The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Your New Puppy

27 min read>
27 min read

Updated - Nov 17th, 2022

Few experiences can match the joy of bringing your new puppy home for the first time! Being a puppy parent is full of fun and excitement, but it can also bring challenges. We want to make sure all new puppy parents are equipped with the knowledge they need to raise their fur kid and make those first months together the best they can be.

Before we dive in, we know some of you out there may be in the pre-puppy phase and are deciding if getting a puppy is right for you. If so, we’re here to help!

Considering a new puppy

Welcoming your first puppy into your home is a pawsitively huge decision! There are many things to consider, and you must be honest with yourself about your readiness to take care of a puppy. Here are key questions to ask yourself:

1. Is a puppy the right pet for me? 

A puppy may be the pawfect companion for you, but depending on your lifestyle, so could an adult dog, a cat, a rabbit, or other types of pets! You want to think long and hard about whether or not your current lifestyle could accomodate a puppy’s needs. Do you have time for walks and playtime in your day-to-day routine? Are you a jet-setter that would be leaving your pup alone often? Perhaps most overlooked – are you financially prepared to take care of your puppy?

2. What type of puppy is the best fit for me and my lifestyle?

Puppies are a lot of work! However, there are so many breeds to choose from, varying in size, activity levels, and temperament. For this reason, it’s important to research which dog breed would be best for you and your lifestyle. Would a purebred or mixed-breed dog be a good fit? Maybe you’d like an active breed who can beat you up the hill on a hike, or maybe you’d like a small breed that’s great with children.

Tip: To explore different dog breeds and their personalities, check out our Dog Breed Directory.

3. Do I want to adopt a puppy or buy from a responsible breeder?

There are many shelters looking for pet parents to adopt their litters of puppies. Adopting a puppy means you can give a rescued puppy an amazing life, but if you have a very specific breed in mind, it may be tricky to find a match. If you’d like to buy a puppy from a breeder, make sure to do your due diligence to find a responsible, accredited breeder.

If you already have your heart set on bringing a new pup home, let’s dig into preparing and caring for your new puppy!

How to get your home ready for a new puppy


To prepare for your new puppy, your home is the first place that needs a puppy refresh. In the weeks leading up to your puppy’s arrival, here’s how you can make sure they’re safe and comfortable in their new environment. 

How to puppy-proof your house 

Puppies can get up to all sorts of mischief when they’re exploring their surroundings. Here are four steps to making your house puppy-ready. Read our full puppy-proofing guide here for more in-depth advice.

1. Decide which spaces your new puppy will and won’t be allowed to go. Securely block off the no-access areas, and focus on making their main space ready.

2. Choose a safe zone for your puppy. This could be their crate if you’re crate training, or a sectioned off part of your home that has their bed, toys, as well as food and water bowls.

3. Puppy-proof your indoor space and remove any hazards. This is easier said than done! The key things to look for when puppy-proofing are human food, electrical cords and wires, plants, cleaning products and medications, breakables, and anything small your puppy could chew or swallow. It helps to get down on all fours and survey your home from your puppy’s perspective – you may see things that could have been otherwise missed. 

4. Puppy-proof your outdoor space. Puppies want to explore outside, and you can make it safe by securing the perimeter and removing hazards like toxic plants, pesticides, weed killer, or garden tools. Always keep a close eye on them when they’re outside. 

Even with our best efforts, puppies can get into all sorts of trouble. They may nibble on something they shouldn’t (like your chocolate stash!) or even swallow stray socks. When accidents like these happen, having pet insurance coverage can help you get your puppy the care they need to get better. All puppies 8 weeks and up can enroll in Pumpkin Pet Insurance plans, which helps protect them from life’s unexpected accidents and illnesses as they grow.

“Getting [a] Pumpkin [plan] was the best thing we did as soon as our puppy came home. Fortunately she’s a healthy pup, however things happen! Between eye [illness] and a stomach [illness] we would have spent [more money] out of our own pocket.”

