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Congratulations on the new furry addition to your family!

It’s amazing when your new puppy arrives at home. Fun and games, cuddles, a cuteness overload, and a bit of a learning curve for everyone.

Your first few weeks together will establish the pattern for your dog’s behaviour and lay the foundation for an incredible friendship.

We’ll cover some of the essentials you need to care for puppy. It’s a great starting point but remember, your local veterinarian is best placed to help you  as they know the local environment and can physically see you and your puppy should you have any concerns.

Birth to two months

You’re most likely to adopt a puppy from eight weeks, so chances are they are already past this milestone. A lot of development happens in this first eight weeks, so if you need details, ask your veterinarian.

Two months

Vaccinations are important for a healthy puppy. The first round of vaccinations will commonly start at 6-8 weeks.

Two to five months

Your dog’s personality will start to emerge. Connections and bonds with the family strengthen. This is a critical time to learn trust and establish a core territory – where they feel safest. Your clinic might run a great puppy pre-school programme, or can recommend one nearby. They are well worth doing, and great for helping to socialise your dog.

Six to nine months

This is when you should consider getting your puppy spayed or neutered. Your veterinarian is the best person to advise on when is the best time to do this. You can discuss this with your veterinarian during your puppy’s vaccination appointments.

You’ve probably completed puppy pre-school, so now is the time to consider reward-based training with a reputable dog trainer. This is also when the chewing will ramp up so have appropriate chew toys ready to help save your shoes and furniture.

Nine to twelve months

Remember, you still have a puppy who is learning, so continue their training regularly  even if you think they’ve nailed it. Some bigger dogs aren’t fully mature until 18 months. Keep up the training, keep up the fun, and keep up the cuddles.

Dogs love positive reinforcement and will learn much faster with rewards than with punishment.

It doesn’t need to be overwhelming; here is a quick checklist of the basics you will want to have available to help your puppy get settled in.

  • Collar, lead & ID tags – you can usually find these things at your veterinary clinic, online or at your local pet store.
  • A cosy bed – Something your puppy will feel safe and secure in.
  • Puppy pads – These are great for those first few months of toilet training.
  • Food, and dishes for food & water – nutrition plays a vital role in your puppy’s development. In addition, make sure you get the right sort of bowl for your breed of dog. It’s no good having a small deep bowl if your dog has a flat nose and face.
  • Flea and worm treatment – Fortnightly worming is essential for puppies until 12 weeks, and should continue monthly for the dog’s life; especially if living with children, the elderly or other high-risk groups. Likewise, prevention is far better than cure when it comes to fleas, and gentle monthly dosing provides great results.
  • Training crate or puppy gate – crates can be a good idea while training as you may not want your puppy to have free roam of your house. If you have a small room you could use a gate instead. Discuss this with your veterinarian so you are really clear about how and when to use the crate.
  • Toys – As your puppy will start to teethe, appropriate chew toys will be necessary. Spoil them! This is your fur baby and they will love to do just about anything as long as they get to do it with you.

Vaccinating your new puppy is vital to protect them against all manner of diseases. It is essential that vaccinations are kept up to date, boosters are given when due and records are kept.

How often do puppies get shots?

Different vaccines protect against different diseases, and each local environment is unique – your veterinarian can advise what vaccinations are required for your dog’s lifestyle and location.

Likewise, the frequency of vaccinations will vary depending on the individual puppy and which vaccinations they need. However, most are initially administered in two or more doses, with 3-4 weeks in between.

Adult vaccinations

To maintain protection, regular booster vaccinations are required throughout your dog’s life. Annual health checks provide a great opportunity for the veterinarian to examine your dog to ensure everything is okay and let you know which vaccines need a booster. Your veterinarian will recommend how often your dog should visit for this.

Your puppy should not be allowed outside until at least a week after it has finished its first course of vaccinations, and you should avoid exposure to other dogs until your puppy has been fully vaccinated.

