A puppy is a joy, but it requires a lot of time and attention. Not only does a puppy need to potty every few hours, he needs frequent feedings and social training so he bonds well with people and other pets. Generally speaking, caring for a puppy takes at least two to three hours, spread throughout the day and night. Significant early training can make the amount of time spent on daily puppy care higher.
Most puppies leave their mother at 8 weeks of age. At this point they can control their bladders for two hours — one hour for each month of age, according to the Humane Society of the United States. You’ll need to be there for the dogs every two hours throughout the day, especially if you want to speed up housebreaking. Also take him to a designated place after meals, after playing, and after waking up. At night, he will need to go out at least once. As he grows, he’ll eventually go seven to eight hours without a potty break if you remove the water at least two hours before bedtime. If you work during the day, you will need someone to take your smaller dog in for potty breaks.
In addition to a small bladder, your puppy has a small stomach. Because he can’t eat large amounts of food at every meal, you need to feed him three to four times a day until he’s six months old. At 6 months, you can reduce feeding to twice a day, but continue to feed him the amount of food recommended for his age and breed. Keeping him on a set daily feeding schedule helps regulate his potty schedule. Place the food for no more than 30 minutes, and remove the plate after this time has elapsed. You may have to supervise him until he eats his food. If you work, you will need someone to come in for the midday feeding.
In addition to house training and feeding, it’s important to get your new puppy lively so he has no fear of people, noises, or other social situations. Around 8 to 10 weeks of age, your puppy will enter the fearful stage. He will want to be close to you. Avoid crowded areas, such as parks. During this time you want him to meet new people in seedy surroundings. You start out on the lawn by inviting friends to your home. When he feels comfortable meeting up with people in your home, start taking him out in public. Socializing with others should be more every day.
Your new puppy will need to see the vet for vaccinations at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and 16 weeks of age. When he’s teething, he’ll need supervision so he doesn’t chew on the furniture. Exercise is important, as well. You need to take your puppy out every day to play and walk. As he gets older, he will shorten the amount of time devoted to care. He won’t need as many free periods or as many meals, and he’ll learn to adapt to new people and new surroundings. The hours you spend each day caring for your pup will benefit both you and your new best friend. As it matures, it will become less offensive. He’ll have a routine and will comfort you in your presence, so you’ll have less time grooming the dog but all the quality time in the world.
Written by Pauline Gill
Humane Society of the United States of America: ASPCA Puppies: Feeding Your Puppy Eukanuba: Socializing Your Puppy Hills: Puppy Auditing Your House