Bringing your New Puppy Home
Settling your new pup into your home is an important and rewarding time. This time period forms the foundation for your friendship with your pup, as they learn to accept your family as their new pack. It is important to keep in mind that it can be a daunting time for puppies and people alike and it is best to be well prepared.
Before bringing a pup home, make a checklist of all the puppy essentials, and ensure you have them ready:
Before you take the pup, ask their current carer a few questions about their current routines. For example, what food have they been feeding, where does the pup sleep and what the toileting habits are – is the puppy toilet trained yet? Even though you may wish to choose your own food and routines for sleep and toileting for the long-term, a gradual transition over a few weeks can make things easier for the pup. If you can, bring some of the puppy’s previous toys, bed or blankets to your home with the pup, so they can have some familiar smells to make them feel more at ease.
It is often best to start your puppy out in their own small ‘safe place’ rather allowing access to the whole house or yard, then gradually expanding this and letting them explore new areas until they have access to all the areas you intend for them as an adult dog. This both keeps the pup safe and allows them to get used to the sounds and smells of their new home without becoming too overwhelmed. This safe place can be a pen or room with their bed, food and water and some puppy toys. It is great to keep this area close to where the human family spend their time, as puppies love human company and it will help them get to know their new family.
Separation anxiety is fairly common in new puppies. Moving away from their mother and littermates can certainly trigger this, so many pups benefit from spending plenty of time with their new family in the first few days, so they don’t get too lonely. It is often recommended that one or more members of the family plans to take a week or two off work to spend at home with the puppy in the first few weeks in its new home to help the settling in and bonding process. When the pup seems calm spending short periods of time alone, gradually increase the time that they are left without causing them distress. Do make sure you take the time to teach the pup to be happy and content alone, to try to reduce the chances that you will have an adult dog with separation anxiety.
Puppies are playful creatures. Play is very important for developing coordination, strength and social skills, so be sure to spend time playing games with your pup and then starting to turn the games into training. Puppies can be prone to chewing on things when they are teething, so it is best to keep some safe chewing toys handy to avoid them finding more ‘creative’ ways to work their gums (like on your shoes!).
If you have other pets in the house, be sure to introduce the new puppy gradually. It can be a shock for your existing pets, especially if they are older, to have a new puppy around. This is another great reason to keep the puppy in their own area to begin with. Make sure you continue to give your existing pet(s) lots of attention when the new pup comes home, so that they don’t feel displaced and have time to adjust to the new family member. Slowly introduce the two and be sure to supervise interactions between the pets and reward both of them with a pat, a “good dog”, and /or a treat when they behave in a friendly manner towards each other, so they start to associate one another with positive things and feel happy to be together as “good things” happen.
The same is true for puppies and children, especially toddlers and babies. Slow and steady and always supervised during the introductory stage to ensure both puppy and child stay safe and develop a positive relationship.
Also remember that even if you don’t have other pets, it is important to socialise you pup with other dogs, so that the right behaviours are developed early on. Puppy preschools or other similar puppy socialisation classes are a great place to start. Many veterinary clinics or pet specialty retailers or doggy daycare facilities or dog clubs will run these. They generally run for a few weeks and you ideally need to start at the beginning and follow the classes through to the end, rather than starting mid-term, so be sure to investigate these before your pup arrives and get him or her enrolled to start. Do remember to ask them about their vaccination status requirements and be sure that your puppy meets these, just to make sure that your pup stays healthy.