Updated: Aug 25
Bringing your new best friend home is incredibly exciting, but transitioning to a 'dog-friendly' household can take a bit of time. Things that seemed innocuous one day could become dog hazards the next - it can make you see your home in a whole new light!
Our resident vet Dr. Imogen walks you through some of the things owners should expect - or might be surprised by! - when bringing their puppy home.
Puppy-Proofing the house
Puppy proofing is much like baby-proofing – they can put their little noses in everything, pick things up with their mouths, chew on anything left lying around. Here are a few simple things to remember that can save some headaches:
Make sure you get used to not leaving food or dangerous items on low-level coffee tables. If it's left at dog height, rest assured they will find it!
Put shoes away – anything on floor level is fair game for chewing with a little puppy around.
Ensure there is no access to the back of the TV, or anywhere else with pesky wires.
Place safety plugs into unused power outlets, and baby-gate any rooms you don’t want your puppy to wander into.
Watch out for lamps and ornaments at 'waggy-tail' level - it will save a lot of destruction!
A safe, secure sleeping space
Puppy needs a safe and comfortable space to sleep in that can become their ‘happy place’. There are many different approaches to this – you can choose a crate, a fluffy open bed, or a kennel. Ultimately this bed can be wherever you want, in the kitchen, laundry, your bedroom etc. For the first few nights it is ideal to keep this bed close to you so puppy doesn't feel so alone, and it can gradually be moved further away as they get used to their new home. We recommend to always house puppies indoors to protect them from weather, and keep them feeling safe and close to people. Make sure the bed is comfy and cushioned, and always associated with positive experiences. If the breeder has sent you home with a scent item to remind puppy of their mother, this is a great thing to pop in their sleeping space.
Be prepared for accidents
Your puppy with likely not be fully toilet trained if they’re coming to you at 8 weeks old, so absorbent puppy training pads will be a life-saver. If you don’t have your own garden and are planning on training the puppy to use a ‘doggie toilet’, have that ready to go from day one.
In terms of helpful essentials to buy, stocking up with biodegradable poo bags early-on will be important, as well as a non-toxic enzymatic cleaner to fully lift any urine scents out of the carpet or anywhere else.
Make sure you have checked with your breeder what they have been feeding the litter - both wet and dry food. If possible, try to stock up on the same food at least for the first couple of weeks. If you are choosing to swap to a new food, gradually transition from the old food to the new one, over the course of a week or more, to avoid tummy upsets. And don’t forget to buy some good food and water bowls.
Toys and treats
Training and bonding with your new puppy starts straight away! Have a few healthy treats in stock - these are great for rewarding good behaviour and creating positive associations early on - and start introducing your puppy to a rotation of exciting toys. Stocking up on toys the puppy is allowed to chew will be especially useful in those first few weeks (and save your furniture from chew marks)!
Collar, harness and lead
Your puppy will not have had all their vaccinations yet, so traditional 'dog walks' will not be possible for a couple of months. However, this doesn’t mean you can't prepare them for the outside world. It's a great idea to get them used to the feeling of wearing a collar and tag, have them fitted for a harness, and start teaching them to walk around the house and garden on a lead. It is very important to start taking your puppy out for safe 'socialisation' trips between the age of 8 and 16 weeks old, even if they can't walk around in public spaces like dog parks. A good harness with a seat-belt attachment for the car is essential if you are taking puppy out for drives and they are not in a crate. If you are taking trips to dog-friendly cafes and pubs or visiting friend's houses, having your puppy on a lightweight lead will give you an added sense of security knowing you can let puppy run around but you can reach them more easily if you need to quickly stop them getting into mischief!
Vet’s phone number
This is a vital one to have on speed dial! If your puppy falls off the bed, gets stepped on, or has a badly upset tummy, you need to have a plan for where you’ll go. Do some research in advance about the vet clinics in your local area, and decide on who your first port of call will be. Make sure everyone in the family has the number of your local vet, and the details of your nearest 24-hour emergency practice.