The arrival of a new puppy is a significant moment. For you, there’s all the anticipation and excitement of a new family member. It’s a big deal, but it’s an even bigger deal for your puppy. For them, everything suddenly changes: their mother and littermates are gone, as are all the familiar sights, sounds and smells that made up their first few weeks of life. Moving to your home therefore comes as a big shock but, if you follow these tips, it won’t be a bad one.
1. Get a headstart with smells
Your pup’s nose is a powerful device and you can use that to your advantage. Give the breeder you’re buying from a blanket or toy in advance so it can absorb all those familiar, familial smells. Take this home with your new puppy and it will provide lots of comfort.
PRO TIP: Other scents can also provide reassurance, like lavender.
2. Choose the toilet carefully
Your puppy’s toilet will feature frequently in their first few days and weeks, so choose it wisely. It must be easy to access, day and night, (you’ll spend a lot of time coaching them there to begin with), and it needs to be as quiet and free from distractions as possible. Check out our blog on housetraining your puppy for a full guide.
3. Make your house safe for your puppy
Imagine you’re a puppy. You’re not very big and everything you see is potentially there for you to chew on or play with. You have yet to learn what might be dangerous. It’s important to make your home and garden safe for your puppy. Is there a good fence in the garden? Is the pond too exposed? Are there any toxic chemicals lying around? Are the stairs too steep for little legs?
4. Keep your home safe from your puppy
Puppy’s are curious and enterprising and they have sharp little teeth. If you don’t want your favourite cushions, slippers, plants, wicker chairs (and so on) to become a shredded shadow of their former selves, we recommend puppy-proofing your house. The good news is, chewing is a perfectly normal phase that - with the right encouragement - your puppy will soon grow out of. In the meantime, put precious items out of reach and consider installing child safety gates or a puppy run.
5. Provide some peace and quiet
Just like humans, dogs like to have a quiet, safe space to rest - but that doesn’t feel too cut off from the rest of the family life. One option here is to install a puppy cage. It should have plenty of space inside and feel like a safe haven for your puppy. Don’t lock it from day one, and never leave it locked for more than 1 ½ hours consecutively during the day. If you don’t want to use a cage, just pick a spot (or even two) that your puppy can ‘own’. Bear in mind that wicker baskets are irresistibly chewy, so maybe start out with something a little more robust.
6. Learn the language
Your puppy doesn’t speak a human language, but that doesn’t mean they’re not communicating. Did you know there are actually dog language courses you can take? These will help you understand what your puppy is saying straight away - which could be a real help and comfort while they learn how to live in their new home.
7. Other pets? Take care of them too
Are you a pet lover? Do you already have other dogs, cats, chickens, parrots…? If so, it’s worth checking what you need to do to look after the safety and well-being of everyone living in your home. If in doubt, ask a behavioral specialist in advance how you can prepare each pet for the arrival of the new puppy.
8. Final checklist
There are a few items you’ll definitely need before your puppy arrives. Make sure you have everything on this list:
- Proper food for your puppy. Ideally, you’ll at least start with the same food the breeder was using.
- Washable food and drink bowls that are the right size for your puppy
- A fixed collar or a suitable harness
- A long lead - at least 3m
- Something tasty to chew on, such as deer antlers or a bone (make sure they're not too hard for your pup).
- Address and telephone number of your veterinarian
- Toys. Lots and lots of toys.
And a final word of advice: make sure you are well rested and are full of love and patience. The more time and attention you can give your new puppy in those first few days and weeks, the happier and healthier they’ll be as they grow up to become your new best buddy.