Before you bring Puppy home you need to make sure your house is puppy-proofed. This is similar to child-proofing; pick up all things Puppy can get a hold of and destroy, and cover any sharp edges or outlets. Hopefully, you'll take my advice from the previous chapter and have a designated areas for Puppy. I recommend one area where all the action is, like the living room, and a separate long-term sleeping quarters, like your bedroom or wherever you'd like Puppy to sleep through the night. It's much easier to puppy-proof if there are limited areas the puppy can be! If you're going to block off one room for the puppy, make sure he can't get ahold of any shoes, cords, rugs, or anything you don't want ruined or that will harm him.
Fantastic! Now that your house is puppy-proofed, let's get into bringing the baby home. My first few weeks with Tesla were all about socializing, training and playing! Remember the first few days are a little rough, but IT WILL get better. Here are some things you'll want to accomplish in your first couple weeks with your new fur baby.
Potty schedule is #1. Make sure your puppy is going out after a nap, after eating, and/or every 2 hours. See this post for more in depth potty training info.
Socializing is #2. You'll want to be careful where you take your puppy until he's had all of his vaccinations, but don't let that scare you into not socializing him. I suggest taking a puppy class, because all puppies are required to be current on their vaccinations. You can also allow Puppy to meet other dogs you know and trust aren't carrying diseases.
You want to socialize your puppy to as many things as possible and to as many situations as possible. For example, car rides, children playing, television, livestock noise and smell, and as may different people as possible! You want this all to be a positive experience. If your puppy barks or tries to run away, get out the treats and toys and increase your distance. Don't force the puppy up to someone or something if he's not comfortable. Just relax, give him time and lots of treats and praise. Most puppies will come around, some may take longer than others. If it's something really scary like the vacuum cleaner, I suggest start vacuuming in the next room with the door closed to start, then slowly expose your puppy to what they can handle.
Playing and rules is #3. There should be rules of the house. First rule is to potty outside. From there, you can make up whatever other rules you want (like no dogs on the furniture or in the kitchen for example) just be crystal clear on these rules. Please don't let your puppy get away with bad behaviors because he's cute and little. He's not going to stay cute and little and that behavior you thought was cute will become a nightmare to fix in the future. It's easier to prevent than to retrain.
I highly recommend you play games with your puppy. Like tug o war or fetch. These are great games to bond with your new dog and drain some energy. Just like with life, there should be rules to the game. You can make them up, but I suggest not letting Puppy get overexcited. If he bites you or can no longer listen to instruction it's time to stop the game. If you let Puppy get to level 10 overstimulation every time he plays, he will continue to that into adulthood and it will become impossible to play an enjoyable game together. See my post for tug o war here and here.
Correcting naughty behavior. If your puppy does something undesirable the natural response is to get upset and scold him. It is what we do with human children. The difference between human children and puppies is that we can communicate through words and rationale to children, we can't do that with puppies. Take a moment everyday to remind yourself that your puppy doesn't know what you want. He doesn't speak your language yet and he cannot read your mind. You have to teach him how you want him to behave. For example: you find puppy chewing on your shoe. I think the normal person's reflex is to grab the shoe and scold the puppy firmly "No! Bad puppy! No shoe!". The puppy will learn 2 things from this scenario, 1 that you're taking something away from him and, 2 you're unpredictable and scary. He has no idea why you're yelling at him. What you should do instead: take a toy or treat and offer that as a trade. It's your fault the shoe was within reach. If you trade Puppy for something appropriate to chew on, you're teaching him that when you take something away you're going to give him something good (The best defense against resource guarding!!) and you're giving him something that IS appropriate to chew on. "I'd rather you chew on this". If Puppy keeps getting into trouble consider limiting the area he has access to, as well as adding lots of good play time to wear him out.
The first couple of weeks is critical when you bring Puppy home because you're building the foundation for his social skills and house manners. This doesn't mean your puppy needs to be on lockdown, just be gentle and firm when establishing the rules and train Puppy what you want him to do instead of punishing him for everything he does wrong. Because he will do a lot of things wrong and there's only one way to do it right.