Top tip: if you plan on putting your dog in a kennel at some point, the kennel will require the vaccination records.

Worming your puppy from day one

Fortnightly worming is essential for puppies until 12 weeks, and should continue monthly for the dog’s life; especially if they’re living with children, the elderly or other high-risk groups. Likewise, prevention is far better than cure when it comes to fleas, and gentle monthly dosing provides scientifically proven results.

Protecting inside and out

Parasites love to call your puppy home, both inside and out.

From birth, your puppy is an irresistibly warm and nutritious place for these unpleasant and unwanted pests. Kiwi dogs love roaming, exploring, playing with their mates – this adventurous behaviour exposes them to fleas, worms and other parasites.

Your fur baby loves nothing more than to go on adventures around the neighbourhood, in gardens and local parks – anywhere other animals have been. These places are where parasite problems start.

With New Zealand weather generally warmer and wetter than other countries, and our well-insulated homes, the flea population is active even during the cooler months.

There are many products available to help keep pests at bay, but not all are equal. We think the best solution is to treat for internal & external parasites in one gentle monthly dose with a super tasty chew like NEXGARD SPECTRA; no collars, no pills and no stress for you or your dog. And because it is eaten instead of topical – there is no need to keep your dog dry for days on end.

Are these pests REALLY a problem?

The short answer is yes. These parasites can cause a lot of discomfort for your pet, but more seriously, they cause many different diseases, and in extreme untreated cases, can be fatal.

Prevention is much better than cure

Once you see fleas on your pet it may be too late to prevent an environmental infestation, and once established it may take up to three months to eliminate. This is because it takes time for immature fleas to develop into adults, as illustrated in the diagram below.

Gentle monthly dosing with NEXGARD SPECTRA: the perfect solution.


The adult fleas you see on your pet are only the tip of the iceberg. 95% of the flea population exists as eggs, larvae and pupae in the environment, which continue to develop into adult fleas thus re-infesting your pet when they finally reach adulthood.

Fleas Nexgard

Consistent, regular monthly dosing all year round with NEXGARD SPECTRA helps you be proactive in managing the risk before it becomes a full-blown flea infestation for your pet and your home.

Treatment Timeline

Day 1 – The flea treatment kills adult fleas, and they stop laying eggs.

Day +10– The flea treatment you applied 10 days ago is still killing newly hatched adult fleas.

Day +21 – Once again, the flea treatment applied 21 days ago is still killing adult fleas, but you will need to administer another treatment soon.

Day 60+– You now need to keep administering flea treatment every month to kill newly acquired adult fleas that jump on to your pet from the environment.

Other useful tips for managing flea control in your environment

Beyond flea treatments for your pet, the following are excellent in helping control the problem:

  • Treat all animals in your household regularly, throughout the year with safe gentle monthly dosing.
  • Regular vacuuming will remove eggs and stimulate fleas to emerge from their cocoons.
  • Regularly wash pet blankets and bedding in hot water (>60 ̊C for 10 minutes).
  • Avoid untreated animals entering your home environment.

Ask your vet about safe monthly dosing for fleas and worms


While you may not see as much flea activity in winter as in summer, worms don’t care about the weather at all.

If your dog plays outdoors, has raw meat in its diet (like wild prey), or is in a household with kids or the elderly, then guidelines recommend a monthly worming regimen.

Dogs also can easily ingest fleas when they lick themselves or use their teeth to scratch themselves. Fleas are often the source of tapeworms, so monthly flea control is important.

With easy to administer all-in-one monthly products that treat for fleas AND worms – it’s never been easier to keep your pet happy and healthy inside and out, and your whole family safe.

You should know:

  • The worming active ingredient in most parasite treatments ‘flush’ through a pet’s system within a day, killing all adult worms present at the time. From the day after treatment, pets can start picking up worms again from the environment or from grooming.
  • Some worms are zoonotic; this means they can pass from your puppy or dog to you or your family. Some worms lay 10,000 eggs a day and these can last for up to ten years in the environment. Monthly dosing ensures any worms in your pet can’t reach maturity and begin laying eggs which could infect your family.


