I have had a lot of questions from families, asking me what to expect when they bring their puppy home.
Adding a new member to the family is a big responsibility, and I know these families are all trying to be as well prepared as possible.
No one wants to be blind-sided by an unexpected situation they aren’t prepared for!
Some of the most common questions I get are things like…
Will they cry at night?
What if they don’t eat right away?
Is it normal for them not to “do their business” and just sniff around the yard or play?
These are all very good questions! And I have some insight to help out with the first days bringing a new puppy home.
Before you bring puppy home
First and foremost, preparation is key!
Talk with your family vet. If you do not have one already, make sure you have chosen one that you feel comfortable with.
Why is this so important?
If your puppy has any kind of medical issue or accident after they come home, your vet should be your first call.
Obviously, before coming home they should have a clean bill of health from a vet and come with their first shots, but better safe than sorry to make sure your family vet is on speed dial just in case Fido eats grandma’s dentures and you’re not sure what to do!
Second, puppy proof your home!
Puppies are like kids in so many ways…
They cry at night…
They get into mischief…
Aaaand, they put EVERYTHING in their mouths when they are teething!
So make sure that you have vulnerable things put out of reach, such as wires, couch pillows, and – at the expense of sounding cliché – yes, your shoes!
Teething puppies like anything that feel good on their sore little gums.
Make sure that you have some quality chew toys for them to sink those little teeth into and you’ll be ahead of the game.
Will my puppy cry at night?
Yes, the sad part of the first night – or week – is that your puppy will likely cry at night!
They are used to sleeping with their momma and siblings, so sleeping all alone in their crate takes some getting used to.
I know some people are softies and will let their puppy sleep in bed, so if you are one of those just make sure you take them out right before bed and perhaps a couple times during the night to help make sure you don’t end up with any suspicious wet spots in the bed.
There are a few things that will help your puppy sleep at night.
The first is having their crate in the bedroom with you; they will know they are not alone and this will help comfort them.
The classic “ticking clock” is truly a timeless soother, so you can consider putting one by their bed.
Also, a bottle filled with hot water and wrapped in a blanket can give the illusion of snuggling a warm sibling.
I have had amazing feedback from many families about the Snuggle Pet, as well.
It is a stuffed animal for your puppy, with a pocket for a heat pack and a battery-powered heart with heartbeat sound and vibration, which also helps simulate sleeping with momma and siblings.
What if they don’t eat right away?
This is very normal, so don’t worry!
All the excitement with new smells and cool new areas to check out is just so much to take in!
For my pups, I do not feed them within a couple hours of a car ride to help reduce the chances of car sickness.
They will be hungry in their own time, but be patient with them and let them adjust to the new environment.
Put food out for them and let them decide when they are ready to eat.
Yes, it is also normal for your puppy to be more interested in playing or sniffing around their new territory than doing their business…
So once again, be patient with them. It takes time to adjust.
I personally have done my fair share of 3 AM walks to make sure we didn’t have any messes in their crate (while in my housecoat – in chilly temperatures, no less!) so I understand the struggle of wishing that puppy would hurry up and get down to business.
Oh, and on that note… how often should you take puppy out?
The “rule of thumb” is their age in months +1 in hours…
So for example, they come home at 2 months old.
Add “1” and you can expect they should be able to hold it for 3 hours.
Also, like kids, it helps not to give them food or water RIGHT before bed! I usually will take their trays away about an hour before bed.
What about feeding?
I free-feed my puppies, which means that they get to eat as much as they would like during the day.
As a puppy with a growing body, it takes a lot of energy!
When they are a year old, talk with your vet to see if a special diet is needed.
Also, you should keep them on puppy chow until they are a year old.
Puppy chow is specially formulated with nutrients for their growing bodies.
If you decide to switch them to a different puppy food when you first bring them home, make sure to mix it with food they are accustomed to and transition them to the new food over the matter of a week or so.
Typically you want to add 75% food they have been eating to 25% new food on the first couple feedings.
Then, modify to 50/50 for several days.
Next, mix their food with 75% new food and 25% original brand for a few more days.
Finally, if they are adjusting well to the new food, transition them completely to the new brand.
If they seem to be having issues with throwing up, diarrhea or constipation you should not continue with the transition to the new brand of puppy food and get in touch with your vet.
We have other pets; how do we do introductions?
I personally am a big believer in allowing your puppy to get to know you first, before introducing other pets.
It has already been an exciting day, filled with new things, so take it slow.
Keep your other pets away until you feel your puppy is confident in their new surroundings.
When you introduce them, make sure the older pet is not aggressive toward your puppy and monitor all interactions closely until you are confident they are BFF’s.
Your puppy will likely take a bit of time to warm up to the “newcomer” and realize they can be pals.
That is normal. Give it time and keep a close eye on them.
If your other pet is getting up there in years, they may not be thrilled with the endless energy and enthusiasm of a puppy and can take a while to warm up from their end of the relationship.
Cats. What about cats? Well…. If your cat is fully grown and your puppy is a tiny thing, they tend to learn to respect each other better than if your dog were fully grown meeting a cat for the first time.
Bianca was a tiny 9 or 10 week old puppy when our kitty stole Bianca’s puppy bed.
She didn’t know what to do about it and gave up barking at the cat after a while.
To this day, she still has no interest in chasing cats!
And lastly, but certainly the best part, enjoy the snuggles!
They only stay little for so long and their puppy antics (and puppy breath!!!) only last for a short time.
Enjoy the absolute attention and loyalty they just brought to your home.
Enjoy the wiggly bum when they know you have a treat for them.
Enjoy that long sigh they make when they are snuggled on top of you, just about to fall asleep.
Yes, puppies are a lot of work.
But the wonderful companionship and hilarity of their silly moments all make it worth the effort, which seems small in comparison!
Did I miss a question you had? What are you looking forward to most when your puppy finally comes home?
Drop a comment below!