What to do when bringing home a new puppy

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Professional dog trainer Kathy Santo talks about how to integrate your new puppy into your home. She discusses everything from supplies and preparation steps, to the car ride home, the first few days, and how to introduce him or her to your family and other resident pets.

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  • Kathy Santo

    Kathy Santo Professional Dog Trainer Kathy Santo is a columnist for the American Kennel Club’s Family Dog Magazine, and House Beautiful. Good Housekeeping has launched her as their online “Pet Expert” and in 2005 her dog training book, Kathy Santo’s Dog Sense was internationally released. more about this expert »

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What to do when bringing home a new puppy There is a lot to do and consider when bringing home a new puppy. Prepare yourself with the following:
  • Premium puppy food
  • Stainless steel non-tip food and water bowls
  • Identification tags with your puppy's name and your contact information
  • A collar and a leather or nylon six foot leash that's 1/2 to 3/4 inches wide
  • Stain remover for accidents
  • Brushes and combs suited to your puppy's coat
  • Dog shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste
  • High-quality safe chew toys to ease teething
  • Flea, tick, and parasite controls
  • Nail clippers
  • A room (or at least a place he can call his own, such as a cage or a crate that will fit his adult size)
  • Treats

Puppy-proof your home by getting down on your hands and knees to view the world in your puppy’s eyes.

  • Look for electrical wires, small objects hidden under couches and chairs that could be swallowed, or hiding spaces where a small pup could get stuck.
  • Install a baby gate, or keep the doors closed to rooms the puppy should be restricted from entering.

The trip home:

  • On the first trip home it's OK to have a passenger hold your puppy in a soft blanket or towel on their lap. After the first trip home, use a crate to travel.
  • Bring home a new puppy when the house is quiet. Minimize the number of visitors stopping by the first few days.

Steps to bring your puppy home and make him comfortable:

  • Before bringing him in the house, take him to the area in your yard that will serve as his potty and spend a few minutes there. If he goes, praise him. If not, proceed into the house, but be sure to take him to this spot each time he needs to go to the bathroom.
  • Introduce him to his crate or the room that will serve as his ‘den’ and spend extra time with him there so he is comfortable.
  • Supervise your puppy at all times and interact with him regularly. Exercise pens are excellent for when you're home, but busy or unable to fully dedicate yourself to supervising your young pup.
  • Be alert for signs-- sniffing and circling-- that he has to go to the bathroom. Then take him out immediately.
  • Establish your routine. A young puppy has no bladder control and will need to urinate immediately after eating, drinking, sleeping, or playing.
  • Don't punish an accident.
  • Praise your puppy every time he goes to the bathroom outside.
  • Feed your puppy a formula designed for puppies.
  • Have the contact info of your local veterinary office readily available in case of an emergency.

Spend time with your kids during these first few days explaining commonsense rules on how to play with the puppy and limit puppy-children play sessions to 15 to 30 minute periods two to three times a day.

At first, keep resident pets separated from your new puppy, but only for a few days. After that time, let pets smell and touch each other through a slightly open door until they become comfortable. Supervise all meetings until they are completely at ease with one another. 

Transcript Hi. I'm Kathy Santo with Iams. Today we're going to talk about what to do when you bring home your new puppy. We'll cover everything from supplies and preparation steps to the car ride home, the first few days-- how to introduce him or her to your family, and more.
 
Before you bring your puppy home, prepare yourself with the following supplies. Premium puppy food to get your new puppy off to a good start, stainless steel non-tip food and water bowls, identification tags with your puppy's name and your contact information. A collar, and a leather or nylon six foot leash that's 1/2 to 3/4 inches wide, stain remover for accidents. Brushes and combs suited to your puppy's coat, dog shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, high-quality safe chew toys to ease teething. Flea, tick, and parasite controls. Nail clippers. A room, or at least a place he can call his own, like a cage or a crate that will fit his adult size. And of course, treats.
 
Once you have the supplies, it's time to puppy-proof your home. Raising a puppy is a lot like raising small children. They get into everything. Some of what they get into can be hazardous to their health. So start preparing for your puppy's arrival long before the actual date. You'll thank yourself later.
 
A helpful tip: Get down on your hands and knees to view the world like your puppy will. It may help you to find things that you wouldn't have seen otherwise-- electrical wires, small objects hidden under couches and chairs that could be swallowed, or hiding spaces where a small pup could get stuck. There are sprays that can be applied to furniture legs, woodwork, and other immovable items to help deter your puppy from chewing on things you don't want him to chew on.
 
