none of your house plants are poisonous to dogs
!
Electrical cords should be hidden or wrapped to prevent them from being chewed.
!
Items you don’t want your puppy to have access to need to be stored in a place that is well out of their way, like a closet or cabinet with a door you can keep closed.
!
Inspect your lawn for holes
!
Inspect your fence for gaps where your puppy could escape
!
Poisonous household products (like cleaning products) should also be safely stored in a spot where your puppy can’t access them.
Choose your veterinarian

It is important that your puppy has an initial check-up, so select a veterinarian before you take them home. If you don’t already have a vet, friends or family members with pets can be excellent sources for a recommendation or you can visit the Royal Canin website to find a vet clinic in your area.

FIND A LOCAL VET

Quick tip

USE CHILD LOCKS TO PROTECT YOUR PUPPY FROM DANGER

When your puppy first arrives

Once your puppy has arrived, it can be an exciting, yet stressful time. Your new puppy will have left the security of their mother and littermates, and will also be experiencing a multitude of new sights, sounds and smells. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Tips for meeting the family

When you introduce your puppy to children, other pets and family members, there are a few things to keep in mind:

>

Always supervise young children and pets.

>

First and foremost, teach children how to approach and stay safe around dogs.

>

Teach children to be gentle and careful with their new puppy.

>

Have children sit down and let the puppy come to them.

>

Introduce your puppy to older dogs and cats in a neutral area. Let them sniff and get used to each other. Never leave your puppy unsupervised with other pets.

>

Allow all pets in your home a territory of their own that other pets can’t access.

What equipment you’ll need

It’s a good idea to have a collection of the basics before your new puppy arrives. The right food is vital, but don’t forget somewhere to eat and drink, a place to sleep, and things to play with. .

Sleeping place

Sleeping Place

Puppies need plenty of time to rest and sleep to help them grow. Provide a comfortable bed or a puppy crate in a quiet corner. Having their own space will help your puppy get used to their new home, give them somewhere to take refuge and feel safe, and of course, sleep.

Brush & Comb

Brush & Comb

Brush & Comb Grooming your puppy regularly familiarises them with being handled by people and will make the task of grooming easier for both of you as your puppy grows bigger and stronger. This is also a good way for the puppy to get used to being touched and handled, and for you to be able to carry out regular health checks. Get your puppy used to being touched around the mouth, ears, and between the toes.

Puppy Toys

Puppy toys

Rubber dog toys tend to be the most durable. Choose a toy that is appropriate for the size of your puppy. Choose only safe dog toys from reputable pet stores or the vet clinic, and make sure you discard them when they show signs of wear or damage. Be careful not to leave rope and material toys around your puppy unsupervised as these can be a choking or intestinal blockage hazard if swallowed.

Food & water bowl

Food & Water bowl

Food & Water bowl Find a permanent place for your puppy’s bowls so they have a consistent place to eat. Teething puppies will chew anything in sight, which can be a problem when using plastic bowls. Stainless steel food and water bowls are durable, do not rust, break or chip like ceramic bowls, and they’re also more sanitary than plastic bowls.

Sleeping Place

Puppies need plenty of time to rest and sleep to help them grow. Provide a comfortable bed or a puppy crate in a quiet corner. Having their own space will help your puppy get used to their new home, give them somewhere to take refuge and feel safe, and of course, sleep.

Brush & Comb

Brush & Comb Grooming your puppy regularly familiarises them with being handled by people and will make the task of grooming easier for both of you as your puppy grows bigger and stronger. This is also a good way for the puppy to get used to being touched and handled, and for you to be able to carry out regular health checks. Get your puppy used to being touched around the mouth, ears, and between the toes.

Puppy toys

Rubber dog toys tend to be the most durable. Choose a toy that is appropriate for the size of your puppy. Choose only safe dog toys from reputable pet stores or the vet clinic, and make sure you discard them when they show signs of wear or damage. Be careful not to leave rope and material toys around your puppy unsupervised as these can be a choking or intestinal blockage hazard if swallowed.

Food & Water bowl

Food & Water bowl Find a permanent place for your puppy’s bowls so they have a consistent place to eat. Teething puppies will chew anything in sight, which can be a problem when using plastic bowls. Stainless steel food and water bowls are durable, do not rust, break or chip like ceramic bowls, and they’re also more sanitary than plastic bowls.

DIET & NUTRITION

Dogs have different nutritional needs to ours

The closeness we feel for our dogs sometimes leads us to think that what is good for us is good for them. But dogs have very specific nutritional needs that are quite different from ours. In fact, variety in a dog’s diet can often be more detrimental, and may lead to gastrointestinal upsets. The same food, served in the same dish, in the same place, at the same time, is comforting and satisfying for a dog.

