Are you getting a puppy soon? So am I!! The countdown has begun and the past few days have been a mission of getting everything prepared. I’ve tried to think of everything to make the transition for my cat and dogs easy whilst also making the first few days and weeks as stress free as possible for the puppy and me (and my housemate and partner).
Here’s a little checklist of what I’ve done so far….
1) What time are we arriving home with the puppy?
We’ve co-ordinated the pick up and journey so we will be getting home as early as possible. This will turn out to be midday, so the puppy has as long as possible to get use to their surroundings before bedtime. The dogs will be out on a walk when we arrive so my puppy can get their bearings before meeting three new dogs.
2) The Journey.
I’ve asked the breeder to not feed the puppy within 1.5 hours of us picking him up, so he doesn’t become nauseous in the car- she knew to do this already, but no harm in checking. She has already done a few car trips with the puppy- so it is not their first trip.
We have a booster seat for the puppy to go in if sitting on our laps doesn’t work. Towells will be at the ready for any accidents!
I do not advise putting your puppy in the boot in a crate. The boot of the car is the least stable part of a vehicle and pups are likely to get thrown around more (unless you’re driving in a straight line the whole way!). I would even consider not having them in a crate unless you feel it’s best for their safety: taking into consideration your vehicle, whose picking up the puppy (a crate may be safer if you’re on your own), their size and behaviour. Larger pups may benefit from being on the back seat with another person keeping them company. Having a crate set up on standby is a good idea for larger pups who may not be able to settle on laps. If you are going to crate your puppy for the journey, try and set up your car so the crate is as close to you or a passenger as possible.
I have asked the breeder to feed raw food for the last week so my pup transitions easily onto my food of choice. They were already fed a variety of foods to prep them for owner’s choices (sensible breeder!). It’s a good idea to not change your pup’s food for a week or so, however, I wouldn’t want my puppy to eat Beta (the popular cheap food many breeders feed puppies) or similar foods. You can always offer to pay the breeder to get your food of choice, and from 5-6 weeks of age pups should be getting fed individually to avoid food guarding over a shared bowl.
4) The home environment
– Adaptil plug-in set up.
Adaptil collars and plug-ins have been shown to have some effect on how easily pups settle into their homes and experience disturbances in the night. I have opted for a plug-in and have set this up so it is circulating well when the puppy arrives.
– Feliway plug in for my cat
To try and help them cope with stress. My house is already set up for the cat to feel safe around the dogs (we had two cats until recently). She’s allowed on the table to eat so she feels safe.
– Puppy proofing
Wires have been hidden, items have been moved up high.
A small fence has been purchased (yet to be delivered) to prevent my puppy tumbling off the drop onto a lower tier in my garden.
I have checked my house plants are safe- the Dogs Trust have a fantastic list.
-Puppy pens set up in advance.
This is so my dogs get use to them being there.
My puppy may need to stop him harassing the dogs or to eat/chew without my dogs stealing them (I don’t think they will, but better play it safe!). I have situated one pen next to the sofa so if my puppy needs to be penned away they are not socially isolated. It happens to be next to Tooey’s favourite sofa spot, so I am not sitting there so he gets use to using a different part of the sofa.
If you have children- set up the crate/pen and also put some tape on the floor as a visual cue that they are not to approach the area- it MUST be your puppy’s safe place. Every day run a little fun quiz…. “hey kids, where is the puppy’s safe place? Yeah that’s right, it’s their pen”. Reinforce their awareness of the area: “Well done for not stepping over the line! You’re going to get (insert treat/toy/game here) for being so aware of the puppy’s safe place!”
Repetition is key for children to learn and it’s sensible to put this boundary in before the excitement of an actual puppy takes over.Tell the children what you want them to do and repeat repeat repeat! Be proactive rather than reactive- telling them off for doing it wrong.
– Chew items out already
Stag bars, root chew and olive branches are all out so my dogs have had a ‘go’ at the ovel items and subsequently lost interest. This should reduce any resource guarding.
– Deep House Clean
I want the first week or two to be as easy as possible for me and have opted to do a deep clean now so I am under no pressure to use the hoover and mop around the puppy until they are settled.
5) A plan for nighttime!
I cannot express it enough…..please do not put your puppy in a crate in a room on their own on their first night! Sleep with them, whether that is upstairs with you or you downstairs with them. Imagine how weird it must be to go from having your siblings for warmth and suddenly being all alone in a strange room? It’s unsurprising that being left to ‘cry it out’ is thought to be neurologically damaging.
Research has shown puppies who sleep with other dogs tend to sleep through the night, but I do not want to rely on Uncle Tooey and need to ensure the dogs get on well
My plan is for my puppy to be downstairs, because getting them outside quickly enough from my room during the night is likely not going to work. Plus, Kanita and Roo already sleep upstairs and my partner and I decided two dogs upstairs was enough. So Uncle Tooey will soon have company downstairs.
We are setting up an airbed and I’ll be sleeping on this until my puppy sleeps through the night without needing the loo or has a clearly established night time routine.
I’ll be setting my alarm at intervals so my puppy doesn’t have to cry to go to the loo, the idea is I beat them to it. If they do cry, I’ll attend to them quickly so they don’t escalate. Upon bringing them back inside I’ll help them settle down before going back to my airbed, which will be initially positioned right next to the pen. Over the course of a few days the bed will be gradually moved further away.
6) Workload/ trips
I have no intentions of going anywhere for at least 3 months and have 6 weeks off seeing clients so I can focus on training my puppy and my dogs (and hopefully get time to work on editing my research project for submission to publish!).
Harness, leads, bowls, beds etc…..it’s all there and ready for use.
We also have loads of raw meaty bones, kongs and lickimats on standby to help manage all of the dogs. Chewing and licking increases the activity of GABA- the calming neurotransmittor. It’s also a very tiring activity- so get those pups chewing and licking (puppy safe items).
8) A vaccination and socialisation plan
My puppy is unvaccinated (as my breeder is aware different vets use different brands and doesn’t want her puppies to be over vaccinated- very sensible!). I have had a discussion with my vet on my intended vaccination protocol and checked they are able to provide it- which they are. My puppy is having one DHP vaccination at 12 weeks when the antibodies from his mother’s colostrum has likely worn off- then he’ll be titre tested at 16 weeks to see if that vaccination has taken hold. Up until that point I will be carefully socialising my puppy with the outside world weighing up the risk of disease in certain areas vs the risk of behaviour problems for shielding him from the outside world. More dogs under the age of 3 years of age are put to sleep due to behaviour problems than for any other reason (Boyd et al 2018). Disease is indeed still a risk, so careful consideration is required as to where pups are taken and who they interact with.
I will also be speaking to my vet about how we are going to go about vaccinating my puppy, due to covid and how the practise operates (owners can’t go inside). If possible, I will be getting my puppy vaccinated in the car next to me or in the car park by the car (secure on lead). If not, my vet will be given clear coaching on how to use stimulus blocking/over shadowing with food to make the experience as positive as possible.
9) Catching up on sleep……wish me luck 😛