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11 Must-Do’s For Puppy’s First Night at Home

I love puppies and I bet you do too. I mean, how can you trust a person who doesn’t love puppies?

Your puppy’s first night at home is a big deal! In time, the puppy will become part of the family and you will be his/her pack, so don’t worry about those first mishaps. There’s no guarantee you won’t initially be awake half the night, but I know that the following tips are going to go a long way in preparing you, your family, and the new puppy for a new adventure.

In this post, I’m going to give you 11 things that you can do to prepare for puppy’s first night at home. They’re all easy and inexpensive, but hugely important.  Let’s go!

1  Bring Something Familiar for Puppy’s First Night at Home.

A puppy’s sense of smell is developed from the minute he or she is born.  The first thing they likely smell is their mother and the old blanket she is laying on. 

Ask the shelter, breeder, or person you are getting the puppy from if you can have a familiar object for the puppy’s first night at home.  That might include a familiar blanket, a towel, a piece of clothing, or a chew-toy.

#2  Put the Puppy in a Crate From the First Night.

Everybody wants a piece of the puppy the minute he or she is in your house. When the sun goes down, a family argument over which bed the puppy should sleep on begins.

The truth is, puppies should not sleep on beds until they are old enough to jump on and off themselves.

After the lights go out and everybody goes to bed, the puppy is left in a big, scary, unfamiliar home.  The anxiety will probably cause unwanted behaviour like shoe-chewing.

You might be interested in reading a post by the American Kennel Club ( Teach Your Puppy These 5 Basic Commands.

To make it easier on everyone, let the puppy sleep in a crate overnight. And don’t think you are doing the puppy a favour by giving him a huge crate!  Puppies do better in crates that are appropriate for the size of the puppy.  Not too big, and not too small.

#3  Minimize Puppy Anxiety to Maximize Best Behaviour

I had no idea what to expect the day I brought my golden retriever home. She was about 10 weeks old and actually started off on a good foot (or paw!). 

That changed quickly whenever I left the house. Unfortunately, nobody told me to put her in a crate from time to time. Instead, I left her with free roam of the house. What a disaster! She chewed through hundreds of dollars worth of shoes and systematically shredded every pillow, cushion, and book, in the house.

It’s a big, new world for your puppy and he or she needs you! If you’re able to bring your puppy with you wherever you go…great! However, it’s probably not practical all of the time. Get your puppy used to going into the crate when you’re going out. Again, the crate is going to provide a sense of security.

#4  It’s Time to Put SNARL Into Action!

SNARL is an easy way to remember the following requirements of dog ownership:

  • S = Spay
  • N= Neuter
  • A = Arrange for vaccinations
  • R = Rabies shots required
  • L = Licensing for your dog

#5  Get a License to Own a Dog 

Laws differ depending on where you live, so check with your local SPCA to find out what licensing you need for your new puppy.  For example, the State of New Jersey Department of Health requires owners to have a license for dogs seven months of age or older. 

Before you can get a license, you’ll have to provide proof of vaccination.  Licensing is inexpensive and the money is used to fund nonprofit organizations like low cost spay and neuter programs.

If your puppy happens to get away and is picked up by Animal Control, you’ll pay a much higher fine than the original cost of licensing.

Um…don’t forget how much new puppy’s like to pee…especially wherever they are not supposed to!

#6 Start Walking the Puppy

Everybody knows that dogs need to be walked and we all say we are going to do it. Then it rains. Or you get tired. The truth is, your dog is going to be much better behaved if he or she is walked regularly.

When the puppy is very young, a short ten or fifteen minute walk is enough. As the dog grows, the length of the walk should grow as well.  Walking provides the following benefits:

  • Weight control
  • Blood pressure control – yours!
  • It allows your puppy to exercise his or her mind through a myriad of sights, smells, and sounds.
  • Walking promotes a balanced dog and a balanced dog is a pleasure to be around.
  • You get to show the dog that you are the pack leader!  I highly recommend Cesar Milan’s books on being a pack leader. I’ve read all of his books and I can promise you his methods work if you stick with it.

#7 Start a Healthy Diet From the Get-Go

It’s easier to start a healthy diet from day 1 than it is to try and change it drastically later. Keep in mind that the needs of a new puppy are different than that of a mature dog. Their developing immune systems, energy levels, and teeth development are all positively affected by a good diet.

Your veterinarian can help guide you through the process of starting an awesome diet right away. Choice of diet is up to you and whether your dog has any allergies.

READ: 99 Reasons to Buy a Pebby Toy!

#8 Get Your Puppy Micro-Chipped

There’s nothing worse than having your dog disappear.  My little Labrador retriever could easily pick up a scent and off she’d go! 

I quickly learned to keep her on a lead and watch her every move when outside.  If she had been micro-chipped, I could have saved myself a lot of anxiety. Once a dog is brought into the SPCA or a shelter, the dog is scanned for a micro-chip. Once that chip is found, the dog and the owner can be quickly reunited.

#9  Trim Those Claws

Start playing with your puppy’s paws early to get her or him used to the sensation. Dogs can get “funny” about their paws and it isn’t easy to trim the nails when they get older. I find that by getting them used to it sooner rather than later, the process is less stressful. Besides, doing it yourself might save you money at the groomer’s.

#10  Keep Those Sharp Teeth Busy

Puppy’s have very sharp teeth and, like infants, they learn about the world by putting things into their mouths. Keep your hands and ankles safe by providing good quality chew toys for your new puppy.  Good quality is key. The last thing you want are toys that are broken on day 1.  Remember that pieces of broken toys are choking hazards.

#11  Watch the Door!

I had no idea how fast puppies were until my little Labrador retriever took off one day. I had accidentally left the screen door open and she was outside on the lawn in seconds.

People often use the same barriers used to protect babies from falling downstairs.  By installing barriers around your house, you can prevent unfortunate – or deadly – accidents.

There’s a lot more to owning a puppy than what you see here. In my opinion, these are some of the more important things to do in the beginning. As the weeks and months go by, you will learn more about your dog and your dog will learn more about you!  Socialization is important but watch out for over-zealous children who might be a little too rough on your brand new puppy. Start with a great diet and make sure to get those vaccinations ASAP.

I wish you luck with your new puppy and I’d like to invite you to send photos!  Don’t be shy…tell me your funny dog stories. I want to know how you survived those first few weeks with a new puppy.  Now that you know what to do with your new puppy, make sure you share the post with others.

Learn all you can about the health of your dog by starting HERE.