Quick tip

TABLE SCRAPS UPSET THE NUTRITIONAL BALANCE OF YOUR DOG'S DIET

Feeding Your Puppy

Give 2-3 small meals per day

Depending on their age, your puppy should be given up to three meals a day at scheduled times. Always give your puppy their food in the same bowl, placed in the same place. This will teach your puppy good eating habits.

Avoid overfeeding

Overweight puppies don’t grow well. Review the feeding guidelines recommended on the puppy food packaging and carefully measure these servings accordingly. Remember that the amounts stated on packaging are usually for an entire day, so you will need to split this into 2 - 3 smaller meals for your puppy.

Treats

With positive reinforcement being a large part of puppy training, you’re going to need some treats on hand while your puppy is developing and learning new skills. A treat should always complement your puppy’s diet, and only be given at the right time and for the right reason. It can be very easy to overfeed and compromise your puppy’s diet with extra rewards and treats. So you will need to keep a very close eye on how many treats they’re getting and how often they’re getting them. A treat that is suited for training that complements your puppy’s food is ROYAL CANIN® Educ. This treat is low in calories and has reinforced levels of vitamin E and C to support cellular function. If you use a treat like Educ, all you have to do is lower your puppy’s regular food a little to account for these extra calories.

Make sure water is always available

Your puppy must always have access to a bowl of fresh, clean water, and preferably have several water bowls around your home. Change the water regularly, as puppies tend to play with it.

Quick tip

MAKE SURE WATER IS ALWAYS AVAILABLE

Interesting Fact

THE BEST INDICATOR OF A QUALITY DIET IS LONG TERM HEALTH AND PERFORMANCE.

Diet transition

As your puppy reaches adulthood, their nutritional requirements change. It is important to provide your adult dog with a diet that will meet their nutritional requirements and needs. When changing your dog’s diet, make sure you gradually mix the food over a seven day period, increasing the amount of the new food added each day so that 100% of the new food will be provided to your dog by day seven. This will help to avoid any digestive stress and diarrhoea. This food transitioning should be done with any and all diet changes your dog goes through at any stage in their life.

Day 1 & 2

75% usual food +25% new food

Day 3 & 4

50% usual food +50% new food

Day 5 & 6

25% usual food +75% new food

Day 7 & After

+100% new food

The Science of Nutrition

A puppy’s diet not only has to supply them with energy, but it also has to build and maintain the body’s cells. A super premium diet is precisely formulated to support your puppy’s digestion, joints and encourage vitality as they mature. If your puppy is not fed a balanced growth diet, they could suffer from major nutritional deficiencies or excesses, resulting in developmental issues and potentially even long-term damage to their health.

Foods and plants that are toxic to dogs

There are many plants and foods that are poisonous to dogs. Here is a list of common ones, but it is not comprehensive. If you are unsure, please contact your vet for further advice.

The three stages of a dog’s life

As your puppy moves into adulthood and beyond, it is important to understand the dietary needs of each life stage.

1
2
3
Puppy

A highly digestible, balanced diet specific to breed, age and lifestyle will help to ensure they have the right nutrients, in the right balance for this important growth phase. Also keep in mind that puppies mature at different rates depending on their size. Smaller breeds are considered adult by 10 months, medium breeds by 12 months and large and giant breeds between 15 – 24 months depending on the breed.

Adult

The key dietary issue for adult dogs is their weight. Unfortunately a large percentage of dogs in Australia and New Zealand are overweight or obese. By carefully measuring out your dog’s daily requirement of a good quality super premium diet such as ROYAL CANIN®, as well as encouraging exercise and avoiding human treats, you can help ensure your dog is kept in excellent body condition.

Mature/Senior

Just as different sized dogs reach adulthood at different times, the same is true as they age. Small breed dogs generally aren’t considered senior until 8 years of age, while medium breed dogs are classed as senior from 7 years of age, and large breed dogs from just 5 years of age. A mature diet is very important at this stage; however your vet may even prescribe a special therapeutic diet for your dog if they are diagnosed with a certain condition. It is important to keep a close eye out for any signs related to ageing. These can include a reluctance to exercise, lameness, increased thirst or urination, changes in appetite or weight, skin and coat changes, or even just a change in behaviour.

GROOMING

1
2
3
4
1
Hair
Short-haired

Although a short coat might not require intensive grooming, brushing once or twice a week helps to maintain a healthy, shiny coat.

