How Should I Prepare For My New Puppy's First Week In His New Home?

Puppy's First Week

This is an exciting time. And… there is going to be a period of adjustment. The following tips will lay the foundation for a long, happy life together and make the transition as easy as possible

Before Your Puppy Comes Home

Stock up: Unless you own—or live next door to—a pet store, you’ll want to make sure you have on hand everything your new puppy will need. That means food, bowls, toys and any other supplies necessary to make your house his home. For a detailed list on what to pick up, check out our Puppy Prep Checklist for items you need to have.

Clear your schedule: You’ll want to set up some time to spend with your puppy when you first bring him home. It’s important to get him set up on a routine starting day one, otherwise he might have trouble adapting when you go back to your regular schedule.

Avoid introducing him to his new home over birthdays, holidays and other occasions involving large groups of people. This time should be about you and him forming a bond. So hold off on entertaining while he gets used to the change of environment.

Name that pup: Some people choose to do this in advance. Others prefer to wait until they meet their puppy face-to-face. Either way, remember: whatever you decide to call your puppy becomes his identity, to you and to him. So choose a name that suits him and make sure everyone that will have contact with your puppy uses it when talking to him. This will teach him to recognize his name and avoid confusion.

Getting Your Puppy Settled: Nice and Easy Does It…

The sights, sounds and attention your puppy will be exposed to in his new environment can be very stressful. And he may look for comfort in something familiar—like his food.

That’s why feeding him the food he’s accustomed to can help make the transition to his new home as easy as possible. If he doesn't seem to want it, try moistening his food with a little water. You can also try to establish a routine by placing his bowl down in the same spot, at the same time, every feeding.

You might also decide, for various reasons, to change up the menu. If you plan on switching your puppy’s food, transition him from one to the other—adding increasing amounts of the new stuff to lessen amounts of the old—over the course of 7-10 days. This will help you avoid upsetting his belly.

IMPORTANT NOTE: It should go without saying but you should never, for any reason, hit your puppy. And never scold him for something he did a while ago—he’ll have no idea what the problem is and will only think you’re angry for no reason. Instead, encourage the behaviors you want and prevent the ones you don’t. It’s a much more productive approach. Click here to learn more about behavior issues and how to address them.

Get a veterinarian…  One of the first people your puppy should meet is the man or woman who will help you keep him in top form—his veterinarian. Make sure to bring with you any immunization information you may have received so the veterinarian can begin a case history on his new patient for future reference.

Moving Forward

Lead the Pack: We know from experience how easily puppies can become the kings and queens of the house. So now would be a good time to (try to) establish just who is in charge. Simple commands like asking him to sit before he gets a treat or to wait before going outside will make it easier for your puppy to understand who’s boss.

Sniff out Friends: As soon as your veterinarian says it’s OK, you should gradually introduce your puppy to new people and dogs in controlled, safe settings. This will ensure that the experience is fun for everyone.

Socialization is one of the most important things we can do for our canine companions. It teaches them to be "good citizens," gives them confidence and helps them become comfortable with their surroundings.

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