What Should I Have Ready For Bringing My New Puppy Home?

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Welcoming a new puppy into your home can be an exciting time. You can minimize many frustrations and problems for both you and your puppy by following these guidelines.

Key areas to focus on are:

Puppy Proofing

The Medicine Cabinet

Food Selection

Awareness of Prior Routine

 Is this you first Pet?

Are there kids in the house?

The puppy's room and first toys.

Chapter 1: Puppy Proofing

Puppy Proofing should begin with a thorough inspection of all living areas.

Sweep and vacuum all areas the puppy will have access to, including under the furniture and in-between the cushions to remove small objects that may be swallowed.  Be ready to prevent access to off-limit areas by using existing doors or baby gates.  Walk through all areas that your puppy will have access to and be sure there are no toxic household chemicals or plants.  Lists of toxic plants and chemicals are available through several reference sources as well as a Doctor Pup Video.

Chapter 2: The medicine cabinet

The medicine cabinet at home should include a heat disc, available at most pet supply outlets. Before use, this gel-filled plastic disc is placed in the micro-wave and then supplies a steady source of external heat. Heat-discs are preferred to electric heating pads which can catch fire or just get too hot.  Small bottles of Karo Syrup which can serve as a quick energy source if your puppy is not eating properly. Also small bottles of liquid G.I. protectant such as Kaopectate or Pepto Bismol can be handy in times of intermittent vomiting or diarrhea, as well as liquid Benadryll and children's Aspirin but not acetamenophen or ibuprofen.

Disposable syringes,  3cc & 10cc sizes are good for giving liquid medications.

A nozzle-tipped syringe, available through most pet supply outlets is handy for delivering liquid food.

  A Rectal thermometer can provide valuable information for both you and your veterinarian.

Being prepared with this items in your medicine cabinet can make your puppy's arrival safer.

Chapter 3: Food Selection

The stress of transition to a new environment can have a negative impact on your puppy's appetite.  Be ready by knowing what your puppy was eating before and having some on hand.  More enticing back-up sources of food include premium canned cat or dog food.  Caesars and Biljak are two pet foods which many puppies find very enticing.  Also meat baby foods, yoghurt and eggs as well as beef, chicken or turkey that can be boiled, baked or steamed if extra enticement is necessary.  Successful transition of a new puppy into your home hinges on reducing the number and magnitude of change.

Chapter 4:  Prior Routine

Once you have chosen a new puppy, get as much information as you can about prior routine including play and sleep patterns, number and types of feeding and water sources.  How long it takes to accomplish a give and training task is directly related to the amount of time your puppy spends alone.  The more he's alone, the longer it would take to reach your goal.  Reasonable and probably beneficial amounts of alone time would be around four hours.

If you'll be away for more than four hours, consider these options: A companion for your puppy solves lots of problems. Having a play buddy and a sleep buddy just makes the day more enjoyable. If having a companion for your puppy is not practical, look into Doggy Day Care, or having a pet sitter come into your home.

Remember that if you are going to use Doggy Day Care, that will need to wait until your puppy completes it's vaccinations.

Chapter 5: Pets and Children

If there are pets or children in the house,there should be an introductory period of consistent supervision. This is especially true in the case of much older pets or much younger children. Extra care is needed if there are significant differences in the size of the pets or if the existing pet has ever shown aggression.  I do not feel that gender by itself is a source of conflict between pets.

The period of supervision should continue until the interaction is comfortable and predictable.

Chapter 6:  Puppy's Room

Just like you, quiet, secure sleeping quarters are comforting to your pet.  If your puppy is used to a cage or a crate, don't change that.  Remember that minimizing the number and magnitude of change makes the transition much easier.

Try to duplicate the sleep environment that your puppy had before. If you choose not to use a cage then consider the use of a small play pen or even a small room such as a bathroom that can make your puppy feel secure.

Room temperature should not be too cool.  Remember that your puppy's body temperature is warmer than yours and so even the temperature that may seem comfortable to you, can be chilling for your puppy.

Remember, optimum alone time is around four hours.  So check on your puppy during the night, but don't feel you have to wake him up.  In most instances your puppy's sleep area should be separate but near to yours.


                                     Chapter 7: Toys

Selection of first toys should be based on common sense.

Keep type and number of toys simple. Start with toys that's seem indestructible. Nylabone products are a good example.  Even toys designed for pets, can pose problems. Be careful with thin rubber or cloth toys that contain squeekers. As the toy wears, the squeeker can become exposed and then swallowed. Products from your home generally do not make acceptable toys.

Also as a veterinarian, I am not comfortable with raw hide products that can be a source of bacteria leading to gastro-enteritis, and also cause obstruction necessitating surgery.