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Published: Feb 06, 2012

While the exciting game between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants may dominate discussion in the weeks following the Super Bowl, another program airing at the same time drew the attention of a notable number of pet lovers - the Puppy Bowl. Watching little canines play with one another may warm the heart, but potential pet parents must make sure they are prepared for adoption before picking up their own puppy.

Understanding what constitutes normal puppy behavior is an important part of raising a healthy pet. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, most puppies will be adopted between the ages of 6 to 8 weeks.  They will be eating solid food and should be able to urinate and defecate unassisted.  However, a new puppy owner will need to begin training right away—teaching acceptable areas for elimination, proper play behavior and manners when greeting new people and other pets.  Exposing a new puppy to different people and environments is important for a puppy to grow up into a well-adjusted adult.

Dog vaccinations are another important aspect of puppy care. VCA reports that antibodies passed from mother to puppy protect young canines from many illnesses. However, these safeguards dissipate after a few weeks, which is why it's important to get all of the required dog shots.  Puppies must be started on a routine deworming program and when they are old enough, monthly preventatives for fleas and heartworm disease should be started.

It takes a commitment of time and money to get a puppy started off right but it is worth it!