Puppy guide

Congratulations of being a proud owner of a new puppy! Puppies are wonderful bundles of energy and fun, ready for anything and fascinated by the world, and it is up to us to help them settle into our way of life and teach them how to behave as a much-loved member of the family. Following our puppy care advice will help you develop a bond with your new puppy.

Puppies like routine. Feed at the same times and in the same places to begin with - ideally using the diet that the breeder used for familiarity for the first week or two (unless it is being poorly digested or completely refused). Don’t panic if a meal is not finished; exploring can often take precedence over food in the early days.
In addition to knowing the brand and product name of the puppy’s usual diet and timing and frequency, it is also helpful to know whether dry food has been fed soaked (and if so, for how long), and the quantity fed at each meal in grams per day. Regular weight checks will be needed so that you can make gradual adjustments to the daily volume as your puppy grows.
Once your pup has acclimatised, you can then gradually start introducing your food of choice. A 7-day transition is usually ideal, but you can take things more slowly if your puppy is known to have a sensitive digestion, or more quickly if the original diet is thought to be exacerbating a problem.

Arden Grange produces a selection of nutritious diets to help puppies and adolescents blossom into healthy adult dogs with strong teeth and bones. Every recipe provides the essential nutrient balance for development and includes natural supplements to help optimise your puppy’s overall fitness and well-being.

We can help you to select an appropriate product and feeding volume based on the following: -

  • Age/weight – More calories and nutrients are required for early growth than the later development period. Very young/toy breed puppies have tiny tummies so a concentrated diet such as the Arden Grange Weaning Puppy Food is ideal for those under 8 weeks of age. It may also be very suitable for older pups with a low appetite, pups that prefer the tiny kibble, and those who are underweight.
  • Breed/size – Large and giant breeds have a slower metabolism than small and medium breeds, and they grow more slowly over a longer period. The Arden Grange Puppy/Junior Large Breed is therefore formulated with fewer calories from fat than the regular Puppy/Junior. It has bigger kibble, and more glucosamine and chondroitin to support the joints, plus extra cranberry for urinary tract and dental support. As a general guide, the Large Breed is usually suitable for puppies with an anticipated adult weight of 20kg+, but it can be fed to smaller puppies if less protein/fat/calories are required.
  • Sensitivities – Sometimes, certain foods or ingredients may not be as well-tolerated as others. The Arden Grange Sensitive Puppy/Junior (available in Ocean White Fish) is frequently a great choice for puppies with a delicate digestion or itchy skin/ear problems, especially if the symptoms are resultant of a sensitivity to more common meats or grains.
  • Temperament – All of the Arden Grange products have attributes that make them popular with canine behaviourists and trainers such as the inclusion of MSM (an organic form of sulphur which may improve mental alertness and relieve stress) and cranberry (a rich natural source of antioxidants). Stressed/over-excitable dogs produce more free radicals (unstable atoms that can cause damage to the cells, including those of the brain). Antioxidants are an important protective measure since they can neutralise free radicals by giving up some of their own electrons, creating a natural "off" switch. This helps break a negative chain reaction. All of the products supply healthy Omega-3 fats - EPA and DHA are great “brain food”. The Arden Grange Sensitive Puppy/Junior diets and Grain Free Chicken Puppy/Junior are particularly good in terms of psychological support due to their Superfood Blend of antioxidant-rich ingredients.
  • Appetite – Appetite issues are not uncommon in puppies and can range from very picky eaters to those with a voracious appetite. Arden Grange has this covered with the Partners canned food range which is truly delicious. These products are safe to feed to puppies as a tasty topper (providing most of their daily calories are obtained from one of the Arden Grange dry growth diets) and can often entice reluctant eaters. Conversely, the Partners is also very good for greedy pups, since wet food is significantly lower calorie than dry. It is therefore a good way to add volume for hungry puppies. The dry diet needs to be reduced to accommodate these extra calories, but a 100g portion of Partners Chicken or Lamb still represents an extra 65g in the bowl (the dry should be reduced by 35g), and a 100g portion of the Partners Sensitive represents an extra 80g (the dry should be reduced by 20g).
  • Neuter status – Some dogs (especially rescue pups) are neutered young, but it is advisable to continue with a growth diet until upward development is complete. Hormonal changes can cause the metabolic rate to decrease (meaning that calories are not burned so quickly) and can also increase a pet’s voluntary appetite, but these changes do not, however, happen overnight, and most puppies can be fed as normal whilst they continue to grow so long as care is taken with portions, and the main diet is suitably reduced to accommodate any treats or other additions.
  • Additions to the main diet – One of the main causes of unwanted weight gain, over-excitability and loose/bulky stools is eating too many extras. Training your puppy is important, and food rewards are usually an integral part of this. Vets generally recommend that treats do not provide more than 10-15% of a dog’s daily calorie intake. This is to avoid unbalancing the main diet. If you need to feed more treats at the outset, use some of the kibble for a lower value reward, saving other foods for when higher value payment is needed.

