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Bringing Home Your New Puppy

Adopting or buying a puppy is a big responsibility. You are adding another member to your family for the next 10 to 18 years. Are you ready for this commitment? If you are reading this article, your answer is probably yes.

Bringing home your new family member is an exciting and enjoyable experience, but there are several things that you will need to expect and be aware of. The first few days can be nerve racking while your new puppy is adjusting to their new home. Patience and understanding are a must.

  1. Your new puppy will be scared and stressed, since they have just been separated from their siblings and placed in a new and unfamiliar environment. You can expect crying, whining and barking, and possibly an upset stomach as well. Show lots of love and attention, and remain calm, understanding and patient. Please.... DO NOT allow your new puppy to cry all night long. Most people would not allow a new born baby to cry that long, think of your puppy as a new born. Usually an 8-12 week-old puppy gets over the loss of its littermates quite quickly. This will subside after a few days.

  2. You will need to provide your new puppy with a safe environment and NEVER leave your new puppy to roam free unsupervised. Puppies are curious, fast and will chew on almost anything. Puppies are very destructive, fun-loving critters. Just accept that if an object is within a puppy's reach, it is going to get chewed. Puppies have a deep-set urge to chew on any and everything. So make the decision early on that the puppy will not have free range of your house. Puppies love to chew electrical wires, eat inedible foams, cardboard and plastic, leather and cloth items.

    Keep plenty of safe toys thrown about and available for the puppy. The next best thing is a puppy playpen about the size of a child's playpen. When you catch your puppy chewing on something that he/she shouldn't, reprimand him/her with a sharp NO! and immediately given one of his toys. Then praise him/her effusively.

    There will be a lot of backsliding because their urge to chew is so great. Don't criticize the puppy too much. Try to clear non-chewable items from his environment instead. When items cannot be removed, you can spray them with bitters mist available from your veterinarian or pet supply store.

    Until your puppy has worked through the “chew everything stage” keep a watchful eye on them and provide plenty of safe toys.

    Puppies have no sense for heights or danger, so PLEASE be sure to hold them securely to avoid injury. Puppies will jump out of your arms.

  3. Your puppy should have their own special place to feel safe and secure when you’re not home or unable to supervise them, and when they’re tired and need to rest. I personally prefer a crate or playpen. Even though they may not seem to like it at first, they will quickly become accustomed. Whatever you choose should contain a soft comfortable bed, fresh food and water, and a favorite toy. Please note, a bathroom or laundry room is NOT a safe and secure environment to leave your new puppy in while unsupervised.

  4. Keep dry food and water available at all times, especially during the first few days of their new home transition. Small breed puppies are nibblers and you do not want a scared and/or stressed puppy to become hungry. Changes in diet also cause stress, so DO NOT attempt to switch their diet (brand of food) on the first day of arriving at their new home, as this may very well cause tummy upset and/or diarrhea. DO NOT give your new puppy any milk products! This will cause your puppy to get diarrhea.

  5. Under no circumstance should your new puppy be allowed around other animals you do not know until they have had ALL vaccinations. A puppy’s immune system is very delicate and vaccinations are critical in maintaining your puppy’s health. Your new puppy will have their 1st vaccinations before leaving my home. You should choose your veterinarian immediately and have your puppy checked and set a calendar for additional vaccinations. Because your puppy's immunity against disease is not yet like that of an adult dog, I strongly recommend carrying puppy in your arms or crate into the vet's office and DO NOT place your new puppy on the vet office floor. In additions please do not let him/her interact with other dogs.

  6. Housetraining - Owners attitude is perhaps the single most important factor in successful housetraining. Every puppy will have mistakes in the house and he/she is not being bad when this happens. Puppies do not have sufficient muscle control to be completely housetrained before they’re at least 4-5 months old. You must be calm and patient, and practice consistency, or you will create anxiety, tension and confusion, which will lead to more accidents. The proper way is through rewards, praise and encouragement. It’s much easier to teach what you want, rather then discipline what you don’t. Remember puppies will relieve themselves within minutes of awaking and after eating. Keeping your new puppy on a schedule, being consistent and practicing patience are the key factors.

    I personally prefer and recommend washable potty pads over the disposable ones. Not only are disposable pads messy, but they also provide a possible choking hazard when chewed.

  7. NEVER attach a leash to a collar!! Harness only! Putting a collar on your Yorkie or Shih Tzu for "decorative fashion" or ID purposes is okay, but do NOT ever attach a leash to a collar. Always use a body harness. Your puppy has a very delicate trachea and the pulling and pressure from a traditional collar against their windpipe can contribute to trachea collapse.