Is your family getting a puppy for Christmas? A little planning will help your puppy’s introduction to your household be a smooth one. Where will your puppy sleep? What will your puppy eat? When does he need to go to the vet? How often will he need to urinate and defecate? What equipment do I need to buy?

Your new puppy will need a crate, a leash, a harness, food and water bowls, food, maybe pee pads and an ex-pen. A crate provides your puppy with his or her own bedroom. A place where he can go to rest quietly, to escape the hustle and bustle of family life. A crate also allows you to separate your new puppy from your furniture and carpets when you do not have time to supervise him properly. Pet stores generally sell three types of crates. Soft-sided or fabric crates are the most attractive, and the most easily destroyed. Fabric crates are designed as light weight crates for show dogs that have lots of experience in a crate. Your new puppy will destroy a fabric crate in a few minutes. The other common types of crates are wire (usually folding) crates and plastic or vari-kennel crates. Wire crates are often 



Leo enjoys his Christmas present.


foldable, so they may be put away when not in use or folded for travel. Wire crates can also include a divider, which allows the crate to “grow” as the puppy grows. Quite a handy feature! Wire crates tend to be cooler than plastic vari-kennel crates. Keep in mind the type of coat your dog has when considering a crate. Crate sized dog beds are available to make your puppy’s bedroom more comfortable.

As a very young animal, your puppy knows he is too young to survive on his own. If your young puppy is left alone, he will cry until his caretakers find him. If you put your puppy in a crate, alone, away from the people, he will likely keep everyone awake! Puppy will probably not be able to sleep through the night without relieving himself, so you will need to be nearby anyway. If you are a light sleeper, just wait for puppy to wake in the middle of the night, then very very quickly take him to a spot where he can relieve himself. If you are a heavy sleeper, set your alarm for halfway through the night for a few weeks, until your puppy can go all night without needing to urinate. Even when your puppy can “hold it” all night, he still cannot wait all day while you are at work. How would you feel if you were told you could not use the bathroom facilities while at work?

A leash and a harness will keep your puppy out of trouble, and allow you to walk him. A harness with a strap between puppy’s front legs will protect his neck while he is learning about leashes. Don’t bother with a fancy expensive leash, not only will puppy out grow it, he will probably chew on it. Wait until puppy is full grown to invest in a nice leather collar and leash.

Find out what kind of food your puppy has been eating. An abrupt change in puppy’s food can cause tummy upset. If you wish to change foods, do so gradually, over a week. Food and water bowls should be chosen for their ability to stay upright, despite puppy’s best intentions.

When resting, your young puppy may need to pee as often as every two hours! Unless you can be with your puppy 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you will need a safe place to leave him. You cannot leave him in his crate, as his crate should be the only place in the world your puppy never ever eliminates. Puppy needs an area a bit bigger than his crate. An ex-pen is like a play pen for dogs. It is big enough for puppy to have an area to play, a different area to sleep, and a different area to eliminate if he needs to do so. Place your ex-pen on a floor that is easy to clean, like the kitchen or the bathroom.

Young puppies eliminate frequently. A young puppy that is playing can pee as often as every ten to fifteen minutes! If your puppy as been playing, he probably needs to eliminate. Please take him to the appropriate place as soon as possible. Young puppies also pee as soon as they wake. If you see your puppy waking from a nap, rush to the pee area right away. If you notice your puppy sniffing the ground, or circling, he may need to eliminate. Hurry, young puppies cannot wait!

When my border collie was young, I made the mistake of letting her out of the crate, and then putting on my slip on shoes. She peed while I was slipping the shoes onto my feet. Puppies really cannot wait, take your new puppy to his spot quickly.

Like newborn children, young puppies need a lot of medical care. All puppies have worms, no matter how clean and well kept they are. A good breeder will deworm the puppies as young as three weeks old, and as often as every two weeks. You will need to continue to make sure your puppy is free of parasites. The inexpensive worming treatments available at the pet store are often unsuitable for young puppies and usually do not treat all of the types of worms your puppy may have. Talk to your vet about a worming schedule for your new pet. There are a number of contagious, fatal diseases that your puppy can get. Puppies are usually vaccinated for the first time between six and eight weeks. Often the first set of shots is given while the breeder still has the puppy. Check your puppy’s medical records and consult with your vet about vaccinations. Your vet is also a good source of information about flee control and heartworm medications. Be sure your puppy is treated for worms, fleas, infectious diseases and heartworms.

During the first twelve weeks of your puppy’s life, he will learn what things are normal, and what things should make him afraid. He will learn which types of people and animals are friendly.

It’s time! You have planned ahead and purchased all your supplies, your puppy is home and ready to go inside your house for the first time.

Wait! Don’t go in just yet. Let your puppy wonder around your yard, wearing his new harness and leash. He should eliminate before he goes inside. An empty puppy is a safe puppy to bring inside.

Now that your new puppy is safely home, it is time to find a dog trainer to help  you teach puppy the right way to behave.  Good luck, and enjoy your new puppy.