Bringing a new puppy home could be one of the most exciting days of your life, but if you’ve never done it before, it can also be scary and overwhelming. Today we’re going to take a look at those crucial first few days so you’re ready to take your first steps with house training, vet visits and walks, and are ready for challenges like dog diarrhea and vomiting, setting up a room for your puppy and helping it feel safe and secure in its new home.
While any puppy from a reputable breeder will come to you weaned and already on solid food, it’s important to make sure you’ve stocked up with the right food for your puppy before you bring them home. While you have lots of options, it’s important to make sure you’ve got food formulated for puppies – dogs need different foods at different times in their lives, and food for an adult dog won’t provide everything a puppy needs to grow up healthily.
Sometimes changing foods can upset a puppy’s (or even a grown dog’s) stomach, resulting in vomiting or diarrhea. You don’t need to worry about your dog being seriously ill unless there are other symptoms too, but if you’re changing food, try to do so gradually, over a longer period. Speak to the breeder or shelter you’re getting your puppy from and see if you can match the brand of kibble they use for the first days.
One of the reasons people get dogs is to encourage regular exercise – walks are vital to your dog’s wellbeing, so you absolutely can’t skip them! That said, there are some vital issues to be aware of in the early days.
You shouldn’t take your dog for a walk outside until they’ve had their vaccinations. Talk with the breeder or shelter and vet about what your dog needs and the schedule you need to set, but until they’re inoculated against common infections, walkies could mean coming into contact with a dangerous disease!
It’s also possible to overwalk a puppy. Too much exertion can harm their muscle and skeletal development while they’re still growing, so do some research into the breed to find out how much you should be walking your dog as it grows.
House training your dog is very important – it means you’ll have a better relationship with it (because you have less clearing up to do) and your dog will be happier too. Dogs like to know what the rules are, and where they stand in the household, and establishing rules for when and where they go to the toilet will make them feel more secure.
There are lots of different methods for house training, but the most important thing in all of them is consistency: consistent times, consistent places and consistent behaviour from you. Plan ahead – think about what you want to achieve, what it’s reasonable to expect of a new puppy, and build your plans around that. It’s also worth stocking up enzyme cleaning products – these help to break down the molecules that cause stains and odours to linger – meaning your puppy is less likely to come back to the same spots where they’ve had accidents, and is more likely to stick to their training.