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(ARA) - Bringing home a puppy is a heartwarming and fun experience whether you're a kid or an adult. You might think of your puppy as a new best friend - but your role as a puppy parent is even more crucial. Puppies grow more in their first year than any other time in their life, and while they'll depend on you for playtime and love, they also rely on you to give them a healthy, good start to life.
Before you go to the animal shelter or breeder, make sure you are able to take on all the challenges that raising a puppy presents and handle them with an even temper and a good sense of humor. The more positive you make his experiences, the stronger your bond will be - and it'll be a bond that lasts a lifetime.
If a puppy will be joining your family soon, or has recently arrived, keep these tips in mind to establish a happy, healthy foundation for your new pet.
* Training: The amount and kind of training you'll need depends on your experience with dogs, the dog you're getting and whether you want to do specialized activities with him in the future.
If this is your first dog, or if it's been a long time since you've had one, it's well worth it to sign up for puppy training classes - you'll learn just as much as your puppy will. Some breeds are naturally more obedient than others, but it will also depend on your pup's individual personality. Be sure you sign up for classes that are appropriate for your pup's age and make sure to keep it fun and rewarding.
* Nutrition: Just like parents teach kids to eat their veggies, a puppy parent is responsible for feeding their pup a diet that's rich in natural ingredients with added vitamins and minerals. It's easier than ever to find high quality puppy foods that are free of fillers and unsavory ingredients. Foods like Nutro Natural Choice puppy food make it easy to be confident that you know exactly what you're giving your puppy by listing all the ingredients.
* Health: Making regular trips to the vet is part of having a puppy. You'll need to make sure that he has all the necessary immunizations, check-ups and medications. If you don't have an established relationship with a veterinarian, ask friends who have pets for recommendations and research clinics in your vicinity to find one that's right for you. NutroPuppy.com is also a useful resource, with nutrition, health, training and behavior tips available for new puppy parents.
* Development: Helping your puppy with good development is a two-fold task: both physical and behavioral. Giving your puppy good food has effects beyond creating a glistening coat and healthy immune system; it can also have an effect on his brain development. Nutro Natural Choice Puppy Lamb Meal and Rice Formula contains Smart Start with ALA and DHA, which helps puppies with learning, brain and vision development.
And to ensure that your puppy will grow into a dog that is friendly, well-adjusted and well-behaved, it's important to expose him to new people and other animals in controlled environments. Encourage timid pups and try to calm bold pups so that they learn the value of getting along with everyone. This will help them be better prepared to deal with unfamiliar circumstances and places.