A dog is so much more than just a pet; they squiggle their way into your heart and live in an adorable fashion. However, there is more to caring for a dog than several individuals realize which is one reason the shelters are overflowing with unwanted animals.

If you have been thinking about getting a dog, here are a few things you should know about proper care for a lifetime.

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When puppies are first born, they are dependent upon their mother for everything. She will feed, protect, and clean up after them until they are a few weeks old.

During this stage of the game, you can handle them occasionally, and enjoy watching them develop right before your eyes. It is during the first week or so that you will want to schedule a vet visit to check for congenital defects.

Mother dogs generally begin the weaning process around 5-6 weeks of age; this, of course, may vary among breeds and particular mothers.

Some will keep pups longer some less and you should trust the mother to know when the time is right. As long as puppies are able to eat and drink on their own it is okay for mom to wean them.

Once your pup has been weaned, you will need to get them vaccinated. While puppies are dependent on mom, they are also covered by her antibodies against common ailments such as parvovirus and canine distemper.