So you're about to pick up your pup, what should you be thinking about and preparing.
Just like when you're having a baby you want to pup proof your house. Look around and think like a puppy, what can you get into, chew, are there any sharp things sticking out that pup could hurt themselves on, basically if it's at pup height, pup will investigate.
Especially be mindful of cables and cleaning products.
In the past I have had hair straighteners chewed, a pair of expensive shoes, a hand bag, hair brush and other bits and pieces. As my mum said to me at the time, If you left it there you're to blame. We can't blame a curious puppy and we can't call them naughty if we haven't given clear instruction of what is off limits.
Check your garden, you want to make sure that your pup can run and play but you want to make sure theres no gaps where they could get out, and no nails or sharp edges that they could run into and catch themselves on.
You may want to think about putting in baby gates if there are areas where your puppy would not be allowed, perhaps stairs or your living room, you want to stay consistent with boundaries and gates can help you.
Make your choices now
I've written a blog on crate training and toilet training which you may like to check out, but in brief think about where Pup is going to sleep ahead of bringing pup home. You may decide you want to make a bed and "place" in the kitchen, or another room in the house etc and thats fine or you may prefer to crate train.
Just considerer in the early days of toilet training pup has a very small bladder and window for going to the toilet, so as soon as they wake up they will want to go to the toilet. Pups don't like to soil where they sleep so crate training makes this easier, but you could also use puppy pads. Choosing a floor that, should pup miss the mark or have an accident, will be easy to clean will make life less stressful in the long run.
When buying a crate choose one that is big enough for pup to turn around in but not too big so that is doesn't encourage them to soil one end of the crate. Look for a dog bed that can be washed just incase there are any accidents, you can find ones that have removable covers which is a life saver not only for accidents but also for dirt dog days and keeping the bed hygienic.
Your breeder will tell you which food your pup has been raised on so far, they may even give you some of the food to take away. Do some research and look at food options you may wish to continue with that brand but you may wish to faze it out to a brand you prefer. I personally like Barking Heads for puppies. There are some good brands out there and not good brands, and different prices, expensive doesn't always equal better for you pup so look at the ingredients, traces of ... compared to 100% ... makes a big difference to the quality of the food.
Look for age appropriate toys for puppies. You don't want anything too big or too small for your breed of puppy, they shouldn't be too small that your pup could swallow. You also want to consider the strength of the toys to ensure they are suitable for puppies and not adult dogs. Take a good look at the toy to ensure there are no sharp edges or loose parts.
For chewing durability toys are best, for example, Kong toys which you can fill with treats will both entertain your pup and last a long time.
Avoid toys stuffed with polystyrene balls or bean beads, your pup is likely to rip the outer layer and this could lead to them swallowing, ingesting or choking on the undesirable filling.
Avoid playing with objects not intended for dogs, you may thing it funny to play tuggy with your sock but you're opening a whole can of trouble as pup will think they can take any item of your clothing, that includes ribbons, elastic and hair bands or even sticks, these can all be harmful to your puppy.
Give your pup a variety of toys so that they don't get bored, rotating them stops your pup getting bored but also means you don't have to buy hundreds of toys. You can get a toy box and give pup a different toy every couple of days and remove another. Buy new ones periodically and check the old toys incase they are damaged or over warn. Don't leave toys outside either so that they don't get slugs on them during the night and keep them clean.
It is important to provide your puppy with a wide variety of toys to provide all-round health and vitality.
Supervise your puppy when they are playing with their toys to minimise accidents. Swap a toy with them so that they feel comfortable and learn not to guard toys.
You'll need a collar to put on pup, you want to get an idea from the breeder of the size that you will need for pup. Order your name tag. I don't suggest you put pups name on the tag, as exciting as it seems, the reason for this is that if your pup does get lost or distracted from you on a walk someone can read your pups name and call them giving them a safe feeling and encouraging pup to leave with the stranger.
Add your surname, phone number, address (optional) or your vets address, you could write I'm lost please call. This is down to choice.
Depending on what age your puppy is when you bring them home and when they will be getting their final jabs will determine how long before you're likely to need a harness and lead, your pup may grow quite a bit before then so you possibly have a little time to look at a lead and harness appropriate for your pups needs.
You'll need a food bowl and water bowl, don't get bowls that are too big for your pup. Non slip bottoms are a really good idea so that they don't slide around the floor, stainless steel bowls are also easy to clean.
