What to do with your puppy on the first day

11 December 2023 - 3 min read

The big day’s finally arrived – time to pick up your new puppy.

You’ve probably done plenty of research into whether to get a dog, sorted out your puppy insurance, and maybe even done a bit of new puppy shopping, but it’s a good idea to actually think about what you’ll be doing in that crucial first 24 hours, and beyond.

Oli Juste is a dog trainer and behaviourist who has offered his expertise in Channel 4’s Puppy School.

“Socialisation starts as soon as you bring your pup home,” says Oli. “Puppies need exposure to different situations, environments and ‘things’ to help them develop into happy and confident dogs.

“Fromcar trips, automatic doors at the supermarket, and vet visits, to hoovers, children and other dogs – pups need to be exposed to as much as possible, in a calm and positive way.”

And while you want to settle your puppy into your new home smoothly, thatsocialisation process should really start as soon as possible.

“Socialisation should take place before they’re 16 weeks old, and can shape their behaviour well into adulthood. If your puppy has missed the critical window, be patient and introduce them to new environments slowly,” says Oli.

What you’ll need for day one

Before you go to pick up your puppy, get ready for training success by making sure you have these essentials:

  • Puppy pen and/or stair gates

  • Tough toys that can’t be easily chewed

  • Treats - choose small, healthy training treats to avoid overfeeding. You can cut them into tiny pieces to make them go further.

  • Puppy pads, a decent mop and puppy-safe cleaning solution

  • A timer or stopwatch

Four puppy lessons to start on day one

These are Oli’s top tips for helping new pet parents train happy, healthy pups from that first day, and beyond

Lesson one: Toilet training

Dogs are contextual learners – they learn by doing and experiencing. Here’s some advice for getting started with toilet training - and if you want to go further, check out our full puppy house training schedule.

  1. Start by taking your puppy outside on the hour, every hour. When your puppy goes to the toilet, give them lots of praise and treats. Be sure to do this only when they have succeeded, rather than too early or you might disrupt their flow.

  2. You will start to notice a pattern to your puppy’s toilet times. Try taking them to the garden to fit in with this pattern.

  3. Importantly, never tell your dog off when toilet training since this will discourage them from doing their business when you’re around. Like all puppy training, positive reinforcement is best.

Lesson 2: Discourage jumping

Jumping up is a common problem for puppies and dogs. Here are some tips for addressing the issue on your puppy’s first day at home:

  1. When you first get your pup home, manage the environment by using baby gates or puppy pens if needed.

  2. Don’t underestimate the power of ‘sit’ from an early age - you can start this on day one. If your dog learns to sit for the desired amount of time, you can use the simple command when your pup meets people.

  3. Practise ‘sit’ in a range of places and for different periods of time to help your puppy become a sitting pro.

Lesson 3: Puppy biting

Puppy teeth are very sharp and, while nibbles aren’t usually a sign of aggression, puppies need to learn that biting or chewing people (or furniture) isn’t good behaviour. Consider the following advice from day one:

  1. Puppies are cute but respect their personal space and don’t play rough with them as this can encourage them to bite.

  2. Whatever you do, don’t shout at them. Dogs learn best when you are clear about the behaviour you DO want.

  3. Instead, make sure you redirect the biting with a toy and if your puppy bites your hand, stop interacting with it briefly (turn away, no eye contact) so that it learns the importance of boundaries.

Lesson four: Prevent separation anxiety

On day one, it’s probably best to make sure you’re available for your pup all day. But sooner or later, you’ll have to leave the room - and the house - without them. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Gradually adjust your puppy to being alone over the first few weeks. Start by leaving the room for a few moments in those early days and gradually increase the time away.

  2. Leave your puppy with something to keep it occupied, like a toy or some treats. The goal is to keep your pup’s brain cognitively engaged so it doesn’t process anxiety.

Crate training is a great tool for helping your puppy feel safe and relaxed in their ‘den’ while you’re away.

Puppy schedule

Puppies need short bouts of activity and plenty of rest.

This is what a typical day might look like for your very young puppy:

Time Activity
7am Garden
8am Meal 1
8.30am Garden
8.45am Sleep
10.30am Garden
10.45am Training
11.15am Meal 2
11.45am Garden
12 noon Playtime
12.30pm Sleep
2.30pm Garden
2.45pm Socialisation experience
3.30pm Meal 3
4pm Garden
4.15pm Sleep
6.30pm Garden
6.45pm Play/training
7.30pm Meal 4
8pm Garden
8.15pm Quiet time/crate training
10pm Garden
10.30pm Bedtime
Night time Garden breaks if needed - you might need to set an alarm!

You can use this schedule as a basis for your day, but adjust it to your own puppy. They might need more frequent garden breaks, for example, or you might want to do more training and less playtime - or vice versa.

The main thing is to have a plan ready for that crucial first day - then you can adjust and adapt as your puppy grows.

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Derri Dunn
Content marketer

Derri is a personal finance and insurance writer and editor. After seven years covering all things motoring and banking at GoCompare, Derri joined ManyPets in 2021 to focus on pet health. She has fostered cats and kittens for Blue Cross and Cats Protection and is owned by tabby cat Diggory and two badly behaved dogs.