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Tips for Welcoming Your Puppy Home

Welcoming your new puppy home is an exciting event — but it can also be a stressful one. Fortunately, you can make it less so by following a few simple tips.

Ease Your Puppy Into His New Home

You should plan to puppy-proof your home before bringing in your new pup, so that he has a safe place to call home. If possible, bring him home at the beginning of a weekend or vacation, so you don’t have to dash off to work the next day. And as tempting as it may be to invite all your friends to meet the new family member, now is not the time to confuse him further. Give him some time to get familiar with his new family and to start bonding with you. There will be plenty of time for him to meet everyone else later.

If you have other pets, you’ll want to make sure your veterinarian gives your pup a clean bill of health before you expose him to the rest of the household pets. Then introduce the new puppy to them gradually. The best way to introduce dogs is away from your home, so the original dog won’t feel territorial. If the new puppy knows how to walk on a leash, walking the dogs side by side is a good way to let them get to know one another. Bring lots of treats for your older dog and be liberal with them in exchange for his good behavior. Give the older dog plenty of attention to help prevent any jealousy.

Once you bring both dogs into the house, it may be a good idea to keep them separated unless you’re supervising. Even tolerant older dogs can tire of a puppy’s exuberance — don’t let the puppy jump all over the older dog unless the older dog likes it. When the older dog tires of the puppy’s play, he may growl and even snap, scaring but not biting the puppy. This is normal adult dog behavior, and it tells the puppy that enough is enough. It’s not OK, however, for your older dog to go after your puppy aggressively without provocation. Placing the puppy in an exercise pen is an ideal way to acclimate the dogs to each other and give the older dog a break while keeping the puppy safe.

The best way to introduce your puppy to a cat is to make sure the cat can get up out and of the way. Hold the puppy on a leash, so he can’t chase the cat. Don’t let the puppy corner or pester the cat, because the cat could scratch or bite him severely. Feeding them close to one another, but with the puppy in an exercise pen, can be a good way to get them used to each other.

Training Tips

You can start potty training the first day your puppy is home. Give the puppy a chance to relieve himself in the outdoor space you’ve decided will be his potty area, then let him explore in the yard or house — always supervised, of course. Prepare his meal and let him eat it in a secure place, such as his crate or sleeping area. Then take him outside to eliminate again. When he starts to tire, put him in his sleeping quarters.

Your puppy’s first night away from his old family is going to be confusing and very likely frightening. Do not make him sleep all by himself in another room. Even if you don’t intend for him to stay in your bedroom in the future, make an exception, so he has some company at first. If possible, have him sleep in a crate next to your bed rather than having him sleep directly on the bed. A very small puppy could fall off the bed, or you could roll over on him and crush him, so a crate helps protects him. The crate should be large enough so he can comfortably turn around in it but not much bigger to discourage him from soiling his sleeping area. It should also have plenty of soft bedding in it, as well as a durable stuffed toy he can use as a surrogate littermate (make sure the toy doesn’t include any parts he can chew off and swallow).

If having him sleep in your room is not an option, camp out next to him in his sleeping quarters for the night.

If your puppy is too uneasy to fall asleep all alone, let him fall asleep next to you outside the crate. When he’s snoozing soundly, pick him up and place him in the crate. He may awaken momentarily but will fall back asleep.

Your puppy will most likely wake up crying several times the first few nights. In some instances, he may need to go potty, but he may also just be scared. During the first few nights, check on the puppy if he cries, so you can take him out if he needs to eliminate and so he knows he is not alone. That doesn’t mean you spend the rest of your life rushing in at the slightest cry, but it does mean you acknowledge his distress and attend to his basic needs, such as comforting him or taking him out to relieve himself. Then you put him back in his bed.

Expect to get up once or possibly twice during the night to let him relieve himself. Also, expect to get up very early in the morning. You’ll want to get up early anyway — you’ve got the whole day to spend with your new family member!

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