– Lyla Renai Elliott, Ellie’s Mom

“[My] Pumpkin [plan] is amazing so far! I took my 12-week-old puppy to the vet for a regular checkup, during which time they found he had an ear infection. I submitted a claim just for the portion of the ear infection test and medication and they came back approving it while also including the exam fee [for the infection]!”

– Chelsea Manyak, Dudley’s Mom

New puppy supplies


It’s handy to have all your puppy supplies ready before your pup moves in. It might be helpful to have a designated closet, cupboard, or shelf where all your puppy supplies are kept for easy access when you need them. Here’s a short list of the key things to get:

You can read here for a complete list of things to buy your new puppy.

“I would definitely say to invest in a sleeping buddy. It’s a stuffed animal with a little heartbeat you can turn on, and it also comes with a heat pack you can put in the microwave. It is a lifesaver. It’s one of the things that makes Dolly such a good sleeper, as it’s like she has her mom there still and she can feel that warmth. Dolly also loves her cooling mat. It has a cooling gel in it that stays cold, and she loves laying on it. It’s great when it’s hot out because she’s still learning to regulate her body temperature” – Toby, New Puppy Parent to Dolly

The first 24 hours with your puppy


The first 24 hours with your puppy can be a whirlwind, and you may not be sure what to expect. We’ve got you covered with a full rundown of the first night with your new puppy. Click to read the full piece, but here’s the skinny: 

  • It’s a huge change for your pup so it’s normal if they’re nervous in those first few hours and show behavior like shaking, crying, and whining.
  • Potty training starts from minute one, so take them to their potty area right away and reward them with praise and treats when they do their business in the right place.Young puppies need regular bathroom breaks at least every hour, after meals, or any time they are sniffing around inside the house.
  • Let your puppy explore and sniff out their new surroundings, including their designated “puppy zone” a.k.a. a safe area where you know they can sleep, eat, and play with minimal supervision.
  • Upset tummies and diarrhea can and do happen, but you can avoid these as much as possible with regular small meals, by sticking to the dog food your puppy had been eating previously with their breeder or shelter for at least a week, and then if you wish to change the food, slowly transitioning over a period of to a new food.
  • Keep other pets separate at first, then you can safely introduce them to each other for small amounts of time under close supervision..
  • You should have a safe, quiet, and comfortable sleeping place for your puppy. While puppies tend to sleep for 15-20 hours per day, it’s normal for them to be restless and whine or bark through the first night. 

“After a long four hour drive home, I carried Sadie inside and held her while my other dog smelled her. We helped her explore by shutting all the doors to keep her spaces narrow and followed her around while she sniffed everything. That first night is hard because they’re sniffing a new place but also maybe sniffing to go potty! She was really nervous but didn’t cry at all. For new puppy parents, I would say keep your expectations realistic. Your puppy doesn’t know anything yet, and you have to work on your patience with them.”

– Brittany, New Puppy Parent to Sadie

“My puppy Dolly is a rescue, so our first night was a little rough. She slept a lot and didn’t really want food or water. The next day she perked up and wanted to play, but her full personality didn’t come out until a few days later. Now she’s a sassy ball of fluff!”

– Toby, New Puppy Parent to Dolly

Introducing your puppy to your dog

If you already have a dog in your home, you’ll need to be thoughtful about how you introduce your puppy to their new family. You’ll have to keep them separate until your puppy is up to date with their vaccines, and then gradually bring them together over time until they can happily inhabit the same space. It can be a complex and slow process, so we put together 10 steps to follow for a successful puppy introduction

Feeding your puppy


Where do we start? There’s so much information out there about what to feed your puppy, so we’re going to break it down for you.

How much should you feed your puppy?

How much you should feed your puppy depends entirely on your puppy’s breed and size. You can imagine that a Leonberger puppy needs to eat more than a Dachshund puppy. Likewise, if you have an active breed like a Siberian Husky that’s running around a lot, they need more energy replenished so they need to eat more. Puppies will also want to eat more when they are going through growth spurts.

