How to survive your puppy’s first night at home?
Getting a new puppy is truly one of life’s greatest moments. Who could resist those adorable eyes, constantly wagging tail, floppy ears, the whining and crying on the first night….. did I just say crying?! Yes, many puppies struggle with the first night in their new homes, as it is all unfamiliar and they are no longer with their mum and siblings. As a result, the first few nights can be very stressful for both puppy and human. Your puppy will feel lonely and will probably demonstrate this by whining.
However, it doesn’t have to be! In this article we share with you some helpful tips that should make it more enjoyable.
You want to get the first day right, as it plays a part on how easy (or not) the night will be.
- Keep it all calm
Your house will be full of new smells, sounds, people, which is stressful. However, by keeping it all calm you can massively reduce your pup’s anxiety. If you have children, talk to them about trying to be calm and letting the puppy make friends at his pace.
- Show them your garden
As soon as you get home, take your little fluff-ball outside as he will likely need to go to the toilet and you can show him where you’d like him to regularly go. Start using a command that you want him to associate with relieving himself. Give him 10-15 minutes.
- The right sized sleeping area
Whether you decide to use a crate or bed or both make sure it is nice and snug. With regards to crates, it’s wise to get a big one which will suit your adult dog but opt for one that can be adjusted to a smaller size. You don’t want a big crate as then the puppy would use one corner of it as a toilet. Put either some soft blankets in it or use a dog bed so that your puppy can be cozy. Some soft, cuddly toys should also be placed in the crate. Our favourite is the Polar Bear, which is super-soft and cute and of a good size.
- The best place for the sleeping area
Many people will say that the right area would be your bedroom. Personally, I disagree unless you are willing to let your dog ALWAYS sleep in your bedroom. If not, then do not start there as after a few weeks you would have to introduce your puppy to a new situation, which is stressful. If you are OK with your puppy sleeping in your bedroom for the rest of his life, then go ahead but do not let your puppy go to bed with you as that will form an undesirable habit. (N.B. you might be single and think it is OK for your puppy to be in your bedroom, but you will eventually have a partner who might not like the idea but it will be very tricky to get your dog out of the bedroom if he always slept there)
Another reason why I’m not a fan of dogs in the bedroom is that I believe that dogs in general sleep sounder if not in the close presence of their humans as with any movement or noise we make in the night we can alert our dogs.
Choose a warm area in your house that you will be happy for your dog to sleep for the rest of his life. We’ve always had the crate next to the radiator in the dining room, which is under our bedroom so we could listen out to sounds and intervene if necessary.
If your puppy whines, barks or cries certainly offer some assurance that someone is about and they are not isolated. However, there is a fine line between being there for your puppy to see or becoming your puppy’s sleep comforter.
Ensure puppy has had some mental stimulation and company throughout the day as well as the advised amount of physical exercise for your puppy’s age.
- Give your puppy a stuffed dog toy to snuggle with. If you can you could introduce your puppy to a toy whilst he is with his littermates and get all the familiar smells on it and use this in his crate. However, bear in mind that sosme dogs might start chewing it. Personally I find that bigger, softer toys, which can be used as a pillow work best for puppies. For this reason we love the Hugglehounds Snoozie or the Polar Bear toy as both are super-comforting.
Some people opt to get up and take their puppy outside for toilet breaks. If you decide to do this, be prepared to do it two or three times a night! Once back inside, just put him back in the crate, without any fuss, play or treats. Do not lock the crate as puppies are unable to hold the urge to relieve themselves until they are about 5-6 months old.
Another option is to put down newspapers or cardboard near the crate, which your puppy can use. Personally, this is what I have always done until my dogs were 6 months old. Over the months there will be less and less mess but be prepared for a lot initially. Puppy-pads are a debatable subject and personally I think using newspaper or cardboard is much better (and cheaper).
- Water bowls
Some crates have water-bowls, which clip onto the crate, if yours is like that just put some water in it. If not just leave a bowl out for your puppy should he get thirsty at night. (In my experience, most dogs don’t drink at night at all, just like we don’t either. Night-time is for sleep)
- The very fist night
To begin with, toilet your puppy and then supply some peanut butter spread on a lickpad or a final biscuit, say ‘Night-night’ quietly and leave the room. You may hear a few cries, whines or attention barks. As long as all your puppy’s needs are being met, I would leave puppy for a few minutes, if after that amount of time your puppy is still being noisy then I would go down to puppy and open the door a little and say ‘shush’ quietly with not actually entering the room then leave again. You may have to repeat but I have found this the most effective way. This should then only take 1-3 nights for things to settle down
In the morning do not make a big fuss when re-entering the room, calmly let your puppy out of the crate and take out to toilet. Bring your puppy back in and clear up any overnight mess and feed your puppy breakfast then take your puppy out again for another toilet and play time.
In the daytime do not leave your young puppy for more than 2 hours in the crate (ideally much less) at any one time. When you need to put your puppy in the crate whilst you are out or doing some jobs around the house, put a lickpad with peanut butter in for him or some little treats like sprats or fish sticks (both are totally safe options)so that he can chew and lick, which will keep him busy as well as reduce his anxiety. Ensure your puppy has plenty of interaction with you inside and outside the home when they are not resting. The crate is for sleeping, chilling out and learning some independence from you. If overused for long periods, it will become an area of dislike and this in when anxiety starts to set in as your puppy is lonely and bored.
Don’t forget every dog is different and you might have to slightly adjust the above. If you have another dog, the first few nights are likely to be a lot easier.
The above tips should definitely help but don’t forget the most important things are patience and consistency!