Planning and thinking about how a puppy will fit in to your family life makes the transition easier from the breeder to your home for your new pup and helps you relax and enjoy your new arrival.
After all the waiting, bringing a new puppy home is exciting and even more so if you have young children. It is a big step for any puppy to leave the only home they have known, go in a car for the first time, leave their mother and perhaps littermates, all at the same time. So, thinking about some of the preparations before your puppy arrives helps you to work out what he needs in these first few weeks without his mother.
It is an excellent idea to ask the breeder for a piece of bedding that your puppy has been using for the first few nights with you. Agreeing as a family where your new puppy will sleep, how you will manage puppy in the first few days, what happens when you go back to work and planning on how to prevent your precious puppy escaping when lots of visitors come to see him. Stairgates are invaluable for providing safety and peace of mind.
Secondly, an excellent purchase is a puppy playpen as they provide a safe area to leave puppy when you are busy or need to go out. There is room for a bed or crate and newspaper so your puppy can go to the toilet if he needs to. Leaving the playpen open means he can go back to bed when he wants to, but also encourage him to love this area by giving him high value rewards and chews to relax.
Don’t leave him for more than an hour if he wakes up in his playpen, as he will need a toilet opportunity. This is also a safe area for puppy where he can totally relax and keeping children out of here is a good idea.
Having a weeks’ worth of his puppy food (ask the breeder beforehand) helps avoid too many changes at once. It is always a good idea to stay on the same puppy food from the breeder as a tummy upset is the last thing you want with all the changes in his first week. Tummy upsets are common in young puppies when they come home due to all the upheaval of the move. Stocking up on kitchen roll and saving newspapers are simple tips for making those first few days a little easier for everyone!
Finally, allow plenty of time to settle your puppy into your home and taking time off work will prove to be invaluable for you both. Just giving him attention to get him used to his new home and building a new routine for all the family with your pup will pay off in spades.
2 Introductions to other family members
Just as with us humans, the first impressions your new pup has with his home are important. Let him explore the garden on his own and he can toilet perhaps after a long journey. He may feel a little car sick depending on the length of journey and using his nose and exploring will help him relax.
Introductions of other canine family can be done here too as a bigger more open space than the house. If you are worried about older dog introductions, try this away from the house initially in a large open space where other dogs don’t go as your pup will not have all his vaccinations. Providing lots of opportunity for both dogs to escape or avoid each other if they wish is crucial. Be vigilant and watch for one of them becoming scared or aggressive and intervene immediately. It maybe that your older dog does not accept your puppy’s advances initially and short introductions are better. Holding your puppy to give your other dog a break may be helpful. After they know each other a little better, home introductions are next. Beforehand ensure you have cleared away any chews, bones, toys that could become items to fight over. Stairgates make excellent barriers where puppy can still see everyone but not continue to try and play with your older dog 24/7. A playpen makes controlling the introduction easier but in a positive way and allows your older dog time to get used to the new arrival.
Introducing children can be a challenge as they will be excited and want to cuddle and play with their new puppy. A chat beforehand works well and explaining that sitting down is less threatening and offering small tasty treats on the flat of their hands is helpful. Puppy coming to them first is also a nice touch for the initial greetings. Happy households are built on happy encounters and usually the first impressions really make a difference. So, thinking beforehand of how it might work is a great idea and supervising carefully so that neither puppy nor children are scared can make all the difference longer term.
Making play rules as a family is important. Playing ‘rough games’ with your puppy is one of the activities that can create behavioural problems later in a young dog’s life. Playing these games on the floor teaches your puppy that is it ok to put their teeth on your clothes or skin or even your hair and can store up lots of problems for later life.
Learning that using their mouth brings high levels of reward and pleasure is not a good plan. So, never allowing any kind of wrestling game with your new pup with children or adults is a must. But playing with your puppy with a toy or training games that will enable your puppy to learn good manners and build healthy relationships with you will remain for life. Getting play rights important because this makes it fun and rewarding for both of you.
4 Getting a good night’s sleep
Sleep is one of the major factors of ensuring you have a happy well settled heathy puppy. Puppies need lots of sleep or – like us – they become grumpy and irritable. They need sleep to grow for their mental and physical development and they need lots of – most importantly – uninterrupted sleep.
