New Puppy Tips: How far can I walk my new dog, feeding advice, how to deal with teething, and what is puppy puberty?

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There are a few things you should be aware of if you’ve just welcomed a new four-legged friend into your home.

Getting a puppy can be one of the most rewarding and exciting chapters of pethood, but just like parenthood it’s also a mammoth task.

It requires a lot of planning, trial and error to get your dog behaving well and socialised with both humans and other pups.

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No dog owners should also seek out advice from the experts wherever possible – including regular trips to the vet.

To give a little extra helping hand pet insurer Napo has launched an online puppy academy to help new and seasoned pup owners get off on the right paw together – with 13, 45-minute online training modules.

Here are their top tips on the four challenges most often cited by pup owners.


Potential pet owners should be aware from the get-go that puppies are under house arrest for the first 13 weeks of their lives until they’re fully vaccinated. Puppies inherit some immunity from their mother, which offers temporary protection from nasty diseases, which is why they’re given their first vaccination between six to nine weeks old. The follow-up shot offers immunity for a year, which needs to be topped up with annual booster vaccinations.

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New dog owners can sometimes be surprised by how much their puppy chews.New dog owners can sometimes be surprised by how much their puppy chews.
New dog owners can sometimes be surprised by how much their puppy chews.

But if you had visions of taking your pup on long country walks as soon as they’re vaccinated, think again. During puppy infancy, your dog’s bones and muscles are growing at an extraordinary rate, and long bouts of exercise can put too much pressure on its skeletal system, damaging its development and leading to problems in adulthood.

As a result, it’s recommended that you walk your puppy once or twice a day, five minutes for every month of its age. For example, a two-month-old puppy could walk 10 minutes, once or twice a day while a six-month-old pup could walk 30 minutes, once or twice a day. This rule should be followed up until adulthood, which is roughly around a year for most dogs, but can vary from breed to breed.

Dinner time

To support their growth and development, puppies can burn twice the amount of calories as an adult dog. That’s why it’s crucial they’re being fed a balanced diet to meet their growing needs!

While there’s a whole range of dog food brands and products you can feed your puppy, it’s important to know that some are better than others. If you’re unsure which is best, speak to your breeder or vet for some insight. It’s also important to make sure your pup’s food is protein rich, high in calories, full of minerals and nutrients, as well as being easy to chew and swallow.

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As your dog gets older, they’ll need less food. From the time of weaning, a healthy puppy can be expected to eat between four to six meals a day. This goes down to four meals at around three months, two to three meals a day around six months and only twice a day from six months onwards.

It’s important to build a healthy relationship with food in your pup from a young age, especially when it comes to pups being protective over their food, which can be a real problem if you have children in the house. A simple way to discourage food guarding from an early age can include feeding your pup regularly by hand. When your puppy is eating from a bowl, make sure to have all family members leave them well alone, so that they eat in peace. Never, ever try to take food from your puppy, as this can encourage them to want to guard their food.

Like most aspects of puppy care, the type of food and how regularly you feed your pet depends on the breed of your dog. If in doubt, speak to your vet.

Teething tantrums

Just like babies, pups go through teething – and it can be really painful!

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Puppies get their baby teeth from around just two weeks old (28 of them), and they begin getting their adult teeth at around four to six months old. Before this happens, their puppy gnashers fall out, which can lead to them excessively drooling and having bleeding gums.

It can come as a surprise to pet owners who haven’t had a dog before that their pooch will lose their baby teeth before growing an adult set. Just like in humans, it can be painful when new teeth come through, and this can lead to your puppy trying to soothe their teeth by engaging in extra nipping and chewing. It’s important not to punish this kind of behaviour. Instead, work on guiding your puppy to engage in healthy forms of chewing – for example with a puppy toy or chews specifically designed for teething pups.

In addition to providing safe (and painless!) outlets for your teething puppy, it’s also important to not inadvertently encourage nippy behaviour during play. Be consistent in letting your pup know that their teeth do not go on skin, by calmly and quietly moving away every time your pup tries to nip you. Luckily, this behaviour should start to subside once their adult teeth (all 42 of them) come in at around six months. If it doesn’t, visit your vet to discuss further options.

Puppy puberty

Just like teenagers, when puppies start to mature they go through puberty. As their body’s grow and change, their system is pumping full of hormones that not only changes the way they look, but how they behave too. Many pet owners aren’t aware of the impact adolescence can have on their pups, which can result in dogs being deemed naughty – and leads to a higher increase of them being rehomed. But just like the terrible teens, with the right support from their fur-parent, this behaviour will soon pass.

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Puberty in puppies tends to begin when a pup is anywhere from five to 24-months old and can last up to six months. Common changes in behaviour can include excessive barking, nipping and a general sense of them forgetting what they have learned. Although this time can be stressful for owners, it's important to remain consistent with your pup's routine and training at this time. Use small treats and lots of praise to regularly reinforce calm and desirable behaviour in your pup, as well as commands such as 'Come', 'Sit', and 'Wait'.

If you’re a new fur-parent and want to hear more advice on how to work through those pesky pup moments with your new fur-baby, visit pet insurer Napo’s Puppy Academy and sign up today.

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