Congratulations on bringing a new member into the family. You are going to have so much fun together. Here are some tips for enjoying the first two weeks with your new puppy and getting your relationship off on the right paw.
The first night
- Expect lots of toileting accidents
- Try not to overwhelm pup with too many visitors and or experiences all at once.
- Puppies are like babies. They need plenty of sleep in between adventures
- Start puppy training early – day 1 is not too soon
- Focus on having a great relationship of trust with your puppy
- Prepare a quiet spot for puppy to relax in – a dog crate makes an ideal den
- Use baby gates to make sure you always know where puppy is
- Socialising is vitally important – start teaching your pup about the big wide world and how to behave in it.
The first night in a new home will be a bewildering experience for a new puppy. And possibly for you too if this is your first dog.
Your pup will have had a busy day. Leaving Mum and siblings, first car journey without brothers and sisters, a wealth of new smells, sounds, faces and hands to get used to. Dinner from a different bowl, and a strange bed to sleep in.
As a pet parent, your job is to make puppy’s experience as normal, natural and relaxed as it can be. That’s relatively simple in the day time, there’s lots going on to keep that little brain busy. But at night – that’s when your pup is going to start wondering what’s going on. Where are the other little bodies to cuddle up to? Why have the humans left me on my own?
From the human point of view, expect a couple of disturbed nights. Here are some ideas to help you survive.
- Don’t get puppy overexcited during the day – all that adrenaline in their system will make it harder for them to sleep at night.
- Keep feeding times the same as the breeders and definitely don’t change the food
- I recommend starting crate training from day 1. Introduce your pup to the crate during the day and let him or her rest in there while you are carrying out chores.
- If possible, drop a blanket off with the breeder a couple of days before you collect your pup. Ask the breeder to put it in the puppy’s nest so that it picks up the scent of the whole litter. Bring it home with puppy as a kind of comfort blanket and pop it into the crate. Ideally towards the back where it’s least likely to get wee’d on and need washing.
- Take puppy out for a wee before bedtime. It’s good to establish a bedtime routine from the get-go.
- It may help if you have puppy’s crate beside your bed at night in the first weeks – once puppy sleeps OK at night you can gradually move the crate to its permanent position.
- Be patient and understanding when little one howls or barks. They need to understand that they haven’t been abandoned and that everything is OK.
Young puppies rarely have full control of their bladder and bowels at a very young age. I can almost guarantee that there will be lots of “accidents” in the coming weeks and you will get fed up of floor mopping. Be patient, it won’t last forever.
Take practical steps to make your life easier. Washable floor surfaces are imminently easier to keep clean than carpets….be mindful of what’s beneath your pup’s feet.
Learn to read doggy body language. Very often your pup will give subtle signals that they need to “go”. Sniffing the floor and/or circling are classic signs. Encourage them outside immediately and praise them if they get it right.
When accidents happen, NEVER and I mean NEVER shout at your pup or tell them off. They won’t understand what you are trying to communicate and may become frightened of you. It’s frustrating I know but it’s a process. Human toddlers go through it too and it’s a tough nut to crack but all of a sudden they just “get it”.
In the first few weeks after you bring your pup home it’s wise to establish a toilet training routine. Visit the garden every hour or so – more often if you can – and reward with praise and treats when little one gets it right. Your pup is most likely to need a wee after feeding, after playing and after a nap, so factor that into your new routine.
Crate training helps enormously as very few puppies will wet their own bed. Use the crate conservatively though – it’s a chill-out zone, not a punishment zone or a prison.
Socialisation is a term that we dog trainers use to describe the process of getting a dog used to living in a human-orientated world.
Puppies are most open to new experiences before the age of 16 weeks. I always advise puppy owners to make the most of these few short weeks to show puppy that there are lots of exciting things in the world and most of them are interesting – not scary. That means some pre-jab socialisation – ie careful introductions with safety in mind.
A good breeder will already have done as much as possible to let your puppy experience new things. Walking of different surfaces, playing with toys, ripping up paper, sniffing plants, meeting people and other pets, watching telly, hearing the washing machine……..the list is endless and most of the items on it are everyday stuff that we take for granted.
Pre-jab socialisation is broadening your puppy’s horizons without frightening them and without exposing them to potentially nasty doggy illnesses. Some of things you could do include…
- Short car rides – getting used to the sounds and smells of the vehicle. If pup hates the car, just sit in it with the engine switched off, let them explore and offer tiny treats to boost confidence.
- “walks” around the garden. This is a good way to get used to wearing a harness and lead. Let pup sniff everything, walk on the paths, the lawns, soil, puddles, gravel etc to learn about textures and materials.
- Carry your pup as you walk down the street. Let him or her see, hear and catch the scent of cars, people, bicycles, prams, other dogs etc.
- Go visiting. Take puppy to a friend’s house where the sights and sounds are different. (You’ll need to be mindful of meeting other dogs before jabs)
- Many pet food shops are happy to have furry visitors. Again, avoid contact with other dogs but you could take your pup to buy his or her first collar and/or have cuddles with the staff.
Remember to always watch your puppy’s body language. At the first signs of fearfulness, remove your pup from the situation. You can try again in a couple of days’ time. Socialisation isn’t a race and it’s important to build positive associations with the outside world.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Shout at your puppy or punish when he or she makes a mistake.
- Wake puppy up to play with him or her – sleep is crucial at this age
- Allow anyone to tease or handle puppy roughly
- Expect too much at once
- Leave your puppy home alone for long periods of time
- Find out as much as you can about how dogs learn and the best ways to train a puppy before you collect your new pooch. A pre-puppy visit from a dog trainer is an excellent investment in your pup’s future. Find out more here
- Start basic training very early on with things like response to name and toilet training.
- Distract your pup if he or she is doing something you wouldn’t want your adult dog to do. Eg chewing furniture, jumping up, mouthing hands
- Introduce your puppy to lots of new objects, sounds and experiences
- Investigate local dog training classes and sign up for when those vaccinations have been completed. Find out how to choose a dog trainer
- If classes are not for you – try an online Dogversity course to keep you up to speed with modern dog training methods. Dogversity for puppy owners
Useful articles for new puppy owners
5 reasons to enrol your new puppy into training classes
Should your puppy wear a collar or a harness? Which is best?