So, you’ve got a new puppy for Christmas. Now what? Where is it to sleep and, more to the point, how am I going to get some sleep?! Never fear, these ‘tricks of the trade’ will help you get your little fluff-ball settled happily in no time.
The first few nights
Firstly, it’s not going to spoil your puppy to have it sleep inside for the first few nights. In fact, sleeping in your bedroom will provide some much needed human company after being separated from its mum, litter mates and previous human carers. A little bit of love is not going to ruin your pup! The sooner it feels more comfortable with you and its new home the happier you all will be, and then you can train it to sleep elsewhere later.
You mightn’t want the pup to sleep on your bed. Fair enough. You can place him or her in a crate beside your bed instead. This will also be useful as a place for the puppy to use later as a ‘den’ for when you are away or to keep the pup safe when visitors, children or other dogs come to visit. Make sure the crate is a happy place with a comfy bed, a soft toy and a few treats.
Another option is to use a baby play pen in the corner of your room. Place a comfy basket or box in the playpen to encourage sleep.
Other tips for a peaceful night’s sleep:
Place a ticking clock or a plush toy with a beating heart (e.g. Snuggle Pup) in its bed to mimic its mum’s heartbeat
Give your pup its night-time meal 15-20 minutes before bed, taking it outside for wee time first
Place a towel over the crate to make it feel safe & enclosed
Gently heat a small wheat pack or fill a sock, preferably a smelly old one of yours, with gently heated raw rice. Place it inside another old sock or two for safety and put it in your pup’s bed as a nice warm buddy. Hold it against your arm first to test that it is not too hot.
Plug in an Adaptil Pheromone Diffuser in your room. It releases a synthetic copy of the natural comforting pheromone produced by a mother dog to reassure her puppies. Trust me, they are worth it!
Don’t make a fuss at bedtime – just say good night in a gentle, reassuring voice and pop it in its bed.
Moving to its new bed
Now that the pup has settled in after the first few harrowing nights, you can progressively move it to where he or she is to sleep permanently. This might be the kitchen, laundry, another room in the house or a cosy kennel outside. Before moving, we need to make this new place ‘the bees knees’, somewhere the pup loves to go.
To do this, start feeding your puppy in its new ‘bedroom’ or ‘den’. Split its meals in to 3 or 4 small meals a day so it has plenty of practice at loving this new place. Even better, place some of its dry food in a cardboard toilet roll or puppy treat toy so it becomes brain-work and fun to find its food.
While the pup is busy eating you can quietly retreat and close the door. This creates a good association between being confined and happily eating. You can progressively extend the period of confinement each day by a few minutes. If the pup whimpers or barks, tap the door lightly and say ‘Quiet’ in a firm but nice voice and wait until it is quiet for a few seconds then praise him or her.
Once he or she is quiet again for a few seconds longer then you can open the door and give it a pat or cuddle. Close the door and wait for a period of silence slightly longer than before, say 10 - 15 seconds, then let it out as a reward.
Gradually, you can make the period of confinement longer by small increments and the pup will learn that being on it’s on in its ‘den’ is ok. Finally, your pup will be able to last in its room or kennel overnight without any drama.
Importantly, relocate the Adaptil Diffuser from your room to the pup’s new den to help create a calming and happy place. If your pup is outside, there is an Adaptil Collar that can be used instead. It is worn like a flea collar and will also last a month.
Young puppies need to eliminate every 3 to 4 hours, after waking and playtime usually, but this period lengthens as the puppy grows. Give your puppy an opportunity to go to the toilet before bedtime and then as soon as you get up – take it to a designated toilet place outside in the garden.
Give a cue like ‘wee time’ and praise it profusely in your most excited voice for doing so immediately. You can also give a special treat to give the pup extra incentive to go in that place and on your cue the next time.
For young pups that can’t last through the night, place some newspaper in the corner of the room. Clean up any mess without fuss the next day, it won’t be for too long until it can hold on through the night. Any scolding or punishment will only make the pup anxious about toileting and start hiding where it goes or toilet in its bed.
During the day you should take your pup to its toilet spot every two hours for a few days so you increase the number of chances of your pup getting it right and being praised joyfully. It will soon get the message and look forward to toilet time.
Above all, be patient. Some get it sooner than others and they are only puppies once. Enjoy!