Bringing a new puppy home for the first time is an incredibly exciting time for the whole family – but lack of planning and preparation can make those early days stressful.
Petplan takes a look at the things you need to consider to make the first 24 hours with your new puppy as stress-free as possible.
What to do when you first get your puppy home
* Firstly it’s important to remember that your puppy has just left his mother and littermates and now has to come to terms with being placed in new surroundings with new people and smells – this may make him scared or fearful. Obviously everyone within the family will be excited to welcome him – especially younger children – but try not to overly fuss, pass him around too much or be too loud. The more sedate the introduction to your home the less stressful for him.
* When you get home and BEFORE you bring your new pup into the house, take him to his ‘potty spot’ outdoors to let him relieve himself. This helps to get toilet training started straight away and your life together doesn’t begin with cleaning up a puddle!
* Once you’ve taken him indoors – let him explore his new surroundings at his own pace and restrict him to 1 or 2 rooms within the house. Giving him access to the house straight-away may be confusing and scary for him. Supervise him at all times – even if you have puppy-proofed your house!
* Dogs require routines – so get your puppy into theirs as quickly as possible. Keep food bowls and water bowls in the same place all the time and, when taking him to the toilet, escort him to a designated spot outside and stick to that area. He should quickly become more comfortable and confident because of the familiar location and smells.
* It’s also important to check with the breeder what they have been feeding the puppy. It’s best to maintain a consistent diet in the first week or so to avoid tummy upsets – moving to a new home and then being fed different food all adds to the stress for the pup.
How to deal with your puppy’s first night in your home
The first night can often be difficult – both for you and for your new addition. Your puppy may find it hard to settle at first, but there are steps you can take to make things more comfortable:
* Firstly, it’s important to understand that puppies don’t have designated ‘bed times’. They know when they need to rest so, if they sleep during the day, don’t wake them up in anticipation of a good night’s sleep. Make sure any young children are aware of this and that they know not to disturb them.
* Do not let them sleep in your bed. If you let them do this ‘just this once’ then they will expect it going forward and will make subsequent attempts to make them sleep in their crate or basket that much harder.
* Your puppy should initially be sleeping in a crate so they don’t have access to the whole house where they can get into trouble. Dogs naturally don’t soil their sleeping area, so it has the added benefit of making them more likely to wait until they are outside before going to the toilet.
* Make the crate a proper den for your new puppy by putting a hot water bottle inside it. This will mimic the effect of sleeping beside their mother’s warm body and helps to reassure your puppy. You may also want to put a blanket over the top of the crate to make it feel even more secure for them.
*Once you have prepared the crate and your puppy is inside, you need to close it and leave them on their own. It may be hard to ignore them if they whimper but that is exactly what you should do. Only enter the room to check on them when they have stopped whimpering – giving them attention when they are making noise will only encourage them to do it even more.
*Your puppy will probably need to go to the toilet in the night. Be prepared to set your alarm every two to three hours so that you can get up and take them outside to their designated spot to relieve themselves.
There will be many demanding times beyond the initial few days. However, getting the first 24 hours right is vital for setting the tone and making sure you have a solid foundation build upon.
Do you have any top tips for the first few days with a new puppy? Let us know your tips and advice below…