Before going to the breeder to pick up your new puppy, vacuum the floors, including all dust bunnies under the bed. Do a last-minute check of every room to make sure that everything that could be a puppy hazard is carefully tucked away out of sight and that nothing is left on the floor or low down on shelves where a curious puppy might get into trouble.
Close most of the doors inside your home, so that there are only one or two rooms to which the puppy will have access. You have already been shopping and you have everything you need, so take out a puppy pee pad and have it ready before you bring your new puppy home.
Also, have your soft bed (s) in an area where you will spend most of your time and where your puppy can easily find them. If you have already bought a soft toy, take it with you when you pick up your puppy.
Take either your hard-sided kennel or your soft-sided travel bag (lined with pee pads) with you when going to bring your new puppy home, and make sure that it is securely fastened to the seat of your vehicle with the seatbelt restraint system.
Even though you will be tempted to hold your new puppy in your lap on the drive home, this is a very dangerous place for them to be, in case of an accident. Place them inside their kennel or bag, which will be lined with soft towels and perhaps even a warm, towel wrapped hot water bottle (and a pee pad), and close the door.
If you have a friend who can drive for you, sit beside your puppy in the back seat, and if they cry on the way home, remind them that they are not alone with your soft, soothing voice.
Before bringing your new puppy inside your home, take them to the place where you want them to relieve themselves and try to wait it out long enough for them to at least go pee. Then bring them inside your home and introduce them to the area where their food and water bowls will be kept, in case they are hungry or thirsty.
Let your puppy wander around sniffing and checking out their new surroundings and encourage them to follow you wherever you go. Show them where the puppy pee pad is located and place it near the door where you will exit to take them outside to go potty. Many pee pads are scented to encourage a puppy to pee, and if they do, happily praise them.
Show them where their hard-sided kennel is (in your bedroom) and put them inside with the door open while you sit on the floor in front of it and quietly encourage them to relax inside their kennel.
Depending on the time of day you bring your new puppy home for the first time, practice this kennel exercise several times throughout the day, and if they will take a little treat each time you encourage them to go inside their kennel, this will help to further encourage the behavior of them wanting to go inside.
After they have had their evening meal, take them outside approximately 20 minutes later to go to the bathroom.
So far your puppy has only been allowed in several rooms of your home, as you have kept the other doors closed, so keep it this way for the first few days.
Before it’s time for bed, again take your puppy outside for a very short walk to the same place where they last went potty and make sure that they go pee before bringing them back inside.
Before bed, prepare your puppy’s hot water bottle and wrap it in a towel so that it will not be too hot for them, and place it inside their hard-sided kennel (in your bedroom).
Turn the lights down low and invite your puppy to go inside their kennel and if they seem interested, perhaps give them a soft toy to have inside with them.
Let them walk into the kennel under their own steam and when they do, give them a little treat (if they are interested) and encourage them to snuggle down to sleep while you are sitting on the floor in front of the kennel.
Once they have settled down inside their kennel, close the door, go to your bed and turn all the lights off. It may help your puppy to sleep during their first night home if you can play quiet, soothing music in the background.
If they start to cry or whine, stay calm and have compassion because this is the first time in their young lives when they do not have the comfort of their mother or their littermates.
Do not let them out of their kennel if they are crying, but rather, simply reassure them with your calm voice that they are not alone until they fall asleep.
TIP: If your bed is wide enough to accommodate your puppy’s kennel, it may help them to fall asleep for the first few nights in their new kennel if you have it beside you on top of the bed so that you are closer to them. If there is any danger of the kennel falling off the bed during the night, do NOT do this as you will traumatize your puppy and make them afraid of their kennel.
Taking Care Of Your Puppy In The First Week
During the first week, you and your new puppy will be getting settled into their new routine, which will involve you getting used to your puppy’s needs as they also get used to your usual schedule.
Be as consistent as possible with your waking and sleeping routine, getting up and going to bed at the same time each day, so that it will be easier for your puppy to get into the flow and routine of their new life.
First thing in the morning, remove your puppy from their kennel and take them immediately outside to relieve themselves at the place where they last went pee.
At this time, if you are teaching them to ring a doorbell to go outside, let them ring the bell before you go out the door with them, whether you are carrying them, or whether they are walking out the door on their own.
NOTE: During the first week, you may want to carry your puppy outside first thing in the morning as they may not be able to hold it for very long once waking up.
When you bring them back inside, you can let them follow you so they get used to their new leash and/or harness arrangement. Be very careful not to drag your puppy if they stop or pull back on the leash.
TIP: if they refuse to walk on the leash, just hold the tension toward you (without pulling) while encouraging them to walk toward you, until they start to move forward again.
Now it will be time for their first feed of the day, and after they have finished eating, keep an eye on the clock, because you will want to take them outside to relieve themselves in about 20 minutes.
When your puppy is not eating or napping, they will be wanting to explore and have little play sessions with you and these times will help you bond with your puppy more and more each day.
As their new guardian, it will be your responsibility to keep a close eye on them throughout the day, so that you can notice when they need to relieve themselves and either take them to their pee pad or take them outside.
