Get Ready! Puppy is Home Soon

We know you’re excited about puppy coming home – we would be too. So here are a few insights into how your puppy is becoming more loveable by the day, what you can do to be puppy-ready at home, and the fun you’ll have with him as the months roll by.

Bigger and stronger every day

At three weeks he takes his first wobbly steps outside the nest. Pretty soon he’ll play games of rough and tumble with his littermates, games that will help him rub along with other dogs when he’s older. He grows rapidly, wagging his tail furiously, and demanding to be fed with more than just mother’s milk. From about four weeks, natural curiosity encourages him towards new experiences that will have him blissfully sniffing around his living and play areas, preparing him for weird things (like vacuum cleaners) that he’ll have to live with later. And by eight to twelve weeks, he’s ready to come home with you.

The first two months

The first two months of puppy’s life go a long way towards forming his adult personality, which is why whoever is looking after puppy (often the breeder) makes a lot of effort to help him get comfortable with people and everyday noises. They pick him up within the first two weeks and as the weeks go by they handle him constantly to make sure he’s comfortable with human company. They introduce him to new experiences outside the kennel, serve up solid food and keep the kennel clean (the first steps in toilet training). Their work lays the foundation of a happy and well-adjusted dog in years to come.

The fun you’ll have

One day you’ll be telling off puppy for something or other and he’ll put his paw on your knee and give you an ‘I’m sorry’ look that would melt a heart of stone. Or you’ll find him following you round the house for no other than reason than he wants to be with you. It’ll be something unexpected and apparently quite trivial but there will be a moment that’ll make you smile inside and you’ll know for sure that life changed for the better the moment you brought puppy into your home.

Over the first few months of his life puppy will grow at incredible rate, becoming more intelligent, more physically adept and more loyal than most of us would think possible. He’ll learn to come when he’s called and bark manfully at cold callers because he thinks he’s protecting you. Maybe he’ll be able to run for miles after his ball or perhaps he’ll just lie on your feet when you’re watching television.

Whatever he does, this will be an intense period which requires effort and patience on your part but it will be incredibly rewarding for you and your family. So much so, in fact, that you won’t be able to imagine what life was like without him.

Raising a puppy is heart warming, life enhancing, and horizon-widening – a life experience to look back on and treasure. That little bundle of fur you fell in love with at the breeder or shelter will become an extraordinary dog with a personality all his own. It’s a great time for you and your dog, so above all else, our advice is to remember one thing – the weeks will pass in a flash, so make sure to enjoy them!

Before you bring puppy home

  • Breakables: Got a wobbly table in the hall? It’s time to find it a new home, or that picture sitting on it will be on the floor before long
  • Chewables: Remember that puppy can’t tell the difference between the old gumboots you gave him to chew and the nice pair of shoes you got for Christmas. As he’s likely to chew something, best to get him a meat-scented nylon bone.
  • Cleaning products: These should be out of reach, just as they would be if a baby were crawling round the kitchen
  • Electric cords: If you allow puppy access to an electric cord, he will chew through it. In the age of laptops on kitchen tables, this is a real concern.
  • Plants: Puppy will love nothing more than to dig in plant pots. Not a problem if you don’t mind mud on the carpet. Also, make sure that none of your house plants are poisonous to dogs.
  • Toys: It’s time to teach the kids how to pick up their small and swallowable toys. (Good luck!)

Make sure your garden is safe

If you have a garden, apply the same ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ thinking that worked so well indoors. Any chemicals in the shed or garage need to be locked away or put up high – engine oils and antifreeze can be deadly for puppy. Fencing needs to be secure in its entirety. If you have a pond or a pool remember that even if puppy can swim he might not be able to get out once he’s in. Secure fencing round the pond or pool is the answer.

Make sure the kennel gives protection from the sun at all times of day. Look round the garden for poinsettias, azaleas, rhododendrons, dumb cane, Japanese yew, oleander, or English ivy – all of which are poisonous to dogs.

Must-buy, puppy-essentials

  • Baby gate: There will be times when a puppy’s inquisitive nature will get him in trouble, unless you hem him in
  • Bed: Ideally, a puppy should be able to see family life from his bed, so buy bedding that fits the space available. Washable covers are a good idea, too
  • Bowls: The stainless steel, no-tip food and water bowls are worth paying a bit more for
  • Chews toys: A high-quality chew toy will help ease teething pain in a few months’ time
  • Collar: It’s the right size if two fingers can slip between collar and puppy’s neck
  • Crate: As in ‘lockable puppy box’ not ‘popular method of transporting beer bottles’. When thinking about size, remember that puppy will grow!
  • Grooming kit: Brushes and combs that suit your puppy’s coat are essential; dog shampoo might be needed occasionally; a toothbrush and dog toothpaste is recommended by vets. (Never use human toothpaste as it can be harmful for your puppy)
  • Leash: An extendable leash will pay dividends in the ‘pulling at the leash’ stage of puppy’s development
  • Name tag: To go on the collar. Make sure there’s enough room for puppy’s name and your address and phone number
  • Stain removers: Get the ones specially formulated for puppies who are yet to be housetrained
  • Tick and flea control: It’s good to share, so they say, but not when it comes to parasites. Consult your vet on how to spot them and which medications you can use to control them
  • Treats: Invaluable training aids. Try to keep them small and healthy

Toilet training basics

Toilet training a puppy is like taking a driving test… you want to start reading the theory good and early. So, first things first, ready yourself by tapping into your deepest reserves of patience, taking comfort from the fact that the phase will pass.

Secondly, make sure you remember to establish toilet-time habits as soon as possible, putting him outside when:

  • He’s had some food, a drink of water, or a prolonged chew on a toy
  • He wakes, even after a brief nap
  • He’s had any sustained play or excitement
  • He’s sniffing out spots in the house

And thirdly, keep calm. The little chap is easily frightened at this tender age so extreme displays of emotion, whether that’s unrestrained joy or tear-inducing frustration, will only serve to make him fearful of going to the loo in front of you.