Bringing your new dog home

You’ve done all your research – you’ve asked all the right questions – you’ve chosen the perfect dog – you’re ready to bring her home. NOW WHAT?! Bringing your new dog home is so exciting! Don’t miss this essential guide to making this a pleasurable, stress free experience for all concerned!

Here you will find helpful and useful advice on the best time to get a new dog, preliminary safety arrangements, tips on potty training, sleeping arrangements and your new dog’s diet. You will also find advice on bringing her home safely and welcoming your new dog into your home. And last but certainly not least, we will attempt to prepare you for the first few nights with your new dog!

The best time to get a new dog
Whether you have decided to get a new puppy or give an older dog a loving home – the timing is crucial. Please, please do NOT get a dog as a Christmas or Birthday present. Dogs are not toys to be bought on a whim and then discarded when the novelty wears off – they are not “presents” to be exchanged or the new “in” must-have accessory. They are intelligent creatures, feeling all the emotions we do an they need the stability of a secure, loving home.

But I’m sure you want only the best for your dog – after all – you are reading this, aren’t you?

Plan a quiet weekend, better still week, when there is just you and your family around, to gently introduce your lovely pet to her new home. When you first bring your new dog home, she will be nervous, confused and apprehensive and her senses will be assaulted with a thousand new sights and smells – so keep things as calm as possible.

Preliminary Safety Arrangements
Keep safety paramount in your mind before and during bringing your new dog home. Pet proof your home before hand. This can be as simple as making sure all electrical cables are out of the way, keeping chocolate out of reach and putting away all poisonous houseplants.

The best way to approach this is to put yourself in your dog’s place. Look at things from her eye level – what do you see – what is temptingly within your reach? Older dogs will want to investigate – puppies will be into EVERYTHING!! Electric cables from all the gadgets a modern home can’t do without, exposed nails or staples under your bed or sofas and settees, beautiful houseplants which will, at the very least make your dog quite ill, and that stash of chocolates you’re hiding from the kids! – all these need to be taken care of before bringing your new dog home. Look at their world from their perspective and you’ll go far in keeping your beautiful dog safe.

Potty training arrangements
If you have chosen to rehome a mature dog, talk with the shelter staff about her routine. You will gather a lot of information which will enable you to make the transition from the shelter to your home as smooth and stress free as possible.

Over the first few days after bringing your new dog home, do be patient with her if she has the odd accident or two – by all means do tell her off in a firm BUT gentle voice and show her where you want her to go. Put yourself in her place – she is nervous and stressed – and her tummy is probably churning with anxiety! And she’s not really sure what you expect of her.

With your patience and understanding, she will settle into her new routine over the next couple of days.

If, however, you have chosen to go down the puppy route – do be warned – it’s like having a new baby in the house. Puddles in the most unexpected places, sleepless nights and chewed EVERYTHING. Fortunately, puppies grow up a lot quicker than baby humans do, so this phase will be over a lot sooner!

Hopefully your puppy has been started off down the road to successful potty training and will just need gentle reminding of what is expected of her. Once again, before bringing your new dog home, do discuss her routine with her breeder or shelter staff – this will help you and your dog.

Do remember, the most likely times for your puppy to need to relieve herself will be

Just after she has woken up
Just after she has eaten

Of course, as a puppy, she will be sleeping and eating a lot, so it naturally follows that she will be relieving herself rather a lot too!

Be vigilant during, simply taking your puppy to her litter tray or garden frequently, will usually do the trick. Lots and lots of praise is the order of the day – your puppy is naturally clean and will get the message very quickly.

Do remember to keep the size of the Litter Tray relevant to the size of your puppy – she needs to be able to get in and out without a struggle – but it also needs to be big enough for her to comfortably stand in.

The less chance you give your puppy to have accidents, the less likely you are to have long term problems with her. Dogs are attracted to urine smells and will naturally tend to repeatedly use the same area. This is the principle on which litter boxes work – so, just start them off right and off they will go!

If you catch your puppy in the act, say “NO!” very firmly, gently pick her up and pop her into her box, rewarding her with huge amounts of praise when she obliges!

Then clean the area where she has had an accident thoroughly to avoid her re-using that particular spot in future. Use a specialised Pet Urine Cleaner – and eliminate odours before they become an annoying recurring attraction with your pet. Many of our regular cleaning agents contain ammonia – this actually makes the matter worse, attracting your dog to the smell, so do be careful in what you choose.

Sleeping arrangements
With a mature dog, try to bring away something familiar to your dog, if at all possible – something which she has used at the shelter, such as her bed, a favourite toy or water bowl. This will make the transition just so much easier on her.

Your new dog will initially be a bit confused with her new routine, so consistency really is the key to settling her down soon. Show her her new bed, pop a soft toy or comfortable blanket in with her and let her settle down. She may create a bit of a fuss to begin with – but she will quickly get the hang of things.

I would recommend keeping her in a fairly confined space initially – something like the utility room or kitchen is usually a good idea. If she has been accustomed to a crate – continue to use this. A crate will be familiar and increase her sense of safety.

Whatever you do, do make sure she has no way of escaping, and that there are no hazards around for her to get into trouble with if she does decide to do a bit of investigating when you’re not around.

