Taking Puppy Home - Things To Consider Beforehand

The long awaited time has come to take your precious angel baby home!

The first week for the two of you will be exhilarating, certainly and can be unnerving. Many unexpected things come up and you may not know what to do. Advance planning can make the transition easier for both of you. Remember, I am always a phone call away.

Before your angel baby arrives:

1. Have a family pow-wow.
Decide who is going to be the primary caretaker. The puppy has to have consistency and must attach as quickly as possible to someone in their new home. Remember, he/she just left their Mom and breeder. Those ties are now gone. Who will the baby cling to?  Also, hammer out the house rules ahead of time (will the dog be allowed on the bed? On the couch? Where will the dog sleep? Are any rooms of the house permanently off-limits?). Your new baby will feel/sense the tension in the air if things don’t go smoothly. This can affect him or her long term.

2. Stock up on the right supplies.
Buy some of the basics ahead of time, so you both and your dog can settle in without too many mad dashes to the store. Here’s what you’ll need:

3. A warm sweater

Your tiny puppy will be unable to hold his body heat. It is very important that you be aware of drafts, cold wind coming in from an outside door opening, the puppy running near the door or even outside. A nice warm sweater will keep him warm and cozy until he is older and able to keep himself warm. At this age, he will need a size extra small.

A harness and leash are important items to have but your baby is far too little for that at this time. When you do buy a harness be sure never to put anything around his neck!! These dogs are prone to collapsed trachea! Never pull on anything near it's neck.

4. Pen/ Crates and Containment

Your angel baby was in a pen before you took her home. You can find many nice pens on Amazon to suite your needs. It's a must have for any puppy owner. A containment device keeps your new baby in a confined area where you can monitor and house train him. You will need a dog pen, crate (I do not recommend for daily use!!) or carrier, and an exercise pen, playpen, or gate when you bring your pup home.

If you get a pen that doesn't have a bottom you can measure the pen size, add an inch or 2 to each side and then go to Home Depot where they will cut a piece of white tile board to fit. To keep the pen from sliding off the board get some putty and put it on the 4 corners then push the pen onto it. I use earthquake putty but I suppose any putty will work (unless it dries out).

Hard-sided pens, crates and travel carriers are made from a variety of materials, including stainless steel, plastic, and fiberglass. Though the stainless steel crates will last a lifetime, the lightweight plastic and fiberglass varieties provide a measure of safety and security for your puppy while driving or flying. They also replicate a cozy, warm den especially when you outfit it with a soft bed or blanket.

When choosing a pen, crate or carrier, make sure that your pup can stand up, lie down, turn around, and stretch inside. Though dogs prefer to have a close-in den-like space, they also need room to feel comfortable.

If you are unable to keep a watchful eye on your puppy, you may also wish to purchase a pen or some baby gates to keep him corralled. Exercise pens are a set of portable wire panels that confine your pup to a specific area. You can adjust them to fit just about any space. Baby gates, which are used to cordon off restricted areas, prevent him from roaming where he shouldn’t.

5. Dog bed

The first night your puppy comes home, she’ll need a comfy bed to lay her head. Be sure to have lots of stuffed animals for him to cuddle with. Remember, he has just left his litter mates. They played and cuddled all the time. They love to snuggle into something in order to go to sleep. 

If your pup tends to chew on her bedding and ingest some of the foam or stuffing, remove it from her crate or take it away from her to prevent possible intestinal blockage. Offer her a blanket or towel to sleep on until she gets over her chewing phase. Keep chew toys handy such as pig ears that are easy for them to pull around and thin enough to chew on.

6. Food and water bowls

At the time you take your puppy home she will be used to eating her food from a saucer. I recommend that you continue this until she is eating well at home. Your puppy may still be eating ground kibble or soaked pieces or may be eating hard pieces.  I will tell you what they are eating when you come to pick her up. I will also send home a weeks supply of food at this time.


Although it is common for a new puppy not to eat as usual for the first couple of days it sets up a serious problem that could arise, hypoglycemia!. Although the puppy may be eating, their energy requirements are higher as they are mourning the loss of their mother and their litter mates. They are also stressed due to a new environment. Watch them closely! Small puppies are prone to hypoglycemia which is a drop in blood sugar that can be fatal!  If you see that she is listless, loss of energy or sleeping more than usual, act fast and immediately give her some Nutrical (always keep this on hand and with you).  Make sure your baby is eating to keep her energy level up. For this reason, do not leave the puppy alone for longer than 4 hours at a time.

