Introduction

The first thing you must do before bringing your puppy home is to make the place safe for and from him. Puppies are wonderful, but unsupervised in a normal home, they can wreck havoc way out of proportion to their size. To ensure minimal damage to your home and maximum safety for your puppy, a few changes will be needed. This is very similar to making a house safe for a crawling infant - which, after all, it what your puppy is.

Your new puppy is probably between nine and 16 weeks old. Much before eight weeks, the puppy is not ready to be separated from his mother. By 15 weeks, the breeder has made their guesses about the show potential of the puppies and knows what type of home they should be destined for.

Your puppy is used to a warm and comforting environment. Your first contact not only will make him feel more secure, but will make your smell and touch something your new dog wants.
You should bring an old blanket or other large, soft cloth with you to hold the puppy.  Generally, after a period of excitedly looking around, the puppy will calm down and fall asleep -- something they spend much time doing.

Crating

Dogs like an area that's their own. Most breeders have found that a dog crate is ideal for giving the puppy a sense of security in his new surroundings and a place to retreat when tired. An open crate in a dog-proof room is a good place to keep the dog when you are out of the house for a few hours and can't supervise him - he'll get used to having the crate ready for a snooze and won't object to being in it when the door is closed. Don't feel that your dog won't like to be crated - he'll feel its home to him and be more secure there than roaming around.
When You leave for work, just tell your dog to get in the crate and then calmly walk away from wherever they are to where the crate is. Of course, you should make this pleasant for them by rewarding them (with praise or a tidbit) when they do this and by making sure toys and water were in the crate to take care of their needs. Never use being put in the crate as a punishment, although if the dog needs to be settled-down, you can use it as a pleasant (for you and the dog) "time out" space.

If you don't plan to get graduated size crates for your puppy, a crate about 24" wide by 36" long by 24" high should be big enough for a large, mature Bulldog. You want a space that is big enough for him to stretch out, but small enough to make your puppy secure. Buy several rubber backed bathroom mats to use as crate mats. They can be either used alone or topped with an old blanket if you want additional padding. The blankets alone will not provide good footing - they have a tendency to slide in the crates. The mats can be washed frequently to reduce doggy odors and to ensure a flea free environment.

For the first few days, the crate should be in your bedroom to give the puppy company at night and increase his sense of security. Depending on his age, you can place a clock in his crate to suggest the sound of his mother's heartbeat (just remember to turn the alarm off) or can put a warm (not too hot) water bottle or plastic jug under the mats at one end of the crate to create the sense of warmth from other bodies. Some use puppy crates that can open from the top and put them next to the bed. That way you can leave your hand draped inside or reach in to quiet the dog. It soothes them and does not lead to dependence if you don't continue the practice more than a few days.

After that, you can decide where you want him to sleep. Make sure his crate is in a room that can be closed off until he's very reliable. If there is too much commotion in the room with the crate, you can cover the top and sides with a cloth, provided there is enough air circulation and the dog won't overheat in the crate. If it gets warm, be sure that the air-conditioning is on or a fan it circulating the air.

Food and Water

Water should always be available for the dog, either in the crate whenever he is confined or in the room. When it's warm, place ice cubes in his water. It keeps the water supply cool on hot days and lets him chew the ice cubes to cool off, if he wants to. They make special bowls for water in crates. Large, heavy, flat bottomed bowls are best outside the crate - they are less likely to spill and will be easy for your dog to drink from comfortably. Toys also should be available always - they like variety and need to chew.

Food and water should always be placed in the same spot in the room where you feed him. It's less confusing for him and he can establish good eating patterns. Imagine how hard it would be for you if someone kept changing where the dinner table was.

Your puppy may not be as interested in food as he is normally during his first day or two with you. He's nervous and excited - that's a normal reaction to a major change in his life and surroundings. Be patient with him and try priming his eating by giving him small tidbits of chicken or meat (really small is fine - you want to prime him, not have him teach you to hand feed him). Mix some tidbits into his food and then put two tablespoons on the top near the edge of the bowl. Hand feed him a piece he can see you take from the pile in the bowl and feed him over the pile in the bowl so he makes the connection immediately. Getting him to start this way should be easy and he should be eating normally in a day or two. Try not to do distracting things while he's eating during this period. In a short while, you can go about your business when he's eating and he won't even notice.

