How to introduce a puppy to your home (almost) naturally.
Updated: Aug 6
Do your research on which breed of dog would best suit your home, especially if your heart's desire is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, also known as a Staffy. Because there are so many other dogs on the farm, a Staffy was considered to be unsuitable for adoption. They are notoriously loving to people and not so friendly with other dogs.
My puppy Fern was nine weeks old and travelled more than 1,500km to get to the farm. She was raised inside the house by a breeder who wanted her Staffy (Lily) to have a litter before being spayed. I am truly grateful to Fern's breeder for her great upbringing, and for sending me photo's and videos as I waited impatiently to meet her. I'm convinced Ferm is such a lovely dog because of her upbringing.
Fern was transported by a lady who loves every creature she carries (chickens, parrots, ducks, chickens, dogs, cats, snakes, you name it.) She stops every four hours and does an overnight stopover halfway to reduce the stress on her passengers. I got photo's of my puppy in bed with the transporter, which of course I loved.
Introducing Fern to the family
There were already three cats and an adult male Daschund in Fern's new home. Things were a bit a bit growly at first with the Daschund, but in no time they were playing chase and tug-of-war.
One of the adult cats, Digby, greeted the puppy nose to nose and rubbed up against her in welcome. The cat took his babysitting duties seriously, watching the newbie explore behind the sofa, and under the bed. All cats on the farm are used to dogs, and the puppy wasn't encouraged to chase the cats or play too rough. Everyone is now best friends.
Introducing puppy to the pack
The whole pack of the other 8 dogs on the farm came to say hello to Fern about two hours after she arrived. The original plan was to let them in one by one. Best laid plans and all, the Boerbuls pushed their way through the sliding door and the tidal wave of dogs came in all at once. Fern just lay on her back, all submissive, while she was checked over and approved. Then, just like that, everyone went off to do their own thing.
"No," said in a firm voice, with a raised finger is highly recommended for explaining the ways of the world, and works a charm for human interaction too! Of course the converse is positive affirmation for good behavior by voice and treats.
Imagine being a new puppy in a new home, taken from your mom, siblings, and everything you know, and introduced to a new situation. Some people lock puppies in the bathroom, or outside, and just leave them there crying in the dark by themselves. This practice is not advocated, and while many don't like dogs sleeping with them, a doggie bed next to your own will keep puppy happy and you safe.
It's unrealistic to expect a puppy to know about housetraining when it gets to its new home. The old story of "rub the puppy's nose in it and throw it outside" is so unfair. How is the puppy supposed to understand what this is supposed to mean, after the event, doing something that comes naturally?
A suggested method is to roll up and pack away rugs and carpets where possible, with old mats, newspaper, or puppy diapers left strategically around the house for use. You will soon see where the preferable spot is. When you see the allocated areas being used, give praise. Fern's home has a deck, where there are also mats/papers for use. She gets lots of "good girl" praise when she uses any of the allocated areas, especially outside. Everything is cleaned up without fuss, and desired behaviour gets praise. A puppy needs to do its business 15-20 minutes after it's eaten, so take it to its allowed area and encourage it to "make a wee".
Little creatures are scared of things that go bump in the night. There are quite a few nocturnal animals around here - for example, jackals, porcupines, and owls. One day, we will invest in a camera to see exactly what walks around at the night.
Find out what puppy eats before you get it. Introduce another diet slowly by mixing it in with the current diet, or live with the messy consequences.
Puppies need to be fed a little, often. Some don't travel well and may need to be coerced into eating. We have found that a bit of goat's milk is gentle enough for a fussy eater.
One hears of puppies destroying peoples' houses All puppies need things to chew and keep them occupied. A toy box doesn't have to be filled with expensive items and gives hours of pleasure. Best of all, the puppy knows what it's allowed to chew and play with.
Fern's first toybox:
Old toy tire with baling twine for pulling
Old hand brush
Cow hoof on a rope
Soft squeaky bone
Toilet roll inner
Tennis ball in an old sock (fav toy!)
Puppy proofing your home
Set your puppy up for success. We are the humans, hopefully with a few brains to figure out what may cause issues. Of course, the puppy will create mischief you haven't thought of. Be aware of wiring, valuable carpets, poison, medicines, and shoes. If you don't want it chewed - don't leave it accessible. The infamous "no" and raised finger should do the trick for chewing on furniture.
Please remember how young your puppy is, and don't go on long walks or runs until it's at least a year old. As with everything puppy, a little often is the motto. Don't go for a cycle ride, for example, with the puppy running next to you.
Other members of the family
Do your best to give lots of extra attention to your other animals to avoid unnecessary jealousy. Under no circumstances should children be left unsupervised with young animals. Never allow children to jump on, or hurt animals. A friend's child jumped on their sleeping dog. The dog, of course, awoke in fright and looked around to see what was happening. It didn't bite the child, but its teeth caught the child's face. This situation was 100% the parent's fault for allowing the child to jump on the dog in the first place.
Animals take approximately three weeks to settle into their new homes. Wishing you happy days, living almost naturally and enjoy your puppy!