How do you survive a puppy in the first few weeks? Here’s What to Expect

Call a family meeting, get everyone on the same page

You’ll need to establish ground rules for the new dog. Things to talk about include:

  • Where will the dog sleep at night?
  • Will she be allowed on the couch?
  • Are there any rooms that are permanently off-limits to the dog?
  • Who will feed/walk/train/take the pup on her 3am potty break?
  • By discussing it with the whole family, things will go much more smoothly since everyone is familiar with the rules.

    Decide on words for cues. If one person says “down” when they mean to get off the furniture and someone else says “off,” your pup is going to start her life with you very confused. Also, use this time to determine a schedule for the dog.

    Puppies thrive on routine. Doing the same things at the same times every day will:

  • Speed up house training. With a consistent daily routine, Bella’s internal plumbing will adjust and she’ll soon be ready to eat, sleep, and eliminate when you want her to
  • Help the puppy settle in. Knowing what to expect from her day will make her feel more confident and secure
  • Decide on times for:

    Potty breaks – schedule as many as possible. When someone is home during the day, take the pup out every hour.Meals – Puppies under five-months-old should eat three meals per day. Water should be available at all times.Bedtime and wake-up time – To give Bella time to relieve herself, remove her access to water one hour before bed.

    How do you survive a puppy in the first few weeks?

    The first week is all about letting the puppy settle in, and creating positive first impressions.

    Keep it low-key. I know all your friends and relatives and neighbors will want to meet the puppy. They should definitely meet her, but not yet. This is a big scary change for a critter who’s only been alive for a few weeks. You don’t want to overwhelm her.

    She needs to get to know her new family before you add a bunch of other faces. Tell everyone that they’re invited to a meet-the-puppy party – NEXT week.

    Go slow. You probably have a bunch of ideas for exciting adventure to have with your new Man’s Best Friend. That’s awesome, but don’t rush it. Let Bella catch her breath, explore her new home, and start learning some good habits first.

    In Puppy Survival School, we teach a framework for creating good habits (and stopping bad habits in their tracks!) in a way that takes the pressure off both you and your pup.

    Introduce the puppy to the crate

    Take a full day to slowly introduce the crate before you start using it for real. Make it comfortable: add some old towels or blankets. If you received a blanket with the smell of “home” from her breeder, put that inside. I wouldn’t buy any expensive bedding until you know if Bella is a bedding-destroyer.

    Step one: Open the door of the crate and let Bella investigate. Toss really good treats inside. Praise her when she goes inside to get the food. Don’t force her to go in and don’t close the door behind her.

    Step two: Leave the crate door open all day. Keep randomly placing food and toys into the back of the crate. Bella will catch on to this game and start to see the crate as a magical portal from which good things mysteriously come.

    Step three: Once Bella is happily going in and out of the crate, you can start closing the door behind her. Start by keeping it closed for just a few seconds, and work your way up to longer periods of time. Always open the door before she gets anxious.

    There are about nine elements for potty training success in our program, but here are the top three:

    1. Close supervision to prevent accidents. Watch her like a hawk when she’s roaming the house!

    2. Frequent trips to the bathroom. Puppies lack the physical control to “hold it” for very long.

    3. Rewarding the pup for good potty behavior. When she goes in the right place, praise and offer a few treats.

    For a comprehensive house training tutorial and troubleshooting help, check out Puppy Survival School.

    Arrival: What to Expect the First Night with a New Puppy

    How do you survive a puppy in the first few weeks?

    After you’ve crossed the must-have supplies off your new puppy checklist and finished puppy proofing your house, you’ll need to know what to expect the first night with your new puppy! When bringing a puppy home for the first time, you will want to show him where basic resources are located, such as the potty spot, the water bowl, the play area, and the crate/sleeping area.

    You and your family will be tempted to play with your new puppy, take him for walks, introduce him to friends and family, and more. But remember, this is a huge upheaval in your puppy’s life and can be a very stressful day. Give your puppy a chance to go to the bathroom in a safe spot outside and then slowly introduce him to the other important basic areas. Allow the family household to gently greet the puppy. Existing pets should be kept in other rooms at this time to reduce your puppy’s stress levels. Afterward, carefully place the puppy in his crate and give him a break to take a nap, unwind, and acclimate himself to his new surroundings.

    New Puppy Tips – Surviving the First Week

    Your first 24 hours with your new puppy will be an emotional roller-coaster. At first, it’s “OMG, A PUPPY! LOOK HOW CUTE!” Then, after the first few accidents and a sleepless night, you’ll be asking yourself: “What the heck did I just do!” The first night with a puppy is “ruff.” But, I promise this period will pass before you know it. So, look past the small hurdles and soak up every minute of puppyhood, because it passes quicker than you know.

    Since taking care of a young puppy requires a lot of time and energy, I definitely recommend being home the first two or three days after his arrival. This will help you and your puppy get acclimated, earn your pup’s trust, and strengthen your bond. If taking time off isn’t possible, maybe you could schedule a few days to work-from-home.

    As soon as you arrive home with your new puppy, before you head inside, take him to his designated potty area. When he eliminates, celebrate with lots of verbal praise and treats. It’s all about positive reinforcement!

    Typically, puppies aren’t mature enough to control their bladders or bowels until they’re about 16 weeks old. So, if you bring home a 2-3 month-old puppy, do yourself a favor and take potty breaks every hour. While accidents are bound to happen, it’s smart to establish a schedule and start to teach the house rules right away.

    Once you’re inside, let your puppy explore his new home. Let him walk on all the different floor surfaces, sniff around, and take it all in. Praise him and offer treats when he seems comfortable. Remember to supervise – don’t let him out of your sight. If he attempts to chew on furniture or do something you don’t like, redirect his attention.

    When you first bring home your new puppy, it’s tempting to invite all of your friends over to meet him right away. I get it. But, it’s best to keep the first few days low key. Your puppy is still getting to know you and adjusting to his new environment. At this moment, his whole life is turned upside down and he’s trying to understand what’s happening. Make things as quiet, easy, and safe for him as possible.