Start by remembering that everything’s new to your puppy. Everything will be a first for them. They don’t know your home. They will be away from their mother, brothers and sisters for the first time. There will be new people, new smells and new sounds in your house that your puppy hasn’t experienced before.
Follow these steps to ensure your puppy’s first night at home is an easy transition for you and your puppy.
Set up your puppy’s crate
Puppies like small, confined spaces when they are feeling insecure. And we cannot stress enough the importance of crate training your new puppy.
Your puppy’s crate must be big enough for them to stand up, stretch, turn around and lie down. Crates can be made of plastic, wire (which are collapsible) or fabric.
A puppy’s crate should be their safe space or security blanket. Outfit their crate with a soft bed or blankets.
Having a crate for your new puppy will teach them the boundaries of the house and keep them safe.
Traveling in the car, visiting the vet or keeping your puppy settled after an injury or surgery, is so much easier if your puppy is crate trained. We’ve written another blog about the secrets to crate training which you can read by clicking here.
Puppy’s first night
For the first 2 to 3 weeks, keep your puppy in their crate but raised next to your bed at night. You may need to put their crate on a sturdy chair, so your puppy’s crate is the height of your bed and they can see you.
You want to be able to reach out and comfort your puppy during the night, but don’t let them out of their crate. If they are having trouble settling, try giving them a stuffed dog toy to snuggle with.
Don’t let them sleep in your bed with you, unless you’re happy for them to sleep there for the rest of their life. If you let them sleep in your bed, it will form a habit that will be incredibly hard to break later. But if you’re happy for them to sleep in the bed with you – then go for it!
By keeping them in their crate next to you, they’ll feel secure in their own space and you can sleep knowing they aren’t causing mischief.
Every puppy is different. Some puppies will settle quickly. Others will need more time. If you’re puppy is settling okay at night, then after a few weeks you can start moving their crate further away from your bedside.
Take toilet breaks
Your puppy will need to be taken outside frequently during the night and early in the morning to go to the toilet. Set an alarm at least twice to remind you to take them out during the night for toilet breaks, before they let you know. You don’t want them whining or barking to let you know that they need to go to the toilet.
After they have been to the toilet, put them straight back in their crate. Don’t give them any treats or play with them. Put them back in their crate straight away and they should go back to sleep quickly.
What if your puppy is whining or barking?
If your puppy is whining, crying or barking during the night, it’s important to leave then in their crate and reach out to them and comfort them. But don’t let them out of their crate.
We know, this is hard. But you must be comforting, consistent and patient. It’s important that you make their first few nights as stress-free as possible. Maybe they’re not settling because their crate has been moved away from your bed too soon.
Let’s be honest. The first few days with your puppy may be challenging. If possible, take a couple of days off work. If you can’t, then bring your puppy home at the beginning of the weekend.
Make your puppy’s first few days at home very quiet. Don’t bring them home during busy times like birthdays and holidays. The noise and confusion will frighten them and overwhelm them. Plus, you’ll be too busy with other things to spend time with your puppy and help them become comfortable in their new home.
Being there as much as you can in the beginning will strengthen your bond with your puppy. It will also give you time to get them used to spending time on their own, slowly.
Above all, have fun with your new puppy – puppies are so much fun and bring so much joy. Make sure you enjoy this special time!
Do you need more help settling your puppy into your new home? At Fur Get Me Not, we offer basic puppy training classes through our puppy school and puppy playgroups. We also offer private or one-on-one training. Click here to contact us. We’d love to help you and your puppy settle into your new life together.