If you’ve just welcomed a new pet into your household, there’s no doubt you’ll want to give them the very best start to life. There may be some nerves (from both human and animal) as well as plenty to think about and be prepared for.

You’ll need to think about nutrition, how to make them feel safe and comfortable, how to gain understanding to make sure you are creating a trusting and loving relationship with your new companion, not to mention navigating vaccination, microchipping and desexing needs! Above all, we recommend being patient throughout the process and keeping their environment a consistent and calm one.

Behaviour and socialisation

Focussing on behaviour and socialisation of our new pets should be a priority. All animals have a period of learning at the start of their lives that affects lifelong behaviour. During this time, they learn to accept the things around them so that they are not afraid of them. This period is between 3-12 weeks in puppies and 2-7 weeks in kittens. Puppy socialisation involves having pleasant encounters (with humans, other animals and noises/experiences). Puppies that are well socialised tend to grow up to be friendly and happy, taking different situations in their stride. Current thinking is that many dogs are put down because of issues that could be prevented by early socialisation.  Puppy classes are a great first step in becoming a responsible dog owner. Make sure you also have plenty of toys and treats on hand to help with training.  And remember, although puppies and kittens seem to have endless energy, it’s vital to give them plenty of downtime for their physical and mental health.


Some puppy owners have described the few first weeks of having a puppy similar to having a newborn baby. Be prepared for sleepless nights! Establishing a routine is important, as is making sure your puppy has a safe and cosy place to sleep. Crate training is highly recommended. Get it right and your puppy will seek out their crate for times they want rest. Kittens will need lots of sleep when they are young, even more so that adult cats. However, they will not always sleep through the night.

Toilet training

It won’t take long to realise that puppies pee a lot! Up to 12 times a day. It’s your job to read your puppy’s behaviour and learn when they ‘need to go’. Walking in circles and looking around anxiously are common behaviours. Calmly walking with them outside and waiting patiently until they are finished, then rewarding them with praise or treats are good actions. Be consistent with your approach and don’t punish your puppy for accidents, this can slow progress, so keep positive! Kittens require less work when it comes to toilet training and most are already trained by the time they come to their new home (those who haven’t are helped by a strong instinct to bury their evidence!).

Nutrition matters

Putting some thought into what you are feeding your pet is part of giving them a great start to life. At the puppy or kitten stage, getting the correct balance of nutrients, vitamins and minerals is essential. If fed poor quality foods they may fail to thrive, be more susceptible to disease, and could have ongoing permanent issues. Whatever diet you choose to feed your pet, it is important to introduce new foods slowly, avoiding any sudden changes as this may cause gastrointestinal upsets.

Other important things to note:

Desexing: If you don’t plan to breed your pet, there are good medical and behavioural reasons for desexing, which we strongly recommended.

Vaccination: We strongly recommended that puppies and kittens be fully vaccinated, as this will help protect them from potentially fatal diseases. They will require rounds of vaccinations, at 8 weeks, 12 and 16 weeks.

Council requirements: Microchipping and registration is a council requirement for dogs. The microchipping procedure is quick and painless and means that if your pet goes missing, they can be identified.

Parasite control: Regular flea and worm treatments are important for all animals, but particularly in the young. If untreated, pets will almost certainly suffer from parasitism, which can make them seriously ill.

Puppy and Kitten Promotion now on!

Tauranga, Te Puna, Katikati and Papamoa Village Vets’ Puppy and Kitten Promotion is now on! If you have a new puppy or kitten, give us a call or come in – let us help you make providing the best care for your puppy or kitten simple and more affordable. Our Kitten and Puppy packs include discount vouchers for 20% off de-sexing, vouchers on food and flea treatment plus lots more!