Bringing your new puppy home is an extremely exciting time, but there’s plenty to do before you reach that point. Taking a bit of time now to get your home and household ready for a new arrival will pay off in the long run.
Use our checklist to make sure your puppy’s first few days at home go as smoothly as possible. Preparation is the key to success, after all!
Set the ground rules early
Before your new puppy arrives home, make time to have a family meeting. Making sure everyone knows what to expect in advance will make the first few days much easier. Think about the following questions as you decide how to adapt to life with your new pet.
Which training techniques will you use?
Techniques like clicker training are recommended as they are gentle and effective, and use positive reinforcement principles. You might decide for one member of the family to attend puppy training classes and let everyone else know what you’ve learned. Consistency is key for puppies, so multiple family members trying to train different tricks could cause confusion. Stick to the basics to begin with and let your pup master those before moving on to more advanced tricks.
What will your puppy’s routine look like?
Dogs thrive on routine, so having a rough structure outlined in advance will help your puppy settle in as quickly as possible.
Will one person be responsible for feeding your puppy, or will whoever gets up first fill their food bowl? How will you make sure you’re not overfeeding your new pup—bearing in mind most puppies will happily eat multiple breakfasts! Assigning one primary caregiver is a good idea, or writing out a feeding chart and ticking off each meal. Getting children involved in feeding your new addition can help them feel involved, but always do this under supervision of an adult.
You’ll also need to consider how to manage frequent toilet breaks to help with toilet training, keeping to a regular bedtime routine, and making plenty of time for playing with your new puppy to keep them entertained and build a bond between you.
If you’re bringing a puppy home when you already have another dog, follow our tips for how to successfully introduce them. Again, having a plan for how to approach this will make things much easier.
Where will your puppy sleep?
While it might be tempting to allow your puppy to sleep in your bed for the first few nights, it’s generally not a good idea. Making this exception at the start means training your puppy to sleep in a crate or their own bed will then become a lot harder. Crate training your puppy can give them a safe space to sleep at night where they can’t get into trouble.
Adding a hot water bottle to your puppy’s bed can help them feel reassured. Making them a den by placing a blanket over their crate is also a good idea.
Puppies have plenty of energy but they also tire easily. They’ll need naps during the day, so make sure everyone knows not to disturb them as they recharge their batteries.
Decide in advance who will check on your puppy overnight–you may need to set your alarm for every few hours for the first few nights and allow your puppy out to relieve themselves, and consider investing in some puppy pads, in case of any accidents.
Puppy-proof your home
If you’re a first-time dog owner, your home and garden may have a few hazards that could be dangerous to a curious puppy. Leaving your puppy unsupervised for even a few moments can result in chewed cables or your puppy eating something poisonous. Look around your house from ‘puppy level’ and remove or secure anything you think could be a hazard.
Using a child gate to portion off a small area of your house can help your puppy feel less overwhelmed. As they grow in confidence you can open up more rooms for them to explore. Using the kitchen is a good idea, as you’ll usually have easy-to-clean floors for those little accidents.
Make sure your garden is secure and check for any gaps in your fences. Puppies can wriggle through surprisingly small spaces! Dog theft is increasing and some more valuable or unusual breeds are particularly attractive targets. Adding security lights or a bell on your gate can deter would-be-thieves from entering your property.
Stock up on supplies
Puppies need a lot of equipment, so make sure you’re fully prepared with supplies before you pick your puppy up. Ask your breeder what brand of food they use and make sure to buy some of the same, to reduce the chances of your puppy suffering from an upset tummy.
Finding and registering with a vet
Before you bring your puppy home, it’s a good idea to visit local vet surgeries and decide where to register your puppy. During the first few months, your puppy will need regular vet appointments for vaccinations and health checks. You can prepare your puppy to feel calm and confident during these visits by practising some mock examinations at home. Make sure you also ask your vet about microchipping – a legal requirement for all dog owners – and ensure that all your details, including phone number and address, are up to date.
Once your home is prepared and you have all the supplies you need, our guide to the first 24 hours with your new puppy can give you some ideas of what to expect next.