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Right Start Puppy Program

Recognizing that the first weeks of a puppy’s life with you are critical in ensuring that they mature into healthy, well-behaved and beloved members of your family, we are now offering an enhanced first puppy visit.


Over the years, we have observed that there is so much important information to cover during your pet’s initial wellness visit to our hospital. This is especially true for owners who haven’t raised a puppy recently or are acquiring a dog for the first time. We try to get through the wide range of topics we want to discuss in the context of a standard office visit, but there can be an overwhelming amount for you to absorb while also attending to your new pet’s emotional needs in unfamiliar surroundings.

The “Right Start Puppy Program” consists of a comprehensive home visit from Dr. Jan Freeman.  Although all our doctors and technicians love working with young pups and their families, Dr. Freeman has a special interest in early canine development and helping puppies and their owners start off on the right foot (...and paw). Dr. Jan has two Labradors; the older dog, Teva, is an experienced therapy dog, who recently retired from competitive agility. The one-year-old, Maizy, is a work in progress, constantly reminding Dr. Jan of the challenges of raising a puppy. Through training her own dogs and extensive reading on canine behavior, Dr. Freeman is very familiar with strategies for puppy training, available literature and many area dog trainers.

Picture of puppy, black, brown and white combination
Dr Freeman, Posing in picture

The “Right Start Puppy Program” visit consists of the following:


  • A complete physical examination

  • Necessary vaccines and appropriate anti-parasite treatments as determined by review of prior medical records and assessment of lifestyle and health risks

  • Discussion of the following health related topics:

    • ​Vaccination schedule

    • Nutrition and feeding plan

    • Heartworm diseasFlea & tick prevention

    • Intestinal parasite control

    • Neutering

    • Dental care

    • ​Microchipping

    • Any medical problems detected on physical exam or other health concerns



In addition, Dr. Freeman will consult on the following:

  • Housebreaking/crate training: including review of daily schedule, introducing a crate, training a “potty” command and related topics

  • Commands to teach your puppy in the first few weeks

  • Importance of early socialization

  • Informal observation and discussion of your puppy’s interaction with household members, especially children

  • Strategies for keeping your puppy busy, including exercise and acceptable toys and games

  • Methods for controlling play biting

  • Suggestions for group puppy classes, area trainers and books

This visit will typically last between 60-90 minutes. In a further effort to successfully convey the information covered in this comprehensive visit, Dr. Freeman will follow up with an e-mail documenting what was discussed and decided, as well as a timeline of upcoming wellness exams, vaccinations and anti-parasite treatments.




Q: How and when should a RSPP visit be scheduled?


A: The first few days can be the toughest as you and your pet adjust to your new life together.  Because habits (good and bad) can form very quickly, the RSPP visit is best planned for the first few days after your puppy’s arrival.


Dr. Freeman will work with you to schedule a mutually convenient time, hopefully when all 

or most family members can participate.  If you know in advance when you are bringing your puppy home, please feel free to call well ahead to schedule the visit.



Q: I am rescuing an older dog. Can I still have a “Right Start” visit?


A: Yes. Many of the topics addressed in the program apply to new pets of any age.  Dr. Freeman will do her best to help you with your dog’s transition to its new home regardless of age.



Q: What is the cost of the RSPP visit?


A: The charge for the RSPP visit is approximately $100 above our normal office visit if you live within 10 miles driving distance of the practice*. Cost of vaccines, treatments and medications are in addition to the cost of the visit, at the same cost as if provided in our building. 


*A small travel upcharge applies to RSPP visits more than 10 miles away, travel distances determined by Google maps.



Q: I understand my puppy needs several wellness exams and booster vaccinations in the first 4-5 months of its life. Can subsequent visits be scheduled in our home?


A: We recommend follow-up puppy visits be conducted in our hospital. This ensures that your puppy has some healthy, happy visits to our clinical environment during the critical “socialization period” of its life and provides an opportunity for you to get to know more of our staff.



“There's more to a puppy than meets the eye, and to understand that more fully, my husband and I heartily recommend Thorn Avenue Animal Hospital's Right Start Puppy program. Before formally introducing this program, Dr. Freeman provided this type of visit to us as neighbors. She treated our beagle puppy and us with kindness and respect while thoroughly advising on all the usual health issues. Dr. Jan also helped us to understand normal puppy behavior and addressed housebreaking, feeding, walking, playing, sleeping, etc. Having the visit in our home allowed Dr. Jan to observe our puppy in her normal surroundings and to guide us in setting up a safe and comfortable environment for her. We also felt more relaxed and able to absorb information and ask questions. Getting your puppy off on the right track will be rewarding not only now, but will be of benefit throughout your life with your canine companion.”
- Linda & Pat N. 



If you have additional questions or wish to schedule a RSPP visit, please call our office at (716) 667-7250.

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