Guide to Puppies First Night
Settling a new puppy into your home and the first couple of nights can seem like a daunting task.
There is a lot of conflicting advice around what to do on those first few nights, here is what the most upto date scientific studies advise.
It can be a stressful time for you new puppy, suddenly taken away from all that he knows, familiar smells, sounds and his mother and litter mates, to somewhere completely new to him.
Fortunately puppies seek out human interactions so will bond with their new human family quite quickly after being split up from their biological family.
Research has shown that until the age of 16 weeks , if the owner is accessible frequently and available to their puppy, it helps pups build confidence and can make them more secure when it comes to leaving them on their own.
Also, the method of letting pups cry it out for the first few nights isn’t the best for you or pup. If pup gets upset their body will release stress hormones, these hormones initiate the fight or flight response, so can increase energy and arousal in your puppy. This can also lead to a fearful association to being left along. Puppies eventually fall asleep, but usually due to exhaustion from the stress, rather than a calm induced sleep.
So how can we prepare better for puppies first nights.
We will use a 3 step routine, which will take around 30 mins. It’s a good idea for now, for puppy to go to bed around the same time as you.
Having set up a confinement area already for puppy and feed all his meals in there, and any chews, we have hopefully made it a really nice ‘Zen Den’ area for puppy.
We are going to use some of puppies dinner that we have saved to practice some easy training before puppy goes to bed. Practice for around 5 mins and keep it quite calm and low energy. You can do sit, down, nose touch, name game. Keep it easy, so no stress and quite chilled as we don’t want to make pup too excited. Things that don’t involve much movement but offer brain training.
Puppy toilet time. Do this with puppy on lead, we don’t want them to engage in crazy play, so on lead can be more manged and calmer. Have a little wander around the garden, so pup can find a place to toilet. If puppy is struggling you could drop a couple of treats around the garden and make a little treasure trail, this will help him learn the route around the garden and the best places to eliminate, and will also help him keep his energy focused on something.
We can eventually just use the treat as a reward once pup has done his business.
Put puppy in his confinement area ( Zen Den) and give him a tasty long lasting chew, this will help him settle and also give him something to do if he wakes up in the night.
For the first 3 nights pup needs to be somewhere you can touch him and comfort him if needed, so usually next to the bed or if you choose to sleep downstairs on the sofa then next to your there, so you can just lean over and touch him.
NIGHTS 1-3 – Make sure you are in reachable distance to your pup, so you can just reach a arm across and comfort him.
NIGHTS 4-5 – Start to add a little distance. Keep pup in same room but maybe at the end of your bed instead of next to you.
NIGHT 6 – you can move pup just outside the room now, you are still there if pup needs you, but now pup is starting to get ready to you being a little further away.
NIGHT 7 – Move puppy to where he will permanently sleep, or if you slept on the sofa move back to your bed.
A baby monitor is a good help as you can hear if puppy is distressed or needs to go out. Don’t run down to see puppy immediately, as they could have just been disturbed before they settle again. If pup does need to go out, try not to interact with pup, just clip on the lead, take them out into the garden ( give it a few mins for pup to go), then pop puppy back in bed.