5 tips to follow when welcoming your new puppy home

It’s your puppy’s first day home! You’ve puppy-proofed the house, finished your shopping, and everyone at home has taken time off to welcome home your new puppy. Ah, it is going to be a great day!

welcoming new puppy home

However, in all your excitement, do not forget your new puppy, whose first day home will be a significant change from what their life has been like so far. Everything will be unknown – people, places, things, even animal companions, if any! This degree of change can be overwhelming.

Here are a few ways in which you can make your puppy’s first day home a pleasant and comfortable experience, both for you as well as for them

1. The journey home

There’s a good chance that the car ride with you will be your puppy’s first and that it won’t be comfortable. Your puppy can get an upset stomach without enough gap between their last mealtime and the car ride. Therefore, ask the breeder/rescuer to feed them at least 2 hours before travel.

It is advisable to ask someone to accompany you when you go to pick your puppy up so that they can take care of the puppy while you focus on driving. You can carry a crate or box lined with a blanket and pee pads so that the puppy has a comfortable place to sit in. Try to drive without lurching or jerking too much. It’s okay if you go slower than usual – it will be more comfortable for the puppy.

Before you take the puppy into the house, let him/her down in the parking area/community garden. S/he will likely want to piddle and this first experience of toileting outside will go a long way in toilet training.

2. A quiet welcome

Limit stress and excitement so that your puppy is not overwhelmed suddenly. When your puppy first arrives home, let your family meet them one person at a time. Supervise children when they meet the puppy – you can keep any toddlers from meeting your puppy until later. Allow them to cradle the puppy in their lap, but keep them from picking the puppy up.

Your puppy may not want to be cuddled or played with and want to take a nap instead. Keep an eye out for signs of the same, and allow your puppy to rest if s/he wants to. Puppies usually sleep 18-20 hours a day. Make sure you and your family never disturb a sleeping puppy, even if the amount of sleep seems excessive by human standards.

If you have any other animals in the house, keep introductions to them until later. Remember to give your other pets enough attention – ensure they don’t feel left out or neglected and keep up their routine.

If your neighbors or friends are excited to meet the new puppy, ask them to come over a week or two after your puppy’s first day home. As the puppy gets used to a new environment and new people, they need time to adjust. If s/he gets handled a lot or gets too much attention in the first few days, s/he will consider that normal. His/her body also needs time to adjust to the environment.

3. Limited Access

Limiting your new puppy’s access to the house keeps your puppy from feeling overwhelmed with new sounds and smells and is helpful for toilet training too. Despite thorough puppy-proofing, your pup may get in trouble if s/he wanders off into an unsupervised area. So limiting access also keeps your puppy safe.

You can use a playpen or keep your puppy contained in one room, under supervision, and allow them to explore this limited area. Your puppy may pee or poop in this restricted area, so make sure you leave a pee pad or absorbent mat out to soak it up. You can slowly increase the accessible space as your puppy gets more comfortable in the house.

Balance socialization with safety. You don’t want him/her to be eating off the road or being exposed to pathogens before all the vaccinations are done; but you also don’t want to miss out on the crucial socialization, the window for which shuts at five months of age.

So carry your puppy downstairs to acclimatize her to sounds and sights. Drive her to the market with the window rolled down. However, do not let them meet other animals as there could be a transfer of infections.

If you need to let your dog out to pee, do so on a balcony or your garden, if you have one, or in a bathroom. This is recommended because you should not expose your puppy to pathogens found in areas shared with other dogs before immunization.

4. Consistency for the puppy

It’s easier for a puppy if you set down the house rules from day 1. If s/he is not allowed on the bed, in the kitchen, or eat from the table, do not do it ever. This way, the puppy is not confused about why she was allowed to enter the kitchen earlier, but not as she grows up.

If you are picking your puppy up from a litter, take a T-shirt, blanket, ball, or toy along. Rub it around your puppy’s sleeping area and littermates so that it smells like the mother and littermates. Keep this in your puppy’s bed so that the change in place comes with a familiar smell, at least.

Let the puppy sleep in your room. If you’re crate-training the puppy, you can keep the crate next to your bed. Doing this allows you to check on the puppy comfortably. Keep water and a pee pad close by; both should be in opposite directions from each other.

Ensure the puppy’s food and meal times remain consistent with what they were at their earlier place. Consistency in meals and mealtimes avoids upsetting the puppy’s stomach. Introduce new foods and move them to mealtimes as per your schedule through a gradual transition.

Always introduce new foods in the morning, so that if something upsets his/her stomach, you don’t have to run to the vet at night.

5. Consistency in the family

Maintain consistency within your family and house too. Assign a place for meals and share dog-related tasks among family members. Ensure everyone in the family follows these guidelines so that you keep things less confusing for your new dog. If the puppy gets used to everyone feeding, walking, and training him/her, s/he will feel more secure that her core needs are met.

Agree on a name for your dog – this is always a fun activity! Once you’ve decided what to call your dog, stick to it. Nicknames are cute, but they can be confusing, especially when your dog is just learning which name to respond to.

Hold off using nicknames until the puppy has a firm grasp of the ‘formal’ name. Then start off the Recall exercise on day 1 itself. You will be amazed how quickly the doggie bonds with the family. 

Ensure your family follows a routine with the dog. Sticking to a routine makes settling into the new home easier for the puppy and makes training easy.

Your puppy’s first day home will be a wonderful day as you watch your tiny friend explore the place you call home. Most dog parents think that if the puppy’s first day home goes smoothly, they’re all set.

However, the most challenging part of your dog’s first 24 hours at home is not the day – it is the first night. Read the next blog on tips to manage your dog’s first night at home.