Adjusting to a New Home
It can be really exciting to finally bring home that new ball of fur that will turn into a valued family member, but every new puppy owner has the same initial feelings: “How do I adjust a new puppy to the home?”
It’s important to remember that it will be a true adjustment for your puppy. He’s leaving his mom, his siblings, and everything he’s ever known. It’s like a human toddler being dropped off at preschool for the first time. He’s going to want to check everything out and be curious, but don’t be surprised if there isn’t a little bit of crying and wanting to cling to you too. This is all normal.
There are many things you can do to make the adjustment a lot easier for your new puppy.
Scent articles: Dogs are very scent oriented animals, and the scent of someone familiar to a dog can be very comforting. You might consider bringing a blanket with you when you pick up your puppy. Take a moment and rub a couple of your puppy’s siblings with the blanket for a familiar scent for your puppy. This may soothe your puppy on the ride home or once in his new surroundings.
Chew items: Puppies can often temporarily ‘forget’ about things if there is something fun to chew on. Be sure to carry a puppy chewing item for the ride home. If the puppy hasn’t had issues with car sickness before, you can even bring a size appropriate Kong toy. Lightly smear the inside with a touch of peanut butter, and this can really help preoccupy a puppy on the way home. These kinds of items can also be useful once home to fill the puppy’s free time with.
Toys: In addition to chewing items, have a few fun toys available for your puppy. You don’t need more than just a couple initial toys, but you do want to have something for the puppy to play with. This helps keep him busy and thinking less about his siblings. The more down time he has where he doesn’t know what to do is when he will be most homesick. Keeping his mind focused on fun is very helpful.
Keep it quiet: Puppies need to adjust in quiet. That means you shouldn’t plan a puppy party the night your new puppy comes home. That’s just often too overwhelming for a new puppy. Instead, give him a few days to settle in and become familiar before introducing new people or strange dogs.
Establish the routine: Puppies and dogs thrive on routine. Once a puppy knows exactly what the routine is, he will feel a lot of more comfortable. You should feed him on a set schedule, take his walks and playtimes at set time frames, have bedtime and wake up time at consistent times, etc. This way there is no confusion, and the consistent routine gives him a sense of security.
No babying: One of the hardest parts is not babying the puppy. Remember, the puppy will cry and whine, particularly that first night when it’s time to go to bed. Resist the urge to baby him. Instead, set him up for success:
- Play with him in the hours prior to bedtime to wear him out.
- Potty walk him prior to bedtime.
- Take him to bed when the rest of the house goes to bed too so that is quiet and dark.
- Once in bed, no constantly responding to any crying he may do. Instead, set your alarm to wake up halfway through the night in order to take him outside for a potty. Otherwise, no talking to him or going to him for crying. This is often the hardest part to do!
Bedtime won’t be the only time this can be challenging. We are almost pre-programmed to want to baby a puppy, but it’s actually in his best interest if we resist that urge and let him stand on his own four feet. This doesn’t mean you don’t care; it just means you’re helping him adjust and grow into his new lifestyle by letting him gain the confidence to do so.