Feed your Maltese pup four times per day. Divide his daily calories by the amount of feedings you give him to determine his portions. For example, a Maltese fed 400 calories per day would get 100 calories per feeding if fed four times each day. Frequent feedings are important for a Maltese because this breed tends to suffer from hypoglycemia, especially during the first three months of life. Feedings throughout the day help to maintain your pup's blood glucose level. If you notice your little one developing signs of low blood sugar, such as loss of appetite, weakness, lethargy or seizures, rub some corn syrup on his gums or give him some Nutracal on your finger from the tube to stabilize him. I keep some of this in my purse and in the car all the time.

Your puppy will need food and water bowls when he comes home, and there are many varieties available. You can choose ceramic or stainless steel dishes, plastic crocks,or  glass bowls. Keep them clean as bacteria thrive in their dishes. Keep plenty of fresh water in her pen at all times.

Ceramic dishware and glass bowls can be heavy so they likely won’t become toys, but they can be expensive If you buy ceramic, make sure it’s dishwasher safe and lead-free.

7. Food, treats

She may be small, but your pup will have a big appetite and big calorie demands to give her body the energy to develop healthy bones, organs, skin, and coat. As a result, for the first 12 months of your pup’s life, you will feed her a diet created just for her demanding energy and nutritional needs.

These special diets are referred to as diets that are formulated for puppies or for “growth and development.” Food makers understand that puppies have specific needs, so they incorporate those nutritional requirements the right blend of protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals into their special puppy blends. Veterinary nutritionists note that puppies must have these specific ingredients in their diets to develop into healthy adults.

For the above reasons, I recommend Wellness Small Breed Puppy. It has natural ingredients plus super nutrients for small puppies.

If you plan to eventually feed your puppy a raw diet and need information please discuss with your vet. I have no knowledge in this area.

8. Grooming supplies

Even though he’s still young, your puppy will need to be groomed and learn how to behave during the process. His coat will need regular washing, combing and brushing. He’ll also need his toenails trimmed, his ears cleaned, and his teeth brushed. To be prepared for the grooming routine as soon as he comes home, have these grooming supplies ready and understand how to properly use them:

Blow dryer
Bristle brush
Conditioning spray
Cotton balls
Ear cleaning solution
Grooming table or grooming area
Nail clippers
Shampoo and conditioner
Slicker brush
Styptic powder
Toothbrush and dog toothpaste
Store the above items in a plastic tote or container for easy access.

Keep the hair trimmed away from their eyes to prevent staining. Babies will drain a clear fluid sometimes due to teething. That will stop once teething has ceased. Check with your vet if you are having any problems in this area. 

9. Identification

Your puppy will require some identification. While there are two options identification (ID) tags and microchips it is a good idea to use them both. These are usually given at around 4 to 6 months of age. Check with your vet.

An ID tag, which is a plastic or metal medallion that hangs from your pup’s collar, lists specific contact information that will reunite you with your dog should she run off. Some people include the dog’s name and their name, phone number, and address; others, for safety reasons, list only their name and phone number with no information about the dog. At the very least, list your name and the best way to contact you, whether it’s a cell phone, office phone, or home phone.

A microchip is a rice-sized device that contains a code that is stored in a database with your contact information. Your veterinarian injects the chip between your dog’s shoulder blades, and when your dog is found, a staff member at the shelter uses a handheld scanner to read the code in the microchip. The code is then entered into the database, which tells the shelter your name and phone number, so you and your dog can be reunited. Remember to take the time to register your contact information and keep it up to date.

10. Toys

I highly recommend that you get  big stuffed animal for your angel baby to cuddle with. I have many of them here that they are used to. It helps them with the transition away from their Mom. Others have told me how comforting it was and still is for their little one. Toys can be categorized into chew toys that satisfy the need to gnaw (I highly recommend pig ears for teething), like hard-rubber toys; plush toys, like stuffed animals, that provide comfort to dogs; fetching toys, like balls and flying discs; rope and tug toys, which help to floss teeth while the pup plays; and critical thinking toys, like treat-dispensing devices, that release goodies when the pup performs a certain task.

