Bringing a new puppy home to join the family is a very special time. It should be a positive experience for you and your new canine friend. It is important to remember your puppy has just left their littermates and mother which can be stressful. Therefore, it is important that you get off to a good start with your puppy and help them to settle in.

Do…

…take a moment before you collect your puppy 

There are a few things to consider. Think about where your puppy will sleep in the house. Find a safe spot to locate his bed, where he can retreat to if needed. Some people crate train their puppies, meaning their bed is in a dog crate and the puppy can be secure overnight to prevent mishaps such as chewing furniture. 

…make sure your home is puppy proofed. 

So, consider anything unsafe which the puppy might chew or get into. Things like exposed electrical wires, cupboards which can easily be opened need to be made safe. Toxic cleaning products, medication and small objects which could be swallowed should also be kept well out of the puppy’s reach. Puppies are naturally inquisitive and will often chew things that they shouldn’t. It is up to us to ensure there is nothing harmful within their reach. Equally if there is a special piece of antique furniture in the room where the puppy sleeps it might be wise to move it or protect it from chewing. 

…make sure that the garden has been made safe. 

It should be secure to prevent escapes.

…be prepared. 

Have all the supplies you might need before you collect your puppy. Having items such as bowls, beds, and lead before your puppy comes home will make life easier in the early days.

…ensure you have the same food that the breeder has been feeding your puppy. 

This should help ease the transition and reduce the likelihood of any digestive upsets. If you want to change your puppy’s food this can be done in a couple of weeks once they are settled in (change the food gradually over a period of 7 days slowly increasing the amount of new food each day whilst decreasing the old food). 

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…introduce your puppy to all members of the family.

But try to make this a positive experience. Offer small treats and praise as your new friend starts to interact with you. 

…start using your puppy’s new name. 

He will soon learn what it means. 

…try and encourage good toileting habits early on. 

This will focus on positive reinforcement, so when your puppy toilets outside or in the area you decide praise him and immediately offer a treat.

…try to get your puppy outside frequently.

His bladder is very small. If you notice your puppy sniffing the floor or circling around it is likely he might need to go to the toilet. So gently scoop him up and quickly get him outside. In time it will be possible to call him and have him follow you so that he learns where to go. However, in the early days focus on just getting him outside quickly to avoid accidents. Accidents will however still happen. So be prepared with appropriate cleaning products. 

…arrange a check up with the vet in the first couple of days. 

If your puppy has not had any vaccinations yet this can also be arranged.

…set clear expectations for your household and night-time rules.

If you want your puppy to sleep downstairs keep consistent. It is likely the puppy will be unsettled in the first few nights. They might bark or whine when you go to bed. Try to reassure them, but if you don’t want them sleeping in your bedroom don’t start the habit early on.

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…leave your puppy to rest while he is sleeping. 

Young puppies will have short frantic bursts of energy but will sleep often. 

Don’t

…overwhelm your puppy in the first few days. 

For example, with lots of new visitors and people. There is plenty of time to ensure he is well socialised once he has settled in. 

…allow young children to play with the puppy unsupervised. 

It is important the puppy has enough time to rest. Excessive excitable play in the early days may cause him more stress.

…tell your puppy off, shout or rub his nose in any urine or faeces if there is an accident in the house. 

Accidents will happen, accept that but be reassured puppies learn very quickly. Positive reinforcement and praise (often alongside a small treat) will soon help your puppy to learn the new rules. 

…keep changing rules or expectations. 

If you don’t want to let the puppy on the sofa everybody in the house needs to discourage jumping on the sofa. The early lessons learnt now will set the puppy up for its life in your house, so it is important to give clear messages and follow the rules you set. 

…leave your puppy home alone for long stretches of time. 

This needs to be built up gradually. Ensuring your puppy has company as he settles in will increase his confidence. 

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Enjoy this time settling your puppy into your house. Getting the basics right now will ensure a smooth transition and set you up for a happy life together.