Steps to take when bringing home a new puppy

  • A puppy at Heroes Boarding & Training in South Deerfield.

  • Heroes Boarding and Training in South Deerfield.

  • A puppy at Heroes Boarding & Training in South Deerfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Heroes Boarding and Training in South Deerfield.

  • Heroes Boarding and Training in South Deerfield.

  • A puppy is introduced to unique surfaces at Heroes Boarding & Training in South Deerfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Macy gets used to being in a crate at Heroes Boarding & Training. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Macy gets trained on a balance board developing her coordination and getting her used to different surfaces at Heroes Boarding & Training. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Colleen Campbell of Heroes Boarding & Training in South Deerfield with Macy, whom she is training. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Colleen Campbell gets Macy, right, used to other dogs as she introduces Lilly, left, and Apollo at Heroes Boarding & Training.. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

For the Recorder
Published: 2/23/2021 8:36:08 AM

Most of us would cherish a new puppy, but what can we do to make them and those around us happier? When we bring a new puppy into our home, there are similar challenges as when we have a toddler in our home, noted Colleen Campbell, owner and trainer at Heroes Boarding & Training in South Deerfield. Campbell offered a number of tips and guidelines to help you bond with your puppy and lessen damage to your home.

Introduction and selection of your new puppy

First, Campbell suggests you introduce the puppy to any children in the home ahead of time.

“Children act and sound different than adults to dogs. Without a slow introduction, the dog can get freaked out,” she said. Part of selecting the family dog, especially if you have children, has to do with their personality.

“Don’t pick the first dog that comes charging at you or the one hanging back in the corner. Go for the middle. A dog that is easy going and doesn’t seem to be easily bothered by loud noises,” said Campbell. She added if the dog is in a shelter, to watch to see if it lunges at other animals, especially cats.

“You need to watch for this behavior if you have other small fuzzy critters in your home,” she said. 

The first few weeks in the puppy’s new home

Campbell said puppies learn the most during the period between eight and 12 weeks old.

“The first few nights can be rough. They will have accidents and they will cry, just like a child,” she said, adding they may miss their mom or siblings. Campbell said the amount of time it takes for a new puppy to adjust to being in your home varies depending on the owner and the dog.

“It can take a week or two, but some take longer, even months. The biggest thing you can do to help them adjust is to be patient and let them know consistently they are safe,” said Campbell.

Keeping the puppy close to you initially is important to help lessen accidents, damage to your home, or an injury to the puppy. Campbell suggests when the puppy is not crated, to keep them on a 6-foot leash in the house.

Puppies take a while to learn to hold their bladder and bowels. Initially, Campbell said they can usually only manage a couple of hours when they are two to three months old. As they grow older and become more accustomed to signaling to go out, they learn to hold on for several hours, Campbell said. She added that you need to expect to be up in the middle of the night those first few weeks to lessen accidents.

Campbell said another good way to help the puppy adjust is to “give them a job. Begin to teach them to sit, stay, lay down, etc. Play games with them.” Campbell said it’s helpful to understand the way dogs learn.

“They don’t generalize. They have to learn new things in different locations,” she said. For example, if you teach your dog to sit in the living room and then ask them to do the same thing in the back yard, they won’t know what you are asking them to do, she said.


“Crating, done correctly, is very beneficial for the dog. Don’t think of it as a cage. Think of it as a playpen,” said Campbell. Crating allows the dog to have a safe place to hang out, rest, or have a snack, she said.

“If you have to take a shower or go out for a couple of hours, then they are safe,” she said. Campbell said it is also good to have chew toys in the crate and to be aware the size fits the dog.

“You don’t want the crate to be too small, but you don’t want it to be so big they have a corner to go off and pee in. Once they are older, you can get as big of a crate as you want,” Campbell said. She noted you don’t want a puppy wandering the house as they can chew wires or eat something poisonous.

“Crating a puppy also helps with housebreaking. It gives the puppy structure,” she said. Crating in another room can also help with separation issues. “With people being home so much more during the pandemic, the puppy may be with their people all the time. When we get back to more normalcy, it may be hard for the dog.”

Setting up your home for the puppy

“Just like a toddler, think about what is going to be within reach of the puppy. Cover wires and put items you don’t want chewed out of reach,” said Campbell.

Again, it’s also good to have the puppy on a leash indoors so they can’t “sneak around a corner and pee,” she said.

Campbell said it can take up to eight months to housebreak a dog. In terms of timing for the dog to relieve themselves, she said the best time to take them outside is right after they eat, about 20 minutes after playtime, the last thing before bed and first thing in the morning. Campbell said while “pee pads” are sometimes helpful, they are more often shredded by the dog.

“Puppies pee and poop everywhere, so prepare yourself,” she said.

Puppy enrichment — brain games and fun

“My mentor taught me a tired dog is a good dog. An exhausted dog is an excellent dog,” said Campbell. She said it is important to set up mental and physical challenges for your dog to break boredom and to help them learn new things.

Campbell often posts training ideas and videos on the Heroes Boarding and Training Facebook page. She offered a few ideas such as having the dog walk on different surfaces.

“Sometimes, dogs have a hard time moving from one surface to another, even flooring to carpet,” she said. She suggested having the dog walk across pallets as dogs don’t like the spaces on them, or transitioning from grass to gravel.

She suggested introducing stability pillows and structures such as those people use for yoga for the dog to balance on.

“It’s good for their brain and core,” Campbell said. She also suggested puzzle toys and “snuffle mats,” which teach a puppy to find treats in a mat that has pockets to hide the treats.

“The snuffle mats are really good for anxious dogs. It gives them something to focus on,” she said.

For more information, call Heroes Boarding and Training, 413-397-9792.

Cris Carl is an avid local gardener, licensed therapist and certified herbalist. She is an experienced journalist who has written for the Recorder for many years. You can reach her at


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