Despite all the toy choices at your local pet store, you should only offer your puppy strong, durable, well-made toys that are sized appropriately for him. If your puppy does destroy a toy (and he probably will!), remove the damaged toy immediately. Exposed squeakers can be dangerous, as are stuffing, frayed rope toy strands, and small torn-off pieces that can be ingested.

Purchase these products before your puppy comes home and set them up in advance mostly because you’ll be too busy playing with him! With these items in hand, you’ll be well-prepared to welcome your puppy to his new forever home.

11. Prepare your house.

This requires a little more work if you’re getting a puppy, since they can be champion chewers and have a knack for getting into things they shouldn’t. But no matter what your dog’s size, you’ll want to do some organizing ahead of time.

Create a temporary, gated-off living space for your baby, where she can’t damage your belongings or eat something that will make her sick. She’ll stay in this area whenever you’re not with her to prevent her from having house training accidents.

Pick a room that’s a center of activity in your household, so your dog won’t feel isolated, and be sure it’s one with easy-to-clean floors. The kitchen is often a good choice; you can block it off with baby gates if needed. Make sure you remove anything that you don’t want chewed on or soiled.

What’s in your dog’s area will vary a bit depending on her size and how you’re house training.

Puppy-proof to make sure anything that could hurt your dog–medicines, chemicals, certain plants are out of reach.

12. House Training

Ideally, you can take a few days to a week off work to get your new dog or puppy settled in and to continue house training. Your puppy will be trained to go potty on pee pee pads by the time you pick him/her up from the breeder. Be sure to have some pee pee pads on hand. Half of their bed should be a sleeping/play area while the other half should be a pee pee pad for going potty.

13. Plan the trip home

Find a helper to come along when you go to pick up your dog. Young puppies who’ve never been on a car ride before may get rattled and frightened. You don’t want a bad experience to be the first experience they have with you!  A terror-filled car ride can turn into a long-lasting phobia of car travel. Ask someone to hold the baby on the ride home, soothing him. Your baby will be about 2 lbs. Such a tiny one needs to be in your arms, safe and warm!

If that's not possible, you might want to get a dog carrier. They come in all different types and sizes. The important thing is to keep the baby close to you. Here is a link to some you might want to look through Dog Carriers

Here are some ideas:

I highly discourage putting a tiny puppy in a crate while traveling. This could be emotionally damaging to the puppy who has had much love and attention up to this point. It seems impersonal, cold and distant for the puppy from it's new owner who he will now totally depend on. This is my opinion and I am not comfortable with this option for any of my angel babies.

Once your angel baby is home

See this video of a puppy's first time in her pen

Keep it pleasant but low-key at first.
For a shy puppy or dog, being taken to a new place and then deluged with lots of loud, lively strangers can be really overwhelming. The first day or two, keep the mood mellow and calm.

All animals need to have their own space. His/her pen is theirs where they can  be and sleep without fear. Introduce her to her new space by using toys or treats and lots of love. They will soon go to it on their own.

14. Start your training.

The earlier you start, the faster and easier it will be to teach good manners and the better the lessons will stick. Don't let that sweet innocent face fool you. They are very smart from day one! The two most important things to teach your dog are:

house training
getting comfortable around people and other dogs

15. Set up a routine

A routine helps with house training and is reassuring to your dog. Figure out a schedule for meals, bathroom breaks, and exercise, and try to stick to it.
Your puppy went potty after she ate at the breeders. That’s a good place to start.

16. Get your dog license ( this is when the puppy is around 4 – 6 months old)

It’s a legal requirement, and your dog’s tag will be used to get him back to you if he ever gets loose. You may also want to get your dog microchipped for extra insurance. Check with your local animal care and control to find out how to get your dog licensed; you may be able to apply online.

17. Find a vet

It’s especially important for a puppy’s first vet visit to be a pleasant experience so that your angel baby  learns to take trips to the vet in stride. Ask around for referrals, and schedule your first appointment a few days after you bring her home. Get her established with your vet for future vaccinations, worming and any other concerns or vet recommendations.

Bottom line: Your dog’s first few weeks home will likely be a period of huge adjustment, for both of you. You can make the transition much easier all around if you prepare your home in advance and set up a routine right away. 

Most of all, enjoy your new baby! Think of all the fun and exciting adventures you'll have together.


