Living with a Pug – Insight into the First Few Weeks with a new Pug Puppy

The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to Pugs" by David Anderson. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.

Author Credit: David Anderson

Everything is going to change the day your cute little Pug comes home with you. Years later, you will still remember just how things played out as your newest family member came barreling into your home like a little pack of personality on four legs. Like a jester, your Pug is usually going to be the center of attention whenever he is in the room, and nearly everyone will love playing with or cuddling up to such a charming little mischief-maker. Every puppy is a bundle of possibilities that requires a lifetime commitment from you to help the puppy reach his full potential.

That first week is critical to the development of your Pug as it helps to establish the dynamic in the home and to make the puppy begin to feel safe in a new environment. These are the early days of seeing your Pug reach his full potential. With all of the puppy-proofing already done, you now have the daunting task of assisting your little Pug in learning how to play, where to go to the bathroom, and finding out that the new home is a great place to live. This is when you really get to learn about the joys of having such a personable dog in your home.

Preparation and Planning

Just like you have to prepare your home and yard, you have some final tasks to do before your new puppy enters the home. You should start with completing a final check of your home to make sure everything is still secured. Everything should be set up for your puppy too. From the puppy area to food and toys, you should have everything set and ready for your puppy. Anything that you can do before the Pug’s arrival will help you to better enjoy your time together when he gets there so that you don’t have to try to do stuff on the fly—you are going to have to do that enough without leaving too many things to do for later. Start inspecting your home to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

Pug brindle
Photo Courtesy – Joseph Mallozzi

You should do one more inspection from the ground level in every room of the house and the garage. This should be done a few hours before the puppy arrives to make sure that all of the risks have been removed (habits can be difficult to break, so make sure everything is in order). Make sure everything is properly puppy-proofed.

During the final week before the puppy arrives, create a list of everything that your puppy needs for the first day. The following should help you get started:

  • Food
  • Bed
  • Crate
  • Toys
  • Water and food dishes
  • Leash
  • Collar
  • Treats

Verify that you have everything on the list out and ready for use before your Pug walks through the door. You don’t want to have to run out and buy them after the puppy is home, partly because you want those things readily available, and partly because you don’t want to miss time with your newest family member and want to get started establishing a routine.

If you plan to have a fence to keep the puppy penned into a specific area of the home, have the gate set up and verify that it cannot be knocked over or circumvented. Your Pug puppy is probably going to try to make a break for it if there are any weaknesses or holes in the fencing around his designated area because your Pug is likely to try to get out to stay with you as much as possible.

Set up a schedule for the puppy’s care. Know that the plans are going to change, but you need to have a starting point. This will ensure that people complete their assigned tasks and help to make your puppy feel safe—dogs prefer structure, so schedules are a great source of security for them. Tweak the schedule as it becomes clear that changes are needed, but try to keep it as close to the original schedule as possible. Having a schedule in place before the puppy arrives will make it a lot easier than if you try to establish something after the arrival. The Pug is going to have more than enough energy to keep you busy, making it difficult to make a plan after his arrival.

The schedule should include a bathroom break after every meal. There is a good chance your puppy will need to go then, and this will help establish where the right places are to use the bathroom.

pug silver
Photo Courtesy – Julie Bryan

Have a final meeting with all of the family members to make sure all of the rules are remembered and understood before the puppy is a distraction. Children will need special training in how to handle the puppy, and you are going to need to be very strict in making sure they aren’t too rough with the pup. Verify that your children understand that they are not allowed to play with the puppy unless there is an adult supervising them. Determine who is going to be responsible for primary puppy care, including who will be the primary trainer. To help teach younger children about responsibility, a parent can pair with a child to manage the puppy’s care. The child will be responsible for things like keeping the water bowl filled and feeding the puppy, and a parent can oversee the tasks.

Pug training happens from the moment your puppy is given into your care. The rules and hierarchy should start to be established from that first car ride home.

As tempting as it is to cuddle and try to make your Pug feel comfortable, you will need to put the Pug in a crate for the ride—you cannot start by making an exception. Your puppy is learning from the very beginning. Remember, this is a breed that has been living alongside humans for a very long time, and they know how to take cues from you. Anything that they can do to make you drop your guard and let them get away with stuff, they are going to use later. As difficult as it will be, you will need to be firm and consistent with your Pug puppy.

