How can I help my pup to settle?
Bringing home a new puppy is exciting for you but can be daunting for the dog. There is lots you can do to help your puppy settle into his new home. If you've got a puppy and he is very boisterous, then check out How can I help my puppy to calm down?
Ideally a pup should leave his mother at seven to ten weeks old, so he has had time to learn about other dogs but is still young enough for positive early experiences with humans to really count. The first few days are vital.
- Before you bring your puppy home — Remember your pup is likely to feel he has been snatched away from his home. Help make the transition easier for him 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 him as well as absorbing the scent of his family. When you bring your pup home, collect the T-shirt and put it in his travel basket and then his den. It will comfort him as he adapts to his new environment.
- Collecting my puppy — Try to collect your pup early so he has the whole day to get used to his surroundings before settling for the night. Take time off work if necessary so your pup is not left alone for at least a few days. Control how and when any children play with him and give him time to explore alone but supervised.
- Bringing home a puppy — As soon as you arrive home, take the puppy into the garden and reward him as soon as he's been to the toilet. This will set the tone of positive reinforcement and let your puppy see how they should behave. Allow the puppy freedom to explore his new surroundings, but pay close attention to where he goes. It's a good idea to follow them with some treats to keep their attention focused when you need it to be.
A puppy's first day
- Start by taking him into the garden to the spot where you want him to toilet. Hopefully, he will oblige and be less inclined to mess in the house.
- When you go indoors try to keep things calm and warn any children they shouldn't expect to play with the puppy the moment he arrives.
- Introduce him to the room where he is to spend most of his time, and his bed, and spend some time quietly getting to know him.
- Then leave him alone for a nap.
A puppy's first night
Some puppies settle straight to sleep but many cry during their first night in a strange place, in which case it may be kinder to allow them to sleep near you to begin with. Try to make the process of teaching your puppy to sleep alone a gradual one.
- Let him sleep in a puppy crate near your bed; if he wakes, speak reassuringly but don't touch him.
- He should begin to sleep through when he realizes he won't be petted or played with.
- Gradually move the crate from your bed to the room you want him to sleep in. Do this in stages: say to the bedroom door, the landing, down the stairs and so on. The patterns set in the first few weeks of a new routine can set the tone for good, or at least become very hard to break.
A puppy's first week
- Give your puppy every chance to become a happy member of the household.
- Draw up a rota so every family member has time with the puppy and some responsibility for him. This can include things like feeding and grooming, as well as taking him out to toilet.
- Take your puppy to the vet for a check up and to discuss his vaccination and worming programme. Also ask whether the surgery runs puppy parties so he can begin socialization.
- Don't make any changes to his diet until he has settled in; then do so gradually.
- Encourage your puppy to chew the right things by providing him with his own toys. Don't let children leave their toys lying around as he may not be able to tell the difference at first.
- If you have excitable children in the house ask them to respect the puppy's needs by not waking him if he's sleeping and not pulling him around.
- Enrol in reward-based training classes. Ask your vet or other owners for recommendations.