The New Puppy Owners Manual
Bringing Your New Puppy Home
BEFORE YOUR PUPPY ARRIVES
It is very exciting when you bring your new puppy home. Puppies are great time wasters, keeping the whole family from doing all they should, while you all watch them play, eat and even sleep. They are wonderful fun for all the family, and friends. However, the better prepared you are for your new arrival, the more enjoyable he will be to have around. I have visited many families who are struggling to cope with the demands a new puppy can make. Owners can be completely unprepared and unaware of just how having a puppy in the house will affect their everyday lives.
This chapter is designed to give you advice on the essential and not so essential (but can’t help yourself) equipment and accessories you will need to consider buying. You will also find other advice concerning bringing a puppy into the home which I am sure you will find useful.
By now, you will probably have chosen your puppy and have hopefully researched your chosen breed carefully. Many problems arise simply because owners choose a breed of dog that is just not suitable for their personality or lifestyle.
Puppies are not robots so we cannot make them behave as such, and nor would we want to. However, being prepared for the needs of your puppy before he arrives should help you enjoy these early months, rather than finding yourself becoming frustrated and angry because he has slowly but surely started to take over your days – and nights.
THE FIRST DAY
When you bring your new puppy into your house, remember that he may feel disorientated and possibly stressed at being removed from his old home, his mother and his littermates.
Give him time to settle in and if you have a young family, remind them to give him some space and not to keep crowding him or be constantly picking him up. Puppies do often settle in really quickly, so help him to do so by being prepared for his arrival.
Young puppies will sleep regularly. They need to, so remind all family members that if he has gone to sleep, they should leave him alone for a while. This is a good rule to enforce with children so that as your puppy grows older, he knows he can get some ‘quiet time’ if he needs it.
THE FIRST NIGHT
When it comes to going to bed, be aware that your puppy is usually cuddled up with his littermates. Moving to your house means he will lose this comfort he is used to and it can be quite traumatic for a young puppy to find himself all alone in a new environment. Often owners report that their puppy has kept them up ‘crying’ all night and many owners will go to some lengths to try and stop this, such as sleeping on the sofa or kitchen floor themselves. I don’t advise this, but there are a couple of methods to deal with those first nights. Neither is more ‘right’ than the other, it is more dependent on you, your lifestyle and your puppy. You should choose the method which is best for you all, but if I don’t mention it, I don’t advise it – such as letting your puppy sleep in your bed.
Method 1: Start as you mean to go on
1. Have a quick chat with your neighbours. Tell them you have a new puppy and if he makes a noise at night, it won’t last for long. Please could they ‘bear with you’ for a few days while you settle him in.
2. Leave your crate where you will want your puppy to sleep in the future.
3. Before bedtime, ensure your puppy has had his meal, and ideally have a good play with him to wear him out. Give him the opportunity to go to the toilet.
4. Put him in his crate and leave the room – leave him a piece of your clothing or better still, the towel you came home with from his breeder – you can leave a dim light on, if you would like to.
5. Leave him to settle in his bed and do not return no matter how much noise he is making.
Before you collect your puppy, speak to his breeder and ask that he leave a towel or small sheet in with the puppies. This will embed their scent into the article and you can use it as a ‘comfort’ blanket at night-time when you get home.
If you speak to your neighbours, it will make you less likely to return to your puppy in the middle of the night because you shouldn’t be worrying about the noise keeping them up. Surprisingly, most neighbours say they don’t notice any disturbance at all when asked, so be considerate, but don’t make this into a problem that doesn’t exist, because it will affect your response to your puppy.
If your puppy doesn’t settle, be patient. If you return to him while he is making a fuss, then he will learn, very quickly, that he can get you back if he ‘shouts’ loud and long enough. Most puppies are over this ‘crying’ within a week, as they begin to settle into their new home and realize that making all that noise produces no result. The effect, however, if you do come down and see him,is that the problem will drag on and you will find it hard to settle your puppy at night-time.
This method can, to some, seem harsh. However, remember your puppy isn’t in any danger and is just getting used to his new environment.
Other things to help
- You can purchase a DAP, that is a dog appeasing pheromone. It is available as a plug-in device or as a spray. The scent will remind your puppy of his mother and this will be comforting to him.
- You may also like to drape the crate with a blanket, to make it more cosy and ‘den like’.
- If your crate is in a secure area, you can try leaving the door open at night-time for a few days – this is often successful for puppies who are taking a little time to settle in.
Method 2: Gradual separation
1. Leave a crate/bed in your bedroom on the floor.
2. At night-time, let your puppy sleep in his bed in your bedroom.
3. Some owners start with their puppy right beside their bed, others start with their puppy a little further away.
4. As your puppy gradually gets settled into your home, start to move the bed a little further away from you each night. Then move him out of your room, down the stairs and so on, until he ends up where you want him to sleep.
This method normally works well for avoiding your puppy making some noise in the first nights. Often, owners with young children choose this method because they have found their puppy keeps waking their children up. However, some owners then have trouble relocating their puppy and end up reverting to the first method anyway. Some owners never manage it and their dog sleeps in their bedroom until their dying day. Others do very well with it. I think the success of this process depends upon you, how firm you are and your general position within your pack hierarchy, i.e. if your dog can wind you around his little paw, then you won’t be strong enough to ignore any protests he may make about moving.