A good rule of thumb is to follow a puppy calorie chart like this one, and work closely with your veterinarian to make sure your puppy is gaining weight and progressing healthily.

How often should you feed your puppy?

Frequency is the name of the game for puppies. They won’t be able to handle consuming their daily calorie intake in one or two big meals per day. As a general routine, three times a day at breakfast, lunch, and dinner is a reliable way to go. Smaller breeds may need to eat a little bit more often, so adjust as needed for your puppy’s size and breed. 

Always give your puppy their final meal at least two hours before bedtime, so they can digest and go potty in time for a restful night’s sleep.

What food should you feed your puppy?

The truth is that there’s no one-food-fits-all solution for your puppy. It takes trial and error to find the right food for your pup. To help you start off on the right foot, we compiled a full guide to the best puppy food approved by vets. In the meantime, here are four things to keep an eye out for when choosing your puppy food:

  1. Food that’s labeled with a nutritional adequacy statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) that states the food is ‘complete and balanced for growth or all life stages’.
  2. Food that lists animal protein as a first ingredient
  3. The protein source is high-quality (i.e., no generic meal or by-products)
  4. Large breed puppies should eat food specifically formulated for large breed puppies, as they have different caloric and mineral needs than small breed puppies.

“Ultimately, the food your puppy thrives on is the right food. When in doubt, ask your veterinarian for nutritional recommendations.” – Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVJ

If a puppy has diarrhea, it may be the food, or it may be something else, like a parasite or ingredient sensitivity. Keep an eye on their behavior after eating and let that be your guide. Also, remember that suddenly switching food types will cause tummy upsets. Try to introduce a new diet gradually to avoid this, and if your puppy develops diarrhea, call your vet.

How long after feeding does a puppy poop?

Get ready to talk about poop a LOT when you have a new puppy! It’s a big topic of conversation for new pup parents. After they eat, puppies will need to poop quite quickly, anywhere from five to 30 minutes afterward. When they poop in the right spot, reward them with lots of praise. As your puppy gets older, they can wait longer and longer after eating to go potty. 

Training your puppy


Along with all the happiness and fun of having a new puppy, playtime has to be balanced with core training so that your puppy develops good behaviors to help them thrive in life. Successful dog training includes three main pillars: house training, obedience training, and socialization. 

Steps to house train or potty train your puppy

While puppies may not have great control over their bladders in their early weeks and months, it really pays to start a potty training routine early. Here are the key steps you should take:

  1. Familiarize your puppy with their potty area as soon as you bring them home
  2. Establish a clear and consistent schedule
  3. Take frequent potty breaks, especially after they eat and before bedtime
  4. Give your pup plenty of positive reinforcement (praise, pets, and special treats reserved only for potty training) for going in the right place.
  5. Don’t punish your puppy for accidents, take them outside to their potty spot immediately if they have an accident to reinforce where they need to go. 
  6. Clean up accidents quickly with an enzymatic cleaner that removes scent marking so the puppy doesn’t return to the same spot. 

Puppy potty training FAQs

When do I start potty training with my puppy?

Potty training your puppy starts the minute you get them home. At this time, they’re usually around eight weeks of age. When you come home for the first time, you can take them outside to their designated potty area and reward them when they do go. This pattern of regular potty breaks and praise should continue until they are fully trained. If they “lose” their potty training, start the training process over again.

How long does potty training a puppy take?

With a regular routine, most puppies will be completely potty trained by the time they are 12 to 16 weeks, but some breeds and individual puppies may take longer.

How do I use puppy pads and outdoor training together?

Puppy pads can be a lifesaver for assisting with potty training, especially if you live in a place where an outdoor space is not readily accessible. You will need to find a spot in your home (preferably with easily cleanable floors) to place the puppy pad. When potty time comes around, either scheduled or unscheduled, take your puppy straight to the pad. You want to create a clear, positive association between going to the toilet and being on the pad. Give your pet lots of praise for using the pee pad.

