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The reality of bringing your puppy home can be exciting and terrifying all at the same time. You have so many questions, and you can’t ask your puppy what he/she needs; after all, he/she can’t speak “human” right? And those first 48 hours with a new puppy are so crucial in helping you and your puppy adjust to life together – now and for the rest of your puppy’s life.
As a registered veterinary tech who has also been a puppy owner many times over, I have written this blog post to give you assurance and confidence that you can handle the first 48 hours with your new puppy.
Best time of Day to Pick Up New Puppy
I know it’s not just you involved in getting your puppy: a breeder or rescue group is part of the equation. Making sure you both are on the same page is important when it comes time to pick up your new puppy.
I think the earlier you can pick up your new puppy in the day the better. Things to consider are:
- How far away is the breeder or rescue group from where you live?
- Allowing yourself a little time to consider traffic where you live.
- Confirming the pick-up time with the puppy breeder or rescue group the day before to avoid any last-minute changes.
- Making sure all the paperwork and any supporting materials are ready to go. (You’ll need all this when you take your puppy to see the veterinarian).
- Asking the puppy breeder or rescue group how your puppy is doing and if his/her appetite is good as well as if he/she has had any diarrhea.
- Confirming whether your puppy has been in a car before or whether they have any tips for you that could make things easier.
- Are you picking your new puppy up by yourself or will there be other people coming with you?
- Is your car the right size to carry your puppy?
These questions may seem like a lot to remember and do, but they will help you make this big transition with your new puppy less stressful.
Also, from my experience having worked at a veterinary hospital and seeing how some new puppy parents had no paperwork on their puppy, which added another layer of problems, I want to spare you from having those same issues.
Things You Will Need While Picking up Your New Puppy
Before buying all the things that you need for a new puppy, I would make sure to check with your puppy breeder or rescue group to see what is coming home with your puppy. That way you’re not surprised and have to make a last-minute run to the pet store. Remember having the basics helps you and your puppy off to a great start. But, you don’t want to overdo it and then end up with a bunch of stuff that doesn’t help your new puppy.
With that in mind, here are the things you’ll need for a smooth ride home when picking up your puppy:
- A collar
- Dog Treats
- Adaptil spray (great for helping your puppy feel calm!)
- Bandana (To spray the Adaptil on and tie it around your puppy’s neck to keep him/her calm and relaxed)
- Paper towels
- Poop bags
- Portable dog water bottle
I didn’t mention puppy food because that’s something you’ll want to check with your puppy breeder or rescue group. That’s because your new puppy will be used to eating whatever has been given to him/her.
You don’t want to change your puppy’s dog food on the first day as that could cause your puppy to have an upset stomach in addition to being stressed by all the change that has happened in his/her world in the first 48 hours with your new puppy.
Related Blog Post: New Puppy Checklist
Your First Car Ride Home with a New Puppy
You’re probably going to feel some relief that you finally have your new puppy in the car and are heading home. If you’re going to have more than one person in the car then it would be a good idea to have them sit next to your puppy.
If it is just going to be just you then putting the crate on the right side of the back seat will give you an easy way to check on your puppy when you pull over.
Choosing the easiest route back to your house and considering if there are easy ways to pull over or park in a parking lot should the need arise is something to think about as well.
Also, using one of the blankets to cover part of the crate might be helpful for the car ride with your puppy. Keeping things quiet i.e. driving without the radio is also ideal as your puppy may not be familiar to radio sounds.
Finally, make sure you stay focused on the road. You may feel the need to keep checking on your puppy but that could be dangerous and we want to make sure you both get to your house safely.
Stopping for Breaks with a New Puppy
Having your puppy in the car is the start of your new bond and relationship together. However, your new puppy will likely need potty breaks.
Asking the puppy breeder or dog rescue when your puppy last went on a potty break can help you figure out how much time you have before your puppy needs another potty break.
Another thing to consider is the age of your puppy. If your puppy is 8 weeks old (2 months) when you pick him/her up you’ll have about two hours until the next break needs to happen so that potty training is in the right direction.
Make sure you keep the break quick and safe because your new puppy is not fully vaccinated yet. I would write down the time and what your puppy did on the break so you can know the next time.
It may be helpful to set a timer on your phone to help you remember when the next break needs to happen. That’s one less thing to remember in the first 48 hours with your new puppy.
