That long awaited moment is finally here… your first night with puppy! Bringing a puppy into your family is an exciting and rewarding time. However, much like newborns, puppies are hard work too! Being prepared is key, so here’s our top tips on what to do the first night with a new puppy.
How to Prepare for your First Night with a New Puppy
Before you bring your new puppy home, there are some things you can do to prepare.
What to buy for your new puppy
You’d be surprised by how much a puppy needs! Here is our list of puppy essentials:
- Food and water bowls. These need to be puppy-safe, easy to clean, and sturdy.
- Puppy food. Speak to your breeder or shelter to find out what your puppy currently eats. As long as it’s a complete and balanced puppy diet, it’s a good idea to stick with what they know for the first couple of weeks. After this settling in period, speak with your veterinary team for advice on high-quality puppy diets.
- Collar and Leash. Make sure the collar is soft and ideally adjustable, since your puppy will grow pretty quickly! You should be able to fit two fingers between the collar and your puppy’s neck once fitted.
- Puppy crate and / or dog bed. A puppy crate is like a den or ‘bedroom’, where your puppy can feel safe. Remember to use your puppy’s predicted adult size as a guide when choosing your crate. A comfy, supportive bed will help your puppy to feel at home.
- Puppy training pads. There is a wide variety to choose from; including odor-control, adhesive, grass-like and washable. There will be plenty of accidents to begin with, so stock up! Poo bags for when they go outside are a must too.
- Grooming equipment. You will need a soft puppy brush; a mild puppy shampoo and a puppy toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Toys. Keep your puppy from chewing your belongings by providing them with plenty of toys of their own! Make sure they are puppy-safe and always monitor play. If the toys become damaged, replace them to avoid accidents.
- Insurance. Veterinary bills quickly add up. Insurance gives you peace of mind, should your puppy need unexpected veterinary treatment.
Preparing for your puppy’s first night
First things first, book the day off work! You will need to be at home for at least the first few days, to settle your puppy in.
- Set up your puppy’s area, or den. Choose where your puppy’s area will be. Ideally this needs to be a quiet place where they can feel safe, but not isolated.
- Puppy-proof your home. Puppies love to explore, especially with their mouths! Consider a stair gate to prevent falls and unsupervised adventures. Put all small items, chemicals, potentially toxic food, and plants well out of reach. Use cable ties or covers to prevent electrical accidents.
- Register with a veterinary clinic. Your puppy will need a veterinary health check within a few days of coming home, alongside any preventative care that they may be due. Keep the clinic’s number somewhere easily accessible, in case of concerns or emergencies.
What to Expect on the First Night with your Puppy
Your puppy will be just as excited as you about the first night in their new home! However, remember that this is their first night away from their Mum and siblings, so it is normal that they feel anxious too. Be prepared for some sleepless nights initially! Here’s our first night with new puppy tips.
What to do when you get your new puppy home
When your puppy first arrives, take them to relieve themselves before the excitement of coming indoors! Resist the temptation to introduce them to everything (and everyone) at once. Puppies can easily become overwhelmed and this may cause anxiety. Let your puppy explore, always supervised, at their own pace.
Build a routine
Having a consistent day time routine will help your puppy to learn when night time is. This takes time, so be patient! Try to feed, exercise and toilet your puppy around the same time each day.
Start potty training
Puppies are like babies, you can’t expect them to hold their bladder and bowel all night to begin with. You can train them to let you know they need to go, however. You will need to establish potty training in the day first, so be prepared for night time accidents while they learn.
Let your puppy out to toilet regularly through the day. Reward them with some fuss and a treat when they toilet in their designated ‘potty area’. Never tell them off if they toilet in the wrong place, since this may confuse them and make them anxious. It’s much more effective to reward good behaviours and ignore bad ones.
What to do for your puppy’s first night at home
Puppies need a lot of sleep! They will have play-sleep cycles through the day too, and it is important that you let them rest when they need it. Playing with or exercising your puppy in the evening can help to help tire them out for ‘bed-time’, but don’t over-do it!
Take your puppy out to toilet immediately before bed. You will also need to take them out every 2-3 hours through the night to start with, to help avoid accidents.
Decide beforehand where you want your puppy to sleep. Unless you are planning to co-sleep, don’t be tempted to comfort them by bringing them into your bed. This will quickly become a habit that is very hard to break. Trust me, I speak from experience here!
Some puppies settle at night straight away, while others can take a few weeks. It is likely that your puppy will cry at night initially, be re-assured that this is normal. Try to re-assure them in a calm, quiet voice without making too much fuss, or they might think it’s play time! When they need to go out during the night, keep them on a lead and put them straight back to bed after.
How to Set up a Puppy Crate
A puppy crate, or home-made den area, is a useful way to help your puppy to settle. Their crate needs to be an open-access space where they can feel safe. It should be away from direct sunlight and draughts. Never use the crate as a punishment, or your puppy will only start to avoid it.
You can make their crate homely by placing a comfy bed, a toy and some treats inside. You could consider a hot water bottle to warm the bed, or a heartbeat puppy toy. Be sure to remove these when your puppy is not supervised.
It is normal to feel anxious about your first night with puppy crate training. You can close the crate at night, but always make sure they have access to fresh water. Be prepared for some whimpering! Remember to set your alarm regularly, to allow your puppy to relieve themselves.
Common Issues and Our Solutions
Puppy crying at night
Puppies will whimper a little at night initially. Check they aren’t crying to be let out to toilet.
If your puppy is crying excessively, consider placing their crate next to your bed. Hearing your breathing and movement can provide comfort. It also means that you are on hand to re-assure them if needed. Once they settle, you can gradually move their crate further away from your bed.
Puppy barking in their crate
Your puppy must feel safe in their crate. Try feeding them in their crate and placing toys inside during the day. Close the door while they eat and open it immediately when they are finished. Gradually increase the time you close the door for, as they adapt.
Puppy peeing in their crate at night
Your puppy is not being naughty, spiteful or attention seeking! It’s as simple as puppies need to pee often! Accidents will happen. If they are frequent, try setting an alarm to take them out more regularly. Never restrict access to water to prevent accidents.
New puppy won’t eat
It isn’t uncommon that a puppy doesn’t want to eat straight away. They may feel a little anxious, or they may just be too busy exploring! Familiarity will help, so keep to the same food as the breeder or shelter initially. You could try adding a little warm water.
Most puppies will eat within the first 24 hours, if not then you must contact your veterinary clinic for advice.
Why is my new puppy breathing so fast?
A puppy’s normal breathing rate is a little faster than an adult dog. Puppies also tend to breathe fast when they are excited, nervous, exercising and sometimes even dreaming. If your puppy’s breathing settles between those times, they have plenty of energy and have no other symptoms, then it is likely that there is nothing to worry about.
However, there are some quite serious medical issues that can cause fast breathing in puppies, so if you are at all concerned then you should contact your veterinarian. Better to be safe than sorry!
Getting through the first night with a new puppy is certainly an adventure, for you both! Those first few weeks can present many challenges, but the reward is most definitely worth it. With preparation, you and your new puppy will soon settle into a routine together. Remember, all these things take time, so patience and positive re-enforcement are key!