Here is a good list of the things you need to have ready when you bring your new puppy home.
- Food designed specifically for puppies
- Treats for training
- Food and water dishes
- Crate (to be replaced by a bigger one as he grows)
- Crate bedding (at least 2 sets)
- Puppy house-training wee-wee pads
- Dog gate(s)
- Soft, adjustable collar (and new ones as he grows)
- At least one 4-to-6-foot leash, leather or webbed (an additional longer lead useful for training)
- At least 5 or 6 safe chew toys (the more the better — toys can be rotated)
- A brush the breeder recommends for your puppy’s coat and sturdy metal comb
- Gentle puppy shampoo
- Good-quality dog nail trimmer or Dremel made specifically for dogs
You should receive contact information from the breeder or seller and be encouraged to contact them with any questions or concerns you may have.
You should be able to ask many questions and in addition you should expect for questions to be asked of you. It is important to ensure puppies are going to good homes, with people who know what to expect and have made all the necessary preparations. Don't be surprised if you are asked to fill out a questionnaire detailing many facts about your family and your home.
Set the puppy down inside and let him explore. He may decide to run around a bit, or he may hide under the couch and stare at you. It's been a long day. Just give him some time and make sure you have rules and a schedule in place for when he gets settled.
It is important to find out what kind of guarantee is provided with your puppy. What happens if you find the puppy has a serious health condition? If you can no longer care for the puppy, will the breeder take it back or help you rehome the puppy?
If there are other pets in the house, don't be in a rush to introduce the puppy to them. Make his first day home all about him. There will be time for him to get acquainted with the other pets.
It is very important that puppies are properly socialized beginning at an early age so they become well-adjusted dogs. Early socialization will help the puppy better adjust to new surroundings and life with you after you bring him home.
Socializing your puppy is the key to ensuring you’ll have a happy, confident, and well-adjusted dog. Below, learn the best time to socialize your puppy, how to do it right, and why it’s important.
When to Socialize Your Puppy
During your puppy’s first three months of life, he will experience a socialization period that will permanently shape his future personality and how he will react to his environment as an adult dog. Gently exposing him to a wide variety of people, places, and situations now makes a huge, permanent difference in his temperament.
When you buy a puppy from a responsible breeder, the socialization process should start before you even bring your puppy home. Gentle handling by the breeder in the first several weeks of your puppy’s life is helpful in the development of a friendly, confident dog. As early as 3 weeks of age, puppies may begin to approach a person who is passively observing them, so having a knowledgeable breeder who encourages a positive experience with people – adults and children — will help shape the puppy’s adult behavior. As their puppies develop, good breeders allow them to experience safe inside and outside environments, car rides, crates, sounds, smells, and gentle handling.
Why Socialize Your Puppy
The idea behind socialization is that you want to help your puppy become acclimated to all types of sights, sounds, and smells in a positive manner. Proper socialization can prevent a dog from being fearful of children, for example, or of riding in a car, and it will help him develop into a well-mannered, happy companion.
Having a dog who is well adjusted and confident can even go as far as to save his life one day. According to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, improper socialization can lead to behavior problems later in life. The organization’s position statement on socialization reads: “Behavioral issues, not infectious diseases, are the number one cause of death for dogs under three years of age.” Start taking your dog out to public places once your veterinarian says it is safe, and he’ll learn to behave in a variety of situations and to enjoy interacting with different people.
How to Socialize Your Puppy
As mentioned earlier, your breeder will start the socialization process as early as the puppy’s first few days of life, by gently handling him and allowing him to explore his surroundings. But when the puppy comes home with you, the crucial socialization period continues, so your job is to keep the process going. Here are the basic steps to follow:
- Introduce the puppy to new sights, sounds, and smells: To a puppy, the whole world is new, strange, and unusual, so think of everything he encounters as an opportunity to make a new, positive association. Try to come up with as many different types of people, places, noises, and textures as you can and expose your puppy to them. That means, for instance, have him walk on carpet, hardwood, tile, and linoleum floors; have him meet a person in a wheelchair or using a cane, children, a person with a beard, wearing sunglasses, using an umbrella, or wearing a hood. Think of it as a scavenger hunt. Here’s a comprehensive checklist for puppy socialization that can be used as a guide.
- Make it positive: Most importantly, when introducing all of these new experiences to your puppy, make sure he’s getting an appropriate amount of treats and praise, so that he associates what he’s being exposed to and the feeling of seeing something new as a fun experience. Don’t forget to break the treats into small pieces that will be easy for your puppy to digest. Also, don’t be stressed yourself — dogs can read our emotions, so if you’re nervous when introducing your puppy to an older dog, for example, your puppy will be nervous, too, and may become fearful of other dogs in the future.
