First Night With Your Puppy
Updated: Jul 4, 2021
Dr Naveen Pandey, MVetSc
(Dedicated to my friend (Late) Dr Justine Ruszczyk who volunteered to help with my work in Darjeeling during winter 2006, Photo: Naveen Pandey)
Bringing home a new puppy, playing with him, rolling your fingers in his silky fur, and a kiss on his little pink snout bring unparalleled joy and excitement. It is great fun, too. And it can be most horrifying if you are not adequately prepared, both mentally and physically. It remains a fact that puppies seem to pee and poo constantly. So if you are welcoming a new puppy, prepare yourself to have few weeks of interrupted sleep.
Where should your puppy sleep the first night? Of course, in your bedroom! Your puppy is in a new, unfamiliar place, and he was taken from his mother and sibling. He is probably suffering from separation anxiety. Your bedroom is the best place for the first night. Do not, however, let him sleep in your bed. If you wish to keep your puppy in another room, you can do so, with some music playing, as the sound may help him soothe and relax. Keep the fan on unless you live in a cold place or it is winter. Your puppy’s sleeping quarters should be in a small crate or even a cardboard box.
How do you prepare your Fido for bedtime? First, of course, by tiring him out! A cozy nap at your feet or in a corner, right before bed, would not be ideal. Don’t let him snooze for most of the evening. Run around in the garden with him, have your friends come over to visit him, play with him, keep him up and active to help him get worn out so that he is ready to keel over asleep the minute you put him in his bed or crate. Your Fido should by then be too tired to make a fuss! Next, think about everything you might need for a potty trip in the middle of the night: slippers, jacket, flashlight, Fido’s leash. Arrange these before you go to bed so that you don’t have to scramble around looking for them.
Should you feed your puppy before going to bed? Of course not! Cut off your puppy from food and water a couple of hours before bedtime. A full stomach and bladder will force him to get up frequently. So give Fido a chance to empty out before going to bed. If he is asleep, you have to wake him up to do the honors before retiring.
Do you need to prepare for Fido’s overnight potty trip? Yes, of course, by being alert, prompt, and strict! You should be attentive to hear him when he starts to fidget. That could be an indication that his food has been digested and is ready for the next stage! The best way is to schedule it by setting your alarm to wake you up in the middle of the night. Let Fido know from Night 1 that there is a routine in life. Nighttime is for sleeping and not for fun and long walks. So when he gets up for a potty trip, avoid long walks, talks, play, treats, and snacks.
What can you do when crying continues? First, of course, be patient and consistent! Next, find out if the pitiful whimpers, wails, and yelps are for a bathroom break. Suppose he had relieved himself before and still continues crying, then probably he needs a pat and a gentle word. If he still continues to whine, he may need a soft (very mild, mind you) shake by the scruff and a firm ‘hush’. What about granny’s age-old method of filling a metal can with marbles and shaking it each time when your puppy yelps with an accompanying ‘hush’?
Keep patience and be consistent. These are teething troubles in your relationship. They will last only for a few weeks. Not a bad trade-off for a lifetime of a joyful company from Fido. Cheers!
(Dr Naveen Pandey is a writer, traveler, and conservation medicine professional who helps make lives better for animals and people. He serves The Corbett Foundation as its Deputy Director and Veterinary Advisor in Kaziranga, Assam. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)