Surviving the First Night with Your Puppy

  You just brought your little bundle of puppy fur home, and now it’s time for the fun to begin. Well, sort of. Sometimes there’s fun to be had the first night you spend with your new puppy, but you have quite a lot to do that often involves more work than play. All that work will pay off, though, helping your pup to have a positive start to his new life as your buddy.


The first night home with your new puppy can be a trying experience for both of you. It’s the first time your puppy has spent the night away from his mother and littermates. Because dogs are pack animals, your puppy knows instinctively that being separated from the pack is dangerous. Whining and crying at night is your puppy’s way of calling for his pack to find him. Of course it does nothing to comfort you.
  With a little preparation and patience, you can make the most of the first night with your puppy.
  From an evolutionary point of view – that is, all of the traits that began when dogs were still wild and continue because they have helped to keep the dog species alive – a vulnerable puppy that is separated from his family is at risk of being attacked and killed by predators. In order to discourage his mother from leaving him for long periods, he cries and carries on, resulting in her staying close in order to keep him quiet and therefore ensuring his survival. 
  On this first night, the puppy is going to feel his new aloneness most keenly. A lot of people will respond to the whines and squeals of a puppy by placing them far from earshot, such as in a basement or garage. Or, the puppy may be placed in a cage to keep him from escaping and scratching at doors. In such a situation his sense of insecurity increases and he will whine and squeal as loudly as he can, perhaps until dawn.

Everything’s New…Everything’s a First


  First things first…We are informed that up to this point your puppy has been with his mother and his littermates in a sterile environment. It’s advised that your puppy’s first week at home should be a quiet one. The puppy should be allowed to explore and meet his new family. You should now start teaching the puppy his name . When you first arrive home give your puppy a chance to relieve itself in an area you have designated for that purpose .

  Take your puppy out on leash. Allow your puppy 10-15 minutes, if he hasn’t relieved, take him inside. Try again in 10 minutes. If the puppy does relieve itself in the proper area, give him lots of praise. Then let him explore the house (remember to supervise – don’t let him out of your sight). Afterwards your may take it inside, but remember to supervise the puppy; do not let it out of your sight. Talk to the puppy when it explores to make it feel more at home.


Security, Not Coddling
  The first thing to consider is making a place where the puppy will not feel isolated. This can be a challenge, of course. Some people feel comfortable keeping their dogs in the bedroom on a dog bed or designated blanket on the floor. This can be good for giving the puppy a much needed sense of security. However, it’s probably best if you do not take the puppy into bed with you.
  Despite this, there are those who feel very comfortable with taking their pets into their beds and allowing them to sleep there every night. In fact, this practice has its own practical applications: dogs are a wonderful source of warmth on frigid winter nights.

  Not everyone wants a dog in their bed all the time, and if you are not sure whether you will or not, it is best not to. If you do take the puppy into your bed just to comfort him, it can lead to some behavioral problems later if you should decide that you do not want the dog in your bed every night after all.

Tips for first night
Keep your puppy on his accustomed food. It’s fine to switch him to a new food in a few days, as long as you do it gradually, but the first night isn’t the moment to start changing his food. He might not even eat the first night, and if he does, he’s way better off eating something familiar.
Toss a few toys onto the floor. Squeakers, balls, ropes and such help your puppy feel more comfortable in his new home. They keep him busy, especially if he’s teething and in the mood to sink his teeth into something.
Give the little rascal some space. You’ve got cute little furball in front of you, so it’s only natural to lie on the floor next to your pup, scoop him up in your arms every chance you get, and follow him around like a lost … puppy. You can love on him some, but he needs some quiet space and some time. He’s just been taken to a new place where everything is different from what he used to know. He’s scared and confused. He’ll come around in a few days.