- Involve the family: By having different people take part in the socialization process, you’re continuously moving the puppy out of his comfort zone, letting him know that he might experience something new no matter who he’s with. Make it a fun game for the kids by having them write down a list of everything new the puppy experienced that day while with them, such as “someone in a baseball cap” or “a police siren.”
- Take baby steps: Try to avoid doing too much too fast. For instance, if you want your puppy to get accustomed to being handled by multiple people he doesn’t know, start with a few family members and slowly integrate one stranger, then two, and so on. Starting this process by taking your puppy to a huge party or a very busy public place can be overwhelming and result in a fearful response to groups of strangers in the future.
- Take it public: Once your puppy is used to the small amount of stimuli, move outside of his comfort zone to expand the amount of new experiences he’ll have. Take him to the pet store (after he’s started his vaccination series), over to a friend’s house for a puppy playdate, on different streets in the neighborhood, and so one. At seven-to-ten days after he’s received his full series of puppy vaccinations, it’s safe to take him to the dog park (but be sure to follow dog-park safety protocol.)
- Go to puppy classes: Once your puppy has started his vaccinations, he can also attend puppy classes. These classes not only help your puppy begin to understand basic commands, but the most important advantage is that they expose him to other dogs and people. Skilled trainers will mediate the meetings so that all dogs and people are safe and happy during the process. You can find puppy classes through local AKC training clubs and dog training facilities.
It is recommended for you to not expect to bring home the puppy until it is 8 to 12 weeks of age. Puppies need ample time to mature and socialize with their mother and litter mates.
Make sure that everyone is calm when the puppy arrives home. The best way to get your puppy to warm up to you is to be calm and relaxed. Too many loud noises or voices will likely frighten your puppy.
You should be sure that the puppy has been seen by a licensed veterinarian and know where the puppy is on their shot-schedule. This will also help you so that you have the proper medical information when you bring your puppy home and you will know what shots are needed next.
Which Shots Do Puppies Need?
Going to the vet repeatedly over several months for vaccinations, and then for boosters or titers throughout your dog’s life, may seem like an inconvenience, but the diseases that vaccinations will shield our pets from are dangerous, potentially deadly, and, thankfully, mostly preventable.
We read about so many different vaccinations, for so many different illnesses, that it can sometimes be confusing to know which vaccinations puppies need and which ones are important but optional. Here is an overview of the diseases that vaccinations will help your pet to avoid.
This highly infectious bacterium causes severe fits of coughing, whooping, vomiting, and, in rare cases, seizures and death. It is the primary cause of kennel cough. There are injectable and nasal spray vaccines available.
If you plan on boarding your puppy in the future, attending group training classes, or using dog daycare services, often proof of this vaccination will be a requirement.
A severe and contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal (GI), and nervous systems of dogs, raccoons, skunks, and other animals, distemper spreads through airborne exposure (through sneezing or coughing) from an infected animal. The virus can also be transmitted by shared food and water bowls and equipment. It causes discharges from the eyes and nose, fever, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, twitching, paralysis, and, often, death. This disease used to be known as “hard pad” because it causes the footpad to thicken and harden.
There is no cure for distemper. Treatment consists of supportive care and efforts to prevent secondary infections, control symptoms of vomiting, seizures and more. If the animal survives the symptoms, it is hoped that the dog’s immune system will have a chance to fight it off. Infected dogs can shed the virus for months.
Infectious canine hepatitis is a highly contagious viral infection that affects the liver, kidneys, spleen, lungs, and the eyes of the affected dog. This disease of the liver is caused by a virus that is unrelated to the human form of hepatitis. Symptoms range from a slight fever and congestion of the mucous membranes to vomiting, jaundice, stomach enlargement, and pain around the liver. Many dogs can overcome the mild form of the disease, but the severe form can kill. There is no cure, but doctors can treat the symptoms.
One of several viruses that can contribute to kennel cough.
The canine coronavirus is not the same virus that causes COVID-19 in people. COVID-19 is not thought to be a health threat to dogs, and there is no evidence it makes dogs sick. Canine coronavirus usually affects dogs’ gastrointestinal systems, though it can also cause respiratory infections. Signs include most GI symptoms, including loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Doctors can keep a dog hydrated, warm, and comfortable, and help alleviate nausea, but no drug kills coronaviruses.
When your puppy is around 12-to-16 weeks, talk to your vet about starting a heartworm preventive. Though there is no vaccine for this condition, it is preventable with regular medication that your veterinarian will prescribe.
