What to do when your puppy arrives
When I wrote the first draft of A Year With Your Puppy (AYWYP) I didn’t include what to do when your puppy arrives, because my puppies are born in my bedroom! Of course most people don’t breed their puppy, especially first time puppy owners. Hopefully you bought your puppy from a responsible breeder, so they have already given you lots of helpful advice. Here are my thoughts.
Preparation and equipment
Before your puppy has arrived in your home, they have already made big changes to your life! You have planned to get them, chosen them, seen them and made changes to your home. You will have gone out and bought ‘stuff’ for them and set everything up ready. I remember visiting a couple of people before their first dog arrived and it was laughable (for me) how they imagine their life with their dog was going to be.
I recommend the following equipment:
- Dog crate and run
- Bedding, such as vet bed
- Collar and lead, with identity tag
- Bowls for food and water
- Dog toys
- Food and treats
- Car crate, guard or harness
- Poo bags
- Grooming equipment, shampoo and toothpaste
You can go on forever buying things for your dog, but the above are all pretty essential. I recommend talking to the dog’s breeder about where to buy all of these from. They will often have top tips about what to buy and may have discount codes or recommended suppliers. My website has details about all of these things.
Making your home safe
Before your puppy arrives home you need to make it a safe space for them. You need to decide where they will spend most of their time and prepare that area. Check for wiring that they can get to and move this. Remove toys, plants, shoes etc, at least for the first few months.
You shouldn’t let your puppy go up and down stairs, so think about the best way to stop them from doing this. You might want to section off part of the garden, so that the puppy doesn’t dig up your favourite plants, or eat the poisonous ones!
I highly recommend setting up a run, so that you have somewhere safe for the puppy to play when you go to the toilet! Or have to get on with something. You will quickly learn how much you can trust your dog to hang out around you and how much you need to watch and engage with them.
Introducing your puppy to the family
When the puppy arrives home, everyone will be VERY excited! That’s understandable, but it can be overwhelming for the puppy. Try to manage this, if possible? Don’t invite loads of friends and family round, at least for the first few days. Give yourself time and space to settle and get to know each other.
If you have other pets, introduce these to your puppy calmly and slowly. Manage your expectations – they are not going to be friends straight away. Older dogs in particular will NOT thank you for bringing home a puppy and will probably hate it for several weeks. They should come round eventually, if you manage the interaction carefully and with respect. Cats need to be given time and space too. Most cats can live perfectly happily with dogs, but initially they need to be able to get away and not be hassled. There is a section on cats and dogs for more information.
Children should learn to manage themselves around the puppy. They should not be allowed to pester it constantly – let the puppy come to them for play and attention. If the puppy starts biting excessively they are overtired and need a chance to rest.
Feeding and toileting
Do not expect your puppy to be toilet trained! It takes quite a few weeks to learn the difference between inside and outside. They are also too young to have good bladder control, so when they need to go it will just happen! The more effort you make to work on this the quicker it will happen, but patience is definitely required.
Similarly, your puppy may be unsettled for a few days and have an upset tummy. This might be from travelling or just from adjusting to the new surroundings. They may be off their food, even though it is the same food the breeder gave them. It’s fine. Keep offering small amounts of food. Don’t leave it down, remove it after a few minutes and then offer again later or discard and start again. Talk to the breeder or your vet if problems persist.
The first night
People get hung up on the trauma of a puppy going off to their new home and coping with being on their own. If a puppy has been lovingly bred in the breeder’s home, they won’t find the transition that difficult. They will be tired, for one thing, after travelling and exploring and playing. They should be used to being in a crate and to being left, away from their mum.
Once you have had a last wander around the garden and hopefully done a final wee and a poo, pop your puppy into their crate and then sit quietly nearby whilst they fall asleep. When they are settled, leave them to it. If the crate is covered and has a bit of bedding with a familiar smell from mum on it, the puppy should be quite content.
Puppies are not usually ‘dry’ at night for a few more weeks, so you might need to let them out in the middle of the night. If you set up a run, with the crate open so that they can get out and go on the newspaper, that won’t be needed and they are better off left in peace. If you do decide to get up and toilet them, make sure it is quiet and boring.
You will need to get up early though! Puppies do not wait until 8am to start their day – when it’s light, we get up! Having said that, you can usually get away with getting up to toilet, have breakfast and a bit of a play, followed by another sleep.
Good luck with everything and away we go – your journey with your puppy has begun!
Weekly Focus Challenge
Have you got everything you need before your puppy comes home? Are you managing your expectations? How do you plan to keep your puppy safe in your home? Where are they going to be left alone? How are they going to travel in the car? How much time have you set aside to look after them for the first few days and weeks?
Buy the Workbook
The Workbook – A Year With Your Puppy is available to buy. It was written and designed to be a hands-on, interactive book for you. It will help you survive the first year with your puppy, but also act as a memento of that time and the journey you have been on. You can write notes and stick in pictures of your puppy throughout the year. Lovely!
Please CONTACT ME if you want to know more about me and my dogs? And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think. If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME, by filling in your email address below? Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.
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NB: I am not a dog trainer, or a dog behaviourist, just a dog breeder and owner. I can only offer my opinion, based on my experience.