Puppy's First Day Home

The day is finally here! You're ready to bring your new puppy home, and you want their first day to go smoothly. Here's some information and tips for pulling that off and having a wonderful first day.

When you come pick up your puppy it's very exciting, and you can't wait to get them home. You've read the Shopping List and already set up your home for your puppy - its playpen, crate, litterbox, water bowl, and toys are all there and ready to go. You puppy proofed by removing houseplants from the floor and rolling up your expensive new rug temporarily.

When You Get Home...
The very first thing you do when you come home with your new puppy is let them go potty, it's been a long car ride and they'll have to go. If you have a fenced in backyard then take the puppy straight there by themselves and just hang out until they relax in their new surroundings and go pee. You can have them on leash so if they get scared they can't run away, but the leash right now is just a safety line to prevent running away-they haven't learned to walk on leash yet. If you don't have a backyard and would have to use a public access area where other dogs have been, then a litterbox or puppy pad inside their playpen would be safer at this age. Have your other pets put away for now so you don't overwhelm them.

Now that they've gone potty carry them inside. If the puppies seem really sleepy or overwhelmed then they can go into their playpen while you sit calmly beside it and give them some time to hang out and relax, maybe take a nap. If your puppy is awake and curious then you can set them down and follow them as they check out their new home. Right now close all your doors and start with just a living room and kitchen for example. Limited chances of things startling them or them getting into trouble. They'll see it all eventually don't worry, I know you want to show them their new home :) Another potty break would be a good idea now.

Introducing Your Pets...
After a brief introduction to the home and a nap if needed, place the puppy in their pen and let out your other animals to meet the puppy through the fence, so the puppy has a little bit of a buffer. Try to keep your pet calm and not barking or scaring the new puppy in their excitement. As your pets calm down and the puppy gets used to seeing them you can handle their introductions.

Invite, Don't Force...
It's hard, but with a new puppy try to invite your new puppy to play and interact, but not force them. It's a lot of new things very quickly for your puppy. they may just want to hang out quietly in your lap for awhile. The first day or two of your puppy being home they'll probably need extra comfort and carrying around, but as they acclimate and get used their new home their independent puppy selves comes out and they're exploring all over!

In general a good rule of thumb for a new 8-10 week old puppy is 1 Hour of Activity followed by a 2-3 Hour Nap. Yes, that is a long nap, but remember you have a baby on your hands.

Active time is supervised time when your puppy is playing, learning, and having fun . It can include interacting with children, other pets, exploring the house as you watch, or relaxing on the couch with you.

Other ideas for Active Time: (Note: Some of these are for days 2-3 onward, not day 1)
• Make Kibble trails for the puppy to follow
• Do yardwork as puppy follows after you (wearing boots, puppy teeth are sharp!)
• Let puppy play around in the gated off kitchen as you make dinner
• Playing with experienced and trustworthy dog nannies
• Give puppy a food puzzle or chew project
• Car rides
• Outings to dog friendly stores (Carried until 16 weeks old and fully vaccinated)

Active Time Schedule
Active times begin when your puppy first wakes up from a nap. Here's an example schedule from the Puppy Culture training program:
• First 5 mins - Take out puppy for quick piddle.
• 15 mins – Come back in, get coffee, go back out walk and light play. Puppy will pee and poop.
• 10 minutes - Come inside to play, train, etc.
• 15 minutes – Prepare and serve food.
• 15 minutes – Play around outside, with any luck the puppy will pee and poop.

More on Naps
After your puppy has been awake and playing for around an hour, they're running out of steam. Young 8 week old puppies sleep a lot, they can need a 2-3 hour nap to fully recharge after an hour of play and activity. If they're been up running around for an hour and start biting harder and vocalizing more, they may need their nap just like a toddler refusing to go to bed.

How to put them down for a nap? Place them in their puppy pen with a bone or stuffed chew item that will get their attention. Read below for more tips on chewies. After chewing it for awhile they should be settling down and ready to go to sleep.

Playpen & Chewies
Your puppy's playpen is their "room" where they can hang out, chew a bone, and give you some free time when you don't have to supervise a curious puppy. Anytime you can't actively watch your puppy (AKA you want to watch a movie or work on the computer) they shouldn't be allowed to wander freely through the house. A lack of supervision is the number one cause of accidents and getting into trouble, and no one can watch their puppy 24/7.

Playpen chews can be pig ears, stuffed cow hooves or stuffed kongs, frozen treats, and much more. Check out this link for chewie ideas: The Power of a Pacifer and this one for treat ideas: Treat Suggestions

A Full Day's Schedule
Once they're settled in your puppies schedule could look like this:
Wake up - 1 hr active time & feeding
Nap - 3 hrs
Lunch - 1 hr active time & feeding
Nap - 3 hrs
Afternoon - 1 hr active time & feeding
Nap - 2 hrs
Dinner - 1 hr active time & feeding
Nap - 2 hrs
Evening - 1 hr active time

Now this schedule can be flexible, for example, if you know your children get home at 3pm from school then try to have the puppy going down for a nap at 12-1pm so they're ready to wake up and play just as your children are arriving.

