Welcoming a cute little puppy into your family is a special and exciting time. You’ve likely been waiting quite some time for your pup to be old enough to leave their mom and begin a new life with you.
And as fun as it is in those early days to have this cute little bundle of cuteness to play with, it is also very important to consider the best way to transition and settle your new pup in.
If your home includes children, especially young children, it is vital that any interactions are supervised at all times. Although a child may not intend to cause any harm, over zealous hands and loud voices can potentially hurt or frighten a young puppy, or even unknowingly teach the young and impressionable pup some bad manners.
Before the puppy enters the room ask your children to sit down and remain calm (an almost impossible request of young and excited children!) Allow the puppy to explore on their own and make their own way over to who they want, and in their own time. You can get children to hold a little treat in their hands, making sure their hands are completely flat and still. Try to keep noise to a minimum so as not to startle a likely nervous young puppy.
Keep interactions in the early days, and even weeks, short. Puppies need rest and can quickly become overtired which is when bad behaviour can occur.
It is key to remind everyone that a puppy needs a lot of sleep, especially in the early days. They need to be left to rest and sleep when they need to. Never ever wake a sleeping puppy or try to move them. It’s a great idea to provide your puppy with their own ‘safe zone’ where they can head off to for down time and sleep, confident that they won’t be disturbed.
A dog crate is an excellent idea, especially if you make it lovely and cosy inside with blankets and a bed, some dogs also like to have a blanket covering the crate to block out light and give them complete privacy away from the hustle and bustle of the house.
You can also set up a dog playpen which will provide them with more space than a wire crate. This can be used instead of, or as well as a crate, depending on space. A puppy playpen is essential if you have a busy household and there isn’t always someone that can be watching their every move. Puppies are most definitely full of mischief and you will be surprised how quickly they can get themselves into trouble!
Although a puppy pen is useful for short periods of time it shouldn’t be used as a long term place for your puppy to be kept. If your puppy barks in the pen it is usually a sign that they have been left in there too long. If they do bark, do not let them out. In fact, try to not pay them any attention at all. If you do, and this includes even looking at them, your are reinforcing the barking as a way of getting your attention. Wait until they have been silent for a minute or two and then let them out. That way they will learn that silent and calm behaviour gets rewarded and barking and boisterous actions get ignored.
Make sure your puppy has a comfy place to sleep in the playpen as well as a few chew toys to keep them entertained. If your puppy sees the playpen as a fun and safe place they will be happy to stay there when you have to leave the house. This will serve as a way of keeping your puppy safe from electric wires they might be tempted to chew through, and your favorite chair safe from potential destruction!
Try to keep items that a) you don’t want to be destroyed, or, b) are potentially dangerous for a puppy out of reach. Your puppy doesn’t understand the difference between a $1 trinket or a $500 dining chair. If he can chew it, he will – it’s all fair game in their mind!
Either completely remove such items from all areas your puppy will roam, or keep them up high. But if you do choose to keep them up high, be warned that some puppies have the determination to reach places you never imagined they could get to!
Most dog owners will tell you that their trash can has been raided at least once by their four legged friend. Not only is this frustrating to have to clear up, it can also be dangerous for a dog. Foods that are toxic, or a choking hazard, can often be found in household bins. You can either lock the bin somewhere your dog can’t reach, put it up on a counter, or buy a dog-proof trashcan.
If you have ever lived with a toddler, chances are you used a baby gate. A baby gate can also be used to prevent your dog from entering certain rooms or areas of the house. They can also be used to stop your dog from going upstairs if you don’t want them to have access to upstairs rooms. The sooner a puppy gets used to baby gates being up, the sooner they will begin to understand the rooms and spaces that they can not go in.
Hopefully the breeder will have already begun the process of housetraining your puppy and should have provided you with some tips on how to continue with this. The key to this is to be consistent and understand that it may take 2 to 3 weeks until your puppy fully understands that the outside is their bathroom. There will be accidents and set backs – your patience is vital if you want to see continued success!
The first few nights, or even weeks, are not unlike that with a new born baby. Your puppy will more than likely wake up in the night and bark or whine, or they will take some time to settle – remember they have been taken away from everything they know, especially their mom and siblings, and they are in completely new surroundings.
It might be an idea to take a few days or a week off of work to help your puppy settle in. Chances are you will have a few nights broken sleep while your puppy gets used to their new home.
If your puppy is struggling to settle in those early nights you might need to go down and sleep alongside them, or even bring their crate into your bedroom and place it near you. You can gradually move it away as they become more settled and confident. Another tip is to leave an item of clothing with your scent on it, or a blanket with the scent of your pup’s mom on it. This can help some puppies feel more content and ready to drift off.
The most important thing to understand is to be consistent and patient (very much like the house training!) Be warned, if you let them sleep in your bed with you ‘just for the one night’ chances are they will decide that is exactly where they want to sleep forever more!
Establishing a routine with your puppy in the early days will benefit the whole household. Not only is this useful for your puppy, the rest of the family will also benefit from knowing what should be done and when. It might be an idea to write out a routine to pin up on the wall for those early days and weeks. It will help to establish meal times, sleeping and play times. A set routine will also assist you in your house training, resulting in less accidents inside!
You will need to adjust your routine as your puppy gets older and meal times reduce as well as rest periods.
As chaotic as it will feel in those early days of a new puppy make sure you take some time out to enjoy the experience. You may have moments, or days, when you wonder why you thought introducing a new puppy to the family was a good idea – but these harder times will soon pass and as long as you are consistent with your puppy and shower them with lots of love, you will have a faithful friend for many years to come!