This article tells you how to care for your new puppy during their first few days in your home. It's best to get your new puppy at a time when you can offer them your company and undivided attention. That will help them settle in and start learning their new routine.
When your puppy first arrives, let them sniff around and become familiar with their surroundings; then show them them their bed. Introducing the puppy into the household must be done with care. This is a difficult and confusing time for the puppy. Your home is full of strange sights, sounds and smells that they may find exciting, but a little overwhelming. Your puppy will be missing their mother, brothers and sisters, and will look to you and your family to replace the company, comfort and security they've left behind.
Ask the breeder for a piece of bedding that has been in contact with the mother and puppies so the puppy has a smell of home. Do not wash the piece of bedding for at least one week. Choose a name for your puppy as soon as possible. Be consistent and use it repeatedly as you talk to them - they'll soon learn to respond. Young children in the family need to be taught that puppies are not toys. You will find that your puppy plays vigorously for short spells and then may retire to their bed for an hour or so. Sleep is as important for your puppy as it is for a baby, so do not disturb them when they're resting. Do not deprive established pets of your attention, and try to stick to their current feeding, play and exercise routines to help reduce stress.
Make the introductions gradual, on neutral territory and under constant supervision. Never leave a new puppy alone with an older cat or dog. Feed them separately until they have become friends. For the first few nights, your puppy will probably be restless and whimper when they're left alone. Wrapping a water bottle and a ticking clock in a blanket and placing it in their bed can be very reassuring for a new pup. However, these items shouldn't be made of rubber or plastic or the puppy may chew them.
Above all, always be kind, gentle and patient with your puppy. Never scold or speak harshly – even if they’re destructive or make a mess. Yelling at your puppy only leads to confusion and fear and damages the important bond you are trying to build. Calmly help your puppy learn the new house-rules and use positive reinforcement as this is the most effective training method. This initiation period should be an enjoyable time in which you and your puppy can get to know each other, while they learn to trust you, thus forming the basis for a happy life together.
Download our Behavioural Basics Chart.