Congratulations! Are you (or are about to become) the owner of a new puppy?
Getting a new puppy is a VERY exciting time. Even before they arrive home your puppy is already forming their own little personality. You might have a puppy that’s super confident and ready to take on the world! Or a puppy that’s a little shy and anxious at first.
You might have a puppy that barks, nips and is super destructive or one that’s fairly chilled. Both are totally normal!
The thing is puppies are all very different. But there are a lot of commonalities in puppy behaviour that we can help with.
In this blog we’ll dive into what to do on your puppy’s very first day and night, and the next 7 days, to set you up for a successful relationship with your new best friend!
Your Puppy’s First Day
When your puppy comes home it can be very tempting to get all the squeaky toys out and play with them non-stop. Everyone wants to come and meet your new puppy and the kids probably want to have lots of cuddles.
Heard of the term “start as you mean to go on”? Do you really want that to be the everyday picture in your puppy’s life that they come to expect?
So one of the first things we do is help our dogs to understand what calmness is – so that when they have been playing, or have had visitors over, they know how to relax and regulate their emotions.
If you’ve ever seen a very over-excited and tired puppy, you’ll probably know that those shark teeth come out! If we can avoid getting to that point then great!
So we’d recommend having a crate for your puppy as a resting place. One that you can move around the house with you. Or maybe have a few dotted around the house. Your puppy will likely sleep a lot on the first day so it’s a great chance to show them that the crate is a cool place to be. Scatter their food in there so they pair the crate with good stuff!
At AbsoluteDogs, we ditch the bowl so that we can use our puppy’s food in training. They have such little tummies that it can be hard to fit extra treats in, so what better way to train than with your puppy’s daily food?
Your Puppy’s First Night
You might have had the advice to leave your puppy in a crate in another room and allow them to cry it out if they wake up. Or maybe you’ve been told that letting your puppy sleep on the bed with you is best. But we know that puppies have very small bladders and usually can’t go through the night without a toilet break in those early days. So leaving them to cry will not only turn into a habit but won’t help form those early bonds in your relationship that will become vital as they get older.
Equally having your puppy in bed with you might lead to toilet accidents and mischief in the night.
We would recommend having your puppy close to you in a crate as they are less likely to toilet where they sleep. Some puppies can go all night without the toilet but generally, you will need to get up those first few nights or more. If your puppy is stirring and making a noise and not settling, and it’s been a good few hours before their last toilet trip, it’s a good indication your puppy needs the toilet.
Pick them up quietly, keep the lights down low and let them do their business in the garden. Having a small gated space is a good idea to stop nighttime play and wandering off!
Once they’ve toileted take them back to bed. Keep noise to a minimum – we don’t want the puppy to think it’s playtime! Generally, they settle back down when they are in the room with you.
Gradually you can start to move them out of the room over time, especially once they start going longer through the night.
Everyone is different – you might decide that the crate is located in the hallway or somewhere else close by – but being able to do the toilet trip before they end up in ‘full wake up screaming mode’ will really help with settling. And being close by gives them some comfort when they’ve been used to curling up to their siblings every night
Your Puppy’s First Week
Dog prefer to interact with their food as opposed to just eating it out of a bowl. The term is called contra freeloading. Using their daily food and providing a diverse diet to your puppy with mental enrichment opportunities for your puppy could include:
- Playing Training Games
- Snuffle Mats
- Stuffed Kongs
- Scatter Feeding
- Frozen Snacks
- Puzzle Toys
- Scent Work
- Obstacle Courses
- Hide & Seek
Walking is just one way of providing exercise – and in those early days, we’d recommend setting your puppy up for success so that the walk is a good experience for them.
You could play some training games from Sexier Than a Squirrel (on sale was £97 now £27!) to set them up and get their focus before you head out the door. All walks ideally want to be mini training walks – thinking about how you would like them to walk as an adult. Get that rehearsal of the good stuff in early!
Puppies need between 17 and 20 hours of sleep a day so that they can process all of the awesome information you are giving them. We’d recommend 1-2 hours at a time to begin with in their crate, perhaps with an enrichment activity such as a filled kong or chew, so they understand that’s the place to chill and switch off.
How frequently your puppy will need to go to the toilet will vary from one puppy to another. Smaller breeds tend to go to the toilet more often. Make time for several breaks throughout the day so that you are setting your puppy up for success. Look out for cues such as circling and sniffing the edges of the room. Never tell a puppy off for toileting inside as they won’t understand and it can actually cause more problems. Simply clean it up and think about why it might have happened.
- Did you leave it too long?
- Are you rewarding them when they do go?
- Is the toilet time boring enough so you’ve limited their choices, or are you giving them too much space in the garden so their interest is elsewhere?
Physical Exercise/Playing Games
To begin with, you won’t be taking your puppy out for walks but there is plenty you can do with them at home. Training games to help with lead walking, socialisation around novel items and objects, noise training, focusing on you, and building a relationship with you. These are all games we teach in Absolute Puppy and Absolute Adolescence.
If you can give your Puppy rest, enrichment and exercise then any ‘naughty’ behaviours like chewing, barking and biting are likely to be few. However, a puppy is a puppy! And sometimes management comes into play. Something we like to do is have our puppies on a puppy line in the house. So that if they are trying to go back to that same table leg for a chew, or they run to the front door, you have a way of managing them without chasing them around the house to try and ‘catch’ them – which in itself can turn into a fun game with your puppy! You can buy puppy lines from our shop here.
That’s a whistle-stop tour of your puppy’s first night and first 7 days.
Your next step is some training games!