You can alternate between their indoor and outdoor potty spot if they have both available. Ideally, you want to reach a point where your puppy is only going outdoors. This can be done by slowly moving the puppy pad closer and closer to their outdoor space, eventually placing it on their outside potty spot. Once this is done successfully, you’re free of the pads!

Obedience training

Even rambunctious puppies can pick up on and respond well to obedience training starting with the basic commands such as sit, stay, and come. Obedience training is beneficial as it gives you a stable routine and helps your puppy stay safe and calm in different situations. Once you’re ready, your puppy can graduate to learning fun tricks as well!

Obedience training FAQs

When should I start obedience training a puppy?

Around 8 weeks old is a great time to start training your puppy. For the most part, new puppy parents will get their puppies at this age, so training can start as soon as your puppy comes home.

How much is puppy obedience training?

While the cost for dog training classes varies depending on various factors like your location, the national average according to Home Guide is $50 per class, with the average price range for classes at $30 to $80. Private training classes or custom training services can cost more. Remember that before your puppy can begin any training in group obedience classes, they must be current on their necessary puppy vaccines.

What obedience supplies do I need?

Here are useful obedience training supplies to help you on your puppy training journey.

Puppy socialization

Puppy socialization is crucial to help your puppy calmly and safely react to different stimuli and environments. You want your puppy to take a trip to the vet or a playdate with a friend’s puppy in their stride, rather than be scared. It’s important to expose your puppy to all kinds of people, dogs, objects, and locations so they can build their confidence. A solid socialization strategy is based on The Rule of 7 by Pat Schaap. 

Here are just a handful of the situations you’ll want to introduce your puppy to:

  • Noises like cars, hairdryers, babies crying, music, loud voices, thunder, fireworks, and singing 
  • Surfaces like carpet, grass, sand, cement, tile, puddles, and mud
  • Objects and textures like soft toys, balls, paper, plastic bottles, and metal
  • People of all heights, ages, and appearances so they’re comfortable playing with all!
  • Other dogs of all shapes and sizes

Neglecting puppy socialization means your dog may develop behaviors like separation anxiety, aggression, along with other common behavioral issues that can be difficult to correct. It pays to have pet insurance coverage for behavioral issues in these scenarios. Pumpkin insurance plans cover eligible treatments for behavioral issues, so your puppy has a helping paw getting back on track.

Puppy socialization FAQs

What is puppy socialization?

Puppy socialization is the practice of intentionally introducing your puppy to a variety of new environments and people in a positive manner in order to help them react calmly and confidently to those things in the future. Here’s an example: if your puppy has never been in a car and heard its noises in the development phase of 8-16 weeks, they may be scared of cars later in life.

When should I start puppy socialization?

When your puppy comes home with you at the recommended 7-8 weeks, you can start socialization. You have a short window of about 6 weeks to get as much positive socialization training in as possible. Your puppy can’t be around other dogs before they are fully vaccinated, however you can have them meet different people. 

How much socialization does a puppy need?

In that vital window, puppies should be introduced to as many experiences as they can, but take care when it comes to people and other dogs. You can over-socialize and overwhelm a puppy by giving them too much stimulation at once. A crowded dog park with 10-20 dogs running around is not the place for a timid puppy at first. 

“Adequate socialization is critical to life-long mental and emotional wellness. By pairing different experiences with praise and treats, you create a confident dog that will be less likely to suffer from noise phobias, fear aggression, and anxiety.”

– Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVJ

Puppy health: First trip to the vet


As soon as you get your puppy, you can start them off on the right paw by taking them to the vet! Regular visits to the vet and appropriate preventive care are essential for a happy and healthy puppy. Preventive care, also known as routine care or wellness care, refers to care services that help prevent health concerns like diseases and nasty parasite infections. So, what kinds of preventive care are important for puppies specifically? Let’s dig in.

