The Preparation

The first few weeks are very demanding, so it is important to set aside some time to get ready for your new puppy.  It's well worth the effort.  The homecoming will be less stressful and more relaxing for you and your new puppy if you plan ahead.  With advance preparation, you can focus on a the transition and bonding with your new puppy.

Arrangements And Appointment

  • Plan to spend a lot of time with your new puppy the first few weeks.  Try to arrange at least a one week vacation for the homecoming.  Clear your schedule if possible.
  • Establish the area of the house your puppy will have access to.  Prepare to block off the rooms that you do not want your puppy to enter.
  • Decide where the puppy will be napping during the day and sleeping during the night.  Consider using a plastic or wire exercise pen in the main living space of your home as well as a crate in the bedroom.
  •  Expect several nights without much sleep.  Puppies are use to sleeping with their littermates and your new puppy may be very lonely for the first few nights.
  • Make an appointment with a veterinarian.  Your new puppy should be examined by your veterinarian as soon as possible.  Ask neighbors and friends with dogs for recommendations.  Ask about emergency care services.  If you do not feel comfortable with the first veterinarian, look for another one.
  • Schedule a family meeting.  Discuss the needs of a little puppy, including the importance of uninterrupted naps and calm playtime.  Decide on the home rules. Are some rooms off-limits?  Will the puppy be allowed on the furniture?  Explain the responsibilities of each family member.  (Children will need adult supervision and frequent reminders.  Their roles must be age-appropriate.)  Tell your children that they need to avoid rapid movements and shouting around the puppy.  Problem behaviors like nipping and jumping should be discussed. 
  • If your puppy will be alone while you work, make arrangements with a neighbor or a pet sitter.  For the first few months, the puppy should not be alone for more than 4 hours at a time.
  • Doggie daycare should be avoided until the puppy is 6 months old.  The immune system of little puppies is not fully developed and they are at risk. 
  • Locate an obedience instructor that uses a positive approach to dog training.  Find out when the next puppy kindergarten class begins.  Puppy vaccinations should be required for all the puppies in the class.

Shop For Supplies

  • You will need a crate, a collar, a leash, a water dish, a food dish, grooming equipment, cleaning supplies, dog food, training treats, and a large assortment of safe toys.  I recommend stainless steel bowls.
  • A wire or plastic exercise pen and one or more baby gates are often very useful items.  The gates will allow you to block off staircases and rooms that will be off-limits to the puppy.  An pen with a crate in it gives your puppy room to move around. 
  • Anti-chew spray and clean-up products formulated for dogs are good to have on hand.  
  • Hold off on purchasing a nice dog bed for a year or two.  Puppies love to chew. 

Puppy-Proof Your Home

  • Fireplaces and wood stoves can be secured with a sturdy fireplace gate to prevent injuries.  
  • Household cleaners, chemicals and medications must be in a secure location. Antifreeze is very dangerous to pets and it must be stored out of reach of your dog. 
  • All medications should be out of reach, especially Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Advil (ibuprofen). These drug are toxic to dogs even in small doses.  
  • Electrical cords can be secured behind furniture or baby gates. Severe mouth burns or even electrocution can result from chewing cord.  If you plan to keep your puppy in the kitchen area when you are not at home, make certain that the puppy does not have access to the refrigerator cord. 
  • Move small objects out of reach. Small toys and coffee table items should be moved.  Puppies will ingest all sorts of items that may require surgical removal!
  • Some houseplants are poisonous and they need to be out of reach.  Consider placing your plants in hanging baskets. 
  • Toxic outdoor plants can be secured with wire exercise pens or garden fencing.  Consider transplanting toxic shrubs and perennial plants.