The Ride Home

Two adults should be present on the first trip. Ask the breeder if the puppy has been in a car before, and, if not, it is especially important to have someone who can give the puppy attention while the other person drives. The puppy will be in the crate, but someone can still provide comfort. It will definitely be scary because the puppy no longer has his mom, siblings, or known people around, so having someone present to talk to the puppy will make it a little less of an ordeal for the little guy. Pugs may not tend to lean toward being fearful dogs, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t get scared.

This is the time to start teaching your puppy that car trips are enjoyable. This means making sure that the crate is secure instead of being loose to be moved around during the drive. You really don’t want to terrify the puppy by letting the crate slide around while the puppy is inside it, sitting helplessly. This kind of jostling will teach your Pug that cars are terrifying instead of making him feel safe.

Digestive Issues

The first day to first week is likely to be difficult for your puppy, and for Pugs that often manifests as digestive issues. Your puppy may have diarrhea or constipation, which will make him cry more. This is normal for the first day, but consult the breeder if you have concerns. If it lasts for a couple of days, ask your vet during the first visit to make sure everything is all right.

First-Night Frights

That first night is going to be incredibly scary to your little Pug puppy. Away from mommy and any siblings, as well as the humans the puppy has come to know at the old home, it is understandable if the puppy is terrified. As understandable as this may be, there is only so much comfort you can give your new family member. Just like with a baby, the more you respond to cries and whimpering, the more you are teaching a puppy that negative behaviors will provide the desired results. You will need to be prepared for a balancing act to provide reassurance that things will be all right and also keep your puppy from learning that crying gets your attention.

pug faceYou should have a sleeping area established for the puppy prior to the arrival. It should include a bed, and probably a crate or pen. The entire area should be blocked off so that no one can get into it (and the puppy cannot get out) during the night. It should also be close to where people sleep so that the puppy does not feel abandoned.

Things like sounds may attract your puppy’s attention, and those unfamiliar sounds can be scary. If you can minimize the number of noises, this could help make the first night a little less terrifying. These noises may not be as noticeable to you, but dogs have a much better sense of hearing.

To make things a little more familiar, you could also request that something that smells like the mother be provided. The best way to get an item that smells familiar is for you to send a blanket along that the breeder can place with the mother for a few days before the puppy comes home. The blanket can then also travel with the puppy in the car on the way to your place.

Your puppy is certainly going to make noises over the course of the night, and you cannot think of them as an inconvenience (no matter how tired you are). The puppy is sad and scared, so you will just need to endure it. Do not move the puppy away from you, even if the whimpering keeps you awake. Being moved away from people will only scare the puppy more, reinforcing the anxiety and fear of your home. Doing this on the first night will make the wrong impression, starting things off on the wrong footing. Over time, simply being close to you at night will be enough to reassure your puppy that everything will be all right.

Not getting much sleep should be something you expect during that first week or so (just like with an infant), but especially that first night. Make sure you don’t have work or anything pressing the next day so that the lack of sleep isn’t too disruptive. Losing sleep is part of the deal of bringing a puppy into your home. Fortunately, it doesn’t take as long to get a puppy acclimated as it takes with a human infant, so your normal schedule can resume more quickly.

You will need to learn to ignore the whining, but that will get easier over time so that the puppy doesn’t learn to do this every night. If you give in, over time, the whimpering, whining, and crying will get louder. Spare yourself the trouble later by teaching the puppy that it won’t work.

Do not let your puppy into your bed that first night—or any other night until he is fully house-trained. Once a Pug learns that the bed is accessible, you cannot train him not to hop on it. If he is not house-trained, you are going to need a new bed in the very near future.

The last thing that is going to cut into your sleep is the need for regular bathroom breaks. You can set up something in the puppy’s space, or you can plan for trips outside every few hours (depending on how you plan to train your puppy). Whatever house-training path you use, you are going to need to keep to a schedule even during the night to train your puppy where to use the bathroom. Puppies will need to go to the bathroom every two to three hours, and you will need to get up during the night to make sure he understands that he is always to go to the bathroom either outside or on the wee pad. If you let it go at night, you are going to have a difficult time training him that he cannot go in the house later.