Annual wellness exams

It’s important to get your puppy an annual wellness exam so your vet can get to know your puppy’s health, and can detect any signs of illness early enough to treat. Puppies actually need to see their vets slightly more in those early months as they need extra care such as vaccines. During these appointments, you can discuss lifestyle, nutrition, exercise, genetic concerns, and get great advice that will help your puppy stay healthy.


We cannot stress enough the importance of vaccines for your puppy. Vaccines are life-saving as they help prevent harmful diseases that all puppies are susceptible to. These diseases include, but are not limited to:

  • Canine Distemper Virus
  • Parvovirus
  • Adenovirus
  • Parainfluenza
  • Rabies

This puppy vaccine schedule will help you navigate your puppy’s first vaccine doses. Work with your vet to get the vaccines that they think best for your puppy’s lifestyle. 

Preventive Essentials is Pumpkin’s wellness package, which offers puppy parents a 100% refund for their pup’s annual wellness exam fee, 4 key vaccines, and an annual fecal “poop” test for intestinal worms. Preventive Essentials is not insurance, but an optional benefit puppy parents can add to their Pumpkin plan.

Parasite screenings

It’s not nice to think about, but parasites are common in dogs, especially gastrointestinal parasites, AKA “worms”. Dogs also suffer from external parasites, like ticks and fleas. Whether it’s heartworms, hookworms or roundworms, these pesky parasites can infest your pup indoors or out and cause serious health problems. Luckily, your vet can perform a parasite screening, like a fecal “poop” test, to see if anything is going on. If they’re free and clear, make sure that parasite preventative medication is a regular part of your health routine.

Spay/neuter surgery

Spaying or neutering your puppy is a recommended practice as it has multiple health benefits for your puppy, including a longer lifespan. It’s an important preventive care service that you only need to have done once in your pet’s life. 

Unfortunately, many pet insurance plans cannot cover the cost of routine care services like a spay/neuter surgery, as is the case with Pumpkin plans. Luckily, for the unexpected accidents and illness that may pop up over your puppy’s life, Pumpkin Puppy Insurance plans can help you get your puppy the best care possible with 90% cash back on covered vet bills.


We hope it never happens, but if your puppy goes missing, a microchip can help them get safely back home. Microchipping is a quick procedure performed by a licensed veterinarian, where a tiny microchip is injected between the shoulder blades just under your pet’s skin. If they get lost, it can be scanned, and you can be contacted via the details on the microchip database. It is important to keep your pet’s microchip database up-to-date in case you move or change your phone number.

When should I take my puppy to the vet?

Here is a general timeline of when your first few visits at the vet will happen and what will be done at each. To be fully prepared for your visits, read up on our vet visit preparation guide.

Age 6-8 weeks: Puppy’s first visit! Your pup should receive a full physical examination including weight and vitals, fecal test, vaccine boosters, deworming, parasite prevention, nutritional, training, and lifestyle recommendations, +/- microchipping (can also be done at time of spay/neuter)

Age 10-12 weeks: Your pup should receive a full physical examination, vaccine boosters, deworming, and your vet can answer any questions you may have.

Age 12-14 weeks: Your pup should receive a full physical examination, vaccine boosters, parasite prevention, and your vet can answer any questions you may have.

Age 14-16 weeks: Your pup should receive a full physical examination, their last puppy boosters, and your vet should be discussing next steps around spay/neuter surgery, parasite prevention, and more long-term preventive wellness.

“As soon as we decided we were going to get a puppy, we started thinking of questions. I had all of these questions in my mind so I made an event for the first visit in my calendar and put all my questions in the description so I wouldn’t forget to ask our vet.” 

– Brittany, New Puppy Parent to Sadie

“I was nervous for the first vet visit, because Dolly was rescued I was scared there would be something wrong. Dolly liked being held by the vet, she was very calm, and didn’t have a care in the world. The vet techs gave her a lot of love. They reassured me, and the vet has been wonderful so I’m really grateful for that.”

