First Days & Nights With a New Puppy - 
Guide for New Dog Owners

Did you know?
30% of dog owners who give up their dogs do so because of the dogs' perceived behavior problems?In most cases the problem is not with the dogs it's with the owners' expectations.


If you don't want this to happen to you, read on.

Becoming a dog owner for the first time is very exciting, but it does come with some challenges as well. Nothing is cuter than a puppy, but it is important to remember that puppies are not
playthings - they are living creatures that deserve respect and proper care.

If you are thinking about adding a new puppy to your family, take the time to learn everything you can about becoming a first-time dog owner and how to settle your new puppy to ensure that you and your puppy get started on the right foot.

Things to Think About Before You Get a Puppy

If you’re thinking about getting a puppy, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement. But you have to realize that getting a puppy is not something you should do on a whim – it will require a major commitment of your time and money.

Keep reading to learn more about what kind of commitment you can expect as a new dog owner. You’ll also receive useful information about picking a dog breed and about what kind of costs you can expect during your first year of dog ownership.

Check out the 5 things to do before getting a puppy:

1. What Kind of Commitment Can You Handle?

Owning a dog is not a short-term commitment. While lifespan differs from one breed to another, when you buy a puppy you should be prepared to commit the next 15 years of your life caring for him.

If you have a family, you need to have a chat to make sure that everyone is on board and that everyone is going to share the responsibility of taking care of your new puppy.

2. What Breed of Dog Do You Want?

There are hundreds of different dog breeds out there, and each one is unique.

Some of the most popular breeds include the Labrador Retriever, the Golden Retriever, the German Shepherd, the Bulldog, and the Beagle, among others.


If you don’t already know what dog breed you want,
ask yourself the following questions – the answer will help you to narrow down your options:

  • What size dog do you want (and what size can your home accommodate)?
  • How energetic do you want your dog to be (think about how much time you have for walks)?
  • Are you able to spend a lot of time with your dog or do you want a more independent breed?
  • ​How much shedding can you handle and how much time do you want to spend grooming?
  • ​What sort of temperament are you looking for in a dog?
  • How much time and effort can you spend on training your dog (intelligence matters)?

Once you have thought about the answers to these questions, you can look around for a dog breed that suits your preferences.

A great way to do this is to use an online dog breed selector – you can plug in your preferences and find a list of dog breeds to match.
Here you can read about dog breeds characteristics.

3. How Much Money Does It Cost to Keep a Dog?

Owning a dog is not cheap.

In the beginning, you have to think about the cost to purchase your new puppy.

Depending on the breed, you could spend anywhere from $250 to $2,500.

You’ll also need to think about the cost of supplies and equipment that you’ll need upfront. A small dog crate usually costs under $50, and you can use old towels or blankets to soften the crate at first, at least until your puppy is house-trained.

Plan to buy a set of stainless steel water and food bowls as well as a collar, leash, and an assortment of toys.You may also need grooming supplies, so be ready to spend at least $100 on these items combined.

During your puppy’s first year you’ll need to make sure he gets his vaccinations and that he sees the vet at least every six months. A vet visit usually costs about $40, and shots may cost $10 each, or more. And don’t forget to think about having your puppy spayed or neutered. You can save money by going to a vet clinic, but you could still be spending a couple hundred dollars.

4. Doing Some Reading

Taking some time to educate yourself, will pay big
dividends in the future.

The training begins the moment the puppy is with you, whether if you want to or not.

You should learn how to talk to your puppy, what to say and how to say it.

  • Uniform & Consistent Language - Use the same language and commands with your dog. Don't confuse him with different commands with the same meaning (think about how hard learning a new language is). Read about clear and consistent language here.
  • Positive Reinforcement - Reward good and desired behavior.  Read more here and also here.
  • Critical Two Weeks - The first 2 weeks with your puppy are critical and you should make them feel safe and secure.  It's important to create a safe and comfortable environment.
    Don't get angry with them!  Don't punish them!. Read about making your dog feel safe.

As time goes on make sure you are keeping yourself updated and educated so that you and your dog will have the best bond.

5. What Do I Need to Buy for My New Puppy?

If you are a first-time dog owner, you may be wondering exactly what you need to buy for your new puppy.

This is why we've prepared a complete list of the products your puppy & you will need.

In addition to getting the items on this list, you may want to talk to family and friends who are dog owners to see what other things they might recommend.

Don’t feel obligated to spend a lot of money upfront, however. As long as you have the basic items on the list above you can add extras as they become necessary or wanted.

