It’s not unusual to commit to your first dog and say “I just bought a puppy… wow, now what?!”
Getting a puppy represents a massive shift and upheaval in your day to day life.
But there are lots of things you can do before they come home to get prepared. And some important ways you can make their first week at home go smoothly.
So that getting a puppy really is a dream come true, and not an unexpected nightmare.
I Just Bought A Puppy – What Do I Do Next?
No matter how long you’ve spent dreaming of getting a puppy, it’s not unusual to have a moment right after actually committing to one that you think “what on Earth have I just let myself in for??”
That sensation can catch you unawares. I mean, you wanted this, right? It’s what you’ve been waiting for, it’s going to be great!
And it is going to be great.
If you’ve just bought a puppy and you’re thinking “wow, what do I do now?” then we’re here to help.
This article is all about the things you need to get sorted before their arrival, and be ready to do in their first week at home.
How Much Time Have You Got?
In an ideal world, there are several weeks between committing to a puppy, and the day you bring them home.
You might have even joined a breeder’s waiting list for a litter, and received updates about the mom through her pregnancy, and news of the puppies as soon as they were born.
So you can officially say “I just bought a puppy!”, but also officially still have a big window of time to get properly prepared.
At the other end of the spectrum, some rescue shelters require adoptive parents to collect puppies in a very short timescale. Sometimes less than a week, if the puppy is old enough.
This prevents puppies and dogs enduring a longer than necessary stay at the shelter, makes space for new dogs to be rescued, and minimizes the amount of time lost to time wasters.
Buyer beware – when “I just bought a puppy” turns sour
So we’ve looked at long timescales, and not-so-long timescales for buying a puppy.
But what about lightning-fast timescales?
This is a ploy used by puppy farmers and dodgy dealers, and it’s depressingly common.
When you call up to enquire about a puppy they’ve advertised, they’ll tell you they’ve been OVERWHELMED with interest.
“So many people want the puppy too” they say, but you can have it if you can meet to collect them from a local parking lot right away.
They say these things to create a sense of urgency – they want to get your money off you before you can have a chance to think about whether you’re making the right decision.
Of course, any decent breeder would never be in such a rush to part with one of their puppies.
So, if someone is trying to sell you a puppy right away, stop and think about whether that’s really the route you want to go down.
All too often, it turns out there is something wrong with those puppies. And lo and behold, the breeder never answers the phone to you again.
But now let’s turn to the fun stuff – getting ready for your new arrival!
I’ve Just Got A Puppy – What Do I Need?
Waiting for a puppy to come home is an exciting and impatient time.
But there’s lots you can be doing to get ready. And one of the most enjoyable things or puppy parents to be is stocking up on puppy supplies.
From the moment you pick you puppy up, it’s likely that you’re going to need the following:
- Collar and tag
- Travel restraint
- Puppy lead
- Playpen or baby gates
- Puppy pads, if using
- Poop bags
- Enzyme cleaner
- Food and water bowls
- Age appropriate food and treats
- Coat brush
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Nail clippers
- Tick twister
You can read more about why these things deserve a place on your list of puppy essentials, and follow links to some of our favorite products, over in this New Puppy Checklist.
Following your spending spree, you will also need:
1. A vet
It’s a good idea to get your new puppy checked over by a vet within the first couple of days of bringing them home.
They’ll also need to receive their puppy vaccines from a vet before they can start exercising in places where unvaccinated dogs might have been.
All dogs also benefit from being checked by a vet twice a year, to monitor their overall condition and keep up to date with preventative medicine like flea treatments and wormers.
So it makes sense to take some time looking for a vet you’re really happy with. Look online for reviews of their clinic, and ask your friends if they recommend their dogs’ vet.
2. A puppy zone
Puppies can be chaotic and destructive. They’ve also got a lot to learn about where the right place to pee is, and how to get your attention without using their teeth.
Setting up a puppy-safe zone in your home ready for their arrival will save you a lot of headaches and conflict in the first few weeks.