The name is descriptive — these worms lodge in the right side of the heart and the pulmonary arteries (that send blood to the lungs), though they can travel through the rest of the body and sometimes invade the liver and kidneys. The worms can grow to 14 inches long and, if clumped together, block and injure organs.
A new heartworm infection often causes no symptoms, though dogs in later stages of the disease may cough, become lethargic, lose their appetite or have difficulty breathing. Infected dogs may tire after mild exercise. Unlike most of the conditions listed here, which are passed by urine, feces, and other body fluids, heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. Therefore, diagnosis is made via a blood test and not a fecal exam.
Also known as infectious tracheobronchitis, kennel cough results from inflammation of the upper airways. It can be caused by bacterial, viral, or other infections, such as Bordetella and canine parainfluenza, and often involves multiple infections simultaneously. Usually, the disease is mild, causing bouts of harsh, dry coughing; sometimes it’s severe enough to spur retching and gagging, along with a loss of appetite. In rare cases, it can be deadly. It is easily spread between dogs kept close together, which is why it passes quickly through kennels. Antibiotics are usually not necessary, except in severe, chronic cases. Cough suppressants can make a dog more comfortable.
Unlike most diseases on this list, Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria, and some dogs may show no symptoms at all. Leptospirosis can be found worldwide in soil and water. It is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it can be spread from animals to people. When symptoms do appear, they can include fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, severe weakness and lethargy, stiffness, jaundice, muscle pain, infertility, kidney failure (with or without liver failure). Antibiotics are effective, and the sooner they are given, the better.
Unlike the famous “bull’s-eye” rash that people exposed to Lyme disease often spot, no such telltale symptom occurs in dogs. Lyme disease (or borreliosis) is an infectious, tick-borne disease caused by a type of bacteria called a spirochete. Transmitted via ticks, an infected dog often starts limping, his lymph nodes swell, his temperature rises, and he stops eating. The disease can affect his heart, kidney, and joints, among other things, or lead to neurological disorders if left untreated. If diagnosed quickly, a course of antibiotics is extremely helpful, though relapses can occur months or even years later.
Parvo is a highly contagious virus that affects all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies less than four months of age are at the most risk to contract it. The virus attacks the gastrointestinal system and creates a loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, and often severe, bloody diarrhea. Extreme dehydration can come on rapidly and kill a dog within 48-to-72 hours, so prompt veterinary attention is crucial. There is no cure, so keeping the dog hydrated and controlling the secondary symptoms can keep him going until his immune system beats the illness.
Rabies is a viral disease of mammals that invades the central nervous system, causing headache, anxiety, hallucinations, excessive drooling, fear of water, paralysis, and death. It is most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. Treatment within hours of infection is essential, otherwise, death is highly likely. Most states require a rabies vaccination. Check with your vet about rabies vaccination laws in your area.
Of course, your veterinarian should weigh in and can always provide more information and guidance if needed on necessary and optional vaccinations.
Puppy Vaccination Schedule
The first thing to know is that there is not just one puppy vaccination schedule for all dogs. Factors such as which part of the country you live in, and your dog’s individual risk factors will come into play. Some dogs do not need every vaccine. This decision is between you and your veterinarian. Always discuss puppy vaccinations at your regularly scheduled appointments.
That said, here is a generally accepted guideline of the puppy vaccination schedule for the first year.
|Puppy’s Age||Recommended Vaccinations||Optional Vaccinations|
|6 — 8 weeks||Distemper, parainfluenza||Bordetella|
|10 — 12 weeks||DHPP (vaccines for distemper, adenovirus [hepatitis], parainfluenza, and parvovirus)||Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease|
|12 — 24 weeks||Rabies||none|
|14 — 16 weeks||DHPP||Coronavirus, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis|
|12 — 16 months||Rabies, DHPP||Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease|
|Every 1 — 2 years||DHPP||Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease|
|Every 1 — 3 years||Rabies (as required by law)||none|
* Provided by AKC.org
Once you're home, take the puppy outside so he can do his business. Calmly walk him around his designated bathroom area. And make sure your yard is puppy-proofed ahead of time.
After picking up the puppy, go straight home. It may be tempting to share your new little bundle of joy with a few friends, but it's important that you get your puppy home and settled as soon as possible.
Be sure to pack paper towels, plastic bags, and odor neutralizer, in case the puppy has an accident.
On the way home, make sure that someone is either holding the puppy securely in her lap, or the puppy is in a crate.
Yes. The puppy will bond the most with the family members who go to pick him up to be brought home, so make it a family affair.
ring your puppy home on a long weekend or when you know you'll have time to focus on him. This will give you both a chance to get properly acquainted with each other, as well as help the puppy get used to his new home.