The first couple of nights are very difficult for any young puppy and having them beside you in a crate in your bedroom is a good option. He can then be reassured by your presence and you can easily take him out if he needs the toilet. After a few nights you can gradually move the crate out of the bedroom and eventually place it in the room you want him to sleep in. Also, a larger crate than you need is a good idea where one half is his cosy bed and the other half newspaper to relieve himself. This helps with night time routine. If you do get up in the night, take puppy out without putting lights on by using a head torch and do not speak. Keep as quiet as possible as it is not a game or cuddling session, they are waking only to toilet! Also, be aware that puppies are easily disturbed so cover your crate with a sheet or ensure it is in a quiet corner, so they can rest in the day. This is especially important in the day time if you have young children.
5 Toilet Training
House training your puppy requires lost of effort and focus. Puppies who have been taken outside by the breeder tend to be quicker to house train or sometimes even arrive house trained!
It is a good idea for one person to take charge of house training as it encourages and enables consistency in the process.
Signs puppies need to go outside:
• After feeding or drinking
• Awakening from a sleep
• After playing or after an exciting visit from someone
• Circling around sometimes indicates he needs to go
• Every hour is a good plan
Some puppies learn quicker than others but with your undivided attention it should be possible to establish a good house-training routine. Reward with a tasty treat and praise him loads after he has finished ‘spending’ in the right place, and not before or they will learn to stop mid flow! And very often finish in the house. Go outside whatever the weather with your puppy!!
Keeping it positive no matter what happens is very important. If they relieve themselves in the home, then that is the human fault not canine and is due to a lack of supervision! Punishing ‘spending’ indoors means he will avoid you in the future and is most likely to develop a habit of disappearing to ‘spend’ when you can’t see him. If you do see him doing it indoors, lift him gently and take him outdoors to complete it. Be patient and if your puppy seems keener to play in the garden than toilet, use a ‘cue’ such as ‘busy busy’ to mean this is what we are here for. Don’t chatter to puppy and let him concentrate. Sometimes putting them on a long line helps them focus on the job in hand!
Getting a pup out and about is crucial to building confidence with other people, other animals, places, sights, smells and experiences.
Your new puppy needs lots of socialisation opportunities to ensure that their behavioural responses to the world are happy and relaxed and not stressful or fear inducing. Some puppies are totally unfazed by the world and cope extremely well with new places and people and the hustle and bustle of new environments. Other puppies may have inherited nervous tendencies, been isolated when in the litter, been ill or faced trauma early in their young life. If your puppy is one of these, you need to do even more than you think you do every day. Outside supermarkets, park cafés, town centres are all great areas to go when pups are fully vaccinated. Before that, carry your puppy in a sling or down your coat but get them out there as soon as you can!
7 Puppy Training
Alongside your own training, socialisation and habituation, it is a super idea to enrol your puppy in a good puppy class.
Training your puppy will enable you to communicate successfully with your puppy and the relationship you build with them will be stronger. A class that offers a positive training approach means that they will make use of a puppy’s ability to learn from his actions by reading the puppy whenever he does something you have asked him to do or he has offered it and you love it. A good puppy class should welcome families so that everyone in the family can communicate with the puppy in the same way and learn to encourage great behaviour and good manners.
When training your puppy yourself, start as you soon as you can with training exercises that teach your puppy his name, to sit and come when called. Using a clicker is helpful and ensures training is easily understood when your puppy is successful as you click and reward his action. But remember puppies can’t concentrate for long periods of time so keep your sessions short.
There is so much to think about when you get a new puppy but handling your puppy everyday ensures they enjoy being handled at any time, by anyone.
It is the cornerstone of just about every aspect of your training and relationship with your puppy and should be done everyday at least once. It is not the same as stroking your puppy but should be treated as a training session involving touching all parts of your puppy’s body. Back and front paws, mouth area, tail, underneath, ears and neck. It should be a short, fun and highly rewarding experience for your puppy with his favourite treats for his good behaviour. Make it part of your daily routine!