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English Cocker Spaniel puppy black and white

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.

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.


Keep your house calm

Your puppy may be feeling stressed by the new sights, sounds, and smells, and the separation from their mother. So keep your house very calm to avoid adding to this stress.

Puppy sleeping in a red dog bed

Take them outside

As soon as you get home, take your puppy to your yard or outside area so they can start potty training. If they manage to go, reward them with a positive tone in your voice.

White Schnauzer puppy running through grass

Let your puppy explore

After your puppy's has been outside, take them inside to a safe area that you've blocked off and let them begin sniffing and exploring on their own time.

Dalmatian puppy running outdoors in a garden

Supervise at all times

Make sure you supervise your puppy at all times as they're getting used to your home and yard. Allow your puppy to come to you for comfort rather than the other way around, as some puppies may easily become overwhelmed by too much human contact.

English Cocker Spaniel puppy indoors on a grey carpet

Show your puppy their bed

Put something that carries your scent in your puppy’s bed and a blanket to snuggle into.

English Cocker Spaniel puppy stood indoors looking out of a window

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.


Use a puppy crate

A crate is better than a bed for your puppy’s bed initially as they can see and smell you but can’t wander off. At first, put it somewhere near where you sleep.

Hungarian Vizsla puppy sleeping on a white blanket

What to do if your puppy whines

If your puppy whines and you think they may need to go outside, put  their leash on and take them out to their area. If you think they’re lonely or scared, speak to them in a calm, reassuring voice but don’t touch or play with them. Too much fuss when they whine may lead to attention-seeking behavior, however ignoring your puppy could cause anxiety and frustration.

English Cocker Spaniel puppy lying down next to a sofa

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.

Labrador puppy black and white eating from red bowl

Feeding your puppy

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

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.

Your puppy's first visit to the vet

If you are unsure about their health status, taking your puppy to the vet for a check-up a few days after you bring them home is really important. If you're well prepared, it'll be a positive trip for your puppy. And it's also a good opportunity for you to learn more about how to care for them.

First vet visit

Socializing your puppy

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

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.

How to introduce your puppy to adults, children, and pets

Introducing your puppy to new people and other animals is a great way to prepare them for the encounters they'll face as they grow. But it's crucial to do it in the right way.

Introduce 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.


Potty trips

Young puppies have no bladder control and need to go outside immediately after eating, drinking, sleeping, or playing. Take your puppy to the same spot outside first thing in the morning, after each meal and nap and before bedtime, and use the same simple command. Also watch for signs your puppy needs to go outside such as them spinning around or sniffing the floor.

Border Collie puppy standing outdoors in grass


Make sure you feed your puppy at the same times in the same place each day, so they know when to expect it. By the time you take your puppy home, they should be weaned and most will be having three meals a day.

Akita puppy lying down next to a stainless steel feeding bowl


Physical exercise is a vital part of your puppy’s daily routine to help them stay in good health. Once they’ve been vaccinated, they can go on walks. Take them twice a day but limit each walk to 15 minutes initially.

Australian Shepherd puppy running outdoors with a stick


Although you must be gentle with your puppy, it's important you're consistent from the outset so they understand house rules such as no climbing on the sofa.

Springer Spaniel puppy sitting in long grass next to its owner

Training classes

Once your puppy's had their vaccinations, regular classes are a great way to help socialize them and establish good behavior. Remember to practice what you learn at classes each day too.

German Shepherd puppy standing on a box outdoors


Plenty of exercise before bedtime will help your puppy to sleep, so it's a good idea if their second walk of the day is later at night.

Young adult Dalmatians running through long grass and plants outdoors

Potty trips

If you take your puppy for a walk just before bedtime, they'll have a chance to go potty. If you don't, you'll need to take your puppy outside to their regular spot at bedtime. Young puppies will also need to be taken out around every three hours during the night.

Puppy walking outdoors in a garden


At first, it's best for your puppy to sleep in a crate near where you sleep. But keep interaction to a minimum once you've put them to bed. Soothe them with a reassuring voice if they whine, but don't cuddle them, and stay calm and quiet if you take them outside.

Beagle puppies standing on a rug indoors playing with a ball

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.


Choose the right collar and leash

Ask your vet for advice on the best type of collar and leash for your puppy. A retractable leash is useful at first so the collar doesn’t constantly pull on your puppy’s neck. Make sure the collar fits well and can’t slip over their head.

Beagle puppy standing outdoors on a lead

Practice at home

Let your puppy get used to the collar and leash where they’re comfortable. Gradually shorten the leash and encourage your puppy to follow you. Rather than pulling on the leash, bend down each time you change direction and encourage them to join you.

Dalmatian puppy walking indoors

Choose a calm, quiet area

For your puppy’s first walk outdoors, choose a quiet area where they’re not likely to be scared by loud noises or busy footpaths.

Husky puppy walking outdoors through grass

Keep it short

Limit your puppy's first walk to around five to ten minutes so they don't become overtired or overwhelmed. You can build it up to 15 to 20 minutes over the coming days and weeks.

Welsh Pembroke Corgi puppy running outdoors on a lead

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.

Dachshund puppies in black and white

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.

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