First Vet Visit

pug in carrier
Photo Courtesy – Kirsten O’Steen Faulkner

This is going to be a difficult task because you may feel a bit like you are betraying your puppy (especially with the looks your puppy will give you during shots and the following visits to the vet). However, it is necessary to do this within the first day or two of your puppy’s arrival. You need to establish a baseline for the puppy’s health so that the vet can track progress and monitor the puppy to ensure everything is going well as the Pug develops and ages. It also creates a rapport between the Pug and the vet, which can help too. The initial assessment gives you more information about your puppy, as well as giving you a chance to ask the vet questions and get advice.

It is certain to be an emotional trip for your Pug, although it could be exciting in the beginning. Wanting to explore and greet everyone and everything is going to be something that your puppy is very likely to want to do. Both people and other pets are likely to attract your puppy’s attention. This is a chance for you to work on socializing the puppy, though you will need to be careful. Always ask the person if it is all right for your puppy to meet any other pet, and wait for approval before letting your puppy move forward with meeting other animals. Pets at the vet’s office are very likely to not be feeling great, which means they may not be very affable. You don’t want a grumpy older dog or a sick animal to nip, hurt, or scare your puppy. Nor do you want your puppy to be exposed to anything potentially dangerous while still going through the shots. You want the other animal to be happy about the meeting (though not too excited) so that it is a positive experience for your puppy.

Having a positive first experience with other animals can make the visit to see the vet less of a scary experience, and something that your Pug can enjoy, at least a little. This can help your puppy feel more at ease during the visits.

The Start of Training

Your Pug’s training begins the moment your puppy enters your car or your home, and it will continue for most of your Pug’s life. The first few weeks will have some more intense training as you are teaching the basics, and this will serve as the foundation for all other training.  The focus during these first few weeks is to minimize undesirable behavior.


Some Pugs are quiet; others are rather vocal. If you want your Pug to be less vocal about everything, you must start during that first week when your puppy barks. It will probably mean a few extra treats, but that is how you will teach your Pug what “quiet” means. However, avoid giving your puppy treats during the first week. There are good odds that his tummy will be a little upset; don’t compound that by giving him extra food. Your puppy will also be noisy when trying to get your attention, so you will be training yourself to react in a certain way to the noises as well.

The Leash

Leash training will probably be pretty easy since your Pug will be excited about anything that you want to do together. The training is actually just as much for you as for the puppy. You do not want to get used to dragging the puppy away from things that the Pug is sniffing. You will need to start finding ways to keep your puppy walking without being too forceful.

Given how excitable Pugs are, many breeders recommend that Pugs be trained to walk with harnesses. Your pup probably has not used one before, so there may be a learning period when he has to get accustomed to using a harness instead of being able to move around freely like he does at home (his boundaries are marked by walls, doors, and gates, not something on his little body). Don’t drag your puppy because that will make your puppy dislike walks. Instead, you can let the little puppy explore parts of your house while being supervised and wearing the leash. You will need to keep an eye on your puppy the entire time that you let him drag the leash around so that he doesn’t get hurt or choked.

Teaching Respect

Respect is a part of training, even for a dog as affable as the Pug. Whatever behavior you teach now will be lessons that your Pug carries forward. You want to teach your puppy to respect you without fearing you. Consistency is the best way to do that. Do not make exceptions during the first week because you will be fighting that lesson essentially for the rest of your Pug’s life.

Grooming – They Are Constantly Shedding; Get Used to Regular Grooming

They may be small in the beginning and their hair short, but Pugs are an unexpectedly prolific shedding breed. Their fur will get into everything, including your food, shower, containers, toothbrushes, and nearly anything else in your home or car. You will love your Pug, which means you will get acclimated to it. Just be aware that you are in for a lot of fur everywhere.

One thing you can do to reduce the amount of fuzz around your place is to make time to brush your Pug often. If you want to make it a daily task, your Pug will love it, and you will have fewer fur tumbleweeds rolling around your home.

To read more from "The Complete Guide to Pugs" by David Anderson, or purchase on Amazon, visit the link below:

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