As a dog lover, nothing quite compares to the experience of seeing your new puppy for the first time, knowing you’ll soon be best friends and that they’ll become a permanent fixture in your life.
The only thing better is when you actually get to pick the little pup up and, of course, bring them home to begin this new chapter in your lives.
Still, responsible pet-parents know that this first chapter is also a crucial one. While there will be plenty of time for cuddles and play, it’s important that you understand how to best transition your fur-baby into their new life.
12 Tips for Welcoming Home a New Pup
Fortunately, these vital steps are relatively easy. The sooner you follow these 12 simple tips, the sooner the fun can begin.
1. Keep Calm
This may be the most difficult tip to follow on the entire list.
If you’re like most dog-lovers, it’s almost impossible not to freak out when you see one, especially if they’re an adorable little puppy. Upon seeing your new buddy, it might feel almost impossible to not run over, pick them up, and indulge in lots and lots of cuddling.
Still, it’s important that you do your best to resist.
For one thing, you’re still a stranger to the little guy or gal. You’re also a lot bigger than them. So, despite your best intentions, too much enthusiasm may spook them – instead of showing how much you care.
Secondly, while you’re about to bring them to a loving home, you’re also about to remove them from a place with which they’ve become very familiar. It’s the only place they’ve ever known.
Therefore, while it’s perfectly fine to show affection, try to remain calm during this transitionary period.
2. Start Things Off with a Nice, Long Walk
Once you bring your furry friend home, take them for a walk before actually bringing them inside.
This will serve as a good introduction to their new surroundings. It gives them plenty of time to become acquainted with all the new sights and sounds that they’ll encounter on a regular basis.
A nice long walk will also help calm your puppy down a bit before the excitement of touring their new home. This will make it much easier for them to handle the rest of the process.
Again, while you want to remain calm, your first walk will also help your dog familiarize themselves with you before encountering the many distractions your home has to offer.
3. Formally Introduce Their New Home
Even after your pet-pal’s first walk is out of the way, keep the leash on them. This way, you can remain in control during their first tour of the home. No matter how long your walk went, puppies can always find extra energy when they’re in a new place. Without a leash, you may struggle to keep up with them once they decide they have other plans for your tour.
The leash will also help with crossing the threshold. You want to bring your four-legged friend to the front door and try to get them to sit or lie down instead of actually entering. This way, you can enter first and then formally invite them in, establishing the roles of this new relationship.
4. Take Them on a Tour
It’s finally time to show your pup-pal around their new home. Use the leash to keep them by your side the entire time. As much as your little buddy will want to sniff around or decide where to go next, keep them close and remain in control.
At the same time, it’s okay to spend a few minutes in each room, so they’re able to do a little exploring. If you try to just walk through one room after the next, it’s only natural that your pup is going to resist a bit. Their senses will be going wild!
However, as you move on through your home, it is vital that, just like at the front door, you always go first. If you don’t begin establishing yourself as the “pack leader” while they’re still young, it’s most likely only a matter of time before behavioral problems emerge.
This applies to other areas of your property, too. Your backyard, patio, garage, or any other area outside the home are all opportunities to recommit to this important practice. Stay consistent!
5. Stick to Body Language and Simple Sounds
The time will come to let loose and play with your little pup and cuddle them all you want.
We’re not there yet, though.
Instead, while you’re showing them around your home, stick to using body language. You can also snap your fingers or make a “tsch!” noise to give your pup feedback.
Showing a person around this way would probably end in a very short tour – and friendship. However, keep in mind that your puppy is probably a bit overwhelmed at the moment, even after that nice long walk. You don’t want to give them more to deal with by touching and talking to them. Eye contact should be avoided , as well. That can definitely stress your furry friend.
So, just keep it simple. During the tour, all you’re really worried about is taking them from one room to the next – provided you lead – and letting them look and sniff around a bit.
6. Show Them Where Their Meals Will Be Served
When your tour is over, it’s time for a little reward.
Introduce them to what will no doubt become one of their favorite places in the home: their dining area.
Then, offer them a little reward in the way of water and a few bits of food. Don’t give them an entire bowl of food just yet, though. As they’re still on their leash, this could be very confusing.
7. Then Bring Them to Their New Room
After your little friend has had some water and a bite to eat, you’ll show them to their new bedroom.
This could be one of several areas in the home. Usually it’s their crate, but it might be a doggy bed, or simply a spot in the corner of a room that you plan to designate for your puppy. However, the good thing about using a crate now is that it will help with crate training later.
Whatever the case, now is the time to let them off their leash. By doing so, you’re telling your pup-pal, “This area is all for you.”
At this point, it’s not remotely uncommon for puppies to react by spending some time alone. For example, they might curl up in their new crate, even for several hours, before reemerging to engage with their new family.
