When I sadly lost Oscar my Cocker Spaniel late last year, I quickly realised how much I missed having him around the house and it took me two weeks to find the newest member of the Brown household.
Holly joined us on 20th December, and despite running one of the UK’s largest dog products website, I had simply forgotten what it was like to have a new puppy in the house. There’s so much you have to think about, particularly in the first two weeks, so here’s my puppy survival guide with the top 10 things to remember when you have a new pup in the house…
1. Puppies need lots of love and attention
Your puppy is in completely new surroundings and you are now their new ‘mum’ or ‘dad’ so they look to you for security and love all of the time. They will need lots of attention and likely will not like being left alone at first; after all they’re use to being in a litter full of their brothers and sisters.
To ensure Holly felt safe she sat on my son’s lap on the drive home. When we got home we all played with her for at least a couple of hours until she was ready for a snooze. Then when she woke up we made sure we were there also.
2. The early days are important
The first few days when you bring pup home are the key time for you to establish a bond between you and pup. Right from the outset, Holly was never by herself for more than a few minutes. She comes to work with me every day, meaning she always gets plenty of fuss from the office as well as me!
3. Patience is needed
Puppies are not trained, and rather like children they are naughty and make a mess! You’ll need to guide them in the ways – and rules – of the world. The first couple of nights are potentially the worst as true separation anxiety may set in and you may find your pup howling.
We got around this by firstly (and most importantly) ignoring her. However we did leave a light on in the kitchen and I left a radio playing very softly in the background so there were voices that could be heard. She did whine for about five minutes and then she was absolutely fine (phew!).
4. Establish routine
As a parent of two young children, initially I never believed it when other parents said that routine really helped your children, but the same can be said for puppies. Establishing a routine early on can help them – and you. You can begin, for example, by taking them outside after every time you feed them or you see them having a drink, and then stay with them until they have ‘done their business’.
5. Create a safe space
If you are considering getting a crate, I would definitely recommend this as your puppy will see it as their bedroom. It becomes their ‘safe place’ when they are scared or tired. It’s also ideal if you do need to pop out, as it can ensure your shoes/chair legs/cushions stay intact.
6. Remember you are top dog
Don’t be afraid to show them who is in charge – puppies can be very good at wrapping you around their ‘paws’! A firm, but kind rebuke when needed, will help keep them in their place and will establish life-long good habits.
7. Establish rules now
If you don’t want your dog to have run of the house when they are grown-up then start with that in mind. Holly was not allowed out of the kitchen until she was three months old and even now she is only allowed into the sitting room when I am in there.
8. Playtime and toys
Puppies need plenty of entertainment (and sleep), so have a good variety of toys on hand for when they’re awake and bouncing. This is also a really good way of bonding with your pup as well as rewarding good behaviour.
Holly’s favourite toy is her unstuffed pheasant – she will run up and down the kitchen or office (she has one at each venue) looking very proud and trying to squeak it. When she succeeds it drives us mad as the squeaking usually goes on for five minutes!
9. Praise and reward
Remember to praise your pup when they are doing something good and try not to tell them off unless you can do it immediately after they have done something wrong. A good example of this is during house training – unless you catch them having an accident there is no point in telling them off after the event as they will not associate it.
10. Stock up on cleaning products
Stain and odour remover spray will be your best friend – I would never be without a bottle of this in the house. When your pup has had an accident, make sure you use this to get rid of the smell of where they have peed, as otherwise they will go back to the same spot again! Be prepared for the fact that there will be lots and lots of wee – everywhere – while your puppy is learning.