While I cannot claim to have found the easy path to all of life's challenges, I do have some tips to help new puppy parents avoid common but unseen pitfalls that can lead to stress and anxiety during your puppy's first days home.
Before the homecoming
- Purchase and set up a play pin prior to your puppy's arrival and make sure that it contains all the basic necessity such as a doggy bed (an old pillow will do), water and food bowl, a few toys. See my must haves list on Amazon.
- Create the puppy's den near or within the area where most of your household activities take place. Keep in mind that your puppy will be spending a significant amount of time here during the first 6 months, so it should be sufficiently out of the way from day-to-day traffic.
- Food: I will make a separate post on food selection, but if you are bringing home a puppy younger than 3 months (especially in a breed where hypoglycemia is a concern), you may wish to purchase some goat's milk and or full-fat natural yogurt (I like Fage Greek Yogurt).
- Make your best attempt to bring the puppy home as early in the day as possible. Spending the day to acclimatize him/her to your home will help reduce stress of the first night alone for your puppy (and consequently you).
- Ask the breeder for a toy that has been used with your puppy and his litter mates. The scent will help alleviate the stress of a new environment, especially when your puppy will be alone.
- Feed your puppy in his play pen as soon as you arrive home (continue with the same food as the breeder). This will initiate the positive associations for your puppy to his new den. Do not punish your puppy in his den, or use it as a form of punishment.
- Spend as much time as possible with your puppy in his play den. Dogs want to be where you are, and being together in the area where you will leave him alone later on will make it feel less like a punishment.
- Divide periods of play time with short periods of alone time. Leave the puppy in his pen on the first day for 20 - 30 min at a stretch to get him used to your absence. Better still, give him a new toy before your departure to build positive feelings with being left alone.
- Play with your puppy before bed time. A tired puppy is a calm puppy and less likely to fuss.
- Place the toy you have obtained from the breeder near his bed.
- To simulate the warmth from litter mates, fill a clean sock with uncooked rice and heat in the microwave in 30 second increments until sufficiently warm. You may wish to use multiple layers if you puppy is an active chewer.