Written in collaboration with https://www.smallandmightypets.com/
If you work, it is advised that you take at least 2 weeks off work when your new puppy arrives. This is so that your puppy can safely adjust to their new environment. As well as getting used to new people, a puppy has to get used to living in a home. For a puppy it is quite life-changing.
Set up barriers such as stair gates around the areas you do not want your puppy to go without supervision. For example the stairs, in the kitchen doorway so they cannot always have access to the lounge.
Look around your home and garden, and see if a puppy can get through any holes in the fence, chew any plants (some plants are toxic to dogs). If you can, raise the potted plants off the ground, or barricade them off. If there is anything s/he can get to, for example the remote control on the coffee table, move it up higher so that it is out of reach. Keep kitchen worktops clear, to prevent the habit of counter surfing. Make sure electric wires are hidden within trunking, so s/he cannot chew through them.
Remember this is only temporary while your dog is learning.
Your puppy will need a nice comfy bed for when s/he arrives.
This can be a crate, crate and play pen, separate room, or a DIY cupboard under the stairs. The pup’s safe place should NEVER be used as a punishment. The puppy must feel safe, comfortable and know that s/he is not going to be disturbed while s/he is inside.
We advise you scour local charity shops for second hand blankets and duvets. Your puppy is likely to chew and destroy her/his lovely new bed. You can buy the bed you would really like for them once this stage has passed.
Your new puppy will need a variety of toys to play with and chew on. From soft and fluffy to hard, robust toys. This is so that the puppy has a nice selection of what s/he prefers to chew on especially during teething age.
- Carry out research to find out which would be the best insurance provider for you. Take out the insurance to start a day or two BEFORE the puppy is due to arrive.
- Find a good local vet that will take the time to listen to your concerns, and explain to you all the options available. Get your puppy registered with the vet BEFORE s/he arrives. Once the puppy has arrived, you can phone the vet and give them the microchip number.
- On your first visit to the vet with your puppy, ask the vet to scan the microchip and to check that the microchip number is showing as registered to your name.
- When adopting a dog from us we highly recommend that you find a local accredited trainer that uses up-to-date reward-based methods. Your local trainer should have recognised credentials and be with organisations that promote force-free methods such as IMDT, DTC, APDT and PP Guild.
- Do not be afraid to ask for their certificates and qualifications.
- Check their reviews, websites/Facebook page, and ask to visit their centre first. Check the layout, get a feel for them and the place before deciding on them.
- Our puppies have never experienced a groom before, so it’s important to find a groomer that will take their time and work with you and the puppy. Not all dogs need a haircut. But at some point all dogs will need a bath, a brush and a nail trim.
- A puppy will need a collar plus tag. If you are based in the UK, by LAW a dog tag must have your name, address, phone number and a message stating ‘I am microchipped’. It is also the law that your dog must be wearing a tag at all times when out. This can help increase the chances of having your dog returned to you if s/he goes missing.
- A flat clip lead and a slip lead. You will need a slip lead when your puppy arrives, to reduce the risk of her/him escaping, not only during transition, but also during her/his time settling into their new environment.
- A harness – preferably a Y shaped harness as they fit better around the dogs formation. You will also need an escape proof harness for the first few months. This is a harness with a 3rd belly strap.
- If you live in the UK your dog MUST be secured in the vehicle when traveling, whether in your own car or in someone else’s car. You can secure the puppy in a crate, or use a dog barrier or seat belt attachment. Holding onto the dog WILL NOT be classed as securing your dog. If you are pulled over or involved in an accident, your insurance claim may be refused and you may face a fine of up to £5,000 if your dog is not secured.
You will also need a water bowl, food bowl, puzzle toys, teething toys, tasty treats, chew treats, dog blankets/towels, bag of food, natural calming remedies, soothing music tracks.
