Your Puppy's First Day (& Night) Home
Finally! After weeks of waiting, the puppy you've chosen is now ready to leave his mother and littermates and come home to his new family. This can be an exciting time for you and your household, but it's also a huge step for your puppy. His first day—and night—can be a potentially anxious time. Luckily, you can take several steps to alleviate his fears and ensure he feels comfortable and safe in his new home.
Puppy's First Day Home
Rome wasn't built in a day, and your puppy won't quickly adapt to a new routine, either. There are a few things you can try to make the first day as smooth as possible.
- Calm playtime is key. Interacting with your puppy is important. After all, he's a new member of the family! At the same time, it's wise to avoid too much noise, motion, enthusiasm, and stimulation. Calm and quiet interaction is better at this stage.1
- Puppy-proof the environment. Most likely, you won't allow your brand-new puppy to have full run of the house. Make sure you thoroughly puppy-proof his designated area. You also want to implement basic puppy-proofing in the rest of the house if he escapes his territory. Loose items, cords, food, medications, plants, and household chemicals should all be out of reach.
- Crates are your friend. Many dogs are crate trained and enjoy the sense of routine and security they find in their own space, and your puppy is no different. Provide your puppy with a crate that's big enough for him to be comfortable in but not so big that he is inclined to use one side as a bathroom. As your puppy grows, you'll have to upgrade the crate size or remove the included partition.
- Make slow introductions. Take extra care when introducing the puppy to any other pets you already have in your home. Not all pets are excited about meeting a new member of the family, and your established pets may need time and help to adjust to the change.
- Keep mealtime simple. Wherever you get your puppy, ask what your puppy's current meal routine is and what type of food he's getting. If you can stick to these (at least for now), it's one less variable to change in your puppy's life. You can slowly transition your puppy onto the food of your choice.
- Take frequent bathroom breaks. You may need to take your puppy outdoors every half hour or so.2 Puppies need to be shown the ropes, and frequent potty breaks help set them up for success while helping to keep your carpets and floors from needing constant cleaning. This is a great opportunity for you to start bell training him.
- Puppies love routine. Your puppy will thrive and learn best with a set schedule. While boring to some people, a routine can help your puppy learn what the expectations are for his new home. Consistency breeds familiarity!
Puppy's First Night Home
Given that your puppy is in a new place, it should be no surprise that he'll probably whine, whimper, or howl at night—leaving you wondering how to make your puppy stop crying at night. You have a few options to help ease your puppy through the transition.
- Comforting sounds. If your young puppy has only just left the companionship of his mother and littermates, he will almost certainly miss the comfort of their sounds and warmth. To help him transition, you could supply him with a comfy bed and a pillow that mimics the sound of his mother's heartbeat.
- Comforting smells. Some experts recommend you bring home a toy or blanket that contains the scent of the puppy's littermates (or possibly the mother dog). The idea is that this scented object might be a reassurance to your puppy during that first night away from the litter.3
- Comforting presence. You could try leaving your puppy's crate near the door to your room. This way, the puppy will be able to sense your presence and be reassured that he isn't alone, and you'll still be able to hear him if he wakes up and needs to go out.4 (At this age, your puppy won't be able to wait an entire night to go outside.)
This can help you make sure that your puppy's first few nights at home are the best they can be!
Your puppy may be full of spunk and ready to play, but you probably want to restrict his outdoor playtime for about the first 16 weeks of his life. This doesn't mean he can't go outside under certain conditions, but it's best to be careful until he has received all the vaccines recommended by his veterinarian.
A pet backpack can help keep your puppy off the ground while still getting out in the fresh air. When you and your your puppy are feeling more bold, take a bike ride together. The K&H Travel Bike Basket is a great way for your pup to experience the wind blowing through his fur from the comforts of your bike.
Those first few days and nights at home may not be the easiest for your new puppy, but soon he'll settle into a new routine, and you'll be ready for a lifetime of adventures together!
1. Reisen, Jan. AKC. “How To Help Your New Puppy Deal With Separation Anxiety," 28 July 2017. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/how-to-help-your-new-puppy-deal-with-separation-anxiety
2. Kruzer, Adrienne. The Spruce Pets. “The First 30 Days With Your New Puppy," 12 July 2019. https://www.thesprucepets.com/puppy-101-back-to-basics-4114144
3. Morita, Colby. Puppyintraining. “New Puppy Training Tip – Get The Scent Of The Litter," 5 March 2008. https://puppyintraining.com/new-puppy-training-tip-get-the-scent-of-the-litter/
4. PetMD. “Surviving the First Night with Your Puppy," 13 April 2011. https://www.petmd.com/dog/puppycenter/adoption/evr_dg_surviving_the_first_night_with_your_puppy