Puppy’s First Night Home
You did it! You have decided to go out and adopt a brand new furry, adorable, four-legged bundle of joy – congratulations! There is usually a lot of excitement leading up to the day you finally get to pick up your new puppy, but then when you bring them home, you are like…now what?
You know you need to play with them, take them on walks, feed them, train them, and get them used to their crate, but where do you begin? It can be overwhelming to try and make sure you are properly introducing them to all these new things at once!
If you are really set on starting things off right on the puppy’s first night at home, then keep reading for our guide on surviving the first 24 hours with your new puppy.
Let’s start at the beginning with some good puppy prep prior to bringing your new puppy home.
If this new puppy is joining you and other members of your household, you must get everyone together to establish some ground rules before your puppy’s first night at home.
This is a good time to figure out things like what the puppy’s name will be (a fun and very important question!), where the puppy is allowed in the home, who is in charge of feeding and walking, how you will go about training, etc.
If you take the time to get everyone on the same page and have a consistent set of rules, then the puppy will likely have an easier time getting settled and comfortable in its new environment.
To help it get settled a little more quickly, it may be a good idea to book a couple of days off work after the arrival of your new puppy. This will give your puppy some extra time with you so you can begin to build trust and solidify your bond.
Plus, you may have a few difficult, sleepless nights yourself while your puppy gets used to its new surroundings and routine – you will likely appreciate any extra resting time you can get!
You should have all your puppy supplies bought and ready to go before your puppy’s first night at home. This is for two reasons: it will allow them to start getting used to all their new things and surroundings right away, and it will prevent you from having to immediately go shopping and leave them in the car or house.
Let us look at the puppy supplies you should have on hand for that first day.
Food and Food/Water Bowls
Whether your new puppy is from a breeder or shelter, it is important that you ask about its current feeding schedule and if they have any advice regarding the type of food.
It would be ideal to ask about this before you pick the puppy up so you can already have some of their food on hand, but if you did not, the breeder or shelter might be able to give you enough to last for a few meals until you can get to a pet store.
Even if you were planning on transitioning your new puppy to a new food, it is important to do this gradually, as dogs’ stomachs can be sensitive to abrupt changes in their food. Try and stick with the same brand and kind of food they are used to until they are old enough to make the transition to a new food without greatly upsetting their stomachs.
Treats can be a great way to reinforce your puppy’s good behavior when learning the rules, but not all treats may be ideal for a puppy’s extra sensitive stomach. Before you buy any, check and see if there is a recommended age on the packaging, as many treats are not suitable for dogs under four months.
If you do not want to take any chances with store-bought treats yet, you could also try rewarding behavior with pieces of their kibble.
Leash, Collar, and Poop Bags
With the high energy levels that puppies tend to have, they are certainly going to need their walks! Make sure you put a nametag and your information on the collar as well in case your puppy gets lost, especially if you have not yet equipped (or do not plan to equip) your dog with a microchip.
And please remember the poop bags for your walks – responsible dog owners always do their best to clean up after their pets.
This can really be a helpful thing to have when you are bringing home a new puppy. Not only will it keep them from getting into trouble when you are not around, but a small, cozy, den-like place such as a crate can be comforting to dogs, as it can help them feel safe and secure.
Since your puppy is likely not arriving house-trained, there are bound to be accidents for at least the first little while. If you find that your puppy keeps going to the bathroom in the same spot in your house, start putting a puppy pad there for easy cleanup until they are officially housebroken.
There are lots of toys out there made specifically for puppies. If your puppy is a chewer (and they likely will be at least while they are teething!), find a good chew toy suitable for their size and that will not be too hard on their gums and growing teeth.
If you want to keep your puppy out of certain rooms, then consider putting up some baby gates to block off entryways. If you want to keep them in a certain area in a room, you could even set up a gated playpen.
Puppy’s First Night Home
Now that you have all your grounds rules and supplies ready to go, we will get into what to do on the puppy’s first night home.
At the very least, make sure you bring your puppy’s leash and collar with you when you go to pick them up from the breeder or shelter. It may also be a good idea to bring some cleaning supplies if your puppy has any accidents while in the car, especially if it will be a long drive home.