Some sources suggest puppy food is unnecessary. Whilst some brands do manufacture food suitable for all life stages, the nutrient values (particularly amino acids, vitamins and minerals that are so important for healthy development) have been tailored specifically for developmental requirements in a growth diet, rather than to encompass a much broader market. Growth diets also make consumer choice easier – some adult foods may safely be fed to puppies, but not all of them; and choosing a growth specific food can help avoid making potentially detrimental mistakes.

Young pups generally fare better with kibble that has been soaked to soften it. We suggest using hot (but not boiling) water from the kettle to cover the kibble. Leave to steep under a clean tea towel for up to 30 minutes. Check the food is not too hot prior to serving, and a little more water can be added at this point if a moister consistency is preferred. Soaking is often beneficial for large/giant breeds to help reduce thirst after a meal, since a belly full of water on top of a belly full of food may be one of the risk factors for bloating.

The charts are to be used with the puppy's current weight, not predicted adult weight (as this can be difficult to determine, especially with cross-breeds).

  • First, select the applicable age range on the far left.
  • Then refer to the puppy weight on the top row.
  • The volume is shown as a range in grams per day.
  • The lower figure relates to a pup of the lowest weight, the upper figure relates to a pup of the heaviest weight.
  • Puppies in the middle of the weight scale will need a midway figure.
  • Adjustments will need to be made as the puppy grows, so weigh him/her regularly.
  • The charts assume nothing else is fed (so reductions will need to be made for any additions to the main diet).

*Feeding guides can only provide estimates as they cannot take into account individual differences.

Take care not to over-feed, as over-nutrition can not only result in an overweight puppy, but also predispose him/her to loose stools and developmental problems. Panosteitis (growing pains) is believed to be multifactorial with genetic links, but in a nutritional context, over-feeding and providing an unbalanced calcium to phosphorous ratio may be to blame.

Poo watching is one of the best ways to check the feed volume is suitable. If the stools are normal in the morning but becoming progressively looser throughout the day, it may be a sign that your pup is getting a little too much food. It can however be indicative of other problems too, so watch carefully and seek veterinary advice if a small food reduction doesn’t improve the situation.

The reason for the decreased volumes for the later age groups is because when puppies become older, their growth rate starts to slow down, and their metabolic energy requirements start to decrease. When this happens, the demand for extra calories and nutrients needed for growth starts reducing as the body slowly adapts from the higher requirements of growth to lower maintenance needs. Generally, as the pup grows, he/she will also get heavier, which does tend to balance the figures out a little, but there will be times when an owner will need to decrease the intake a little. Doing so gradually is recommended unless the pup is leaving food or experiencing softer/bulkier/more frequently passed stools. The time this is most evident is when a puppy is nearing adulthood, and as an example a 9 month old pup of 25kg with significantly more growth to complete would need around 415g per day, but a fully-grown adult dog of the same weight only needs around 280g per day (low to average activity level). 

Adolescence can be a difficult age for feeding because puppies mature at different rates and needs can be variable. Hunger is not normally too much of an issue because there is often a natural decline to appetite as the body starts needing fewer nutrients and calories. At this point, some owners think their puppies have lost interest in the food, but it is normally just the case that they can afford to be a little choosy as their needs are being more than adequately met.

As a general guide, puppies from 8 - 12 weeks will thrive on 4 meals per day. From 12 weeks, 3 meals per day is usually ideal until the change to adult food (although some pups will naturally drop a feed sooner).

Adult food is normally introduced once a puppy has reached optimal height. This is usually at around 6 months for small breeds, 8 months for medium breeds, 12 months for large breeds and 18 months+ for giant breeds. There can however be considerable variation, even between pups of the same breed and sex. If you are unsure as to whether your puppy has finished growing upwards, you can measure him/her (standing on a flat surface) from the ground to the top of the top of shoulders. Make a note of the pup’s height, and then repeat in 7-10 days to see whether any further sprouting has occurred.

You can make an earlier change for pups who are neutered early, developing rather too speedily or getting a too stout. Equally, a later change can be made for pups who are slower to develop.

What should I feed my puppy?

Essential hints and tips

Essential hints and tips

It is a legal requirement for dogs to be safely restrained in your vehicle. There are various options, but for a young puppy, a sturdy pet carrier that can be strapped in securely is generally best.

Make sure the box is lined with plastic, because your puppy will be excited and possibly a little nervous too. Place some newspaper on top and finally some bedding. Don’t put food and drink in the carrier because this will most likely end up all over your puppy during transit. It’s best for them to make their first journey on an empty tummy just in case they feel a little nauseous. If you have a long journey, make some stops for water, but be very careful to keep your puppy safe and secure whilst doing so.

A puppy’s sense of hearing is far more acute than that of a human, so if you have music on during the trip, keep the sound turned down low. A calm and uneventful ride home will help to ensure that future journeys are stress-free.

As well as ensuring your puppy is transported safely, both on the first journey and subsequent trips, there are other safety aspects to consider.

In the home, make sure your pup is well-supervised so that you can prevent them from eating and drinking things they shouldn’t or damaging dangerous items such as electrical cables. If you have young children, make sure toys and games with small parts are put away. Toys/chews should be stowed away too so that they can be played with under supervision, and this is especially important if you own other dogs to avoid confrontation over their valuable resources.

Make sure your puppy’s food, treats and training rewards are kept in a secure, airtight container to prevent unauthorised access! Gorging can result in bloat, which is potentially fatal, and improperly stored dry goods can harbour mites (which when inhaled can make your pup very itchy). Be prepared - stock up with food that your puppy is familiar with beforehand.

Human foods must be kept in dog-proof cupboards too; especially grapes, raisins, chocolate and onions - all of which are harmful to dogs. Medicines must also be kept well out of reach.

In addition to dog-proofing your home, you will also need to make sure the garden is safe. Puppies can wriggle through small gaps, and they are also often surprisingly good at climbing and may be able to jump higher than you think, so it is best to ensure that visits to the garden are closely supervised so that you can check and double check for any potential escape routes.

Tip: Make sure gates are locked because visitors or family members may forget to close them or be unaware that your puppy is outdoors.

Although you will be looking forward to many happy years together with your puppy and eager to start to make a bond, it’s important to respect that your puppy may find the new environment unsettling to begin with. Leaving mum and the litter mates can be very stressful, and coupled with travelling and lots of new noises and smells to get used to, there is a lot for a new pup to deal with.

Before arrival, a cosy bed or crate placed in a warm, quiet place should be prepared. The breeder may allow you to take a blanket or favourite toy so that your pup has something that smells familiar. Crates should never be used for punishment. If your pup has not been used to one, you will need to take the time to ensure this is a desirable, calm place for relaxing, sleeping, or enjoying a snack, chew or meal in peace, and not a jail! If your puppy displays any anxious behaviours such as pacing and crying, quiet reassurance is generally what is required, and it can take several months rather than days or weeks for a puppy to properly feel at home, so do not expect too much too soon.

