7-9 Weeks Old
Around 8 weeks is commonly the age that most puppies go to their forever home. By this age they should be completely weaned, starting potty training, and be much more independent from their mothers. This is also the time that you should be finding the right Veterinarian for your family. Make sure your Vet is someone that you can trust and that is convenient for you to go to. You want a Vet that will talk you through every procedure, answer your questions thoroughly, and seems to truly love animals.
Vaccines: At 9 weeks your puppy should get another combination vaccine that usually includes adenovirus, cough and hepatitis, distemper, parainfluenza, and parvovirus.
Socialization: If your puppy has just come to a new home, they are likely scared and a little off-put by the whole situation. This is a time to make sure your home is calm and positive to reinforce to your new puppy that this is a safe and happy place.
Training: Most puppies will not be housebroken by 9 weeks old, however you can absolutely begin the steps to housebreaking by taking your puppy outside as often as possible, every 1-2 hours when possible. This will show your puppy that not only is outside the right place to go, but it is often available. Be prepared for accidents at this age, they will happen! The use of indoor potty mats is common, but can lead to issues in an older dog when they learn to associate an indoor mat as an okay place to go potty. This often leads to them using rugs, blankets, and doormats as they get older and can be a hard habit to break.
Crate Training: This is the perfect age to begin crate training your puppy. Crate training is very common and useful for both puppies and older dogs. It gives them a “safe” place within the home that is theirs. Get a crate that is large enough to accommodate the full size your puppy will grow to, with some room to spare. Put a blanket, water bowl, and toys in their crate. This will keep the crate interesting and allow them to next in the blankets. If your puppy is extremely excitable, you can also lay a blanket over the crate to help them calm down. It is up to your own discretion of when you crate your dog; it’s all about what is right for you and your puppy. When they are young, a crate can provide a safe place for them to be when you are not there to watch them. The location of the crate within your house is extremely important. Make sure it is not too close to wires, a heating or cooling vent, or positioned where it will be in the sun from a window for long periods of time.
Spaying/Neutering: According to the ASPCA it is safe to spay or neuter at 8 weeks old. This is something to discuss with your individual Veterinarian to decide what is best for your puppy, as this varies depending on the size of the dog. Most Veterinarians agree that female dogs should be spayed prior to their first heat to help cut down on the possibility of future health complications, such as mammary tumors.
Identification: It is highly recommended that all puppies get micro-chipped, even if you do not have a strictly outdoor dog. Most Vets will do this at the same time that they spay/neuter the puppy. Micro-chipping is a relatively inexpensive step to help insure if your dog ever got loose, you would be able to get them back as soon as possible.
Exercise: It is important that your puppy gets lots of exercise and play at this age. If you have a fenced yard, off-the-leash play is great and will help your puppy get lots of exercise. If you do not have a fenced yard you need to be more cautious and always be sure to keep your puppy on a leash. At this age, puppies tend to be resistant to leashes, so you might have to bribe them to walk with treats and praise. At this age, and really any age, positive reinforcement goes a lot farther than negative reinforcement. Your dog wants to please you, so your praise will help cement those good habits you want to keep.
Training and obedience courses may be a great option for you and your new dog- learn more about taking courses!