Taking on a new puppy is an exciting time, but can easily turn stressful if you’re not properly prepared. It’s essential to undertake some thorough research into the basics of pet care before welcoming a new pup into your home. Some thought must be put into the puppy’s needs and requirements so that everything you need is on hand before the new addition to the family arrives.
Follow our simple yet comprehensive guide to ensuring your home is prepped to make the adjustment as smooth and stress-free as possible for yourself and your new puppy.
Create a checklist of necessary items
The following items should be bought prior to the puppy’s arrival:
- Two non-tip bowls for food and water
- A crate of appropriate size which should be able to accommodate the dog comfortably as it grows, featuring a tray to make cleaning up accidents easier
- Soft, washable bedding for the inside of your pup’s crate
- If you have chosen not to use a crate, you’ll need to purchase some alternative bedding
- Toys – we recommend something durable that keeps them engaged for a long time. Puzzle toys are also fantastic for brain-work and engagement!
- Food that the puppy is used to eating (your Breeder will often provide this)
- Collar and lead
- Correct shampoo for your puppy’s coat
- Brushes and grooming tools
- Baby gates if you need to keep the puppy away from stairs or keep it in a certain room
Have a family meeting
You’ll want to make sure your entire household is on the same page with everything related to your new pup. This includes correct handling, feeding routines and instructions, and training commands and methods.
If you have children in your home, they should be made aware from the start that puppies are not toys and that they can bite if provoked. Ground rules need to be set for both the children and the puppy. Children should be taught the basics of puppy care; how to handle the puppy, not to disturb it while it is eating, not to wake it if it is asleep, etc.
Routine is super important for puppies, so aim to ensure everyone within your household is maintaining your pup’s feeding and toilet times. This will be a huge help with toilet training, too!
‘Puppy-proof’ your home
There are many potential hazards for a new puppy around the home. Puppies are like small children; they will investigate everything, and learn through mouthing things as well as through smell. For this reason, it’s important to thoroughly “puppy-proof” your house before the new puppy arrives, to protect the puppy and your belongings! Things to consider when puppy-proofing your home include:
- Items with electrical wires should be placed out of reach of inquisitive pups to reduce the risk of electrocution
- Remove hanging objects such as long curtains and table cloths, as this is only too tempting for a puppy to pull and chew at
- Many houseplants can be poisonous, so to be on the safe side remove those that are in the same part of the house that the puppy will have access to
- Make a habit of picking up after yourself; don’t leave shoes, bags etc lying around, as these look like great chew toys to your new puppy!
It’s hard to constantly keep watch over your puppy, so whenever you’re unable to supervise them, put your puppy in a crate (if you have one). Crates should never be used as a form of punishment, but as a safe haven to protect your pup from dangerous items around the house, and to protect your house from your pup.
There are also sprays available to deter puppies from chewing household items. When it comes to introducing your puppy to the garden, take care to ensure it is escape-proof by mending any broken fences and filling any gaps the puppy could possibly squeeze through.
Create a dedicated space for them
Set up a living space area where your puppy can safely stay while they settle in and get used to their new environment. Check the area to make sure there isn’t anything dangerous that your puppy might have access to, such as electrical cords or furniture which can fall on them. Create a cosy sleeping area within the living space where your puppy can sleep and rest.
Get started on Toilet Training right away
Toilet training takes time, patience, and plenty of positive re-enforcement! The first step is to give your dog plenty of opportunities to go to the toilet area. The second is to reward your puppy every time (or as often as possible) that they toilet in the place where you want them to toilet. Big rewards featuring plenty of fanfare and high-value treats will help your puppy to retain their toilet training.
Book in your vet visits
We highly recommend scheduling a trip to your local vet as soon as you can after your new pup is brought home, just to give them a good all-over check and make sure there are no initial issues to of concern. Your vet can also talk to you about flea treatment, worming and other essentials.