Before you leave the breeder or shelter, ensure that you have gotten all your new puppy’s veterinary records and any other necessary paperwork. You may also consider getting something that smells of your pup’s littermates and/or mother to bring home with you, as the scent can be a source of comfort and familiarity for your pup.
If it is a long drive home, you should consider stopping at least once to give your puppy a chance to go to the bathroom. Puppies under 16 weeks typically need to go to the bathroom every few hours, as they can only hold it for so long at this point. Besides, it is never too early to start toilet training!
Before entering your house, take your puppy to a spot outside where they are allowed to relieve themselves. And if they do so successfully, reward with treats, pets, and lots of praise! Puppies will have an easier time understanding this kind of positive reinforcement instead of more negative consequences like yelling.
If your puppy does have accidents in your house, try not to shout as this will likely just scare them and not teach them anything. If you do catch them in the act, try and get them outside as soon as possible to demonstrate the appropriate place for a bathroom break.
If they manage to finish going outside during their potty trip, then back to the treats, pets, and praise! If not, it is still fine, as this is a learning process.
Keep taking your puppy out to that same potty area every hour or two, and especially soon after naps and eating and drinking, to give them a chance to relieve themselves and hopefully minimize accidents.
Introduce Them to Their New Home
It is time to start getting your puppy settled into their new home and used to their new surroundings. There will likely be lots of excitement from both the little puppy and any other members of your household but try to keep things as low-key as possible – the puppy will likely be a bit overwhelmed at first!
Therefore, it is also a good idea to keep other pets separate from the puppy while they get used to their new environment, at least for a little while. Let your puppy have a chance to bond with their humans and get an idea of their new surroundings before they are confronted with any other pets.
Try and keep things quiet and calm, and introduce your puppy to their things, like their puppy crate, dog bed, food and water bowls, toys, and, perhaps most importantly, their name. Use their name consistently and constantly until they learn it – it will make dog training a lot easier!
Keep up with your dog training by praising them for their good behavior while exploring your house and redirecting them from any negative behaviors, like biting and chewing on your things.
While training, it is imperative that you do not use the crate as a punishment for your puppy’s negative behavior. This is a place where you will need them to go when they are unattended, like when you are at work or sleeping, so it is a lot easier to get them to go in there if they think of it as a positive place to go and not a negative one.
Think of it as more of your puppy’s sleeping quarters and not its jail cell. Put some blankets and maybe a soft toy in there, so it is cozy and inviting.
To help your puppy recognize the dog crate as a safe and positive space, keep its door open and put a treat inside, encouraging them to go in and explore. When they do go in, keep up with positive reinforcement house training by giving them praise and treats.
You have got to burn off all that puppy energy somehow! Spend some time throwing toys for them and letting them run around, as a tired puppy will sleep better and be less likely to engage in destructive behavior (hopefully!).
This is also a great way for you to strengthen your bond with your new puppy, as they will learn to associate you with having fun.
Before bedtime, take your puppy outside to give them one last chance to go to the bathroom. Then, set them up in their crate for the night. It may be best to keep the crate in your room so you can easily hear them and so they know that you are nearby.
This first night may be a tough one for both of you, as it is likely the first night that your puppy will be sleeping without its mother or littermates.
If you did get something with their littermates’ or mother’s scent on it from the breeder or shelter, put that in the crate at bedtime to help soothe them at night.
On that first night, your pup may cry and even howl in their crate, which can be hard to hear. But you must do your best to ignore them – they will eventually settle down. If they suddenly start doing this in the middle of the night, it may mean that it is time to take them outside for a bathroom break.
Quickly take them out of the crate and get them outside to their bathroom area you established earlier as soon as possible to help prevent accidents.
When they are finished, put them right back into their crate. You may consider setting an alarm and getting up every few hours to let your puppy out anyway, as it is important to teach them not to relieve themselves in the crate.
Whew – what a day! After your puppy’s first night home, keep your new routine as consistent as possible each day. It will be work for a while, but it will be worth it in the end!