“Hi, can you put together a sort of checklist of what someone might need for the first night with a puppy?” –A reader
There is a LOT that can be said on what you need for your new puppy, but let’s keep this down to the bare minimum for brevity’s sake.
• A safe place for them to sleep
• Cleaning supplies for their inevitable accidents
• Chew toys and cuddle toys they are allowed to have
• Food and water
• A leash and collar or a safe fenced area for them to do their business
• A vet appointment for as soon as possible
• A lot of time and patience
1) Why does my puppy need a safe place to sleep, and what constitutes a “safe place”?
While young puppies do sleep a lot, they can still get into things that could seriously injure or kill them while you sleep. They can tear open cushions and eat the stuffing, eat the carpet, chew on exposed cables, gnaw on your furniture legs, eat wallpaper, or simply just pee on your pants or in your shoes.
Puppies will do things we could never dream of them doing, and in a shockingly short amount of time, too. For the next foreseeable future, your puppy absolutely needs a safe place you can leave him at night, for his own good. Crates are the best and safest place to put your puppy, but otherwise you should have a “puppy proof” room for him to sleep in, such as a bathroom—keeping in mind that shower curtains and any toiletries should be kept far out of reach.
Chances are that your pup is going to cry the first couple of nights no matter where you put him, unless you let him sleep on your bed with you. While that is a valid option, keep in mind that your pup could injure himself while attempting to jump off in the middle of the night, or even pee on it, and it will only work while you’re there sleeping with him and won’t provide a safe place to keep him if you need to leave him alone while you run errands or go to work.
2) What kind of cleaning supplies do I need?
There are plenty of pet odor neutralizing products you can choose. Whatever you do, don’t use bleach-containing products on urine spots. Try to keep your pup off carpets and rugs so that if they do have accidents, they do it on easy-to-clean surfaces. Then wipe it up with paper towels, spray with odor neutralizers and disinfectant, let it sit for a minute, and then wipe it up again.
3) Why are toys so important?
Toys provide numerous functions for your dog. They provide stimulation and exercise. They provide a relief for teething, and they smell like you and provide comfort at night when they sleep. Toys are a crucial element for redirection training. Whenever your puppy grabs something he can’t play with, you should have an alternative to offer him that he can play with instead. He doesn’t need a treasure chest full of toys, (although I’m sure he wouldn’t complain) but he should have two or three toys he can choose from with which you can play different games, like tug or fetch, or just for him to cuddle with.
4) Food and water
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Your pup needs food and water. For the first few nights you should have been given a small amount of food of the brand that your pup has been eating so far. You can either continue to feed that same food, or find an alternative that better suits your pup’s needs and mix it in with the food he’s already used to and wean him off it. He should always have water readily available, until a couple hours before bed. Offer him water one last time for the night, and then take him out again before bed to help reduce chances of accidents in the night. Be sure to give him water again first thing in the morning.
5) Leash and collar
No matter how clingy and small your new puppy is, they are always a flight risk. You should never let them out in an un-gated environment without a collar and leash. To be honest, even within a fenced in yard, it can be dangerous to let them out without a leash if you’re planning on coming back inside any time soon. You would be surprised how fast and squirmy those little furballs can be when you’re ready to go back inside and they aren’t. Also, it is very important to let them learn to go potty while on the leash. Many a time I’ve potty trained my pups by letting them go in the yard, and they would refuse to go while on the leash if we were out somewhere else and I needed them to relieve themselves.
6) A vet appointment
It continually surprises me how many people skip this step. Your very first priority when you pick up your puppy, should be to schedule a vet appointment. Any time I’ve planned the pick up date of my new companion, I have scheduled their vet appointment before I’ve even taken them home. It doesn’t matter what vet receipts you are shown, or how much you are assured that they are healthy, you should always go straight to the vet for a check up, have them look up their past vet records, and, if necessary, get their next round of shots. My vets have told me that so many of their parvo cases could have been avoided if people had just come straight to them with their puppies for their shots. Take your puppy straight to the vet, if only just to have them confirm that your pup is healthy.
7) A lot of time and patience
The simple fact is that at some point your pup is going to destroy something you really like, whether it’s a corner of your couch, your favorite sweater, or your breakfast. You will have to remind yourself that your puppy isn’t doing these things to spite you, no matter how much it may seem like it, and maybe count to 10 or 20 and remind yourself how much you love them. No matter how vigilant you are, your pup is going to have at least one accident in the house in the first few weeks, and he will need an awful lot of your time and attention, day and night. The first few nights with your puppy are a lot like the first few nights with an infant. The upshot is that they start to sleep through the night a lot sooner than human babies do.
There is a lot more that can be said on the first few weeks with your new puppy, but these are just the basics for the first couple nights.