You may be thinking, now what?
First things first, congratulations on your new furry family member! Get ready for endless cuddles, licks and precious moments together - few things are as exciting in life.
With great puppy ownership also comes great responsibility. Cute as your furry friend may be, he or she will require lots of love, attention and energy to raise.
This guide covers all the puppy products and advice you’ll need to consider and prepare before (and after) the big day: from bringing them home, to tips on food, housing, socialisation and more, all of which will help your puppy adjust to their new home more easily.
Before you know it, you and your puppy will be enjoying a paw-some new life together!
It pays to be prepared for the arrival of your pup, but there are SO many items to consider!
At the minimum, make sure you’ve thought about the following products:
Curious to find out what else you might need? Check out more puppy products here.
Besides preparing food, bedding and other products, you should puppy proof the inside and outside of your house before your puppy arrives home.
It may seem overly cautious, but remember that your puppy is in many ways like a toddler! They’ll explore, chew on things and end up in all sorts of predicaments.
To make sure your puppy is as safe and secure as possible around the house, here’s what you should focus on in each area of the home:
Here’s a list of potential hazards to be aware of in your house:
One of the most IMPORTANT things on your new pup checklist is their food and diet.
Fun fact: Puppies use about 50% of their total energy just for growing.
The food your puppy eats provides the building blocks for everything from their coat, internal organs and bones to energy levels.
Feeding them premium pet food that has quality ingredients and better digestibility is essential—the higher digestibility, the better your puppy will absorb the nutrients needed.
Though there are many benefits to a premium pet food diet, we recommend that you feed what the breeder, pet shop or pound has been feeding your puppy for at least the first week as they transition into their new home.
You could also try gradually mixing in the new food with the old in increasing ratios until it has fully changed over. This is to ensure that your puppy does not feel the added stress of a sudden diet change after arriving into a new house!
Your puppy needs their own quiet place to snooze, snuggle and dream.
But not all beds are made equal—ask yourself the following when choosing the perfect bed:
In any case, make sure that you also have a sleeping area set up with a comfortable and warm bed. It would be a good idea to crate-train your puppy after they arrive home. Here’s a lesser known fact: dogs have a natural instinct to be in a den! They find it to be a natural safe space/retreat and so they take to crates (which mimic dens) very well.
With a clear house, puppy food/bedding/toys ready and products to clean up any potential mess, you should now be ready to bring your puppy home! For more detail on preparing your home for the arrival of your pup, check out this section on puppy proofing your house.
Bringing home your puppy for the first time is exciting, but it also pays to be cautious and prepared. Remember, it will be a stressful time for your pup as they are about to separate from their previous family and litter. Your role as their pet parent is to soothe their worries and help them make the most successful transition possible.
When you go to pick up your puppy from the breeder, pound or pet shop, you’ll want to bring along a blanket, collar, leash, snacks and water as well as cleaning products in case your puppy gets carsick or soils the car.
The overall list of things you might want to bring include:
You may also want to ask the breeder for the following:
Traveling with your puppy in the car is a key time for the two of you to bond. This may be your puppy’s first time traveling, so bear in mind that they may already be feeling a little frightened or anxious from all the new sights, sounds and smells.
To help your puppy have the smoothest car ride home, consider the following:
Make sure that you have all or at least most of the preparations for your puppy’s arrival in place before bringing them home.
Ideally you should bring your puppy to a quiet, relaxed household where only the core family members are present — don’t invite friends or other family members over on the first day.
Give your puppy a chance to go to the toilet before entering the house — take them to a designated potty area in your yard and spend a few minutes there. If they go potty, give them praise and a treat. It’s best to start creating these associations sooner rather than later!
Make sure everyone is calm and that the house is free of loud noises as you walk in. Take your puppy to a place in the house where there’ll be lots of activity (so they don’t feel isolated), and make sure that the floors are easily cleanable too. For example, the kitchen or a hardwood living room floor (you may want to temporarily remove any rugs lying around).
It’s also common for new puppy owners to create warded-off sections in their house using baby gates — find out more in our section on puppy proofing your home.
If you already have other dogs at home, make sure to minimise any territorial conflict before they meet the new puppy.
Put away their favourite toys so there’s no chance of fighting over them, and create separate spaces in the home for both. It’s also a good idea to purchase two separate food/water bowls and place them far apart from each other, since dogs tend to get very territorial over food.
When introducing both for the first time, it’s best to have them on leashes and held by different family members.
Let them get acquainted with each other and have a sniff. If there is aggression, separate and distract them but do not punish — this will cause them to associate the other with negative reinforcement.
Instead, stay positive and treat them every time they exhibit good behaviour; this will help them associate one another with positive rewards and experiences.
Make sure you are supervising the entire interaction closely and remember to remain as calm as possible. They will look to you for how you react; so the more stressed you feel, the more they will sense that!
If you find that your puppy is crying at night for the first few nights in your home, remember that this is completely normal!
There are a few tactics you can use to help ease the crying:
Typically, it takes a few days or up to a week for the puppy to adjust to their new surroundings. As time goes on, their nightly crying will start to die down.
The amount of sleep your puppy needs will depend on their age. In general, an 8-week old puppy will need to sleep 18 to 22 hours a day.
Here’s a breakdown of their average hours of sleep per day based on age:
Hours of sleep needed per day
|8-10 weeks||18 to 22 hours|
|4-6 months||16 to 18 hours|
|1+ year||14 to 18 hours|
At a minimum, you new puppy may need the following:
Timeframe: Most puppies will learn this at a very early age and should be reasonably trained by 4-6 months, however some are not 100% reliable until they are 8-12 months of age.
Potty training is accomplished when you reward your puppy for recognising where you want them to go (outside) and where it is unacceptable to go (inside the house). Part of this will include teaching them to learn how to 'hold it in'.
