Welcoming a new addition to your family is always exciting, and your mind is likely continuously adding items to your to-do list to ensure a smooth transition. Several considerations are extra important, so we offer five key recommendations to ease the process for you and your new four-legged family member and help your puppy get off to the best start in life.

#1: Set your puppy up for success by planning ahead

Having a plan in place before you bring your new puppy home can prevent many problems and help your pup start off on the right paw. Prior to welcoming your new puppy, check the following tasks off your to-do list:

  • Adopt from a reputable source — While taking one of Guam’s many stray dogs into your home may seem like a good idea, most of these dogs carry parasites and infections. If you have other pets, you may be putting them at risk for contracting infectious diseases and parasites. 
  • Puppy-proof your home — Puppies explore their environment with their mouths, so everything in your home will end up in your new pet’s jaws. Protect your puppy—and your belongings—by pet-proofing your home before they arrive. Remove small items that could be choking hazards, run electrical cords behind furniture or cover them, ensure cabinets and trash cans latch securely shut, and be able to block your puppy’s access to the kitchen, bathroom, and other potentially dangerous areas.
  • Purchase essentials — You don’t want to be rushing to the store as soon as you bring your puppy home. Make a list of essentials and set up your new pup’s space before they come home. Key items include a collar and leash, food and water bowls, bedding, toys, treats, and a crate.
  • Lay down the house rules — Ensuring the whole family is on the same page about house rules is one of the best ways to set your puppy up for success. For example, will your puppy be allowed on the furniture? If one person cuddles the puppy on the couch, and one insists that the puppy stay on the floor, your new pup will be confused about acceptable behavior.
  • Ensure you can provide a life-long home — By adopting a puppy, you are committing to provide them with a life-long home. If you are staying on Guam temporarily, consider if and how your dog will travel back home with you. Most airlines do not transport dogs, and it can cost several thousand dollars to ship your dog  on a private jet. Sadly, many pets are abandoned because their owners cannot take them when they leave Guam.

#2: Feed your puppy a high-quality diet

Balanced nutrition from high-quality puppy food will help your puppy develop properly and form a strong immune system. The appropriate ratio of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients will ensure your new pet has the fuel for a lifetime of good health and appropriate growth. We know that you can easily be overwhelmed by all the options, so talk to Dr. Bob to determine the best diet for your puppy’s needs.

#3: Focus on positive training methods

Positive reinforcement training methods are the most effective for helping your new pup grow into a well-mannered adult, so reward your puppy with high-value treats and praise when you are teaching them to sit, stay, and come. If your puppy doesn’t understand what you want, never use negative training techniques (e.g., yelling, physical punishment), which will make your puppy afraid and less likely to try again. Instead, ignore unwanted behaviors, redirect your puppy to perform the appropriate action, and then reward them.

#4: Socialize your puppy appropriately

Positive socialization will help your puppy develop into a confident, happy dog. The prime socialization period is between 6 and 14 weeks of age, but you should keep your puppy at home until their vaccination series are complete to prevent serious disease.

However, plenty of socialization activities can be performed in your home: 

  • Use positive reinforcement and allow your pup to proceed at their own pace as you expose them to various novel sights, sounds, and surfaces. 
  • Have friends and family visit, and let your puppy go forward to greet them—never force your pup to accept attention they may not want.
  • Expose them to small children and different-looking adults (e.g., men with beards, people wearing hats), so they remain calm and confident when interacting with strangers.
  • Acclimate them to loud sounds (e.g., thunder, vacuums), different surfaces (e.g., concrete, grass), and as many things as possible that they may encounter.

#5: Schedule regular veterinary care to keep your puppy healthy

Guam’s warm and humid climate and large stray animal population put your puppy at great risk for contracting a myriad of environmental health issues. To ensure your new pet stays healthy, schedule regular preventive care exams with our Guam Pet Hospital team.

Puppy preventive care includes these essentials:

If your new puppy has not received recent veterinary care or disease screening, schedule an appointment immediately to prevent them from putting your other pets in danger.

As your puppy grows, their wellness visits are the best time to ask questions about their care. Regular veterinary care will help us build a bond with your puppy and customize recommendations that will help ensure they grow up strong, healthy, and well-behaved. After you welcome your new puppy home, give our Guam Pet Hospital team a call to schedule their first veterinary visit.