Bringing your puppy home

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Your new puppy and home

You've chosen your new puppy, said your 'goodbyes' to the breeder and your puppy's remaining family, and you're heading for home.

Hopefully, the excitement at the prospect of bringing your new companion home hasn't made you forget to make some important preparations. Remember, this is likely to be the first time your puppy has been away from familiar sights, smells and surroundings which means it's a very stressful time. So in the days before you bring your puppy home, you need to make sure everything is ready, just as you would if you were bringing home a new baby.

Puppy's bed

Firstly, it's important to consider where your puppy is going to sleep. Most puppies prefer an enclosed sleeping area to act as a refuge if things become too stressful, so think about getting a crate to put their bed or basket in. Make sure it's warm, dry, comfortable and draught-free and provide a nice blanket or dog bed to keep your puppy cosy. Now you must decide on the best place for it to go, before your puppy decides they'd like to sleep on the sofa. (After all, it's easier to get into good habits rather than try to change bad ones.) A puppy crate provides a perfect little bolt-hole when life gets too hectic; when your puppy does make a retreat to their sanctuary, remember to tell your family not to disturb them. Make sure the bed is far enough from yours, preferably outside of your bedroom. Don't be tempted to have your puppy in bed with you while they’re little; it will be hard to break this habit later, and they need their space as much as you do.

Your puppy at night

A lot of puppies have a habit of crying at night, especially during the first week in a new home, so the warmer you can make the bed, the more comfortable they will feel. Try using a hot water bottle, or a cuddly toy that's safe for pets.

Others in your home

Even if you have other pets in your home, it's important to let your new puppy explore their new surroundings first. When you do introduce them to other pets, do so gradually, and make sure you're around to keep an eye on the proceedings. When your puppy is introduced to children, don't let them get too overexcited. See that they respect and don't treat your puppy like a cuddly toy. For more information see Socialisation.

Leaving your puppy alone

No puppy, or dog for that matter, should be left alone for long periods of time. Dogs that are left alone for significant periods can develop anxiety and can't cope with being separated from their owners.

So teach your puppy to tolerate short absences; leave them in a room, close the door and walk away. After a few minutes, go back in but don't greet them. When you've done this several times, extend the absences to 30 minutes. If your puppy does become distressed, and starts barking, chewing, or scratching at the door, you should shorten the absence period.

Before you leave: Walk your puppy or play with them in advance of leaving so they have a chance to settle down. Shortly before you go, provide a meal, so they’re more likely to be sleepy. Also, leave them something to chew, to keep them occupied. Some growing puppies will be comforted by familiar sounds, so you could try leaving the radio on, or even record several minutes of your family's conversation. If your puppy has growing concerns about being left alone, even for short periods, please ask your vet for advice.