It’s almost Gotcha Day, the long-awaited moment when you’ll be bringing home your new puppy! For this very special day, it’s only natural that any future dog owner wants to be fully prepared to make the puppy’s travel and arrival to his new home as smooth as possible. To help you prepare for Gotcha Day, we’ve created a list of our top 10 tips for bringing home a new puppy. Let’s get started!
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Picking Up Puppy On Gotcha Day
Gotcha Day is surely going to be one of the most memorable days in your (and your puppy’s!) life. Together you’ll embark on this wonderful journey of sharing a life filled with love, joy, and lots of playtime. After all, it’s a puppy! However, although puppies are all cute and fuzzy and adorable, they’re still living beings with their own needs and desires to become healthy and happy adult dogs.
Puppy’s arrival on Gotcha Day is going to impact not just the next few days or weeks with your new companion, but the rest of their life with your family. The best way to set you and your pup up for success is by being prepared and knowing what to expect. And, of course, how to deal with all that comes with a new puppy in the household.
For this very reason, we decided to make a checklist of all the most important tips you should keep in mind when getting ready for Gotcha Day. But before you bring home your new puppy, make sure you’re fully prepared and have all the items you need to welcome your new four-legged companion to his forever home.
Gotcha Day – Our Top 10 Tips For Bringing Home Your New Puppy
Bring along all the necessary items for when you’re headed to pick up your puppy. These include:
- Chew toy
- Blanket or towel
- Travel carrier – this one’s optional, but it might be a good idea, if you will be picking up the puppy alone
- Collar and leash
- Poop bags
Collect all the paperwork from the breeder or shelter. When you’re bringing home a new puppy, be sure to collect all of their paperwork, which should include health documents, registrations, their current feeding schedule, and what type of food he’s eating.
Don’t let your new puppy ride home on a full stomach. Make sure your puppy isn’t fed right before you leave to help avoid any sickness on the car ride.
Walkies! Take your puppy for a walk to tire them out before the ride home. Also, make sure he goes potty, so there won’t be any accidents on the way.
In come the treats. You can encourage your puppy to get in the car by giving him some yummy treats. You can also give him a chew toy for the ride, which is a great distraction.
Bring someone along. If possible, have a family member or friend accompany you on Gotcha Day. Have the puppy sit in the backseat with someone, so he has company and a sense of safety. The other passenger can hold the puppy in a blanket, or the blanket can be used on the seat to protect your car from accidents.
Comfort and reassurance. A little bit of barking and crying are normal reactions, as this is a new experience for the puppy. Calmly reassure them, but don’t reinforce their fear by becoming overly excited or overly affectionate.
Tip for very anxious pups. If your puppy seems very anxious and uncomfortable, you can put them on the floor between the seats, as it will feel more like a den.
Don’t forget the breaks. If the drive home is going to be a long one, be sure to stop along the way for breaks. Let your puppy walk and go potty, but only while leashed properly. However, don’t stop at a highway rest stop or park, as your puppy isn’t fully vaccinated just yet and is at risk for diseases like parvovirus.
Remember the date! Remember the date that you brought your puppy home, so you can celebrate Gotcha day every year just like you would a birthday!
Arriving Home On Gotcha Day
Now that you know our best tips for bringing home a new puppy, you should also prepare for the first time your puppy arrives home. Firstly, it would be ideal to bring the puppy home when the house is quiet. If you have kids, make sure they are calm, aware, and prepared to respect the puppy’s space. For the first few days, especially on Gotcha Day, you shouldn’t have any friends coming over. Nor should you have any overnight guests. You’ll want to make Gotcha Day as calm as possible for your new pup. Avoid overly excited reactions, loud noises, and fuss around the pup.
Secondly, although we do recommend you take a few days off for the first few days on your puppy’s arrival, you should aim to follow your usual daily routine. This way, you can introduce your puppy to your normal routine from day one, and make their transition period much easier. Otherwise, it will be so much harder for your puppy to adjust to your normal daily routine while you work or run your usual daily errands.
Thirdly, keep in mind that the puppy has just left its familiar surroundings, mother, and littermates. Naturally, they are going to feel a bit stressed and confused by the change. Hopefully, the breeder has provided you with a blanket or toy with the scent of his littermates and mama. This will help your pup calm down a bit and feel some added sense of security.
