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Everything you need to know about raising a puppy

Everything you need to know about raising a puppy
PHOTO: Unsplash

I’ll be honest. When it comes to raising a puppy, you only get one chance to do it right, and it’s not going to be a walk in the park.

But I promise you, when you build the foundation strong and right, your puppy is going to be well prepared for life! However, if your dog fails, the sad truth is you could have done better.

Practise patience – that’s what will take your dog far.

And, okay, maybe this isn’t everything, but all the points below are definitely important things I learnt while raising my Singapore Special. Good things must share right? I wish you and your doggo well!

Understand what is Responsible Pet Ownership (RPO)

Animal Veterinary Service (AVS), a cluster under NParks, says it best: “The decision to keep a pet should never be taken lightly. Once you are a pet owner, you have to be committed to your pet for its entire life. At no time should abandoning it be an option.”

Some criteria that AVS spells out for RPO:

  1. Feed your pet regular nutritious and balanced meals.
  2. Provide your pet with suitable housing.
  3. Groom your pet well, and regularly.
  4. Provide appropriate training for your pet.
  5. Bring your pet to a veterinarian for regular check-ups, and when it shows signs of sickness.
  6. Spend time with your pet.
  7. Pick up your pet's poop when you bring it out in public, and do not let it stray.
  8. Sterilise your pet to prevent unwanted litters.
  9. Microchip your pet for easy traceability in case it goes missing.

Checklist of essentials before you bring your new puppy home

Prepare home with pet-safe cleaners. Dogs have sensitive noses and our strong Dettol and Walch might put their health at risk if they ingest these harmful toxins. I recommend these plant-based products that are gentle yet effective especially for your furkids:

Crate. A safe place for puppies to be kept in when no one is around. Note: puppies should not be left in a crate for more than 2 hours.

Doggy-proof your home with playpen gates. These block off areas (such as the kitchen and the balcony) that pose a risk to your dog’s safety. Or use these for house-training, but do expect accidents around the house because your puppy may not fully understand how to control their bladder yet.

Puppy food. Always check the ingredients list. Puppies must eat puppy food so that they get enough nutrients. Cheap food means cheap ingredients.

Puppy treats. Look for quality treats!

Puppy eating and drinking bowls. These must be washed regularly to avoid bacteria build-up.

Collar. Preferably with a dog tag (so that you can put your puppy’s name and your contact on it).

Leash. It’s advisable that you use a longer leash to prevent involuntary tension on the leash which will cause both the dog and you to be very kan cheong.

Poopy bags. To clear your dog’s waste. Try to let your dog poop on a newspaper instead of letting their poop fall onto the ground or grass which may be hard to pick up. Dog faeces are carriers of some viruses.

Blankets/Doggy bed. To make it more comfortable for your dog.

Doggy food containers. For the simple reason that your Ah Gong, Ah Ma, children or parents will not accidentally eat doggy food.

Dog shampoo. – Dogs require baths maybe once a week, depending on activity level. The Earthbath Natural Pet Care Oatmeal & Aloe Shampoo is a great product that many pawrents and doggos love.

Dog toothbrush and toothpaste. Yes, even doggos need tooth brushing, too. If not, they might have tooth pains, infections etc. For my dog, I use Virbac Animal Health C.E.T Home Dental Care Enzymatic Toothpaste.

Toys. Do get ones of different textures for your dog’s mental stimulation.

Chew toys. To prevent them from chewing up your bedsheets, boxes, table legs etc.

Feeding tips

Dogs must stay hydrated. Especially if you’re in a warm climate like our sunny Singapore.

Stick to protein-rich diets. More energy for your dog and less gastrointestinal problems.

Avoid food with animal by-products. Give your dogs human-grade good-quality meat.


Avoid feeding food from the table. You don’t want dogs to learn that they can always eat food from the table; could be potentially dangerous especially if you have grapes, onions, raisins, macadamia nuts or chocolate on the table.

Always feed a nutritionally balanced meal. If cooking and ensuring they have a balanced meal is difficult, feed food that meets the AAFCO requirements.

Keep feeding time consistent. Changing your dog’s schedule might confuse them and cause them to act out. Start with 3 times a day for puppies, then gradually move to twice and day and then to something that fits your schedule.

Look out for bones. Small bones might get stuck in their throat or puncture their internal organs.

Ensure your dog does not eat too fast. This might cause vomiting. You might want to consider this slow-eating anti-choke bowl.

Look out for puppies eating trash. They eat everything! Grass is okay though. Always give your 110 per cent attention when walking them.

Training and socialisation (often overlooked)

This part is especially important. Training and socialisation help prepare your dog for society – dogs will need to know basic commands for their own safety, and for others around.

Commands like “sit”, “paw”, “no”, “stay” and training their bite inhibition will be very useful in many situations.

Socialisation with other dogs and animals is needful in order to prevent grievous consequences. So, it would be best to introduce your dog when it’s a puppy to other animals, so it can learn to socialise from young.

Socialisation with humans is also important but rule of thumb: never pat a dog without asking their owner’s for consent. Simply because you will not know the personality of the dog and if they end up biting you, you’re going to blame it on the dog owners.

Consent is everything!

For Puppy Social classes and trainings, check out Puppylove Dog Training.

Doggy daycare is great for dogs to learn socialisation skills as well. My dog is great with other dogs, thanks to Pawsitivemind.

This article was first published in

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