How To Handle Your Puppy’s First Night At Home

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Your puppy’s first night at home. It’s definitely exciting…It’s definitely fun…Here are some things to think about before your puppy arrives at your home.

It’s been about a year (UPDATE: Yowzers! It’s been almost 12 years now!) since I brought a 7-week old puppy named Stetson home from Guide Dogs of America (GDA).

It made me think of our wonderful first meeting in Sylmar, CA, and also the countless nights without sleep for the following four weeks.

GDA does not leave you empty-handed after you pick up your puppy.

In fact, they give you a puppy manual on what to expect and what you should do during those first few days and nights at home.

These steps aren’t only for guide dogs and can be followed by anyone bringing home a puppy for the first time.

Your Puppy's First Night Home
Your Puppy’s First Night Home

QUICK TIP: You probably won’t be able to get your hands on a guide dog puppy manual. A good alternative that we highly recommend and read before bringing home our first puppy, Linus is Puppies for Dummies.

When You First Get Your Puppy Home

QUICK ACCESS: If you’re having puppy training problems then you should join our Puppy Training Tips email list and get instant access to our New Puppy Owner Checklist PDF. To get started CLICK HERE.

Everything’s New…Everything’s a First…

First things first…we are informed that up to this point your puppy has been with his mother and his littermates in a sterile environment.

It’s advised that your puppy’s first week at home should be a quiet one. The puppy should be allowed to explore and meet his new family.

You should now start teaching your puppy his name (amazing because now Stetson knows his name like the back of his paw).

When you first arrive home give your puppy a chance to relieve himself in an area you have designated for that purpose (Stetson’s designated spot was in the gravel area on my patio).

In case you need to brush up here’s a tutorial we wrote up on the basics of potty training your puppy.

Take your puppy out on a leash (without his bib on) — (GDA puppy’s in training are never allowed to “Get Busy” with their bib/jacket on) — and repeat “Get Busy” (Remember this may be the first time your puppy has heard these words).

Allow your puppy 10-15 minutes, if he hasn’t relieved, take him inside. Try again in 10 minutes.

If the puppy does relieve himself in the proper area, give him lots of praise. Then let him explore the house (remember to supervise – don’t let him out of your sight).

Afterward you may take him inside, but remember to supervise the puppy; do not let him out of your sight. Talk to your puppy when it explores to make him feel more at home.

QUICK RECOMMENDATION: We recently started training our puppies to alert us when they have to go potty by using a potty training doorbell called the Smart Bell. It requires a little bit of training, but it’s a good alternative to your dog scratching up the backdoor.

Puppy’s First Night At Home

Yellow Lab puppy half under couch facing his little plush doggy toy.
How to handle a puppys first night home

If you’ve raised a puppy before then you probably know this is where the real fun begins (sarcasm…this is actually when you learn that you do not get to sleep your first night home with a new puppy).

QUICK TIP: Check out this blog post if you want to know everything you should expect from your 8-week old puppy.

The first few nights at home may be difficult for both you and your pup.

At night the puppy will feel lonely and will probably demonstrate this by whining (Oh, you betcha!).

These are a few things that you can do that might make the puppy feel at home.

  1. Your puppy’s sleeping quarters should be in a small crate. We use a MidWest Life Stages Double Door Crate which comes with a divider (this allows us to adjust the crate size) and put a blanket over it to make it seem more cozy.
  2. Keep the crate in a draft free area next to your bed. For approximately the first three weeks, if your puppy cries, take him out, on leash to relieving area. After relieving put him back into his crate. Do not give him any treats or any play time. Put him right back into his crate and he should go back to sleep.
  3. Under no circumstances take the puppy to bed with you. This will form a very undesirable habit. trust me…it’s difficult to avoid doing when your puppy is whining all night, but it’s very important to leave him in his crate.
  4. Give the puppy a stuffed dog toy to snuggle with.I was told to bring a plush dog toy with me to GDA when we met the litter and get each of Stetson’s littermates scent on the toy. Then when it was time to crate Stetson for the first night he could snuggle with the toy and smell the scent of his littermates.

QUICK TIP: Over the years we’ve tried many different plush toys for our puppy’s first night home. Our favorite and one we highly recommend is the Snuggle Puppy Toy with heart beat and heat pack. Our last puppy, Charlie loved his Snuggle Puppy Toy and it helped him sleep better his first night in his crate.