While fleas and worms are the biggies there are other parasites that need to be protected against as well. See below for an extensive list of parasites NEXGARD SPECTRA will protect your dog from.

Common Name How would my puppy
catch this parasite?
What might I notice if my puppy has this parasite? How can I protect my puppy? Can this be passed to humans?
Fleas Fleas are everywhere. Adult fleas are only 5% of the population, and the rest exist as larvae, pupae and eggs in the environment. Your puppy can catch fleas from countless places. Scratching is the obvious sign, or you may see the actual fleas themselves.  A gentle monthly flea treatment with NEXGARD SPECTRA can be administered all year round to prevent a flea infestation from forming in your house. It can take at least three months to resolve a flea infestation if  allowed to establish, so stopping them before they start is the best option. Fleas often bite owners of infested puppies, or dogs, mostly resulting in 'itchy bites'
Roundworms This worm can be picked up from the environment, eating wild prey, or from their mums while nursing. Often you won't notice anything. You may notice diarrhoea, that your puppy isn't growing as well as you expect, or that their abdomen is swollen. You may see worms in their poo or vomit. Monthly de-worming is essential for puppies, and should continue for the pet's lifetime. NEXTGARD SPECTRA's weight ranges are ideal to accomodate a rapidly growing puppy. Yes. Although not common, exposure has been  associated with  serious and long lasting consequences
Tapeworms Fleas are a very common source of this worm. Other sources include eating untreated raw meat and offal. You may see segments of tapeworm in your dog's poo, and sometimes see the segments around the anal area of your dog. Monthly de-worming with praziquantel will kill the worms. This is essential if your puppy has outside access, eats raw meat or hunts/scavenges, and for dogs living on sheep farms. Good, consistent monthly flea treatment can prevent an infection from the flea tapeworm. Yes, the flea tapeworm can pass to humans, although rare.
Hookworms   Puppies may pick this up from their mum while nursing. Other sources include eating hookworm larvae from the environment, or direct skin contact with larvae. Clinical signs vary from none to severe anaemia, gastric disturbance and even death. Monthly de-worming is essential for puppies and should continue for the pet's lifetime. NEXGARD SPECTRA's weight ranges are ideal to accommodate a rapidly growing puppy. Maintain good cleanliness of all areas occupied by the pet.. Yes, by skin contact with infective larvae
Whipworms Picked up from the environment - eggs are shed into the environment by other dogs in their poo. No obvious signs unless it's a bad infection, when you may see weight loss and diarrhoea, or blood in the poo. Your puppy may also be anaemic (lethargy is the main sign of anaemia that you would notice). Monthly de-worming with NEXGARD SPECTRA, good cleanliness of all pet areas. Don't let your dog eat unknown food (e.g. when out on a walk). No
Ticks Dogs can be infected when they enter tick habitats - often areas shared with livestock (sheep, cattle, goats, horses, etc.). The tick will climb up long grasses and wait for a dog to walk past, and then crawl on. You may see the tick attached to the skin of your dog or puppy. A fully fed adult tick can be as big as 9mm. We are lucky that the tick we have in NZ does not transmit disease to dogs (other countries have ticks that do), but ticks can be irritating for pets. Monthly treatment with NEXGARD SPECTRA will help protect against ticks. Avoiding access to tick habitats is also recommended. Ticks can occasionally crawl onto humans and bite, causing irritation.
Lice Lice are spread by direct contact from other infected places, animals or objects (such as brushes or bedding). Lice can be irritating and itchy, so pets may scratch. You can see the lice themselves visibly in the pet's hair. Monthly treatment with FRONTLINE PLUS for Dogs will control lice in dogs. All dogs in the household must be treated. Regular washing of your pet's bedding and all the places they occupy helps. No – dog lice will only infect dogs
Sarcoptes mites Mites spread by contact with other infected animals, places or objects. Infection causes severe itching and skin irritation. See your veterinarian if you suspect your puppy has mites. Yes
Demodex mites Demodex mites are not considered contagious. Most puppies acquire Demodex from their mother early in life, and in most cases these do not go on to cause a problem. Scaling, hair loss, thickening and redness of skin are often seen. See your veterinarian if you suspect your puppy has mites No
Ear mites Mites spread by direct contact with other infected animals. Ear mites are more common in young animals. Head shaking and ear scratching are common signs of ear mites. Check with your veterinarian for the most appropriate treatment. Yes, although this is extremely unlikely.

