Bringing your puppy home

With all the excitement of your puppy's imminent arrival, don't forget to prepare for his homecoming.

Puppy-proof your home and garden

Puppies are inquisitive little characters and your home will open up a whole new world for them to explore. New owners need to be aware of potential trouble spots around the home and ensure their house has been puppy-proofed. Among other things, watch out for:

  • Items of clothing and equipment left lying around on the floor.
  • Waste bins at puppy level — these can prove irresistible, especially if they have something smelly inside.
  • Open cupboards — fix child safety locks if your pup's persistent. Also watch out for open kitchen appliances such as dishwashers or oven doors.
  • Food left on worktops and pans left on the hob. Larger breed pups, and some agile smaller breed, can easily be tempted to jump up.
  • In the garden, check your boundaries are secure and fence off ponds. Get down low and look at each room from a puppy's perspective.
  • Enclose trailing wires, put fireguards in place, move breakable items out of reach, and put house plants up on high shelves.
  • Invest in an unpleasant-tasting anti-chew spray if you think your new puppy might gnaw your furniture.

Create a safe haven

By using a puppy pen or den, you will have somewhere you know is always completely safe for your pup. Invest in a crate and make it comfortable with his bedding. Introduce him to it by feeding him in there with the door open. Play with him, throwing toys or titbits into the crate for him to find. Only close the door for short periods at first while you are there.

Settling in your new puppy

Your new puppy is likely to feel homesick when he first arrives; help make the transition easier by leaving an old T-shirt you have worn with the breeder on your last visit before collection. With this placed in the litter's bed it will make your scent familiar to the pup and he can absorb the scent of his new family. When the big day arrives and you bring him home, collect the T-shirt and put it in his travel basket and then in his bed or den. It will comfort him as he adapts to his new surroundings.

Try to collect your pup early on so that he has the whole day to get used to his surroundings before settling for the night. To begin with, place his bed next to your bed at night; as he settles in you can gradually move it away from your bed and closer to the area where you want it to be. Take time off work if possible to help him settle in and so he's not left alone for at least a few days.

Once your pup has settled in it's advisable to make an appointment with your vet to get him checked over. You can discuss flea and worming options and arrange for his next vaccination to be carried out.

Children and dogs

Before your puppy arrives, discuss with the whole family any rules which will affect the new dog. Will he be allowed on the furniture? Which rooms will he have access to? This will ensure training is consistent and does not confuse the new puppy. Talk to children about taking responsibility for their belongings and not leaving toys where the puppy could get them. They also need to understand that the new puppy needs quality time on his own. You should always supervise young children when they are with the puppy. Younger children may fail to recognise warning signs or be unable to interpret situations correctly.

It is totally unrealistic to expect a child to take sole responsibility for a dog, but it’s good for them, and the new pup, to be involved in the day-to-day care of a pet. If your child has friends over, supervise your puppy with them for a few minutes and then put him away. Some dogs can become quite protective of their children and misinterpret play fighting.

Meeting other pets

If you have a cat, when you first introduce it to your pup, keep him on a lead in case he decides to chase the cat. Once you are happy things are going well, you can take him off the lead but continue to supervise closely. This may take several days or even weeks. Try not to intervene in the animals’ interactions — your cat will not want to be picked up and held face to face with your puppy. Only intervene if the puppy shows too much interest or starts to stalk the cat; then you need to let the puppy know that this behaviour will not be tolerated.

With existing dogs, an older dog will have to get to know the puppy and then accept him into the family. This can be started on neutral ground, at a friend’s house, or even in the local park. Try to keep meetings low-key with no exciting food and toys involved. You need to supervise the meeting and yet allow dog and pup to get to know each other. Remember to praise both for positive behaviour but don’t let meetings get boisterous. Keep initial meetings short, taking the older dog for a walk on his own while your puppy gets to know his new home. Mealtimes will need to be supervised for some time. Your older dog is unlikely to want a puppy sniffing around his bowl so they should be fed separately.