Getting a puppy is a magical time and exciting for all the family. But it can also feel hugely daunting if you’re a first-time puppy owner. There are many preparations to consider before you bring your new fur ball home. Then during the first few days, you need to help your new puppy settle into family life without stress.
Because when your pup is taken away from their canine family into a new environment, it can be scary. Your job is to help them feel welcome, safe and relaxed around you and your family in their new home.
So to make sure you and your pup get off on the right paw and settle in quickly, here are our top puppy tips for the first week at home.
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Before you leave to pick up your puppy, make sure your home is puppy proofed as best as possible. Puppies are inquisitive at this age, and may be tempted to get their paws and teeth around everything in your home. Keep them safe by restricting access to household items that may do them harm.
- Keep wires and cables well out of reach or use cable covers to prevent accidents. Puppies love to chew! Never leave your puppy unattended if wires can’t be covered or removed.
- Bins can contain all sorts of smelly rubbish that could make your puppy sick if ingested. Keep any bins covered or out of reach.
- Ensure all medicines and cleaning products are locked away or kept out of reach.
- Keep all foods out of reach. Many human foods are poisonous to dogs, for example chocolate, grapes and onions.
The key to a great first week with your new puppy is all in the preparation. Ensure you have everything you need in your home before picking up your new puppy. You don’t want to have to dash to the shops unexpectedly.
Here are a few things you’ll need:
For the full list of puppy essentials, check out the complete list of everything you’ll need.
Introductions with the rest of your family need to be a positive experience for your puppy. It’s a good idea to have treats on hand to reward your puppy for being friendly and curious with family members.
Don’t overwhelm your puppy with too many visitors in the first week. Let them settle in with your immediate family for the first couple of days, then you can start inviting friends and family over when your puppy has built up their confidence. Again, keep interactions with new people upbeat and positive with lots of praise and rewards for friendly behaviour.
The first few nights can be scary for your new puppy as they learn to sleep without their mother and siblings. It’s likely your puppy will cry if you leave them in a dark room on their own. This can be stressful for you and your puppy, but you can make this transition easier for both of you.
Set up your puppy’s crate or bed next to your bed for the first few nights. If you don’t want your puppy in your room permanently, you can move their bed closer to the bedroom door each night, until they’re where you want them to be.
If they fall asleep straight away, don’t stroke them further, leave them be. If your puppy cries during the night, try not to make a fuss so they become dependent on your touch and affection. Puppies quickly learn that crying gets them attention if you’re not careful. Reassure your puppy briefly and let them settle down again.
It’s a good idea to make sure someone is with your puppy at all times during the first week. Take that time off work to help your puppy settle in. Then spend lots of time with your puppy playing and helping them get used to you.
It’s also wise to establish a routine that will continue if you go back to work. Set up a feeding schedule and times for activity and training. All dogs thrive off routine and knowing where they fit into family life.
Along with bonding time, you also want to ensure your puppy has ample time to settle and recharge their batteries. Puppies need around 18-20 hours of sleep a day. Puppies expend a lot of energy exploring, learning, playing and growing, and all that activity is tiring work! So make sure your puppy has a comfortable and quiet area where they can go to relax when they need to.
Ensure all family members know they’re not to disturb your new puppy when they’re sleeping, including other pets. And especially young children that can be excitable and eager to play.
It’s also important to teach your puppy how to have quiet time around the family and play happily on their own too. Your puppy needs to know that they have a place where they can be calm or occupied when they’re not interacting with you directly.
This all starts with creating a designated spot in a room where you and your family spend lots of time. For example, a dog bed in the living room. Be sure to keep your energy calm, as your puppy will pick up on this. Then put your puppy in their spot. You could offer a toy for them to play with quietly.
If your puppy starts to wander off, you can use a lead to guide them back to their spot to better teach them what you want. When they’re starting to understand what you want and happily settle in place for a minute or two, you can remove the lead and reward them with praise and a treat.
It will take practice and patience before your puppy settles for any length of time. So slowly increase the amount of time they’re settled before you offer the reward.
Toilet training can be challenging for new puppy owners, but with the right technique your puppy will know where to go in no time.
Your new puppy will need to be taken outside every hour for a toilet opportunity. Then when your puppy goes outside in the right spot, you need to offer high praise and a tasty treat so they learn what you want.
If your puppy has an accident inside the home, never punish or shout at your puppy. They won’t understand what they’ve done wrong, and they may even become scared of you. Clean the mess up as thoroughly and quickly as you can, and ensure you take them out more often.
If you’ve been standing outside for 30 minutes and your puppy doesn’t relieve themselves, just go back inside and try again in 10-20 minutes.
Check out more tips on toilet training your puppy.
Your puppy’s diet
When feeding your puppy, it’s a good idea to stick with the same food as the breeder until they’ve settled in. Switching foods too quickly can upset your puppy’s tummy, and it’s likely they feel a little stressed in the new environment already. If you do want to switch to a new food, do so gradually by mixing old and new food once they’re settled in.
Puppies also need to eat more regularly than adult dogs. So split your puppy’s daily food allowance between 3-4 meals a day until they’re 6 months old. You can then drop down to twice a day at a year old.
Your new puppy will need to learn the rules of the house, and it’s a good idea to start training as early as possible. So when your new puppy starts chewing your furniture legs, you can teach them the ‘off’ command or ‘leave it’, for example.
Teaching basic obedience like sit, lie down and settle, will not only help you and your puppy bond, they’re also useful everyday commands to help them grow into an obedient adult dog.
During the first week with your new puppy, it’s likely they’ll need their first round of vaccinations. So you’ll need to get your new puppy booked into your local vet. This is also a good opportunity to make those introductions with your vet so you always have a point of contact should you need them.
Your new puppy will also be able to familiarise themselves with the environment and people, allowing you to make it a positive experience from the start. Vets can be scary places for dogs, so it’s worthwhile taking a handful of treats and offering lots of praise and rewards when they’re nice and calm.
How are you preparing for your first week with your new puppy? Or is your new bundle of fur already with you? If so, how’s everything going? Let us know in the comments below…
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