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Get it right on your new puppy’s first night

Lorna Cowan / 15 June 2016

Find out how to ensure your new puppy – and you – sleep well on your first night together.

New puppy in bed
Get it right on the first night to get our new puppy used to its new life and routine

Bringing a new puppy home can be very exciting, but it also can be quite daunting. A puppy often leaves its mum and littermates when it’s just eight weeks old, so not only is it a big responsibility on your part, your little four-legged friend has some big adventures to deal with too. However, you can all still sleep soundly on that all-important first night. Just follow our top tips.

Shop for puppy essentials

The minute you decide you’re getting a puppy start dog-proofing your home and garden. You’ll also need to go shopping to buy some essentials. Small bowls, an adjustable collar and lead, a plastic bed that can’t be chewed, a few toys and puppy treats should all be on your list. A crate or indoor kennel is worth considering too.

Read our tips for dog-proofing your home and garden

Decide where your puppy will sleep

Everyone has their own opinion about where dogs should sleep. Some people believe puppies must be in their bedroom on the first night, but if you do this, you risk having them there forever. If you want your dog to sleep in the kitchen, utility room or under the stairs, put their bed there, make sure it’s safe and free from draughts, and place your puppy in it once you get home. A warm blanket, toy and treat will make a bed all the more inviting.

Pick up your puppy in the morning

Collect your puppy as early in the day as possible so it has plenty of time to get used to its new surroundings, and bond with you too. However, don’t expect too much initially. A puppy sleeps for around 18 to 20 hours a day so it’s not going to spend all its time playing. That said, if you do get the chance to tire it out a little, there’s a better chance your puppy will sleep soundly at night.

Introduce your puppy slowly

A new home means lots of new sounds and smells and your puppy will either want to explore or hide. Take things slowly to allow your puppy to get used to its new environment. Don’t let children or other pets excite or frighten it, and keep your puppy in one room – now is not the time to give it a grand tour of your house. Also stick to the diet advised by the breeder or rescue home so you don’t have to deal with an upset tummy.

Find out how to introduce grandchildren to a new dog

Take your puppy outside for the toilet

There is a high probability your puppy won’t make it through the first night without going to the toilet, but give it the best chance. You should have spent time in a section of your garden the minute you arrived home, so just before heading to bed, return outside to this area and encourage your puppy to relieve itself.

Keep your puppy warm

This may be the first night your puppy sleeps on its own, away from the warmth of his brothers and sisters. So consider replacing their heat with a puppy heat cusion, easily bought from pet shops or online. Many are filled with buckwheat that you simply warm up in a microwave. Follow the instructions carefully. Traditional plastic hot water bottles may be chewed.

Remind your puppy of its mum

Depending on the breed, a dog’s sense of smell can be 1,000 to 10,000,000 times greater than that of a person. As a result, your puppy will get great comfort, and will snuggle down content, if it can smell the scent of its mum. Ask the person you’re getting the puppy from for a piece of bedding used in the weaning box – be warned, you’ll smell it too! Or take your own blanket and rub it over the puppy’s littermates.

Mimic a puppy’s heartbeat

A ticking clock nearby a puppy’s bed can also help it get a good night’s sleep. The tick tock mimics the heartbeat of his littermates so he won’t feel too alone. Just make sure you’ve switched off the alarm! If you don’t have a clock, then turn on the radio and find a talk station.

Don’t fuss over your puppy

When it comes to bedtime, after taking your puppy outside, give it a little cuddle, put a treat on its bed, turn off the lights (you may want to plug in a wall night light) and leave the room without making any fuss. You’ll no doubt hear cries and whines, but resist the temptation to return to your puppy. This is the toughest part of the night and you’ll feel a tug at your heartstrings, but if the puppy is safe, it will soon tire and fall asleep.

Settle your puppy again

If the cries continue for a long while, and your puppy sounds distressed, then return to the room, remaining calm and quiet. If a simple ‘be good’ doesn’t help it to settle, take the puppy outside again to relive itself and put it back in its bed, following the same routine as before. Don’t be tempted to play with your puppy at 2am or it will come to expect a game at that time every night.

Download our guide to choosing a dog

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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