How to Survive Your Puppy’s First Night at Home

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A good while ago, I brought my new puppy home. It was very exciting and I was so nervous if she would like her new place. Imagine living with your littermates and parents for 8 weeks and then suddenly you are being taken away by strangers and separated for the first time.

This is one of the most stressful and defining moments in a dog’s life and we want your puppy’s first night to be as pleasant for everyone as possible.

Make sure you’re properly prepared and have everything you need from your puppy checklist.

To set you up for success, I’ve provided you with a free blank Puppy Schedule template to download below as well as a video with a crate training tip that finally stopped the sleepless nights.

Are you wondering how to get through your puppy’s first night at home?

For a successful first night, you should exercise your puppy and provide him with toys before going to bed. Crate training will help you stop puppy crying and whining at night. You should place your puppy’s crate near your bed and have clothes nearby in order to quickly go on potty trips during the night.

Puppy Schedule

The first night with your new puppy will go smoothly if you stick to a clear routine and puppy schedule.

Exercise your dog a couple of hours before going to bed and plan your potty trips, in addition to having dedicated crate-training.

The First Few Moments

Before you bring your puppy home for the first night, make sure you have puppy-proofed the house prior to his arrival. This means no cords hanging around, no expensive things that he could chew on, no small objects laying on the ground and so on.

When your puppy arrives, close the doors to as many rooms as possible or keep him from entering different areas by using baby gates. Start with a small space for him to investigate.

This whole situation is overwhelming in itself, so you don’t have to blow his mind with access to a huge house or apartment.

Give him plenty of time, talk to him throughout the process and NEVER leave him unsupervised.

Taking Your Puppy Outside

White puppy rolling in grass with a toilet paper roll.
Photo by Daniël Maas

The next step should be taking your puppy outside to relieve himself. That’s when you should determine a spot where your puppy will pee every day from now on.

Introduce a command for peeing outside. I cannot stress enough how valuable this tip is.

Not only does it save you time (because someday your puppy will pee immediately on command) but it also helps the puppy to quickly identify where his pee spot is located which will speed up the potty training process. You can also use a command for pooping outside.

How to teach your puppy to pee on command: Quickly walk to the spot outside on a leash and wait for your puppy to relieve himself. When he starts peeing, repeat your chosen command until he is finished and then shower him with lots and lots of praise.

Trust me, this command will come in handy because instead of waiting countless hours outside with a clueless pup, he will soon know that peeing is the key.

Potty training can be very frustrating. I can tell from my own experience. You have to take your puppy out every 10- 30 minutes.

Now if you have my puppy, the worst case might have you waiting outside in the cold morning for 2 hours and she magically doesn’t have to pee. Then you put her inside and she will immediately relieve herself right on the doorstep.

Approach your puppy with understanding and don’t get mad when things like this happen. We got Amalia in mid-winter and puppies just hate relieving themselves in rain or snow (until they discover how much fun the latter is as an adult dog).

Another rule of thumb is that you bring your dog outside after every meal, nap, and playtime. Just bring your puppy outside and wait for him to pee and poop.

If he doesn’t relieve himself, then simply go inside after 10 minutes and try again in a couple of minutes. That way, your puppy will learn that you don’t wait for him the whole day.

If you live in an apartment complex and struggle with getting your pup out on time then check this product, it can be of incredible help.

To keep track of all of these potty trips, download the templates below which also include a walk and a feeding schedule.

Puppy’s First Night

I always advise everyone to get a crate for their dog. I bought the AmazonBasics double door crate and can highly recommend it.

If you have set up everything correctly for the night, be sure to consider these steps:

  1. Keep your puppy busy in the evening so he will be dead tired by bedtime.
  2. Withhold food and water a few hours before bedtime, so the odds of your puppy peeing himself are in your favor.
  3. Get him outside just before you put him into the crate. Let him poop and pee (although my puppy never pooped in the evening, you still have to give him the chance).
  4. Be sure to place the crate close to your bed so you can hear your puppy at any time (as well as for bonding).
  5. Place everything you need for taking your puppy outside close to your bed. Nothing is worse than searching for socks in the middle of the night.
  6. Expect to get no sleep at all (I felt plain dead for weeks).

Crying and Whining in the Crate

Now there is a very crucial point in crate training, especially in the first few nights. Prepare yourself that your puppy will be crying at night (a lot!) and it can get very loud.

You might think that your puppy is whining for no reason but there is always a reason. Be aware of the difference between crying because he needs to go outside and whining for attention.

