Getting a new puppy is exciting. But that first night with a new puppy can also be overwhelming and even downright scary. Emotions run high, and can quickly turn from loving joy to doubtful uncertainty. When you first bring home a new puppy, you’ll likely feel nervous, hoping you’re doing everything right (or at least not doing everything wrong).
Rover, the nation’s largest network of pet sitters and dog walkers, has your back. Here’s our checklist of everything you need to know from what to buy, to what to do to get through your new puppy’s first night (and the morning after!)
When your new puppy comes home, you’ll want to play with them, give them cuddles, and watch them sleep. The last thing you’ll want to do is go supply shopping. It’s a good idea to have everything they’ll need before they even set foot into their new home. Check out our guide for puppy supplies for even more information.
Take the Day (or Two) Off
Just like a new baby, a new puppy requires a lot of time, patience and energy. You won’t want to leave your new puppy alone for a minute, so try to take a day or two off if your schedule permits. Being there during those first few days will solidify the bond with your pup as you get to know one another. You’ll also be happy to have an extra day to catch up on sleep after a potentially sleepless first night. This is a whole new world for both of you!
Potty train ASAP
Before you walk through your door, take your puppy to a “potty spot”, and give them a chance to go. When they do, make a fuss by praising them right away and giving them treats. Try to avoid heading inside until after they’ve had a chance to eliminate outside.
Once you’re in, plan on heading back out for a potty break every two hours. Accidents will happen, but it’s best to establish a schedule as soon as you can to get off on the right paw.
Get them into the Puppy Zone
When your puppy first comes home, you’ll want him to feel like he’s part of the family. You’ll also want to teach the house rules, routines and how to be a good citizen in the family. An effective way to establish boundaries and keep your puppy happy and comfortable is to set up a “puppy zone”. This zone is contained to keep your puppy safe and ensure she doesn’t wander off while you’re not looking. It can contain her bed, toys, water bowl and food. Introduce your puppy to the zone as soon as you get home. Throw in some treats or kibble to get them to walk in on their own. The more fun, the better they’ll enjoy it and settle in.
Keep it Quiet
When your new pup comes home it’s tempting to shout from the rooftops and invite over all the neighbours. But what works for you may not work for your puppy. Everything is new for him, from the potentially scary car ride to the vast open plains of your house and its inhabitants. Try keeping your puppy’s first day quiet, relaxed and safe. You’ll have many more weeks for introductions and to make memories. Those first 24 hours are for settling in and, most likely, sleeping. A lot.
Being a puppy is hard work! They tend to sleep 15-20 hours a day, with added hourly bathroom breaks thrown in. If your puppy is 8-12 weeks old, they will probably nap for most of the day, but need to go outside the moment they wake up. This will likely continue into the night. Try to establish a bedtime routine on that very first day – and stick to it. Challenging as it may be, a routine will help your puppy understand that nighttime is the right time for sleeping, not playing. Whether your puppy is contained or crated, in your room or their own space, the key is having a puppy-specific sleeping space that’s cozy and comfortable.
Memories of Mommy
Your puppy has a super-strong sense of smell, and will probably be overwhelmed by all the exciting scents in their new home. If your puppy comes from a breeder, you can help them feel less afraid of the new environs by placing a memory of their mama in their crate. When you pick up your puppy, bring a towel or t-shirt with you and pet down your puppy’s mother with it to have her scent rub off on the fabric. Some breeders may even send you home with some of the bedding from the litter.
Another trick to soothe your pup on their first night away from the only home they’ve known is to place a ticking clock under their bed to remind them of their mother’s heartbeat. Some white noise machines have a heartbeat setting or consider a SmartPetLove Snuggle Puppy to calm your puppy and keep him relaxed. It even comes with a disposable heating pad to mimic the feeling of being part of a pack.
Ask for Help
Those first 24 hours may fly by. Or not. Puppies are as challenging as they are adorable, so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Just like human babies, puppies need attention, company, care and a lot of interaction. They’ll whine, cry and accidentally pee on the floor, and it can all be overwhelming. You’ll soon settle into a routine that works, but sometimes an extra pair of hands can help. Hiring an in-home daycare provider or pet-sitter can give you peace of mind with worry-free care for your new furry bundle of joy.