Bringing home a puppy is an exciting life event, but before you get carried away with breeds and accessories, it’s important to consider responsibilities and costs first.
You should also make sure you choose the right puppy for you from a reputable source and familiarize yourself with the basics of dog care beforehand.
Below, our guide for new puppy owners will help you and your new best friend settle in.
How to take care of a new puppy: the first steps
find a puppy
The most important decision you will make is where to get your new puppy.
Unfortunately, intensive puppy production has become a lucrative business where profits come before welfare. Often these puppies end up sick or traumatized, and unfortunately many do not survive to adulthood.
The Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder Program is a good place to find a responsible dog breeder. You can also ask local veterinarians and dog trainers for recommendations.
Once you’ve chosen a breeder, schedule a time to visit them and their puppies. The Kennel Club has a comprehensive list of questions to ask before and during your visit.
A few red flags to watch out for:
- Mom’s not there or you’re told you can’t see her
- They won’t show you where they keep their dogs
- You feel pressured into a deal
- They don’t seem interested in knowing more about you
Alternatively, rescue centers often take in unwanted and abandoned puppies, so you might find what you’re looking for there. It can be very rewarding to give a previously unloved dog a second chance.
Before bringing your puppy home
Before bringing your puppy home, it’s time to go shopping so that you have everything you need right away. The basics include:
- A cozy bed or a dog crate to sleep in
- Food and water bowls
- Provision of food for puppies (preferably what they are used to eating)
- Collar with an identification tag displaying the owner’s name and address (this is a legal requirement)
- Leash and harness
- A safe way to transport your pup, like a car crate
- Dog Toys and Chews Safe for Puppies
- Potty Training Pads
- poo bags
- A soft brush for grooming
It’s a good idea to prepare everything in advance for your pup’s arrival, and that includes protecting your home and garden from dogs.
This mainly consists of eliminating any danger and keeping valuables away. Baby gates are useful for preventing your pup from entering areas of the house where he shouldn’t.
Bringing your puppy home
As soon as you get home, take your puppy to the place you want him to use as a toilet and let him sniff.
Give your puppy a place to settle down in the house and wait for him to come to you for affection. It can be tempting to invite lots of people over to meet your new addition right away, but a pup can be overwhelmed with too many new faces at once.
Potty training puppies
There is no rush and rushing the process could make your pup nervous or fearful.
Let them get used to their new surroundings and praise them if they go to the bathroom. Puppies only have small bladders and therefore need to go to the bathroom more often than adult dogs.
Take your puppy outside every two hours during the day to relieve himself, as well as after eating and waking up.
Home accidents are inevitable while a young dog is still learning. Never yell at your dog if this happens – just calmly clean with an ammonia-free cleaning product.
How to take care of your puppy once he’s home
Socialization and habituation
Socialization is the process by which a dog gets used to people, animals and social groups, while habituation is the process by which it gets used to everything a puppy will encounter in everyone’s life. day: traffic, domestic noises, handling, grooming, etc.
Puppies only have a few weeks before they become fearful of new experiences, so use that time wisely to expose them as much as you can. Puppies also thrive on routine, so establish one early on to help your pup.
If your puppy is spending time alone at home, avoid potential separation anxiety by separating from your puppy while you are still in the house. Then you can gradually increase the time you’re out of sight. Stuffed KONGs, lick mats or chew toys are a great way to distract a dog when you’re away from home.
Ask your puppy’s breeder what food your puppy has eaten and continue using the same brand. This reduces the likelihood of them having an upset stomach.
Puppies need a diet that meets their nutritional needs as they grow. If you want to change your puppy’s diet, consult your veterinarian first.
Take your new puppy to the vet as soon as possible, even if he’s already been checked. It is also an important part of socialization which makes them less likely to fear visits in the future.
Your veterinarian can identify any health issues and advise you on neutering, antiparasitic treatment and vaccinations, as well as check their microchip.
You should also consider insuring your new puppy as vet bills can be expensive.
Training helps your puppy become a good canine citizen and helps you bond with your pet.
Use positive rewards training to get the best results and avoid punishing them for doing the wrong thing.
Ask your veterinarian or local dog owners about puppy training classes near you. This will provide the basics and a great place to meet like-minded dog owners.
Protect your best friend
With a little preparation and a gentle approach, your pup will settle into their new home and you can have many happy years together.
I’ve spent 20 years writing about pets and exploring the wonderful relationships they have with their owners. I started as an editor for Dogs Today magazine and then worked my way up to associate editor in 2008. In 2010 I left the office to pursue a freelance career, moved up north from Norfolk and started a family.
Over the years I have contributed human interest reporting, celebrity interviews and investigative reporting to publications such as The Sunday Times, Dogs Today, Dogs Monthly and Your Cat. I have also written veterinary books and press releases for the pet industry.
When I’m not writing I like to take long walks in the Norfolk countryside with my rescue lurcher Popsie. These are always followed by tea and cake.