Bringing home a puppy is such an exciting time in any pet owner’s life - you get to raise a brand new family member from the ground up!
But with this comes immense responsibility, which can be overwhelming. With so much conflicting information on how to raise a puppy, it can be daunting to even figure out how to survive your puppy’s first night home!
You should start crate training on the first night. Have everything prepared before the arrival, do proper explorations and introductions during the daytime, and put the puppy in at night with praise, food, and a potty schedule. If your puppy cries, consider why the puppy is crying and either remedy the issue or ignore the crying.
I am here to help simplify this big life change for you.
In this article, I will tell you how to survive your puppy’s first night home and start the crate training journey on the right foot/paw.
Ready? Let’s dive in!
Crate training is highly encouraged for all dog owners - and the best way to do this is to start young! Believe it or not, it is a good idea to start crate training on the very first night your puppy is home.
Depending on where you got your puppy from, some breeders will actually start introducing the puppy to a crate before you even pick up your eight to ten-week-old little bundle.
If the breeder did this, you’d have a much easier time for your puppy’s first night because the crate will be pretty familiar. Most ethical breeders will also send you home with the puppy’s personal blanket, some toys, and anything that contains a familiar scent. If you put this inside of the crate you have at home, this will be a big comfort to your little one.
If the breeder did not start on crate training, or you adopted your puppy from a rescue, you should still begin crate training on the first night. Dogs form habits very quickly, which is even more accurate for small puppies.
The sooner you start teaching your puppy what you need them to know and understand, the better their future will be.
Not that we’ve determined that you should start crate training on the very first night comes the matter of how to do so. Luckily, you can start off your crate training journey in four simple steps for the first night.
Before the puppy arrives at your home, you should have everything all set and ready to go! Coming into a new household is an overwhelming time for your new four-legged baby, so having to shuffle around and put everything in place while the puppy is there can scare them or cause stress.
Make sure the home is puppy-proof, toys are available, and the crate and (if you choose to use it) playpen are fully set up. This included the crate being placed properly and bedding added in! If the breeder provides you with something with the puppy’s familiar scent, go ahead and put that in there when you get home.
The puppy’s crate should be in your bedroom for the first two weeks. You can move the crate out of the bedroom over time, so don’t feel like this will be something permanent unless you want it to be!
But, because new changes are scary for a little one, having the puppy’s crate near you can help a lot. This also allows you to take the puppy out to go potty throughout the night when needed and also listen for any signs of a medical issue or severe distress.
When the puppy is brought home, follow the proper protocols to make sure your puppy becomes acclimated to their new environment as quickly as possible.
Don’t shove new introductions or too many new things at your puppy at once, even if it can be tempting! For the most part, you want to leave the puppy alone to explore and discover where their new home is.
During this discovery process, keep the crate door open. Let your puppy enter the crate of their own free will and check it out. You can toss a treat or two in there to encourage this, but don’t pressure your puppy to try it. In general, don’t pressure your puppy to do anything in their first few hours at home!
Ideally, you want the crate to be a permanent extension of your home in the puppy’s eyes and something that they feel comfortable using.
Once it’s getting closer to evening, and subsequently, closer to dinner time - feed the puppy inside of the crate.
You want to make sure that the puppy continues to associate the crate with positivity.
What better than associating it with fulfilling hunger?! Remember not to close the crate while the puppy is eating.
Every time your puppy goes in the crate, you need to shower them with praise! Act like you are throwing your puppy a party! Be excited and happy in your tone of voice, offer treats and pets, and just show how stoked you are that the puppy has chosen to go inside of the crate.
Once it is time to close the crate, continue to praise and validate that your puppy is doing the right thing by being comfortable inside their crate.
Puppies have teeny bladders and will not be able to make it through an entire night without pottying needs, especially on their first night. So be prepared with a potty schedule and take your puppy out when needed for their age and breed.
Being sure to have your puppy relieve themselves will help them sleep the rest of the night in comfort. Otherwise, you will have a troubled and restless baby, and no one wants a midnight bath!
Puppies don’t understand us yet - so crying in the crate will happen, and you need to be prepared.
Crying, whining, and barking are a puppy’s only forms of communication, so you have to consider that this will happen as they try to express their emotions.
Puppies tend to cry in the crate because being confined in one space is a new experience. They’ve genuinely just been plucked from the only home they’ve ever known and put into something new - so you can expect vocalization about this as well.
If your puppy cries in their crate the first night, and you are certain it is not because they have to go potty or are otherwise uncomfortable, then the best thing you can do is ignore the whining.
If you give in to the whining, you have subsequently taught your puppy that every time they vocalize, you will come running! This will then encourage the crying behavior to persist.
It can definitely be difficult and heartbreaking to ignore the crying. Still, you need to remember that you’re doing this for the puppy’s well-being and helping them become good adult dogs! The more comfortable your puppy becomes with the crate, the less they will cry overtime.