The first few days and weeks with your new puppy

Welcoming a new puppy to your home is so exciting, but the early days can also be stressful for both you and them. Here are some things to bear in mind to help your puppy settle into their new home.

English Cocker Spaniel puppy black and white

Your puppy’s first day with you

It’s a big day for your puppy when they leave their mother and litter or original surroundings. To help them feel happy and at home with you, follow these key tips.

Puppies like to know what to expect. Plan what your routine will be for feeding, potty trips, exercise, and grooming, then you can get started on day one. If you know what routine puppy had before adoption, it's best to continue with this for consistency until your puppy is settled.

Your puppy’s first night with you

As with human babies, some puppies settle easily from the first night and others will give you sleepless nights as they adjust. Be patient and consistent and follow these tips.

Puppies tire very easily and need lots of sleep for their healthy development and well-being, so it’s important to give them plenty of opportunities to rest. At first, they need as much as 18 to 20 hours of sleep every 24 hours. This will reduce to around 12 to 14 hours as they enter adulthood.

How to feed your puppy at first

The first time you feed your puppy is a key milestone. Understanding what they need at this time will help you make sure it's a positive experience.

Stick to the same diet initially

For the first week or two, give your puppy the same food as their previous owner, following the feeding recommendations on the pack. Any sudden dietary changes can stress them or cause digestive upset.

Provide a quiet place to eat

This should be away from where you and any other pets eat. Leave your puppy in peace while they eat to prevent them feeling nervous or protective.

Begin a feeding schedule

Dogs feel reassured by knowing when they'll be fed, so begin a feeding routine from day one. During weaning, they'll need four meals a day and, until they're at least four months old, they'll need three meals a day. If you're ever unsure, ask your vet for advice.

Learn about puppy nutrition and feeding

Young dogs benefit from three or four small meals a day, instead of one or two big ones. You can use part of their main meal as food rewards for desired behaviors and during training sessions, to avoid overeating.

how to transition onto new food illustration

The safe way to change your puppy’s diet

Puppies have delicate digestive systems that don’t respond well to sudden changes. When you’re ready to change their food, it’s important you do it carefully and slowly to avoid causing a stomach upset. See our guide for how to change your puppy’s diet safely.

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Feeding your puppy

Understanding canine nutrition and feeding habits will help you give your puppy a healthy start in life.

Feeding your puppy
Labrador puppy black and white eating from red bowl
Golden Retriever puppy sitting on a table being examined by a vet

Take your puppy to the vet

You may need to take your puppy for a check-up after their first few days settling in with you. The vet will set up a vaccination schedule for them, as they’ll need to be vaccinated before they can play with other dogs. And they can also advise you on everything from deworming to nutrition.

Socializing your puppy

Here are a few ways you can begin socializing your puppy in their first week with you.

Puppies have very sensitive hearing so sounds can frighten them. During your puppy’s first week with you, introduce them to sounds such as a hairdryer, doorbell, music, and vacuuming. Make sure this experience is a positive one by playing with your puppy or providing a food reward. Keep the sound low initially so as to not to scare them, then gradually increase the sound as your puppy becomes more comfortable.

Your puppy will need to learn how to tackle a variety of environments, terrains, and obstacles. So help them on their way by introducing them to stairs or steps and a variety of surfaces.

Whether you're going to the vet or out for the day, it's likely your puppy will need to travel in a car at some stage soon. So it's worth getting them used to it early on.

The vet will want to check your puppy from nose to tail. It’s best to gently get them used to being picked up and handled all over their body, and make sure this is a pleasant experience from the start.

As well as your puppy sleeping in a crate at night, it’s a good idea to get them used to spending time in one during the day. This helps if, for example, you want to keep your puppy in a safe place while you have visitors. Make sure your puppy is used to the crate before they stay in it for the night.

Your puppy will have to socialize with different people so make sure everyone in your household spends time bonding with them. Tasks such as feeding, potty trips, training, and grooming provide good opportunities for this.

Dachshund puppies in black and white

Learn about socializing your puppy

Part of your responsibility as a pet owner is to help your puppy get used to the world and feel confident in new situations. You can help socialize them by gradually introducing them to new experiences.

Socializing your puppy

Your puppy's daytime and night time routines

The first few days and weeks are really important in ensuring your puppy integrates well into your family and grows into a healthy, well-behaved dog. If possible, it's best to take the first week off from work. Then you can focus on establishing routines that will help them feel secure and understand what's expected of them.

Your puppy’s first walk

Once your puppy’s completed their vaccination schedule, and your vet’s confirmed they can play with other dogs, they’ll need to be walked twice a day. Their first walk is an important event for them, and one you’ll want them to enjoy so they feel confident about future walks.

Follow the steps below to help get your puppy’s walks off to a great start.

Between four and 16 weeks old, a puppy's brain is developing and they're more willing to accept new experiences. This makes it the ideal time to begin introducing them to new experiences and start basic training. Puppies that aren't introduced to different sights, sounds, smells, textures, people, and pets can sometimes struggle with a range of behavioral and emotional problems as they grow.

Training your puppy

Alongside socialization, training can also help your puppy develop into a confident, well-behaved dog who can accompany you to a variety of settings.

Training your puppy
Dachshund puppies in black and white
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