Ask your vet about safe monthly dosing for fleas and worms

Experiencing a brand new home

This can be daunting for a tiny puppy. Every puppy has a unique personality; some are shy while others are bursting with curiosity and confidence. Whatever their character, we want the transition to go as smoothly and stress-free as possible. It is natural for your puppy to whine and cry, but it is important to set the routine now and stick with it, as this will influence how your puppy will behave in the future. It is also important to make sure your puppy feels safe & secure at home. This will, of course, strengthen the bond you have with your loyal bundle of cuteness.



  • Safety check the room you plan on allowing your puppy to settle into.
    • Check for loose wires or cords that will get chewed
    • Remove anything that could become broken or dangerous
  • Crate training – this definitely helps your puppy get into a routine for bed and toilet training (note though, that puppies do not have full bladder control until around 4 -6 months old).
  • Toilet outside – take your puppy to the spot you ideally would have them go to the toilet, and always do this just before bedtime (as well as other times during the day).
  • Have potty pads down on the floor
  • Have toys for puppy to snuggle
  • Play before bedtime
  • Make sure fresh water is always available


Remember adjusting to life with a new puppy in the first few weeks can be difficult, but sticking with a routine will help, and remember you can always reach out to your veterinary clinic for additional advice and guidance.

Food plays a vital role in a puppy’s health. The first year of your puppy’s life is the most important for growth and development. The right food will help them grow strong bones and muscles, and aid in eye and brain development. Come training time, this will be crucial.

Canine nutritional science has made great advances in recent years. Commercial foods are now available to supply perfectly balanced complete diets that are tailored for your dog’s age and lifestyle. Your puppy’s nutritional requirements will vary based on their size. Just like parasite protection – it can be confusing. Your veterinarian and clinic staff can advise you on the nutritional needs of your puppy.

Specialty diets, and the more premium dog foods can cost a little more, but the benefits are worth it. Your dog’s general health, skin and coat condition will be significantly better, and it’s worth bearing in mind that better quality food generally means less poo.


The essential info:

Their diet needs to be made-up of:

  • Proteins*
  • Carbohydrates
  • Lipids (fats)*
  • Vitamins and minerals.

All these must be included in the correct quantities and proportions. Reputable dog food manufacturers base their products on scientifically proven standards for the composition of their diets.

* Puppies have higher protein and fat demands than adult dogs. This is because of the extra energy it takes to grow a strong body.



Puppies put on weight very quickly at first, which then slows down from 4-6 months. A puppy that is overweight is liable to be obese when older which will put pressure on their joints. So it is important to weigh your puppy regularly, to check that they are growing as expected.

Changes in the diet very commonly cause digestive upsets in dogs. The upset (which most often results in runny poo) tends to resolve itself quite quickly, but it is something to be aware of.


Meal-time tips

Puppies aged 8-12 weeks need four meals a day, dropping to three a day for 3-6-month-olds, and finally two meals a day for adult dogs.

The recommended feeding guide for your puppy is normally detailed on the packaging, but it is best to regularly monitor your puppy’s weight and adjust the amount of food if needed. You may need to check with your veterinarian for frequency of feeding, ideal body weight and nutritional information.

