It’s actually happening! You’re getting a puppy (or they’ve just arrived), and suddenly you’re wondering what on earth you’re supposed to do with them!
Excitement and anxiety about getting things right over the first 48 hours with your new puppy are normal. And you’re not wrong – puppies are wonderful but complicated little beings!
But read on, and we’ll get you feeling confident and clear on how to manage the first 48 hours together!
Preparing to bring your new puppy home
Before you bring your puppy home, you’ll need to have all the vital puppy bits ready and waiting.
Send your breeder a blanket or toy to pop into the whelping box with your puppy and their litter mates. This will pick up familiar scents which can be comforting when they make the transition into their new home.
Essential items for your new puppy
- a food and water bowl
- puppy collar and lead
- an ID tag (with your surname, address and telephone number on)
- a supply of food.
Keep your puppy on the same food their breeder weaned them onto to start with. This can help avoid digestive upsets while your pup’s already dealing with some pretty big changes.
There are some other key bits and pieces that I recommend to make things easy for you both.
Puppy proofing your home (so it’s puppy safe)
Before you bring your new puppy home, you need to prepare your home. Puppies are like toddlers – so in the same way you look for potential dangers for young kids, you need to do the same for your puppy.
Take a look around your home and find all the things that are at puppy level!
Things like shoes or other bits and pieces on the floor are very likely to be stolen and chewed! Find a safe place either enclosed like a cupboard or up high where your puppy can’t reach them. And don’t forget to ensure all cleaning products are safely locked away.
If you have plants either indoors or outdoors, check that they are not toxic to dogs. Again, your puppy will explore the world with their mouths so we want to ensure your environment is free from anything toxic they may get into. You can find a full list of poisonous plants and household items to be aware of here.
Time for a garden check! Before your puppy has their vaccinations and during toilet training, you’re going to spend a lot of time in your garden with your pup! Check the fences to ensure it’s fully enclosed with no holes or loose panels that your little houndini could escape from.
Either a crate, puppy pen or baby gate is a useful tool to have to help contain your puppy when needed. You will need to train your puppy to feel safe and comfortable in their safe space but having this management tool is a HUGE sanity saver!
When you need to open the front door, when you have guests over, or when your puppy is overtired, you’ll be relieved to have a safe space to pop your puppy in.
Get prepared for your new puppy’s arrival with everything you need to sail through the early days.
What to bring when you pick your puppy up from the breeder
At 8 weeks of age (or sometimes a wee bit after), the big day finally arrives! It’s time to go and pick up your puppy!
But what do you need to take with you to pick your puppy up from the breeder?!
- A pet carrier or crate for safe car travel
- Puppies ID tag, collar and lead
- 2 or 3 blankets
- A dog bowl
- Some poo bags
- A bin liner or carrier bag
- Some pet friendly clean up wipes
If you didn’t already guess, it’s not unusual for a puppy to be car sick on their first car journey!
This is a big transition for them. They’ve left their mum, their siblings, their caregiver and their home. Then they’ve hopped in a car to go who knows where – with who knows who?!
Try to organise a pick up time with your breeder that’s a good few hours after your puppy’s breakfast. If your pup is going to have an unsettled tummy, the longer between eating and travel, the better!
If you can have someone with you to focus on comforting your puppy while you focus on the driving, I’d highly recommend it. Some puppies will be calm and content – but others may whine, cry and be sick on the car journey. Having someone who can give your puppy full attention will make you both feel a lot better.
Depending on your journey length, you may need to stop for a puppy toilet break. Make sure you have your puppy’s new collar, ID tag, and a lead with you so you can safely get them out of the car.
First few hours with your new puppy
The first few hours with your new puppy should ideally be as calm as possible. While it may be tempting to invite friends or family over to meet your new bundle of joy – it can wait!
The first 48 hours with your puppy are all about bonding time and making your puppy feel safe. Don’t stress about training, socialisation, or anything other than building trust and getting to know one another.
Puppies sleep a lot, so be prepared for lots of snuggles (and regular toilet trips). Your puppy is likely to want to be with you and may struggle with being left alone, so try to keep your schedule as light as possible for the first few days.
First night with your new puppy
Where do you want your puppy to sleep? There is no right or wrong here, but it’s important to be consistent from the start.
Do you want your puppy to sleep in your bedroom? In the kitchen? Or in the living room?
I recommend setting your puppy up to sleep in the area that you choose from the very start. But! Your puppy is likely to want you to be with them for the first few nights as they get used to their new home.
Remember, up until now your puppy has always been with their siblings. They’ve never slept alone in an environment they’re familiar with, let alone somewhere completely new with lots of new sights, smells, and sounds.
Your most important job over the first few days with your puppy is to help them feel safe and at home. Sleeping in the same room as your puppy for the first few nights can go a long way in helping them settle and feel at home.
Be prepared for middle of the night toilet breaks at first. Your puppy can’t hold their wees and poos in yet, so you’ll need to be ready for trips to the garden in your pjs to begin with.
Puppy crying at night
It’s completely normal for your puppy to cry at night when they first arrive. It’s a huge upheaval leaving everything they’ve ever known.
Leaving your puppy to cry it out will only increase their anxiety, so my advice is to try and stay close to them initially so they can grow in confidence.
In time, your puppy will feel right at home and you can work on building their independence and confidence. Time spent now building trust and feelings of safety will go a long way in helping them feel confident being left in the future.
When to start puppy training
You start your training as soon as your puppy comes home, but probably not in the way you imagine. Your puppy is learning all the time. Your puppy learns through consequences, experiences, and things they find rewarding.
When your puppy has a positive experience they are likely to repeat the behaviour that led to it. That goes for sitting when they get a nice treat for doing so and stealing things when it results in a fun game of chase (while you’re trying to get the thing back!).
The key thing here is that your puppy decides what’s rewarding, not you.
Often problems occur when we miss how your puppy is viewing an experience – leading to troublesome behaviours you’d like to stop being repeated.
In my puppy preparation webinar, we explore how your puppy learns alongside all the key early training to start working on when your puppy comes home.
In just 2 hours, you’ll learn everything you need to know about:
- puppy-proofing your home
- pup’s first journey home
- puppy’s first 48 hours with you
- crate training
- biting, nipping & stealing
- socialisation before jabs
- toilet training
- and much, much more
All puppies are different. Some will naturally be more confident and will settle in more quickly and others will need a bit more support as they grow in confidence.
Your number 1 job when you first bring your puppy home (and forever!), is to build trust and a solid relationship. Learning how your puppy experiences the world and how to understand them will set you up for a successful and happy life together.
Yes, training is important. But building a bond and developing your communication with one another will make any training you do SO MUCH EASIER.
My puppy classes will guide you through early training alongside getting to know (and understand your dog). You can train with me in person at my puppy classes in Musselburgh Lagoons or Yellowcraig Beach. Or train your puppy online with me from anywhere.
Get your free webinar and ebook on stopping puppy biting here. 👇