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Breed & Health Resources

Raising a Puppy: The First 24 Hours

By Liz Palika

Raising a puppy

A puppy is a brand new little being of unlimited potential. This adorable, fuzzy bundle of joy will grab your heart and turn your world upside down. The first twenty-four hours after you bring him home is often especially difficult. He will be in a strange place with unknown people and may cry for his mother and siblings. You may feel overwhelmed and wonder if you made the right choice bringing him home. It doesn’t have to be quite so upsetting for either one of you though; especially if you’re prepared.

Before You Bring Him Home

Take the time to do some preparation prior to bringing home your new best friend. For a list of supplies you will need, take a look at this puppy checklist.

Making sure the living spaces you will be sharing with your puppy are safe is vitally important. Puppy proof your home, making sure your puppy can’t reach any wires, electronics, medicines, shoes, kids’ toys, or anything else that is chewable, potentially dangerous, or expensive.

Take a look at the yard too. Is your fence secure? There should be no loose wires or boards in the fence and no holes in or under the fence that can be enlarged by an industrious puppy. Check the gate also. Often the gate has more clearance under it so it can move freely and a small puppy might be able to slip under it.

Decide where your puppy is going to sleep, where he will eat, and where and how he will spend his days. If all of these decisions are made before you bring home your puppy, there will be fewer problems after he’s in the house.

The Ride Home

You will need to spend a few days with your puppy when he first comes home. This will help the two of you get to know each other as well as relieve some of his anxiety about being in a new home. It can be beneficial to bring your puppy home on a Friday afternoon if you have the weekend off.

Ask his breeder or the rescue to give him a small meal several hours before you pick him up. If his tummy is empty, he’ll be less likely to get carsick.

Have him ride home in his crate in your car. You might be tempted to have him ride on your lap, but that isn’t safe and it will give him the idea that this is how he will always ride in the car. He’s safer and will get into significantly less trouble in his crate.


When you first get home, take him immediately to the spot where he will be relieving himself. Don’t let family members "oooh" and "aaah" over him right now; take him outside. Let him relax, sniff the grass, and then relieve himself. Praise him using the phase you will be using in the future, such as “Good boy to get busy!”

Once he’s relieved himself, bring him inside so the family can meet him one person at a time. You can have one person hold him, snuggle with him, and introduce him to toys. That person can offer him something to eat, take him outside again, and then put him in his crate for a nap. After his nap, take him outside again and another family member can interact with him. If too many people crowd him too quickly, with joyful noises and lots of hands touching him, your puppy may be overwhelmed, so make sure everyone understands the importance of taking things slow.

Avoid inviting extended family members or neighbors to come meet your new family member right away. Give him several days to become a part of your family, then gradually introduce new people.

If there is already a dog in the family, keep that introduction low key also. Make sure the dog at home gets plenty of attention, play time, walks, and tummy rubs so that the puppy’s addition to the family doesn’t cause jealousy.

Supervision is Everything

Supervision is going to be important for several months, but it’s most important in the first 24 hours. This is when your puppy might crawl into a closet or under a piece of furniture to hide; especially if he becomes overwhelmed. He may also hide to take a nap. If he does hide, it will be tough to find him as he won’t respond when you call him and he doesn’t know his name yet. Watch him carefully and, if you can’t, put him in his crate while you’re busy.

Supervising him in the house also allows you to begin teaching him the house rules. This begins immediately because you don’t want him to learn bad habits. So interrupt him should he begin chewing on shoes or tugging on the drapes, and then show him where his toys are and teach him that these toys are fun. Praise him when he plays with his toys.

He’s going to need to be watched him outside as well. A young puppy is helpless outside and he could easily get into trouble. Plus, hawks, owls, and coyotes can hunt puppies. In addition, when you take him outside you can teach him where in the yard you wish him to relieve himself.

This is Bonding Time

There is nothing like the relationship people have with a well-loved dog. Many dog owners say it’s better than the one they share with other people. Perhaps it’s the trust issue; after all, your dog will never betray the secrets you share with him. This bond will begin as soon as you first hold your puppy in your arms and will continue to grow as you bring him home.

There are several aspects that help create this bond, and one is time. You need to spend time with him. Play with him, hold him, train him, and talk to him. All of this begins during that first 24 hours and will continue as he grows up. You’ll know you’ve begun to create that bond when you look at your puppy and smile, and at the same time he looks at you and wags his tail. 

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