Remember to provide fresh drinking water at all times for your puppy.



Beware of treats: Ideally, your puppy should only ever get his or her own meals, but it can be hard to resist giving a gorgeous dog additional treats. Just do so in moderation, don’t encourage bad habits (like begging for food at the dinner table), and definitely don’t give lollies or sweets meant for humans.

Some human foods can be toxic to puppies and can make them very sick, such as: chocolate, onion, grapes, raisins, garlic, nuts and artificial sweeteners. These are definite no-nos.

Suitable dog treats may be a useful training tool especially if your pup is food motivated. Just make sure you calculate treats into the amount of food you are giving your puppy.

Training should begin from the day you bring your puppy home. Be consistent from day one, setting and enforcing the ground rules. Make sure that the whole family is using the same commands or cues. This will be less confusing for your puppy and help them to learn quicker.

By following a few simple rules and avoiding some common mistakes, you can maximise your chances of success and make the whole house training process far less stressful for you and your puppy. Puppy pre-school is a great place to start and your veterinarian probably has a great programme or can recommend one nearby.


Now’s the time to start training your puppy to come to you when called. Treats usually work best in getting your puppy to respond to you, as does super excited over-the-top praise. Don’t hold back!

Timing is everything in toilet training

Easier said than done, but the more often you are in the spot you want your puppy to go to the loo – when it wants to go to the loo – the better. So, take your puppy outside when it is most likely to want to go (after every meal, when it wakes up, after drinking and after play). This maximises the chance of it forming an appropriate association between being in the right spot and relieving itself.

Taking your puppy outside on a regular basis can be one of the quickest and simplest ways of house training. Reward works better than punishment, but you need to do this within a second or two of your puppy going to the toilet. Lots of praise and even a small food reward right at the moment reinforces in the puppy’s mind that going to the toilet in that spot is a good thing to do. It’s no good rewarding once back in the house – the moment of association has passed.

Having a command like “toilet” that the puppy learns to associate with going to the loo can help later on by getting your dog to go toilet on command.

Walking on a lead

Walking on a lead can be a strange concept for an excited puppy, so it is important to introduce your new four-legged friend to a lead and collar as soon as possible.

  • At first, put the collar on your puppy for a few days and let it get used to this little constraint without attempting to go for a walk.
  • Attach a lead to the collar for just a few minutes and let it get used to this before you attempt to take it for a walk.
  • Make sure the clip is not too big or heavy
  • When you pull on the lead, do so gently and get your dog’s attention by clicking your tongue, or talking to it. As soon as it follows the direction of the lead, reward it with a small food reward and verbal praise. Don’t worry if it only takes a few steps on the first occasion.
  • Once the puppy is happy to walk alongside you on its lead, you should encourage it to make regular eye contact with you by making interesting little noises, providing treats and praise to get its attention. In this way, the dog is encouraged to be in communication with you during walks.
  • The lead is a very important communication channel between the dog and owner and tension and frustration are easily transmitted down the lead. Many cases of behaviour problems, such as aggression towards other dogs, are made worse by this negative communication.
  • Try to ensure that you are always calm and in a positive frame of mind when communicating with your dog whilst it is on the lead.

Obedience training

There is a lot to learn about puppy training and it is wise to seek expert advice. There are many different puppy classes, obedience training programmes and dog & kennel clubs that offer different levels of training. Your veterinary clinic can let you know when their next puppy pre-school class will start or advise you of other available options in your area.


Discuss a suitable exercise programme with your veterinarian for your growing puppy.

If your puppy has been fully vaccinated, you and your new puppy can get up to countless adventures.

Being out and about can help them learn to develop a number of positive social behaviours, and keeping it positive will help limit behavioural problems later in life, including fear of places, people and animals. Sometimes dogs develop aggressive behaviour, which can be due to anxiety. Dogs that have little or no experience with the outside world may see people, places and other dogs as potential threats, so ‘socialising’ your puppy is a great way to combat any anxiety.