In addition to that, let your puppy sniff and explore around the house, so he can get used to his new home. But don’t just let the pup loose around the house, especially on their own, as new places, people, and sounds are likely just going to confuse him and lead to sensory overload.
Introduce The Potty Area
Once you’ve arrived home, we recommend you introduce the puppy to the potty area immediately. You might want to do this before even entering the house, so your puppy can already familiarize himself with the spot. Your breeder may be able to provide a bit of material that already has the puppy’s smell. You can place the material somewhere you would like the puppy to use as their new potty area.
Don’t forget to praise the pup for showing interest in the area, and especially if he goes potty there. And remember to always take the puppy to the same place each time, so he learns to only go to the bathroom in that one area.
Accidents do happen and puppies can take up to several months to be fully house trained. Never scold or punish your puppy for accidental messes.
Introduce The Puppy’s Crate
Prepare the crate before bringing home your new puppy. Make sure that the crate is comfortable by placing some soft blankets there, where your pup can lay down. Introduce the crate to the puppy as early in the day as possible. This will be a safe space for your puppy to rest, nap, or just to relax after a long and somewhat stressful trip.
You can place a few treats, toys, or even food inside the crate, so that your puppy is keen on going inside on his own. However, you’ll likely have to guide or put your pup there the first few times, as they still learn how to navigate around the house.
Start a Routine and Stick To It
Another important thing is to start with a routine as soon as you bring your new puppy home on Gotcha Day. Schedule regular mealtimes, bedtimes, playtime, and exercise. This will help you establish routines and help your pup get adjusted to his new surroundings much faster.
This also includes basic training. An 8-week old puppy has probably already started with early training in the breeder’s facility. You’ll want to continue with the training from the moment you bring your new puppy home, as this will help establish good behavior and obedience. Start with simple obedience skills like sit, stay, down, and come, and advance as instructed by your dog trainer or online training program.
Preparing The Kids & Family Members
Of course, all family members, and especially kids, are going to be super excited about the arrival of the new puppy. Make sure all of you are on the same page and know how to behave around the new family member. If possible, introduce family members living in the household one person at a time. Tone it down and keep it as quiet and low-key as possible. If you have kids, have treats ready for them to offer to the puppy. This will help the introductions go smoothly and help create a bond between the kids and the puppy. Early interactions are essential for proper socialization, as it helps prevent fear, avoidance, and aggression toward children as the puppy grows older.
In Case You Have Other Pets In The Household…
As we mentioned above, it’s important that your puppy gets to arrive to a calm and quiet home. On Gotcha Day, you should make sure that other pets aren’t causing too much commotion around the house. If possible, keep them away from the puppy on the first night. Upon arrival, it’s best that other pets aren’t in puppy’s sight, as it will just cause more confusion.
Make sure to check out this article for more tips on how to survive the very first days with your new puppy.
Gotcha Day: Frequently Asked Questions
What To Do With A Puppy When You First Bring It Home?
When you’re bringing home a new puppy on Gotcha Day, you want to make sure that the house is quiet and calm. Keep it low-key, especially on the first day. Don’t have any friends over, and make sure that kids and other pets in the household don’t stress out the little one. Upon arrival, you should also start with a set routine, which you will follow every single day. Schedule mealtimes and bedtimes, walkies and playtime, introduce the potty area and the crate, and be there for your pup for reassurance and affection.
What Should You Not Do With A New Puppy?
The biggest mistakes that many dog owners make on Gotcha Day include: failing to establish a routine, consoling your puppy too much and bringing them into your bed at nighttime, free feeding, and punishing the puppy for accidents or unwanted behaviors. Remember, your puppy is still a baby and needs all the guidance from you and you only. For example, an 8-week old puppy is bound to leave accidents around the house, so it’s your responsibility to gently, but firmly establish the routine of using the bathroom in their designated potty area. Likewise, it’s your responsibility to schedule mealtimes and bedtimes for your puppy.
To conclude, Gotcha Day is a joyous occasion that also comes with its heightened tension and pressure. You’ll be meeting your new puppy for the very first time and introducing them to their new family and home all at once. Not to mention, add the stress of car rides and travel, it’s only natural to be a bit worried when bringing home a new puppy. However, the key to nailing the first day is by being prepared beforehand. Knowing what to expect and making all the necessary arrangements before Gotcha Day is going to help you make the adjustment smooth and comfortable for both you and your puppy. We hope you learned some useful tips for bringing home a new puppy and can fully embrace this memorable day with confidence and ease of mind.