Yes, puppies cry for attention (understandable during the first few nights, annoying when they’re adults).

First, to be absolutely positive that your puppy’s bladder is empty, you want to bring him outside and then straight back to the crate. This signals him that whining is for getting outside to pee, not for initiating playtime.

They are separated from their family for the first time ever and everything is new to them. Do not get mad at your dog for whining during the night.

You can try to occupy your puppy in the crate to prevent the whining for attention. For my dog, I bought a puppy Kong and this dental cleaning toy.

Stay away from any small, swallowable objects and always supervise your puppy.

If you are sure that your puppy has just relieved himself and everything else is okay, then your pup might just crave even more attention. I know that it is very heartbreaking to hear but if you give in and let your puppy have your attention, he will learn “Oh, when I cry mummy will wake up and entertain me.”

Recommended Reading: 4 Steps to Crate Train Your Puppy

How to Make a Puppy Stop Crying at Night

This is called “learned crying” and it will start at night one. Once it has been rewarded, learned crying is very hard to get rid of. The best way is to ignore any noises until he settles down and then you praise him for that.

If you live in an apartment, like me, you simply cannot afford a puppy waking everybody in the middle of the night and besides, we all want to sleep.

I made the mistake to take her out of the crate and bring her to the couch because that was the ONLY place she would settle down. Don’t make this mistake because you will regret it. It took me a very long time to get rid of this behavior and I knew it was my fault.

The best thing I could find on the internet was this video on Youtube. I can ensure you that nothing could help her crying at night and I got like three hours of sleep max but this video was gold. I will link it for you below. It almost looks too simple to work but trust me, it’s effective.

Help stop puppy cry or bark in crate at night. Puppy crate training.

It usually took me one hour every time to get her to sleep again and this technique has helped me so much. The key is to be consistent and patient and not give in to your puppy’s crying although it may sound terrifying at times.

Should I Let My Puppy Sleep with Me?

Where your puppy should sleep during his first night is a great question many new owners ask themselves during the first few nights.

The thought behind this is that a little physical contact might help with the crying and separation anxiety.

I can only advise you to resist the urge to cuddle up with your new friend in bed for several reasons. The first being that we want to establish the crate as your dog’s safe place.

Although you may imagine your bed to be the coziest spot on earth, the huge space and missing walls surrounding the area seem very daunting to your dog. Puppies love enclosed spaces that have just enough room for them to turn around and get comfortable.

There’s also the health-related aspect. Most beds have three open sides over which your dog can easily fall. If your bed frame is slightly raised, it could cause him to trip and injure himself. You would also have to be very careful not to roll over your puppy while sleeping.

If your puppy isn’t confined at night, he will eventually get up, walk around unsupervised and seek out a suitable spot to pee.

The crate also defines how your puppy will start his day. Will he wake up and be able to run through the house or will he have to wait calmly inside his crate until let out?

Stick To Your Puppy Schedule

The first 48 hours with your puppy are a crucial time period. If you stick to the tips mentioned above, you will be set up for a great future. Continue on implementing a strict routine including potty breaks, meal times and exercise.

This routine schedule could look something like this:

A printable daily puppy schedule.
© Pawleaks

The closer you stick to this routine, the quicker your puppy will adjust to your daily life.

Spend a lot of time with your puppy and bond during little play and training sessions. Bonding is incredibly important and will define your future relationship. Learning how to bond with your dog the right way will build a strong emotional connection.

Puppy Tips for First Week at Home

The first topic you will be confronted with is socialization. The socialization period is the most important stage in your dog’s life and mainly happens from 3-16 weeks of age.

If you want to learn more about socialization, make sure to read my puppy socialization guide, which will teach you everything you need to know.

Now is also the time to schedule the first appointment with your vet for a health check and vaccination.

Continue on the potty training and really stick to your schedule. No matter how frustrating the accidents inside can be, stay consistent and calm with the training.

Visit puppy training classes if you don’t have any prior experience. Although training classes aren’t necessary, play sessions definitely are. Your puppy will learn the most about bite inhibition and proper play by interacting with dogs his age.

Biting, chewing and nipping are big concerns for many new dog owners. During the teething period, your puppy will need something to chew own that soothes his pain.

Meanwhile, you will start with bite inhibition training to teach your puppy that he is not allowed to bite skin or clothes.

During the first week, you can begin with short training sessions, teaching your puppy the basic commands. He is already able to learn sit, down, stay, leave it, come and release. For specific training steps, read more here: 6 Basic Dog Training Obedience Commands.

