Puppies 101: Your Puppy’s First Night Home
Your puppy will whine and cry. It will be heartbreaking. You may even question why you thought this was a good idea. You might even have a vision of frantically calling the breeder/shelter, “Can I return him/her??” It’s OK. Breathe. I promise you that it will get better, and you will have an opportunity to catch up on sleep later. As a new puppy parent, you might have to get by on a few hours of sleep for the first week or two. Again, it will pass.
For us, when we first brought Mellan home, the first night was excruciating. There was nothing that would comfort him. He moaned and whined and cried for hours. We ignored him to no avail. We moved him into our bedroom and still he cried. He could not be soothed! Eventually, since being near us didn’t seem to help, we put him in our bathroom and turned the fan on to help drown out some of his cries. Since then, I’ve picked up a few lessons that I fully intend to try out on a new puppy…
If it’s not already the first night home…
There are a few preemptive remedies to reduce your pup’s crying the first night or two home. The reason puppies cry so much is it is a big change–they’ve spent the past eight weeks with their littermates and mama. Now, they’re in a place they’ve never been, all alone. If you’re a real planner, you can take a towel or old shirt and bring it to your breeder, so that the scent of your pup’s littermates gets all over it, and you can nestle your pup in it at bedtime (and so it will be familiar). You can also set a ticking clock or a radio on low nearby–the clock can help simulate the heartbeats of its littermates.
Where will your puppy sleep?
Think about where you intend to have your puppy/dog sleep in the long run, not just the first few nights. Some trainers believe that puppies should be confined but kept in your bedroom so they can hear and smell you, while others believe they should be confined but kept in another room (by themselves, essentially). Most agree that bringing your pup into your bed isn’t a good idea, though. The important thing is that wherever you put the puppy… you don’t want to end up coming to it when it cries, because it may reinforce unwanted behavior (if I cry, my human will come).
Be prepared to take your puppy out at least once to potty!
Not all whining should be ignored–puppies have very small bladders, and if your pup is between 8-12 weeks, you can expect one or two trips to the potty zone each night. The rule of thumb is for however months old your puppy is, add one, and then you’ll have the number of hours it can hold. So an 8-week old puppy is two months, add one, and he can hold for about three hours.
Prepare your puppy for sleepy time!
Make sure you take away food and water four to six hours before it’s bedtime. The idea is that you don’t want your puppy going to bed with a full tummy–this will help prevent any accidents as well as minimize midnight potty trips. Try to keep your puppy from indulging in any epic naps right before, as well. Ideally, you want to tucker your pup out and then say goodnight–play a few games, get him to run around and wear himself out, and then in his crate he goes.
Photo Credit: Flickr