Puppies For Dummies
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Well, you’ve made it home with your new puppy! What can you expect in the first week? For starters, you can simplify your puppy's first day by showing him his free-play zone, the room he’ll call home until he’s grounded and potty trained.

Speak to your puppy softly and don’t correct him or respond if he has an accident or chews on something he shouldn’t. In the beginning, he’s too disoriented to retain anything; he’s just getting familiar with his new surroundings and denmates (as you are), so you’ll only frighten him. Relax.

Surviving the first 24 hours with your puppy

Prepare yourself and your family for the fact that the first day home with your puppy can be a little odd. After all the anticipation and preparation, your puppy is home. He may jump right into the mix, or he may pass out for days.

Your puppy might sleep straight through the night, or he may be up all night whining. The puppy may be rough, sweet, or completely aloof. Don’t take anything personally. This adventure is all very new, and he’s just trying to get a handle on what’s going on.

Bring your puppy into the puppy free-play zone the moment you come home; wait to introduce him to the other rooms of the house until he’s potty trained. Enclose him in the room and just observe, reflecting his interests calmly. Get down on his level, if possible. If he sniffs something, you sniff it too. If he acts startled, stay calm. If he’s interested in looking out the window, join him.

If your puppy wants to rest, be a quiet presence. You’re showing him that this new space is okay, and acting like an adult dog will give him reassurance. Try not to overwhelm him with your interests or affections. He needs time to adjust.

Adjusting in days two through seven

The first week is very progressive. By day two or three, you’ll notice your puppy watching you and getting excited when you walk through the door. You may be surprised to note the different reactions, but remember, his emerging personality is a sure sign that he feels safe and welcomed.

Establish a feeding schedule and stick to a routine. Remain patient with accidents or exploratory chewing, especially if he’s in his infant stage (younger than 14 weeks of age). If you notice your puppy chewing furniture or wires, use a distasteful spray like Bitter Apple to discourage him, or tape the wires out of reach.

Puppy-proof each area you share by placing objects such as dish towels and shoes out of reach. Avoid loud or physical interference because it will only overwhelm your puppy and discourage bonding. Running and shouting “No” to a puppy may make him stop in the moment, but you’d stop too if someone shouted at you.

During these early days, the most important lessons for your puppy are:

  • Helping your puppy learn his name: Fill a plastic container with some of his puppy food or favorite treats. Shake the cup and reward your puppy until he makes the association between the sound and the reward. Then call his name as you shake the cup and reward his focus. Always use his name to get his attention for positive interactions.

  • Teaching him where to go to get each of his needs met (eating, drinking, sleeping, playing, and going to the bathroom): Assign words to each routine so he begins to recognize your voice and connect words to actions.

Make these lessons the focus of your puppy's first week, and you’ll be well on your way to a wonderful life together!

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