6. What If I Have Other Pets?

If you have other pets, now might be a good idea to think about how bringing
a new puppy will affect them.

Think about the personality of your pet and how is he going to react
to a new puppy in the house.

Do you have a cat that gets stressed when seeing a dog? In this case
it could be too stressful for your cat​.
Is your cat aggressive or grumpy? Maybe it won't be a good idea to get a new puppy.

Older dogs are usually not welcoming to new puppies, but most chances are
they won't hurt him. You should check how your dog reacts when you get new unfamiliar dog to the house and work with him on that if needed.

We recommend to talk to a professional if you have any doubts.

How Do I Get My House Ready for a Puppy?

Now that you have a better understanding of what you might be getting yourself into when you bring home a new puppy, you should start thinking about the practical aspects of dog ownership.

What do you need to do around the house to get ready for your puppy?
what exactly is your puppy going to need from you when you do get him home?

1. Puppy - Proofing Your House

There are many different things involved in preparing your house for a puppy, but puppy-proofing is one of the most important.

Similar to child-proofing, puppy-proofing simply means that you go around your house and address issues that could be potentially harmful to your puppy.

Make sure that your food, medications and cleaning products are all stored away in a cupboard where your puppy can’t get them.

Pick up small objects off the floor and wrap up cords for blinds and electrical equipment. If you have other pets in the house, make sure your puppy can’t get into their food and, if you have a cat, store the litter box somewhere he can’t access it.

In addition to puppy-proofing the inside of your house, you’ll also want to do it in the yard. Make sure that there are no gaps in your fencing where your puppy could slip through.
If you have a pond or pool, keep it covered and consider fencing it off as well, if it isn’t already.

All lawn and garden tools plus pesticides, herbicides, car maintenance chemicals, and more should be safely put away. Make sure that your trash cans have lids that fit tightly – you should do this inside the home as well.

You may also want to look into the plants you have on your property and inside your home to make sure they aren’t toxic to dogs. If they are, consider removing them or fence them off as well.

2. Your Puppy's Place

When your puppy will get home, you’re going to want to give him a place to settle in.

It's very important that you create him his own place that he can call home.

You’ll also want to make sure that he doesn’t have free reign of the house.

Puppies can get into a lot of mischief and it’ll still be a few weeks before you can trust your puppy not to have an accident.

The best thing you can do for your puppy is to set up a special area of your house that he can call his own. Take a room that is not in the middle of household activity but not too isolated and use a puppy playpen or baby gates to section off a little area.

Set up your puppy’s crate in this area along with his toys and his food and water bowls. When your puppy needs a break, he can come to this area for a nap, and you can use it to keep him confined during the times when you can’t physically watch him.

New Puppy Homecoming Day

Homecoming day is very exciting, for you and your pup.

Plan the puppy homecoming day during the weekend or a vacation
so that you'll be able to spend time with him.

1. How Will You Bring Your Puppy Home in the Car?

So you’ve picked out your puppy from the breeder or from the home shelter.
You’re ready to take him home in your car, you’ll need to make a few preparations.

Some people recommend lining a box with soft
blankets to transport your puppy home.​

You may find that your puppy feels more comfortable riding home wrapped in a blanket on your lap.
Car rides can be scary for puppies, so do what you need to do to help him feel safe.

2. What to Do If I Have a Cat or a Dog?

If you already have a pet in your home you will need to 
do some preparations before you bring your pup home.

These preparations will keep your pets safe and will also help with building a good bond between them.

What to Do If You Have a Cat

  • Separate the food and water bowls.
  • Cat's litter box - you can put it on a shelf so the puppy won't disturb the cat. Make sure
    the box is open so the cat has control.
  • Make sure that your cat has a high place to climb to, so if he feels threatened and wants to relax he can climb there. This way he can also watch everything from above.
  • Keep some snacks and treats and when he's relaxed reward him with a treat.
  • In general you need to let them get used to each other slowly, don't get them together by force.

What to Do If You Have a Dog

  • Separate their food and water bowls, bed, toys. (each dog should have his own)
  • Don't take your dog with you to pick up the new puppy.
  • Introduce them in a neutral territory, for example in the park.
    Do it with a leash and with another person, one for each dog.
  • Don't force communication, reinforce and cheer when they do. In general you should reinforce and reward positive communication. If you recognize negative vibes keep them apart.
  • Give attention to the old dog and don't neglect him.

