A Step to Step Guide to Bringing Your New Puppy Home
Getting a puppy can be exciting and scary. At Puppies Today, we understand the importance of having a great first week with your new puppy. After you have checked everything off The Ultimate Puppy Checklist, and survived the first night, you are ready for the fun to begin! Here are some expert-backed tips to guide you into a life of blissful dog ownership.
Keep Things Low Key
- Hold off on introducing your puppy. We know you are excited to show your new furry friend off to everyone! One of the hardest parts of the first week is having patience in what you choose to expose your puppy to. As much as you want them to meet your neighbors, coworkers, and the checkout woman at the pet food store, we recommend holding off for a week.
- You also need to start getting your dog used to attention AND time alone. Give your dog cuddles and pets, but also give them alone time. You can start with small amounts and build up in five minute increments. Giving them a fun puzzle toy filled with a small amount of treats is a great way to acclimate them to alone time. At nighttime: we know that it is so hard to resist their whines when they are in their crate at night, but hold off from coddling them. See our guide to the first night with puppy for more information.
You want this week to be all about consistency, routine, and settling in. Speaking of consistency.
Stick to the Routine
You’ve already planned out your schedule with our Puppies Today Perfect Puppy Routine. Now is the time to make sure to stick to it! Your new puppy will love the stability and predictability that you provide and it will speed up the process of them settling it. It will also help your dog begin to internally regulate themselves, which means that you will have more success with feeding, potty, and sleep routines. Finally, it will help you as you learn to interpret your dog’s body language and cues when you start to see patterns of behavior at different times of the day.
Set a timer on your phone for:
- Bedtimes and Wake Up- Remember to take away your new puppy’s water bowl about an hour before bed, and to always take them potty or on a walk right before you put them in their designated den for the night.
- Feeding– Have water available at all times up until an hour before bedtime, and feed your puppy three times a day at the same time until they are five months old.
- Potty– One per hour is a great number for your new puppy.
Give Your New Puppy the Grand Tour
Or should we say— let them give themselves the grand tour! Let your puppy walk around the house and explore things for themselves. If they try to urinate, don’t scold! Simply lift them up and carry them to the pee pad. They will want to see their new digs, and you also want them to know where they need to find crucial things.
Your puppy should have a clear idea of where to find:
- Their designated den. See below for some ideas!
- Food and water bowls. They should always have fresh waters, and they should be fed 3 times a day with the food that came in your Puppies Today welcome package.
- A potty or pee pad. One that has synthetic or real grass is a great way of helping them association peeing with being outside. We recommend placing peed pads in and around their den and surrounding their den with a puppy pen
- Fun toys and puzzles. Don’t give your puppy raw bones- the FDA recently published a consumer report warning against them. LINK Instead, opt for soft toys for supervised play and rubber toys for unsupervised play.
Give Your Puppy a Designated Den
Dogs are den animals and they will thrive with a safe, secure, and snug space to decompress. If you notice your puppy trying to wedge itself in small spaces, they are trying to communicate with you that they don’t have a designated safe space. Here are some ideas for great dog dens:
- Crates are indoor pens that offer ample training opportunities for your puppy. They are also great spaces to house a dog that gets separation anxiety, or that likes to eat the soles of your shoes when you are at work.
- Kennels are typically designed for travel, and are more enclosed than crates. Kennels can make a good den, but they are smaller than crates and less accessible for the owner to reach into. That means that you might not be able to scoop up a puppy that is hiding in the back of the kennel in the same way that you might be able to if they are in a crate.
- Dog Beds are another great den space. Add a cozy blanket or some other type of covering, and your dog is good to go.
All of these options serve the same purpose: they show your dog that they have a safe place to retreat when needed, and they should be treated as such. We recommend having the den next to food, water, and pee pads in an enclosed puppy pen. When your puppy retreats to their den, allow them to take their time and come out when needed. Don’t use the den as a space for punishment— punishing will not work! Instead, utilize your free Puppies Today Happy Puppy Package training from DOGstar to teach your dog what you expect from them.
Begin the Housetraining Process
Set your puppy up for success by:
- Keeping an eye on them. When you can’t watch your dog, keep them in their designed den. Make sure that the den is enclosed and has an abundance of newspapers or potty pads that are separate from their sleeping and eating area. When you are able to supervise your dog, keep an eye on them as they roam the house.
- Avoiding punishments. If they do potty where they aren’t supposed to, don’t punish— simply pick them up and place them where you want them to pee while using the command you and your housemates have decided on to be the potty cue.
- Giving them frequent potty breaks. We recommend one per hour, and then as needed at night. Puppies can’t “hold it” until they are about 4-6 months of age, according to PetMD. Be sure to always take them to go potty immediately after they eat or drink.
- Give them lots of lovin’! If they do go potty in the designated area and/or using the designated cue, give them puppy treats, praise, and belly rubs.
… But Realize That Accidents Happen.
According to PetMD, your little puppy will have full control over its bladder within about 4-6 months. That means that even if you follow every single potty training best practice, they are likely to still have accidents for up to a year after adoption. Here’s what to do when they have an accident:
- Don’t scold your puppy. Studies of the brains of dogs show that they have no idea what they are being scolded for, and scolding is likely to have other consequences later in life. Instead, look at the situation and see how you can better set your dog up for success next time. Maybe that means less water before bed, more frequent potty breaks or staying outside with them longer.
- Clean up the mess so they won’t be tempted by the smell spot. Use a cleaner that is made to break down the enzymes that are in dog urine. Don’t use a commercial cleaner with fragrance— that might actually just rub in the fragrance more. The goal is to completely eliminate the odors that may tempt your pup to piddle in the same space again.
- Blot their accident pee into the designated spot. Smell is a huge indicator for dogs. If your dog has peed in an unwanted spot and you are able to capture some of it on a paper towel, blot the towel in the spot where you actually want them to pee. Gross, right? The things we do for love!
Use Your Puppies Today Lifetime Resources
The first week is a wonderful time for getting to know your new puppy— and we also know how many questions you will have! Your Puppies Today purchase comes with LIFETIME access to our 24/7 hotlines. If you have any questions or concerns about your puppy, call us anytime. When you get your puppy from Puppies Today, you are getting a lifetime of support and training from experts and professionals who have your new family members’ wellbeing in mind.
- Stellato, Anastasia C., et al. “Effect of high levels of background noise on dog responses to a routine physical examination in a veterinary setting.” Applied Animal Behaviour Science 214 (2019): 64-71.
- Kobelt, Amanda J., et al. “A survey of dog ownership in suburban Australia—conditions and behaviour problems.” Applied Animal Behaviour Science 82.2 (2003): 137-148.