Acupuncture is increasingly recognised as a useful complement to more traditional medical or surgical approaches…
Bringing a new puppy or kitten home can be incredibly exciting for all members of the family, but it’s important to remember that you are now responsible for your little ball of fluffy joy. In this article, we discuss how to raise a well-rounded puppy or kitten, with some helpful tips and recommendations for their early stages.
So, how do you raise a well rounded kitten or puppy? When you adopt a kitten or puppy, you are responsible for their health and wellbeing. As such, there are a number of duties you need to perform, including vet appointments, toilet training, socialisation, behavioural training, and welcoming them into your home, in order to raise a well-adjusted pet.
Read on to learn more about bringing up a well-rounded puppy or kitten.
What is Heatstroke in Animals?
Does Heatstroke in Animals Differ from Human Heatstroke?
How Do You Know If Your Pet Has Heatstroke?
How Do Pets Naturally Cool Down, and How Does This Differ From Humans?
Which Animals and Breeds are at the Most Risk of Heatstroke?
How to Prevent Heatstroke in Pets
What Can Happen If Pets Overheat?
Treatment for Heatstroke in Pets
10 Tips for Raising Well-Rounded Puppies and Kittens
Whether you got your puppy from a breeder or a rescue shelter, they will have already started a few processes, such as vaccinations, toilet training, and socialisation. However, you’ll want to build on this. To help you get started with raising a well-rounded kitten or puppy, here are some helpful tips and tricks.
Tips for raising a well-rounded puppy include:
Welcome Your New Puppy Home
The first few days after bringing your puppy home can be full of excitement and love, but it’s important to remember that your puppy may be nervous. What’s more, they will be learning what to do, and what not to do, regardless of whether or not you’re formally teaching them or not.
Be warm and welcoming, but be aware that your puppy may crave security and routine, as well as love.
Prepare Their Environment
During your puppy’s first 8 weeks, whilst they are still with their mother, you should begin to prepare a suitable environment for your new puppy, by creating space for them, purchasing a crate, a sleeping area, food, and toys and maybe even acquiring a blanket from their first home. Remember to remove anything poisonous or hazardous.
Learn more about common household poisons and toxins in our recent blog
Get a Crate
Early on, we recommend you get a Crate for your puppy. A crate is a place of security, comfort, and quiet time that should never be used for time-outs. It is important that the crate remains a positive space, where they can rest and relax. Also, when used correctly, your puppy may come to associate it with rewards, making it a great tool for behavioural training.
What’s more, experts recommend crate training as an essential part of house training, as dogs don’t like to soil their sleeping space. Crate training encourages puppies to learn to hold their bladder until a more appropriate time.
Supervise at All Times
As your puppy begins to explore your home and garden, it’s important that you supervise them at all times to avoid any potential dangers. However, it is equally important to not smother them – let them come to you for comfort and assistance, rather than the other way around, as some puppies can quickly become overwhelmed.
Establish a Routine
One of the most important things to do when you bring your new puppy home is to establish a routine early on. The best way to do this is to create a schedule and actually stick to it. This is also a good way to encourage good behaviour.
When creating a schedule, you should consider:
- A feeding schedule – most puppies need to eat three to four times a day. This can be made easier by planning it around your own mealtimes.
- Toilet training – create a regular routine of taking your puppy outside every few hours, and after every change of activity. This is especially important during house training, and should help to keep accidents to a minimum.
- Playtime and exercise – long, strenuous exercise is not good for puppies, but playing and running around in the garden is a great alternative. Different breeds have different energy levels, but it is important to schedule play and exercise into their day, regardless. Consult with your vet for more specific information.
- Naps and bedtime – young puppies sleep as much as 16-18 hours per day, not because they’re lazy, but because they need to rest and recharge. It’s important to remind family members, especially children, not to disrupt them whilst they’re sleeping.
Puppy Training Classes
From 12 weeks onwards, you may find it beneficial to take your puppy to puppy training classes. Good training classes are a great way to boost your puppy’s confidence, and to learn basic training that will see them into adulthood.
Knutsford Veterinary Surgery offers puppy training in their practice in Knutsford, in association with The Kennel Club. Take a look online, or get in touch with us today for more information about this service.
Here are our tips for raising a well-rounded kitten:
Prepare for Their Arrival
Kittens may stay with their mothers for a few weeks after birth, but during this time, you can begin preparing for their arrival in your home. Consider purchasing:
- Kitten food
- Food and water bowls
- A litter box and cat litter
- A bed and/or soft blanket for sleeping
- A scratching post
- Kitten toys
- A safe hiding spot, such as a cat tower, or a cat carrier (you could also create a space in your home for this purpose)
Don’t Forget Their Check-Ups
Young kittens need ongoing veterinary care, usually every 3 to 4 weeks, until they are at least 16 weeks old. This accounts for core vaccinations, boosters, microchipping, parasite prevention, and ensuring general good health whilst they are still so vulnerable.
If you have other cats, or other pets, in the home, it is best to separate them from your new kitten initially for safety and comfort purposes. After a few days, you can let them sniff each other out on either side of closed doors, then let them interact directly after a few more days, ensuring supervision at all times, to begin with.