To help puppies make it through the night pick up food 3 hours before bedtime, and water at least 1 hour. This way there's plenty of time for your puppy to go poop and pee before you expect them to go to sleep. No one sleeps long with a full bladder!

For their first couple of nights your puppy is going to be going through a hard transition, all of their littermates are gone and they're sleeping all alone. Placing them in a far off laundry room or garage doesn't help, as they're in a strange new place all by themselves, and even their new family members (you!) have left them.

Instead you can use your closeness to make their first few nights a better transition. Set their crate or pen right next to your bed. Some owners have used tables so the crate is level with the bed. This way the puppy can see and hear you, and you can give them a reassuring word if they're fussy as they go to sleep. I know it's tempting to think "Oh I can't give them any attention or they'll learn to fuss more", or "I'm spoiling them" but you have to remember these are basically babies at this age and like babies your closeness is soothing. The crate won't stay there forever, after the first couple of nights you can move their crate a foot or two farther from the bed each night, until the puppy is sleeping in a regular crate or pen in the designated area.

More Tips for Bedtime...
From the article "Confident Crating: A guide for the new puppy owner"

Let them sleep with the stuffed animal that came with them, it smells like home.
Put a tired puppy to bed with the last person to retire for the night.
Calmly walk the puppy for at least 10 minutes before putting it to bed.
If your puppy is fussing at night, offer it a chance to potty. Keep nighttime potty breaks “businesslike.” Simply carry the puppy out, clip the leash on, and stand in one place for no more than 3 minutes while the puppy relieves itself. Do not talk, play or feed your puppy. Doing these things distract from the purpose of the potty break and can teach your puppy to wake you up for play and treats.
Be consistent in the nighttime pottybreak protocol. You want your puppy to learn to “ask out” if it needs to void in the night (otherwise, it may learn to void in the crate) but you don’t want to teach your puppy that waking you up has ANY purpose other than going to the potty.
When 3 minutes is up, carry the puppy back to it’s crate on your bed, place it inside, close the door and turn out the lights and go back to sleep. Repeat EVERY time your puppy vocalizes in the night crate, your puppy will learn to ask out only to potty during the night. This process may take a week, so be prepared.
Do not offer chews or pacifiers in the Night Crate. Nighttime is for sleeping, and sleepy puppies need to sleep.
Soothing music, scents (such as Adaptal)and a cool room will help puppies sleep.
A small fan for white noise can help some puppies.

Try to set your puppy up for success! Imagine you have a son who is potty training age. Would you yell at them every time they have an accident and then lock them in the bathroom for 15 minutes? Then when they come out they have another accident and you yell at him again since he should know not to do that! Later on you have to go to work, so you feed your son and then put him in his room and say see you later. When you get back that evening it looks like a tornado hit! He’s hungry, crying, and has made messes while you were gone, so you yell again. He looks scared so he must know what he did was wrong.

Does this sound insane? Yet many puppy owners act this same way towards their new puppies.

Housetraining is really about supervision more than anything else. An unsupervised puppy that’s allowed free run of the house may never be housetrained, so putting the effort in early pays off! The more space a puppy has the more likely he is to run to some far off room and go potty there since it’s not his main living area. If you already set up your puppy’s playpen and sleeping crate then you’re already halfway there. Praise him like crazy when he does his business outside, bring him inside for some supervised playtime or cuddles, and then when you can no longer watch him like a hawk put him in his pen. Plan on taking him out every 30 minutes to an hour at first, and as he gets older you’ll be able to go longer in between potty breaks. If you have a fenced in yard don’t just put your puppy outside to go potty though, he’d probably just sniff around and then come whine at the door to get back with you. Instead take him out and walk around with him until you see him go potty. Then praise him and go back inside.

A puppy will often wake up, be taken outside, go pee, and then come back inside happily to play with you. A few minutes in he suddenly realizes he needs to go poop, but he’s inside now! Since he doesn’t know how to signal he needs to go outside he’ll suddenly be circling looking for a good place to poop. You may need to walk around for a few minutes more to avoid this, or just bring him back inside and know that in the next few minutes watch for him to start sniffing and then take him out again. If you have to leave your puppy for longer than a couple hours then you can put down puppy pads in his playpen (A puppy pad holder helps if they use them as toys instead). Then when you come home take it up and return to your normal routine of taking him outside.

Puppies like to nap a lot, and for housetraining it’s very important to notice when they do go to sleep as you can almost guarantee they’ll need to go potty when they wake up. So if you see them nodding off put them in their pen or crate for a nap. Then when they wake up carry them right outside to go potty first thing. Or just cuddle them on the couch the whole time they’re sleeping and twitching their feet.

For more tips and information visit Puppy Care Tips


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