Don’t forget to lock in all your puppy’s vital vet appointments such as injections and regular check-ups. It’s essential that your puppy receives the necessary vaccinations to protect against harmful infections. If you plan on boarding your dog or enrolling them in a doggy daycare, keep in mind that most boarding or daycare facilities will not accept dogs that are not up to date with their vaccinations.
We also recommend discussing with your vet the option of desexing your pup as soon as they’re old enough to do so. Desexing your dog prevents unplanned pregnancy and can have positive effects on behaviour and health. Desexed animals are less likely to wander or fight over territory thereby reducing the likelihood of car injuries and bite wounds. Desexing also provides some health benefits for both male and female dogs.
Enrol them in Puppy School and get them socialising ASAP
In our opinion, Puppy School is an absolutely must. Training and socialisation are vital to your puppy’s behavioural development, and proactively socialising your puppy is very important to their growth and development. Puppies have what is called a ‘critical socialisation period’ that occurs between approximately 3-17 weeks of age. The puppy’s experiences during this critical period can influence and shape their behaviour all the way into adulthood, so it’s vital to ‘get it right’ from early on.
The best way to begin socialising your new pup is to enrol them in reward-based puppy school classes. These classes are usually offered through veterinary clinics or local dog trainers and behaviourists.
If your pup is still too young or you don’t have access to a quality Puppy School program, you can still begin exposing them to new experiences which will aid in their development and growth. Early socialisation for dogs changes brain architecture and helps them build confidence and fosters healthy physiological growth. Exposing them to new experiences which test all their senses, particularly sound, sight, and feeling will accustom them to the world around them, even before they’re old enough to fully explore it! Read our blog here which features some handy ways to expose your puppy to new experiences in other ways than through dog-on-dog socialisation.
Microchipping and registration
In NSW, all cats and dogs, other than exempt cats and dogs, must be microchipped by 12 weeks of age or before being sold or given away. Your new pup should come with change of ownership paperwork, so make sure these forms are completed and filed correctly to ensure your new pup is identifiable and you can be contacted if they accidentally get lost.
Remember to update your contact details with your local Council if you move house or change your phone number.
Help them transition into being alone
Your new puppy will require a lot of care and attention from you. At some stage, however, you will have to leave your puppy alone for short periods. Try and make this a gradual process to avoid causing anxiety – leaving for very short amounts of time and rewarding them upon returning with a treat, a walk or play time. Gradually increase the length of time you are away so that your puppy realises that you will always come back and he will have a walk to look forward to.
If your puppy is struggling with you being separated from them, we’ve released a blog that helps dog owners recognise the signs of separation anxiety and features 9 handy tips on how to treat separation anxiety in your dog. You can read all about it here.
Commit to regular exercise and socialisation
Obesity is a huge problem in Australian pets, so before you commit to a new pup make sure you can fit your dog’s exercise into your daily routine. Regular exercise is not only vital for your dog’s physical and mental health, but socialising your dog to the world around them with a regular outing also fosters healthy psychological growth & builds confidence.
As we discussed earlier, socialisation with other dogs also has a huge range of benefits for young pups. If you’re finding your busy human schedule is getting in the way of you making time for your dog’s regular exercise and socialisation, then let us take the weight off your hands!
Our Pet Sitting By The Hour service can keep up the in-home training and socialisation for your pup while you’re busy with life’s essential duties. Similar to babysitting, we provide sessions with your pup within your home to help break up their day and continue with their puppy training. Throughout these sessions, we work on a range of different puppy training needs such as crate training, toilet training, leash skills, structured play, basic tricks and discipline, and more.
Once your pup has had their final vaccinations, we offer a range of one-on-one and group outings which take the hassle out of getting your dog out and about for regular exercise and socialisation with other dogs. Our group outings take dogs to a range of different off-leash areas throughout the Camden and Campbelltown areas where they can be exposed to new sights, sounds, and experiences, which is fantastic for confidence-building and helping young dogs learn vital social skills.