Puppy Diaries #2: Picking Our Pup and Bringing Her Home (8-12 Weeks)

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We drove an hour to my parents’ home, which was our first planned rest stop. Sommer seemed comfortable with us immediately if a bit perplexed by her new situation. Our boys would hold her up to look outside when she became restless, and she would nod off gazing out the window. Outdoors on my parents’ lawn, she wiggle-waggled from person to person. My dad commented that she was quiet and calm by pup standards, and when she rolled onto her back to accept belly rubs, we knew she would be a great family dog.

Arriving home in Minneapolis, there was just enough time before dark to show her a patch of yard that would be her potty area, her food and water bowls and her crate. Was I ever glad for all of the advance work we’d done. The time for planning for a theoretical dog was over. Our pup was here! 

The day we brought home Sommer not only made me a new pup mom but ranked among our family’s most memorable. Sommer fit in with the family right away, and shifted the dynamic in the most positive manner, injecting humor and even getting the boys away from their phones to participate in her care. More on that in the weeks to come. For now, you can envision me reveling in my status as the mom to a new little girl by outfitting her with cute collars in every color of the rainbow!

Next Entry: Acclimating, Training and Caring for A New Pup.

“The Puppy Diaries” is an ongoing series that explores the journey of pet parenthood, from making the decision to get a puppy, to bringing a puppy home, to the joys and struggles of training, and beyond. Laura Tiebert is an experienced nonfiction writer and first-time puppy parent who lives in Minnesota with her husband, two sons and a new puppy. 

Are you puppy crazy or considering adding a puppy to your family? Sign up for our Puppy Diaries email newsletter and get the next entry directly to your inbox.

My Top Tips for Your Puppy at 8 Weeks

You might be bringing puppy home and starting a series of firsts, including a first vet visit. Don’t let your new pup mom responsibilities overwhelm you. Take charge of your pup’s health and wellbeing with a proactive approach. Here’s a series of topics you can discuss at your vet visit:

  1. You will want to discuss sleeping and how that is coming along for your pup
  2. Feeding habits and how much your pup is eating (and as a related matter, have your pup’s weight checked to make sure he/she is growing well)
  3. Discuss a schedule of vaccinations, and heartworm and flea/tick medications.
  4. What kind of behavior habits you need to instill in the pup’s first days at home, and how to discourage negative behaviors, such as nipping, excessive barking or jumping up for attention.
  5. Age appropriate toys, recommended treats and chew sticks

If you have additional questions, make a list before your vet visit, when you will find yourself distracted by trying to manage a squirmy pup on an exam table.

Make a plan for how to introduce your puppy to your home. When in doubt, introduce less than you planned. A pup is processing a lot of new information. Likewise, don’t try to introduce your pup to the entire neighborhood in one day. Let her meet people in small doses, and don’t overwhelm her with crowds.

Driving any distance with a new pup means pacing yourself. Allow plenty of time for rest stops between you and your destination.

A regular schedule is your new best friend. Pups thrive on routine, and although it might seem monotonous to you, the structure that a regular daily schedule provides is comforting for your pup. Enforce regular bedtime and waking times, feed on a schedule (we started with three-times-a-day feedings), and make playtime and exercise time a regular feature of your days.

Take loads of videos and photos. Even a week later, you’ll marvel at how much smaller your pup was the day you brought her home.

If you have other pets, introduce your new pup to them gradually.

Make appointments at your vet and research and register for puppy socialization and obedience classes. You’ll need trusted sources for answering new puppy parent questions and the myriad of questions that naturally arise about what’s normal and what’s not. Plus, having outings scheduled gives your day structure. I was surprised at how quickly I had questions around training and looked forward to our first class!

Next Entry: Acclimating, Training and Caring for A New Pup.

 

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