Bringing a new puppy into your home

By Tom Musbach

Posted in: 

When you introduce a puppy into your home, the stress and new surroundings may overwhelm the little guy for a while. But knowing what to expect and taking some basic actions for bonding can help you make the puppy's transition easier.

The case of the distressed Samoyed

Recently a couple wrote to JustAnswer to chat with a veterinarian about their difficulty after bringing home a 9-week-old Samoyed male.  The puppy spent the first night in a spare room and then played outside the next day after crying briefly. But that night he wouldn't spend time with the family as they watched TV in the lounge. The dog kept making frustrated barks and wouldn't settle down.

Later they put him in the spare room again, where he went to sleep on the floor. The family couldn't understand why the puppy would rather be alone. Was he depressed?

"New smells and guardians are just some of the stressors in the puppy's new environment," said veterinarian Roger L. Welton, a Expert on JustAnswer who consulted with the couple.

"While we would expect these circumstances to urge the puppy to imprint on his owners more quickly, one cannot predict how a puppy will initially respond to the stress of his new circumstances," he said.

Always start with a vet check-up

Welton says having the puppy examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible can help determine if there are underlying health concerns that might be driving the puppy's aloofness.

"I strongly urge a visit within the first 14 days of puppy ownership (due to most states having a 14 day puppy 'lemon law'), and you will need a visit just to keep up with wellness and preventive care/immunizations anyway," he said.

Enter the puppy's comfort zone

If the puppy chooses to linger in another room where you or your family spend time, there is likely something about the room that's comforting to your dog. Welton advises making the effort to follow him into the room and engage with him there.

Some ideas for engaging include petting, tickling the puppy's tummy, running around with him if he lets you, or simply sitting together.

"Even just the act of being in close proximity is enough to start laying the foundation for the human-dog bond," Welton said.

Start good habits with the leash

At this stage leash training is important because some puppies, like Samoyeds, will soon become large dogs.

"Frequent walks around the neighborhood are not only good for establishing leash habits at a young age; but being out and about with you as the most familiar being that he can connect with right now as his leader, you will begin to establish his looking to you for guidance," the veterinarian said.

Send the puppy to school

After the vet check-up and the second round of immunizations, Welton suggests enrolling the puppy in an obedience class. He likes the Pet Smart program because the instruction occurs in a group setting, which teaches the dog obedience in the midst of distraction.

"Being around other puppies may also lift his spirits and be fun for him," he said. "Most importantly, the basic obedience makes it clear to the puppy who he looks to for leadership, something every dog, especially a young puppy, craves more than anything."

Forming a bond with your puppy takes time. Following the tips Welton recommended can help insure that your puppy is healthy and on the way to becoming a vital member of the family.