Transporting your puppy
So how are you getting pup home? Do you need a crate or travel cage to put pup in, are you putting pup in the boot with a dog guard, or have you decided to use restraints like a seat belt (you will need a harness for a seat belt restraint).
You may want to give pup a bath when you get them home, we don't suggest you bath pups too often and you also don't want to scare them. If you do want to give them a little freshen up use a very little amount of puppy shampoo diluted in water.
Make sure you have plenty of poo bags, and perhaps puppy pads.
Choose your vet, you can ask your friends and do some research into which vets are close to you and you like the sound of. You can call that vet to understand prices so that you have an idea of what you'll be looking at.
You want to check with the breeder when pup was last wormed (and which brand was given), vaccinated and if they've been microchipped.
Pups will need to be wormed every two to three weeks (depending on the brand) from 2 to 12 weeks, after that once a month until they're 6 months old when they can be wormed every 3 months (again depending on the brand).
You can register your pup with your chosen vets and book them in for the final vaccination (if necessary) and arrange a plan for worming and fleas etc. Your vet will also weigh your pup to check they're at a healthy weight, so it's worth making an appointment with your vet even if your pup has been fully vaccinated.
Remember to put the dates of the vaccination in your calendar so you stay on top of future vaccinations and worming/flea treatments.
Shop around now to find the deal that works for you and your pup. You can insure your pup before their last vaccination so I advise you have the insurance ready for the day you bring pup home.
I'm sure you've arranged to spend some time with your puppy to get them settled at home but if you're going back to work or you are not going to be with your pup at some points during the day you'll want to arrange for someone to do let outs and, when ready, a walk. Dogs shouldn't be left for more than 4 hours and puppies for even less, so ask a family member to help out or a paid professional (with insurance and experience) shop around to meet the perfect fit for you, meet with your professional and watch them interact with your pup, don't feel that you have to chose the first person you come across.
What to do first when we arrive home
Take pup straight out into your garden, you've had a journey, however long, and your puppy will want to relieve themselves (it also starts a good president of where they are expected to go). Spend some time with pup outside so that they go properly, a lot of puppies will do a wee come in and go again straight away so spend some time with pup outside and celebrate any toilet, you can treat or simply praise with enthusiasm.
If you don't have a garden take pup straight to the puppy pad, place a few on the floor so pup have room to move around to chose "the spot".
If you've had the chance to do so you'll want to pick up pup as early as possible so that you can spend as much time as you can before settling your pup.
You'll want to introduce pup to their sleeping quarters (read crate training for tips on getting pup used to the crate). It might be a good idea to restrict pup to one or two rooms to begin with. Your home is going to seem huge to your little puppy so giving them access to small areas to start will make them feel more comfortable. Ensure your pup has a clear "space" or "place" that they can go to where they can feel safe, especially if you have children.
It's not uncommon for a pup to bond with the person who brings them home, if you have the pup in your arms or on your lap they will get your scent first, the best thing to do is introduce your puppy to every member of the family, and make sure that this is a positive experience for them.
Don't overwhelm your puppy by inviting too many people over to meet them before they've had a chance to settle.
Bond with your puppy by playing, petting and generally spending time with them. Someone should be home with pup almost all of the time during their first weeks in your home. Children must be taught respect for your puppy and not left alone (read my blog on children best friend for tips).
Introduce your puppy to any other pets carefully and always supervised.
Make sure that all members of the family are on the same page when it comes to training and boundaries. Give your puppy clear rules and cue words otherwise your puppy might get confused and frustrated, and this will slow any training and progress. For example, if you don’t want your dog to go on the sofa, you need to make sure you and your family keep to this from day one.
You should ask the breeder when and where pup was fed and stick to that schedule for the first few days. Give your pup a schedule, if possible, of; feeding, toilet, napping and play/exercise. Routine and consistency are key with puppies.
Start training your puppy as soon as possible, you should start by making a connection with your puppy using "look at me" this will start the "Sit" and you can lead on from there. Choose a group class, one to one or online learning to suit you.
Socialise your puppy with other pups, humans, sights and sounds as early as you can to make them all rounded puppies (read my blog on socialisation for more tips).
Enjoy your little bundle of fluff, they won't be babies for long and they grow so fast.
Be prepared for a few weeks of little sleep, toilet accidents, mouthing and chewing, this also will stop in time, stay cool you're not the only one and they aren't doing it to upset you.