Don’t skimp on teaching your puppy basic obedience skills, even if you’re tired from the sleepless nights. If you pull through it now, you’ll be rewarded with a great companion.

Good luck to all of you new puppy parents! How was your first night with your pup? Let me know and leave any questions or suggestions in the comments down below.

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About Danielle

In love with dogs, their behavior and psychology. I am writing on this blog since February 2019 to provide you with valuable information on everything dogs. When I am not working on my blog, I study research articles and enjoy the time with my beloved Rottweiler Amalia.

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17 thoughts on “How to Survive Your Puppy’s First Night at Home”

  1. This is gold!! We just rescued our 6th month old pup and the cage technique has helped so much! At 1:00 am, I used it and didn’t hear another peep!! Thank you!!

    Reply
    • It’s so great isn’t it? I was blown away when I first used it and I am glad that it helped you too! Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  2. We are getting a puppy out of the next litter. When school starts back we have to leave the puppy home and unable to come home to get her a break. How can we prepare the puppy for a work day?

    Reply
    • Hey Lisha,

      first of all, somebody needs to take some time off work/school if you’re getting a new puppy. Even if your regular schedule is up and running again, somebody still needs to be there for the puppy full-time during the first two weeks (at least!).

      If your puppy is left alone for more than a couple of hours (even that is questionable but it’s doable with proper training) just because work/school starts again, you’re missing out big time on bonding opportunities, as well as setting yourself up for separation anxiety (check out the linked article for more info) and all sorts of problems.

      That being said; after your puppy has had enough time to get used to his new home, you can SLOWLY get him used to being alone. Make sure he’s always fed, has access to water and something to do while you’re away (interactive dog toys, stuffed and frozen Kong etc.).

      You still need to get somebody to bring your dog outside. Especially puppies need to go more often than adult dogs and that means a friend’s going to have to look after him several times or you shell out the money for a dog walker. It will make potty training so much easier too. Check out my potty training article for more information.

      You might also want to think about crate training to keep your puppy (as well as your house) safe while you’re away.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

      Reply
  3. Hi Danielle, thank you so much for all these thorough tips! I will get to bring home my puppy in early June so I’m trying to do as much research as possible. This will be my first puppy so I have some questions. I’m hearing different things about how to socialize a puppy that hasn’t received all of its shots. I’m aware that if a puppy hasn’t gotten all of its shots (around 16 weeks), it should not go to areas where other dogs have been, etc. In your article, you talked about socialization and slowly building up the pup’s confidence by going to the backyard, then on walks down the street, etc. I read somewhere that walks around safe for pups that haven’t had all of their shots. Is that completely false?

    Reply
    • Hey there,

      thanks for the kind words! Opinions diverge when it comes to socialization before a puppy’s fully vaccinated. First of all: I’m not a Veterinarian but here’s an article from a professional point of view: AVSAB Position Statement on Puppy Socialization

      You can view the excerpt and many other infos on my puppy socialization blog post.

      This video is also a great resource as it contains an interview with two vetenarians.

      Personal experience/opinion: I live in Germany and it’s very uncommon to follow the rule of waiting until 16 weeks here. Everybody brings his 8-week old to the puppy class and I have never seen a puppy fall ill to any of the common diseases.

      Btw: You’re legally prohibited from bringing your pup home before he finishes 8 weeks of age – unlike the U.S. where I regularly hear of 6-7 week old puppies being brought home, so this is another difference.

      It also depends on which diseases exactly we’re talking about but some of these diseases are not common at all in Western countries nowadays and thus shouldn’t be spread through other dogs (I’m thinking of rabies here since Germany has no reported cases since quite a long time).

      Let me know if this helped,
      Danielle

      Reply
  4. Of course, at some point the pup is going to do something wrong and needs to be made aware of it.  The best technique is to use a deep, fairly loud voice to say a sharp ‘no’.  This should stop the pup and once you have its attention you can give it something more appropriate to do such as playing with a chew toy.  After it has been doing that for a minute, always follow up with some praise so that it is reinforced that this behaviour is acceptable.  Smacking and other forms or aggressive punishment are not acceptable and are not even effective.

    Reply
  5. Just watched your video and found it very good. We are getting are new puppy in two weeks and we are a bit nervous. He is a ridgeback, we will use ur information / god help us we will need it 🤯

    Reply
    • Hi Collette,

      getting a puppy is always so exciting! I’m sure you’ll do just great with all the preparation, have fun with your Ridgeback!

      Reply