Medium-haired

Puppies with medium length coats need brushing very second day.

Long-haired

Daily brushing will help keep the coat of any long-haired dog healthy. Be careful to proceed delicately so you don’t irritate sensitive skin.

2
Ears

The ear canals of most puppies are not well ventilated and need to be checked frequently. This can help to prevent painful, hard to treat infections. Prompt veterinary treatment at the first signs of redness, discharge or bad smell is important. Talk to your vet about the best and safest way to clean your puppy’s ears.

3
Bathing

The frequency of baths your puppy needs will vary depending on their coat texture, length and their lifestyle and environment. Bathing your dog too frequently can cause a dry coat, and also deplete the skin of essential oils needed to keep a coat looking healthy. Always use lukewarm water, along with a shampoo that is clearly labelled as being safe and appropriate for use on puppies. Your vet will be able to give you advice on the most appropriate shampoo for your puppy. Be careful to keep water and shampoo out of your puppy’s eyes and ears. After each bath, towel-dry them thoroughly and keep them warm until they’re completely dry.

4
Nails

If your puppy’s nails get too long, it can lead to torn nails and even broken toes. Get your puppy used to having their paws and toes touched, as this will make introducing nail clippers a lot easier when the time comes. Nail clipping can be done at home, at your local vet clinic, or through a professional dog grooming service. Start small and ease your puppy and yourself into nail clipping. If you’re not sure, ask your vet to show you how.

TRAINING

Toilet Training

Most puppies will not be house trained when you bring them home, so it’s important to train them yourself.

1
2
3
4
5
6
Take your puppy out frequently, after every meal and nap, before bed and as soon as you get up in the morning.
At the beginning, take your puppy to the same place every time so they can recognise their own scent.
Go outside with your puppy so that you can give immediate praise and a pat when they go
Use a simple command when you do so like “Toilet” or “Be quick” to get your puppy used to this process.
If your puppy turns round and round, or sniffs the floor indoors, these are signs they may need to go to the toilet. Don’t wait to see these toileting signals before taking your puppy out, as most puppies will not learn to signal their need until they first learn to “hold it” in the house.
Never punish or tell your puppy off if they have an accident. Instead, find ways to prevent your puppy from ever having the need to go to the toilet indoors.

Accidents Happen

Most “accidents” happen by allowing too much freedom too soon. Confine your puppy to one or two rooms in the house where the family spends the most time, so you can prevent accidents. Crate your puppy when you can’t supervise them. In the event of an “accident”, disinfect the spot using a non-ammonia based product followed by a pet odour neutraliser to remove the smell. Never use bleach based products, and to avoid stimulating their interest, don’t clean up their mess while they’re in the room with you.

Obedience

Dogs are pack animals. From the very beginning, puppies need a single person who can be their teacher. Your training program should start as early as possible, while your puppy naturally has an excellent capacity for learning. Ensure everyone in your household has the same understanding when it comes training and obedience, and ensure they stick to it. Don’t shout when you call your puppy as they will be very sensitive to variations in your voice, and will understand different tones very well.

The best approach is to use a short and sharp tone for commands, and a happy/positive tone to reward them. Always use the same words for the same commands and get family members to use the same words. Start off with three short training sessions lasting just five minutes a day, and extend the sessions little by little as your puppy gets older. If you’d like to know more, we have some great training videos made with the trainers from Seeing Eye Dogs Australia.

View all training videosMore

Play Time

Toys
Damaged toys

Regularly check the condition of your puppy’s toys for signs of damage and wear.

Durablility

Durablility Choose toys that are durable enough for your puppy’s level of chewing and that are at least twice the size of their mouth to prevent choking hazards.

Clean toys

Clean toys Wash them frequently to prevent the development of bacteria.

Interactive toys

Interactive toys allow you to insert food in them. They can help to keep your puppy occupied, active and out of trouble when you’re not home, as they figure out how to extract the food.

Damaged toys

Regularly check the condition of your puppy’s toys for signs of damage and wear.

Durablility

Durablility Choose toys that are durable enough for your puppy’s level of chewing and that are at least twice the size of their mouth to prevent choking hazards.

Clean toys

Clean toys Wash them frequently to prevent the development of bacteria.

Interactive toys

Interactive toys allow you to insert food in them. They can help to keep your puppy occupied, active and out of trouble when you’re not home, as they figure out how to extract the food.

Exercise

Exercise should also be a part of your puppy’s daily routine to keep them in top physical condition. Consider your puppy’s age (young puppies get tired very quickly), stamina, and overall physical capabilities then choose an exercise routine accordingly. As an example, a walk around the block may meet one puppy’s exercise needs, but another dog may require more substantial activity than that.

