Surviving Your First 30 Days With a New Puppy

Puppy in owner's lap
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As soon as you get your new puppy, love on him and let him hear the sound of your voice.

You want to know the first two thoughts of a new puppy owner? 

I got a new puppy!

Now what do I do?

Congratulations! You’ve just entered the Twilight Zone. In a good way, of course. For the next 10 or more years, you are going to have more fun and love and licks than you know what to do with. Let me help you get started with the first month, and then you and your puppy will be off and running to a great life together.

Going Home

The first day with your new puppy will involve traveling, whether it’s a short distance from the shelter or a local breeder or a long ride in a car or the cabin of a plane. This is the perfect opportunity to start teaching your puppy to love his crate. Be sure it’s well stocked with treats and, if possible, a towel or T-shirt that bears the scent of his mother and littermates. That will go a long way toward making him comfortable in his new surroundings.

When you arrive, make sure he potties before you bring him indoors. Praise him and give him a treat when he does. Keep him on leash inside — free run of the house is still far in his future.

Sit on the floor with him or on the sofa, if you plan to allow him on the furniture. Love on him and talk to him, so he gets to know the sound of your voice and touch of your hand. This is a great time to start teaching him that it’s OK for you to touch his paws, look inside or sniff his ears, rub his belly, touch his tail and groom him with a soft brush.

Remember that puppies don’t have good bladder or sphincter control yet, and excitement can make them need to pee or poop. Take your puppy out to potty after 15 to 20 minutes of play, as well as after every meal. A potty run should be the first thing you do with him in the morning and the last thing you do with him at night.

Let your puppy spend a short amount of time in his crate. This is a big day for him, and he needs some time to himself, so he can process his new situation. It’s okay to have the crate in the living room or some other area in the home where people are coming and going, but don’t bug him while he’s in there. Unless he needs to go potty, walk away calmly if he starts to whine or bark. Don’t let him out until he’s being quiet.

You’ll want to get your pup to the veterinarian within 48 hours of bringing him home. That’s important to make sure he’s in good health. Many puppy purchase contracts require an exam within that time frame as well. Without it, the seller may be unwilling to accept the pup’s return if he has a serious illness or congenital or hereditary defect.

The first visit can be strictly for a physical exam and weigh-in. It’s a good opportunity for your pup to meet some nice new people, get handled by them and get some yummy treats. Depending on when his last set of vaccinations took place, you can then schedule the next round of vaccinations.

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