Settling Your Puppy Into His New HomeDawn Greer
Welcoming a new puppy home is an exciting time, but remember it may take a few weeks before he is completely settled into his new home. Your puppy will be about 8 weeks old at the time you bring him home. He has been taken away from his mother, his siblings, and has been placed in a strange new environment, so it’s understandable he might be scared or nervous for the first few nights.
As an experienced dog owner myself, it is important to understand your pup will be nervous and even overwhelmed the first few days, but with some patience, love and understanding, he will get used to his new home and family in no time.
Dawn Greer, Agility Trainer
Dawn has been competing in agility for 15 years. She has competed with 8 dogs of different heights and breeds and has competed at Grade 7 Green star/Championship level at both IKC and KC.
She has represented Ireland in agility at Crufts, World Agility Championships and the European Open.
Dawn is an avid dog lover, living with 9 four legged companions, 5 of which are retired, 3 competing and her new puppy, Wow. She loves training dogs and giving the best advice on taking care of a new pup.
The First Few Nights
Make it as easy as possible for your new puppy is relax and have a cosy blanket and hot water bottle ready for him. Make sure to have lots of toys, treats, and a covered crate all ready and set up. By keeping the crate covered, it acts a little den for them, where they can feel safe and go to rest.
Don’t leave him on his own downstairs in the crate on the first night. He will be stressed, lonely and frustrated, and this is the last thing you want when trying to settle your puppy into his new home. Keep him upstairs beside your bed in his crate. Your dog wants to sleep in the same room as you, as he is a social animal and therefore has a strong desire to belong to and be part of the pack. Although some people believe dogs should remain outside, it is not advisable to do this in the first few nights, as he may cry, whimper and even bark if he is not in the same room as you.
By keeping him upstairs in his crate beside you at night, the toilet training process will be much easier. You can let him out when he needs to go toilet, and this will help him understand where his designated spot for going toilet is. If he is downstairs and whining to be let out, he will soil the area in his crate, prolonging his toilet training.
Due to their small tummies, puppies will need to be fed smaller, more frequent meals than an adult dog. As a general rule, the following feeding guide is recommended:
- Weaning age: all breeds will need to be fed four times a day
- Small breeds: up to four months, feed 3 times per day. 4-10 months, feed twice per day
- Large breeds: Up to four months, feed 3 times per day. 6-12 months, feed twice per day
Dogs need routine, so make sure to feed them at the same time every day. Keep food bowls and water bowls in the same spot all the time and, when taking him to the toilet, guide him to a designated area outside and stick to that area. Your puppy will become more comfortable and confident because he will recognise the location and smells.
Children and Other Pets
Bringing home a puppy is an exciting time for anyone, especially children. If you have children, chances are they will be very enthusiastic for the new arrival. However, to guarantee their safety and the safety of your new pet, it is very important that any time spent with the dog is supervised.
Don’t let your children surround the puppy or force the puppy to interact with them until he is ready. When it’s time to introduce the children to the puppy, have them give him a treat from their hand. This will help build trust between dog and child. Then, take the focus away from the puppy and give the children a different activity to do. This process helps the puppy get to know the children at a pace he is comfortable with.
Be cautious when introducing a new puppy to other pets you own. The first meeting should be carefully supervised and at a distance. This process could take a few weeks before a more relaxed atmosphere is re-established. It is also best to feed both pets in separate areas, as that can be a prime situation for conflict.
If you can, try taking a few days off work to help settle your new puppy in, or bring him home at a weekend/during the summer holidays. When the inevitable time comes that the puppy must be left on his own, make sure his crate has a comfy bed, some toys to keep him entertained (we recommend a Kong, a fun food dispensing toy that will keep him simulated) and a water bowl. For tips and advice on crate training your puppy, visit our blog post.
To help get used to being on his own, start by closing your puppy in his crate with a chew toy or other constructive activity, then quietly walk out of the room. Return straight away and reward them with some praise and a nice treat. Repeat this process, slowly increasing the length of time you’re away. At the beginning, your puppy might think two or three minutes to too long for you to be away, but over three or four days, you can begin to build up long periods.
Before you leave, make sure to bring your puppy outside to go toilet. How long he can hold it in will depend on his age-the younger he is, the less time he can hold it.
Remember, this new environment can be stressful for your puppy, and he has to learn to trust you. You can help settle him in and build a really fantastic friendship by following the advice above. Take a look at my training videos above for more advice on helping your new doggie settle into his home.