Happiness is a warm puppy, it says in Peanuts, and so of course, it is and should be. But the first days and weeks of having the equivalent of an agile and energetic toddler around your home can be trying to say the least.
A new puppy is ideally never left alone during the daytime therefore its arrival should be timed with the holidays. For those who introduced a new puppy into the family during the festive season and are lucky enough to have some extended time off, this is a great opportunity for both socialisation and settling your puppy into its new surroundings. Otherwise, someone else in your family will ideally take some time off work to settle it in – unless, of course, you’re in the enviable position of being able to take the puppy to work with you! Those first days are precious and memorable, and will play an important part in long-term bonding with your dog.
The ideal environment for a new puppy is somewhere with wipe-clean floors (no carpets and no elegant polished wood) and nothing that can either harm or be harmed located below puppy browsing level. A puppy will hunt out anything you’ve overlooked and will be drawn as if by magnet to any exposed cables, trailing plants, protruding corners, loose flaps – in fact anything it can (but shouldn’t) chew. This will happen even if you’ve provided chewable toys.
Your puppy really needs to spend its day in the same room as you with the door closed so you can supervise it. A crate can be used as a refuge to which the puppy retires when it chooses, but confining it there should be done very sparingly. It may be tempting to ‘get the puppy out from under your feet’ but remember that it must have exercise and be able to explore for its physical and mental wellbeing.
Young puppies can show similar traits to toddlers in their attitude towards food. For example, they may find it more exciting to eat the cat’s food, or the grown-up food of another dog, so make sure that the balanced, nutritious puppy food you’ve bought is actually what your puppy is eating by giving it a shallow, stable bowl of its own and keeping an eye on it at mealtimes.
House-training your puppy takes time and persistence, and is probably the biggest issue with most new dog owners. Be patient and kind, give positive reinforcement, and remember that your puppy wants to please you and will get the hang of what it’s supposed to do in the end. The days of finding ‘presents’ under the furniture are numbered.
Some puppies get very miserable if left alone during the night so, if at all possible, arrange for your puppy to sleep where it can be aware of your physical presence. It may wake up before you’re used to, in which case, get up a bit earlier and spend the time playing and bonding with it!
It’s worthwhile taking some time to plan and develop a healthy routine for your puppy as well as creating an ideal environment that ensures their health, safety and wellbeing so they can thrive in their new home.