If there’s one thing about owning a dog that no one is truly prepared for, it’s how to survive the first few weeks with your new puppy. In many ways, it’s a lot like raising a child – they are just as needy and demanding, and you don’t always understand what their cries mean.
However, it is also one of the most rewarding experiences you will have, and one that leads to a deep bond that lasts a lifetime. You just need to get a hold on training, manage your time, and prepare yourself for the joy (and the stress) that comes with puppies. We’re here to help with that.
What Do You Do When You First Meet Your Puppy?
When you first meet your puppy to take them home, ensure you have a crate for them to travel in that’s covered in newspaper or puppy pads for the journey home. You should also have a blanket that you can rub on their mother as this will help them to feel comforted and make them less likely to cry through the night.
You should also have a soft toy in the crate with them that they can snuggle up with while you get your new puppy home. Offer them a lot of love and gentle words to keep them calm and happy. If you have a little dog bed in the back, this is also a great way to make them comfy on the journey back.
How Long Will it Take for My Puppy to Get Used to Me?
Usually, when you get your puppy home they will almost instantly warm to you as their new pack member. Of course, some pups are likely to be shyer and less confident – especially as it is their first time away from their mother and siblings. Make sure they are comfortable and you give them a lot of love and affection to show them that they are safe with you.
What Should I Do with My Puppy the First Night?
Your puppy’s first sleep in their new home is the most stressful, and it will likely be hard on you. Crate training is an important aspect here, and it not only keeps your puppy safe at night; it also provides them with a safe place to rest. Your puppy will cry and howl for the first couple of nights, and this is completely normal. You should ignore them completely.
However, not every dog was made for crate training. If it has been more than four nights and they are still unable to settle, you need to consider other options. Dogs are social animals, and your pup just wants to be near you. You might allow them to sleep in the bedroom, or on the other side of a baby gate where they can still see you.
Some puppies become so distressed that they throw up from crying or have terrible accidents, and at this point, it becomes cruel to keep them in the crate. They are all different and cope in their own ways, and there is nothing wrong with your puppy not sleeping in a crate that’s in a different room from you.
How to Keep Your Puppy Entertained
The first week is also the best time for you to work with your dog and teach them new tricks. Puppy training is very easy because they are so young and eager to please. Take the time to go through training every day, teaching them basic commands such as “sit” and “down”. These are the easiest for your puppy to master and makes dog training easier down the line.
Aside from the excellent mental stimulation that comes from dog training, you will also want to keep them occupied with good quality chew toys that they can sink their teeth into. This is especially important for your new dog because puppies are teething from almost the second you get them. It helps keep them away from things they shouldn’t chew and stimulates them.
Play with the family is important for their social development and behavior, building a bond of trust between them and their people that will definitely help with training in the long run. Dogs need this social interaction regularly, and without it you are going to see poor behavior developments both inside and outside of the house.
Finding the Right Food for Your Puppy
Many good breeders, or rescue centers, will send your pup away with the food they were weaned on – allowing you to either carry on with it or transition slowly to a new one. Switching food too fast can cause an upset stomach, so you should mix the food together over the course of several days.
Usually, it goes 70% old and 20% new to start with until you eventually reach 100% new food. Puppy food is an important choice, especially if you find that your new pup has a sensitivity to certain ingredients. You can buy dog food for sensitive stomachs that will be gentler on their digestive system, leading to a pup that is happier and healthier.
In the first couple of weeks, it can be trial and error when figuring out what your puppy is and is not able to eat. It takes time, and if you feel your puppy might have food allergies or sensitivities, you should take them to the vet to get tested.
What Not to Do with a New Puppy
There are a few things that you should never do with a new puppy, even when they are a few months old:
- Never scold them for an accident indoors, ignore them instead. Scolding them can lead to further accidents through negative attention or even fear
- Never walk them before their second vaccine, they are not protected from potentially fatal diseases
- Never tell them off during the first two weeks of their time with you. Redirect negative behavior instead. In this time, they are learning to trust and be comfortable around you which is why they need positive interactions
- Never ignore signs they might need to go outside. Even if you are busy, your dog needs to be rushed outside the second they show even a glimpse of needing the toilet
- Never leave them for long periods of time. Dogs weren’t made to work around busy work schedules where you are gone for more than 4-6 hours a day. Being alone leads to destructive behavior, boredom, and loneliness
It can feel a little overwhelming at first, you have this sweet ball of fluff that demands your undivided attention and isn’t always able to properly communicate what they need. The first week or so is a learning curve for both of you, and one that allows your new pet to really settle into their routine. With this crash course, you and your home will be more than prepared for your pup.