Keep an eye on him. Give your puppy space to explore if he wishes, but don’t let him out of your sight for too long, and be suspicious if things get too quiet. You might think he’s going to take a nap in your bedroom, but he’s really going in to check things out, and that’s bad news in the world of puppies. Think of him as you would a child who can’t be left unwatched. Otherwise, you may be making a trip to the store to buy new sheets, pillows and a sewing kit.
Take your new little pal outside regularly. You’re probably going to be cleaning up after at least one accident the first night you bring him home, unless he’s older and already house trained. Take your puppy out as soon as you get home with him, right after he eats, whenever he wakes up after a nap, and right before bedtime. The timing of his outside ventures depends somewhat on his age. He can hold it for a maximum of his age in months plus one hour. So a 2-month-old puppy could hold it at most three hours. Do not try for this limit if you want to avoid accidents. He’s a puppy. He’s been in the world just eight weeks, and for four of those he was not paying attention. He’s ready to learn, but he knows nothing. He will go when he feels the urge, because he doesn’t yet know that you have a plan.
Introduce your pup to his crate during the day. If you’re lucky, his breeder accustomed him to being in a crate, and he was transported in a crate to your home, so he’s familiar with it. Crating usually results in loud wails, as if your puppy is suffering from something horrible. You can ease his transition into the scary crate by playing with him near it, tossing a few treats inside, praising him for getting in, and closing and opening the door. Keep doing this throughout the day. From the start, be certain that you never release him from the crate when he’s complaining, but always wait for a time of silence before you walk in and release him with some praise. Otherwise, he’ll start trying to train you, instead of the other way around.
Put your new puppy in the comfy crate you have set up for him near your own bed when it’s time for sleep. Your puppy will bond best with you if his crate is near you, where he is surrounded by your scent and knows you are right there. Do not allow him to sleep on your bed. First night or not, your puppy does not get to sleep wherever he wants. When he wakes you in the middle of the night, that generally means he needs to potty, and you should take his word for it. Take him outside, and wait for him to squat and do his business, and then take him back to his crate, turn out the lights, and go back to sleep.


When Nature Calls
  If the puppy does whine excessively, it is reasonable to take the puppy gently by the scruff (back) of the neck , and without getting agitated, tell him in a low voice, “No, go to sleep.” Repeat this several times and as the days pass into weeks he will learn to obey you. In the morning, take him outside to relieve himself.
  Along with going out before bed, going out first thing in the morning should also become a habitual morning ritual. Puppies will typically relieve themselves in small amounts several times before they have finished an outing. Once he is finished, praise him with a pat and perhaps a small training treat and say a few praising words to let him know he has done the right thing.

Stop puppy crying at night
  If and when your puppy starts crying at night, you need to decide if he has to go to the bathroom or if he’s looking for attention. If he’s been quiet for a few hours and suddenly starts to cry or whine, he may need to go out. Puppies have small bladders, so you’ll likely have to take him out at least once during the night. A good rule of thumb is to add one to your puppy’s age in months and that’s generally how long he can go without a trip outside. So a two-month-old puppy can wait three hours. That means your puppy will probably need to go out at least twice during the night.
  If your puppy is crying and you’re sure it’s not for need of relieving himself, reach down and soothe him a little. Don’t be too doting or coddle your puppy. This will only reinforce the behavior and he’ll cry even more. If he continues to whine, a gruff “Quiet” and a quick, but gentle, shake by the scruff should settle the matter. If all else fails, ignore him. Tough love may be difficult, but eventually your puppy will learn that crying at night gets him nowhere. The more persistent you are in your approach, the quicker the situation will be resolved. If you’re stern one minute and sympathetic the next, your puppy will only be confused and his behavior will continue.

In the morning
  Get up right away and take your puppy outside to his soiling area. Carry him. Don’t let him walk there or he may be tempted to go before he gets outside. Let him empty everything out, and praise him when he’s finished.
  As with any new baby, you may not get much sleep the first night with puppy. If you’re patient and understanding, your puppy will learn what you expect of him when it’s time to sleep. You both should wake up rested and ready for the day after a few nights together.


  If you have other pets, introduce your puppy gradually. It’s best to keep kitties and your puppy in separate rooms for a few days.
  Aside from letting your pup out to pee in the middle of the night, do not let him out of his crate if he’s whining, barking or throwing a fit. He needs to learn that having a little tantrum doesn’t get him anything. Discipline yourself to let him out only when he’s quiet.

  Do not yell at your puppy or rush at him if he does something wrong. You can gently deter him from bad behaviors, but don’t frighten him. Teach him. He’s a baby exploring a new place. The whole world is new to him, and his early experiences make lasting impressions.

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