If you’re planning to bring home a new puppy, there’s a lot of planning and preparation to consider ahead of time. Planning and prep are best to do ahead of time, as opposed to waiting until that cute little bundle of joy is melting your heart…and chewing everything in sight.
Before You Bring a Puppy Home
Be prepared to learn the skills, patience and consistency that will help your puppy adapt successfully to our human world. The goal is living harmoniously together. Not just for a week or two, but for life.
It’s best to decide on feeding, sleeping, and potty routines before bringing the puppy home. And then, stick with the plan, when possible. Routines are adaptable, and each dog should be treated as an individual. We, as dog guardians, should be able to adjust our expectations based on our pups’ preferences too, as long as it is safe and healthy for the pup. It just takes dedication and advanced preparation, including purchasing some necessities to help make pup’s transition into your home safer, easier and happier. Here’s a partial list to get you started:
- Collar — So the pup can carry his or her ID!
- Leash — To help get pup used to loose leash walking, which is easier to train when the pup is young. Using a plain, 4’ — 6’ leash is highly recommended.
- Harness – Helps with walking, while taking the pressure off the puppy’s neck and very delicate neck structures.
- Bed — So the pup has a comfortable resting spot.
- Crate — As another comfortable resting spot and also to help with house-training and management, so he or she doesn’t wander all over the house unsupervised. Crate training your puppy has many benefits, including strengthening your puppy’s bladder muscles, creating a place for puppy to practice chewing appropriate items and providing a safe place for your puppy to relax.
- Food — we highly encourage you to check with your vet or a vet nutritionist about diet and feeding recommendations for your specific pup.
- Training treats — Use the pup’s regular food when possible, but healthy treats can be used for training too. A nice way to bond and train is hand-feeding the puppy a meal – or at least part of it. Guardians can measure out the day’s food ahead of time and hand feed portions as part of the pup’s regular meal at mealtime and during training times.
- Chew toys — Most pups like to chew! This is a normal, species-specific trait. So make sure you provide them with allowable items, so they don’t chew up other things that can be dangerous to them and frustrating (and expensive!) to you.
- Other toys — Work and play with the pup so you can discover what toys the pup likes. Dogs like to play, so make sure you have items they want to play with.
- Water and food bowls.
- Enrichment toys, including interactive food toys! – If you plan on feeding or treating your puppy using interactive food toys, you can start right away. Nina Ottosson has some great food puzzle toys, as does the Kong® Company.
- Bathing and grooming supplies — Because puppies like to play and get dirty! They need to be groomed regularly; it helps keep them healthy.
When You Bring the Puppy Home
However, it will take more than material items to help a pup adjust to a new home. Puppies might be especially stressed when they’re first brought home because of being in new surroundings, with new people, and maybe with new animal siblings. There’s also being away from littermates, possibly from his or her mother, and people. Generally speaking, animals (including humans) get stressed with change! So all of these changes can cause acute stress for your new puppy.
It’s important to allow puppies to share and exhibit their feelings. This is a good time to begin studying and learning their body language. Pups might have a change in eating, drinking, and/or elimination patterns. They might vocalize or whimper as well as other common forms of canine communication. Be patient, listen to them, watch them, and remember to comfort them. You can’t reinforce fear or anxiety, but you can show you care with love and comfort.
Avoid Common Mistakes
Guardians need to remember that puppies are puppies! They aren’t adult dogs. They still need to learn all about their environments and be taught what the rules are in a loving and productive way. Reinforce behaviors you like and want, even when you didn’t ask. Just because a pup goes potty in the right place one time doesn’t mean he or she is house-trained.
Remember that a puppy will wake up in the middle of the night and need to go out to the bathroom — this means the guardian needs to take the puppy out! Also keep in mind that young pups need to nap throughout the day. And, they sleep for longer periods, compared to adult dogs. Finally, consider that puppies are active, like to play, have lots of energy, and still need to learn what is expected of them. Again, be patient and understanding, and a good teacher.
Yes. Puppies are a lot of work. But the payoffs of having a puppy outweigh the frustrations for some. The cuteness, the sweet smell of puppy breath, the floppy playfulness pouncing on inanimate objects. And, time flies by pretty quickly. Before you know it your cute little bundle of fluff will be all grown up, so enjoy every moment together – even the 2:00 AM potty adventures!
Here’s to a lifetime of unleashing adventures and harnessing fun together!