SAMANTHA RAWSON: Top tips to make your puppy feel safe in their new home
SAMANTHA RAWSON is Ireland’s best known dog trainer and behaviourist. She is known throughout the country for her television and regular radio appearances on RTÉ’s Ray D’arcy Show and as a speaker at groups and clubs. Today, in the latest in a series of columns on dog behaviour on KilkennyNow.ie, Samantha provides an expert insight into how to prepare your puppy for their new life in your home.
The day you bring your new puppy home is a big transition in your pet’s life – and it can cause a lot of stress for them if it is not managed properly.
Bear in mind that your new pup has lost all that is familiar to it, including its mother and its siblings. Our job is to provide every comfort possible so that we can reduce the stress to the pup, and in turn reduce the stress on ourselves.
If possible, bring someone with you when you collect your puppy, bring a large secure box and a bath towel into which you can place your pup in the car. The towel is to keep the pup warm while traveling and to contain any accidents. If travelling alone, you can place the pup in the box down in the stairwell in front of the front seat. It is important that your pup is not faced with any sudden jolts while traveling in the car, so it is far safer to travel on the floor rather than a seat.
Ask the breeder not to feed the pup immediately before collection and to provide the pup with some familiar bedding to comfort the pup while it adjusts to its new home. Get a supply of food from the breeder to last at least a couple of weeks.
When you reach home, before you bring your pup into the house bring it to the area of the garden or patio close to the house where you intend it to toilet. Wait and see if the pup will relieve itself. This is the first step to housetraining your puppy.
Feed your pup a small amount of moist food and place the pup with the bedding from the breeder or rescue and the towel into your chosen allocated area. You can use a puppy crate or small makeshift den with another enclosure around the bed/crate so that the pup can get out of bed and relieve itself on the papers or puppy pads away from its bed so the pup can quickly and easily locate the bathroom area.
It may help to reassure and settle your puppy if you place a warm covered hot water bottle under the breeders bedding. It may be easier on both you and your puppy if it can sleep in a crate in your bedroom, so that you can be alerted to the pups need to toilet.
Routine Regulation and Restrictions
Your pup should have a regular routine with set feeding toileting sleeping and social contact times. This will help you to get into a routine so that you will be able to predict when the pups need to relieve itself. When your pup is sleeping after it has been fed and toileted, you are free to attend to your other priorities.
When your puppy is awake and active, spend time holding it on your lap, on the floor so that it gets used to being handled and eventually groomed. Stroke from collar to tail, stay away from its head.
Some dogs tolerate being touched on the head, but it does not come naturally to them. Never swoop down and pick up your puppy. It is preferable if you get down on the floor and allow the pup to crawl onto your lap. This is especially important for small timid pups and dogs.
When you are finished put the pup back into its enclosed area with some puppy appropriate toys so that it can amuse itself. Always put it into its area when you leave the room.
Do not allow your pup to follow you from room to room as this may develop into clingy needy behaviour. As much as a pup needs reassurance from your presence, your pup also needs to know that when you disappear you will reappear.
Gradually the pup can tolerate your absence without seeking reassurance. Keeping the pup in a restricted area keeps the toileting accidents to one area, and so aids the housetraining process but it is also invaluable in teaching the puppy to tolerate short absences. It is also helps to keep your pup safely secure away from household dangers.
Samantha Rawson is founder of The Canine College, which is situated in Mullinahone near the Kilkenny-Tipperary border. For more information about Samanth’s approach and range of innovative courses, visit: https://www.samantharawson.ie/