Trista & Madi said...

All of this info is extremely helpful. All I need to do now is go get my baby a pig ear! Thank you for providing me all I need to know about my baby.

apollospace17@gmail.com said...

Wow, what great information Sally, Thanks! Wonderful things we need to know and great ideas on how to make the first few weeks comfortable for the new baby!

Joe and Ronna Cardone

Lesa Sloan said...

You are a wealth of knowledge and I love the recommendations. My husband and I were just talking about where we will put the crate in our apartment. I can't wait for an addition to our family!

Tim and Jane Vaughn said...

Wonderful information Sally. We are so excited to start preparing our home for our new puppy to be comfortable and safe in. You have been so helpful in sharing these blogs. License, microchip, yes been through that. Coming home from picking up baby, yes I'll need something like you suggested. Have to read all these blogs again and again. Appreciate your expertise. Thank You!!!

Tim and Jane Vaughn

Joey Cardone said...

Such great and helpful information Sally! Thank you for the great ideas on making the puppy (and us!) feel comfortable once home!:)

Joey Cardone and Ashley Hefton

SallyDillon said...

Such helpful information! We sat down as a family to talk about where the puppy would sleep, where the pen would go, where to put baby gates to keep her safe. And made a shopping list! We had so much fun dreaming together about a new furry family member! Thanks for making such a great list of items we would need to help us make the transition easier for our angel baby and us!
The Dillon Family

Lan Tran said...

Dear Sally,
All the information in this blog was so helpful. I have a much better understanding of what we will be needing to get plus I can always come back to this page to review all the items I will need to prepare for the new arrival. It's so wonderful that we have all these helpful information so we can be extra prepared.

Thank you
Lan T.

Denise Vallier said...

Sally, again, great advice on preparing ahead of time for the new arrival. My husband and I are so excited. We have been planning, and arranging for a new arrival. It's such an exciting time. We have a playpen, dog carrier plus a purse carrier, clothes, new grooming supplies, and tons of toys and stuff animals. We need to get a crate yet, plus there is a stuff animal I want to order that has a beating heart. The food information is so important. Because I have never had a Maltese before I have been reading a lot of books on raising Maltese and they do all mention the importance of watching for hyperglycemia. I love how you post and show pictures of the food and supplements you give the puppies, so helpful. If my husband and I are fortunate enough to be chosen to be parents of one of your little Angels I will definately be the main care giver since I am home 24/7. So we are prepared!

Denise Vallier

Kimberly Wells-Moon said...

oh my lord when i got our first Maltese baby it was an offer that came to us and we were so unprepared we only had 1 hour notice. We were at the store picking up everything and not knowing anything...well we just bought everything. I am so glad we will be much more prepared this time..we like to think of our journey the first 4 months with our first one as an adventure and cannot wait to use our knowledge we have now with the second one.

Stephanie Andrus said...

Wow! Great information. Your perspective is very helpful. I think anyone who reads your blog is more cognizant of what the new puppy is going through transitioning to a forever home. I am so ready to set up a cozy bed and play area.

Stephanie Andrus said...

I love that you provide new parents photos of their new baby, plus information about their development. It will be agony for new parents to wait for their baby. PIctures and stories will ease the pain and help them prepare. Your other post cautioning parents that their new baby will be scared in a crate by themselves because they are used to 24/7 love is so sweet. Thank you for taking such good care of the babies and parents! Stephanie Andrus

Karen Anderson said...

You have done a lot of research. I like the Nutracal to have on hand. Also the Wellness small breed food. I hope the microchip procedure does not hurt the puppies. I do feed prepared as I have had several puppies all taken home at 8 weeks. We have puppy bowls and toys, stuffed animals, and especially a white stuffed animal to help the puppy adjust to their new life. Thank you for all the information.

Anonymous said...

I was looking for a list of grooming supplies and knew you had to have it somewhere on the blog! I also appreciate you mentioning microchipping: it seems to be a big controversy, not just ethically, but for health as well, so reading what your stance is helps a lot…especially for these little pups that are so highly desired. Is there a specific company that you recommend?—I’ve heard that some tales of a RFID reader not being able to pick up a microchip because it couldn’t sense the chip? Just passing this along too, for brand-new puppy parents like me: most of the vets I interviewed offer a bundled puppy package, which includes exams, vaccinations, well puppy check up, with or without microchipping etc, all for a quite reasonable price, so make sure to ask about that if you’re looking for a vet. I also had no idea about hypoglycemia in the Maltese breed, Nutrical will be something I make sure to pick up as well as brushing up on symptoms!

