Bringing Home a New Puppy or Dog

Deb Duncan
COME, SIT, STAY...Canine Etiquette
Behavior & Training Consultations

Bringing a new puppy or dog into your family is a large emotional, mental, physical, & financial responsibility. You should seriously consider all aspects of adding a pup/dog to your family...and, the new pup/dog SHOULD be considered a part of your family. All family members should be in agreement about this responsibility. If even ONE family member is opposed or not totally supportive, you are asking for trouble. You will be bringing a pup/dog into a NO WIN situation. This will create a stressful situation & the pup/dog will experience the negative fallout.

Be certain you have carefully researched different breeds & the care of the pup/dogs to find the breed that fits your family, personality, routine, & lifestyle. Prospective Westie owners should read the Westie Frequently Asked Questions and Acquiring a West Highland White Terrier. We should not be a DISPOSABLE DOG society. The best analogy for adding a pup/dog to your home is their needs, training & care will closely parallel those of an infant or toddler.

Once you have successfully gone through the above process & have selected a breed. You must find "reputable" breeders of that breed. Purchasing a pup/dog from a pet store or backyard breeder is asking for problems & very possibly heartache. A "reputable" breeder will interview you, the prospective owner, almost as stringently as you interview them. Be aware that purchasing a pup/dog from a reputable breeder will cost more money than your other options. However, the money & emotional trauma you are likely to experience & expend with the other options... more than justifies the extra cost. Your initial financial outlay will be "minimal" when compared to the problems you may encounter going through the other venues.

Once you are dealing with a reputable breeder(s), you will be ready to select a pup/dog. I tell people that the pups/dogs are never wrong. When you go see them, ONE will select you. They KNOW!! I recommend letting the pup/dog select you. Also, let me dispel a myth...most people think that the females are sweeter, more affectionate, & easier to train. The reality with most breeds is that the males (as a general rule) tend to be more affectionate & easier to train. Both genders are wonderful.

If you are purchasing a PET pup/dog, you must SPAY or NEUTER them. There are countless physical & behavioral reasons for this. And, there are too many unwanted dogs in the world already. Certainly, you do NOT want to add to this overpopulation on purpose or by accident.


  1. Purchase their crate, toys, food & water bowls, treats & a supply of Bitter Apple.
  2. Have a yard potty pen set up (see housebreaking article). Decide how you will keep the pup/dog confined to specific areas within the home. Buy baby gates to help block off areas.
  3. If you already have a dog, I recommend setting up the new pup's/dog's crate, pens, etc. for a couple of days or a week prior to bringing the INVADER home. This gives the current dog a chance to get used to the physical changes in their environment.
  4. If possible, bring home a towel or T-shirt with the NEW pup's/dog's SCENT on it. Place it in an area that your current canine resident can get adjusted to it. Additionally, it is good to do the same in reverse for your new pup/dog with the current dog's scent.
  5. Have a couple of T-shirts you have worn or slept in, so they will have YOUR scent on them. These are wonderful to put in the crate of your new pup/dog. It will comfort them, make them calmer, & make their initial nights' sleep less stressful.
  6. Puppy/new dog PROOF your home. Look around, imagine "you" are a high energy, inquisitive pup OR a dog in a new environment...WHAT do you see that is really enticing? Move knick-knacks from accessible areas. Move things that are scented. All trashcans must be made INACCESSIBLE. All shoes, socks, misc. clothing must be picked up. Newspapers, mags, books must not be accessible. Move things that can be knocked over. Keep a close eye on decorative pillows, rug corners, couch or chair skirts. Electrical cords can be chewed, grabbed or tripped over...the item will crash to the floor...broken or hurt the pup/dog. All medicines MUST be out of reach. Look at your counters/ there anything hanging off that they could pull or tug.
  7. Get a supply of the food the pup/ dog has been eating from the breeder. Either buy the same food or if changing the food... do it on a 1/2 and 1/2 basis for the first week. If you change the food all at once, the pup/dog will have diarrhea.
  8. SCHEDULE TO BRING THE PUP/DOG HOME WHEN YOU WILL BE HOME WITH THEM FOR THE FIRST COUPLE OF DAYS (for example, a weekend). This should be a time when you will be able to devote the majority of your attention to the new pup/dog. This involves helping them to adjust to a new environment, starting their housebreaking routine, and just getting to know each other.
  9. If you have a current canine resident, it is often recommended to allow them to meet the new pup/dog on neutral territory...the park or on a walk through the neighborhood.
  10. Be certain that you do not neglect the current dog in all of your focus on the new pup/dog. This will cause the current dog to RESENT the new one. Make certain you do not constantly correct the current dog...go on, leave xxx alone, etc. Certainly, do not banish the current dog to another part of the house. If you have to keep the dogs separated for a period of time, it should be done so they are in the same vacinity...just separated by a baby gate or whatever.
  11. Be careful NOT to only give your current dog their special attention & time...when the new one is not around. If you do, they will learn that things are only good with Mom/Dad WHEN the new pup/dog is not around. So, make certain that you pet or play with the current dog WHILE you are petting or playing with the new one...even if that means one arm petting or playing on one side of the baby gate & the other arm playing or petting on the other side of the baby gate. Take them for walks "together". Give treats & praise to the current dog at the same time you are giving treats & praise to the new one.
  12. If your current dog ACTS OUT in some way (potties in the house, chews something up, some behavior that is different from their norm), try not to make a big deal out of it. Ignore it, if possible. A strong reaction on your part may only INCREASE their anxiety. Lack of a reaction on your part will probably allow the behavior to subside on its own.
  13. Do not let your new pup/dog out of your sight. If they are out of sight...they are INTO something or pottying.

If you are ready to do ALL of this, then you are ready to bring a new pup/dog into your home. Once you are through the initial adjustment stages, you are ready to begin the real work. This means training/ teaching your new pup/dog the rules you want them to follow. The old cliché of GIVE LOVE A CHANCE is the perfect approach to having a new pup/dog in your life. Give them a chance to love you, give them a chance to learn what you want from them...GIVE LOVE A will be rewarded ten-fold!!!


Any information contained on this site relating to training and behavior of Westies is for informational purposes only. The WHWTCA recommends that Westies undergo obedience training. For assistance in locating an obedience training club in your area, please consult the American Kennel Club's website at

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