So, you’ve decided to bring a puppy home? We’re so excited for you! You’re about to embark on a very special journey with your new best friend and family member; there’s nothing quite like it.
While puppies are adorable, they can take a lot of work. It can feel a bit overwhelming at times — it’s a good job they’re cute, and that you’ve got Lyka’s guide on hand to help! This is your go-to hub of puppy parenting, covering everything from creating a dog-friendly home to nutrition and basic training.
Making your home dog-friendly
Preparing for your new pup is just as important for you as it is for them. So, before you collect your puppy, make sure you’ve got all the essential equipment.
Creating a puppy-friendly environment starts with seeing the world through your pup’s eyes. Identify the hazards, like loose cables, and the temptations, like your new shoes, so you can address them before your inquisitive dog does!
Puppy essentials checklist
There are hundreds of puppy products to choose from, and it can be very tempting to splurge. Use our checklist and do some research before you buy and remember that good quality items will often last longer and may save you money in the long run.
Which puppy toys should I buy?
From cute furry squirrels to ‘indestructible’ chews and all kinds of balls, tug ropes and Frisbees — the pet toy market is strong! So, which ones should you choose?
You’ve got years to fill up your dog’s toy chest, so start small. We suggest starting with teething toys, plush toys and interactive toys.
How to train your puppy
Training your puppy starts before you bring them home.
Decide on your expectations and ground rules and be consistent from your puppy’s very first day. This is especially important if your pup is joining your family as every person needs to be on the same page.
Remember, you’re not just raising a puppy, you’re raising an adult dog; the behaviour you allow early on is always harder to train out of them at a later point.
Always use positive reinforcement using praise and reward to mark good behaviour. Your pup will be keen to learn if they know they’re doing the right thing.
Toilet training tips
Toilet training takes time and patience, but the good news is that puppies usually pick it up quite quickly. You can even train them to potty on command, which is great if you’re about to take a long car ride.
Identify the place you want your puppy to use as their bathroom, whether this is a section of the garden or an indoor grass pet loo. Dogs tend to go in the same place because they can smell the scent of their previous eliminations.
Great crate training
Crate training provides your puppy with their own designated space for resting and sleeping. If you’re new to crates, think of them as a den rather than a cage.
Choose a crate that will fit their fully grown size and use a divide to make it smaller while they’re little (which won’t be for long!).
Make it a comfortable den with cushioned bedding and cover all sides except the entrance with a blanket to make it cosy.
Always crate train in small steps and don’t rush. Never use your crate as punishment as your pup will develop a negative association with it.
Crate training steps — slowly does it
Start by placing toys and treats inside the crate to make it inviting for your pup. Keep the door open and allow them to explore. Repeat this for a few days until they are completely comfortable with the crate.
When you’re both ready, close the door behind your pup for a few seconds then open the door and praise and reward their interaction.
Next, increase their crated time to a few minutes but sit next to the crate so they feel reassured. Again, use praise and rewards to positively reinforce their behaviour.
Over time you can build up the length of time that your pup is crated and include short absences, so they get used to being alone in their den with the door shut.
If your pup whines or starts to show an aversion to the crate, you may have rushed a step. That’s okay, just go back a few steps and begin from there.
Puppies should not remain in their crate for longer than their bladders will allow — usually no more than 2-3 hours. Dogs don’t like to go to the bathroom where they rest and sleep, so you can use a crate to toilet train your dog.
What should I feed my puppy?
When you pick up your puppy from the breeder or rescue centre, you may be encouraged to continue feeding them the same food they’ve been given — but you can always transition them to a diet of your choice.
If you decide to make the switch, choose a diet that has all the micro and macronutrients your puppy needs to help them grow into strong and healthy adults.
Slow growth feeding for large breed puppies
Large breeds like Great Danes, Rottweilers and Labradors can take up to two years to grow to full size. Big breed puppies need to have a slow growth feeding plan, so they develop at the right pace.
Too much calcium or high caloric food can lead to a faster growth rate which can cause lifelong skeletal problems like hip dysplasia.
Puppy feeding tips and tricks
Some puppies guzzle their food, while others may be a bit wary of mealtimes.
There’s a lot going on for your new pup and it can take them some time to get used to their new environment, family, and food. So, be patient with them as they adjust.
To help your puppy enjoy their food, we’ve collated some tried and tested tips:
Stick to a routine and create a feeding schedule
A consistent routine for feeding, playtime, and potty breaks will create security for your puppy and set them up for success early in life.
When your puppy is very young, they’ll need to be fed four times a day. As they hit growth milestones and get older, this can be gradually reduced to twice a day.
Implement a feeding schedule that suits your lifestyle and can be maintained from early on.
Create a calm environment
Make sure your puppy has a quiet and comfortable space to rest, away from any loud noises or disruptions. New environments can be stressful, so a relaxed spot away for children and other dogs is a must!
Dial up positive reinforcement
Coming home to a new environment can be overwhelming for some pups. Fear of new things like smells, textures and tastes is a survival tactic.
Maintain a relaxed, confident energy when dishing up meals to encourage them to let their guard down and fully enjoy their food. Give them praise after eating to reinforce the experience.
If you’re transitioning your puppy from other food to Lyka, make sure to follow the transition guide to avoid tummy issues and give their gut time to adjust. Slowly increase the proportion of Lyka over five to 14 days to minimise the risk of stomach upset and help them better tolerate and digest the new nutrients.
