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Surviving Your First Night With a New Dog

Surviving Your First Night With a New Dog

Welcoming Your Furry Friend Home

Picture this: you’ve finally done it – you’ve added a new four-legged family member to your home. The excitement is palpable as you bring your puppy or rescue dog through the door, eager to start your journey together. But as the sun sets and the first night approaches, a new wave of nerves sets in. What’s going to happen? Will they settle in easily, or is a rude awakening in store?

As a first-time dog parent, I can relate to those feelings all too well. When we brought home our bernedoodle pup, Moose, I was equal parts thrilled and terrified. I had heard the horror stories – the nonstop whining, the potty mishaps, the sheer exhaustion. But I also knew that with the right preparation, that first night didn’t have to be a nightmare. And now, after surviving it ourselves, I’m here to share my hard-earned wisdom and help you conquer those initial jitters.

Setting Up for Success

The key to a smooth first night is all about setting your new pup up for success. Just like when we move into a new home, our canine companions need to feel safe, comfortable, and secure in their surroundings. Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to create that cozy haven.

First and foremost, crate training is your new best friend. Crates provide dogs with a den-like space where they can feel protected, and they’re an invaluable tool for housetraining as well. Start getting your pup accustomed to the crate right away by feeding meals inside, offering tasty treats, and letting them nap there during the day. That way, when bedtime rolls around, they’ll view the crate as a safe haven, not a prison.

Another important consideration is your pup’s sleep schedule. Puppies under 18 weeks old should be fed three times a day, with the final meal happening about 4 hours before bedtime. This gives them time to fully digest and go potty one last time before settling in for the night. Older dogs can typically transition to two meals per day. Stick to a consistent routine, and you’ll be well on your way to establishing healthy sleep habits.

Playtime and Potty Breaks

Of course, a successful first night isn’t just about creating a comfortable space – it’s also about properly tiring out your new furry friend. In the hours leading up to bedtime, engage your pup in some fun and stimulating activities. Training sessions, long walks, and interactive playtime are all great options. Just be sure to allow for a wind-down period in the last hour before bed, giving them time to naturally calm down.

And don’t forget the all-important pre-bed potty break! Take your pup outside one final time, right before you tuck them in for the night. This gives them a chance to relieve themselves, reducing the likelihood of any accidents in the crate. Typically, young puppies can go 4-6 hours between potty breaks overnight, so be prepared to get up a few times to let them out.

Handling the Nighttime Jitters

Now, for the moment of truth – the first night home. It’s completely normal for puppies (and even some rescue dogs) to whine, cry, or bark during those initial hours in their new environment. They’re used to the constant company of their littermates and mom, so the sudden solitude can be very unsettling.

To help ease their transition, try placing the crate in your bedroom, or even attaching a worn t-shirt of yours to the inside. The familiar scent can be incredibly comforting. And if the crying seems to be due to the need to go potty, resist the urge to immediately let them out. Instead, wait a moment to see if they settle back down. If the whining persists, then it’s time for a quick trip outside.

Remember, your pup is counting on you to be their rock during this adjustment period. Staying calm, consistent, and patient will go a long way in helping them feel secure. Before you know it, you’ll both be snoozing peacefully through the night.

Embrace the Journey

Bringing home a new dog is a major life change, and the first night can certainly be daunting. But with the right preparation and a healthy dose of empathy, you can absolutely overcome those initial challenges. And let me tell you, the exhaustion and occasional sleep deprivation are more than worth it when you see your pup’s tail wagging, eager to greet you each morning.

So take a deep breath, trust the process, and get ready to embark on an incredible journey. Your new best friend is counting on you, and you’ve got this! And who knows, once you’ve conquered that first night, you might even find yourself offering advice to the next set of nervous new pet parents.

PetMD, Medium, Reddit, Golden Retriever Forum, Reddit

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