Selecting a puppy in the litter, the journey & the first night

Welcoming a furry, four-legged friend into your home? At Harringtons Puppy Club, we’re here to make the whole process as smooth (and exciting) as can possibly be!

If you’re only just joining us, you might have missed our pre-puppy arrival blog posts on budgeting and puppy-proofing your home and garden — so make sure to check those out too! 

This time, we’ll be spilling the beans on everything you need to know about choosing a delightful little pup, as well as preparing for the big day itself — their much-anticipated arrival, with tips on how to make this home life transition a walk in the park.

What can be done to set them at ease on the big day, and make their transition to home life as smooth as can possibly be?

Selecting your puppy in the litter

To make the most of the valuable socialisation opportunities afforded by puppyhood, it’s recommended that you welcome your puppy into the home before eight weeks of age.

Get in touch with a breeder soon after the pups have been born and schedule a visit. You’ll usually be allowed to see the litter once they are at least four weeks old.

Exciting, right?

But as such an incredible, life-changing decision — for the would-be owner as well as the canine — there are a few things you might want to consider when you’re visiting a puppy litter! 

You might find it helpful to bring a family member or friend with you to help.

Temperament & behaviour

  • Observe how the puppies interact with one another — you’ll most likely want a puppy that’s outgoing and confident, without being dominating. Particularly in a busy family home with many children, a shy puppy might not feel comfortable and possibly hasn’t been socialised well by the breeder. Fearfulness is hard to change, even at a young age.
  • Do any of the puppies come towards you, or do they keep themselves to themselves? If you approach a puppy who’s playing, what is their reaction? A well-rounded puppy will usually be curious, holding its head high and wagging its tail when it sees you. 
  • How does the puppy react when it is handled? If you’re in a family home with children, you’ll want a puppy that is confident and at-ease when being picked up.
  • How are the litter engaging with their surroundings? Keep an eye out for temperament, in particular calmness rather than aggression. Puppies should be trusting and friendly.
  • Where are the puppies going to the toilet? If they’re soiling the carpet, this possibly isn’t a good sign, and could be carried over into your home.
  • How much effort are you willing to invest into training your new puppy? If the puppy seems aggressive or domineering in the litter, it may require more attention — possibly something that inexperienced, first-time owners will want to avoid. 

Health

  • A healthy, shiny coat, with no unusual inflammation or discharge from the eyes, ears or private parts usually indicate a healthy puppy.
  • You might want to test the puppy’s hearing and sight. There are many ways to do this, but dropping a toy nearby the puppy usually gives a good indicator!
  • As you might expect, your puppy should be in good shape — not overly fat or at all skinny.
  • A quick check-up by a vet is always a good idea when you’re making a final decision.

You might fall in love at first sight — which is completely understandable — but it’s not a bad idea to visit several times to observe the litter. Don’t feel like you have to make your mind up straight away!

If you’ve been following our Puppy Club blogs, you’ll know about the importance of getting your puppy before the seven-to-eight weeks of age mark — this heralds the beginning of their formative period of socialisation.

The journey home with your new puppy

So, now you’ve chosen your puppy and have hopefully scheduled a pick up date, it comes to bringing your new furry family member home. It scarcely gets more exciting than this!

There are a few logistical things to think about, however — particularly if you’re driving a long distance.

  • Just just as you wouldn’t for a baby or child, don’t let the puppy sit loose in the car on the way home.
  • Remember, it’s never too early to begin bonding, so consider transporting the puppy home having them cuddled firmly on a passenger’s lap. If someone else can drive, that will help you to start forging this early trust.
  • If it’s a particularly long journey, a dog carrier (perhaps lined with a blanket that smells of the mother) is a good idea.
  • For maximum security — at the risk of making the dog possibly upset or distressed — a dog seat belt can provide a transportation solution.
  • Again, if it’s a particularly long journey, you might have to plan for car sickness. Just like us, our pooches can feel a little nauseous with motion sickness. Signs of this can include head hanging and drooling; pack some paper towels and plastic bags.
  • If you’re driving some distance, frequent breaks may be useful. Puppies can’t usually hold their bladders for too long. If they start whining, consider pulling over for a comfort stop.

Once you’re home… 

So, now that everyone’s back safe and sound, your young pup can start to scope out their forever home. Laying out a good routine in these early days is crucial.

So, what top tips are there for calming for first night nerves — if there are any?

  • Having just left their mother, your new puppy may understandably be scared, unsure or fearful. Getting used to new people and surroundings can be stressful, so try to avoid overwhelming them — for example with overly-fussy children!
  • To avoid a messy start to puppy ownership, introduce your puppy to his outdoor toilet spot. Introduce them to the location of their water and food bowls, too.
  • Allow your puppy to explore your home at his own pace, perhaps limiting them to two or three rooms.
  • We know you won’t be able to take your eyes off them, but make sure they’re supervised.

When it comes to beddy-byes… 

  • As tempting as it may be, don’t let your puppy sleep in your bed — otherwise you’ll have trouble getting them to sleep anywhere else later on!
  • Consider getting them to sleep in a doggy crate. A crate ensures they don’t have full house access, whilst also toilet training them — dogs don’t usually soil their sleeping area, so will be inclined to wait until they’re outside.
  • Placing a hot water bottle in the crate can help to mimic the effect of the mother’s body.
  • Set an alarm for every several hours to take them to their toilet spot outside — puppies don’t usually have the strongest bladders.
  • If they’re whimpering, don’t keep coming back to pay them attention. They’ll know that the trick works!

What next?

It’s already been a huge adventure for your new canine companion, so hopefully they’re catching up on some much-needed beauty sleep as they settle into their new surroundings.

What better time to do some reading ahead, preparing yourself for the weeks that lie in store as a new puppy owner? At Harringtons Puppy Club, we’ve got a treasure trove of useful insights and information for new owners. Make sure to explore the rest of our blogs!