Hello everyone, and welcome back to a brand-new episode of Dog Sense!
And, like always, today, we're discussing a suuuper important subject, especially for those of you thinking about getting a new pup: How to have THE best first week home with your puppy.
Getting a new dog always comes with a lot of (sometimes mixed) feelings. You're super excited because you're adding another member to your family (whoop whoop!!), but you can also feel a bit stressed out about it.
A new dog — and especially a young puppy — is a big responsibility. So, it's totally natural to be worried about every little detail.
And this is exactly why we're here!
In this week's episode, Sarah and I will be discussing what YOU can do to have an amazing first week home with your new canine best friend.
All right, let's get to it!
What You Need for Your First Week
Every day, we get phone calls and emails of people asking what they should do with their new puppy. Well, let me tell you one thing first: You’re probably not going to sleep as much as you normally do during your first week together. But it’s okay, you’ll be fine after that.
Now that we got this disclaimer out of the way, let’s get to the list of things you’ll need during your first week with your pup!
Get a Crate
You absolutely have to have a crate, no questions asked. You’ll want your puppy to be safe when you’re sleeping and can’t watch him. You’ll want him to be safe when you have to leave the house. And you’ll also want your puppy to take frequent naps.
A crate makes all of this possible. Think of it as a baby crib, not a prison. Once you teach your puppy to love his crate, he’ll start going in there voluntarily. A crate should be a dog’s safe space, and that’s learned from puppyhood.
As for its size, we like to go with a crate that’s not too big (unless it comes with a divider), even if you know your puppy will grow to be a large adult dog. The crate should just be big enough so that he can sit down, stand up, lay down, and spin around in a circle comfortably. This is because you don’t want your new best friend peeing and pooping on one side and then sleeping on the other.
You can also get a playpen for your pup, but always keep an eye on him when he’s in there. Playpens are not as safe as crates, and accidents can happen there.
What About Beds?
We get asked this question a lot: Should I put a bed in my puppy’s crate? And here’s what we think: It depends on your puppy.
You can try it out, but he might chew or pee on it. Which is why you don’t need to buy a super expensive bed. There’s nothing more disheartening than coming home and finding out your puppy has destroyed his $300, personalized bed.
Get Pet Insurance ASAP
Pet insurance is one of the most important things you can get for your puppy. This is because a lot of insurance companies have waiting periods, and if you try to get pet insurance after your dog has already had an injury, it won’t be eligible for coverage.
Pet insurance can also cover pre-existing conditions, which is why getting in as soon as possible is crucial. So, you want to make sure your puppy is insured from day one, because those vet bills can quickly stack up.
Don’t Forget Your Walking Gear
Basically, you’ll need the essentials, so, a collar (or a harness) and a leash.
For your leash, get a six-foot one that you can use for walks. Don’t worry about the Flexis or anything like that for now. You can also get a long line leash, which are usually fifteen to twenty+ feet long, which you can use for recall exercise and to give your pup a little bit more freedom.
Many people ask us about retractable leashes, and it’s not that we don’t love them. But because this type of leash needs handling skills (which a lot of first-time puppy owners don’t have), master a regular leash first and then (with guidance) move up to a Flexi
As for the collar, going with a martingale is our preferred style. This is because it has a safety mechanism that doesn’t allow for the dog to back out of it if he gets spooked or scared while you’re trying to grab his collar. Owners of super small breed puppies - those with trachea issues (usually the tiny ones) - may do better with a flat collar, so check with your vet.
We also recommend getting a harness! You’ll need it for when you need to potty-walk your puppy and don’t want to worry about his leash manners. If he’s in a harness, you can let him pull to his heart’s delight.
Food toys (especially puzzle ones) are a great way for puppies to get a brain and body workout. This is why your pup should start using them from a very young age. You can put your dog’s kibble in it, or peanut butter, or whatever snack your pup likes, and let him chew at it.
Puppies usually love food toys, so try to get a variety (slow feeders are also an option). They’re a great way to teach your pup problem-solving skills and frustration tolerance!
As for other types of toys, we like the ones that create engagement with the dog owner. You don’t want to just use a ball and throw it and let your puppy chase it. You’ll want to be part of the game, so go for something like a flirt pole or a tug toy, which will require you to play with your new best friend.
Getting a new puppy is an exciting event, but it can also be pretty overwhelming. Which is why preparation is key. If you want a more in-depth look at this subject, check out the episode above!
And, if you’re in need of some help, make sure to take a look at our free Perfect Puppy Checklist!