8 Puppy Tips for the First Week
There's nothing more exciting than bringing home a wriggling, warm, happy puppy. But that first week can bring a lot of surprises if you're not prepared. If you follow these eight simple tips, you'll make memories to last a lifetime and start off on the right paw.
1. Get Your Supplies Before You Bring Your Puppy Home
Pick up all your supplies before your puppy comes home. This means you want all the basics like a collar and ID, food designed for puppies, food and water bowls, leash, poop bags, calming aids, and the like. Get a crate for crate training along with a comfy crate pad. You also want puppy chew toys and a puppy bed. The Mother's Heartbeat Heated Puppy Pet Bed with Bone Pillow is a perfect choice. The heartbeat pillow helps puppies transition to a new home and reduces stress.
2. Puppy Proof Your Home
Make sure your home is safe before your puppy arrives. This means you should cover or lock away anything dangerous your puppy might chew on, like electrical cords and cleaning supplies. Don't forget to put away items like shoes that won't necessarily hurt your puppy, but you really don't want to be turned into chew toys either. Redirect your puppy to a chew toy alternative if she gets into something she shouldn't.
Once your puppy is home, supervise her closely. Only give her access to areas where you can watch her. You may want to use baby gates or locking wood gates to keep your puppy close. Try using a crate if you have to leave her alone, so she doesn't get into anything while you're gone.
3. Socialize Your Puppy Right Away
Start socializing and playing with your puppy right away. Don't bring lots of guests into your home during the first week, as this might be overwhelming. Do spend lots of time helping him bond with your family. This is a good opportunity to start helping your puppy get used to human touch.1 Try holding his paws, holding him close, and petting him a lot. Give him a treat for positive associations if he seems timid. Say "ow" sharply if he nips, as this communicates in "dog language" that his actions weren't okay. You might even try a desensitizing soundtrack of noises like vacuum cleaners and lawnmowers to help him get used to interruptions.
After your first week, you may want to start attending puppy parties or puppy obedience classes to help with socialization. Be sure to check with your vet first to make sure your pup's ready for puppy play dates.
4. Start House Training in the First Week
Now is the time to start house training your pup. Bell training is an easy system that puppies can understand fairly quickly. Some puppies may need to be taken outside as frequently as every two or three hours.2 Others may need to go potty within 10 minutes of a meal or a big drink. Routine helps, so keep feeding times and sleep times the same if you can.
5. Visit the Veterinarian
Visit your veterinarian within a few days of bringing your puppy home. Schedule his first vaccination, get a health checkup, and make sure you're feeding him the right kind of food and the correct frequency. It is important to make sure you've got the basics down as soon as you can.
6. Reward Good Behavior
Focus on rewarding only good behavior. Pet your puppy when he's sleeping.3 Give him a treat when he's resting quietly, so he knows that he gets attention when he's calm. Ignore him if he's barking (unless it's to go potty). Dogs will do the action that gets the attention, so it's good to start training him early. If you ignore your puppy when he's quiet and only pay attention to him when he barks, then he may feel less obliged to act calmly in the future.
7. Start "Play Training"
Your puppy may not be ready to take on big commands, but you can start with simple commands and "play" training during the first week. Keep the training intervals short, happening several times a day, and make them fun times for your puppy. This is better for your dog's attention span. Start by training your puppy to recognize his name, then move on to simple commands like "come" and "stay." You also want to start crate training during this time to help your puppy when he needs to be home alone.
8. Stay Together at Bed Time
It's okay for your puppy to sleep in your bedroom. Your puppy is timid, so it's perfectly fine to let her sleep in your room for comfort. However, sleeping in your bed may not be the right choice. Sleeping in a crate will help her feel safe and secure and establish the crate as her "go-to" place. Make sure to get a comfy crate pad to make it nice and cozy.
Bringing your puppy home is a wonderful and exciting time. These tips will help make that first week more enjoyable and less stressful for both of you.
1. Parks, Shoshi. "Bringing Your Puppy Home: Your Step-by-Step Guide to the First Week." Rover, https://www.rover.com/blog/first-week-with-puppy/.
2. Becker, Marty. "Surviving Your First 30 Days with a New Puppy." VetStreet, 22 June 2015, http://www.vetstreet.com/dr-marty-becker/surviving-your-first-30-days-with-a-new-puppy.
3. McMahan, Dana. "Pawternity Leave: How to Make the Most of the First Week with Your New Puppy." NBC News, 23 August 2018, https://www.nbcnews.com/better/pop-culture/pawternity-leave-how-make-most-first-week-your-new-puppy-ncna903221.