3. When You Get Home for the First Time

We're hoping you had a lovely car ride with your puppy.

Before getting the puppy inside the house, walk with him (using a leash) around the house so he'll be able to sniff and get familiar with the new environment.

Once you are inside the house also show him around the house. (we'll talk more about it below).

Puppy Is Home, Now What? - First Days & Nights

Getting your new puppy home is the easy part – the hard part is what comes after that.

As excited as you might be to have your new puppy home, you need to remember that it will be a big change for your puppy – he might be nervous or scared at first, so think about ways you can help him to settle in.

You should also have a plan for what to do if your puppy cries at night and you should think ahead about potty training – it’s never too early to start establishing good habits.

1. When Does Your Puppy Need to See the Vet?

Once you’ve gotten your puppy home, you’ll want to make sure that he sees the vet within a few days.

Even if your puppy comes with a health guarantee from the breeder, you should still have him checked out by your own vet just to be sure.

In addition to monitoring your puppy’s health, your vet will also provide you with a vaccination schedule.
Your puppy will need multiple shots over the course of his first year to establish immunity. After that, he’ll only need a booster shot once a year or every 3 years, depending on the vaccine.

2. How Can You Help Your New Puppy Settle In?

The first few days at home with your puppy are going to fly by, but take care not to get too caught up in the excitement.

The precedents you set during your puppy’s first few days will have an impact on the things you try to do later. For example, if you let your puppy sleep with you in the bed the first few nights, he is going to learn to expect that in the future.

Start cultivating healthy habits now – it’s much easier to create good habits than to change bad habits. Make sure that every member of your family is on board with your “house rules” so things are consistent for your puppy.

When you first get your puppy home, let him take some time to wander and sniff around. If he seems very sleepy, let him take a nap in his special area before you make introductions to the rest of the family.

If you have kids, talk to them before introducing the puppy to make sure that they know how to safely handle and interact with him.
When you’re ready to introduce them, have your kids sit on the floor and place your puppy on the floor near them. Instruct your kids to wait quietly, letting the puppy come to them. When he does, they can start to pet him and play with him.

3. What Should You Do If Your Puppy Cries at Night?

The first few nights in a new place can be scary for your puppy, especially if he’s never been separated from his litter-mates before.

For the first few days, you might consider moving his crate into the bedroom at night, so he won’t feel so lonely.

If he whines during the night, consider whether he’s whining for attention or whether he needs to go out – make sure you give him ample potty breaks so he doesn’t have an accident.
If your puppy continues to whine, you can soothe him but don’t coddle him – it will only teach him that whining earns him your attention, so he’ll do it more often in the future.

At the same time, you should avoid yelling at him as well because it could make your puppy learn to fear you and that could damage your future bond.

4. When Should You Start Potty Training?

A young puppy can only control his bladder and bowels for about one hour per month of age – this means that a 3-month old puppy can only hold it for 3 hours before having an accident.

This means that you may need to wait a few weeks before you really get into potty training, but it is never too early to start cultivating good habits.

Take your puppy outside every hour or two, so he has a chance to do his business – this will help to prevent accidents, and it will help him to learn that you want him to do his business outdoors.

Your puppy wants to earn your approval, so if you act excited and happy when he does something you like, he’ll be eager to repeat it.
It’s also a good idea to choose a specific part of the yard where you want your puppy to go. Take him there each time you take him out and praise and reward him when he does his business.

Eventually, you’ll be able to just open the door for your dog, and he’ll head straight to that spot to do the deed. This works especially well if you pair it with a command like, “Go pee.” Say the command each time you take your puppy outside then praise and reward him when he does what he’s supposed to.

5. Taking Care of Your Puppy When You’re Away

Another thing you need to think about, then you’re ready to bring your puppy home is who is going to watch him when you’re away.

As you’ve already learned, new puppies can only control their bladder and bowels for about one hour per month of age.

This being the case, you can’t leave your puppy confined to his crate for more than a few hours at a time. If you work a full-time job, you might need to rely on family members to help, or you’ll have to hire a pet sitter.

Wrapping Up

When it comes to bringing home a new puppy, there are many things you need to consider and preparations that you need to make.

At a certain point, however, you just have to dive in and do it! By taking all of the tips and information provided here to heart, you can make sure that your home will be a welcoming place for your new puppy and the two of you will get off to the best start possible.

This by no means will be an easy task but we're sure that you'll be rewarded with tons of unconditional love and satisfaction from your new family member.

Please share your experience with your new puppy in the comments below.