Puppy’s First Feeding

Little yellow Lab puppy being held by his human (me, Colby)
Picking up Archer. Prepping for another first night home with a new puppy 🙂

This will be your puppy’s first meal by himself. Once your puppy’s food (we feed our puppies and recommend Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Puppy Food) is prepared, you will start having your puppy sit and wait for his food.

Hold your puppy by his collar by slipping your thumb in his collar and set his food about two feet away. As soon as he stops wiggling, say the words “O.K.” and release your puppy.

This should be done at every meal throughout training.

My Experiences With My Puppy

At Stetson’s puppy kindergarten I was always reminded that every puppy is different. Even within a breed.

There are several people in our group who have raised 10 or more Labrador Retrievers in the Guide Dogs of America program and each one is different.

My experience with Stetson was very difficult in the early days and weeks. I had no problem with Stetson when I first got him home.

I already knew about the trials and tribulations with house training and crate training after raising my first rescue puppy, Linus.

Puppy’s tend to piddle about every 10 to 20 minutes. You have to watch them like a hawk or they will end up using your house as their personal restroom.

Stetson had some accidents here and there, but nothing out of the ordinary.

The agony came in the evening.

Stetson did NOT take to the crate!

He whined, and howled, and cried, and barked…probably made every noise he could possibly produce, but would not relax and go to sleep.

He did sleep once in a while (honestly I felt like a zombie for over a month).

During those first 4 weeks, the most sleep I got was approximately 6 hours, broken up 3 or 4 times a night by whining, howling, barking…you get the picture.

I was a wreck and I thought Stetson would never get used to his crate.

The only way I was able to get him to sleep was to talk to him for 5-10 minutes, telling him what a “good boy” he was when he wasn’t crying (if he did cry I would just keep silent tell he stopped).

To try and quiet him down I’d either say “quiet” or “Shhh”.

Black Lab puppy playing with his little purple plastic grenade toy.
Awww, first night home with puppy Stetson was…sleepless…

I have two words for you – consistent and patient. After about 4 weeks of consistently sticking to my guns, not letting him out of his crate, and praising him when he was quiet Stetson suddenly stopped making noise in his crate. He’d let me sleep through the night and I thought I’d reached bliss.

I’m constantly reminded that I need to be consistent with Stetson’s training and patient. In the long run, it pays off. Stetson has not barked, howled, or whined in months.

As a matter a fact I can only recall him barking one time in the past 1/2 year (he barked because he was trying to get my attention to go outside).

I actually think it’s kind of unusual that he doesn’t bark at all anymore, but I’m lucky to have more peace and quiet.

If you’re having troubles getting your puppy to quiet down in his crate at night then take a look at this article that includes 20 tips for helping your puppy get used to his crate.

Your Puppy’s First Night – Quick Recap

  1. Make sure you have all the essential items you need for your puppy. Check out our New Puppy Checklist.
  2. Get a good book on raising and training a puppy like Puppies for Dummies.
  3. Your puppy’s first few days should be a quiet one. Let him get comfortable in his new environment.
  4. Start training your puppy immediately with basics like potty training, name, and crate.
  5. Always supervise your puppy.
  6. Use a small crate near your bed. – We recommend the MidWest line of crates.
  7. Give your puppy a stuffed dog toy to snuggle with. – we highly recommend the Snuggle Puppy Toy with heartbeat and heat pack.
  8. Puppy’s first feeding – have him wait before meals. – we give our puppies and recommend Wellness Core Puppy Formula.
  9. Be consistent, persistent, and patient when training your puppy.

That’s it! Hopefully, now you’re prepared for the first night home with your puppy.

What experiences do you have with your puppy’s first night at home?

Tell us your experiences in the comment section below.

Yellow Lab puppy sleeping half underneath a couch.
How to handle your puppys first night at home.

UPDATE: This post was originally published on January 30th, 2008. We made some updates and left some of the content the same. We’ve learned a lot over the years and it reflects in the new information.

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Check out more of our favorites on our New Puppy Checklist.

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597 Comments

  1. We just brought home our 9 week old Corgi! He’s precious but stubborn…we are trying to commit to crate training.
    Two questions:
    – how do we commit to outdoor potty training without his shots being complete? We do not suspect that there would be parvovirus in our backyard but we have rabbits and squirrels that are found back there often?! We have a circle pen with artificial grass out back in order to keep him off the yard just in case but he will not go. We bring him in and he puddles right on the hardwood floors?

