Helpful tips about bringing puppy home
by Susan M. Young
I’m getting a puppy! It seems like everyone said that last year. People decided that they needed some furry companionship to go with our stay at home orders, and this was a wonderful thing for many homeless pups.
For my husband and me, the decision to add a puppy was one that has been long-planned, and our big day is finally coming near. As I write this, the big event is two weeks away. When I scroll through Facebook, it seems many other people are also planning to add a pup in January, and the same questions keep popping up. What do I need for the new puppy? How do I handle the first few days? Let me share my preparations for this big event.
Your puppy will need a collar, ID tag, and a leash, of course. Plenty of chew toys such as kongs filled with peanut butter (xylitol-gum free), Nyla- bones, and rope toys are my favorites for keeping a puppy occupied. A rope toy soaked in water then frozen makes a great chew toy for teething puppies.
Find out what food your puppy is currently eating and get the same food. You can switch it later if you need to, but stick to the same diet for at least two weeks. Leaving their littermates and going to a new home is pretty stressful, so let’s not upset their belly with a diet change.
Also, get a dog crate (or two or three). Crate training your puppy now will help in the future if he ever needs to be kenneled or stay overnight at a vet clinic. My set up is pretty simple. I have one crate in our bedroom for sleeping and one large crate or exercise pen in the living room for playtime. I also keep one in the car for traveling. I know not everyone can afford three crates, but I tend to collect them since I show dogs.
The Humane Alliance has a thrift store on Patton Avenue where you can find dog crates of all sizes at a reasonable price. My multi-crate set up gives the puppy a place to be safe when I can’t watch him but allows him to still be with the family. It also helps him learn to hold his bladder, and it gives the older dogs a break from the puppy always wanting to play. I use these crates until I can trust the puppy not to damage items or pee on the floor. The bedroom crate is usually the last to go.
I also suggest preparing for the first few nights. For the first time, the puppy is going to be sleeping alone, without a pile of littermates to cuddle against. Everything is new and smells different. Imagine being a little kid in this situation. Wouldn’t you be scared and lonely? When you pick up your puppy, take a fluffy towel and several plush toys with you. Rub them against mom and the other pups. Get them good and stinky and filled with the smells that your puppy is familiar with. Then place everything in a plastic bag until bedtime.
For the first few nights, I sleep with a small puppy crate on my night table so that the pup can see me as I sleep and so I can stick my fingers in if he starts to fuss. I fill the crate with the towel and plush toys so he can cuddle up to lumpy things that smell familiar. It’s incredible how well they will sleep at night with this setup. Once the puppy is settled in and sleeping well for several nights, I transfer them to the crate on the floor, and all is well. If you don’t have a small crate, replacing your bedside table with a large crate will work for a few nights. The idea is to be nearby.
Remember, this is a baby. The world is new and every experience he experiences new. Our job is to help him through it as stress-free as we can.
One last suggestion: Start looking now for puppy training classes and safe places to socialize. Setting your new puppy up for success now will pay off in the future. Enjoy your new puppy, and congratulations!
Susan M. Young is a long-standing Asheville area Real Estate Broker and has been active in dog sports with her Golden Retrievers for over 25 years. She can be reached through her website at www.SusanMYoung.com