Cute and cuddly and sure to get into some trouble, new puppies can really transform a house into a home. While each breed and each puppy is different, there are certain things that any potential pet owner can do to ensure that they and the house are ready to take on a new puppy. Advance preparation helps to make the transition easier for both the pet and the owner. In order to get things off on the right foot, have the necessary materials and supplies on hand, puppy-proof the home, and make sure you know what you can expect from a new puppy.
Materials and Supplies
Before bringing a puppy home, it is important that it has a place to sleep, food to eat, exercise options, and a form of identification. If you plan to crate-train the puppy, make sure to have the crate on hand from the very beginning. This is the place where the puppy will sleep and also a safe place where it can go to relax. If you aren't going to be home, the crate provides a way to keep the puppy in one place and prevent damage and accidents that are otherwise bound to occur. Some dogs stick with a crate their entire lives, while others transition into a dog bed. If you aren't sure what you want to do, consider purchasing a crate and then putting a dog bed inside. In addition to sleeping, your new puppy is going to do plenty of eating. Make sure that you have food that is specifically designed for puppies. Read the instructions on the back of the bag, as puppies tend to eat a lot more than you might expect in the first year of life. You also want to have a collar and leash on hand right away. The collar gives you the perfect place to put the puppy's identification tags, and the leash will allow the two of you to get some exercise together. Starting out with a leash early is a great way to create a routine for your new pet.
Puppy-Proof the Home
Have you heard any stories about how much damage an unsupervised puppy can do to a home? Remember that the puppy is going to be learning all about their new surroundings. They aren't sure what is off limits yet, and so they will be doing a good amount of exploration. They also don't know where they need to go to the bathroom. It is up to you to establish the rules and boundaries of the home from the very beginning. If you plan on using a crate, you have a place for your puppy to be if you aren't able to supervise it. You also want to make sure that you have an easy way for him to head outside to use the bathroom. In the beginning, until a puppy has figured out where to go to the bathroom, you are going to be going in and out of the house together. However, eventually, a doggy door might be a great idea because of the independence it offers. If there are parts of the house that are going to be completely off limits, consider purchasing a baby gate to create a separation. Finally, walk around the area that the puppy will be able to access. Look for anything that could be a potential hazard. This includes cords that could be attractive to chew, items that can be pushed off of a table, and food anywhere within reach.
What to Expect From a New Puppy
It's important to remember that just like a new baby, puppies are constantly experiencing new things. As a pet owner, realize that new puppy behavior isn't bad behavior. A puppy needs to be taught how to interact and respond to the new things in its life. For example, expect that accidents are going to happen. Unless you are able to watch your new puppy every hour of every day, it is probably going to eliminate in the wrong place. Use these opportunities to teach the puppy where the correct space for this behavior is. You can also be sure that some things lying around the house are going to be chewed. Puppies don't realize that these items aren't theirs to play with and enjoy. You want to make sure to draw the line between what is the puppy's and what is yours. Take the time to expose the puppy to new and different things. This includes other people and other dogs. Socialization is a critical part of a puppy's life. Socialization from the first couple of weeks of a puppy's life to around the time it is four months old can make a huge difference in the behavior a dog displays around children, adults, and other pets in the future.
- Preparing for Your New Puppy or Dog (PDF)
- Dog or Puppy Care Sheet (PDF)
- Homecoming Care Tips for Your New Puppy (PDF)
- Puppy Feeding Fundamentals
- A New Puppy: The Beginning of a Relationship
- Dog Behavior Tips (PDF)
- The ABCs of Puppy Training (PDF)
- Behavior Guide for Your New Puppy
- Socialization and Your New Puppy (PDF)
- Housebreaking the Easy Way
- The Do's and Don'ts of Housetraining Puppies
- Your Nipping Puppy (PDF)
- Bringing Your New Dog Home: Preparation and Patience
- A New Puppy Shopping List
- The New Puppy Checklist (PDF)
- Puppies! What You Need and How to Get Started (PDF)
- Adoption Tips: Preparing You and Your Home for the Experience
- Puppy-Proofing Your Home
- Pet-Proofing Your Home
- Puppy-Proofing Your Home and Yard
- What to Expect at Your New Puppy's Wellness Visits (PDF)