Your New Puppy’s First Days
Your New Puppy’s First Days can be a very stressful experience for him. For the very first time he’ll be around new humans, away from his mommy and littermates. He will also be in a strange environment. For these reasons it’s important to make the puppy’s transition from litter to home life as seamless as possible.
Whenever possible, take a piece of clothing or 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 it up. Dogs use their sense of smell as their main way of identifying people and places. By using the clothing or towel, it allows you to carry a familiar and comforting sent home with you. This gives the puppy a reassuring smell that he already knows and trusts.
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 you. Take it slow. With a smaller dog, wrap him, or hold him with the clothing or the towel. Hold him until he is calm. Then move to your car slowly.
With a bigger puppy, connect the leash and hold the clothing or towel in your lap or were he is able to smell it. Talk softly in a confident 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. The temptation to have friends and relatives stop by to meet him should be avoided at all cost. 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 Too many people, to quickly, can overwhelm him and he could become frightened and withdrawn.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 or maybe a small peice 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 you want him to live in.
After he has checked out the house take him back out. Because he will probably excited he may need to “go” again.
After this he will probably be ready for a nap. Put clothing or towel (with your scent on it) into his crate and place or allow him to go in. 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 out to that special place in the yard and let him go potty. Remember to reward him when he does.
The 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. 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 his 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 littermate. You don’t have to worry. You will only be assuming this role temporarily.
During this first week or so do not try to do any 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 things. Find out what toys he likes, what things he likes to do, and his actions and mannerisms.