Claire Hargrave - BSc(Hons), MSc, PGCE, C Sci, C Chem, MRSC, DAS(CABC), CCAB

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Puppy’s first few days

Claire Hargrave - BSc(Hons), MSc, PGCE, C Sci, C Chem, MRSC, DAS(CABC), CCAB
Reading time: 2 minutes

That brilliant moment when you finally collect the puppy you’ve been dreaming about is here! But you wouldn’t be the first person to find it a little daunting. Don’t worry, there’s plenty you can do to help the first few days run smoothly.

Meet the family

Dogs are social beings and when you first get your puppy home he or she will naturally crave contact and want to feel safe with you. It’s important you let this happen, but don’t feel you need to stay in the room with them constantly. They also need to learn you won’t always be there and you need to enable them to be independent.

As they meet other members of the family, make sure your pet isn’t stressed. Despite what you might think, if a puppy rolls over and shows you their tummy they’re not asking to be tickled; they want some space, so let them have it. And don’t let children fuss over your puppy too long.

After any visit or play, always let your pet out for a wee – emotional events trigger a need to go.

As well as stroking your puppy, get them used to contact such as having their ears, tail and paws examined. Then if you need to inspect them in a crisis, they will be used to it. Relax your puppy by giving them small treats while you handle them.

Meeting other pets

When you are introducing your new puppy to an existing pet, ensure they both have a means of escape. If you already have a cat, don’t leave them together unsupervised as the puppy’s playfulness might cause the cat to lash out. Never put either pet in a cage for the introduction.

Setting the routine

It’s important to set up the rules as soon as you get your puppy home. Establish patterns for when they go outside or are shut in a room, and when it’s playtime. The order in which events happen is more important than the exact times. As long as you feed your puppy several times throughout the day, feeding can be left out of the routine.

Dinner time

If your breeder or rehoming charity gave feeding recommendations, try to stick to these initially, then gradually introduce any dietary changes. Offer your puppy at least 4 meals a day, dropping to three meals at 10 weeks.

Toilet training basics

A puppy doesn’t develop the ability to associate what is under his or her feet with where to go to the loo until six or seven weeks old. There are several ways to toilet train. You can cover a whole area in newspaper and gradually make it smaller, moving towards the back door and eventually into the garden. Alternatively, you can wring out a cloth used to mop up its wee to ‘scent’ the area you want him or her to use. Always give your puppy lots of opportunities to get it right.

Bedtime

Your puppy won’t be used to being alone, so the best way to help them settle in at night is to sleep in their room with them while they make adjustments. Set up a camp bed or sleep on the sofa. You can use a pheromone diffuser to make the environment even more comforting if you wish. Until your puppy develops an ability to hold on, they won’t be able to make it through a whole night without going to the toilet. Plan to go to bed later and get up earlier. You might also need to get up during the night.

Claire Hargrave - BSc(Hons), MSc, PGCE, C Sci, C Chem, MRSC, DAS(CABC), CCAB

Claire Hargrave is the only Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourist accredited by the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) working in Wales. She is also a member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors. As the animal behaviour profession is as yet unregulated, and to ensure that a behaviourist has an adequate level of practical and theoretical experience, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, Dogs Trust and the R.S.P.C.A. advise veterinary surgeons and members of the public to ensure that they only seek advice from behaviourists accredited by ASAB or who hold APBC membership.

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