Congratulations on your new puppy!! Whether you’re speaking to breeder, are on a waiting list, are working with a rescue, or you’ve already brought home your furry bundle of joy, this is a fun and exciting time.

That said, there are a few essential new puppy tips that will help you create a safe space, a welcoming environment, and allow your puppy to get the best start at life from the beginning.

What’s next? Let’s get started!

New Puppy Tips

From food to fun to friends, these new puppy tips will help you prepare for your new canine companion.

Tip #1 Puppy Proof the House

Before you even bring your new pup home, make sure you puppy proof the house.

Make sure that anything you don’t want chewed on accidentally is put away, and kept away. Replace items with chew toys – puppies love to chew (and chewing is an important activity).

Consider getting a baby gate or two so you can block off rooms or areas where you don’t want your puppy to go.

Tip #2 A Crate is your Friend

Crates can be these magical contraptions that allow you to give your pup some quiet time and help them feel safe and secure. Crate training early comes in handy during everyday life for dogs who might need a break from a bustling household or just want a familiar place to rest. For rescue dogs especially, a crate provides a safe space to adjust to their new surroundings as well as the luxury of not having to fight for their own space. They also provide protection if you’re heading out and can’t keep an eye on them.

Additionally, if your puppy is crate trained, in an emergency a crate can be the difference between safety and uncertainty. Being able to get your pup in a crate quickly can save time.

Plus, crates are an essential part of housetraining puppies. Dogs instinctively don’t like to soil their sleeping quarters, so they’re avoid doing their business in a create. This teaches them to hold their bladder (just don’t leave them in there for hours on end of course).

Here are a few tips for crate training:

  • Start crate training early. It can take time – don’t expect it to happen overnight.
  • Never leave your dog in the crate all day long. Start with short periods of time and work your way up from there.
  • Make it positive. Give treats and positive encouragement when they go in, and when they’re quiet in the crate.
  • Never leave a collar or harness on when your pup is in the crate
  • Make it comfortable. Put in some cozy blankets or a bed (as long as your puppy isn’t prone to chewing/eating things in the crate.
  • Incorporate the crate into fun games where the pup goes in and out of the open crate at their own will.

Tip #3 Establish a Routine

Most dogs thrive on routine. And having a routine right from the get-go can really help with training and getting your puppy comfortable in her new home. Puppies are much like children and establishing consistency in expected behaviour and a routine for feeding, playtime, training and potty time will help your puppy feel secure and happy.

The routine can revolve around everything you do – feeding, bedtime, potty breaks, training time, nap time. Everything in a set time helps your puppy learn.

Also, make sure other household members are on board as well, and that everyone maintains some consistency.

Tip #4 Food

Obviously one of the first things you’ll get for your puppy is food. But what food will you be feeding?

It never hurts to speak to your holistic veterinarian about the best diet for a puppy. Puppies have different nutritional requirements compared to older dogs, so you want to be sure you’re giving them exactly what they need.

If you choose to feed kibble, make sure you feed a high quality kibble. Speak to your trusted vet to find out which ones are best.

That said, we’re big proponents of a raw food diet, no matter what age your dog might be. Just like adult dogs, puppies can eat raw food, no matter the age or breed. What is important is that you make adjustments to ensure the diet provides recommended allowances for essential nutrients.

Providing the proper nutrition to your growing puppy is vital to ensure she grows up to be as healthy as possible. For example, if you’re going the BARF (biologically appropriate raw feeding) route, nutritionists recommend:

  • 58% muscle meat – provide essential protein, amino acids, and water-soluble vitamins
  • 17% raw edible bone – provide essential calcium, phosphorous, and other essential nutrients
  • 7% vegetables – provide essential nutrients and beneficial phytochemicals
  • 14% organ meat – provide essential minerals and water-soluble vitamins
  • 3% seeds or nuts – provide essential minerals, fatty acids, and fat-soluble vitamins
  • 1% fruit – provide antioxidants, but only in small amounts due to their sugar levels

Puppies will also need to eat more food, and more frequently. Start with 3-4 smaller meals a day and reduce that over the first few months. A typically guideline is about 2-3% of your puppy’s adult weight. If you’re not sure what that will be, feed about 10% of her current weight. Watch her to see if she gets too fat or seems too thin and adjust the amount accordingly.

Again, if you have questions or concerns about feeding your new puppy, speak with your vet or a canine nutritionist.

Tip #5 Exercise – But With Limits

When you first bring a new puppy home, you’ll probably notice he’s a big ball of energy, but it comes in spurts. A few minutes of rowdy play and then it’s time for a nap. And that’s great.

So, keep that in mind when you’re getting ready to start going for walks. For example, to ensure you’re not overdoing it, in the first few months go with 5 minutes of exercise for every month of your puppy’s age. If he starts sitting down, he’s probably telling you he’s finished, so watch the cues.

Furthermore, watch the stairs! puppies shouldn’t be running up and down stairs when they’re little. In most instances, a healthy puppy should not be introduced to stairs until he or she is at least 12 weeks old. However, for some large dog breeds like the retriever, Labrador, Staffordshire terrier, and some shepherd dogs you should wait a lot longer. These large breeds are prone to hip problems. Carry them in the beginning, and when they’re going up and down, don’t force them and be patient, giving them lots of time to get the hang of these mountains!

Tip #6 Socialization

Socializing your puppy is the key to ensuring you’ll have a happy, confident, and well-adjusted dog. During her first three months of life, your puppy will experience a socialization period that will permanently shape her future personality and how she will react to her environment as an adult dog. Gently and patiently exposing her to a wide variety of people, places, and situations at the beginning makes a huge, permanent difference in her temperament.

  • Introduce the puppy to new sights, sounds, and smells: think of everything she 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.
  • Make it positive: when introducing all of these new experiences to your puppy, make sure she’s getting lots of treats and praise, so that she associates what she’s being exposed to and the feeling of seeing something new as a fun experience. 
  • Baby steps: take your time, and don’t move at too fast a pace. You want it to be positive, rather than overwhelming.
  • Consider puppy classes. These will give your pup the chance to meet other dogs and people in a controlled environment, and you’ll get some good training advice out of it too!

New Puppy Tips: Final Thoughts

Brining home a new puppy is one of the best experiences! A little bundle of fluff can bring so much joy and laughter into a home. Just remember, they can also be a lot of work, so being prepared is the best way to give your pup a great start right from the start. Use these new puppy tips to make things easier – for both you and your new pup!