Train, Don't Complain

The Most Common Questions about Bringing Home a New Puppy

Congratulations! You have made a commitment to bring a new puppy into your family.

Read on for answers to some of the most common questions about bringing a puppy home, and information you will need to successfully integrate your new puppy into your family. 

Click the links below to view the answers.

Who should take care of the new puppy?

Have a family meeting to decide who feeds the puppy, who walks the puppy and who cleans up poop in the yard. Bring everything up for discussion, and all questions in need of answers, to the table prior to bringing home your puppy.

Some other points you will need to consider are rules for your children, such as consistency with commands like "down" or "sit". Does "down" mean get down from the couch or does down mean lie down? Is it okay to pick the puppy up? And if so, how should it be done? For small children, having them sit on the floor and placing the puppy on their laps is the safest way. Too often, we hear of a puppy wiggling in someone’s arms and being dropped and injured. Although it doesn’t happen often, this is a risk not worth taking.

Should I "puppy proof" my house?

New puppies are very curious. They will want to explore everything they can reach, especially things that smell like you (such as your shoes!). First, let’s talk about dangerous items that could poison your dog.

Many things that are safe for human consumption are not safe for dogs to ingest. For example: alcohol, apple seeds, caffeinated drinks, chocolate, grapes, macadamia nuts, onions, xylitol (an artificial sweetener found in some types of peanut butter) are all toxic to your dog. In addition, there are many common house plants that can pose a danger to your new puppy. For example: aloe vera, chives, crocuses, daffodils, ivy, lilies, tulips, and rhubarb all have toxic effects if ingested by your puppy. For a complete list, please search for “Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List or Food List – Dogs.” The ASPCA provides a complete list for you to view.

In a nutshell, a puppy is just like a small child who is exploring and full of wonder wanting to learn about her environment. All poisons need to be placed up out of reach or secured behind child-proof cupboards. Things like computer cords, pills dropped on the floor, electrical outlets, soap, low drawers left open, clothes lying on the floor, pens or pencils left on a coffee table within reach, and pretty much everything else in the house could present a danger to your puppy!

A puppy can’t yet distinguish between his favourite chew toy and your best pair of shoes (that’s right; this has to be trained into them) so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Take the time and be diligent moving everything out of the puppy’s reach and tucking it all out of the way so that she's safe.

Choosing a collar and leash and your first trip home.

We recommend that you do not get a collar until you get your puppy home, as most of the time people don’t get the right size (that being a size that can be fastened with 2 fingers of space between the collar and neck).

For the trip home, simply buy a training leash to use, as you will need it anyway. A training leash is a short rope, maybe 2-3 feet long, with a loop to hold on one end and a slip knot at the other. That end will fit around any dog and will be great for the trip home. You'll use this leash during training over the course of the next year. A second long lead of up to 50’ will also be important to keep your puppy safe when he ventures away from you, and will aid you in training him to come when called from a distance.

You will also need a bowl and some water if your trip is more than an hour or two. Longer trips should include breaks during which the puppy can walk/run, relieve himself and get a drink if he needs one. It is the safest for the puppy to travel in a travel crate for your car, which should be fastened to the interior of the vehicle so that it can’t go flying in the event of a sudden stop.

If you are picking up your puppy and flying home, ask your breeder to approximate his weight upon your arrival. This way you can plan to purchase the right size carrier for him on the plane. Don't forget to put the puppy down outside for a bit before travelling to relieve himself before beginning your journey.

Should I wipe a blanket where he was sleeping for the scent?

This is a bad idea, and here’s why. Your puppy will have been away from her mother for a minimum of 2 weeks prior to your picking her up, to ensure she is eating well on her own. When she cries, she is not crying for her mother, but because she thinks she is lost from her pack. The whining is a way to help the pack locate her. Since she will never be with that pack again, and you want her to become attached to her new pack (your family!), you don’t want anything reminding her of the old pack.