Quick tip

TEACH YOUR PUPPY A FEW BASIC COMMANDS EARLY

Socialising

Socialising your puppy with other dogs and people is very important. It should be encouraged as early and frequently as possible to prevent the development of a range of behavioural issues. The key window for your puppy to learn these social behaviours is between 8 and 16 weeks of age. First and foremost, make sure that the dogs your puppy is socialising with are fully vaccinated and healthy, as puppies are more susceptible to a range of diseases because of their immature immune systems. When introducing your puppy to other dogs, make sure you take it slowly. Where possible, ensure the other dog and owner can clearly see you approaching in order to avoid startling them. As you know, puppies are full of energy, so ensure you keep an eye on them when around new dogs.

Puppy school

Puppy school is a great way to introduce your puppy to new skills, as well as helping them meet other puppies. These events are generally held in small intimate groups. You will learn a variety of valuable tricks and obedience tips, as well as specific commands. Ask your vet clinic if they run a puppy school and get your puppy enrolled as close to 8 – 10 weeks of age as possible.

Quick tip

EXERCISE SHOULD BE A PART OF YOUR PUPPY’S DAILY ROUTINE

YOUR PUPPY’S HEALTH

Visiting Your vet

The first vet visit

Your puppy’s first visit to the vet is not just a simple consultation, it is used for an in-depth examination. By the end, your vet will be able to confirm the health of your new family member and make sure there aren’t any issues you need to worry about. When you make the appointment, ask if there is anything you need to bring with you, especially paperwork. At the conclusion of the appointment, the vet will complete your puppy’s health record. They can also give you some useful advice about your puppy’s general health and breed-specific behaviours to watch out for.

Quick tip

YOUR VET CAN HELP TO IDENTIFY HIDDEN HEALTH ISSUES BEFORE THEY BECOME SERIOUS

Vaccinations

Puppies usually begin a vaccination course at the age of six to eight weeks. Your vet will help you choose the vaccination course best suited to your puppy, depending on the risks they face from their lifestyle and your local environment. Vaccinations are used to help prevent contagious and sometimes fatal diseases, and are most effective when they are given at fixed dates with booster vaccinations.

De-sexing Or Neutering

It is important to weigh up the benefits of neutering against the possibility of being able to breed from your dog in the future. Neutering your dog not only helps prevent unwanted litters of puppies, but there are also numerous health and behavioural benefits. Remember that neutering causes metabolic change that can lead to weight gain. If your puppy does undergo the procedure, monitor their weight to ensure they stay in the healthy range.

Parasites

Controlling parasites is an important part of puppy and dog preventative health care. This includes parasites that live on our pets such as fleas and ticks, and those that live in them such as intestinal worms and heartworm. The type of parasites that are most important will depend on your dog’s age, lifestyle and where you live. It’s important to recognise that even dogs that don’t visit the park regularly or interact with other dogs still need parasite prevention since there are multiple ways that parasites can enter your home. As puppies are more susceptible to parasites, they may have a specific parasite treatment regime. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend what parasite prevention approach will work best in your puppy now and in the future.

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
1
Neutering Health Benefits

Neutering prevents unplanned pregnancies.

2
Neutering Behavioural Benefits #1

Un-neutered pets tend to stray and roam, which increases the risk of getting in a fight, getting lost or being injured by a motor vehicle.

3
Neutering Behavioural Benefits #2

Neutering may reduce aggression and territorial behaviour, urine marking and spraying, as well as mounting behaviour.

4
Internal Parasites

Intestinal worms can affect your puppy’s health and can be transferred to humans. Your puppy should be wormed every 2 weeks until they are 12 weeks of age, then every month until they are 6 months of age and then every 3 months routinely. Worming should always be done regardless of whether you can see worms in the stools, as many are not visible to us. Heartworm is transmitted by mosquito bites and treatment can be fatal, so prevention is certainly better than cure. Monthly and yearly treatments exist for heartworm so be sure to discuss your options with your vet.

5
External Parasites

Most flea treatments come as a spot-on treatment which can carefully be applied to the skin between the shoulders. Newer treatments for fleas include oral chews or tablets. Many flea treatments are now also able to prevent ticks as well – so be sure to discuss all external parasite treatment options with your local vet.

6
Neutering Health Benefits

Neutered dogs generally live longer.

7
Neutering Health Benefits

Neutering removes the risk of certain types of cancer as well as limiting the chance of pyometra occurring in female dogs. (a serious infection of the uterus)