Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting moment for pet owners, but if we’re being real, it can also be a stressful time. Puppies are a lot of work, and it takes time for them to adjust to their new home, and for you to adjust to life with a puppy. It’s so important to make sure you are prepared for this life changing event and there are steps you can take to ease the transition for everyone. Whether it’s your first dog or your fifth, puppies can take you by surprise, and the more prepared you are ahead of time, the easier it will be for your puppy to become familiar and well-adjusted to their new environment and family members (pets and people).
Having just brought a new puppy home ourselves, I thought it would be helpful to share some tips and steps to take for anyone else thinking about or planning on getting a puppy. You might also like my recent post on How To Keep Your House Clean With Pets.
What To Do When Bringing A Puppy Home
My number one tip for bringing home a new puppy is to start crate training on day one (see puppy schedule I linked below). Crate training not only provides your dog with a safe space but if done well will be a calming environment and excellent training tool. We recently partnered with Diggs Pet to try out their Revol crate (use code JESSANNKIRBY15 for 15% off) and I absolutely love it. It’s so important to have a crate that suits your dog. The Revol comes in multiple sizes and you can get one of their custom beds to fit inside (if your dog is destructive or not house trained yet start without a bed). I went with a size medium crate so Pepper can grow into it.
One of the keys to crate training is to create positive associations with the crate. Never use it as a punishment tool. Treats, meals, and special high reward things like a kong with peanut butter are all great to give your pup in the crate. Have patience. It can take a few months but your puppy will learn to love their crate, and it will save your shoes and other belongings from being chewed while puppy is still learning! This post has a lot of great tips for crate training.
Get supplies ahead of time.
If you’re able, stock up on supplies before you bring home a puppy. Once the puppy arrives it can be a bit chaotic so having everything you need in advance is really helpful. Here’s a list to get you started.
- Crate (use code JESSANNKIRBY15 for 15% off)
- Food and Water Bowl (stainless steel preferred)
- Puppy Treats (these are awesome for training)
- Puppy Food – We are big fans of Acana and Pepper loves this food.
- Safe Chew Toys (we like kongs and Chuckit! rubber balls). Pepper also loves this puppy chew toy, great for before they lose their puppy teeth.
- ID Tags
- Puppy Shampoo
- Poop Bags (love the bag and dispenser from Diggs pet, get 15% off with code JESSANNKIRBY15)
Prioritize potty training your puppy.
It took about a week for us to potty train our puppy Pepper (there’s the occasional accident she is still a puppy!). Some dogs learn faster than others, but if you stick to a schedule and start a routine from day one, it will make potty training so much easier. Puppies don’t have as much bladder control so they need frequent potty breaks during the day, especially right after meals.
Follow a schedule.
The first few days and especially the first night at home with a new puppy will be hard. You’ll need lots of patience and outside potty breaks. If you are bringing home a puppy that has come to you in a transport and traveled a long distance they may be nervous, tired etc. It’s important to start a schedule as soon as possible. Structure will help you and your puppy. We follow a fairly set schedule with Pepper everyday which helps eliminate accidents and gives her plenty of stimulation so she can thrive. Here is a sample puppy schedule that can be helpful for the first several months. Eventually you won’t have to follow such a rigorous schedule and your puppy can have more freedom, but this is a great place to start.
Set up vet appointments.
Before you bring your puppy home do some research on vets in your area. It makes life a lot easier if you have this figured out beforehand. Depending on their age, puppies will need several vaccinations a few weeks apart and your first vet visit will likely be within the first week of bringing them home.
Puppy proof your home.
Puppies are mischievous and notorious for getting into everything. This is why crate training is so important! It’s also a good idea to puppy proof your home as much as possible. A few things to do:
- Unplug and move electrical cords out of reach
- Keep windows and doors closed
- Secure any outdoor areas, especially if you have a pool
- Put away any small items that could be choking hazards
- Secure trashcans and make sure they are out of reach for puppies
- Make sure houseplants are out of reach, they can be toxic and poisonous to puppies
Get pet insurance.
There are several options for pet insurance which can help pay for your pet’s medical care. Depending on the policy it can cover anything from accidents and illness to wellness visits. We have Nationwide Pet insurance and I’ve used it for all of my pets. There are many benefits to getting pet insurance as soon as you get your puppy, but most importantly it will save you money in the long run. Once your dog has an illness or injury, if you don’t have insurance that can be excluded or treated as a pre-existing condition meaning it won’t be covered. My current monthly premium for Pepper is less than $30/month.
Here are some pet insurance options:
- Nationwide Pet Insurance (this is what we have)
- Healthy Paws – Best for Alternative Therapies
- ASPCA – Best for Hereditary and Congenital Conditions
- Spot – Best for Unlimited Coverage
- Pumpkin – Best for Puppies and Kittens
- Figo – Best for Reimbursement Options
- Embrace – Best for Older Pets
- Trupanion – Best for Direct Payment to Vets
Enroll in puppy class.
Once your puppy has received all vaccinations and can be socialized with other dogs enroll in a puppy class. This is a great way to practice basic dog training and obedience, as well as introduce your puppy to other dogs. Check local pet stores and rescue shelters for classes, we are taking a puppy class at PetSmart.
Prepare for upset tummies with bland diet food.
It’s almost inevitable that at some point with a puppy they’ll get an upset tummy. The typical solution is a bland diet with chicken and rice (pumpkin puree is also a good addition). My friend turned me on to Under The Weather, a freeze dried 100% human grade dog food, and it’s amazing. Any time one of my dogs has an upset stomach or any tummy issues I switch to this food for a few days and it always does the trick. Of course if you have any medical concerns consult your vet first.
Socializing your puppy is really important. Not all socialization has to be your puppy going up to people or dogs. Observation is also an important part of socialization. It’s actually really important that your puppy is able to observe and be in different scenarios without needing to go up to every person or dog. This is a great post from AKC on puppy socialization. The key is to make it positive and avoid overstimulating the puppy.
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