This is perfectly normal. They’re simply getting used to their new place in the home. Plus, after so much activity, your little friend is probably a bit tuckered out, too.
8. Stay Calm and Assertive Throughout the Rest of the Day
Eventually, though, your four-legged friend will leave their space.
Unfortunately, it’s still not yet time to begin with the petting and cuddles and kisses.
That’s because first impressions matter and, again, the one you’re trying to make is that of the Pack Leader, the one in charge. In this role, you’re not falling all over yourself for this new, adorable addition to your family (even though you totally are on the inside). For you – the Pack Leader – it’s just another day. Don’t adjust your normal schedule. Go through it as you always do, remaining perfectly calm and exuding assertive energy.
Be sure to explain these rules to the rest of your family, too. It’s not going to be easy for anyone, but everyone must do their best to keep to their routines and giving space to the little guy or girl who may begin walking around and taking it all in.
Of course, if your pup wants to join in with whatever you’re doing, that’s different. Even the Pack Leader isn’t expected to completely disregard a sweet little fur-angle who wants to get to know them.
Still, don’t go overdo it with your affection just yet.
During this important time, your puppy is trying to figure out the rules of this new environment. Just as rule #1 is that you’re the Pack Leader, rule #2 is that this is your territory. That means you make all the other rules, as well. If you break and begin obsessing over them, they probably won’t learn these rules. In fact, they may start believing the exact opposite: that they’re in charge and you’re obviously just there to fulfill their every wish.
Everyone knows someone who has a dog that runs the show. Maybe you’ve even experienced this. It doesn’t make for a good living environment – for humans or dogs. So, stick with this plan the first day.
After your puppy begins settling in, go ahead and relax a bit. Show them all the love you want. Just be sure you keep up the regular long walks, so pent-up-energy doesn’t get the best of them.
9. Visit the Vet within the First Few Days
Up until this point, we’ve covered the most important tips for that first day you bring your new best friend home.
However, their future happiness will depend on a number of other factors, too.
Ideally, speak with a veterinarian before bringing home your adorable new addition. You should also know from the breeder or shelter what shots/vaccinations they’ve had prior to bringing them home.
Here’s what the vaccination schedule generally looks like for puppies:
- 6 to 8 weeks: Initial DHLPPC shot
- 10 to 12 weeks: Another DHLPPC shot
- 12 to 24 weeks: Rabies shot
- 14 to 16 weeks: Another DHLPPC shot
Of course, this will depend on what they’ve already had and any unique health factors. That’s why it’s a good idea to bring your pup to the vet within the first week or so. Even if the breeder/shelter has confirmed they’ve had everything necessary up until that point, it’s worth having a professional look them over to confirm.
They’ll also set up a formal schedule going forward.
10. Make Training a Priority
Whether or not you can actually teach a new dog old tricks is up for debate.
Still, there’s no point in testing out the theory with your pooch.
Most experts would agree that you should begin training your puppy immediately. If you followed the above advice, then you’ll have already started on the first day by making sure they enter new rooms by invitation only.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to set aside a set time everyday to go through a list of commands. You definitely can do that if you want, but it’s just as effective to simply practice those commands throughout the day.
Try for a combined 15 minutes every day, which can be broken down however you like. Get the whole family involved, as well. Just because you’re leading the pack doesn’t mean your pup should be allowed to ignore the other members when they’re giving commands.Likewise, don’t just practice in one room. Do it throughout the house, the yard, and even at the park.
Above all, be patient. Your pup is still very young and learning all kinds of rules, aside from the formal ones. Stick with it and you’ll see results.
11. Choose the Right Toys
Giving your puppy a new toy is always fun. It’s a blast watching them explore it before becoming overjoyed while playing with it.
Although there’s no shortage of options out there, be careful about the toys you buy your pup. Chew toys are especially important at this age, as they’ll need something durable to teeth on. Without chew toys, some of your possessions are going to look mighty attractive to the little guy or gal.
12. Supervise Them Around Other Pups, Kittens, and People
Finally, pay very close attention to your pup when they’re meeting other dogs, animals, or people.
A solid training schedule and lots of walks will go a long way toward keeping them controlled and calm in these situations.
Never get too confident, though. A puppy – even a well-trained puppy – can easily become overwhelmed or even scared by a new stimulus. The last thing you want is for your little friend to bite someone, even if it’s just mouthing.
Keeping Your Puppy’s Best Interest in Mind
As we’ve touched on, during this initial phase, it is of the utmost importance that you remain calm and patient.
Obviously, it’s a lot more fun to heap adoration all over them and play until they need a nap (before playing some more). The key is to understand just the importance of the 12 steps above. It’s not just about establishing your role or ensuring your pup follows the rules. It’s about keeping them happy, too.
Dogs crave order. By providing it to them early on – instead of indulging in cuddles-galore – your furry friend will grow comfortable with their new home much quicker and start enjoying it faster, as well.