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How to handle your first night with your puppy

Brown dachshund sleeping

Wonder how to make your puppy's first night a success? Read on!

© Hannamariah - Shutterstock

Welcoming a puppy home is often a great moment of joy, but the puppy's first nights are not easy. Here are some tips for a successful first night!

By Emilie Heyl

Updated on the

How to successfully handle your first night with your puppy? You've just adopted a puppy, and the whole family is happy to welcome him, cuddle him and pamper him. But the euphoria quickly gives way to many concerns... 

Where will your new four-legged friend sleep, in the bedroom or alone in the living room? How should you react if he barks and cries for hours on end, should you go see him and reassure him or is it better to ignore him? Let's see how to manage your little fur ball's first night in his new environment, so that it is a wonderful time for you and him!

What to expect from your puppy’s first night in its new home

Before we delve into the subject, it’s very important to keep in mind that normally, breeders allow dog adoption to take place when the puppy is at least 8 weeks old. Make sure this is the case, because separating a puppy from its mother before it’s 8 weeks old could have some serious consequences.

For your puppy’s first night, you will have to be prepared because it will be difficult for both your puppy and you. It is quite natural for the puppy to cry during the first few nights, simply because he is not used to living in this kind of environment, and he is especially not used to sleeping anywhere else than with his mother and siblings. Crying will therefore be almost inevitable (except in exceptional cases, of course, each puppy may react differently) but you can anticipate this and soothe him.

So, you’ve just welcomed a new puppy in your home? Congratulations! You must be so excited to get to know him, train him, care for him and love him. But you are probably worried about the first few nights, weeks and even months… Well, let’s get into the topic of today: How to make sure your puppy’s first night is a success.

Where should your puppy sleep the first night?

When your puppy first comes home, the first few nights tend to be a little complicated for the animal as its world is changing and he has to find its bearings. This will be the first time your puppy sleeps away from the warmth of its mother and siblings and in a place he doesn't know yet. You have two options to make sure your puppy feels safe and reassured.

Are you a first time dog owner? Here are a few things you may not have thought of that you should probably know before taking your new dog or puppy home. 

Option 1: Put your puppy’s crate or basket in your bedroom

The first night, place your puppy’s crate or basket next to your bed. Then move him to a corner near the bedroom door, for example, and the next night to the hallway, until he finally finds his place in the room where he originally slept. By doing this, your puppy will be less anxious and less likely to cry the first few nights. On the other hand, you are not safe from the fact that he will make your bedroom his sleeping space, even if you gradually move his basket away...

Yes to comforting words, no to permission to climb on the bed "just this once". Consistency is the fundamental quality of a good owner and what is allowed on the first day should be allowed forever. The chances are that the permission to get on the bed "just this once" will continue beyond the first night, and into adulthood. Keep this in mind! Although this habit is not a problem in itself, it must be managed extremely carefully so that it does not cause psychological problems for your lovely little friend. For example, it is out of the question for him to bury himself under the covers, at the risk of causing overprotection problems!

Under no circumstances should you allow your puppy to become the owner of your bed. You must be able to order him to get off and return to his place at any time, or there is a great risk of him developing separation anxiety. As a result, he may become aggressive and destructive in your absence, or just because he has no access to the bed. If you don't want to share your duvet with your furry friend, there's nothing stopping you from making a transition by simply putting his basket in your bedroom. This way, he'll feel your comforting presence. This doesn't mean he'll sleep with you every night, unless you decide otherwise! As your puppy becomes more comfortable, you'll try to move the basket away.

If you really don’t want to let your dog spend the night with you, opt for the second option, which is certainly harder from a psychological point of view, but radical.

Option 2: Place your puppy’s crate or basket in another room (not the bedroom) 

For your puppy to know right away where he can be, invite him to join his basket or crate from the first night. All you have to do is put him in the room where you want him to sleep, prepare his sleeping area beforehand, ideally not too far from your bedroom so that you can keep a watchful eye on him.

