Bringing a new puppy into your life is an exciting time, especially if you can remove the stress of transporting the puppy to your home. Part of your journey with your new best friend will be helping them settle into their new home. With some preparation and understanding, you can forge a life-long bond with your canine partner.
How Long Does it Take for a Puppy to Settle in?
Typically, a puppy starts to feel comfortable and show its true personality after around three weeks. Of course, preparing for your new young friend can help the process.
Before you bring your puppy home, make sure to puppy-proof spaces they will be using. Try to pick up and put away everything destructible, and check for exposed power cords a puppy could chew on.
When your puppy arrives, give them time to adjust to each room before letting them roam everywhere, and always supervise them. Allow them to gradually get used to their new home and avoid sensory overload.
How Do I Know if My Puppy has Settled in?
Looks You in the Eye
Eye contact with your puppy is an early training technique to focus their attention and connect with you. Once your puppy starts making eye contact with you often and in new environments, it shows they feel strongly bonded to you.
Happy When You Come Home
If your puppy gets the zoomies when you come home, it’s a good sign that they feel connected to you. This burst of energy should settle down after a few minutes, which is another sign they feel comfortable around you.
Relaxed When You Are Around
A puppy’s body language will show you many of its inner feelings, including how comfortable it is with you. Common relaxed body language for dogs includes a slightly open mouth or grin, rolling over for a belly rub, and a side-to-side tail wag.
Attracted to Your Smell
One of the primary way dogs communicate is through scent, so your puppy will gravitate towards items that retain your smell when they feel bonded to you. You may find your puppy around your clothing or shoes as those items would strongly smell like you. To avoid having your things ruined, keep long-lasting chew toys or treats around to give your puppy something to bite on other than shoes.
Craves Cuddles With You
Affection is a great way to bond with your new best friend. A comfortable puppy will ask for love and attention through pets, cuddles, leaning, and sometimes hugs. It is also common for them to crawl into your lap or lay next to you and fall asleep. These behaviours signify their deep trust and desire for physical contact with you.
Comes Running When You Call Their Name
When a puppy is very responsive to its name or commands, it shows it feels truly bonded with its owner. A responsive puppy is less likely to run away and stays close to its person in new situations or environments. If your puppy is attentive to you, know that it shows how much they trust and love you.
How Can I Help My Puppy Adjust to the New Home?
Bonding With Them
One of the best parts of having a new puppy in your life is bonding with them. In the first few months, you should be at home together as much as possible to bond and let them outside.
Bonding activities include training sessions, playing with them, grooming, and other daily activities where you can maintain eye contact. Your puppy will show its interests and habits over time, so watch and learn to understand its individual needs better.
Establish Rules and Routines Immediately
Puppies thrive in a routined environment, so it is best to start teaching and enforcing house rules immediately. As you teach them, reinforce positive actions with treats, excitement, and affection. Negative attention like yelling or punishing will only scare and confuse the young pup.
Know How to Calm Your Puppy Down
Puppies are prone to getting overexcited, also known as the “zoomies,” and there are a few methods to calm them down. These include distracting them with training or playing and letting them outside to relieve themselves and run around.
The most common reason for the zoomies is overtiredness, so after a quick potty break, you can lead your puppy to its crate, leaving a nice dog treat or toy inside. Their crate should be a safe space, not a punishment zone, so they will eventually calm down and might fall asleep.
What Abnormal Puppy Behaviour Should You Watch for?
Over-tiredness or Sleepiness
Much like young children, puppies often cannot shut down and go to sleep on their own. They are constantly learning and excitable, but being so young, they need 15-20 hours of sleep daily.
Activities and training will usually tucker your little pup out mentally and physically, so try to calm them down afterwards and allow them to nap. Setting routined times for sleeping and napping will also help.
Potential Potty Accidents
Puppies are notorious for their short attention spans, but if you find they are having an especially tough time focusing, they may need to go outside. They might even leave the room to find somewhere to relieve themselves.
Being in tune with your puppy’s behaviours and needs will help you avoid unnecessary accidents in the home. Using dog gates and constant supervision, you can ensure your puppy gets outside before making a mess inside.
Fear is sometimes a normal and expected reaction, even for puppies. Body language such as tense or frozen posture, looking away, pinned back ears, tail between legs, and yawning or panting can indicate when your puppy is afraid.
To help your puppy in these times, you should keep an upbeat tone and act like there is nothing to fear. Reward them for signs of bravery with affection or treats, and try not to force them into situations that make them uncomfortable.
What Behaviour Could Require Your Attention?
Avoidance and Aggression
If you notice your puppy is having exceptional trouble with its fears and avoiding people or situations, consider seeking help from a trainer. This behaviour can lead to aggression if not dealt with properly and quickly.
You should also watch out for excessive mouthing or nipping during playing, grooming, and veterinarian visits, especially if the behaviour includes growling, snarling, or bearing teeth. While some mouthing is normal, these can be signs of fear or pain that a vet or trainer should treat.
Confinement or Separation Anxiety
If your puppy seems unable to settle or continually relieves itself in its crate despite being crated for a reasonable amount of time, it is cause for concern. A puppy should be able to hold its bladder for one hour per month of age plus an additional hour. Persistent issues with this can signify a puppy’s confinement or separation anxiety, which you should address and treat immediately.