ALL household chemicals, including artificial air freshener, to be discontinued/put away in the cupboard, as some smells can be quite distressing for puppies, and we want to make them as comfortable and unstressed as possible. Try not to use chemical products when the puppy is in the same room. Give the room at least an hour after using a chemical product before letting the puppy back into the room. Surprisingly chemicals can have an adverse impact on their behaviour.
Your new puppy will need time to settle in her/his new environment.
This can take anywhere between 3 months and a year.
Please give your puppy the chance to settle in by taking things at their pace and introducing new things gradually. Try not to be in a hurry to cram everything in, i.e. walks, visitors. Your dog needs to feel comfortable in her/his new environment first.
For the first few days, maybe even weeks, your puppy will be overwhelmed, nervous, unsure, and stressed. Allow her/him to explore, and approach you when they are ready. Try not to be in their space, especially if s/he is in their safe area. It is not unusual for them to need at least 3 days to start to familiarise themselves with their new home, or even longer. We strongly advise you do not even considering taking her/him out on a walk, or to meet new people for several weeks. Get them comfortable walking on the lead in the security of the garden first.
When they are comfortable around you and walking on the lead, you are ready to take her/him out on their first walk with you. It is especially important for rescue dogs to ensure s/he is wearing their escape proof gear – escape proof harness/slip lead/collar/extra lead. DO NOT use a retractable lead. We also advise you use a wrist strap attached to the harness lead or slip lead. This way, if you drop the lead, the puppy is still secured to you.
Your puppy MUST always be walked by an adult. If a child or young person under the age of 18 is to walk the puppy, then they MUST be supervised by an adult.
If you have children you can start working with them before the puppy arrives on how to safely interact with a puppy. Teach your child to pet the puppy using the back of their hand. That way they are less likely to grab and pull at the puppy’s coat. A child should NEVER be left unattended with a dog, even if it is a puppy, as any dog can bite, regardless of how well you think you might know it.
It is very important that puppies get lots of quiet time and receive gentle handling from all members of the family .
Depending on the age of the puppy they will need at least 3-4 meals a day. The food you buy will have the recommended daily amount to give your puppy displayed on the packaging.
If you are going to be feeding a different brand of food to that they are used to, they will need to be slowly transitioned to avoid any upset tummies. For the first few days we advise feeding a bland diet of chicken and rice (or pasta) to help settle tummies after transport.
Try and only feed at set meal times and not free feeding (leaving food down all the time) in order to prevent developing picky eaters, and that way you will also know exactly how much your dog is eating.
It is important to get your puppy used to being handled all over as your puppy may need to visit a groomer or vets and be handled in a way they are not used to. By this we mean, have their mouth held open to check gums and teeth, have their paws held firm to clip their nails, poked and prodded about or be held up to stand upright.
To help your puppy feel more comfortable in being manipulated all over, it is best to start when they are in a sleepy, carefree state.
Start with a gentle touch of their feet for about 10 seconds on each paw, gradually increasing the time each day. This will help them get used to having the feet touched/held, which will help in the long run when it comes to nail clipping.
With a grooming brush, gently brush over them. Just one stroke to start with, gradually increasing the repetition each day.
Day one – one brush
Day two – two brushes
Day three – three brushes and so on.
Play with their ears regularly, but avoid doing so around the age of 6 to 9 months as their back teeth will be coming through at this point. As the teeth push through it can hurt their gums, and also hurts their ears.
This should only be done by adults just in case the dog thinks it is playtime and starts to nip.
Puppy Biting is normal, every puppy does it. They are like little land sharks with their sharp little teeth, but try not to worry, your puppy isn’t being a demon or trying to dominate.
S/he is mouthing/chewing things because s/he is either:
- Exploring the world with her/his mouth.
- Finding comfort because her/his teeth are causing them pain.
- Habit – s/he thinks it is ok to bite hands/clothes, because someone has played a game of ‘handsies’ with them, or s/he has not been shown what to do instead.