It is not uncommon for puppies to be a bit nervous when they meet people or go to new places for the first time. It is very important that you react in a positive manner and try to use play as a form of distraction. If the fearful behaviour continues then seek advice from your veterinary clinic.

Limit exposure to other dogs unless in a controlled environment like puppy school until your puppy has been fully vaccinated.

You’re almost set. You have a healthy puppy, learnt about flea & worm treatment, vaccinating and even a bit about giving your new fur baby the best start in life with nutrition. But you’re a fur parent that wants to go above and beyond and lavish your puppy with extra care…

Bath time

You may need to give your puppy a gentle wash from time to time. You can get away with just some warm water, but if you like, a mild pet shampoo can be used. Once older, some dogs don’t need a bath at all, but in the case of specific skin problems such as greasiness, infections or allergies, special bathing products may be prescribed – ask your veterinarian for advice.

Dental care

Just like us our dogs need dental care too. Poor dental hygiene can lead to other diseases. Gum disease is one of the most common afflictions in dogs with over 80 percent of dogs having early stages of gum disease by the time they are three years old.

Now’s the time to get your puppy used to you brushing their teeth and having their teeth looked at. Your puppy will start to lose baby teeth at about 3-4 months – and you’ll see an increase in chewing, so make sure you’ve got plenty of chew toys available so that they don’t chew clothing and furniture. Make sure to use an appropriate toothbrush and paste designed for dogs plus a chewable dental hygiene product like ORAVET® once they are six months of age.

Claws and paws

If your dog spends more time walking on carpet and grass than on hard floors or concrete, teach them to give you their paw to have their nails cut. You will learn more about the importance of nail care in your puppy pre-school class, including the special nail-cutters to use and just how much to cut. Remember, any surface that is too hot for you to touch is too hot for your puppy’s feet. Something to be aware of on hot days.


Check ears regularly, and so long as they are clean and odourless, leave them well alone. If you notice signs such as: discharge, unusual smell, redness or scratching, have your puppy checked by a veterinarian.

Chronic pain and disease

Occasionally dogs will suffer from a chronic condition, meaning something that is long-lasting, often for life. Examples are osteoarthritis, epilepsy, heart disease or noise phobias. Fortunately, modern animal pharmacology has developed highly effective medications that can help relieve the pain and symptoms associated with these conditions. Your veterinarian will diagnose any concerns during regular check-ups, or if you take your dog in having noticed something different.

Pet insurance

Remember, animal health is not subsidised by the government like human health care is. So whilst there are treatments available, they do cost, and you may wish to consider pet insurance. For a modest monthly premium, you can receive very generous benefits from insurers that cover a lot of the costs associated with providing your precious family member with the best health care available.


Vaccinations generally start around 6-8 weeks of age. An initial puppy course needs to be completed (usually by around 16 weeks of age) and then booster vaccinations are required for ongoing protection.


Gentle monthly dosing with NEXGARD SPECTRA can help control fleas, ticks, and worms. If your puppy is less than eight weeks of age then you may want to try FRONTLINE Spray as this can be used on puppies from three days of age to help manage fleas. Stay on top of flea and worm treatment, it is easier to prevent than it is to eliminate an infestation.


Adapting the feeding programme as your puppy grows helps to prevent developmental growth problems. This is particularly important in large breed dogs.


Microchipping is generally done at an early age, your puppy may already be microchipped when you acquire it. Remember to update changes such as new owner details and change of address, as soon as possible. Ask your veterinarian for further details regarding microchipping at your puppy’s first check-up.


Your puppy will go through puberty between six and twelve months. De-sexing of both dogs and bitches at an early age may reduce their chance of having certain types of cancers later in life (e.g. mammary, testicular), or unwanted pregnancies. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of de-sexing with your veterinarian.

QUESTIONS: Remember your vet is the best person to talk to should you have any worries or problems with your puppy.