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Puppy's first night

Updated: Apr 27, 2019

When a new puppy arrives, the first night is one of the things I know most people worry about. Here's how to settle your puppy in her new home

HotDog Training's tips for settling your puppy overnight
Get your puppy happily settled overnight

First, let's look at why it's very hard for new puppies to settle overnight. For young social animals (that is animals who naturally live in groups), being left alone in an new place is very dangerous. So they cry to attract the attention of their mother (that's now you!) to look after them.

Too often new puppy owners place their puppy overnight in a room like the utility, which the puppy has barely been in, or in a crate, which perhaps the puppy has also barely been in. Then the puppy is left in the dark, and it's quiet, and cold too, since they are used to snuggling with their littermates. Of course they cry!

Scientific studies show that building a strong bond with your puppy (called a secure attachment) is the most likely route to a dog who is confident enough to be left alone. Dogs have evolved to bond with humans and the first week of your puppy's new life with you is crucial. Ideally, you should be around consistently for your new puppy. That means no separations (you can start to add small separations in the second week), and particularly not for long periods, like overnight. My advice is that either the puppy sleeps in your room (he'll move to his permanent sleeping place later, just like a newborn baby would) or that someone sleeps near the puppy for the first few nights. As that secure bond builds, and your house feels like home to your puppy, you can gradually move to the sleeping arrangements that you'd like long term.

While you are sleeping nearby, if puppy wakes in the night, all she needs is a quiet stroke to settle her. Just being there will reassure her that she hasn't been abandoned.

A couple of words here about puppy toileting overnight.

In that first 4-7 nights when you are sleeping near the puppy, if you see signs your puppy needs to toilet, you can take her out (or to her toileting place inside - see house training blog for more on this).

After this, whether you get up at night to take your puppy out depends on which is more important to you - a clean floor or a nights' sleep!

Personally, I'm more keen on getting puppy sleeping happily through the night - toileting accidents are and will be a regular part of puppy life for the first few weeks and newspaper is not expensive ;) So I favour accepting that accidents will happen and that house training is something you work on separately and it all comes together in the end.

Be realistic about how late you can get up to your puppy in the morning - to start with 6am would be good if you have been able to take her out for a final pee around 11pm.

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