The first night with your new addition is the first and hardest hurdle in your new relationship. Not only is their new home a completely new surrounding, with new people and new smells, it is probably the first time they have ever been alone.
There’s a few things you need to make sure your dog is comfortable as they can be on their first night in their new home, such as:
Comfortable bed/crate: Take some time intoducing them to their new bed/crate so they know what to expect when it comes to bed time. (It depends which method you choose to take here, we chose not to crate train Ember but it is something to seriously consider). You also need to decide which room they are going to sleep in, we decided to have Ember in the kitchen as there was easy access to the back door.
Blanket: Preferably a blanket (or bit of clothing) which smells like you or even their mother/littermates. This is good for comforting them and the scent is handy when they are feeling particularly lonely. It’s also a tool to help keep them warm, as they can feel quite cold a few days after being taken away from their litter mates.
Special bedtime toy: Having a special toy you only get out at bedtime is not only comfort for them during the night, it is also a good way of getting them into a routine to teach them when it is bedtime. When the toy comes out they know it’s time to get into bed.
Clock: This was a really handy trick my friend recommended. The ticking of a clock simulates a heartbeat, which puppies are used to hearing from their mothers/littermates and dogs might even be used to it from you. Wrap it up in a blanket and keep it next to their bed for the first couple of weeks to help their relax.
There are a few things you should do before you put your dog to bed for the night.
– The general rule of thumb is to feed them several hours before bedtime and take their water away 2-3 hours before bedtime. Leave enough time between finishing their food and taking their drink away in case they get thirsty.
– Take them out into the garden just before bed to allow them to go to the toilet, this also introduces them to a routine of going out to the toilet before bed, this helps to start house training too.
– Play with your pup for a while in order to tire them out enough to have a sound sleep. Don’t allow them to nap before bedtime.
– If they are sleeping in a crate, make sure there is a space away from the bed to do any toilets they may have to do. If they are in another room put some newspaper or puppy pads down on the floor and make sure there is nothing loose for them to grab and especially no loose wires for them to chew.
A crying dog is one of the worst noises, they do it in such a way that it makes you feel guilty the moment they start the first whine. We used to think of it as Ember singing herself to sleep (something I did as a child) but it didn’t make us feel any less guilty. However with crying, especially through the night, tough love is the important tactic to have. It is easier said than done but you are doing no one any favours if you coddle a dogs every whim.
Your puppy could be crying for one of two main reasons: they need to go to the toilet, or they want attention. It’s obviously fairly difficult to distinguish the difference. Remember puppies have small bladders and can generally only hold their toilet for an hour plus their age in month. For example, a 3-month-old can hold their bladder for 4 hours.
If you choose to get up during the night don’t cuddle or play with your dog, as they will attempt to do with you. Don’t talk to them just pick them up and take them to their toilet place in the garden. If they do their business reward them with a stroke and a ‘good *name*’ and ‘good toilet’. Using the word toilet here is another important tactic to help house training. If they don’t need the toilet give them a little stroke and put them back to bed. Keep in mind puppies are cleverer than you think, so if you attend to every cry they eventually cotton on to this.
The next morning
– As soon as you get up, carry your puppy to their toilet area, praise them when they do their business, using the word toilet again to reinforce the house training routine.
– Expect accidents overnight, don’t punish them for it as they will not remember why you are punishing them.
Remember to be patient, it may take several, sleep-deprived nights to get your puppy settled. But just stay consistent with your routine and it will eventually be all worth it.