Cute small breed puppy lying on bed

10 tips for the first few days with your new dog

The first night with your puppy is especially exciting. What should you consider when you pick up your dog? The best tips to help him settle in:

The first night with your puppy, the first hours alone with an adult dog from a shelter, and even the first minutes of sniffing each other out are exciting. If it’s the first time that you’re bringing a dog home, clearly you’ll have a lot of questions: How long do puppies sleep for? What should you consider when you pick up your dog? And which minor and major disasters should you be prepared for? Here are 10 tips for the first few days and the first night with your new dog:

10 tips for your new life with a dog

You’ve made all of the arrangements for your new flatmate. You’re getting nervous because soon, there will be four paws padding through your home. If you’re getting a puppy, the first few days are particularly exciting. But older dogs also have to settle into their new home. What happens when you’ve picked up your puppy? Here are 10 tips for the first few days and nights with your new dog:

Tip 1: Plan your journey home in advance!

Being picked up from a breeder or from an animal shelter is particularly stressful for a dog. He senses your nervousness and there can often be an emotional separation from the previous handler. Therefore, it’s important to give your full attention to your new dog. Ideally, you’ll have someone with you who can, for example, drive the car. Public transport is not suitable as it just creates more excitement and distractions.

After you’ve received all of the important documents (e.g. pet passport) from the seller, the journey home can begin. If it’s going to take a long time, plan on taking some breaks so your new dog can relieve himself. Often the excitement can lead to accidents, especially with puppies. So make sure you bring cloths or towels for your first car journey together.

Tip 2: Take a lot of time!

Time is the most important factor when you bring home a new dog. Maybe you can take a few days off. Then you can really concentrate on the dog. Some dogs are anxious in new surroundings or bark a lot. Here, distraction or praise at the right moment helps.

It should be clear that you are the dog’s primary caregiver. Therefore, it’s not a good idea to have visitors right away. The first few hours and days should revolve around the two of you and the other members of your household.

Tip 3: Don't switching your dog to a new food directly!

Nerves and a full stomach don’t go well together. Give your new dog enough to drink in the beginning but wait a few hours before feeding him. When you first bring your new dog home, he’ll be eating food provided by the breeder. A changeover is always connected with stress, so it’s best to wait a few days before you switch your dog to the food of your choice.

Tip 4: Start training your new dog from the beginning!

Patience and consistency are the magic words in dog training. Try to get your new flatmate used to the rules in your home, lovingly but firmly, right from the start. You don’t want your dog to sleep in your bed? Then he shouldn’t be allowed to do so from the beginning. Observe your dog closely, so you can learn how he behaves and respond to it - especially when it comes to the two big questions relating to training:

House-training

When you pick up a puppy from a breeder, it probably hasn’t been house trained. The dog learns this by getting used to regular walks to the door and giving him exuberant praise when he does his business outside. But, in the beginning, there will be accidents in the apartment. If you notice that your dog gets restless after eating or sleeping, you should always give him the chance to empty his bladder. Any taboo zones versus places he’s allowed to do this can be learned through rewards and praise.

Commands and tricks

The early days in a new home are exciting enough, so your dog probably won’t have much capacity to learn new commands and tricks. Concentrate on one or two important commands. Older dogs have usually already been trained so they just need to learn to follow the rules more consistently.

Tip 5: Create a retreat for the first night!

You’ve probably already chosen a spot for your dog to sleep in. However, the first night is often so exhausting that a special closeness to you is important. For this, you can put a transport box next to your bed. It’s also a good idea to keep some clothes handy so you can take your dog outside during the night.

The question, how much do puppies sleep, can be answered confidently with “a lot”.

Don’t be surprised if your little dog spends a lot of time in his box, even during the day. 15 – 20 hours of sleep per day is not unusual for puppies. Give your new flatmate this time and be there for him when he wakes up again.

Tip 6: Clarify the hierarchy in the pack!

Every member of your household is a new member of your dog’s pack. When establishing yourself as “the boss”, consistency helps. If there are small children in the family, they should not be left alone with the new dog at first. If they are physically inferior to him, the hierarchy for the dog would be immediately clear. However, he should get to know all the people in the household hierarchy - not by punishment, but by implementation of the rules.

Tip 7: Explore the surroundings together!

Not just your apartment or your house are new territory for your dog, but the whole environment. New smells, new people, other dogs and surprising noises and occurrences await him outside. Therefore, it’s best to feel your way slowly, moving from short to longer walks. A quarter of an hour is enough excitement in the beginning. Only later are there trips to parks, department stores or cafés. Make sure that you yourself feel secure in each situation, and you’ll pass this confidence on to your dog.

Tip 8. Practise being alone!

Once the first few days and nights with your new dog are over, it’s time to train him for a life together. Will your dog be alone for several hours a day? Then you need to practise this with him. Start by leaving the apartment for five minutes, then gradually increase the length of time. Is it difficult for you to leave the cute puppy alone? Always remember that this is also a learning process for you that should start early. 

Tip 9: Make contact slowly with other people and animals!

Your mother wants to come by to take photos of the cute puppy? Your friends turn up on your doorstep? That’s all well and good but only after a couple of days. Strange people are a new challenge. Moreover, you need to be sure that they know how to handle a dog.

Confrontations with other dogs or animals on walks is also normal. But first your dog should get to know the other members of the household.

Especially for puppies, contact with other dogs is a big surprise. Bear in mind that your puppy is only protected in his own pack. Strange dogs might not be so gentle.

Tip 10: Be prepared for things not to go smoothly!

Nobody’s perfect. During the first night with your puppy or the early days with your adult dog, mistakes will happen. You can minimise these by getting detailed information in advance, but you can’t avoid them completely. A puddle in the living room, stress with the neighbours, an aggressive dog on the first walk - these things can happen. If you need help training your dog, look for a professional in your area. Otherwise give yourselves time and you’ll see - you'll get to know each other better and grow together.

Accidents happen – dog liability insurance helps

If a minor catastrophe happens in the first hours or days at home, e.g. the couch is ripped to shreds or the neighbours’ expensive flower bed is torn up, it’s annoying. It’s much more annoying, however, if you haven’t made provisions for this situation in advance. With dog liability insurance from Coya, you can insure your new flatmate against all future misfortunes and accidents. Find out more about the conditions now, so that your first few days together will be as carefree as possible. 

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