Tip: If your dog pup is a reluctant drinker, filtered water may be preferred. This is because water from different areas can taste very different to dogs, and unlike us, they have special taste buds just for water that are finely tuned.

Try to stick to the breeder’s feeding times as far as possible, at least for the first week. This will make it easier for you and your pup to get into a routine and help with toilet training. Eating stimulates the digestion, and most pups like to defecate within 5-30 minutes following a meal to clear the digestive tract ready for the incoming food. Excitable playtime/exercise is not recommended straight after a meal, but a little potter in the garden is fine and will usually get “things moving”. Make sure fresh water is always available.

Allow plenty of opportunities to go outside to urinate/defecate, and don’t rush your puppy. Toileting puts dogs in a vulnerable position, so be patient and allow lots of sniffing time. Reward your pup when they perform with food, play or praise/affection depending on which is the greatest motivator. Different dogs have different preferences, but almost every dog finds the Arden Grange Tasty Paste a perfect incentive.

Your puppy will need to go to the toilet after playing, after waking up, after any kind of excitement - such as the children coming home from school - and after meals. At these times, take your puppy to the same place outside and wait with him or her - even in the rain!

Gently repeating a word or phrase, such as "do your business," helps your puppy to remember what they're there for. As soon as your puppy starts to sniff/circle, offer some gentle encouragement. After toileting, give lots of praise and a special titbit to reward them. If your pup doesn’t perform, bring them back inside and try again a little later.

If you catch your puppy about to go to the toilet in the house, say 'outside', then take them quickly to the garden to show them where you do want them to go - even if it's too late!

Do not shout at, smack or scold your puppy if they toilets indoors - even if you catch them in the act! Puppies that look 'guilty' are showing fear - and they can learn not to go to the toilet in your presence as a result, or even start poo eating to “remove the evidence”. Dogs are generally very clean creatures - but it's up to us to give them all the right opportunities to get it right. Our fact sheet all about toilet training contains more information.

For more support to help with toilet training, read our article 10 toilet training tips every new puppy owner should know!

To help your puppy to follow a peaceful bedtime routine: -

Ensure the bed is in a quiet, draft-free, warm place and encourage your pup to use it to nap during the daytime too. Close curtains/blinds at night and be aware that unfamiliar noises outside can take time to get used to.

Placing the bed close to yours may offer some security if your puppy is feeling uneasy. If this is not possible and your puppy is distressed, don’t leave them to cry or bark – offer some comfort and company and then try leaving the room once settled. You may need to alter your own sleeping arrangements at the beginning (perhaps bedding down on a sofa or camp-bed so you can be close-by).

Make sure your puppy has had a chance to go to the toilet before bed. Night-time disturbances will still occur, but in time, this should reduce and eventually cease, especially if you wake early for morning toileting opportunities.

Chewing can help dogs to feel more relaxed as this is an appeasing behaviour that helps relieve stress through the release of endorphins. Allowing supervised access to a safe, appropriate chew before bed may help your puppy to settle.

A bed-time biscuit such as an Arden Grange Crunchy Bites may help reduce night-time hunger-pangs and acid build up as a result of an empty stomach.

Tip: Dogs like music (especially Classical and Reggae) and something restful playing in the background can have a calming effect (as well as mask unfamiliar noises outdoors such as foxes). A pheromone diffuser or spray could be beneficial too.

Puppies love to play, but they don’t always enjoy the same games. Some prefer toys they can fetch; others prefer toys they can chase or tug such as a flirt pole or knotted rope. Take the time to discover your own pup’s favourite/s. Exercising the mind is just as important as physical exercise.

Choose toys that are appropriate for your breed. Bull terriers for example (even when puppies) have notoriously strong jaws so will need something much tougher than those you would pick for a smaller terrier such as a Yorkie.