– Toby, New Puppy Parent to Dolly

Grooming your puppy


Puppies need a little pampering too! Regular puppy grooming is fantastic for their overall health and will help keep their teeth, paws, and coat in tip top shape. Here’s how you can master at-home grooming for your pup.

Bathing your puppy

We know puppies can get dirty while romping around outside, so if they love having a bath that will make life easier for you. Let’s get your puppy squeaky clean with these easy steps:

  1. Make sure you have puppy-safe bath products. Avoid using any shampoo on very young puppies.
  2. Use a wet cloth or towel to give your puppy a rubdown as prep for their first bath.
  3. Pre-bath, cuddle your puppy and give them lots of encouragement. Put cotton balls in their ears to protect their ears from moisture.
  4. Prep the bathtub so it’s a safe space – a non-slip mat is always a good idea, lukewarm water is best, and two people to help are preferred.  
  5. If you’re using a small amount of shampoo, lather it up gently and avoid your dog’s ears, eyes, and mouth. Rinse fully until the water runs clear.
  6. When bath times are done, towel dry your dog as best as possible. If they are still wet, you can use a hairdryer on the coolest setting, but make sure they have been accustomed to the noise first. 
  7. Reward your puppy with a treat and lots of praise.

Tip: If your puppy is anxious in the bath, distract them with a licking pad covered in peanut butter.

Brushing your puppy

Keeping your puppy’s coat soft and detangled is a great idea, and some breeds will need more hair care than others. Similarly, some breeds are more prone to ear infections, and will need ear cleaning regularly. You can check out our breed directory for grooming advice for specific breeds. 

No matter your puppy’s breed, these brushing tips will make brush time relaxing:

  • Keep brushing sessions short and sweet
  • Have your puppy sit on your lap or lie with you for maximum comfort and calm
  • Always be gentle and brush with the direction of your puppy’s fur in slow movements
  • Keep the experience fun with a treat reward and lots of verbal praise during the session

Puppy dental care

Keeping your puppy’s chompers clean is just as crucial for them as it is for us humans! Doggy dental diseases are common, but regular brushing and checkups can help keep them at bay. You can reduce your pup’s chances of getting dental disease by:

  • Scheduling a regular veterinarian dental exam and a professional annual cleaning.
  • Brush your puppy’s teeth at least three times per week, or daily if you can!
  • Give your puppy food and products that help support dental health. Long lasting chews help reduce plaque that causes tartar and gingivitis.

Setting up a teeth cleaning routine takes a bit of work, so make sure to read our complete dog teeth cleaning guide here

With 80% of dogs suffering from some form of gum disease by age 3,11 having coverage for dental illnesses is crucial, as treatment can get very expensive. With a Pumpkin pet insurance plan, your puppy has help getting the veterinary care and treatment they need if dental illnesses do pop up.

Nail trimming time

Your pup’s nails can grow long and unruly, so it’s key to know when to give them a trim. As a good rule of thumb, if your dog’s nails are touching the ground, or you can hear tapping when your pup walks, it’s time to trim them. 

Step-by-step: How to cut your puppy’s nails

1. Push your puppy’s fur back so there’s nothing in the way of their nails.

2. Gently pick up a paw and place your thumb on their toe pad, keeping another finger on the toe skin above the toenail. Push your thumb upwards on the toe pad, while pushing your finger forward to extend the nail out. 

3. Now, clip only at the tip of the nail, straight across. For see-through dog nails, you’ll be able to see a pink area called the quick, which you should not trim past. It’s generally right at the curve of the nail.

4. Have a product like Kwik Stop nearby to apply to the nail in case you cut it too short, which will stop the bleeding.

5. Utilizing a lick mat covered in something delicious to distract your puppy is a good way to make the experience more positive.