Dial down treats
Treats make great rewards, especially during the early days of training your puppy and making them feel at home. However, some pups prefer to wait for a treat rather than eating their healthy, well-balanced meals. If they seem bored or disinterested, they might already be full: or they’re waiting for dessert. Keep treats for training time and don’t give in to those big puppy eyes!
Heat up the food
Get ready to turn up the heat! This will enhance the food’s aroma, increasing its appeal — your puppy’s sense of smell is much stronger than ours. Pop a Lyka pouch into a bowl of warm water and heat for a short period so it’s lukewarm before serving.
Puppy grooming basics
If your puppy is a breed that will need regular grooming, it’s best to get them used to the process from an early age, even if they don’t need to be groomed right away.
Start by gently touching each part of their body and repeat this regularly, so they become accustomed to being handled.
Introduce your pup to the tools too. Let them have a good sniff of each item before turning on the electric ones. The sound of clippers may be a startling new noise for your puppy, so reward them with praise and a treat afterwards so they make a positive connection.
The first year of puppy parenting — what to expect
Your puppy’s first year of life is formative for their adulthood. Their curious minds are constantly learning about the world around them; they’re understanding sights, sounds and smells, developing social skills and picking up crucial trained behaviours.
It’s not necessarily the easiest 12 months, but with patience and a whole lot of love, the bond you’ll develop with your pup will be a very special one.
Let’s take a quick look at some key milestones, training essentials and things to watch out for:
The first 1-4 weeks at home
Basic first-day training
Welcome home, pupper! Now what do we do?
Here are a few tips to get you started…
Sniffing intently around the ground may mean your pup is looking for somewhere to go to the toilet. If you notice this, take your pup to their designated toileting area and give them lots of positive reinforcement. You should always praise them when they instinctively do basic tricks like sitting, lying down, pawing, and responding to their name.
Try to resist the urge to bring them into your bed or feed them something extra special to avoid reinforcing these behaviours.
Understanding separation anxiety: how to comfort your puppy
Dogs can experience separation anxiety at any time, but being weaned from their mother and taken from the comfort of their siblings can be a significant adjustment for them.
There are many things you can do to help them through this transitional period, like giving them plenty of playtime, making their space comfortable and safe, and keeping them busy with high value treats and toys.
When picking up your pup, try scheduling time off work or have someone at home for the first few weeks.
4 weeks to 6 months at home
Time to start training
Training your puppy is all about consistency. Toilet training is essential, but you can also start teaching basic commands like sit, lie down and shake.
Start socialising your puppy so they get used to lots of different people. Once they are fully vaccinated (usually at about 16 weeks), you can take them to the park to explore and meet other dogs. We also suggest enrolling them in a puppy preschool to help with training, basic commands and of course socialising.
Some puppies love bath time, while others aren’t as keen to splash around. Take your time and be gentle.
Depending on your pup’s lifestyle, we recommend giving your dog a bath at least every one to two months, and always using natural skincare products that won’t itch or irritate their sensitive skin.
Once they’re comfy with bath time, it’s a great chance to trim your pup’s nails and check their body for any health concerns.
6 months onward
Out-of-house leash training
Leash training is a skill — sometimes it feels like your puppy is training you! The trick is to keep them on a short leash in the beginning, which encourages them to walk beside you, not in front. As they get the hang of it, you can loosen the leash. Make sure you reward them when they heel at your side.
Make sure to take your puppy to the vet for a health check-up and a rate of weight gain assessment. This consultation is also a great time to discuss their nutrition and portion sizes, as well as their flea, tick and worming treatments, and ensure they aren’t having any adverse reactions.
Once they reach adulthood, you can discuss the process of desexing with your vet. Your puppy’s lifestyle, breed and temperament will all influence the procedure (if you choose to go ahead).
At this age, we recommend you change the serving sizes of your puppy’s Lyka meals and reduce them to two meals a day, instead of three. Make sure to update their weight in your Lyka customer dashboard. If you need help making this change, our Customer Care team can also do this for you.
Socialisation and sensitivity training
Build daily play opportunities with other dogs into your puppy’s routine to encourage safe interactions and playtime.
At this age, they can often develop certain fears, like small children or glasses. Try desensitising them gradually by starting off small, and slowly increasing the scariness of one characteristic. Incorporate positive reinforcement like treats and praise alongside this process until they become more comfortable.
If your puppy fears the car or has a noise phobia, create an area where they feel safe and secure, surrounded by their favourite toys and blankets, and even some calming music.
How to choose the right puppy for your family
Getting a puppy is a lifetime commitment. Before you welcome a puppy into your family you need to consider how they’ll fit into your lifestyle and what their needs will be at each stage of life.
Choosing the right puppy is much more than their level of cuteness as a baby: every breed has a different temperament, energy level and can be predisposed to health issues. Do plenty of research before you sign on the dotted line, and read our guide on how to choose the right puppy for you and your family.
The benefits of a wholefood diet
Help your puppy grow strong bones and tissue with high-quality food containing human-grade animal protein. A wholefood diet, rich in bioavailable nutrients from fresh fruit and vegetables is also a great way to boost their developing digestive and immune systems and sustain their energy levels.
Lyka’s minimally processed, fresh food recipes, are packed full of nutritious wholefood ingredients and lightly cooked for easy digestion — perfect for puppies and adults alike.