Finally! You’re about to get a new puppy. It’s exciting. It’s wonderful. You can’t wait for everyone to meet them. Bringing your puppy home is a very special experience, and likely one full of firsts for everyone involved, so here’s some helpful advice and ideas for navigating the first few days.
Familiarising your puppy with new surroundings
With so many new things to learn and explore, your puppy has a lot to sniff out in their first days at home. Chances are, they might initially feel a bit insecure after leaving their mum and siblings, until they’ve become more familiar with their new living arrangements and their new human family. Here are two things that can help them during the transition:
1. Bring an object from their old home
Keepsakes from our past hold a special place for us, and dogs are no different. To help with the adjustment, ask if you can take a scent or familiar objects from the place they spent the first few weeks of their lives. This can help comfort them in new environments – after all, moving house is never quite as much fun as you think it’s going to be.
This could be a piece of bedding, such as a blanket, or a toy they love. You could even give your breeder a toy to leave with them in the weeks before they come home with you, so it captures familiar scents.
2. Create a safe place
Remember when you just wanted to storm off into your own room as a kid when things got a bit much for you? Well, puppies need alone time, too. So having a safe space to themselves is just as important for them as it is for us.
That’s why in the beginning, it can help to keep your new pup in one designated room until they gain more confidence being around you.
The more secure you feel in a place, the more comfortable you are exploring, so when your puppy feels ready, you can let it roam more. However, make sure to set up a safe place which is easily accessible and quiet, allowing them to slip away if they’re tired, overwhelmed or overstimulated. If they’re a bit skittish, it might help to use a lead when getting acquainted with new areas – particularly outdoor spaces.
Crate training can help them settle in
Sometimes, big open spaces can feel overwhelming for a young pup, so crate training can help comfort your puppy growing up. That’s because dogs are den animals, which means they tend to prefer smaller, more sheltered spots. You can help create a positive place for your puppy by encouraging it to spend lots of time in their crate with tasty treats, mealtime and their favourite toys.
Start by letting your puppy practice short periods of alone time in their space when they appear to be calm and gradually increase these over time, without letting them become distressed.
The key is to reward calm and independent behaviour to help them build confidence being on their own and create a sense of security, even when you’re not there.
Tip: If you have a wire crate, try covering it with a blanket. This can help create more of a sheltered feel for your puppy.
Meeting the rest of the crew
Meeting an entire new group of people at once can be unsettling for socially confident humans, let alone for nervous little pups coming into a brand new home. So while it’s a very exciting time for everyone involved, it’s important everyone is mindful that, like babies, puppies need to be handled with lots of love and care.
When it comes to family, take care not to crowd the puppy and meet them one by one.
Ideally, let your puppy come to you and get acquainted on their own terms.
If you’ve got other pets in the house, even cats, it’s all about creating comfortable scenarios for both animals. Let your puppy get used to the scents of the house before introducing them gradually and with supervision. Once the whole fur-family feels safe, you can be optimistic they’ll grow to love and respect each other.
Tip: The settling-in period can vary from puppy to puppy. Some seem to adjust within no time at all, while others may be nervous for a longer period of time or sleep most of the day. Be patient and pull back on new experiences when you notice your new friend looking overwhelmed.
Introducing a new puppy to your home takes time but with a little planning and a lot of patience, it can be everything you’re hoping for.
Just remember to thoroughly enjoy every moment – after all, they just grow so fast.