Congratulations! You’re getting a new puppy, and chances are, you’re full of questions about his health, behavior, and nutritional needs — everything that will help you guide him into a well-adjusted dog one day.

Your puppy will experience many changes over his lifetime, so having the proper guidance and health care only a veterinarian can provide is essential, but we’re also here to get you started and help along the way.

Welcome Home, Pup!

If you haven’t already brought your new puppy home, consider planning ahead and buying everything he’ll need so you can have it all set up, ready for use, when he gets home. That way, he can walk into his new home and see everything from feeding bowls to toys waiting for him.

A house can be a real hazard to dogs, especially tiny puppies, so be sure to do a safety check and neutralize any dangers that exist. Keep low-hanging cords, poisonous houseplants, medicines, and cleaning products out of reach. To keep him away from dangerous chemicals hidden underneath the kitchen sink, use child-proof sliding locks on your cabinet doors. Provide plenty of chew toys, and reward him when he chews the toys instead of your favorite pair of shoes.

World-Class Nutrition

Your puppy is going to need complete and balanced nutrition every day to help him grow properly. In fact, the first year of his life is critical in ensuring proper growth of his bones, teeth, muscles, and fur. As a growing animal, he'll require more calories per pound than an adult dog.

Keep in mind that while your 8 or 10 month old puppy may look fully grown on the outside, he may still need that extra nutrition puppy food provides. Read the labels, and find a food that has been specifically formulated to ensure the proper level of protein and fat for a puppy his age.

Unsure how to choose the best food for your puppy? Check out our helpful guide. Be sure to check the food package for the recommended feeding schedule and serving size, and never feed your puppy bones, table scraps, or big snacks in between meals.

Keeping Your Dog Healthy

It’s important to find a veterinarian for your puppy so that you can have a place to bring him for shots, grooming, dental cleanings, and for any emergencies that could arise. If you don't know which veterinarian in your area to choose, ask an adoption center or your local animal shelter for a recommendation. Many of these resources work with particular veterinarians who may give new owners special rates on their initial puppy vaccinations, as well as other services.

Starting your puppy off with a healthy lifestyle means getting the proper vaccinations at the right times. You’ll want to make a visit to your veterinarian as soon as possible to determine your puppy’s needs, but here’s a handy vaccination schedule to help get you started.

You’ll need to bring your puppy back to the veterinarian for a yearly checkup. Remember to discuss the best age to neuter or spay your puppy as well. Finally, talk to your veterinarian about any signs of illness that you should watch out for during your puppy's first few months.

Basic Training

To avoid confusion and help your puppy to recognize his name, you’ll want everyone in your family to agree on a puppy name right away, and make sure everyone uses it every time they talk to the puppy. Here are some great names to get you started, and a few more!

One of the first things you’ll want to teach your puppy is how and where to relieve himself when he needs to go. Here are the basics on how to housebreak your puppy. If he’s having trouble getting potty time just right, don’t scold him — try some of these tips instead. There are all kinds of reasons he could be having trouble, and several ways to help in a positive manner that will build trust.

You may also want to consider crate training your puppy. Using a crate draws on your puppy’s preference for small spaces. It’s not “jailing” him, and don’t use it as punishment. Instead, think of it more like a den for your pup — a small, enclosed space that offers him security and a place to get away from all the hubbub.

Eventually, you’ll want to train your puppy to come when he’s called, as well as to sit, stay, and other commands. Training your puppy should involve the entire family. It’s a great way to bond with your puppy and bring the family closer together. Not to mention, a well-trained dog makes for a happy life all around.

Charting His Progress from Puppy to Dog

A fun way to track your puppy’s progress to doggy adulthood is by using puppy growth charts. Many parents have a long tradition of measuring their children as they grow by standing them in a doorway and carving a notch in the frame. Next to that mark, they write the child's height and age.

As children grow into adults, fond memories arise from looking back on the markings recording those many years past. Measuring your dog's height — and reflecting on fond memories — isn't that much different, and can make your dog feel that much more a part of the family.

We hope these tips help you guide your puppy into a healthy, happy dog over the years. Keep coming back to Petcentric for more tips and fun facts to help you make this a wonderful journey together!