Nearly 40 percent of U.S. households include a dog. This means that lots of your friends and family members probably have dogs — and you might be thinking of joining them. Or maybe you already have one or two, but want to expand your furry family.
Either way, there are some things you’ll need to know before bringing home a new puppy. Puppies can be incredibly fun and rewarding, but they also take lots of planning and work. You can set yourselves both up for success by tackling the first night with finesse.
Not sure which puppy things to expect on that crucial first night? This guide will help you get prepared — keep reading to learn how to prepare for a new puppy to change your life!
Puppy Things: Items for Puppy
Ideally, getting a puppy won’t be an impulse decision. It’s best to plan ahead for this new addition to your household. And one way to prepare is by gathering some essential items beforehand.
If your home is already stocked with puppy-friendly items when they arrive, your puppy will feel much more comfortable and happy to get settled in. Here are the things to pick up at the pet store first.
Food and Water Items
Before bringing your puppy home, you should already have food and treats, plus food and water bowls, ready to go.
Make sure to pick up food and treats specifically designed for puppies. Although high-quality dog food gets expensive, it can help your puppy stay healthy for longer, so it’s worth the investment.
Most dogs can eat and drink out of whatever bowls you have on hand. But for a puppy, it’s best to get a durable bowl that they can’t break. You can also invest in a weighted bowl that they can’t easily move around or tip over.
Your puppy needs access to fresh, clean water at all times after you bring them home. Keep the water clean, filled, and easy to reach.
Crate, Bed, and Pads
Next, you’ll need the things to help your puppy feel comfortable indoors, and start the process of house training.
Since your puppy won’t have learned to go outside yet, get some puppy pads where they can do their business. This helps your puppy learn that going to the bathroom can’t just happen wherever they happen to be standing.
A crate will also help your puppy adjust to living in your household. The crate provides a safe space for your puppy to stay when you’re not at home and also helps with housetraining.
Make sure the crate has a comfortable mat on the floor and offers room for your puppy to stand up and turn around. If it’s an open wire crate, put a cover or blanket over the top — the enclosed feeling helps your puppy feel safe.
Finally, get a comfy puppy bed for when your puppy sleeps outside the crate.
Gates and Playpens
The crate becomes a safe place for your puppy to relax, hang out, and sleep. But you’ll want to let them play somewhere else, like in a playpen or a specific room in your house. Gates and playpens make sure they’ll stay where you want them, and not roam all over the house where they could get hurt or break things.
Finally, a selection of toys is essential for your puppy’s first night. Get a few different puppy-safe things to keep them entertained and comforted in the new surroundings.
While there are other things you’ll need soon, like a leash, collar, and grooming supplies, these essentials will get you through the first evening.
How to Handle Puppy’s First Night
Now, let’s take a look at how the first night at home will play out for you both.
Start House Training
When you first get home, set your puppy down in an area where they can use the bathroom — that’s probably the first thing they’ll do. House training starts the second you get home! A puppy pad works well, or you can pick a place outside.
Keep a close eye on your puppy throughout the night. Take them to go to the bathroom often. This helps ensure they won’t get in the habit of going all over the house.
Take your puppy outside or over to the pad to encourage them to go. Praise your pup with treats and affection when they go in the right place, but don’t punish them for getting it wrong.
Get Cozy with the Crate
Crate training can help puppies feel safe and secure at home. Introduce it by opening the door, putting some treats inside, and letting your puppy walk in and explore.
Don’t shut them in the crate yet, or make them go inside. You want them to see the crate as a comfortable place, not a scary one. You can even feed your puppy their first meal at home (keep meals small at first) inside the crate.
Basically, your goal on the first night is to get them to see the crate as a good place. Over the next few days, you can work towards closing the door and leaving them inside.
Set up the Bed
Your puppy might be nervous on this first night, so don’t expect to get much sleep. But you can help things go well by setting up a cozy place to sleep.
Let your puppy sleep close to you, so they’ll feel comforted by your presence. Set up a puppy bed, or let them sleep in the crate with the door open. Make sure to put a puppy pad nearby, and take them over to use it just before going to bed.
You can also give your puppy a chew toy, so they’ll have something to help wear them out before bedtime.
Puppy Tips 101: Getting Through the Next Few Days
Once you’ve made it through the first night, it’s all about consistency.
Keep working on potty training and crate training. Over the next few days, you might introduce your pup to a leash and harness, too. Don’t forget to schedule a vet checkup for shortly after you bring them home.
Most importantly, though, prepare for the unexpected and relax if your first night doesn’t go perfectly. Stay positive and keep training consistent, and it will all work out fine.
Looking for more puppy things you should know? Separation anxiety is common in puppies — learn how to navigate it here!