Your Puppy’s First Day Home
Your puppy’s first day home is an exciting one for all the family! You are starting out your new life together with the canine best friend you have always dreamt of. Everything is ready to welcome the new puppy and help them settle in straight away.
But there is something many new owners don’t realise. While everyone in the house may be bursting with excitement and desperate to have a play with the newest member of the family, your puppy’s first day home may look completely different to them. After all, they’re on their own in a strange place with people they don’t know. It can be overwhelming for your pup, and may be stressful or frightening for them. Here’s how to help your puppy make an easy transition to family life.
Take things slowly on your puppy’s first day home
No matter how excited everyone is about the puppy’s arrival, keep their homecoming low-key. It’s so easy to shower the new dog with affection, particularly for the younger members of the family. While the new pup is getting used to their surroundings, always supervise excited children and give your dog some much-needed time out from all the excitement.
Start off by having them in one room and let them explore in their own time discovering the scents, sights and sounds of this new world. Allow your puppy to settle in gradually and in their own time. This is far better than overwhelming them with enthusiastic games, cuddles and play while they are still trying to find their paws.
Make things familiar for the new puppy
Your new puppy is still a tiny baby. Up until now their whole life has been spent in one place, a comfortable environment, close to their mother and with their littermates for company. All the sounds, sights, and smells that were once familiar are gone. This is why it’s so important to try and make things feel familiar right from your puppy’s first day home. Bringing a piece of veterinary bedding or a blanket back from the breeder that smells of the puppy’s mum and littermates can be comforting and provide them with a touch of home.
Allow the puppy to dictate the pace of your interactions
Some puppies might be super-friendly and enthusiastic and want to climb all over you, others may start off more standoffish and prefer to get to know you more slowly.
During the first day, you can stroke them and touch them, but let them decide how much contact they want. Don’t chase your puppy around, and absolutely no grabbing or holding them if they want to be let go. You want your dog to begin their life with you the way you want them to go on – trusting you, trusting your hands, and trusting everyone in the family. Sit on the floor with them, allowing them to dictate the pace of your interactions.
Create a list of rules for your puppy’s first day at home
Before bringing your puppy home it’s useful to agree a list of house rules with your family. It’s important that each member of the family is consistent with the puppy training. A puppy will get easily confused if they are allowed on furniture by one member of the family but not by another.
Plus, new pups won’t lose time developing very cheeky habits if left unchecked. Let them beg at the table once and expect to be pestered at every mealtime! There are also some rules to establish for the human members of the family. If you know you’ve got a puppy who likes to chew things for example, you’re asking for trouble if you leave an expensive pair of trainers within their reach.
Don’t worry if they are a bit wary on their first day
Don’t expect your puppy to come through the door confident and playful. They may do, but far more likely they will be tentative, wary and uncertain as they try to discover what the next phase of their life is going to bring. On your puppy’s first day home everything changes for them. Their new life may seem strange, different and potentially scary. You know that your puppy has ‘come home’, that you will love your new dog and give them everything you can to keep them happy and healthy but right now, your puppy doesn’t know that. Be patient and your dog will settle in much faster.
Keep an eye out during the first interactions between children and the puppy
When bringing your puppy home, make sure children have an understanding of how to handle the new puppy with care and respect. The arrival of a puppy is a really exciting thing – but clinging onto the new arrival or playing rough games can make the puppy worried or fearful.
As the puppy begins to grow up, this respect and thoughtful handling should continue from all the family. You want your dog to grow up wanting to be close to you and be touched by you, so set clear rules for everyone early on. Read our guide to introducing puppies and children for more tips.
Spend as much time together as possible on your puppy’s first day home
Make sure you can dedicate time to your new arrival to help them acclimatise to their new surroundings and to establish an everyday routine. Working from home or booking a few days of holiday will allow you to spend important quality time with your new pet. These early weeks of life are a time when puppies are learning about the world around them, what people are like and who to trust. Make sure you are there to guide them every step of the way.
You don’t want your return to work to come as a shock, nor do you want to return to chewed furniture thanks to an anxious, panicky pet. Make sure that they’re left home alone for short but steadily increasing periods of time throughout the first week. And if they do seem to find your absence difficult, find out more about how to deal with puppy separation anxiety.
It doesn’t take much to make a puppy feel secure and happy in their new life. But by just taking a step back from the excitement of bringing a new puppy home and realising that for them their whole world has changed and everything is unfamiliar, you can make their homecoming the fun and wonderful event that you want it to be.