That moment you’ve waited months for has finally come and it’s almost time to welcome the new addition to the family into your home. We are, of course, talking about every dog lover’s favourite occasion – your first week with a new puppy.
It’s the time when you get a chance to bond with your puppy, help them settle into their new home, and most importantly of all, have a little fun.
But as you may have guessed, there’s a little more to it than cuddles and naps. In fact, there’s a lot more to it. From choosing the right food to preparing for any little ‘accidents’, here’s everything you need to know about that first week with a new puppy.
Get a crate
This crate is going to be your puppy’s bedroom at night and it needs to be big enough that they can easily stand up and turn around in. When choosing a crate, bear in mind how fast your puppy may grow. You don’t want them growing out of it in just a few months.
Depending on how young your puppy is, you might want to keep the crate in your bedroom until they get over any separation anxiety they might be feeling. However, you will want to put the crate in their permanent sleeping area after a few days or within the first two weeks maximum.
If you plan to keep your puppy in the crate during the daytime, make sure to put it in a busy area of the house so it doesn’t feel too lonely. Crate training your puppy as early as possible will also pay off in the long run. It gives them their own dedicate ‘safe space’ and a level of order in the lives, having a familiar place to sleep and rest in.
Set up a play area
When a puppy isn’t napping, it’s an all-action ball of energy that loves getting into things. Wardrobes, cupboards, under beds, toilets – you name it, your puppy will find a way to get into it. And as you can imagine, keeping an eye on your puppy 24/7 is going to be next to impossible. So if you don’t want your new trainers to get chewed to bits, it’s absolutely essential that you set up a play area for your puppy.
Think of this as you would a playpen for a small child. It’s basically a puppy paradise complete with toys, crate, fresh water, and a sturdy fence. Ideally, by the time your puppy outgrows this play area, they will be house trained and understand that your shoes and socks are NOT chew toys.
Choose the right food
Did you know that a puppy can grow 20 times faster than an adult dog? And all of that growing means that they get hungry… a lot.
Your breeder should be able to give you some solid advice on the type of food that you should feed an individual puppy. In some cases, they may even give you some food to take home so there’s not too much of a change in the puppy’s routine meaning fewer upset tummies.
Mix this food in with your new choice of food so that your puppy’s digestive system has time to get used to the new food. Your choice of food will sometimes depend on the breed and age of your puppy and if you’re still unsure, ask your local vet for some guidance. They’ll be only too happy to help and may even have some suggestions regarding mealtimes and training. To find the registered vets in your area, use the search feature on the Veterinary Council of Ireland’s website.
Speaking of training, it’s vital that you create a feeding routine and stick to it. This means meals three times a day, at the same times, following the same routine. Hold your puppy by the collar, use a word such as ‘okay’ as a command, and then let them eat. This will be the first time that they don’t have to compete for food so it’s crucial that they understand that waiting a moment before eating is perfectly fine.
If you’re interested in buying your puppy food online, check out our list of dog food suppliers that deliver throughout Ireland.
Puppy-proof your home
This might seem like common sense to dog owners but for those of you new to the world of puppies, it’s time to start puppy-proofing your home.
This means that you need to remove anything and everything that your puppy might chew or eat from its reach. Lock your shoes away, put any children’s toys back in the toybox, hide any loose cables, and leave the remote controls well out of reach.
You may even want to put a gate on certain doorways or at the top or foot of the stairs. While it might seem a little overkill at first, you’ll soon discover that puppies get into all kinds of trouble so removing any potential for disaster is simply good planning.
However, bear in mind that this is a temporary measure. Once you have taught your puppy how to be a good member of the family, you should be able to restore your home to some semblance of normality. We say some because let’s face it, you’re a puppy owner now and your idea of normal will likely change drastically over the coming months!
Get some puppy pads
Okay, we are fully aware that using puppy potty pads for too long can lead your puppy to believe that it’s okay to pee in the house. However, this is a new puppy and as you know, they can’t go outside for some time yet. So until they’ve had their last shot and the vet gives them the all-clear to venture into the great outdoors, puppy pads are a great help.
These pads encourage your puppy to pee or poop in a specific area away from where they sleep. There’s no doubt about it, they’re not too pleasant to pick up, but it’s either that or constantly mopping pee from the floor. Just remember not to grow too reliant on them. Ultimately, you’ll want your puppy to wait to go outside so use them only until your puppy is able to go outside.
Remember accidents will happen
Again this may seem like common sense, but it’s easy to forget when you’re looking at a chewed up remote control that accidents will happen.
Even with puppy pads in the play area, and a seemingly completely puppy-proofed home, your little bundle of energy will get into scrapes, pull things down, and forget where they’re supposed to pee. It’s all part of being the proud owner of a puppy and trust us, in years to come, you’ll look back on all of those little accidents with a smile.
Above all else, always keep the golden rule of puppy ownership in mind — Never get angry at your puppy. After all, it’s just a baby!