With a new puppy, once again, do try to arrange for your puppy to come away with something familiar, if it is at all possible, such as an old blanket. It will be very reassuring for her to have this when she first arrives in her new surroundings.

When bringing your new dog home, think through the entire sleeping arrangements situation thoroughly – and then stick with it. Your puppy will cry pitifully for the first couple of nights – but so would you if you found yourself suddenly alone and somewhere totally strange and daunting.

Don’t be tempted to go to her when she is making a big noise – she will quickly learn this is a way to get your attention and use it just as any self-respecting toddler would!

Make sure Puppy’s sleeping area is away from draughts and that she is in a fairly cosy, confined space. It seems like SUCH a big world to a small puppy. Ensure she can see her litter tray so she can find it if she needs to. You may also want to leave a little night light on for her.

One thing that worked a treat for our puppies was wrapping a large ticking clock in their blanket and placing it in their bed. The would snuggle up to this quite happily – try this – it just makes your puppy feel a lot less lonely – I think they equate it to Mum’s heartbeat.

I cannot emphasize enough – it’s never too early to form a routine with your puppy – and remember – just like bringing up children – consistency really is the key!

Your dog’s diet
Whatever you do when bringing your new dog home,do not make any dramatic changes to her food. Get a complete dietary guide from your dog’s previous home and follow that for at least two weeks, giving your new dog or puppy a chance to settle in first.

It’s not normally a problem to change a mature dog’s diet unless she has special dietary requirements which you have already been informed of. However, with your new puppy, any changes that you introduce will have to be suited to your puppy’s age and done very, very gradually indeed.

For example, if you are changing puppy over from dry food to wet food, swap one spoonful on day one, two spoonfuls on day two and so on till they are completely swapped over to their new diet. I know it is a painfully slow process – but it’s so much better for puppy. Besides, puppy diarrhoea is no fun at all – you really do not want to go down that road!

Something to bring her home in
When bringing your new dog home, it is kind of acceptable for your puppy to be gently held by someone in the back seat of your car – however, it may be wiser to put her in a travelling crate, not just for her own safety in case of an accident, but also just in case she gets travel sick all over your seat AND the person carrying her. This has happened to us – not very pleasant!

The other serious consideration is the fact that an un-secured dog becomes a lethal projectile if your car is involved in an accident. And, even if she escapes serious injury to herself and manages not to injure anyone else in the car, she becomes a huge hazard if she manages to jump out the car and bolt (as most frightened dogs do) down the highway.

Therefore, for your dog’s safety, your own safety AND for the safety of others around you, it is best to secure your pet while travelling. There are alternatives to crates – such as doggie safety belts and so on – so do look around.

Welcome her home
Bringing your new dog home is a wonderful occasion for all the family and a little pre-planning will ensure it stays that way. By now you should have safety proofed your home against all the dangers and mischief a curious dog or little puppy can – and will! – get into. Her bed is ready and so is her litter tray or box. All that remains when bringing your new dog home is for you to gently introduce her to your home and all her eager fans! If you have children, explain they have to be very gentle at this stage. We have found it best to bring puppy (in her crate if that is how she has travelled) quietly into the house. Gently pop her down in a quiet area where you can see her and she can see you. Then sit quietly on the floor and ignore her!

Let her come out of the crate in her own time. Don’t go to her – let her come to you. She will sniff around a bit – and may even have a little wee (you’ll just have to put up with this for now!) Let her know you are there. Gently talk to her in a calm, soothing voice. Let each member of her new family have a chance to gently stroke her and talk to her – but keep it very quiet and calm all the time.

It always surprises me how so many owners want to have a rough and tumble with their new puppy and then wonder why they have a boisterous, uncontrollable dog on their hands. The first few weeks of bringing your new dog home should concentrate on just getting to know each other and setting boundaries and parameters, as much for your dog as for the rest of the family. There will be time for lots of fun and mad antics as your puppy goes through her juvenile years – but you can determine the eventual personality of your dog by creating the right atmosphere now.

Let puppy get to know her new surroundings. Follow her around quietly and from a distance just to make sure she doesn’t get into any trouble.

The first few nights
Expect a couple of disturbed nights with your new dog – she is new and confused and may decide to bark or howl – oh joy! Ignore her when she is being noisy or you will encourage her misbehaviour with attention.

The first few nights with a puppy can be an absolute nightmare – don’t say you weren’t warned! Puppy will be really upset at being left on her own and is likely to cry a lot … and very loudly …… and very pitifully. It can be just AWFUL!

I must say, what you do at this time pretty much depends on what you want to happen long term. If you want puppy to learn to sleep in one particular part of the house – then you just have to harden your heart and let her cry herself to sleep. Thankfully, it will only last a couple of nights before she gets the message and settles down happily.

I have to confess that we have never managed to make it successfully through this phase. Our puppies have always won and it was usually my husband who brought them upstairs, basket and all, and popped them in one corner of our bedroom.

We’re not ashamed to admit we failed miserably at this phase! However, we’ve welcomed many a dog into our lives and successfully completing those first early days has ensured our lives have been enriched by a string of healthy, happy, well adjusted dogs – and this is our wish for you too.

With years of experience in breeding, training and handling dogs, Marion Herbertson is first and foremost a dog lover. Visit – for more of her practical, sometimes humourous advice on pet care.

Article source: