Coming home with a new puppy is delicious, you will laugh so much your sides hurt! But although this is a time of much excitement, there is plenty to learn as well. While you should have everything you need thanks to our handy checklist, below are a few key things we think every new puppy owner should know to expect over the first few weeks after you have brought your new addition home.
Your Puppy’s Nutrition
Firstly when you pick up your puppy from the breeder, ask them to bring some of the current food the puppy is eating. This is so that you can change their diet over a few days to allow his or her digestion to settle and adapt to new things. If in doubt on how much new and old food to give, stick to a 50/50 rule with the current food for a day or two and then begin to reduce the old food over the following few days. Also remember even the water will be different to what the puppy is used to having. Fluoride can also be toxic to dogs in large doses so we recommend using filtered water where possible.
Your Puppy's Training
Happy puppies need to feel safe, secure, loved and warm so those first few days are vital for setting the groundwork for a confident and secure little dog. Try not to scold them, rather use positive directions, as a puppy has to learn a lot of new things and will do so more seamlessly with plenty of love, direction and patience. Dogs don’t understand consequences, so you must train by association. Praising and rewarding the behaviours that you want them to continue, and ignoring the ones you don’t want.
Routine is also important so try to do the same things at the same time each day. This includes feeding, toilet times, walks, play, sleep and cuddles. And most importantly remember they want to be with you - around what you are doing, exploring with you, talking to you and being talked to, so try to involve them as much as possible.
Your Puppy's Space
Your puppy will need a place to feel safe, warm and secure. This should be where their bed is, and where they can go to rest and not be disturbed. It is best to set this up somewhere that they can see the family but not be underfoot or in a walkway.
Also you will need to set up a place for eating and the water bowl - which needs to have clean water at least daily. Also consider having their food bowls placed on a washable mat or bath mat so the puppy knows the place where food will be served.
Your Puppy's Toilet Training
Find out if the puppy has been paper trained by the breeder or if they were using a different material such as puppy pads. Then set this up at the doorway/s that you want the puppy to use to go outside. Depending on your home it can be a long way to the paper/door from elsewhere in the house so you may need to allocate a few different spots for the first few weeks.
The easiest way to toilet train is to pre-empt. We know that after eating the puppy will want to go to the toilet (it is triggered by eating) so take the puppy outside directly after finishing a meal. Other times to take them outside include after waking up - first thing in the morning, before bed - last thing at night and after lots of play.
Using a word to associate the action can also be helpful – for example “wiza” for wee and “dodo” for poo. Using a word that the puppy will learn to associate with the action means that you can ask the adult dog to wee or poo on command which is very helpful when travelling or going visiting.
When accidents happen (and they will) don’t ever scold. Mistakes happen and it's best if nothing is said. No praise, no scolding. Just clean it up.