The New Addition: A Puppy’s First 24 Hours

Your puppy’s first full day in your home will be adorable and fun, but there are some things you should do in advance for safety (and sanity).

Prepare for your puppy's first 24 hours. By: Tambako the Jaguar
Have all the supplies you need before your new pet arrives home. Photo: Tambako the Jaguar

Bringing home a puppy for the first time is one of the most fun and exciting experiences you can have. Watching him romp around the living room makes you laugh giddily… Until he squats and pees right on your carpet.


Many people find that the first 24 hours are the hardest. Here’s what you need to know about the first day you bring your puppy home.


Puppy Preparedness

Before you bring your puppy home, the ASPCA recommends the following:

1. Everyone Should Be On Board

Your entire household should be in agreement. Your puppy will need a watchful eye on him around the clock.

2. Buy the Right Supplies

  • Food and water dishes
  • Dog toys
  • Odor neutralizer (you’ll need it, no matter how vigilant you are)
  • Bedding
  • Collar and leash
  • Tags and licenses
  • Crate (if you want to crate train)

Having a few toys (especially chew toys) may prevent a scene like this from happening:

3. Pet-Proof Your Home

Pet-proofing for a puppy means:

  • Installing gates
  • Setting up a crate if you are using one
  • Taping down or removing electrical cords
  • Removing chemicals (Did you know laundry detergent pods are toxic?)
  • Moving plants
  • Getting rid of anything your puppy might break or hurt himself on

Potty Training, Day 1

“The best time to begin housetraining is when you pull up in front of your house with your new dog,” says Liz Palika, author of The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Housetraining Your Dog.

Take your puppy to the place where he will be eliminating waste outside. “The idea is that he begins learning the correct process before he makes a mistake.”

Take your puppy to his toilet area, wait until he goes and then praise him well.


Pleasant Introductions

You don’t want to have too many people around when you bring your puppy home. His first couple of days should be low-key so that he has a chance to meet everyone properly. Too many people reaching for him will overwhelm and scare him.

Let one person at a time handle him, and slowly introduce more people to him. If you have children, talk to them before bringing your dog home. Explain that it is important to be calm. No screaming, yelling or running up at full speed.

Many children will need a gentle reminder when you arrive — something like, “Remember what we talked about; we don’t want to scare him.”

Go outside with your puppy to potty train and protect him from dangers. By: BigDuff
Go outside with your puppy to potty train and protect him from dangers. Photo: BigDuff

Naps, Naps and More Naps

It’s anticlimactic, but your puppy will quickly wear out from all the excitement. Like human babies, puppies tire quickly.

Have a warm bed prepared for him, preferably in what will be his permanent sleeping area. Allow him to take a nap so that he can process the changes in his life. Don’t allow other people to pick him up or wake him intentionally.

Watch Him Like a Hawk

You’ll obviously need to monitor your puppy carefully in the coming months, but one of the most important supervision periods is the first day. This is when your puppy-proofing will be put to the initial test.

  • See if your puppy manages to get into areas that you hadn’t considered, such as closets or under furniture. Make any necessary adjustments.
  • Supervising him “allows you to begin teaching him the house rules,” says Palika. “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.”
  • Finally, go outside with him every time. He needs you there with him because there is a risk he will run into another animal, eat a dangerous plant or even run off. Beware that he may not respond to your calls if he doesn’t know his name or commands yet.

Puppies are a lot of fun. They’re cute, funny, cuddly — and a lot of responsibility. Set aside time for house-training, basic obedience training and lots of bonding time.

Enjoy your new puppy. He’s going to be your best friend for years to come.