Toys should be well-made to ensure that small pieces of fabric, rubber or plastic do not get broken or chewed off and ingested which could cause an intestinal blockage. Size matters; especially when choosing balls. A sturdy ball is often very popular, but make sure it is not small enough to become lodged in the mouth as this could restrict the airway.

Any new toys should be played with under supervision at first. This will also make the game far more entertaining and stimulating for your puppy, so make sure you find the time to continue to interact, even if you are sure that the toys are safe and indestructible. 

Puppies love to chew, especially when they are teething. Like toys, chews should be safe and indestructible. Hide chews are made from largely indigestible protein which can hinder the digestive efficiency. Puppies and adult dogs have also been known to choke on them, so they are best avoided. Good quality nylon chews are often ideal, and there are many natural chews available that are raw-hide free. Most pups will enjoy a specially designed hollow toy stuffed with something tasty.

You have probably already realised that your puppy has very small, very sharp, teeth - and they hurt! Most puppies try to chew anything and everything - including us. This is normal behaviour; mouthing teaches a puppy about what is alive and what isn't. Just like a toddler, your puppy will want to put objects into his mouth to see what response there is as a result.

Puppies playing together will bite each other's legs and tails - all in fun. However, if one bites too hard, the playmate will let out a yelp. This tells the other puppy that they need to be more careful next time. 

In order to teach your puppy to moderate the strength of their bite, you need to let them know that biting hurts. Every time that they try to put their mouth on you, stand or sit still, yelp, then fold your arms, and turn away. When they has calmed down, you can start to give attention. Redirecting your puppy onto something to play with that they can nip is usually a good technique. Some puppies can get very over-excited and if they continue to nip you, leave the room, or pop your puppy behind a baby gate - effectively isolating them for a few moments. You will need to be consistent and repeat this behaviour every time your puppy puts their teeth on you so that they learn that nipping equals the end of the game.

Mouthing doesn't stop overnight! By teaching your puppy that there are unrewarding consequences to their biting, it should gradually become less hard and then stop altogether within a four to six week period.

Young children need to learn to be calm and to stop moving if your puppy is becoming overexcited - otherwise your puppy may think that biting is fun!

It's important to play games with your new puppy, but playing rough and tumble should not be encouraged. These games teach the puppy that it's OK to bite humans' clothes, hair or skin - which is inappropriate. Playing tug games with toys, training games and hide and seek are far safer and just as enjoyable for everyone.

Early learning will affect your puppy’s behaviour for the rest of their life! Think about how you want your adult dog to behave and lay the foundations for good manners before it's too late and start as you mean to go on! 

1. Don’t encourage biting
Any game where the puppy is allowed to bite humans is an open invitation to bite humans! How would you feel if your dog wrestled a visiting toddler to the floor in two years’ time? No matter what the size, shape, temperament or breed of your puppy, don't ever let them think that play-fighting with humans is fun.

2. Resist feeding your puppy from the table
They put their mouths and noses where we choose not to! They eat unimaginable things! Not all people can overlook these delightful canine habits at the dinner table! Bear in mind that dogs learn exactly what you teach them. Feed them from the table, and that's where they will think good things come from - so don't be surprised if they 'steal' food later - no matter how much you were looking forward to eating it!

3. Who’s training who?
Right from day one, your puppy is working out what gets attention and what does not. In a very short time they may already have worked out that barking gets eye contact and physical attention. Walking towards the back door gets a play in the garden. Picking up the kids' toys gets chase games. Ragging on the doormat gets laughter. Biting people gets them excited. If playing nicely with their own toys gets nothing, it doesn't take a genius to work out which behaviours will be repeated and which they won’t bother with again.

Rewards come in the form of attention from humans - any attention will do if nothing else is going on. Humans act funny when they get excited - it's even worth being punished just to see them jump up and down! What gets rewarded gets repeated, so remember to pay attention to your pup and offer praise when they are behaving nicely.