Over time, he will understand that you are close by and that you are looking after him. It should also be noted that his mother does exactly that, she will gradually move away and let him sleep on his own. So don't feel guilty! Don't make the mistake of going back to him to console him or you will teach him that all he has to do to get your attention is bark, which would only complicate things. So you will need to be strong, and so will all the family members who should not give in under any circumstances. After a while, your puppy will fall into the arms of Morpheus. However, if his crying seems strange, it's best to check that he hasn't hurt himself.

How to handle your puppy's first night

The first night with your new four-legged friend will be successful only if you realise that this new experience is particularly difficult for such a small baby who suddenly finds himself in a place he does not know. It is important to know that he will instinctively seek the protective presence of his mother, but also of his siblings.

Tip 1: Place a clock in your puppy’s room

You could install a clock in the room where he will sleep. The repeated ticking can replace his mother's heartbeat and should calm him.

Tip 2: Prepare a nice and cosy area for your puppy

Your puppy’s new space should preferably be small, quiet and warm to make sure not to disturb his bearings. You can reproduce the warmth and security provided by the presence of his brothers and sisters by surrounding your puppy with several soft little cuddly toys. Not only will they keep him company, but they can also serve as a stress reliever. If he wakes up in the middle of the night, he will have something to do and will probably not think about looking for you. Be careful, however, that the cuddly toys do not tear easily to avoid the risk of choking.

Find out more on how to dog-proofing your home

Tip 3: Use a blanket with the mother’s smell to cover your puppy

Consider placing a hot water bottle, the best being to wrap him in a blanket impregnated with the smell of the puppy’s mother so that he feels completely safe. If he moans in the night, he will no doubt snuggle up to the soothing scent of his mother. If you don't have one available, something you've worn before will work just fine.

Tip 4: Be patient

Don't give in if he cries, as the attention you will give him will only reinforce this behaviour. The first few nights may be difficult, but intervening would do your puppy no favours for his future.

Should I leave my puppy to cry at night?

Is the crying getting longer and more intense? Don't worry. It's perfectly normal: he feels a little lost in his new home, but he will soon get used to it. For the first few days, until he starts to adjust to his new home, when your puppy cries at night, you can get up to calm him down so he can see that he is not alone, but this should not become a habit.

The first few days at home are very important to create a healthy bond with its family and its new environment. It is therefore important to be patient and not to punish your puppy if he cries. He will probably get used to his new home within a few days, and he will have accepted the place where he has to sleep. If your puppy cries at night, there are things you can do to improve the situation.

  • Play with him during the day: this will release his energy and he will fall asleep at night. 
  • Maintain a certain routine: follow a schedule for eating, playing, walking, etc. This way, he will know what is going to happen at each moment and his stress will decrease.
  • Give him food and accompany him to relieve himself before bedtime.
  • You can also use a diffuser with soothing canine pheromones in the room where he will sleep to make him feel more relaxed naturally. Consult your vet to find out which ones are best.

If your puppy has not been crying during the night and suddenly starts crying again, or if his complaints are very loud, perhaps something is wrong with him, he is hurting somewhere or he is not feeling well, it is best that you go and see him.

You've just welcomed a new puppy in your home? Here are a few tips to help you choose your puppy's name

First and foremost, pay attention to your puppy's sleep. At his age, he needs to sleep at least 18 hours a day. It is therefore essential for his balance that he can rest as he pleases in a quiet area, without being disturbed. Let him discover his new environment at his own pace, and warn the people around you that it is better not to rush him too much with petting and cuddling. As soon as he arrives at your home, show him where his bed is, take him out after he’s eaten his food, place a bowl of fresh water near him and leave him alone.

All that's left is for us to wish you a good night!

Frequently asked questions

How long will a puppy cry on the first night?

How long do 8 week old puppies sleep at night?

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1 comment
Ellie
elliesanderson
Oh boy I wish I'd known this when I got my Max! He was so stressed the first few nights 😔
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