Bringing a puppy home for the first time is a wonderful experience, in large part because you get to observe the dog explore its new surroundings with fascination. How you introduce your puppy to its new home the first week can also lead to stress for both of you.
Learning how to survive the first week at home with a new puppy is easy if you take the time to plan in advance.
Have the right supplies
When bringing home a puppy, everyone will be happier if you are prepared with whatever you might need ahead of time. Ask your vet what your new dog will need from day one. Items will include a food and water bowl, a bed or crate and blankets, toys, leash, puppy food, and other things you can buy online and have delivered or pick up at a local pet store. If you have other pets, don't share supplies and chew toys — make sure your puppy has its own items.
Don't forget cleaning supplies to deal with messes. Look for a urine cleaner that does more than just remove stains. It should have an antimicrobial agent that penetrates the carpet and padding all the way to the bottom of the floor, killing harmful bacteria.
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Puppy proof your home
Everything in a puppy's new home is something to explore — and most likely chew. They can't help themselves from chewing when they are teething. Make sure all of your family members know to put away valuables a dog might stain or chew before the puppy gets home. If you don't want a puppy going up or down the stairs or into certain rooms, buy a doggy gate. Put plastic electrical outlet covers over outlets you don't use so a puppy can't put its nose or tongue inside.
A puppy's bladder can take up to two months to develop and it won't always be able to control when it relieves itself, according to The Humane Society. Excitement, especially meeting new people and other animals who visit, can trigger urination.
If you're going to let the puppy relieve itself indoors in a specific area, lay out the blanket or puppy training pads to absorb the pee and poop and teach the puppy what this area is for. If you have kids in the home or an adult dog, consider a doggy or baby gate. Having neutral territory where the dogs or other people can't get to each other can help a lot with stress.
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Create safe zones
Dogs want familiarity when it comes to the places they eat, sleep, and play, explains The Humane Society. Decide where the puppy's bed will be and keep it there. Do the same with its food and water bowls. Moving a dog's bed, food bowl, or water bowl can stress the animal out. This is also true if you'll be keeping the dog in a crate. Decide where you want to place the crate and leave it there.
Look for things that might make your dog uncomfortable in a certain area, such as a draft from a vent or sunlight heating up an area or shining in the puppy's eyes for several hours each day. Don't be surprised if you hear from neighbors that your puppy cries or barks for periods of time when you leave the house, which is a common reaction to separation anxiety in puppies.
Decide where you want the dog to pee (if you'll let it do so indoors) and set up the area so it knows to go here each time it needs to relieve itself. You should start housetraining young puppies to go outside, and you'll want to designate one or two areas in the yard or neighborhood where it should go. Reward your dog with petting or a treat each time it does its duty in the correct place.
Creating routines, such as the same times for playing, peeing, eating, and sleeping, help puppies calm down, according to The Kennel Club. Talk to your vet to make sure you buy the right dog food for your puppy and feed it the right amounts and the right number of times each day. Creating routines also means beginning behavior and obedience training.
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Tire and rest the puppy
Make sure your puppy gets plenty of playtime during its first week home so that it burns energy and is able to sleep well. New puppy owners are often tempted to overdo it with exercise, such as playing tug-of-war with toys or wrestling, though, which can cause aggressive behavior, explains the Partnership for Animal Welfare. Resist the urge to constantly play with your new pup. It's OK to tire, but not exhaust, your puppy.
A puppy needs several nap times during the day. Observe how the puppy is sleeping. If it's whining or shaking in its sleep, that might be normal since the puppy is in unfamiliar surroundings and getting used to smells, surfaces, a new bed, and strange sounds.
Resist the temptation to go to and cuddle and play with a crying puppy after you put it to bed the first night. This will reinforce that this behavior results in you coming over to the puppy — something that could turn into bad habits down the road if the dog acts out to get attention. Do not sleep with a puppy in your bed — you might roll over and smother it in your sleep.
Other considerations for your puppy's first week
Your puppy should receive its vaccinations before it starts the socialization process with other dogs, or visits a dog trainer or dog park for the first time. Before you know it, your puppy will be ready for dog training classes and even more new sights.
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