Puppy's Room

You should set aside an area where the puppy can be left alone without damage to himself or your home. If you can't do this, then you should consider an older dog. You should be able to close off the room with a puppy gate or door. Dutch doors are very effective - you can look in, air can circulate, but the puppy is contained.

For most people, the ideal puppy-proof room is the kitchen or spare room. Ideally, the room should have linoleum or tile floor (accidents will happen and the easier to clean up, the better). However, the floor should not be slippery. A slippery floor could cause your dog to injure himself.

Puppies chew anything that catches their attention. All electrical outlets, cords and plugs should be out of reach. Child proof plugs can be inserted into unused outlets. All floor level outlets should be blocked by something. Any furniture in the room should be considered expendable - it will be usable after the puppy is grown, but its edges may be battered. It's clearly not a place for your favorite antiques, heirlooms, or breakable china.

Bitter Apple is a fairly effective short term deterrent to chewing. It tastes awful (although we have had dogs who liked the taste), but it wears off quickly. The liquid kind can temporarily change the color of wooden furniture; there is a cream for that purpose. However, the best way to avoid damage to furniture is to keep the furniture and the puppy apart unless you are there to supervise and correct misbehavior.

Anything the puppy can carry and chew should be removed from the puppy's reach - books, magazines, and shoes seem especially tasty. The contents of open or openable (even if that means chewing through a box) household supplies, laundry hampers, or garbage pails can provide endless hours of entertainment for your puppy - or can poison or kill him. Remember, it's just like guarding your home from a curious, inquisitive and impish child.

Assume that the puppy will find a way to pull down or topple anything he is interested in. Blankets, towels, long tablecloths (and anything that was on them) will wind up on the floor. They will chew pillows and scatter foam or feathers everywhere. This stage is usually temporary (some dogs seem to get stuck here), but every dog does go through it for some period before maturation and training have their effect.

The House

Your puppy should not roam free unless you're there to supervise. While you don't have to go to extremes to puppy-proof every room, you should make sure there are nothing breakable or chewable at his eye level.

Remember, it's just like child-proofing, except his tastes are more exotic. Everything he notices will wind up in his mouth at some point. Don't leave shoes lying around and be compulsive about picking up coins, screws, bottle caps, etc. You will be amazed by the variety of things you wind up taking out of your puppy's mouth . Some dogs love to pick up pebbles outside and bring them in to chew. Sometimes you won't be sure if the sound from his cheeks was a pebble or his brain rattling around.

Decide before he arrives about your rules about dogs on furniture. Make sure that every family member and guest enforces the rules consistently. He can't be blamed for not learning rules which change from person to person. If you decide to allow the dog on furniture, you will find sturdy, earth toned, patterned fabrics stand up best.

There's no right or wrong about this issue (but it's hard to resist their pleas to cuddle in your lap when you're sitting on a chair or couch), just decide what makes you comfortable and be consistent. You need to make the same decision about your bed. the rules are yours to enforce -- dogs can be allowed on furniture, but not on the bed, or whatever combination you want. Just be consistent in your rules.

Stairs and pools pose major safety hazards. Puppies have no sense of their own capabilities and no fear of falling. They will step off a step and roll or tumble down the rest of the stairs or step into a pool that's too deep and take an unplanned swim. Your dog can permanently injure or kill himself this way.

To the extent possible, stairs should be blocked off until the puppy has learned to climb safely up and down the stairs under your supervision. Some people put gates or doors at the top of all stairways - either full doors or half doors - to prevent accidental falls. Bulldogs have heavier front ends than hindquarters. This can cause them to overbalance and fall (going down stairs or into a pool, for example) until they get a good sense of balance and how to move all their parts together. This takes learning and time. Be sure to supervise your puppy inside and outside to prevent accidents.

Bulldogs can swim. However, if they can't get out of a pool by themselves, they can easily drown. The same precautions need to be taken around pools for dogs as for young children. Secure gates and fences are critical. Many bulldogs love water. People put small kiddy wading pools in their yards in the summer to provide a place for the dogs to cool off and play.