Are they rooms your puppy should be restricted from entering until he's better trained and more reliable? If so, install a baby gate, or keep the doors to those rooms closed until your puppy matures.
 
Exercise pens are excellent for when you're home, but busy or unable to fully dedicate yourself to supervising your young pup. If you're about to make dinner, for example, rather than crating your dog or locking him in a puppy proof room alone, set up an exercise pen in the kitchen with you. This will allow him to get used to being around your family's routines while also staying out of the way. It will also allow him to feel like he's part of the family.
 
Once your house is ready, it's time to bring your new family member home. You're wanting to do your best at keeping this from being overly stressful experience for your puppy. So it may not be the best idea to bring the whole family, especially if you have excited, young kids. Also, keep in mind that the vibration, sounds, and the movements of your car can be very scary for young pup and make them nervous.
 
On the first trip home it's OK to have a passenger hold your puppy in a soft blanket or towel on their lap. After the first trip home, you should begin using a crate to travel for both the dog and the other passenger's safety in the car. Try purchasing a dog seat belt that's specifically designed to restrain and protect your companion in case of an accident.
 
The ideal time to bring home a new puppy is when the house is quiet. Do your best to minimize the number of visitors stopping by the first few days so you can establish a daily routine by following these steps.
 
Step one. Before bringing him in the house, take him to the area in your yard that will serve as his potty and spend a few minutes there. If he goes, praise him. If not, proceed into the house, but be sure to take him to this spot each time he needs to go to the bathroom.
 
Step two. Take him to the room which will service as his new den, and if using one, set up his crate. Put bedding and chew toys in the room and let him investigate. If he chews or urinate on his bedding, permanently remove it. Understand that a young puppy is not like an adult dog. Treat him with patience and constant supervision. The way you interact with your puppy at this age is critical to his socialization. Use these tips:
 
One. You should spend a little extra time with your new puppy on his first day home, but you want to acclimate him to your regular routine quickly. If necessary, hire a dog walker or ask a neighbor to come take him out at regular intervals during this training period, and going forward as your pup grows up.
 
Two. Supervise your puppy at all times and interact with him regularly.
 
Three. Be alert for signs-- sniffing and circling-- that he has to go to the bathroom. Then take him out immediately.
 
Four. Establish your routine. A young puppy has no bladder control and will need to urinate immediately after eating, drinking, sleeping, or playing. At night he'll need to relieve himself at least every three hours.
 
Five. Don't punish an accident. Never push his nose in the waste or scold him. He won't understand and might learn to go to the bathroom when you're out of sight.
 
Six. Praise your puppy every time he goes to the bathroom outside.
 
Seven. Feed your puppy a formula designed for puppies. Like a baby, he needs nutritious, highly digestible food.
 
Eight. Have the contact info of your local veterinary office readily available in case of an emergency.
 
For those with children, another extremely important part of bringing home your new puppy is making sure your kids know how and how not to handle a young dog. If your children are young or aren't familiar with how to handle puppies, you need to spend some time with them during these first few days explaining commonsense rules on how to play with the puppy. For example, tell them that dogs have sensitive hearing, so it's important not to shriek or yell. Puppies in particular need a lot of rest, just like a growing child.
 
Limit puppy-children play sessions to 15 to 30 minute periods two to three times a day. You need to keep an eye on a puppy. An excited puppy can be strong when he jumps, and play bites, which can be too rough for young children. Always supervise interaction and separate them if play is too rough.
 
If you have other pets, you'll also need to spend some time getting them used to having each other around. At first it's best to keep resident pets separated from your new puppy, but only for a few days. After that time, let pets smell and touch each other through a slightly open door. Do this several times over the next few days. After that, give the resident pet access to the den area with your new puppy. Supervise their meeting and go back to through-the-door meetings if trouble arises. Exercise pens can also help old and new pets get used to each other's presence in a restricted and safe manner.
 
Lastly, what you'll need to do is get the puppy in to a veterinarian for an initial puppy examination to make sure he's in perfect health.
 
I'm Kathy Santo for Iams with Howdini. I hope that you found this helpful as you welcome your new addition into your family. For more information on puppy care and training, visit iams.com/puppy.

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