Bringing home a puppy is exciting. It’s also a lot of work! We brought home a new puppy on Saturday, December 7, 2013. Zuzu is a Greyhound mix whose mom was brought into rescue, and only when they took her in to be spayed did they find out that she was already pregnant. Since they were whelped at a kennel rather than a house, the pups were released to their new (very experienced) homes at around 6 weeks of age, rather than the typical 8 weeks.
Here are some of the things we do in prepping for a puppy:
- We found out what the pups were being fed so we could continue with the current diet and gradually switch over to our preferred diet.
- Set up a crate/pen for her both during the day and for sleeping at night. Since she’s so young yet, and the weather was so cold the day we brought her home, we knew we would need to set up areas for pottying. Normally, I prefer to get puppies started on pottying outside immediately, but some situations call for some adjustments to the usual plan!
- In setting up the pen for her to be in when not closely supervised during the day, I am using an ex-pen (not just a crate) so she has more room to move around. Since the kennel was using newspaper for the pups to potty on, I am starting out with the same and then will transition her to pottying only outside.
- Toys. More toys. And then some more toys. I have a wide variety of toys for her. In part, because I want her to experience as many different textures, noises, etc. as I can at this age. In part, because I want to let her decide which kinds of toys she prefers. And in part, because I want to have options for her besides skin and clothing when she is looking for something to bite and chew on. At this age, she’s exploring everything with her teeth!
- Toys, part 2. Since she is very young, still developing her senses and in her critical age for exposure and socialization, our “toys” include things she can walk on, climb over, crawl under, etc., not just toys she can carry around.
- Bedding. Depending on the puppy, some puppies don’t get nice fancy expensive beds because they will simply destroy them. Some do fine with beds as long as they have other options to choose from when looking for something to chew. Our puppy currently has blankets folded up to make a bed and then covered with towels or sheets so everything can easily be washed if it gets dirty. We will transition to beds with foam padding once we have her a little better established and I am less concerned about any house training accidents and chewing issues.
- Collars, leashes, harnesses, coats or other equipment. Since she’s so young and will be growing quickly, I have not purchased any special equipment for her just yet. I am making my own stuff that I can use temporarily, using what I already have, or borrowing items from friends until I can get something that will last her a while.
- This is a critical socialization period for puppies, but also a susceptible age for catching viruses, etc. So our socialization to other people and dogs for now is confined to our home until she's just a wee bit older. We are planning some “parties” to invite over friends to continue her exposure to new people of all ages.
- Her exposure to other dogs will be limited until she starts attending my puppy classes. For now, it is ONLY her big brother Romeo and any dog friends we invite over who we are very confident are healthy AND very good with puppies.
- We are developing a routine for her. She will settle in to her new home best with a consistent routine. We will get her on a good housetraining schedule to start pottying outside. (Her early life at the kennel has been confined to the indoor kennel – the outdoor kennel run has been closed up so she has never been outdoors yet.) We will get her on a consistent meal schedule to help get a better housetraining routine in place. We will help her start to understand what things are ok to chew on and what are not.