You should also begin socialising your kitten to new experiences fairly early on in order to help them grow into a well-adjusted cat. It would be beneficial to socialise them to:
- People outside of your household
- Loud noises
- New textures
- Common situations such as short car rides, doorbell sounds, and deliveries
Pet Your Kitten Often
Once your kitten is comfortable in their new environment, try to pet them, cuddle them, and pick them up fairly often. Such human interaction should help to make them more comfortable with being handled, and will make things such as vet visits and grooming easier.
How to Enrich Your Puppy or Kitten’s Environment
Providing your new puppy or kitten with an enriched environment can help to increase their activity, decrease mental stagnation, and will give them the opportunity to create their own positive experiences in a safe, enclosed space. This is especially important for indoor cats.
For dogs, boredom is, generally, bad and can lead to trouble. Enriching their environment makes their living space more interesting and stimulating, thus decreasing boredom. It’s not difficult to make their environment more enriching, but you do need to be creative and switch things up regularly.
- Take your dog on regular walks, as appropriate for their age – this provides exercise, as well as allowing them to encounter new things and new experiences
- For at-home enriching activities, try agility training. Equipment including weave poles, tunnels, and jumps are readily available online, and can provide both mentally and physically stimulating activity in your own backyard
- Food puzzles are a great option for when you’re not available or when your puppy is home alone. They provide mental stimulation and problem-solving practice as your puppy works out how to get the treat. But don’t be fooled into thinking that you need to purchase elaborate toys; a food puzzle can be as simple as hiding a treat inside an empty paper towel roll folded at the ends
- Puppy training – this can be as simple as at-home training (YouTube has some great videos!), or a puppy training class. Dogs of all ages benefit from training, but they are great for both mentally and physically stimulating puppies
Kittens are curious creatures with boundless energy. Creating a safe, enriching environment can help to cater to their playful side, whilst also stimulating them, and encouraging good development as they grow. Tips for creating an enriching environment include:
- Provide safe places for hiding and resting. This could be window ledges, perches, carriers, under the stairs, under a bed, or on top of a cat tower.
- Create stimulating places for entertainment and play, such as scratching posts, and safe spaces at different heights.
- Provide social opportunities with other cats early on, if possible. Cats can benefit from social activity with other cats, helping to meet their need for constant play and activity.
Purchase engaging toys and games – these can help to develop coordination, learn boundaries, and develop a bond with members of the household. Aim for 10-15 minutes of structured playtime, two to three times a day.
Common Worries with New Puppies and Kittens
As a new pet owner, you’ll likely worry about the smallest things, but should you be worried? Below we list a few common worries with new puppies and kittens, and how to deal with them.
Some common worries that new puppy owners experience include:
- Barking – it’s normal for puppies to bark, but excessive barking, or barking at a particular thing, can be problematic. Act early on and try the following:
- Don’t tell your puppy off for barking, simply ignore them and wait until they stop
- Reward them when they remain quiet
- Make sure they’re not bored, and provide exercise or activities to stimulate them
- Attention seeking – dogs are social animals, but if they become clingy, this can be an issue. In such cases, you need to teach them how to be alone. Do this by providing them with a safe, cosy environment and limiting their contact with you. Start small, and gradually move further away from them each time you leave them. A baby gate is a great tool for this.
- Shyness or hiding – each dog has their own personality, and some are naturally shyer and more reserved than others. If you’re concerned about this, though, here are a few things you can do:
- Learn to recognise shyness from being scared
- If they’re worried or scared, don’t force them into the situation
- Provide a cosy space at home where they can retreat to for rest and quiet time
- Reward bravery and social interaction, but don’t be tempted to force situations
- Have fun with your puppy and encourage what they enjoy. This will build up a bank of positive experiences which can help to build their confidence
Some common worries that new kitten owners experience include:
- Other pets – if you think that your existing pets may pose a threat to your new kitten, it’s best to keep them separated initially, gradually introducing them to one another over a period of time. Supervision is key, but don’t intervene unless you detect signs of aggression from either side
- Handling – some cats enjoy physical contact, whilst others don’t. This is natural, but cats need to learn to accept physical contact in some situations such as grooming and healthcare. In order for your cat to learn to accept physical interaction, it’s important to not punish them, and instead stick to positive encouragement. Try using types of handling that your cat does enjoy, such as scratching behind the ears, and speak to them in a gentle voice while doing so. You may also consider giving them a treat.
- Socialisation – The majority of socialisation will take place whilst your kitten is still with their mother, but it’s important to continue to socialise your kitten once they move into your home. It is recommended that you expose your kitten to as many new situations and experiences as possible whilst they are young to prevent them from developing fears and anxieties. Positive reinforcement will help to make your kitten feel safe and secure during this time.
New Puppy or Kitten Timeline
We understand that the variety of tasks and responsibilities that you have as a new puppy or kitten owner can be overwhelming. We’ve provided a puppy and kitten care timeline below to help you keep on track with their needs and development.
