Here comes one of the best decisions you’ll ever make… your new little bundle of furry joy!
Though you may not think so in the first 48 hours…
Bringing home a new puppy is like bringing home a new baby. He (or she) has no idea what’s going on, doesn’t know you, can’t fend for himself, and basically just wants to sleep, eat, play and poop. Often.
But, the difference with a puppy is that you’ve likely just taken him from his mum and other siblings. Or if rescuing, you’ve just taken him from an environment where he feels safe to some strange place. Either way, he has no familiarity.
So the first few days can be tough, for everyone involved.
With that in mind, here are some pointers for the first 48 hours.
Why 48 hours? This initial 2 day period can put you on the right footing for what’s to come. Start right and the following days, weeks and months, will get easier and easier.
1. Take time off.
Seriously. Not just for your own sanity (you’ll be waking up in the night for pee trips, then trying to settle him back down which may take a little while) but for your little pooch as well.
He (or she) will be feeling lonely and probably a little anxious so will need plenty of gentle reassurance and love.
If you head off to work each day or are distracted by work for hours at a time, it’ll take a lot longer for him to feel at home and to create that loving, loyal bond between the two of you.
2. Keep things simple.
Avoid having all your friends and family round for cuddles. You’ll probably want to share your new little pup with the world, and I’m sure everyone will want to come round for cuddles, but this’ll overwhelm him and could create long-term anxiety issues.
Just take the first couple of days out for you, him, and any immediate family, to get to know each other. This’ll help him become comfortable around you and understand that he’s part of your pack.
Then you can slowly introduce him to extended family and friends. (But still try to avoid a huge puppy party!)
3. Hide other pets.
I’m not talking about locking any other pets you might have away in a cupboard, but do keep them out of sight for the initial few hours. This allows time for your new little one to get used to you and his new environment without the pressure of another animal in the room.
Once he’s settled, then introduce your other pets. Just make sure you remain in the room at all times when they’re together until they’ve gotten to know each other better.
4. Start toilet training.
As soon as you get back from the rescue centre or breeder take your little one out to go for a pee (or poop). This shows him where his place to go is. He may not remember in the early days and yes, there may be a few accidents (so be prepared and whatever you do, don’t get angry) but he will get it with consistency and continuity.
When he goes, be exuberant with your praise. He’ll soon associate him going where he’s supposed to with positivity and, most likely, a little treat.
Puppies don’t have much, if any, bladder control before 4 months. So it’s up to you to take him out every hour or so, and certainly before bed, then set your alarm to go through the night. It’s a bit painful at first, but it’s worth your floors, carpets, rugs, and frustration levels if you do.
5. Stock up on chew toys.
Pups love to chew. On anything.
And it’s a good thing.
Chewing helps overcome any pain being experienced by incoming teeth. It’s also a way to keep jaws strong and teeth clean.
To avoid your belongings being the target of his chewing, make sure you’re well stocked on chew toys. There are heaps of options available, so if you’re able, get a few different options so he’s entertained and less likely to be enticed by your slippers!
6. Make time for gentle exercise and play.
Playtime is essential, as is getting outside. Though be careful. His bones are still developing so don’t be playing catch or chase just yet. Tug is a great option as well as swimming, if you have that option available.
When it comes to walks and exercise, a good rule of thumb to follow is a ratio of five minutes exercise for each month of age until he’s fully grown, twice a day at most. When he’s an adult, you can ramp it up as much as you, and he, likes.
And remember, don’t head out for a proper walk – outside of your garden area – until he’s been fully vaccinated and had the all-clear from your vet as he’s more prone to diseases until then.
7. Say his name, repeatedly.
This’ll probably come naturally anyway, but remember to say his name all the time in the early days. He’ll come to associate his name with him which will lead to easier training when the time comes.
You can start by having him look at you then say his name in an enthusiastic positive tone while rewarding him with praise and a treat. Once you’ve done this a few times, try saying his name in the same tone when he’s not focused on you. When he starts recognising you’re talking to him and responds, praise and reward him again.
He’ll soon get the hang of it and should then catch on quicker to the more challenging training sessions to come.
8. Prepare for plenty of nap time.
Puppies, just like babies, will nap a lot. So if you want him to take a nap, it’s pretty easy – play with him for 10 minutes or so and he’ll soon be knackered out enough to nap!
Word of caution though – don’t let him nap too close to bedtime or you’ll both be up a lot later than you’d like!
9. Book in with the vet.
You should visit your vet soon after taking your little one home. Not only will you need to schedule vaccination appointments, it’s also great to get professional advice on diet, healthcare, and training/socialising timeframes.
When you go though, be careful of your little one as he’ll be more suspectable to diseases. So ideally transport him in a crate so he doesn’t touch or interact with anything he shouldn’t just yet.
And that’s all there is to it!
It may seem like a lot, but you’ll easily find your own rhythm. These are just a few tips to help be a bit more prepared for those first few days which will be daunting for you both.
And I promise you, an organised start will lead to an easier, happier, healthier lifetime together. Enjoy.