Welcoming a puppy to your home

Bringing a new puppy home is undoubtedly exciting for children and adults alike. But these cute little bundles of fluff need a lot of care, attention and training if they are to become well-rounded, happy, healthy dogs. If you are soon to welcome a puppy into your home, here's what you need to know.

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What you need
Before you bring your pup home for the first time, you will need all the essential equipment in place. A cosy bed, food and water and a few puppy-friendly toys to play with are a must.

As well as a cushiony-soft bed to sleep in, a crate is an excellent idea for new pups. Covered with a blanket or towel, it provides the newcomer with a safe place to sleep and give him or her a sense of security. In time, the puppy will come to see the crate as his 'den' and he will happily toddle in by himself when he feels tired.

When it comes to feeding, you should visit a pet store or speak to your vet about high quality foods. Some complete foods are packed with additives and may be too high in protein, which can easily turn your puppy into the equivalent of a child on a sugar rush, so getting the right balance can make all the difference. Young puppies may need dry food soaked before feeding.

It's a good idea to find out what and when the breeder has been feeding your puppy as keeping the same routine will help them to settle in more quickly. If you want to change the food, follow the pack instructions and make the change in stages as a sudden diet difference can affect digestion.

Also, make sure your home is safe for the pup - put breakables out of reach, cover electrical wires and store poisonous plants or chemicals safely.

The first day
Having left his mum and siblings for the first time, a new house can be overwhelming for a new puppy. Pick a quiet day to bring him home and ensure that your children don't overdo it with noisy, excitable play.

When you arrive at the house, first take your pup into the garden to allow him the chance to do his business. If he goes, give him lots of praise. Once inside the home, it's best to confine the little one to one or two rooms to begin with. Put his bed and toys in the room and allow him to take a look around, and stay with him or her during this process.

It's likely that your pup will cry when he is left alone at night as he has been used to the comfort and warmth of his mum, brothers and sisters. As mentioned previously, a covered crate can help to give him a sense of security but simple additions, such as a hot water bottle wrapped well in a towel and placed under his bed cushion, or a ticking clock, may help to make him feel safe at night.

As hard as it is to ignore the whining during those first few nights, don't be tempted to run in and comfort your pup - he will quickly learn that whining equals attention, and a quiet night will be a long time coming.

Puppy health
Depending on the age of your puppy, you may need to visit the vet for innoculation. A dog can begin his vaccinations at the age of eight weeks, and will need two injections before he is ready to venture into the big, wide world. The process is usually complete within four weeks and, even if the breeder has already had the dog innoculated, a trip to the vet to have your pup checked over and registered at the clinic is always a good idea.

Maintaining worming and flea treatments that are specifically formulated for puppies is also essential as such young dogs can be particularly vulnerable to illness when they are so small.

Microchipping is a good idea and can be done at the same time as vaccination, though given the size of the needle, some vets offer to wait until a later date before doing the deed.

Once your pup is ready to start lead training, ensure that he wears a collar, allowing space for two fingers between collar and neck, and ID tags complete with your phone number and the name and number of your vet.

Early training
Puppies learn quickly and it is never too soon to start basic training, as long as consistency and patience are used.

For instance, once you and your family have decided on a name, giving lots of praise or play each time the pup responds, even if it is just to look in your direction, will ensure he quickly catch on.

Similarly positive, reward-based training is the best way to start your pooch on the road to obedience and should be continued as your dog grows. It is by far the most effective method and will ensure you end up with a confident, happy adult dog.

Toilet training is a fine example of where positivity should always be exercised. Since young puppies simply cannot hold it in, it is essential to get into a routine of taking them outside early and late, and immediately after meals. Plenty of praise when he does things right, and ignoring rather than punishing him when things go wrong will mean he quickly gets the hang of things.

Make sure everyone in the household uses the same methods, commands and he will fast become a well-behaved, loyal and loving member of the family.

Have you got any top tips for new puppy owners? Leave your comments below...