4. Don’t allow your puppy to practice behaviours now which will be annoying later on
Bad manners like jumping up, nudging people in intimate areas, mouthing, and climbing all over people may be funny and cute when your puppy is tiny, but are much less endearing later on! If you don't want your adult dog to get on your bed after a muddy walk, don't teach them to do it when they're a puppy! Have a think about what your household's rules are going to be - and get everybody to stick to them.

Consistency is the key!

Training your puppy to do what you request is really a matter of motivating them to understand our language. Not many people would go to work day after day without ever being paid - and dogs need a reason to do what we ask, too.

For many dogs, particularly puppies, food is the equivalent of a salary - it can act as the ultimate reward, and is also useful to use as a lure in the initial stages of training, too. Of course, a reward is only a reward if your dog likes it. Some dogs prefer playing with toys, or attention from their owner, and not many will want to work for food which they perceive as boring or unpleasant.

There are 101 things your puppy can't be doing if they are sitting - making "sit" a very useful request!

Show your pup you have a food treat and allow a little sniff. Now lift your hand up and back, encouraging them to look up and follow your hand. The movement of them looking upwards like this causes a physical chain reaction - their rear end has to go down.

As soon as their bottom hits the ground, give verbal praise and the treat. If your pup's front legs come off the ground, your hand is probably too high. Concentrate on keeping the food near to their nose, and lift your hand just an inch or two.

Practise this a few times. Once your pup is following your hand and sitting reliably, you can add in the word “sit”, just before you lure them. In a short time you will have taught a verbal request to sit, plus an effective hand signal. Now you can vary between sometimes using a food treat, and simply asking for a sit and rewarding afterwards.

Practise getting your pup to respond to the word sit before they get anything enjoyable - dinner, having the lead put on, being let out into the garden - it's their way of saying please and thank you.

The “down” sometimes needs a little more patience than the sit. Keep quiet and be persistent - your pup will soon understand what you are asking!

Start by asking your pup to sit. Hold a treat between your finger and thumb and lower your hand, very slowly, down to the floor so that it rests just between your puppy's front paws.

Turn your palm down, with the food hidden inside your hand. This way, your pup will want to burrow his nose underneath, and he will turn their head sideways to nibble at it.

Early indications of imminent success are; the pup raising a paw to try and get the treat from your hand, the front end going down in a 'play-bow' position, and moving backwards slightly. All these things mean you just have to wait. Eventually the back-end flops down to the floor, too. At this instant, say “good' and put the treat onto the floor for your pup to eat.

If your puppy loses interest halfway down, simply show them the food treat again and then slowly lower it to the floor once more. Practise then makes perfect!

As soon as your puppy has got the hang of this, you can give the command “down” just before you lure them into position.

Once this is reliable, alternate between food and no food in your hand. Before you know it, your pup will be offering you the down position on a hand signal or voice command only! However, continue to give them rewards for his best efforts in order to maintain good behaviour.

Teaching your pup to “come” when called means that they will be able to have more freedom where it is safe to have off-lead exercise.

Standing only a couple of steps away from your pup, call their name in a friendly voice and say “come”.

Waggle a food lure in your outstretched hand and start moving backwards. If your puppy shows no response, clap your hands or make silly noises until they look at you. Then, using the food as a lure, move backwards, just one or two paces. If your pup moves just one step towards you, say “good' then offer the reward straight away.

Gradually increase the distance your puppy has to come to get the food, making sure you praise them lots and give a delicious reward or a game with a toy for coming when you call.

Now practise calling your pup to you at unusual moments in and around the house, then in the garden. Build up your puppy's recall before practising in the park or woods where there are more distractions. Here you can use a long line or extending lead if you are unsure how your puppy will respond. However, bear in mind that the more distractions there are, the better your rewards and praise will have to be!

Get your puppy used to a collar and lead as soon as possible. Choose a set that is soft, light and not too loose. You may have to buy several collars during the growth period, but this is safer than having a puppy wriggle out of a collar that is too big. Many breeders use coloured identity collars, so your pup may already be used to wearing one, but still introduce their new one carefully.