You will also need to make sure that they are eating and drinking enough throughout the day, so set regular feeding times at least three times a day. Also set specific times in the day when you will take your puppy out for a little walk on leash and harness, so that they are not only going outside when they need to relieve themselves, but they are also learning to explore their new neighborhood with you beside them.
When your puppy is still very young, you will not want to walk for a long time as they will get tired easily, and you do not want to stress joints or bones that are growing, so keep your walks to no more than 15 or 20 minutes during your first week and if they seem tired or cold, pick them up and carry them home
Common Mistakes To Avoid
1. Sleeping In Your Bed
Many people make the mistake of allowing a crying puppy to sleep with them in their bed, and while this may help to calm and comfort a new puppy, it will set a dangerous precedent that can result in behavioral problems later in their life. In addition, a sleeping human body can easily crush a puppy.
As much as it may pull on your heartstrings to hear your new puppy crying the first couple of nights in their kennel, a little tough love at the beginning will keep them safe while helping them to learn to both loves and respect you as their leader.
2. Picking Them Up At The Wrong Time
Never pick your puppy up if they display nervousness, fear or aggression (such as growling) toward an object, person or other pet because this will be rewarding them for unbalanced behavior.
Instead, your puppy needs to be gently corrected by you, with a firm and calm energy so that they learn not to react with fear or aggression.
3. Armpit Alligators
when your dog is a small size, be aware that many guardians get into the bad habit of carrying a small dog or puppy far too much. They need to be on the ground and walking on their own so that they do not become overly confident because a dog that is carried by their guardian is literally being placed in the “top dog” position.
Humans who constantly carry small dogs around rather than allowing them to walk on their own can often inadvertently create what I refer to as an “armpit alligator” situation.
Even dogs that are friendly or not naturally wary or suspicious of strangers, can learn to become intolerant of other people and pets if they don’t receive adequate socialization, which means that it is always possible to allow them to become protective or possessive of “their” humans.
This happens when the dog becomes possessive of its guardian who carries it everywhere, and when another adult, child or dog sees the cute little dog and approaches to say hello, the cute little dog who has been inadvertently trained to believe that it is the boss may then lunge, snap and/or growl.
4. Playing Too Hard Or Too Long
Many humans play too hard or allow their children to play too long or too roughly with a young puppy. You need to remember that young puppy tires very easily and especially during the critical growing phases of their young life, they need their rest.
5. Hand Play
always discourage your puppy from chewing or biting your hands, or any part of your body for that matter. Do not get into the habit of playing the “hand” game, where you rough up the puppy and slide them across the floor with your hands, because this will teach your puppy that your hands are playthings and you will have to work hard to break this bad habit.
When your puppy is teething, they will naturally want to chew on everything within reach, and this will include you. As cute as you might think it is, this is not acceptable behavior and you need to gently, but firmly, discourage the habit.
A light flick with a finger on the end of a puppy nose, combined with a firm “NO” and removing the enticing fingers by making a fist when they are trying to bite human fingers will discourage them from this activity.
6. Not Getting Used To Grooming
not taking the time to get your dog used to a regular grooming routine, including bathing, brushing, toenail clipping and teeth brushing can lead to a lifetime of trauma for both humans and dogs every time these procedures must be performed. Set aside a few minutes each day for your grooming routine.
NOTE: get your dog used to being up high, on a table or countertop when you are grooming them, because when it comes time for a full grooming session or a visit to the vet’s office where they will be placed on an examination table, then they will not be stressed by being placed in an unfamiliar situation.
7. Free Feeding
Means to keep food in your puppy’s bowl 24/7 so that they can eat any time of the day or night, whenever they feel like it.
While free feeding a young puppy can be a good idea (especially with very small dogs) until they are about four or five months old, many guardians often get into the bad habit of allowing their adult dogs to continue to eat food any time they want, by leaving food out 24/7.
Getting into this type of habit can be a serious mistake, as your dog needs to know that you are absolutely in control of their food. If your dog does not associate the food they eat with you, they may become picky eaters or think that they are in charge, which can lead to other behavioral issues later in life.
8. Treating Them Like Children
Do not get into the bad habit of treating your dog like a small, furry human, because even though they may try their best to please you, and their doggy smarts could help them to succeed in most instances, not honoring them for the amazing dog they are will only cause them confusion that could lead to behavioral problems.
IMPORTANT: Remember that the one thing your dog is the absolute best at is being, is a dog.
A well-balanced dog thrives on rules and boundaries, and when they understand that there is no question that you are their leader and they are your followers, they will live a contented, happy and stress-free life.
9. Distraction and Replacement
When your puppy tries to chew on your hand, foot, clothing or anything else that is not fair game, you need to firmly and calmly tell them “No”, and then distract them by replacing what they are not supposed to be chewing with their chew toy.
Make sure that you happily praise them every time they choose the toy to chew on. If the puppy persists in chewing on you, remove yourself from the equation by getting up and walking away. If they are really persistent, put them inside their kennel with a favorite chew toy until they calm down.
Always praise your puppy when they stop inappropriate behavior or replace inappropriate behavior with something that is acceptable to you so that they begin to understand what they can and cannot do.