Puppies need a lot of care and attention in their first year of life. Here are a few things that you need to know to plan accordingly.

The Importance of Socialization 

Proper puppy socialization can play a key role in dogs’ development. During the first eight weeks of a puppy’s life, socialization has to happen with a dog’s mother and littermates. This is a big part of why you shouldn’t get a dog that is less than eight weeks old unless you are rescuing an abandoned puppy. In fact, some states prohibit the sale of puppies under eight weeks old. Separating a puppy from its litter and mother before it has reached this age could be harmful to its psychological well-being.

After the eight week mark until about twelve weeks, puppies bond closely with their owners. They must spend a lot of time with their human family members during this period, so it may make sense to plan on being home a little more frequently than you ordinarily would soon after getting a puppy. You should also make time to introduce your dog to new environments and interactions. Getting them comfortable with a variety of settings early on will make them more adaptable to their surroundings, and it could help them be less fearful when confronted with new people, animals, and settings.

Socialization and Health Considerations

As much as puppies need to socialize, your first priority has to be keeping them healthy. Puppies are very susceptible to illness in their first few months, and they cannot develop adequate immunity until a veterinarian has administered all of the most important inoculations that puppies need to stay healthy.

Before bringing a young dog into new situations, you should discuss vaccination requirements with your veterinarian. These may vary regionally, and episodic outbreaks of common puppy illnesses such as parvovirus within certain areas may mean that you need to restrict your puppy’s interaction with other dogs and minimize the possibility of coming into contact with other animals’ waste until it has completed a course of antibiotics.

Neutering and Dogs’ Psychological Well-Being

Neutering dogs has come to be recognized as a core component of responsible pet ownership. Dog owners must take care to prevent unplanned litters. Also, dogs that are prone to aggressive behaviors may fare better socially if they are neutered and do not perceive other males to be rivals, but dog owners must understand that there are also some risks to dogs’ social development and health. Owners ought to do some due diligence and give thoughtful consideration to their dog’s individual needs before deciding on surgical castration.

Dogs that are neutered may have low self-esteem, and some become more aggressive towards other dogs. However, if a dog will be interacting with other dogs frequently and you do not plan to breed it, neutering it may help it stay safe. Young, intact dogs are often met with aggression, so not neutering puppies raises the likelihood that they will become involved in a physical altercation. Unneutered dogs are also more likely to wander.

Neutering and Dogs’ Physical Health

If you are expecting to neuter a puppy while it is still very young and will not remember the event, you should be aware that this isn’t the best course of action for all breeds. Large breed dogs such as golden retrievers or German shepherds must remain intact until they are at least one year old. Castration prior to this age considerably increases a dog’s risk of developing a serious health condition.

Most large breeds such as retrievers do not have a big risk of testicular cancer. However, they are at high risk for stomach cancer, and dogs that continue to produce testosterone have a smaller likelihood of getting nontesticular cancers. Remaining intact also makes large dogs less likely to develop orthopedic problems or weight issues.

Ultimately, you’ll need to be prepared to invest a great deal of time into addressing your furry family member’s socialization and healthcare. Being attentive to your fur baby’s needs will help you be a great puppy owner.