What to Do When the Puppy Comes Home

The best way to prepare for the unknown is to get advice from those who have braved through the experience. Sarah will share tidbits of her family’s experience bringing home a puppy, hopefully her tips & tricks help you!

What to Do When: You Bring Your Puppy Home (And After..)

pet adoption

Learn from Our Family’s Experience!

Ammo, our silver lab, is now 6 months old. Getting to this point was a journey. When we brought our puppy home, my girls instantly fell in love. The girls wanted a puppy for years and finally, my husband and I decided pet adoption fit our family. We thought we were prepped and ready to go- but the process moved quicker than we anticipated.

I did preparation around the house, but I couldn’t do many important preparation steps because we kept the puppy adoption a secret from the girls. My normal introduction plan- talking to my girls about pet responsibility and how we will treat our new pet- happened after the euphoria of bringing him home. First thing my kids want to do is hold Ammo and love on him; first thing Ammo wanted to do was run away!

As they cornered the puppy in the kitchen, I heard the familiar, painful scream from my youngest. Yep! Those puppy teeth chomped a little too hard- and both parties were confused. Our little girl didn’t understand why the puppy she loved bit her, and Ammo didn’t understand what he did. It’s hard for kids to understand this little puppy is fragile. The girls are familiar with their grandparents’ dog—a big Labrador that lets them run, play, and lay on him. So, what did I do as the concerned I-am-going-to-use-this-as-a-teaching-moment Mom? I sat her down and explained that the puppy is just playing, and he only knows how to play with other puppies. I thought we were prepared—then came the Tinkerbelle Incident.

I was cooking dinner when I heard a scream. My oldest came running up the stairs with tears in her eyes and her Tinkerbell doll—correction, I think it was her Tinkerbell doll, in hand. You see, Tink was now an armless, one leg, one-wing shell of herself. We had a nice memorial service for her and then buried her in the only fitting place—the garage trashcan—so the carnage wouldn’t be a constant reminder. I sat my daughter down and I tried another teaching moment. All I heard was, “I want to get another dog that wouldn’t chew up my toys.”

You know what I learned—you can’t teach anything about puppy basics to a 2 year-old! It was in this moment I knew my “Hallmark” moment of everything going perfect with our new puppy was falling apart. Here are the pet tips and tricks our family learned along the journey, hopefully they help your pet family avoid a few of the puppy accidents we encountered.

  • DO YOUR RESEARCH. Pick a dog breed that matches your personality, needs, and daily life style. Talk to staff at local shelters like Prairie Paws Animal Shelter or Wayside Waifs. Their staff are a great resource to determine what dog breeds fit you! Do you have an open yard? Some dog breeds require more space & exercise. Do you work 8-5? Some breeds require greater attention.


  • Hold a family meeting- or at least run the idea by your husband or wife.


  • Buy your pet accessories before you pick up your puppy. Make sure you have a collar, leash, water & food bowls, FOOD, chew toys, and a crate/kennel so you aren’t running around last minute. A reliable pet stain & odor cleaner (like Bionihilator) is also a must. You don’t want your home smelling!


  • Create a gated-off area for your puppy’s temporary home. After being adopted, it can take pets some time to get acclimated to their new surroundings. You want an area they can be messy in, with hardwood or laminate floors to make pee clean-up easier.


  • Bring a helper to get your puppy! Having a helping hand will make the entire process less stressful. Most puppies aren’t used to kennels, so holding them in your lap allows you to soothe the puppy while your helper drives. When you bring your puppy home, make sure you bring the collar, leash, and kennel (if they are used to).


  • Keep important or small items out of reach. Pick up shoes, chargers, medicine, toys, (anything you don’t want chewed on) off the ground. Puppies don’t understand they can’t play with or chew up the things on the ground.




  • Get your dog license– It’s legally required to get your dog license and will help keep your puppy safe if they ever run off. You can get your dog license at the Animal Shelter, Veterinarian’s office/Pet Shop (if authorized to process licenses), or online with Pet Data.


  • Be friendly, but relaxed when you bring your puppy home the first time. This is an exciting time for everyone, but your puppy is experiencing so many new things right now. It’s important to not overwhelm them in their new environment.


  • Train your puppy! Finding a qualified dog trainer to set you on the right path of communication and obedience is essential. KISS Dog Training offers special classes geared towards different family needs, or check out Pure Dog Listeners for an approach built on the bond between you and your puppy.


  • Set a routine for your puppy. Try to feed, let out, or walk the puppy on a routine to establish consistency and habits for your pup. Having a set routine will help your puppy become potty trained and understand the flow of the day.


  • Pro Tip: Splurge and go for the monthly pooper-scooper. I saw the poop-scooper sign for $20 a month and thought, “I don’t need that..” Wrong. Your puppy will track poop in the house ONCE before you change your mind.

Would I get the dog again? Of course! Our house feels complete and Ammo is a great protector for our family. My girls love Ammo, even with a few dismemberments of their dolls. Ammo sleeps with the girls and I find they sleep better with him (meaning I sleep better). My youngest loves to help with feeding him and my oldest is waiting when she can take him on a walk instead of the other way around. So although we hit a few snags, it was worth it to remember those smiles on their faces when we first brought him home! Hold tight to those Hallmark moments—they make the trying times so much easier!