It should be somewhere at the heart of the home, where they’ll get lots of interaction with their new family.
It should also have hard floors, and ideally, easy access to the play where they’re going to use the toilet.
For most households, this means the kitchen is the natural choice.
You can enclose the puppy zone using baby gates at the doorways.
Or if you’re lucky enough to have a big kitchen, you can create a puppy zone within it using a playpen.
3. A plan for keeping them company
Young puppies are very time consuming, and need a lot of attention.
It’s not possible to settle them in over the course of a weekend, then resume your normal habits as usual.
If you work, have childcare responsibilities, or any other commitments to honor, plan in advance what your puppy is going to do at those times, and who is going to look after them.
4. And a training strategy
What we know about the best way to train our dogs has changed a lot over the past few decades.
Both those tactics have now been widely discredited.
But they were widespread recently enough that some trainers still use them without realising (or perhaps accepting) that our understanding of how dogs learn has moved on.
We now know that dogs learn best when we use force-free, rewards-based training.
So before your puppy arrives, take some time to find good quality training resources based on these principles.
If you like browsing information online, take a look at our training pages.
If you prefer books, take a look at those featured on the right near the top of this article, written by our very own Pippa Mattinson.
You might also like to join the online community taking our Dogsnet Training Courses. As well as receiving step-by-step training tutorials from day one of having a puppy, students benefit from personalised support in a private members forum.
And finally, you can sign up for force free puppy classes face to face, which are run by trainers all over the world.
I Just Bought A Puppy – What Do I Do Next?
Next, let’s take a look at some resources to help you in your puppy’s first days at home.
Much like bringing home a new baby, the arrival of an 8 week old puppy is likely to throw all your usual routines into disarray at first.
When your puppy comes home, it may take several days for them to settle in.
They’re likely to be very frightened, and need a lot of reassurance.
Let them stay with you as much as they want during the day, and keep them in a crate or sturdy box by your bed at night.
Doing everything you can to make them feel safe and secure now will give them the confidence to be apart from you in future.
So it’s worth letting them follow you into the toilet for the time being!
Speaking of the toilet, potty training is the number one priority for most new puppy owners.
We’ve got a complete guide to potty training a puppy right here.
It starts from the very minute you arrive home together, so read it before then!
Good breeders send their puppies home with a small supply of the food they have been weaned on to, and information about their normal meal times they’re used to.
Use the feeding guide on the packaging to work out how much your puppy needs a day – unless your breeder or vet tells you otherwise.
You can divide that amount into four small meals, or use it throughout the day as rewards for good behavior.
Hand feeding a new puppy is a good way to coax a nervous puppy to eat, and also to start building a bond between you.
Bear in mind that it’s not uncommon for the stress of coming home to cause a few days of upset stomachs.
But if your puppy doesn’t eat for more than 24 hours, or has diarrhea for more than 24 hours, contact their vet.
Socialization is the name for introducing a puppy to all the people, places and things they’ll encounter as an adult, and teaching them positive associations with those things while they are still a puppy.
Puppies are very receptive to forming these positive associations before they’re 12 weeks old.
After that, self-preservation and survival instincts make them more cautious of new things, and less eager to embrace them.
This article has 12 great places to start socializing your new puppy.
Help! I Just Bought A Puppy And I Feel Overwhelmed
Getting a new puppy is a big responsibility, and marks the start of a big change in your life from now on.
Even if you’ve done everything “right”, it’s natural and normal to feel a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.
Accept that other things like cleaning the bathroom might get a bit neglected and disorganised for a few weeks while you focus on your new arrival. You can catch up on them later!
Focus on managing your puppies toileting, to get as many pees and poops in the right place as possible.
And don’t worry about over indulging or spoiling your 8 week old puppy with too much attention and reassurance.
They’re a baby animal, and building a really secure bond with you now will increase their confidence to be without you later, and reduce the risk of problems like separation anxiety.
What words of wisdom would you give someone who’s just bought their first puppy?
What do you wish someone else had told you?
Let us know in the comments box down below!