    Lastly, how often during the day do you put them in the crate? He howls and whimpers until he passes out in a nap 🙂

    Thank you, Dayna

    1. Congratulations on your new puppy! When we potty train we take them out on leash even in our own backyard. This way we can control where he’s going to potty. When our puppies are 9 weeks old we don’t put them in the crate for more than 2 hours during the day. Good luck with your new puppy!

  2. I just got a beautiful female Belgium Malinois puppy. She was born on father’s day. She’s very young and she has already been doin Great on her potty training already. Her name is ‘Ziah.’ Shes SOOO Precious and Veryy Intelligent that shes also already learned to sit and shake, fetch her fav. squeaky ball and she brings it back to me. Shes SOOO AweSome and she has already started goin to puppy obedience school and she even amazed the trainer on how fast she has picked up her training lessons. Everyone Loves her. I’m SOO proud of her, ‘Ziah’ is my world, I love her Veryy much. I’m gonna give her the best of everything.

  3. We brought our 12 week old Cavapoo home & was given the food she’s been eating but she won’t eat it and her tummy is making I’m guessing hungry noises, breaks my heart. She’s chewing on my finger, almost everything she sees and won’t eat her food. Even from my hand she won’t eat. She went pee once and poo twice about 20 min after arriving to my house but only had a little water and no food at all. I’m not sure what to do with the no eating and chewing on everything. I don’t want her to eat parts of her blanket.

    1. Congratulations on your new puppy! If you haven’t already you’ll want to take your puppy to your veterinarian for a puppy checkup. Your vet should be able to help you determine what might be causing your puppy not to eat.

  4. Its Luna’s (a three month old shih tzu) first night here and I was panicking big time because she is my first puppy. I am really happy that I came across this website; it really helped me calm down especially when she started crying in her crate. Thank you so much!

  5. I have found music helpful in getting dog to sleep. I googled “music to help dog sleep” on my smartphone” and a number of them came up to choose from. This music will help owner to sleep as well! Works great for both of us.

  6. I think I’ve read this article over 10 times now. Thank you for the helpful article!

    Tomorrow is the big day! We are bringing home our 8 week old Golden Retriever puppy and he will be my first pup!

    I love dogs, we babysit our friends dogs, but never raised one of our own and boy am I excited. I’m also nervous for crate and potty training but your words helped a lot.

    We bought the crate, which I bought the huge 42” Midwest with divider only to realize it’s too big to fit in our room practically. However, we put in our laundry room for day use for now. We were able to get a smaller puppy sized one that fits nicely right by my bedside until he grows out of it. We also got the snuggle puppy with heartbeat. I’m going to bring and rub on his litter mates and mom when I pick him up tomorrow.

    We will be potty training, crate training and name teaching this wknd so wish us luck!!

  7. I mostly like your info but I do recommend adding how to do a lot of other things, like how to train them and how to potty train them😀😀

    1. Puppy pads in locations where your puppy is. One just in the bedroom at night. One just outside the bedroom one in the living room one by the front and rear doors. Praise him when he uses it.

  8. I just got an 8 week old puppy, and he HATES being in the crate at night… I’ve tried taking him outside, saying “quiet” or “hush”, and I’ve tried praising when he is quiet. I’m at my whits end… what do i do?

  9. I disagree with not letting the puppy sleep on the bed. Our little Ares plays for a few minutes in the bed then walks to the foot end and falls asleep at my feet he wakes us up at 0500 9n weekdays. On weekends he sleeps in until 0800.

    1. He is 14 weeks old. Our first pup named Ares recently died from cancer at the age of 4. He slept with us from 7 weeks. Never had any problems with him either.

  10. Hi, I have a 16month Cavoodle pup who was crate trained as a pup and still loves sleeping at nights in his crate.
    I am getting him a sibling next week, 12 week old Cavoodle. He will also already be crate trained and I will continue this.
    My question is should I place the new puppies crate in my room for the first few nights as I did with my first or would it be better next to my other dogs crate in our lounge?
    Suggestions for bringing home a new sibling both crate trained please ?

    1. Early congratulations on your new puppy. At our house we have it setup with one crate on each side of the bed. If we have two puppies at once then the newer puppy usually sleeps by me and the older puppy sleeps on my wife’s side of the bed.

      It’s totally up to you, but if it were me and I had to have one or both puppies out in the lounge then I’d have the older puppy in the lounge and the younger one by my bed to hopefully allow the younger puppy to form a closer bound with me.

      1. Yes I agree, And this is what I think I’ll definitely do initially with the new baby. Till his comfy in our home and his new environment.

        Thanks for your advise !

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