WHAT DOES MY NEW PUPPY NEED?
What does your puppy need or what do you want to buy? There are many, many products on the market. Some are useful, others maybe not, but really what a dog needs above all else is a kind, responsible leader. Someone who can dedicate at least two hours a day (more when they are puppies) to exercising, playing with and training their dog.
Listed here are what I consider to be essential items to purchase before you bring your puppy home. I have given more details below on these items, because you may not know what they are, or you may already feel you don’t want to use one.
- Dog crate (Yes, I can almost feel some of you flinch as you read this.)
- Cosy dog bed – to fit inside the crate at one end
- Puppy pads or newspaper
- Scent removing cleaners
- Water bowl
- Food bowl
- Puppy collar and lead set
- Toys of different textures: i.e. soft, hard rubber, rope
- Small puppy training treats
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard ‘I don’t want to put him in a cage’. I do understand peoples concerns and worries over doing the right thing, but I am here to tell you that getting a crate (I know it looks like a cage) is definitely one of the best investments you can make for your puppy. It will speed up the housetraining process, it will keep your puppy and your furniture safe while you are out and it will give him a cosy, safe den to sleep in. There are no negatives here. I do not know of any vet, breeder or trainer that doesn’t recommend using a crate. That surely must tell you how great they are. Introducing a crate
1. Find a quiet corner/area to put the crate.
2. Put your puppy’s soft bed at one end and leave space for a puppy pad or newspaper at the other end (for night-time or when you go out).
3. Introduce your puppy to the crate by putting his toys in there. You can feed him some meals in there and play with him in there (sticking your arms in of course, because I doubt you’ll fit). You could also try leaving a few treats for him to find in there, when he wanders in of his own accord.
4. Leave the door open until your puppy has made a positive association with the crate.
5. He will start to run in and out of the crate on his own, and he will probably settle easily to sleep in there without prompting. Don’t provide any other bed in other areas. Not doing so will help encourage him to settle into his bed in the crate more quickly.
6. Begin closing the door without any fuss. Just close it, turn and walk away – you should find that your puppy will be happy to stay in there.
Buy a crate big enough for your puppy to stand up, turn around and stretch out – remember he will grow. However, if your crate is too big, as your puppy gets older, he may get into the habit of toileting at the other end rather than beginning to ‘hold on’ for longer periods of time. The maximum amount of time to leave a puppy in a crate is up to four hours (unless at night-time). When you start leaving your puppy during the day, you need to gradually build up to this time. Don’t just shut him in his crate and go out. Get him used to being in there while you are in and around the house.
There are plenty of beds to choose from. My advice is to get one which can easily be washed as accidents can and do often happen. You will need to regularly wash the bed anyway so either choose one with a removable cover or a fleece-type bed which can just be picked up and put in the wash.
Puppy pads are mats which are treated to attract your puppy to toilet on them. I am not a lover of using them although they do serve a purpose in the early days. The reason I am not so keen is because, in my experience, owners can rely on them too much, encouraging their puppy to use them indoors and then having trouble with training their puppies to toilet outside. Use the pads or newspaper to leave down for your puppy only at nighttime, or in the early days when you go out. (See Chapter 2 on housetraining for more detailed information on this subject.)
It is essential that you use proper cleaning products designed for the job of cleaning up those little accidents. Do not use your normal household cleaners: invest in a product which will be effective at completely removing the smell of urine and faeces.
Water bowl and food bowl
These are self-explanatory really but try to get a heavy water bowl as puppies will often have a great game with a bowl of water, tipping it all over the floor. You will probably need a small, low-sided bowl to start with, which you can change to a bigger one later if necessary. I would avoid using the dual water/food bowls as you may find your puppy (and floor) can get really messy, while he is thoroughly enjoying tucking into his food and splashing water all over the place.
Puppy collar and lead set
This may not be essential straightaway but it won’t hurt to be prepared. Although your puppy won’t be walking outside yet, you may like to use it when you visit the vet and frankly, the sooner you introduce the collar and lead, the sooner your puppy will get used to it. Don’t leave it until you want to take your puppy out for a walk. He will have enough to cope with just being introduced to the big wide world. Purchase a soft weave set to start. They are often easily adjustable and lightweight, to help your puppy get used to the feel of having a collar around his neck. Section 2 on training has advice on introducing a collar and lead to your puppy.
There are hundreds of toys on the market. Try to purchase a good variety of textures, shapes and sizes which your puppy will find rewarding to chew on while teething. Try to include tough rubber toys, plush toys, rope toys and those which have various textures all on the one toy. Cheaper toys may be easily destroyed and potentially dangerous to a puppy who likes to eat what he has ‘killed’, so choose carefully. Remember to supervise your puppy with those toys which could cause him to choke. If you rotate the toys he has access to, it will keep him more interested in them when you bring them out to play, as opposed to leaving them available, all of the time.
Treats are a great reward for a puppy and you will use them when you start housetraining and practising the basics as you work through Section 2 on training. Make sure you purchase treats suitable for your puppy’s age and don’t use any which are highly coloured as they are laden with artificial colourings.