How to help your puppy get settled into your home

It may take your puppy a little while to settle in. Here's how you can help during those first few days and nights.

Black and tan Dachshund puppy, inside, in dog bed, looking at camera.

The first few days and nights can be particularly daunting for your new four-legged-friend. Here are some pages to help make it as easy and stress-free as possible for them.


Day one with a new puppy
Your puppy
Day one with a new puppy
First nights with a new puppy
Your puppy
First nights with a new puppy

What to do before your puppy arrives

To help your pup settle in, you need to be prepared for their arrival. This means doing what you can to make them feel safe and comfortable in their new surroundings – including exposing them slowly and positively to new environments.

Buy and set up the essentials:

  • a cosy bed – or selection of beds in different areas
  • a den away from the hustle and bustle
  • a blanket
  • a selection of toys – including squeaky toys, soft toys, rope / tug toys and chew toys
  • feeding enrichment such as a Kong or slow / puzzle feeder
  • food bowl and food
  • water bowl
  • appropriate cleaning products for any accidents in the house
  • collar and tag
  • lead and harness – to get them used to wearing them even if you can’t use them yet.

Puppy proofing your house:

  • move anything you don’t want them to chew on or play with out of reach
  • cover anything dangerous, such as electric wires
  • put up a baby gate if you think you need one.

Top tip: Make sure you create separate areas for your pooch. First, a den area in a quiet part of the house where they can go and settle if they are feeling worried. The food and water location should be in a separate part of the house to where they rest.

10 tips to settle your puppy into your home

  1. Don’t rush or force them to do anything – gently guide them but wait until they are ready. 
  2. Create a doggy den, away from the main hustle and bustle of the house, where they can go to feel safe and comfortable. Make sure no one disturbs them while they are here.   
  3. Begin toilet training straight away. But be prepared as they may struggle initially, and you may have accidents in the house at first. If they do, this needs to be cleaned up with appropriate products straight away.  
  4. Avoid visitors to begin with. You don’t want to overwhelm your pup by bringing other people into the home in the first few days. Let them settle in and get to know you first.   
  5. Start to create a routine – from when they eat their food to what time they will go to bed. Likewise, you need to begin a walking routine. Keep them short to start with and then increase gradually over time. You can discuss with your vet how long you should be walking your pup for at first.   
  6. Are there areas you would prefer your pup didn’t explore, such as the sofa or your bedroom? Then, if possible, put in a barrier (i.e. baby gate) so they do not have access to it. If they jump up on to the sofa, calmly pick them up and pop them back onto the floor. Then make sure you {teach them to ‘get down’}, so you can encourage them to get off rather than picking them up each time. Remember, it can be very difficult for dogs to learn they are not allowed on/in certain areas as they get older, if they have been allowed as puppies.  
  7. If you have children, make sure they understand that they must be respectful of your puppy’s personal space. They should avoid picking them up or interacting with them if they move away or don’t seem interested. It’s also very important that children and dogs are always actively supervised.  
  8. Ideally, take time off work so you can be there to help them settle in. Leaving them straight away could be very scary for them as they probably haven’t been on their own before. You need to help them cope with this by getting them used to spending time alone. They are also in a very important stage of development – the socialisation phase. To become confident and happy adults they need to be introduced to the world and interact with people in a positive way. This is why puppies shouldn’t be left on their own for very long at all, even when you do need to start going out.  
  9. You should avoid shutting your puppy in their crate at night. You can start by sleeping in the same room as them and gradually moving away. If they cry, go back to sleeping in the same room and move the bed away even more slowly than before (as this may have been done too fast!) Alternatively, make sure they have enrichment (toys/food puzzles – that are safe for unsupervised use.) Ensure they’ve had an opportunity to go to the toilet. If they still cry or appear distressed, they may be struggling with separation anxiety. If this is the case, it’s best to get in touch with an accredited behaviourist via a vet referral. 
  10. Be patient. All dogs are different, and some may take longer than others to settle in. If your pup finds settling in particularly challenging or shows significant behaviour problems, speak to an accredited trainer or behaviourist who will be able to help.   

Signs your puppy is settling in

You’ve done everything you can to help your puppy settle into your home but how do you know that they have? Well, here’s the signs to look out for that show your puppy is settling in.

  • A growth in confidence which will be shown by their body language becoming more relaxed and less of the signs that they are stressed.
  • If your puppy is feeling stressed, they may have a lack of appetite, hide or cower and avoid interacting. This will also stop as they start to settle in.  
  • Playing, exploring, eating, and resting whilst their body is in a relaxed position are all signs a dog is comfortable in their environment. 
  • They will explore more and become curious to investigate their environment.  
  • They will start anticipating their daily routine. This might include going over to their food bowl at dinner time or approaching the front door when it’s time for a walk.  
  • They will become more responsive to their name and your voice.  
  • As your puppy settles in, they will engage with you more and want to spend more time with you. (You want to make sure they are comfortable on their own though so they don’t develop separation anxiety- you can do this by providing enrichment in a different room to you at various points during the day.)  

Ready to welcome a puppy into your home?

Follow the above and they will settle in and feel like part of the family before you know it. After the first few days when they are used to their surroundings, it’s time to think about training. Take a look at our Dog School classes, to make sure you are prepared.

Dog School
Dog School

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