After all the waiting, the moment has finally come: your puppy is now in its furever home! Bringing home a puppy will be one of the most exciting and memorable days of your journey together. They will meet your family members, pee where they shouldn’t, and probably have at least one wipeout going around a corner. Here is the Puppies Today guide to making your transition memorable for all the right reasons.
Before you bring your puppy home, make sure that you gather all supplies and have a game plan for routine and rules. Also, be sure that you have puppy-proofed the house. That means no cords, small objects, or anything that you don’t want to be chewed on the ground. All chemicals should be on top shelves and behind closed doors. Speaking of closed doors— start with a small space for your puppy to investigate. We recommend having few rooms accessible, and their kennel and food bowl in a prominent location.
Before we dive in: the golden rule for the first night is to NEVER leave your puppy unattended or unsupervised. They are just a baby and will rely on your care, attention, and guidance to stay safe and happy.
Understand What Your Puppy Is Going Through
According to the AKC, puppies can be separated from their mother at 8 weeks old without physical or developmental consequences. With that being said, your puppy is experiencing major life changes, and you are the one responsible for helping them transition into their new way of life. They will miss their mom and siblings and may show their distress even in the most loving of homes. With that said, research shows that the right care and socialization will allow your puppy to thrive and start viewing your family as their family. Giving your puppy a solid routine, and proper training (like the free DogSTAR Sit and Stay training that comes in your Happy Puppy Package) will help them acclimate in no time.
Take Them to Pee Immediately.
Your puppy is going to be exhausted, and you don’t want to add a full bladder to the mix. As soon as you bring your puppy home, take them to a safe and enclosed area to relieve themselves. If you have a spot that you would like to be their designated potty area, take them to this spot. Use the command you and the other caretakers for your puppy have chosen to designate that you want them to go potty, and repeat it multiple times as you wait. If your puppy does relieve themselves, congratulate them— calmly and quietly! Check out our Puppies Today guide on how to get started housetraining in the first week.
Introduce Them to Your Family Members- Slowly!
Depending on breed and personality, your puppy will react uniquely to meeting family members and new people. One of the benefits of buying from Puppies Today is that you know exactly what breed your dog is, so you can predict what their personality and disposition might be. Here are some other ways to make the first meeting easy and stress-free:
- Introduce your family members one by one. Your little one will be intimidated if they meet everyone all at once, so have family members slowly and calmly meet your puppy one at a time.
- Understand the signs of fear and distress. According to dog trainer Jill Breitner, “Puppies show fear by any one or all of these simultaneously: hiding, rounded body, tail tucked, lip licking, yawning, whining, air snapping, raised upper lip (like they are smiling), blinking, urinating, sniffing out of context, [and] running away and jumping into your lap for safety”. If your puppy is showing any of these signs, take them to their crate or designated den so they can destress and try again later.
- Speak calmly. Dogs have amazing hearing, which means that loud noises can make them upset or uncomfortable. Make sure that the volume of your voice is low and soothing. And, don’t be afraid to baby talk your puppy! According to the AKC, “The exaggerated intonation and hyper-articulation of vowels [are] thought to help human infants learn language and bond socially”. Researchers have found that using a special tone of voice with your pup, similar to the way that we talk to babies, might help your pet understand when you are talking specifically to them and in turn, will help them pay more attention to you in various scenarios.
Keep Them in Their Kennel!
While you eventually will want to get them a designated den, use your Puppies Today travel kennel for the first night. You can leave the door to the kennel open— we recommend propping open the door in a way that it won’t swing shut and scare your puppy. Put newspapers, towels, or puppy pads around the kennel so your puppy will have a place to relieve themselves. Enclose the kennel and pee pads within a puppy pen to provide even more security for your little one.
The trip has been a very stressful one for the puppy, so it will need to rest for the day in its kennel. For the rest of the day, unless your puppy decides to wander out on its own, let the puppy eat and rest in the kennel. Keep their kennel covered by a warm towel or blanket to give them darkness and privacy. Pro-tip? Throw a clean towel in the dryer to give them something warm and soothing to snuggle into. Don’t take away the blankets that came with the puppy, though— they will likely smell like Mama and help them transition into their new home while still feeling secure.
After the first night, check out our guide to making a designated den.
Get Started on Your Feeding Routine
Puppies need a LOT of food— almost 2x what an adult dog requires! Your job this first night and the next few weeks is to feed, feed, feed! Make sure to feed your puppy following the precise instructions that are in your welcome packet. Your puppy must be fed every 2-3 hours, even through the night, for the next few weeks. Your puppy is just a baby and may not want to eat right away. This is normal! Give your puppy wet puppy food with the syringes provided. Your puppy will outgrow this stage, so hang in there!
Get Ready For Bed- or More Likely, Get Ready to Be Awake!
The first night might be one of the roughest for your puppy. They are in a new place, have traveled, and are trying to learn a new routine. Just like us, dogs have REM cycles and sleep routines— and their sleep and waking routine has just drastically changed! Don’t be alarmed if they wake you up in the night with whining, or if they need to relieve themselves at night.
- First Night Potty Needs: While puppies sleep 15-20 hours a night, they also have bathroom needs that make themselves known on an hourly basis. For the first night with your puppy, let them relieve themselves on the puppy pads or newspapers that you placed in a pen around their Puppies Today travel kennel. If they are feeling comfortable enough to go outside, try taking them outside for ten minutes every two hours to see if they will relieve themselves. Don’t worry about housebreaking- that can come later! Making sure that your puppy has an empty bladder in the kennel is a way for you to be sure that they are crying or whining because they are lonely, not because they need to go potty. Make sure that you are taking them out every few hours or that they are relieving themselves on their puppy pads.
- First Night Whining or Crying: We know this is going to sound heartbreaking, but: if your puppy cries or whines on the first night, the best way to set your sweet puppy up for success is to ignore the whining or crying. According to Dr. Linda Campbell, RVT, VTS, the whining is normal and is caused by puppies not being used to confinement. Dr. Jennifer Coates, a veterinarian based in Fort Collins, says that “Ignoring the whining is your best option…any type of attention will just reinforce the behavior”. By taking your puppy out of the crate only when they are quiet, they will learn that being quiet and calm will allow them to leave the crate. You can help make the crate feel more like home by putting in treats, puppy-safe toys, and anything you might have that smells like their mama. Pro tip? Put a ticking clock in their crate. It will remind them of their mama’s heartbeat and will help soothe them to sleep.
The first 24 hours are crucial for setting your puppy up for a lifetime of success. Let them rest, relax, and retreat as needed. Having patience with your new friend as they acclimate to their new environment is the best thing you can do for your little one. After the excitement of the first night, start focusing on routine and the crucial things to do during the first week of puppy ownership! As always, the family at Puppies Today is here to help. Feel free to call the hotlines included with your Happy Puppy Package for any questions or needs you have along the way.