Dogs don’t possess the emotion “sadness” in relation to a complex thought as humans do, so don’t let your human emotions get in the way of training your dog properly. The quicker you can make your puppy feel like she belongs to your pack and forget about her old pack, the sooner she will cease her whining for them. Focus on creating some consistent scents in her new world with her new pack.

How should I introduce my puppy to our house?

Introducing your puppy to the house is something that you will have to take control of. Training has already started at this point (for instance, how you reacted to your puppy during pick up and in the car ride home).

Establish yourself as the leader by taking your puppy around the home on leash to the areas you want them to frequent, and don’t introduce them to the rooms you want them to stay out of. This begins by you walking into the home first and having the puppy wait at the door until you invite her in.

In the beginning, it’s best to limit the amount of rooms you expose your puppy to. You’ll need to supervise your puppy closely at all times to catch him for bathroom breaks, and having to do this in every room of the house would be exhausting. For now, limit it to perhaps the kitchen, the living room and a bedroom or laundry room where his crate will be. Count any doorways you will need to block off and select your baby gates.

Leave the crate open during the day if you are at home so your puppy can walk in and relax, nap or chew on a toy if he wants to. Let the crate be a safe place where he can go if he wants to be alone, for instance for a quiet break from the kids. Placing the crate in the kitchen is a good strategy, since it's a hub of your home, and you'll be able to keep an eye on the puppy at all times.

It’s also important at this time to not discipline your puppy. You want him to like his new home, so make it a happy place, not a stressful one. If he picks up something you don’t want him to that you missed when you puppy proofed your home, simply take it away and replace it with an appropriate chew toy. This is called redirecting your puppy.

How can I make the first night go smoothly?

The first night doesn’t have to be stressful. When puppies cry when they are alone at first, they are making an effort to help their pack find them. Puppy instinct tells them that being away from the pack is as dangerous (as it would be in the wild) so they whimper and whine (sometimes loudly) so that their pack can locate them.

Keep in mind that it’s not necessarily that they are sad because they are alone. This is a human thought, not a dog one, so don’t let it weigh on your mind. It is the first time in your puppy's life that she has been by herself, so it'll take some getting used to!

To help make the first few nights go more smoothly, feed your pup around your dinner time, as feeding  too close to bedtime will cause her to need to relieve herself during the night. The same goes for water and napping. Remove the water a bit before bedtime to prevent night time pee breaks. Avoid letting your puppy nap right before bedtime, and keep her active from roughly dinner time on.

It’s important for you to adjust your puppy to your schedule as well. So if you go to bed at 10 and are up at 5 am, then you would feed and water earlier than you would if you went to bed at midnight and woke up at 8 am. So, let her out for a final potty break and then it's time to get into the crate and sleep.

If you can handle a little bit of whining when your puppy goes down, place the crate in a spot where the puppy won't be woken during the night. The crate should be only long enough for the puppy to stretch out so get a crate large enough for the puppy when it is full grown and use a divider to make it smaller when the puppy comes home. Though we recommend not leaving your puppy in her crate for more than 3 or 4 hours, she can handle longer periods during the night. Normally, one pee trip during the night is to be expected for a new puppy. If you’re lucky, she will sleep all night.

Try placing a light blanket over the top and 3 sides of the crate so the puppy feels safe in a confined area. Resist letting your puppy sleep in bed with you. Why? The risks that she may fall off the bed and injure herself, eliminate on you (before she has been potty trained), or perhaps that you squish her during the night should be enough to dissuade you. And, in order for a puppy to develop properly, she needs to learn her own space. A puppy that sleeps and cuddles you all the time will not have the opportunity to learn her own space, and may become needy as an adult.

Your puppy will develop confidence being on her own, which you will appreciate down the road. When she wakes up in the morning, carry her right out to do her business, as letting her walk through the house result in an accident. Do this as soon as possible, as in the beginning she’ll need to relieve herself right away.

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