Tips for First Night Home with Puppyby Chris Miksen
You just brought your little bundle of puppy fur home, and now it's time for the fun to begin. Well, sort of. Sometimes there's fun to be had the first night you spend with your new puppy, but you have quite a lot to do that often involves more work than play. All that work will pay off, though, helping your pup to have a positive start to his new life as your buddy.
Keep your puppy on his accustomed food. It's fine to switch him to a new food in a few days, as long as you do it gradually, but the first night isn't the moment to start changing his food. He might not even eat the first night, and if he does, he's way better off eating something familiar.
Toss a few toys onto the floor. Squeakers, balls, ropes and such help your puppy feel more comfortable in his new home. They keep him busy, especially if he's teething and in the mood to sink his teeth into something.
Give the little rascal some space. You've got cute little furball in front of you, so it's only natural to lie on the floor next to your pup, scoop him up in your arms every chance you get, and follow him around like a lost ... puppy. You can love on him some, but he needs some quiet space and some time. He's just been taken to a new place where everything is different from what he used to know. He's scared and confused. He'll come around in a few days.
Keep an eye on him. Give your puppy space to explore if he wishes, but don't let him out of your sight for too long, and be suspicious if things get too quiet. You might think he's going to take a nap in your bedroom, but he's really going in to check things out, and that's bad news in the world of puppies. Think of him as you would a child who can't be left unwatched. Otherwise, you may be making a trip to the store to buy new sheets, pillows and a sewing kit.
Introduce your pup to his crate during the day. If you're lucky, his breeder accustomed him to being in a crate, and he was transported in a crate to your home, so he's familiar with it. Crating usually results in loud wails, as if your puppy is suffering from something horrible. You can ease his transition into the scary crate by playing with him near it, tossing a few treats inside, praising him for getting in, and closing and opening the door. Keep doing this throughout the day. From the start, be certain that you never release him from the crate when he's complaining, but always wait for a time of silence before you walk in and release him with some praise. Otherwise, he'll start trying to train you, instead of the other way around.
Take your new little pal outside regularly. You're probably going to be cleaning up after at least one accident the first night you bring him home, unless he's older and already house trained. Take your puppy out as soon as you get home with him, right after he eats, whenever he wakes up after a nap, and right before bedtime. The timing of his outside ventures depends somewhat on his age. He can hold it for a maximum of his age in months plus one hour. So a 2-month-old puppy could hold it at most three hours. Do not try for this limit if you want to avoid accidents. He's a puppy. He's been in the world just eight weeks, and for four of those he was not paying attention. He's ready to learn, but he knows nothing. He will go when he feels the urge, because he doesn't yet know that you have a plan.
Put your new puppy in the comfy crate you have set up for him near your own bed when it's time for sleep. Your puppy will bond best with you if his crate is near you, where he is surrounded by your scent and knows you are right there. Do not allow him to sleep on your bed. First night or not, your puppy does not get to sleep wherever he wants. When he wakes you in the middle of the night, that generally means he needs to potty, and you should take his word for it. Take him outside, and wait for him to squat and do his business, and then take him back to his crate, turn out the lights, and go back to sleep.
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- If you have other pets, introduce your puppy gradually. It's best to keep kitties and your puppy in separate rooms for a few days.
- Aside from letting your pup out to pee in the middle of the night, do not let him out of his crate if he's whining, barking or throwing a fit. He needs to learn that having a little tantrum doesn't get him anything. Discipline yourself to let him out only when he's quiet.
- Do not yell at your puppy or rush at him if he does something wrong. You can gently deter him from bad behaviors, but don't frighten him. Teach him. He's a baby exploring a new place. The whole world is new to him, and his early experiences make lasting impressions.