Anonymous said...

I was looking for a list of grooming supplies and knew you had to have it somewhere on the blog! I also appreciate you mentioning microchipping: it seems to be a big controversy, not just ethically, but for health as well, so reading what your stance is helps a lot…especially for these little pups that are so highly desired. Is there a specific company that you recommend?—I’ve heard that some tales of a RFID reader not being able to pick up a microchip because it couldn’t sense the chip? Just passing this along too for new puppy-parents like myself: most of the vets I interviewed offer a bundled puppy package, which includes exams, vaccinations, well puppy check up, with or without microchipping etc, all for a quite reasonable price, so make sure to ask about that if you’re looking for a vet. I also had no idea about hypoglycemia in the Maltese breed, Nutrical will be something I make sure to pick up as well as brushing up on symptoms!
-CD, Mapleton

Lisa Hurt said...

Lots of great information! I really appreciate all of the time you put into helping make the transition for the puppies and new parents the best experience it can be by providing so much useful information. It all looks like great advice! I plan on following this closely to ease the puppies stress in the transition. Thank you!

Lisa H. 05/23/18

Harmony C said...

Hi Sally, I have always used more enclosed crates for my puppy training - I thought that they liked the "den" feeling - do you recommend the open ones for all times of day? Of course, my little one will be with me in the office so I think the open one for there is best and I will get one!

Harmony C said...

Sally, it is so refreshing that you take all of the time you do to help "new parents" make the right choices for their babies. Even those of us that have experience get to learn new things! i am glad you encourage microchipping. I have always done it since it became available. Of course, I have not had to find a baby that way but I HAVE taken strays to the vet and had them scanned to see if we could reunite them with their family. Sadly, many times they are not chipped.

Denise Ramsfield said...

What wonderful, helpful and necessary suggestions for our new puppy! It is so helpful to have a check off list to make sure we aren't forgetting anything. Thank you Sally for taking the time to make sure Angel Parents are prepared. The information makes it less intimidating in bringing home such a special little puppy! We can't wait!
Larry & Denise Ramsfield- Wyoming

Guy Srinivasan said...

I've read this post. Lots of good info. We are mostly prepped, still need to do a few dog-proofing things like raise some wires permanently off the floor. Thanks!

Joyce Miller said...

Dear Sally, Just spending hours re-reading your site.......it is definitely a “page turner!” Always overwhelmed at the time, energy and love you have put into it. Can’t believe how I am now drawn to the pet and baby departments of every store I wonder into. Like being a new “Grammy” all over again! All of a sudden even cleaning agents have peeked my curiosity! OH MY! Thanks again for this fabulous insight!
Joyce Miller

Anonymous said...

Sally, All this seems like It would be just common sense, and yet to have it spelled out is so reassuring. You have thought of everything and presented it in such a way all should be confident of loading that angel baby into their car and driving off. Thank you so much.
Joyce Miller, Ashland, OR

Caliatra Mcindoo said...

Wow very good advice.....love it all

Caliatra said...

Again I reread it again to make sure I dont miss anything.I have never meant someone with so much knowledge..

Sue said...

excellent information...will be easy to reference when I have a question. Thanks for this!

Unknown said...

Wow!! such a wealth of informative information!! This really helps with us and baby's transition. My husband and I like that we can refer back to this information as a reminder.

Carol Puphal said...

This section was really important since its been almost 13 years since we had a puppy in the house. Let's see; sweater for a tiny one, harness, leash, crate, food & water dishes, treats, food, fluffy big stuffs, pee pads, grooming list, etc got it! Oops pig ears! I love it....amazing job Sally.

Mona said...

These are great pointers on what to prepare for. There's a lot to consider, but these are important considerations. I would definitely take time off work to ensure a regular schedule for the puppy, and to make sure the adjustment from mom and siblings go well. I'm sure that can be a nerve wracking and potentially sad experience for the puppy, so making sure the change happens with a lot of positivity will be critical.

Unknown said...

Great advice on bringing puppy home!