The first few months of owning a puppy are the most important, use our timeline to help your puppy get the best start in life.
2 Weeks - Worming Begins
Many dogs are born with worms, and worming is a normal part of healthcare. They should be wormed at 2 weeks, 4, 6, 8, and 12 weeks to begin with, and as recommended by your vet thereafter.
7+ Weeks - Bring Your Puppy Home
Once your puppy reaches 7 weeks, they’re ready to come home as it is now old enough to survive without its mother. Training should begin as soon as possible.
7-8 Weeks - Training Begins
Once you bring your puppy home, you should begin basic training, such as creating a routine, and teaching them their name. It is important that they understand early on that their needs mould into your needs, not the other way around. Key aspects of their routine should include eating, toilet training, playing, and sleeping.
8 Weeks - Vaccinations
Your puppy will be ready to begin their first round of vaccinations at 8 weeks (some brands of vaccine can be used as early as 6 weeks). Vaccinations are an important part of preventative healthcare, and at Knutsford Vets, we vaccinate against:
- Kennel Cough
- Canine distemper virus
- Canine adenovirus
Puppies will receive further vaccinations at 10 weeks of age (or 2-4 weeks after their first vaccinations).
8 Weeks - Microchipping
8 Weeks - Flea Treatment
From 8 weeks of age, you can begin protecting your puppy against fleas, ticks, mites and lungworm. This is especially important if you have other dogs at home, as fleas can spread easily.
10 Weeks - Puppy Training Continues
Once you have their routine down, and they have learned their name, you can begin lead training and teaching them to sit.
6+ Months - Male Neutering
Neutering can be performed at any time after 6 months of age as they have developed enough to perform a straightforward operation. We recommend waiting for large breed to become sexually mature (12-18 months) as there is some evidence to link earler castration with increased risk of cancer in certain large breeds.
6-7+ Months - Female Neutering
Each puppy is different and will be ready for neutering at different ages, usually either 6-7 months, before their first season, or 3-3.5 months after their first season. At a minimum, it is best to wait until your dog is 6-7 months old before considering neutering.
In season, female dogs will often receive unwanted attention from any male dog they come into contact with. As such, neutering before their first season will prevent any unwanted pregnancies, as well as preventing any problems related to seasons and false pregnancies.
However, sometimes, we will advise that you delay the procedure until after their first season if they are very tucked up in the region of the vulva, as this can lead to urine coming into constant contact with the skin, which can cause infections and rashes. Similarly, we may recommend delaying the procedure if your dog is showing signs of being in heat, or mammary developments.
Knutsford Vets, we assess each dog on an individual basis, and our team is always on hand to discuss any benefits or risks associated with female neutering.
2 Weeks - Worming Begins
Worming should begin from around 2 weeks of age. If you have adopted an older kitten, ensure to ask when the kitten had their first treatment to ensure that they are fully protected.
Kittens should receive further worming treatments at 5 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and as recommended by your vet thereafter.
4 Weeks - Flea Treatment
Special kitten flea treatment can begin from around 4 weeks of age. If you have adopted your kitten, be sure to ask about any previous flea treatments. Regular flea treatments can begin from 8 weeks old, and can be as regular as once per month thereafter.
8 Weeks - Earliest Time to Rehome
We understand that it can be tempting to bring your kitten home as early as possible, but it is vital that your kitten stays with its mother and siblings until at least 8 weeks old to ensure that it gets enough nutrition from its mothers’ milk, before being weaned onto regular cat food.
However, if you have other cats at home, some experts recommend waiting until the kitten is 12 weeks old due to flu risk.
8 Weeks - Microchipping
9 Weeks - Vaccinations
At 9 weeks, your kitten should have their first round of vaccinations. Core vaccines that we provide include:
- Cat flu (FHV & FCV)
- Feline infectious enteritis
- Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV)
Your kitten will then have a second round of vaccinations 3-4 weeks later.
14 Weeks - Kitten Can Go Outside
At 14 weeks of age, your kitten can go outside with supervision. If you want to minimise the risk of losing your kitten, or unwanted pregnancies, cat leads are widely available for purchase.
4+ Months - Neutering
Whilst kittens can be neutered earlier, 4 months is the earliest that recommend This ensures that the kitten has matured enough to be operated on safely. Neutering at 4 months also reduces the risk of unwanted pregnancies, as females can get pregnant as early as 4 months old.
6 Months - Let Your Kitten Roam Free
From 6 months of age, your kitten should be mentally and physically mature enough to roam free. By this point, they should have had all of their core vaccinations, be microchipped, and neutered, therefore risks are minimal.
Puppy & Kitten Services at Knutsford Vets
At Knutsford Vets, we offer a new puppy and new kitten service that provides all of the necessary treatments your new furry friend needs in their early stages. Our packages include:
- Core vaccinations
- Flea, tick, and lungworm treatments or puppies
- Flea, tick and mite treatment for kittens
- Worm treatment
- 4 weeks of free insurance with PetPlan
- 10% off neutering
Learn more online today, or get in touch with us to find out more about our puppy and kitten services.