Establishing a daily routine

Phew! As you can tell, a lot goes into taking care of a puppy. From feeding to training to grooming, there are so many moving parts. So, how do you put it all together into a manageable routine? And what makes a good routine for a puppy? 

A simple and reliable daily routine that includes time for feeding, potty breaks, exercise, and rest is essential to keeping your puppy on track. This complete puppy training schedule is your guide to a successful and sustainable routine, but we’re going to give you a mini version here:

  • 7am Wake and potty break
  • 8am Breakfast
  • 8:15am Post-Breakfast potty break.
  • 10am Mid-morning nap
  • 12:30pm Lunch time
  • 1pm After Lunch walk
  • 1:30-3pm Mid-afternoon playtime and nap
  • 3pm Afternoon potty break
  • 3:30-6pm Afternoon playtime and nap
  • 6pm Dinner
  • 7pm Evening potty break, walk, and playtime
  • 9pm Bedtime

While these guidelines will work for many, there’s no one-size-fits-all routine. This is why we created a customizable puppy training schedule sheet that you can fill in with your puppy’s routine. For more specific guidance on their feeding schedule, click to read our puppy feeding schedule. 

The different stages of puppyhood: What to expect


Puppyhood doesn’t last for long, and soon your puppy will be bounding happily towards adulthood! Here’s a snapshot of the next few stages of your puppy’s development, and what to expect at each one.

3 to 12 weeks – Socialization and early training period 

From their early weeks with their mother and littermates to coming home with you at 8 weeks and beyond, your puppy is in a crucial stage of development where they’re learning social skills as well as key training like crate and potty training. They’re very impressionable at this stage and are learning rapidly about the world around them. Any stress or negative experiences during this period could have lasting effects. 

12 weeks to 6 months – Rapid growth and hierarchy

Your puppy is growing and changing quickly during this period. They’re gaining confidence, learning about dominance in your home and understanding where they come in the pecking order. They’re teething and chewing on items for relief as their adult teeth come through, so may need help soothing their gums. It’s essential to keep up your training schedule during this period to really cement desirable behaviors, and supplement with training classes as needed.

“Dolly is teething like a demon, she will bite anything she can get her teeth on. Shoes and shoelaces are her favorite – She will hunt them down and go hide with them!”

Toby, New Puppy Parent to Dolly

6 to 18 months – Adolescence 

Puppies can start having teenage tantrums at around 6 months of age and may start to challenge you more. They’re experiencing hormonal changes that affect their behavior, and your puppy may start to show signs of puberty. They may start to regress in their training, like peeing indoors or not responding to your commands. The best course of action is to keep steady with your training and give your pup lots of mental and physical exercise to use up all that energy. Dogs are usually spayed/neutered during this time. 

18 months and beyond – Maturity

When you reach 2 years with your puppy, they are socially mature and settled into their personality. You may still see glimpses of puppy energy and behavior, but for the most part your puppy is now a mature and confident dog. Your puppy has stopped growing and reached their full size, but the bond and love between you is still growing every day!

The final word on puppy parenting

Congratulations on becoming a puppy parent! You’re now equipped with the knowledge you need to care for your new fur baby. Your puppy is lucky to have a devoted parent like you, and we wish you many years of playtime and snuggles ahead! Our final nugget of wisdom is to seek your veterinarian’s advice if you are unsure of anything. 

Happy puppy parenting from the Pumpkin team!


Pumpkin Insurance Services Inc. (Pumpkin) is a licensed insurance agency, not an insurer. Insurance is underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company, a Crum & Forster Company and produced by Pumpkin. Pumpkin receives compensation based on the premiums for the insurance policies it sells. For more details visit pumpkin.care/underwriting-information

Pumpkin Preventive Essentials is not an insurance policy. It is offered as an optional add-on non-insurance benefit. Pumpkin is responsible for the product and administration. For full terms, visit pumpkin.care/customeragreement.


Testimonials represent individual experience only and the experiences and opinions herein may be unique to the speaker. Individual results may vary. 

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