Your New Puppy’s First Days
Your New Puppy’s First Days in your home can be a very stressful experience. For the very first time he’ll be around new humans, away from his mommy and his litter mates. He is also in a strange environment. For these reasons it’s very important to make your puppy’s transition from whelping box to family life as seamless as possible.
Dogs use their sense of smell as their main way of identifying people and places. Whenever possible, take a piece of your clothing or a towel with your scent on it to the rescue or breeder. Ask them to put it in with the puppy for the last week or so until you pick him up. By using the clothing or towel, it allows the dog to get used to your smell before it comes to live with you. When you take the dog away from it’s mommy and siblings it will already be familiar with your scent and will be more comfortable with you. This reassuring smell will also help to build your puppy’s trust and will help him bond with you faster.
The Bonding Process
Bonding is the most important thing you will ever do in your relationship with your new puppy. It begins the second you pick him up and head for your car. If he doesn’t feel safe with you, it is going to be much harder to gain his trust. That means that it will take much longer to create a strong bond between the both of you. Take it slow. With a smaller dog, wrap him, or hold him with the clothing or the towel mentioned above. Hold him gently until he is calm. Then move to your car slowly.
With a bigger puppy, connect the leash and hold the clothing or towel to your side or were he is able to smell it. Talk to him softly in a confident and friendly tone. When you get to the car, put him in the crate and sit beside him so he can see you. Then take a nice calm drive home. (This trip MUST NOT include any road rage moments. It needs to be peaceful).
When you reach home, plan to spend plenty of uninterrupted quality time with him for several days. Avoid the temptation to have friends and relatives stop by to meet him until he is comfortable. The puppy needs to get used to you and his new home. Too many people, to quickly, can overwhelm him and he could become frightened and withdrawn.
Upon your arrival home, take puppy directly to the place in the yard that you would like him to use for the bathroom. Since he doesn’t have the control to hold “it” for very long, he should be ready to “go” after the car ride. Spend a few moments. After he relieves himself, be sure to reward him with excited praise, a tactile reward or maybe a small piece of treat.
Since you have already prepared a safe environment for your puppy, spend the next 24 to 48 hours hanging out with your new puppy. Introduce him to your house. Take him to the door and put him on the leash. Once inside, allow him to discover all of the areas of the house that you want him to live in.
After he has checked out the house take him back outside. He will probably be excited so he may need to “go” again.
After this he will probably be ready for a nap. Put the clothing or towel (with your scent on it) into his crate or bed and allow him to go in. If you are using a crate don’t close the door at first. When he settles in, then, you can close the door. Remember, puppies don’t sleep for very long. After a short time he will be ready to play again. As soon as he wakes, take him outside again to that special place in the yard and let him “go” again. Remember to praise/reward him when he does.
Your New Puppy’s First 24-48 Hours
When you return to the house spend lots of time with him on the floor. This is the time when the bonding process actually begins to happen. During your new puppy’s first days I always suggest that you spend at least the first 24 hours on the floor with him. I actually put a sleeping bag and pillow on the floor. This way I can live at the dog’s level for the first 24-36 hours. It is important to stay in close contact as much as possible during your new puppy’s first days. This speeds up the bonding process and he will learn very quickly to be comfortable with you. He will actually think of you as his new litter mate. You don’t have to worry. You will only be assuming this role temporarily.
During Your New Puppy’s First Days with you, do not try to do any major training. It should be just a fun time. During this time, just play and hang out together. While doing so he will be checking you out and you need to do the same. Watch and note the way he acts and reacts to different things. Find out what toys he likes, what things he likes to do, and learn his actions and mannerisms.