The transition period from mother and kennel to a new home is probably the most dramatic change your dog will ever go through. The puppy will be counting on you to provide security, love and affection.
A puppy crate or big open cardboard box with an old blanket is ideal to take him home in. The ideal time to bring a puppy home is when he is about 8 to 10 weeks of age. This is the period when a puppy learns the most.
His first day in a new place will be most exciting for him. He will experience new smells, a car ride, new people and strange places. Collect your puppy early in the day so he has time to ‘suss out’ his new home before going to bed on his own.
Keep yourself and your children calm and quiet. Don’t let him get over-excited or over-tired and allow the puppy to look around at his own pace. Show the puppy his water bowl and his bed and have newspaper in the spot where you want him to relieve himself.
Have you considered the needs of your other pets? Do not change the habits or routine of an existing pet when you bring a new puppy home. They might feel a bit jealous, especially as the new puppy will need constant attention and, of course, three or four meals each day.
Give them time to acquaint themselves. The first meeting is best done outside rather than inside the house, as there is more space for both to feel comfortable or to escape if the going gets tough. Supervise the introduction and only let them play for short periods at a time. You don’t want either of them to get over-excited or hurt. You can gradually increase the time they spend playing together until they settle down, but you must always be near to supervise them.
Have you prepared your home?
Make sure there are no gaps or holes in fences, no gates without proper locks. Also remember steps and stairs: can the puppy get under the house, or can he escape into the front garden or onto the street?
Whether the puppy is to live in the house or in the yard, he needs an area to call his own. Two spots are ideal, one inside and one outside and a good supply of blankets and bedding will be necessary.
Have you asked the breeder what food to buy, so your puppy can eat what he’s used to? A change of diet usually causes diarrhoea, so if you change the puppy’s basic food, do it gradually.
In addition to food and bedding, he will need food and water bowls, a collar, lead and brush. A daily brush not only keeps the coat in good condition but is part of the socialising and bonding process.
A small, light collar and a light lead are essential in the early weeks to facilitate lead training. As the puppy grows, a heavier collar and/or lead and additional grooming equipment will probably be necessary.
All puppies have weak bladders and need to go to the toilet frequently. It is a good idea to take the puppy out every hour or so initially, but always immediately upon waking, after playing, after feeding, and before going to bed at night.
Take him to the same spot each time and praise him for a ‘job well done’! When inside have plenty of newspaper near his bed or in the room in which the puppy will be sleeping. Do not scold the puppy if he has an accident. Most puppies will not soil their bed and are usually quick to learn that outside is the correct place to go. After a few weeks most puppies will be house-trained.
Your puppy will probably take a few days to settle down at night as the puppy will miss his mother and litter-mates and is sure to cry, howl or bark when left alone. Do not shout at the puppy or smack him, and do not give into him. If you go to the puppy once during the night, he will howl again every time you leave him. A toy to cuddle up with or a ticking clock may well be appreciated and help the puppy settle.
In the first few weeks, you must give the puppy your constant attention. You can teach him some basic commands, like ‘sit’ and ‘come’ or play ball to teach him to ‘fetch’. Always be patient with the puppy, give him plenty of reassurance, praise and cuddles.
Your puppy will have had his first vaccination and have been treated for worms by his breeder. The puppy will require vaccinating again at 12 and 16 weeks of age, and worming at approximately 10 and 12 weeks. Consult your vet on products available for worming, flea control and heartworm prevention.
If you do not have plans for future breeding, desexing is recommended.
Checklist for bringing your pup home
Are your premises secure?
Do you have living and sleeping areas ready?
Have you purchased food and equipment?
Is the whole family happy about your new acquisition?
Have you considered other pets in the family?
Are you prepared to put in the time, effort and a few sleep-disturbed nights?