Bringing your puppy home

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Your new puppy and home

You've chosen your new puppy, said your 'goodbyes' to the breeder and your puppy's remaining family, and you're heading for home.

Hopefully, the excitement at the prospect of bringing your new companion home hasn't made you forget to make some important preparations. Remember, this is likely to be the first time your puppy has been away from familiar sights, smells and surroundings which means it's a very stressful time for him. So in the days before you bring him home, you need to make sure everything is ready, just as you would if you were bringing home a new baby.

Puppy's bed

Firstly, it's important to consider where your puppy is going to sleep. Most puppies prefer an enclosed sleeping area to act as a refuge if things become too stressful, so think about getting a crate to put his bed or basket in. Make sure it's warm, dry, comfortable and draught-free and provide a nice blanket or dog bed to keep your puppy cosy. Now you must decide on the best place for it to go, before your puppy decides he'd like to sleep on the sofa. (After all, it's easier to get into good habits rather than try to change bad ones.) A puppy crate will give him a perfect little bolt-hole when life gets too hectic; when he does makes his retreat to his sanctuary, remember to tell your family not to disturb him. And make sure his bed is far enough from yours, preferably outside of your bedroom. Don't be tempted to have your puppy in bed with you while he's little; it will be hard to break this habit later, and he needs his space as much as you do.

Your puppy at night

A lot of puppies have a habit of crying at night, especially during the first week in a new home, so the warmer you can make his bed, the more comfortable he will feel. Try putting a hot water bottle in his bed, or a cuddly toy that's safe for pets.

Others in your home

Even if you have other pets in your home, it's important to let your new puppy explore his new surroundings first. And when you do introduce him to other pets, do so gradually, and make sure you're around to keep an eye on the proceedings. When your puppy is introduced to children, don't let them get too overexcited. See that they respect and don't treat him like a cuddly toy.

Leaving your puppy alone

No puppy, or dog for that matter, should be left alone for long periods of time. Dogs that are left alone for significant periods can develop anxiety and can't cope with being separated from their owners.

So teach your puppy to tolerate short absences; leave him in a room, close the door and walk away. After a few minutes, go back in but don't greet him. When you've done this several times, extend the absences to 30 minutes. But if he does become distressed, and starts barking, chewing, or scratching at the door, you should shorten the absence period.

Before you leave: Walk your puppy or play with him in advance of leaving so he has a chance to settle down. And shortly before you go, provide a meal, so he's more likely to be sleepy. Also, leave him something to chew, to keep him occupied. Some growing puppies will be comforted by familiar sounds, so you could try leaving the radio on, or even record several minutes of your family's conversation. But if your puppy has growing concerns about being left alone, even for short periods, please ask your vet for advice.

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