First night with Puppy

Puppy’s first night in the new home

Rottweiler puppy Zoe (photo from Urs Christen)For a young puppy, the introduction of a new home can be daunting and even scary: there are new smells, new noises, a new environment, new people, and a new routine away from the familiarity of his or her mother, brothers and sisters. Keeping this in mind, settling the puppy the first few nights can be challenging, especially getting them to sleep through the night.

There are a few different ways to overcome this.

  1. Firstly, the tough love approach of confining the dog to a small area such as the laundry or garage, (so long as these environments are puppy safe) and letting it self-settle.Ensure that your puppy has something comfortable that it feels secure and safe to sleep in, for example a soft puppy igloo, or a kennel with some soft bedding. For some puppies, this approach is very quick and effective.  For others, it just simply will not work. This is not our preferred approach.
  2. A preferable approach is to consider crating your dog inside overnight where it can see and hear the family. Sometimes it may be necessary for the crate to be in the bedroom for the first night or two and then slowly transition it to the long term desired location over a period of days.

Getting the puppy accustomed to its sleeping area/bed

Puppie Ollie (photo from Rachael Smith)Try to associate as many positive things as possible in the area in which your dog will sleep, such as feeding, treats, play time, and short rest times. Be mindful that this area is not a place of punishment.  It is solely for rest and sleep, and must be kept as a positive area only. Do not use it as a time out form of punishment. This process, for some puppies, is very quick and easy. For other puppies, not so. In all cases, gradually increase the length of confinement to minimise any stress associated with this. Remember to have time and patience while your puppy is getting used to its new environment.

Quick tips that may help puppy settle for the night

  • Make sure the puppy has been toileted before trying to settle for the night.
  • Leave a radio on.
  • Leave a dirty shirt or piece of clothing that you have worn during the day. This may comfort the puppy by providing a familiar smell.
  • Environmental enrichment such as a toy or a chew treat in the dog’s sleeping area or crate can be a useful distraction and help to settle it.
  • Consider getting a ‘snuggle pet’ plush toy for your new family member.  These replicate the heartbeat and breathing motion of a littermate and can also have a heat source for your puppy to snuggle into. These should be available from most pet store retailers and vets.
  • Another consideration is to try and keep the puppy active and awake during the evening so that it hasn’t already had four or five hours sleep before you go to bed yourself.  This helps it to form a sleep pattern similar to your own.

Need further assistance?

In extreme cases of puppy anxiety, the Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) from your vet can be a way of helping your pup to become accustomed to the new home and environment. DAP is a synthetic equivalent of the pheromones released from the pup’s mum which helps with bonding. The DAP is a convenient plug-in diffuser that plugs in to a power point in the puppy’s room. There is also a DAP collar which carries the pheromone with the puppy. Please talk to your vet or behaviourist/puppy school instructor for more information and guidance if you feel this may be required.

If in doubt, you can always contact a qualified behavioural therapist that will be able to come out to the home and assess both the environment and the puppy and tailor a solution specific for your family.

See also…
» Puppy set-up service
» Puppy pre-school
» Why puppy school is important