puppy on a lap being fussed
puppy on a lap being fussed

Raising a pup - our pro tips for new puppy parents

One of the upsides of spending more time at home is the chance to introduce a new furry family member. Many people who’ve been considering taking the plunge to get a new puppy are going for it, taking advantage of time at home to settle in their little one. If that’s you, our pet experts have put together their top tips for new puppy parents.

Get prepared before getting your pup

Getting a new puppy is a big commitment. While you might be at home more than usual, are you sure you have the time and tolerance needed to devote to a new, curious and understandably needy puppy?

Are you OK with little accidents, some chewing and a bit of crying, as well as the delightful pitter patter of tiny paws? Are there any other pets you already have to consider – or other human family members? You’ll all need to be OK with bringing a new little life into your home and any adaptions you may need to make.


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We’re not trying to put you off – it’s just important to be prepared for the reality of bringing a pup that’s left its mum and siblings into a whole new world. They may be excited and want to explore everywhere, they may be afraid, and they’re likely to need a lot of time and effort to settle in and train. The more of both you can commit, the sooner your puppy will become a well-adjusted member of your family.

We recommend you do your research about your chosen dog’s breed or rescue dogs, and what type of behaviour you can expect from them in future. Learn how big they could grow and how this will fit with your home and lifestyle. Read up on puppies and look for honest experiences from other puppy parents online or among people you know so you’re truly prepared for the demanding, exciting experience to come.


happy puppy looking up happy puppy looking up

Let your puppy learn from new experiences

In more normal times, once your puppy is familiar with you and your home and before they have their vaccinations, it’s usually a good idea to introduce your pet to people who come and visit you. You can also take your puppy out in the car so they start to get used to it. 

puppy playing with a teddybear
puppy playing with a teddybear

Once your pup has been to the vets and completed their vaccination course, you can start taking them for walks. Going beyond the front door will bring plenty of new sights, sounds and smells to your puppy. The period up to about 18 weeks is important for getting your puppy used to different environments, dogs and people. 


Puppies haven’t long been in the world, so it’s understandable that all the new things they hear, see and smell can be a little overwhelming – whether at home or outside. They may cry or crouch down if they feel afraid. If they do this, don’t always feel you should overcompensate by cuddling them, lifting them up or making a fuss of them.

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These new experiences will become more familiar in time. Praise them when they’re calm and never punish them or tell them off for crying or being afraid – this is just a normal reaction to new things and it will ease in time.


If your puppy is distressed and doesn’t show signs of calming down, remove them from the situation that is bothering them. Once they’re calm, or on another day, expose them to the person, environment or dog that worried them before and see how they react, repeating this process if necessary. Building exposure in this way can build your puppy’s confidence until what worried them once is no longer seen as a threat.

Sleeping puppy Sleeping puppy

Be consistent with rules

Sometimes it can be very tempting to let your sweet little puppy get away with being naughty. But if you want an obedient dog in the future, it starts by teaching them to behave well as a puppy.

Your puppy learns obedience through consistent following of clear rules. So, for example, if you don’t want your puppy to sit on your sofa, it’s important not to laugh at them or reward them for doing it one day and scold them for doing it another. This will be confusing for your puppy.

Make fair rules and stick to them consistently. Your puppy will learn you’re in charge and what’s expected from them through positive reinforcement – training that’s based on rewarding good behaviour and following of the rules you’ve set.

And there’s one really important rule…


Say ‘no’ to biting people

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One of your rules should be ‘no biting people’ and you’ll need to be strict about this. Make sure your puppy has dog toys they can chew on and bite instead. Biting is often just playfulness and how they’d naturally react among their siblings, but learning bite inhibition is vital for later in their life.

So, when your puppy gets their teeth around part of your body or on your skin, you’ll need to firmly say ‘No!’ and stop paying them any attention at all. Look away, stop interacting with them. You or other people your pup is around will need to do this consistently every time your puppy bites a person to teach them that biting people isn’t part of playing and isn’t acceptable.

Dogs playing in a field Dogs playing in a field

Be careful what your puppy eats

Don’t switch brands or types of food too much – you’ll need to limit the amount of variety in their diet because puppies have sensitive tummies. Feed them puppy food that’s suited to their age rather than adult dog food. Don’t give them titbits from the table and remember that human food and drink isn’t always suited to animals. Some of what we consume is actually toxic to dogs and can be fatal.

Always keep items that are toxic to dogs out of reach of your inquisitive canine friend. You’d be surprised how persistent puppies and dogs can be at finding things to eat, but even they shouldn’t be able to open a high cupboard. Make sure your puppy or dog never eats or drinks these items and if they accidentally do, contact your vet immediately and tell them what your pet has consumed.

Human food and drink that’s toxic to dogs

  • Chocolate (this contains theobromine which is what is toxic to dogs)

  • Artificial sweetener (these contain xylitol and/or aspartame, which is toxic to dogs)

  • Avocado

  • Grapes

  • Raisins

  • Sultanas

  • Currants

  • Onion

  • Garlic

  • Shallots

Help your pet to love the vet

Initially, going to a vet practice can be a bit scary for your puppy. There are other animals, strange smells and they have to put up with a vet or vet nurse inspecting them or vaccinating them. Plus, they may associate the vet with feeling unwell if that’s the only time they go there. That’s why it’s a good idea to familiarise your puppy with going to vets.

Some provide puppy parties, weight checks or health checks in more normal times, helping your pup become more familiar with going there. Vet staff love puppies and are sure to show them lots of affection, so with a bit of fuss and familiarisation, your puppy may learn to enjoy a trip to the vets.


Take time to house train your puppy

As with little humans, it’s perfectly natural that little dogs need to learn not to toilet just anywhere. House training your puppy will take time, patience and plenty of rewards.

First things first, select an area outdoors that will be your puppy’s going-to-the-loo location. Make sure it’s somewhere they can feel safe and not too far from your door so they can get there in time once they become used to it.

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Take your puppy to this area frequently so they come to learn that this is the place where they should do their thing. When they toilet here, use positive reinforcement so they learn this is the right thing to do – a puppy biscuit, affection and words of encouragement like ‘good girl’ or ‘good boy’ will help them learn. Never punish your puppy when they go to the toilet in the wrong place or have an accident. This could actually cause them to have more accidents if they get nervous about going to the toilet while you’re watching.

puppy resting puppy resting

Gradually give your puppy more alone time

You can start to develop your puppy’s independence by leaving them in a room alone – first for a small period of time, then gradually build it up to be a bit longer. They might cry but try to wait until they’ve settled down before you go back to them.

You can gradually increase how long you leave your puppy home alone for. It’s best not to worry your puppy before you go by making a fuss, checking on them too much or giving them loads of cuddles. They’ll know something is different and pick up on your anxious vibes. Just make sure they have access to clean water and are in a safe place, calmly say goodbye if you want to and smile as you leave – no matter how worried you are! It’s all part of helping your fur baby become a big dog who’s well-adjusted to life in your home.

We hope these tips help you start your exciting journey as a new puppy parent. Good luck for lots of good doggy times!

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Pro tips rules list

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