Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting time. While it’s true that puppies provide us with companionship, love and unrivaled affection, bringing home a puppy is also sure to come with a lot of questions. You might wonder what you need to buy your puppy, how to prepare your home and what the transition process will look like for you and your new dog.
With the proper preparation, you can help your new puppy make the smoothest transition possible to their new home. Here’s everything you need to know to help your new puppy get home safely and adjust to their new surroundings.
Bringing home a new puppy
Besides preparing yourself for cuddles and sloppy kisses, there are a few other things you should do to prep for your puppy’s big arrival. Here are some specific areas to consider:
- Create a welcoming space: Before your puppy makes their big arrival, you’ll need to get some things set up in your home. Start by creating a welcoming space for your pooch, complete with a comfy bed, size-appropriate crate, some toys and their food and water bowls. Be sure to also have plenty of food and treats on hand to get them started.
- Have their food ready: Contact the breeder or rescue group to see what kind of food your new puppy is currently eating. You’ll want to keep them on the same diet and transition them slowly (if needed) over time in order to avoid upset stomachs.
- Puppy-proof your home: Make sure your environment is free of objects that your puppy could chew or swallow or that may otherwise cause harm — like toxic food/plants, even laundry detergent pods — and you’ll also want to be sure you have a collar, leash and I.D. tag with your contact information ready to go.
- Prepare your car for a puppy passenger: Before your dog arrives at their new home, they’ll need to travel in your car. Be sure your new pet is protected during the journey by keeping a travel crate or kennel in the car, a water bowl as well as some travel mats for easy cleanup, just in case. To pick the right travel crate, consider the size of your dog — small puppies might be overwhelmed in larger car crates, even if they would eventually grow into them — and think about material, too. Metal crates are strong and generally well-ventilated, and plastic tends to be more lightweight and easier to clean.
- Recruit a copilot: For the trip itself, be sure to have someone else with you for the drive so you can focus on keeping your new pup company. Keep the ride home calm and quiet, and if it will be a long ride home, be sure to stop frequently for potty breaks.
Your puppy’s first day home
Keep in mind that while you may have been looking forward to this day for a long time, it could take some time for your new puppy to get acclimated to their new home. To ease into the transition, focus your first few days on:
- Planning calm introductions: Meeting new people, smelling new things and experiencing a new environment can be overwhelming for dogs, so if you can plan to have the full day at home with your new puppy — or more, if possible — that would be best. If your pup is crying excessively, panting, trembling, shaking or hiding, they are most likely scared, and you might consider starting them off by introducing them to only small areas of the house at a time. Keep loud noises to a minimum and advise young children on how to act around animals by encouraging them to be gentle or recognizing the fact they’ll have to leave the puppy alone for a while until they acclimate. Introduce your new dog to other animals slowly and in a safe environment, and if you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to contact a professional dog trainer or your veterinarian.
- Beginning puppy potty training: Start acclimating your puppy to the place you’d like them to go potty as soon as you can. Plan on taking them out every two hours or so for potty breaks in addition to right after they have woken up, finished a play or training session or have finished eating a meal. Have patience with your new puppy and do your best to remain calm and collected when things don’t go as planned.
- Getting them used to their crate: You can start crate training by putting your puppy in their crate for short periods of time and building up to longer ones. Be sure to research the right crate for your dog ahead of time — it should be big enough for your puppy to stand up, turn around and lie down in — and try to follow a routine as much as possible. Introduce the crate as a nice place for your puppy to go by allowing them to eat and have treats in there, and praise your pup every time they go in. Leave the door open while your puppy is in their crate until they seem comfortable, then close it for short periods of time, gradually increasing the time that you keep it closed as they get more comfortable being inside.
First night with puppy
If you thought the first day with your new puppy was a whirlwind, the night could be even more so. Although it might be difficult, it’s important to establish a routine right away and to let your puppy know that nighttime does not equal playtime. If your puppy whines or cries during the night, take them outside on a leash to go potty and reward them for when they go, but bring them back in right away and put them back in their crate or bed. Do not provide toys, play or more treats. This “all-business” routine should help your dog start to understand and establish a positive nighttime routine from the start.
It’s best to keep your dog in a crate in your bedroom for the first few nights. This helps establish important boundaries while also letting your puppy know that you are nearby should they need you.
Bringing a puppy home is so much fun but also so much responsibility. Preparing as much as possible will allow you to enjoy the day fully when it arrives and allow your new pup to feel safe.