Just leave the collar on for a short while initially and distract your pup with a game or a meal. They will quickly associate the collar with pleasurable events. Your puppy should be supervised in case they try to remove it and gets a paw stuck, or manages to get it caught up on a piece of furniture. Gradually leave the collar on for longer periods. Once the collar is well accepted, you can then start lead training.

Patience during the early days will be time well spent. Always encourage your puppy gently, and never haul them forwards. Most pups respond well to gentle verbal praise and petting, some respond to a favourite toy and others are best encouraged with small food rewards. A combination approach helps to keep things interesting and concentration levels up, but be careful not to confuse your puppy. As with the collar, take small steps at a time, gradually working up to longer periods on the lead.

Getting used to the collar early is wise because when outside every puppy must wear an identity disc. Like microchipping, this is a legal requirement.

Think about all the elements which make up our modern world - traffic, other animals, the noises and smells of the town and countryside and the sight and touch of lots of different people. Don’t expose your puppy to too many new experiences too quickly. It can take up to 72 hours for stress hormones to settle down after a negative experience. If further negative experiences occur before your pup has relaxed, stress hormones build up higher and higher which can then result in fight or flight behaviours. Try to make each new excursion pleasurable, take food rewards and/or toys, and allow your pup plenty of sniffing time around trees/posts etc. Sniffing helps dogs to make sense of the world around them and is an incredibly stimulating and enjoyable activity.

Remember that puppies (just like children) don’t necessarily like all of the experiences, pets and people they encounter. The idea is to create a polite and neutral dog. Your puppy may be super-friendly, but many dogs and their owners don’t appreciate an over-enthusiastic approach. This can put your pup in danger too. Choose play-mates carefully and encourage your pup to first observe at a safe distance, taking introductions slowly. Keep in mind that socialising isn’t just about direct interactions with other dogs and people, but getting used to different environments.

Think about the places you would like to take your puppy from their perspective. Are these appropriate for a puppy? Do you think they will be curious or afraid? Is it too noisy or overstimulating? For example, if you enjoy popping into a bar or café on your way home from a walk, choose a place that you know isn’t too loud or crowded. A venue where you can sit outside is usually a good idea to begin with. Your puppy will need to have learned good manners so that they can sit/lie happily under the table or on your lap without crying/begging and creating a disturbance to the other customers. Just stay for a short period the first time, and make sure you leave before your puppy gets bored. You can gradually work up to longer visits providing your pup remains comfortable.

Supermarket car parks are not very interesting to us, but they can be quite a useful place for puppy socialising as there is often a quiet area furthest from the entrance. Here your pup can get used to traffic noises, but from a safe distance.

Puppies that are not yet fully vaccinated don’t have to stay indoors. They just mustn’t mix with other unvaccinated dogs or have access to places they may have been (such as public roads and parks). You can take your puppy out in a carrier or crate, or carry them  (providing you’re confident that they won’t wriggle out of your arms).

Your puppy will be dependent on you, but it is important not to encourage over-dependence. This can lead to separation anxiety and its associated disruptive behaviours. Start by leaving your puppy for very short periods (when they are settled) and gradually work up to longer absences.

Puppy claws are sharp! Many new owners are keen to get them trimmed as quickly as possible, but they will usually wear down naturally once your puppy starts going out for walks on hard surfaces.

It is a good idea though to get your puppy used to your handling their feet. Start by picking up each one in turn and gently handling them. This will mean that if claw clipping is needed later on, it will be much better tolerated. It will also enable you to examine the foot properly for cuts or stings if your puppy is ever lame.

Black claws are more difficult to trim because you cannot see the ‘quick’ (which is its blood supply). It is a good idea to get your vet or groomer to show you how to do it the first couple of times until you are confident and know how short you can go without making the nail bleed.

Always use nice sharp nail clippers that are a suitable size for your breed, and keep a silver nitrate pencil (or even a little corn flour) by to stem any bleeding if you do nick the quick. Some owners prefer to use a quiet dremmel to file down the nails.

