Getting a new puppy is a very exciting time. You've probably been planning the arrival of your new furry friend for months (or even years!) or you might have fallen in love with an unsuspecting stray pup who is suddenly joining your household. But regardless of the circumstances of the new arrival, the first month with your puppy is a month of changes for everyone involved.
Before Bringing Your Puppy Home
If you are planning on bringing a new puppy into your home, then you should take some time to prepare for the puppy’s arrival. There are a few key things you can purchase and have ready for your puppy ahead of time.
- Even if you already have another dog, make sure the new puppy will have its own bed, food and water dishes, and a couple of toys.
- Pick an AAFCO approved puppy food and training treats. Adult dog foods are formulated differently, so make sure the food you choose is specifically for puppies.
- A crate that is just big enough for your puppy to turn around in and lay down should be set up for the new arrival. Ideally, choose a crate that comes with a divider that you can move to create a larger space as your puppy grows. This will be your puppy's safe place and will also be an important training tool.
- Choose a leash, collar or harness, and name tag for your new puppy.
- Purchase a brush that is appropriate for your new puppy's specific type of fur. You'll want to get your puppy used to being brushed, especially if it has long hair, as soon as possible.
- Dog pheromones can be diffused prior to the arrival of your new puppy. These will not only help your new puppy feel calm and relaxed in its new home but they will also help your other dogs be less anxious when the new family member arrives.
Place these new puppy items in your home for other people and any other pets you may already have to start adjusting to them. Don't just leave them in a bag until the puppy gets there. This will allow a more gradual change for the household to adapt to.
Day one with your new puppy is very exciting, but you’ll want to be careful that you don’t overwhelm it. If you don't have other dogs, let your puppy safely explore your home. Attach the leash to your puppy's collar and let it drag the leash around behind, while it sniffs out its new territory. Sit on the floor with your puppy and simply observe while it explores, making sure it is out of harm's way at all times. If you have a dog that you need to introduce to your puppy, consider allowing the dogs to meet in neutral territory, such as someone else's front yard.
Start using your puppy's name when calling it, to get it used to hearing your voice, and every half an hour or so take your puppy outside to go potty. It most likely won't know what to do in the yard, but you should simply say "go potty" and then ignore it, while it sniffs. If it does its business, be sure to reward it immediately with verbal praise, a small treat, and some petting. When you aren't watching your puppy, be sure to put it in its crate to keep it safe, and to encourage it not to have any accidents inside the house.
After a week or so, your puppy will be comfortable in its new home. It will probably be pushing the limits and chewing things it shouldn't be chewing, barking, playing, and having potty accidents in the house.
Stay consistent with your training and be patient. A puppy wants to please you but it will make mistakes. Continue to praise it when it does the right thing or deter it from doing the wrong thing by distracting it with a toy.
Your puppy will have claimed its favorite spot in the house. This may be its crate, bed, or under the coffee table, but wherever it is, this spot makes them feel secure and comfortable.
Make sure your puppy's urine and feces appears normal, as it can be common for puppies to get urinary tract infections and have intestinal parasites. If you haven't done so already, make an appointment with your veterinarian for a full physical examination, vaccinations, a fecal analysis, etc. for your puppy. Vaccinations need to be completed in specific, timed intervals in order for them to be effective, so you won't want to let your puppy get off schedule!
Try to resist the urge to take your puppy to places where other dogs may be or have been, unless they have finished their vaccination series and your veterinarian has deemed them healthy.
Your new puppy should have been to the vet at least once for vaccinations, but depending on the age of your puppy, multiple future visits may be necessary to complete its vaccinations. You'll also want to start your puppy on regular preventative medications to prevent or control fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites, and heartworms. These are typically monthly medications, but ask your veterinarian for their recommendation.
You should discuss spaying or neutering your puppy, microchipping, and pet insurance with your veterinarian as well. Depending on the age, breed, and health of your puppy, your veterinarian may have specific recommendations for these issues.
Don't panic if you have another dog at home and it isn't getting along with the new puppy just yet. This process can take time and 30 days may not be enough for your older dog to adapt to a young, energetic puppy. If your dog seems to be having a hard time with the youngster, try rewarding your dog with a treat every time the puppy is near. This will help your dog think of the new puppy as a positive thing, not just a nuisance.