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Bringing Home a Puppy: A Quick Guide to Preparation and Setting Expectations

Bringing home a new puppy is one of the most exciting, fulfilling, anxiety-inducing, and yet rewarding experiences you can have as a family. Knowing what to expect can alleviate some of the anxiety leading up to "Gotcha day" and make the transition as smooth as possible for both you and your new furry family member. Here's a rundown of what you can expect and a checklist of essential supplies.


Adjustment Period

When you first bring your puppy home, they will need time to adjust to their new environment. They’re not going to be immediately comfortable, and it will take time for them to understand that they are in a new home with a loving family. From their point of view, they went from being with their littermates to suddenly being transported to an entirely new world, like Alice in Wonderland. It's important to give them space and allow them to explore their new surroundings at their own pace. They may be hesitant at first, but with time and patience, they will become more comfortable in their new home.


Designated Puppy Space and Crate Training

Provide a designated space for the puppy that includes bedding in a crate so that they will have a comfortable, safe space to retreat to if they feel overwhelmed or need to rest.


Do NOT use the crate as a tool for punishment. This will make crate training much more difficult, which is a useful tool for potty training and keeping them safe when alone. Using the crate as punishment will create a negative association and make them feel uncomfortable within it. It will also make it harder to get them to go inside.


Related to this, don't start off training by using the crate for long periods of time. Start with short intervals and reward them accordingly. Don’t force the puppy inside; instead, make it a place with toys and treats to create a positive environment. Enrichment toys, like Kongs and lick mats, are a great option. (Note: remove the toys if you find that they are chewing pieces off and/or swallowing bits and stuffing).


Many dogs love a crate with a cover on it to make it their own little den. This can help make it a safe space, especially if they are afraid of fireworks, for example.


While in the process of crate training a puppy, consider using it in conjunction with a playpen to keep them contained to a designated area of the house while working on potty training, teething, and puppy-proofing the rest of the house.


Potty Training

Potty training is one of the most important things you'll need to work on with your new puppy. It's essential to establish a routine and take them outside frequently, especially after meals and naps. Accidents will happen, so be patient and consistent in your training. Rewarding good behavior with treats and praise can also help reinforce positive habits.


While using puppy pads is a common tactic for many puppy owners, they can also hinder the potty training process. They essentially teach your dog that it is okay to pee in the house, and then it is up to you to break that association. Many puppies will also shred them to pieces, and they’re not sanitary. The best way to potty train your puppy is by using a size-appropriate crate; dogs don’t like to pee where they sleep. It’s important to use a size-appropriate crate; if it is too big, they will just pick a corner to use. Also, take them out regularly to pee on a schedule. If you work long hours, consider hiring a dog walker or pet sitter to take them out at regular intervals.


Establishing a Routine

Establishing a routine is important for your new puppy. They thrive on consistency, so it's essential to establish a daily schedule for meals, potty breaks, playtime, and sleep. Having a routine can help your puppy feel secure and comfortable in their new home.


Socialization

Socialization is crucial for your new puppy's development. Introduce them to new people, places, and other animals gradually. Puppy socialization classes can also be an excellent way to expose them to different environments and other puppies. Socialization does not mean being social, as in meeting every single dog or person you see. Instead, it means that they become comfortable in the world around them and continue to listen to commands in a distracting environment. Start by taking your puppy out to public areas, like a park, with plenty of treats or kibble. Just sit on a bench and work on basic commands while allowing them to watch what’s happening around them. Reward them when they return their attention to you and when they sit nicely without reacting to others. This will be incredibly helpful in developing your puppy into a confident dog and avoiding fearful or aggressive behavior when they’re older.


Training

Training your puppy is an ongoing process. Basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, come, and heel are essential to teach your puppy. Positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, can help reinforce good behavior. Daragan’s offers training sessions. The sooner you start, the better! A professional trainer can help you and your puppy set a strong foundation for obedience and good behavior and teach you how to positively reinforce those lessons at home.


Veterinary Care

Regular veterinary care is essential for your puppy's health and well-being. You'll need to schedule regular check-ups, vaccinations, and other necessary treatments such as flea and tick prevention. It's important to find a reputable veterinarian before bringing your puppy home.


Essential Supplies

In the days or weeks before bringing home your new furry companion, you need to prepare your home to make the transition as smooth as possible. Caring for a puppy is difficult, much like caring for a small child, so it is important to be prepared and avoid scrambling at the last minute. Here’s a checklist of what you’ll need.

  • Food and Water Bowls: You'll need to get some bowls for food and water. Make sure they're the right size for your puppy.

  • High-quality puppy food: Talk to your vet to determine the best food for your puppy. Make sure you get high-quality food that will help your puppy grow strong and healthy. Our guide will teach you how to choose the best dog food.

  • Collar and leash: Your puppy will need a collar and leash for walks and training. We also recommend a harness, as pulling on a collar can cause damage to your puppy’s neck.

  • Identification Tags: Make sure your puppy has identification tags with your contact information in case he or she gets lost.

  • Crate: A crate can be helpful for potty training and keeping your puppy safe when you're not home.

  • Bed: A comfortable bed will help your puppy get good rest.

  • Toys: Puppies love to play, so be sure to get some toys to keep them occupied. Start with age-appropriate toys and replace them as needed. Never let your puppy play with toys unsupervised.

  • Training Treats: Training your puppy will be easier with some tasty treats to reward good behavior.

  • Cleaning Supplies: Accidents will happen, so be prepared with cleaning supplies to quickly clean up any messes.

  • First Aid Kit: It's always good to have a first aid kit on hand in case of emergencies. We recommend styptic powder as a way to stop minor cuts and scratches from bleeding

By preparing in advance and having all of the necessary items on hand, you'll be better able to give your new puppy a smooth and happy transition to their new home.


When your puppy has all their vaccinations, book them for daycare! Daycare can be a great place for puppies to learn how to play with other dogs and burn off extra energy. If you’re bringing your puppy home soon, don’t forget to get in touch and set up a training schedule.


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