Ask anybody who’s ever gotten a puppy, and they’ll tell you: the first 24 hours can be rough, especially puppy’s first night. There’s all the excitement of “OMG, A PUPPY!!!” tempered with the self-doubt of “OMG, do I know how to handle a puppy?!” Most new puppy parents go through a period of uncertainty, wondering whether or not they’re doing it right.
No matter how in love you are with your new furry friend, you’re going to face some challenges. Read on for a guide on how to survive the first 24 hours with your new puppy.
Prepare in advance
When your puppy arrives, you won’t want to do anything but play with them and watch them sleep. So, it’s a good idea to set up everything they need before the first 24 hours even start.
Here’s a basic checklist of must-have puppy supplies:
- Adjustable collar and leash
- Collar tags with contact info
- Food and water bowls
- High-quality puppy food
- Poop bags and holder
- Dog bed (for puppy’s first night)
- Toys and treats (start simple—you’ll learn your puppy’s preferences the longer they’re with you)
- Playpen and baby gates
See our comprehensive guide for puppy supplies.
Take the day off (maybe even two days)
Taking care of a new puppy takes lots of time and energy. Plus, you’ll want to spend every possible moment with your new, furry bundle of joy!
If your work and life schedules allow, plan to take off at least one full day when you first bring your puppy home. In fact, work from home for a few days if you can.
Being there as much as possible in the beginning will help solidify your bond. You’ll be grateful for the time to help your puppy settle in. You’ll also appreciate the chance to recover from possible sleeplessness on puppy’s first night. You’re both learning, after all!
Start potty training right away
As soon as you get your new puppy home, take them to their “potty spot.” When they eliminate, praise them right away with lots of positive vocalizations and a treat. Try to make sure they go potty outside before you take them indoors.
After your puppy is inside, plan on potty breaks every two hours. Accidents are bound to happen, but you can start your puppy off on the right paw by establishing a schedule right away.
Learn more on setting a puppy schedule.
Show them their “puppy zone”
The first day (and first night) with your puppy is a time to teach them that they’re part of the family. But you also want to establish a routine, as well as physical boundaries, to teach them proper in-home behavior.
You can establish boundaries and help your puppy get used to her new home on the very first day by setting up a “puppy zone.”
My puppy friend Clem, pictured above, has a deluxe suite in his family’s living room. It includes his bed, crate, favorite toys, and food and water bowls, all surrounded by an x-pen that keeps him from wandering away while no one’s looking.
Show your new puppy their home base as soon as they get home, and throw some kibble or treats in so they enter it of their own accord. The more fun you can make it, the more likely they are to settle in quietly.
Keep it quiet on day one
When you get a puppy, it’s tempting to invite all your friends over to meet her right away. Of course, you want to show off your new best friend to the world!
But remember, your puppy just went on a scary car ride and is in a brand new place with people she doesn’t know.
Make your puppy’s first day safe, quiet, and easy. There’s plenty of time for visitors later. For now, let your puppy settle into her new digs—and her new family—in peace. Besides, she’ll probably want to sleep. A lot.
Prepare for naps (and a potentially sleepless first night)
Being a puppy is exhausting. Puppies sleep, on average, 15-20 hours a day! However, they also have near-hourly bathroom needs.
If your puppy is 8-12 weeks old, they will probably take lots of short naps during the day and need to go outside right away when they wake up.
On puppy’s first night, they will probably wake you up a few times. Like human babies, puppies wake up throughout the night. Establish a bedtime routine on your first day with a puppy and stick to it. While the first night may be challenging, a routine should help your puppy understand what’s expected when the household goes to sleep.
Some people like to have the puppy’s crate in their bedroom, others prefer for the puppy to be in their own room from the beginning. The important thing is to establish a specific sleeping place to help your puppy get the routine. You can make it a warm, inviting place with a nice bed and snuggly toy.
Remind puppy of mama
Scent is your puppy’s strongest sense, and on their first night away from mom, they’ll be overwhelmed by new smells. You can help make them feel at home by placing a mama-scented t-shirt or towel in their crate.
When you go to pick up your puppy to bring them home, take an old t-shirt or towel with you, and wipe it on the mama dog. Or, ask the breeder in advance if you can take some of the mama’s bedding home with your new pet.
Want another trick to soothe your new friend on puppy’s first night away from mom?
Hide a ticking clock under their bedding. The steady tick-tock will remind them of their mama’s heartbeat. Or, get a Smart Love Snuggle Puppy, which mimics the sound of a beating heart and comes with a disposable heating pad for extra comfort.
Ask for help when you need it
Let’s be real: the first 24 hours with your puppy can be challenging. Puppies have a lot in common with human babies. They need company, activity, and lots of interaction. Sometimes they cry and have accidents as they learn how to be in the world.
Once you get through the first day, you and your puppy will settle into a routine together. But sometimes, you may need a little help. Hiring a loving pet sitter or in-home daycare provider provides worry-free care for your precious new pup.
Thanks to Clem the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon puppy and his family for sharing tips and pics from their first day together!