Here’s how to make the first month with your new puppy the best it can be!
The first thirty days of having a new puppy are a special time, but also a crucial time for implementing some healthy routines, establishing some vital ground rules and creating a secure and trusting bond. This guide will help you survive your first thirty days with a new pup, and set you up for a happy, healthy life together.
Bringing your new puppy home for the first time will inevitably involve some travelling, so this is the perfect opportunity to get her used to loving her crate. Ensure that it’s well stocked with treats, as well as a blanket or other material that bears her mother’s scent if you can. This can go a long way toward helping her feel more secure in her new surroundings.
When you get home, make sure that she goes to the bathroom outside before heading inside. Praise your pup and give her treats when she does her business.
Keep her on a leash when you first enter the house, and sit with her on the floor or the sofa (if you’re happy to let her be on the furniture long-term). Give her lots of love and attention and talk to her a lot – get her used to you, your voice and your touch. Rub her belly, touch her paws and tail, and groom her with a soft brush.
Puppies don’t have very good bladder (or sphincter) control, so make sure you take her out after every meal, after every short burst (15–20 mins) of play, first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
Give her some time in her crate (positioned in the living area is fine) – she may need some time alone to process her new situation. If your pup starts to bark or whine, walk away calmly and don’t let her out until she’s being quiet.
Start by using the same food your new pup is accustomed to. If you want to change it, gradually mix in an alternative over a 10-day period to avoid any tummy upsets.
Regular mealtimes help to avoid obesity, create routine and give your pup something to look forward to, so try to avoid simply leaving food readily available round the clock.
Be sure to hand-feed your new pup the occasional treat to establish a bond and to keep her from nipping and biting when taking treats long-term. Be sure not to reward any behaviour you don’t want, like jumping or barking. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to incorporate some initial training, such as sitting for rewards.
At bedtime, take your pup out for one last bathroom break, then put her in her crate and leave her with a treat and her scented blanket. It’s also a nice idea to add a snuggly dog bed into the crate – though don’t be surprised if your pup ends up sleeping on the floor! Don’t respond to barking or whining, just say goodnight and go to bed yourself. She will soon settle down to sleep. Depending on your pup’s age, you may hear some whining or scratching in the night. If this happens, take her out to “do her business”, then put her straight back in the crate with minimal fuss.
Whether you want to let her sleep in your bed or freely in the house, follow the crate routine initially until she has settled into a good routine of sleeping through the night.
Once you have experimented with a few different toys, you’ll have a good idea of what your pup enjoys. If she loves to chew, for example, then make sure she has tough, chewable toys that are free of any parts or stuffing she can accidentally swallow.
Puzzle toys are a great idea, especially ones that you can hide treats in to keep her entertained. Play time is essential to bonding and overall wellbeing, so make sure she gets of it!
A pup’s most critical socialization period is until 16 weeks old, so depending on when you get her, you may have a few short weeks to maximize this developmental stage. Either way though, it’s essential that you provide her with plenty of positive experiences. Introduce her to new people and other animals, and condition her to be comfortable with a wide range of daily activities and sounds.
After the first week, start taking your pup out regularly and expose her to lots of new experiences – for example, take her on short car rides and into any businesses that will allow it. Continue to implement basic puppy training rituals into these everyday activities and consider taking her to puppy school to learn new skills and make new friends!
Use the first thirty days with your new puppy to establish some critical rules and expectations, as well as develop a deep and trusting bond with your new companion. Take this time seriously, and you’ll set your pup up to live happily and harmoniously for many years to come!
Emma Williams is a professional writer and pet parent who has written for big publishers including Animal Wellness Magazine, The Telegraph, Home Beautiful and Marriage.com. She enjoys sharing her knowledge on pet health, lifestyle topics and pet behaviour.