A handy tip to remember is that most puppies can usually hold their waste for the same number of hours as their age in months (i.e. a 3 month old can hold it in for 3 consecutive hours).
Here’s what you should focus on when potty training your pup:
For indoor accidents, there are various puppy clean up products that you should have on hand to save the situation!
Time frame: Unfortunately, there is no definite answer. Depending on how you and your puppy go, it could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to properly crate-train your puppy.
As natural den animals, crate training can help your puppy to feel safe and secure. Crate training can speed up their toilet training too — since dogs don’t like to go to the toilet in their dens or crates, this gives you more time to take them outside to relieve themselves.
Make sure you have chosen a crate that is just large enough for puppy to stand up and turn around in, and will also accommodate to their adult size once they’ve grown up.
Here’s how you can crate-train your puppy:
Place the crate in an area where the family spends a lot of time, like the living room. Put a dry bed in the crate. Open the door and let your puppy explore at their leisure. You can also try tossing treats in a line leading into the crate, until your puppy walks all the way inside. This step may take anywhere from a few minutes to days, so make sure that you remain calm and use happy voice tones to encourage your pup throughout the process.
After your puppy is happily eating treats in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them there for short periods of time while you’re home. Lengthening the crating periods should be a gradual process — repetition is key here, as you start off leaving them for a few minutes and gradually build up to longer periods of time. Overall this may take several days or weeks.
After your puppy can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can leave them crated for short periods while you leave the house. When you return home, don’t reward your puppy by greeting him in an excited, enthusiastic way. Keep your arrival low key to avoid increasing any anxiety over when you will return.
Like all good things, crate training does take some time to perfect and your puppy may have some potential problems along the way (such as late night whining). The more you stay patient, positive and avoid punishing your puppy when there are missteps, the better results you’ll see.
A puppy’s teething phase starts at around 12-16 weeks.
By the time they’re 7-8 months old, all their permanent teeth should be in.
It’s totally normal for your puppy to want to chew on things — this is their way of learning about their environment and is also part of their teething phase. As a pet parent, it’s healthy to give your puppy an outlet where they can chew on things freely.
The problem is when you come home and find out they’ve been gnawing on all the wrong things! How do you get them to chew on the right things and leave those shoes, rubbish scraps and dangerous electrical cords well enough alone?
Aside from chewing, it’s important to pay attention to the overall health of your puppy’s teeth as they grow up!
Grooming your puppy strengthens your bond together, and it’s good for puppies to get accustomed to grooming (especially bath time!) at an early age.
It is not necessary to bathe your puppy daily or too frequently. Instead, try to save your baths for when puppy is more dirty or smelly.
You should also wait 1-2 weeks after puppy is vaccinated before giving them their first bath, in case they experience stress that may impact their immunological responses.
Remember to make bath time a comforting, positive experience for your puppy — stay by their side, make plenty of contact and remain gentle with the sponge.
Do not apply water or shampoo over their eyes or ears — this may cause them to feel suffocated.
When you have gone over your puppy’s body with a sponge, rinse them thoroughly with warm water and make sure all shampoo is removed. Wrap them in a towel, and once most of the water is removed, you can gently blow dry their coat on a cool setting — anything louder may scare your puppy.
If your puppy doesn’t like water, you can try applying a dry shampoo instead and brushing it through their coat.
Wherever possible, make bath time fun for both you and pup! Give them praise, a few treats along the way and playfully splash the water around them.
As much as we want to spend every waking moment with our furry friends, most pet parents work either full or part-time. There’ll be periods where your puppy needs to be left alone at home while you’re at work. But how long can you leave them alone at home before it might become an issue?
This can be tricky in the early stages of your puppy’s life. The general rule is that you can only leave a puppy alone for one hour for each month of their age due to their bladder control (a 3 month old puppy could hold their bladder for 3 hours, etc).
With the right routine, preparation and potty schedules however, you will be able to develop a system that works for both you and your puppy.
Here’s a look at the level of supervision you’ll need to consider at different stages of puppy’s life:
Your puppy's age
Level of supervision required
Apart from bladder control, you may encounter a few other issues with leaving your puppy alone at home. They may experience separation anxiety, boredom/destructive behaviour such as chewing and digging or bark incessantly.
It’s important that you address these issues before they become ingrained in your puppy as they grow up. Keep training them consistently or take them to a specialist/dog sitter if the problems persist.
Worms are a common problem for puppies — annoying, we know! In fact, all puppies become infected with roundworms when they feed on their mother’s milk and tapeworms from ingesting fleas. If left untreated, this can lead to problems such as loss of appetite, vomiting or diarrhoea.
Your puppy should be wormed every two weeks of age until twelve weeks. From twelve weeks until six months of age, we recommend monthly worming and then every three months thereafter for their lifetime with a good quality wormer.
Flea treatment should also be given regularly as they can be a year-round ongoing nuisance to your puppy. Puppies can be given a topical flea treatment as early as 6-8 weeks old, and we recommend that you treat your puppy for fleas every 4-6 weeks depending on what product you’re using.
It is vital that you get your puppy vaccinated! This will protect them against infectious diseases, ranging from mild to even fatal.
At 6-8 weeks of age, your puppy should receive their first vaccination with a followup vaccination at 10 weeks. That means by the time you get your puppy, they should have already received their first vaccination. You should check with your breeder/vet when the next one is due.
Puppies are vaccinated against a range of diseases including:
The average cost of vaccination will be around $160-$200, depending on where you are located and your veterinarian of choice.
Above all, you and your puppy should be enjoying a fun and happy life together!
There are countless creative and entertaining ways to interact and bond with your puppy, as well as keeping them stimulated when you’re not around.
Here are some fun, puppy-safe games you can try together: