Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting time. Penny, one of the Holidaying with Dogs owners, knows first-hand thanks to her new German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP), Pearl. Penny has shared some of her top tips for getting prepared to bring home your new puppy and survive!
Your new puppy’s first night at home
The first night of bringing home a new puppy can be a bit daunting. It is a big adjustment for you too. Here are a few things you’ll need to make them feel comfortable.
- To crate or not to crate: Penny did plenty of research but in the end, decided this wasn’t for her. Instead, she bought a playpen to keep her contained overnight or when she popped out. For her, it is more flexible than a crate because it can be used to block a bigger space to give Pearl more room to move.
- Dog bed: Penny recommends nothing too expensive to start with. There’s every chance your puppy will chew it! Target and Kmart have a good selection.
- Fleece blankets: Your puppy will love to snuggle under a soft blanket. Again, they are likely to chew or have little accidents so until they are past this stage, get something cheap and cheerful.
- Waterproof mat for accidents overnight: Pearl didn’t really end up needing this overnight, but it was good to have on hand when she was left at home alone. She knew to pee on it rather than the floor/carpet and it’s really absorbent. Penny bought a Pet Pad from Billy Beds. They also have dog beds and bed covers that are pee proof and machine washable.
- Snuggly toy: Penny bought Pearl a Comfort-Heart-Beat-Toy to help her sleep through the night. The toy has a light heartbeat which can make your puppy feel like they are still sleeping with their mother, brothers, and sisters.
- Sleeping through the night: When they are small you may need to get up several times during the night to let them out for a wee or give some comfort. Penny was careful not to pick her up or talk to her when she did this. Penny said Pearl did pretty well in the early days and thinks the Comfort-Heart-Beat-Toy must have helped.
Creating a routine for your puppy
A routine is really important for your puppy. Once in place, it creates an expectation for both of you around when to eat, sleep, exercise, and go to the toilet. Eventually, they’ll be so set in their ways, if you forget something, they’ll be right there to remind you. You don’t need to have this all decided before bringing home your new puppy, but these are a few things to start thinking about.
Things for your new puppy’s meal time
- Bowls: You’ll need a food and a water bowl. Invest in stainless steel bowls because they’ll last forever and are really easy to clean in the dishwasher or transport when you’re Holidaying with your Dog. Kmart has a large stainless steel bowl that is perfect. You can buy two, one for water and one for food.
- Food: If you’re getting a dog from a breeder they’ll probably give you a few tips. Pearl is eating Blackhawk Puppy Dry Food which is an Australian company that sources all of their high quality, natural ingredients in Australia. You can also get a recommendation from your vet or local pet food store.
- Feeding time: Start with a recommendation from the breeder or your vet when you first bring home your new puppy and then go from there. Each dog is different in terms of how food driven they are and when they prefer to eat. Follow their lead on this.
- Treats: Penny only buys natural options for Pearl. She started with a variety to work out what she likes best and what keeps her attention for training. To keep her occupied for a while, a pigs ear (available from most pet shops) or a brisket bone (from the butcher and cut up into small pieces works really well).
Toilet training your puppy
- Poo bags: Oh Crap bags are fully compostable and made with cornstarch. You will need these on hand when you begin dog walking.
- Cleanup: At home, you can either use the Oh Crap bags or collect their business with a pooper scooper. K-mart has a great and affordable Pet Poop Scooper for just $8. For larger dogs (larger poo) you might need something bigger so try Petmate Rake and Pan from Petstock at $49.99.
- Accidents: All puppies have accidents so you’ll need something to remove stains and odors – Wee Off is pretty good and it’s not a chemical treatment so it won’t ruin carpet/fabric.
- Training: Consistency, consistency, consistency. When they wake up, take them out right away. Also, take them outside after they eat or wake up from a nap. Make sure they know how happy you are that they’ve done it outside and not on your new rug!
There are a few things that are pretty key to teach your puppy from day one.
- Puppy school: Once your puppy has had their first vaccination, you can enrol your dog in puppy school – either through your vet or a dog trainer. It’s important to teach both you and your dog the basics, and if you decide not to go to puppy school, there are a lot of great tips available on YouTube. Penny didn’t do school this time and has been focusing on the things below.
- Sit on command: This is one of the first things to teach your pooch. You will be able to use this before mealtimes, out on walks or when they are meeting new people.
- Stay: Once you’ve mastered sit, start trying to get your pup to stay for a short while. Again, this is really useful for mealtimes and meeting new people. As they get better at this, try getting them to stay for longer periods and from greater distances.
- Recall: There are plenty of great off-lead parks to walk your dog, but if you can’t get them to come back to you it’s no fun. Start with small distances and get them to come when you call. Use treats to entice them to you.
- No jumping: Try and stop this early on. Pearl loves to jump to say hello and it is hard to resist, but as she gets older, it isn’t as cute. Ignore the jumping behaviour and then praise them with lots of pats and love when they are calm.
- Walking on lead: When you have control of your dog on lead, walking is much more enjoyable. Keeping them on a relatively short leash so you have control when you need to. Puppies are so excited by the new world, sometimes all it takes is for someone to look at them and they start pulling on the lead.
- Praise wins: Positive reinforcement is really important during your training. Never yell or punish them if they have ignored your cue.
RSPCA Australia has some great information about the do’s and don’ts of training your dog if you want to do some more research on this before bringing home your new puppy.
How to exercise and entertain your new puppy
Puppies have so much energy and you’ll quickly realise that keeping them busy and entertained keeps them out of mischief (most of the time). Before they’ve had their vaccination, you can’t socialise them with other dogs, so you will need to do this at home. It is the perfect time to begin your puppy training.
- Going for walks: Penny has a collar, lead, and harness for Pearl. As with bed and blankets, if your puppy is going to grow quickly (like Pearl) then you’ll have to replace them pretty quickly. She started pretty cheap but will start investing a bit more now she’s getting bigger and walking on lead more. One of her favourites is BOco who has a range of genuine leather collars and leads.
- Toys: To begin with, you may need a lot of different options to work out what your dog likes. There are a number of trainers who also suggest that you’re strict on which toys they can use with which activities, but Penny isn’t doing that. The main thing is to use the toys to redirect their attention – if Pearl is chewing something Penny doesn’t want her to (or biting) then she gives her a toy to chew instead. A mixture of things like:
- balls to throw,
- ropes to play tug,
- chew/squeaky toys for keeping her occupied and giving her something for teething,
- a number of trainers also recommend Kong toys for an engaging way to feed your dog.
- Playing with other dogs: Socialising your pup is really important, but you can’t do this until they’ve had their first vaccination. Once you’re ready, try with a friend or family member’s dog first if you can. Let them meet off-lead in an enclosed area so you don’t need to worry about them running off. When they know how to behave in a group of dogs, letting them play is the best way to give them exercise and really tire them out.
Grooming your new puppy
It’s really great to get your puppy used to being groomed so that when they need to interact with a vet or a groomer, they can sit still and be relaxed during the process. The level of grooming will depend on whether your dog is long or short-haired, a shedding, or non-shedding dog. You can visit a groomer for all your needs, but if you’d like to do it yourself, here are a few things you might need before bringing home your new puppy.
- Brush or comb
- Shampoo and conditioner: Penny uses Mr Fluff which is an all-natural two in one
- Nail clippers
Dogs are life
Download your Puppy Preparation Checklist HERE to help you when you are bringing home a new puppy.
Once they are settled in, you’ll be amazed how quickly they become a member of the family. So much so, you won’t want to leave them behind, especially on holidays.