Provide your puppy with lots of safe things to do and chew. Things like frozen carrots; various toy textures; an old knotted, frozen wet t-towel, treats hidden within; reasonably soft chew treats such as tree root, split antler, pizzle sticks and pigs ears.
If and when teeth come into contact with skin, simply stop what you are doing, stop petting, stop playing. Wait 30 seconds and restart the activity. If it happens again, just repeat the process.
Stop. Wait. Start again.
If you have stopped but your puppy is still trying to bite you, just walk out of the room to somewhere that your puppy cannot get to you. You may need to put a baby gate in the doorway to section off areas. Wait for 30 seconds. Then come back into the room and interact again. Your puppy may be tired, so when you come back in give a little fuss, then occupy her/him with a treat to help settle them and you may find that they will fall asleep.
Always Always finish on a win and never a fail.
With this method there is no need to say any words such as ‘No’ or ‘Off’, just stop all interaction and/or remove yourself. That way the puppy will learn that the fun stuff (in this instance YOU) has gone and that it was her/his mouthing that made the fun stuff stop.
Repetition is key here, everyone in the household needs to stick to the same rules. Teeth on skin. Fun stuff stops. None of this rough and tumble hands in play. Otherwise you are teaching the puppy that it is ok to bite and grab hands, which is not only confusing for the dog, but as s/he gets bigger and those jaws become stronger it is going to start hurting!
Use a toy every time when playing!
Your puppy most likely will not know where the appropriate place is to go to the toilet, so we must help her/him to learn where that appropriate place is. Expect accidents to happen. Your puppy will unlikely get it straight away. Just follow these few easy steps and with enough repetition your puppy will get there.
After your puppy has eaten, drunk, played or snoozed, take your puppy outside to go to the toilet.
Give plenty of opportunity to allow your puppy to go outside during the day. The recommended guideline is every 20 minutes/1 hour.
Once your puppy goes to toilet in the garden/outside, praise your puppy big time. Tell her/him what a good puppy they are.
Never punish her/him for having an accident inside the home. Your puppy is still learning. Just shrug it off, clean it up and guide them outside in case s/he has not finished going.
There isn’t really any need for puppy pads. This can not only confuse the puppy, but also slow training down, and your pup may shred up the pad.
What Is control and management? Control and management is managing the puppy’s environment as best you can. This can involve:
- Setting up baby gates in doorways and staircases to stop the puppy from entering rooms unsupervised.
- Creating a play pen – the play pen goes around the crate while the door is left open, which gives the puppy a safe area to play and mooch in.
- Never leaving the puppy unsupervised around young children.
How much is too much?
While exercise is great for all, too much of a good thing can have consequences, particularly for a growing puppy. Forced exercise, such as taking the puppy out for a lead walk or getting the puppy to run and play, should be kept to a minimum and be as low impact as possible i.e. no running up and down the stairs repeatedly as that is quite a high impact on their joints.
Over exercise on a young pup can be damaging to their joints, it can cause early arthritis and joint dysplasia. The rule of thumb is 5 minutes of exercise per month old. For example, the pup is 4 months old so s/he can be walking on lead for 20 minutes. Then when 5 months, 25 minutes.
This does not mean that your 4 month old pup can only go out on a lead walk once a day for 20 minutes, s/he can go out on a lead walk 2 or 3 times a day for 20 minutes at a time.
How much sleep does your dog need?
Do not worry if you find that your puppy is sleeping most of the time, it is quite normal for them to sleep lots. Dogs need around 15 hours of sleep per day. For younger dogs it is around 15 to 20 hours a day.
Sometimes we have to intervene and provide young dogs with quiet time so they can sleep.
There is always someone from the Stray2Me Team available on your individual Messenger chat or WhatsApp group to offer advice and support. Never be concerned about reaching out, even if it seems a silly little thing. Better to get advice early on and prevent an issue developing. We have a wealth of experience within in the team and love to help. 💙