6 Steps to Help Your New Puppy Adjust to Their New Home

With a little prep, you can get your home set up so your puppy settles in quickly and comfortably.

Published July 17, 2023
Young puppy lying on floor, licking their person's ear.

Bringing a new puppy home is an exciting time filled with joy and anticipation. But for your new furry friend, it can be an overwhelming experience. Just imagine you're moving into a new home with new friends and expectations. Preparing for your new puppy can set the foundation for a happy and healthy life and begin to strengthen your forever bond.

1. Get Your House Ready

Puppy chewing on potted plants.

Before you bring your puppy home, you need to puppy-proof your house. Puppies are naturally curious and love to explore their surroundings, often leading them to dangerous situations. That's why it's important to check the following:

  • Small items: Remove any small items that your puppy could potentially choke on, including loose coins, jewelry, or children's toys.
  • Anything they might chew: Don't forget shoes, clothes, and even your smart phone! Puppies will chew it all.
  • Medication: Put all medications in areas your puppy can't reach.
  • Cabinets: Don't laugh; some puppies learn to open cabinet doors quickly. Baby-proofing your home can be helpful here.
  • Cords: Secure all electrical cords out of reach or consider using cord protectors.
  • Plants: Move household plants if you aren't sure; many can be toxic to your puppy.
  • Cleaners: Make sure all cleaning supplies and chemicals are securely stored in a locked cabinet.
  • Block off rooms: Use baby gates to block off areas where you don't want your puppy to visit, like stairways or rooms with delicate items.
  • Trash: Cover all trash cans and secure toilet lids to prevent your pup from getting into things they shouldn't.
Quick Tip

Young puppies are a lot like toddlers. They explore with their noses and their mouths, so planning to prep your home just like you would for a new baby is a good idea.

2. Create a Comfortable Space

Puppy sleeping cozy in their set-up bed.

Creating a comfortable and welcoming space for your new puppy is crucial in helping them settle into their new home. To start, you'll want to set up a specific area just for your puppy. This could be a quiet corner of a room, a pen, or even a dedicated space like a mudroom or laundry room.

Add a comfortable bed that is appropriate for your puppy's size. Include a variety of chew toys to keep your puppy entertained and to aid in their teething process. You should also consider adding a blanket or piece of clothing that smells like you to provide comfort and familiarity. Make sure their food and water dishes are easily accessible, and consider using spill-proof bowls for messy eaters.

Quick Tip

This space should be a haven for your puppy, so keep it free from loud noises and heavy foot traffic.

3. Consider Crate Training

Puppy chewing on potted plants.

Crate training is a great way to teach your puppy boundaries. Dogs love to den, and offering them a secure, cozy spot to chill out - and getting them used to being crated early - makes training easier down the road. Crate training also offers the following benefits:

  • House training: It aids in the house-training process, as dogs naturally don't like to soil their personal space. This helps teach your puppy to hold their bladder and bowel movements until they're taken outside. Just be aware, puppies can't hold it for that long, so they need frequent breaks every hour or so. Don't plan to leave them locked in their crate for very long.
  • Security: Your puppy's crate can provide a sense of security and comfort. It's their own personal space where they can retreat to for a nap or when they're feeling overwhelmed, essentially serving as their "den." This can also be especially useful during times of change or stress.
  • Transportation: The crate can offer a way to travel with your puppy safely, whether it's a trip to the vet or a family vacation.
  • Safety: The crate is a useful tool for keeping your puppy safe when you can't directly supervise them, preventing them from getting into potentially dangerous situations at home.
Need to Know

If your puppy will be crate training, they should sleep in their crate the first night. However, if you aren't planning on crate training, find them a comfortable area to sleep where you can check on them if necessary.

4. Maintain a Routine

Plan to stick to a regular schedule, both before and after your new puppy arrives. This is important for several reasons. Before your puppy comes home, having a consistent routine helps you prepare and create a stable environment for their arrival. It's a good idea to decide on feeding, walking, playtime, and rest times in advance so that you can easily incorporate your puppy into your daily schedule.

Once the puppy arrives, a consistent routine will offer a sense of security. Puppies, much like children, thrive on predictability. Knowing what to expect and when to expect it can greatly reduce their anxiety and make the transition to a new home smoother.

Need to Know

While a routine is beneficial, flexibility is key, as there will be adjustments and changes as your puppy grows and their needs change over time.

5. Establish House Rules

Expectations are important for a new puppy. Provide structure and help them understand what behaviors are acceptable and which are not. Without consistent rules, a puppy can become confused, leading to stress, anxiety, and destructive behavior. House rules include:

  1. Boundaries: Set areas that are off limits for your new puppy. This lets your puppy know where they are allowed to explore. Use puppy gates and keep doors closed - and make puppies wait to go through doors!
  2. Define furniture limits: Even if you plan to let your puppy jump up on the couch, it's still useful to make them wait until you give the "Get up" command. If they jump up when they aren't supposed to, firmly say "No," and gently remove them from the furniture.
  3. Define quiet time: Designate a period of the day where your puppy is left alone to chill out. This is a great way to get them used to the fact that not every moment is going to be exciting.
  4. Set a sleeping area: It may be OK for your puppy to sleep in bed with you. That's ultimately up to you. But set the rules early; they come to bed when you're ready, you take them out for potty breaks, and you don't let them disturb your sleep. A kennel or set sleeping area is a great idea, too! Don't worry, your puppy will adjust to sleeping on their own.
  5. Feed them at the same time every day: Set a morning time and evening time for meals. Puppies often need to eat an extra meal, too, so pick a time for each meal and stick to it.
  6. Establish limits for your dinner time: It's best not to feed a puppy directly from the table, or let them beg for food. This sets a very good precedent and keeps begging to a minimum.
  7. Stop them from jumping up: Puppies naturally love to jump up, so teach them it isn't appropriate with positive training methods. Don't bend on this now, and your dog will learn good manners fast.

Consistency from all family members is important. Mixed messages can confuse the puppy and make their learning process more difficult than it should be. Establish rules in a constructive manner using positive reinforcement.

6. Get Ready for Training!

Your new pup can have a few days to chill out and settle in. But after a week or so, start them off with basic obedience training. Beginning young is a great way to set your puppy up for success!

Make Your Home Welcoming for Your New Puppy

Bringing a new puppy home requires a lot of work, but the reward of a loyal, loving companion is immeasurable. By providing a comfortable environment, maintaining a routine, and offering plenty of socialization and training opportunities, you can help your puppy adjust to their new home and thrive.

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6 Steps to Help Your New Puppy Adjust to Their New Home