Taking care of your puppy’s teeth from an early age could help to prevent costly visits to the vet for dental treatment in later life. The mechanical action of mouthing on toys and chews is good for dental health and can help to remove the soft film of bacterial plaque that will turn into hard yellow tartar if left to build up.

Smearing a heavy-duty grooved rubber toy with a proprietary brand of dog toothpaste (never use human toothpaste) is a good idea to get the puppy used to the paste and to help them associate it with pleasure. You can also smear it on a rope toy with knots at each end. When you play tug-of-war it will act like dental floss! Once your puppy is enjoying their toothpaste you can start to get them used to a soft-bristled toothbrush. Begin by letting them lick the paste from it, then gradually progress to moving it around in their mouth, and then gently brushing. Like grooming, cleaning your puppy’s teeth is a good bonding experience. The more time you spend with your puppy, the more confident they will become and more they will trust you.

Most puppies enjoy being brushed. A daily groom from an early age is usually very pleasurable. It is far more sensible to get your puppy used to the appropriate types of brush and comb for your breed when the coat is easy to attend to than to wait until it gets knotted and dirty. When grooming your pup, take the time to check over the ears, eyes and paws.

When bathing your puppy, be careful to ensure the water is not too hot or too cold. Make sure there is a non-slip mat on the floor of the bath or shower and enlist a helper to keep your puppy still. Use a gentle shampoo especially for puppies and take care not to get any suds in the eyes or ears. Rinse well afterwards otherwise the residual soap could be licked off and cause an upset tummy. It will also leave the coat looking dull rather than shiny and clean.

After your puppy has been fully vaccinated, why not take them along to the vets for a pleasure trip? Most vets are very accommodating and will appreciate that a visit for a non-invasive and non-painful procedure will help to instil confidence in future visits. It is easier for all concerned if your puppy is comfortable at the surgery rather than fearful.

You could ask the vet or nurse to weigh your puppy for you and also lift them up onto the examination table for a cuddle and quick check over without anything “bad” happening . Remember to take treats! Whilst at the surgery, it is also worth asking whether they run or can recommend any puppy socialising classes.

Get your puppy out and about!
Time is short and you can never replace those early weeks of puppy development. Puppies need to meet other dogs, people and experience all kinds of sights, sounds and smells as early as possible in order to learn good communication skills. This is even more critical if you have another dog at home as puppies often over-bond with one playmate and never learn to have confidence in their own right.

Start training now!
Just think how much easier it is to learn French when you are 5 than 55! Puppies can learn all the basics of good manners and training from an early age, so don't delay! Tricks may seem like frivolous fun, but anything you can teach your dog helps to build bonds between you and increases your overall control.

Don't allow your puppy to practise bad habits
It's oh so easy to let your tiny puppy sit on the sofa, steal food from your plate and jump all over you when you come home from work, but will you be so forgiving when your dog is large, muddy and hairy? It's unfair on puppies to get used to one set of rules, only to have them change without warning later. Decide on your household 'rules' when your puppy first arrives and then get everyone to stick to them. It will save a great deal of stress in the long run.

Teach your puppy that it's ok to be left alone
Many dogs love being with their owners so much that they cannot cope when they are left alone. Dogs with separation anxiety can get so distressed that they can destroy furniture, bark or howl or mess in the house when their owners are out… but it's all preventable. Leaving your puppy in a safe area, in a bed in the kitchen, for a short time every day teaches them to accept that these times are just a normal part of life and that you'll soon be back together again.

Handle your puppy every day
All dogs need to learn to enjoy being handled and examined. This prevents the puppy from experiencing stress at the vets and the groomers and is also a vital part of your daily care for your dog - enabling you to check his coat, skin, eyes, ears, mouth and feet and to keep them in tip-top condition. Using force is always counterproductive when handling your dog. So, make handling pleasurable for your puppy by giving lots of rewards for calm behaviour, and practise little and often.