How to Survive the First 48 Hours with a New Puppy
1.) Begin crate training from the first day– You may just want to cuddle up with your new puppy and get to know his/her personality but getting him/her used to the crate will help keep them safe, help with potty training, and minimize destruction of things in your house.
Related Blog Post: How to Crate Train Your Puppy
2.) Limit your Puppy’s Environment in the first 48 Hours – It may seem like a natural thing to let your puppy explore your house and get used to it. But, this could be too much for your new puppy. Limiting your puppy’s environment helps your puppy get into a routine, and gives them space making the first 48 hours with a new puppy much easier on him/her and you.
3.) Have a Set Spot for Potty Training – Keeping things simple with your puppy on where you want them to go the bathroom will make it easy for both of you at the beginning of potty training. If you have a backyard then deciding on one spot to let your puppy go to the bathroom is a good idea.
4.) Track your New Puppy’s Potty Times – This may seem obvious to do but when you are tired or have a million other things to do, things can slip through the cracks. You might think you’ll remember when was the last time you took your puppy out but having a solid record can help you plan your day and keep potty training going in the right direction.
5.) Supply outlets for licking and chewing – Your puppy has baby teeth and is learning to explore things (through putting them in his/her mouth) and that means providing an easy and safe outlet for them like puppy chew treats and toys.
6.) Give your new puppy some space – This could be as simple as putting your puppy back in the crate and giving him/her a break(some space) if he/she didn’t go to the bathroom. This can help when you need to try again soon to avoid an accident plus your puppy might be too excited and having some space away from you can be beneficial too.
1.) What should I do the first night with a new puppy? The best thing you can do is remember your puppy is going to need to go the bathroom, eat, and get used to you. Being flexible with your puppy and not having high expectations will help you both. Make sure you keep things simple and if you have a crate then try using it. We want to make it as easy as possible to start a good routine for your new puppy and you.
2.) Can my puppy sleep with me the first night? It would be ideal to have your puppy in his/her crate and they could be in the room with you. That keeps him/her safe and avoids the danger of you rolling on them in the bed or your new puppy hurting themselves. Look at how things are going towards the end of the night and remember that we do not want to confuse your puppy when it comes to a good bedtime routine together.
3.) What if my new puppy is crying the first night? That could be a sign that he/she needs to go to the bathroom. One other potential reason would be that it’s stressful for your puppy to go from having attention from you to nothing during the night, as well as the unfamiliarity of being in a new place. I would try to eliminate things like needing a potty break and also remember that he/she is going through a big change and we need to help the best we can.
4.) Should I ignore my puppy crying the first night? Once you have done the things I mentioned above in the 3rd question then play it by ear. Every puppy is different as is the situation in your home. The crying or whining you may hear is the stress your puppy is feeling and we want to help them not feel that way.
Ignoring the crying is not the solution. First of all, give your puppy a chance to see if the crying stops – and if it doesn’t take action. Remember your puppy was taken away from the only environment he/she knew and that is a hard thing to deal with because you’re just a stranger to them right now.
5.) How do you settle a puppy crying the first night?
If your puppy is in the crate in your room then you can try comforting him/her and if you can try playing some music (instrumental) as white noise that could help.
I would use the Adaptil and spray it on a blanket and put it with your puppy. Also, you can put a piece of your clothing in the crate as well. Smelling two different things may help your puppy settle down and help him/her go to bed peacefully.
You may have to lay next to them to help your new puppy sleep through the night. I know that doesn’t sound ideal but everything is new and we don’t want to cause more stress on your puppy when he/she is trying to get used to your world.
Parting Thoughts on Surviving the First 48 Hours with a New Puppy
The first 48 hours with a new puppy can be difficult for you and your new puppy. I hope this blog post helps you feel comfortable and confident with your new puppy in the first 48 hours. Try to remember that this is just the beginning of your new life and it can be bumpy but so worth it. Being able to pivot with your puppy, even when it is not what you want to do, will help more than you realize.
Another challenge you may face in with your new puppy is them jumping up on you and others. It may seem cute in the beginning but it can become a problem as your puppy gets bigger. You can check out my 5 Tips to Stop Jumping. These are actionable and easy tips to start implementing with your puppy early on.