How to handle your new dog's first night at home

Your dog’s first night at home can be both an exciting yet exhausting experience for both of you. It will be the first time your puppy has spent the night away from what it considers to be its home comforts. With some patience and preparation in the days leading up to your dog’s first night in your home, you can help your dog to settle.

Read on for our top tips on bringing a dog home for their first time.

Dog-proof your home and prepare with supplies

Close the doors to the rooms, bedrooms, and bathrooms you don’t want your new dog to go into just yet. Preparing for your dog’s first day at home, before leaving to collect him or her will help them to feel at home and grow accustomed to the new surroundings more quickly. Protect any wires and cables from being chewed and secure small objects which your new dog may swallow. It’s worth putting away any delicate objects which could be easily knocked over.

Stock up on essential supplies

There’s no need to get your new dog a designer jacket just yet - you should first concentrate on the essentials.

To help you with the basics here are some of the essential items you’ll need to have:

Lead - it’s worth having both a short and a long lead. With a short lead you will have more control when walking your dog near busy roads. A longer lead will allow your dog the freedom to run around and sniff in a safe environment.

Collar and ID tags - In the UK, the Control of Dogs Order 1992 states that every dog must wear a collar with an ID tag, clearly showing the name and address of the owner.

Microchipping - if your dog is not already microchipped, make the appointment for as soon as possible after you bring them home. It’s the law in the UK that every dog must be microchipped. If you are adopting your dog from a rescue centre, then make sure you change the details on the microchip to your own.

  • Chew toys - encourage playing and bonding
  • Bed or crate - to give your dog its own dedicated space within your home
  • Preferred food - as a sudden change to their diet can upset your dog’s stomach
  • Water and food bowls - ensure these are the right size for the breed of dog you’re bringing home.
  • Treats for training and rewards - rewarding good behaviour with a treat can help to introduce good behaviour more quickly
  • Odour and stain-removing cleaners - for any little accidents

Cancel your plans and get to know your pooch

It’s important that your new dog starts to feel comfortable around you from day one and if you have a younger dog or are adopting a dog, the training starts immediately. If you’re picking up your new dog on a weekday consider taking the day off work and don’t make any plans for at least the first 24 hours. You need to be there for your dog to help it adjust to the new sounds, smells, sights of home.

Introduce your dog to their new home

A dog will take time to adjust to their new home so cancel the welcome home party and make sure you have a low-key but pleasant first day or two. Try and keep a mellow and calm mood in the house so that your dog has time to settle in and won’t be overwhelmed by a group of loud and lively strangers.

Ensure your dog doesn’t need any bathroom trips during the night

To make sure you’re not taking your dog to the bathroom all night and help ensure that your dog doesn’t do its business in your house, give them food and water before about 6 PM or 7 PM. Your dog will be running on empty when it’s time to sleep.

Make sure to spend some time playing with your dog before you want them to go to sleep so they are tired enough to get a good night’s rest. Just before your dog’s bedtime show them their toilet area outside and wait patiently until they finish their business.

Introducing your dog to their bed

Reduce the chances of a whining or crying dog on the first night at home by letting your dog sleep in your bedroom but under no circumstances should you let the dog sleep in the bed with you. If you make this mistake your dog will expect to be allowed to sleep in the bed forever afterwards, and this can lead to a number of behavioural problems, especially with younger dogs. Having your dog in your room on the first night and the constant contact will help your dog adjust to you and establish you as a leader. If your dog previously slept in a crate, you should definitely look at purchasing one to keep them in familiar surroundings. You can also leave a jumper or t-shirt with your scent on it to help them adjust to your presence.

How to make a dog stop crying at night

You should be ready for your dog to cry at night, but you’ll need to decide if they need the bathroom or are looking for attention. If your dog has been quiet for a few hours and begins crying suddenly, you may need to take them out. Should your dog continue to cry and whine having not needed to go to the bathroom, soothe it for a while. Be careful not to be too doting as this will only reinforce the behaviour of crying for attention. A quick and firm “quiet” and some tough love will lead to your dog’s crying getting resolved quicker. Being stern one minute and coddling the next will only confuse your dog.

Should the sleepless nights continue...

If your dog is particularly young they may be crying due to being separated from their previous home. You may want to consider keeping the light on for your dog or investing in a nightlight to help soothe it. Some dogs find the light to be comforting while others don’t notice the difference so the best thing to do is to see what the best fit is for your dog.

The morning after the night before

The first thing you should do after your dog’s first night at home is to take them to their bathroom outside. Depending on their size you may choose to carry them there instead of walking as they may be tempted to relieve themselves before getting outside. Make sure to praise your dog once they’re finished so they will feel encouraged and get used to going to the bathroom at that time and place.

While your first night might not be the quietest or best night’s sleep you’ve had, if you’re patient and understanding your dog will quickly learn what’s expected when it’s time for bed. After just a few nights together following this routine, you and your dog should be able to sleep and wake up feeling rested.

If you’re considering welcoming a dog into your home, make sure to check out our SuperDogSelector. By answering a few simple questions about your lifestyle and home, our dog selector tool will help you to find the perfect breed of dog which can help make all the difference to your and their first night at home.

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