I’ve watched puppies bring joy to my friends and family countless times. And of course, I’ve experienced it for myself too! Just last year, when we decided to foster Tulip, I was reminded of the lightness that a puppy brings to my days but also of the challenges they can pose, especially if you’re not prepared for their fresh energy and the newness they bring into a home.
We’ve since adopted Tulip (foster fail!), so I want to share some advice that’s top of mind about what to expect on the first night you bring your puppy home, including how you can prepare.
Even if you’ve had a puppy before, it’s good to refresh your approach. Perhaps you’re in a new home or living space since the last time you had a puppy or you’ve since added new members to your family.
It’s always good to take a fresh look at new tips, products, and tricks so your first few nights together with your young puppy will build a solid foundation for the many more fun and cuddly nights to come.
Puppy Supplies You’ll Need to Get
Puppy Food and Treats
Of course, even before the first night, the first thing you’ll need to buy is puppy food. It’s wise to find out what kind of food your pup has been eating before you brought him home. However, if it wasn’t nutritious food, you’ll want to transition to a healthier option.
I like to consult a veterinarian when I have questions about my pets’ nutrition. You can also consult Dog Food Advisor.
When it comes to treats, it’s a good idea to stick with training treats, like these Full Moon training treats. I love them because they’re all-natural, human-grade and puppies love them. Training treats are typically small and low-calorie, which is important since you’ll be doing a lot of training with your new puppy.
Puppy Food and Water Bowls or Fountains
Water bowls often do the trick of hydrating your dogs, but do you know they often prefer a gross watering hole to their bowl of fresh water? They’re instinctively not interested in stagnant water unless it contains elements from nature, like leaves and mud.
That’s why I’m a huge fan of drinking fountains. The movement of the water appeals to their natural instincts and encourages pets to drink their water and prevent dehydration.
This one from PetSafe is my current favorite. It’s great for small to medium-sized dogs and comes with a dual-stream system that adds oxygen for freshness (which encourages more drinking!). The water is filtered, which removes bad tastes and odors, keeping the water desirable for your pup. Additionally, it’s simple to clean and dishwasher safe, which makes life easier for you too!
After your new puppy tries out his drinking fountain, he’ll likely soon be looking for a bit of kibble for his belly. Puppies get so excited when feeding time comes around that they often gobble everything up as fast as they can. However, eating fast can cause digestive issues such as indigestion, vomiting, and bloating.
Using a slow-feed bowl can prevent those problems along with preventing obesity. Here’s a great slow-feed bowl from Outward Hound, which will help your puppy slow down while also having a little puzzle-related fun!
As your puppy gets a bit bigger, you can move him up to the Bob A Lot. In fact, this is primarily what my dogs eat out of now. It keeps their brains puppy-like since they have to actively work out how to get their food.
Puppy Beds and Crates
There’s no reason to feel bad about encouraging your new young dog to use a dog crate. You’re not imprisoning your dog or ignoring him. In fact, crates and dens can provide a feeling of comfort and security that your new puppy needs.
Crate training helps your puppy settle in one spot until he’s used to his new environment and the house rules. This is especially helpful in the first few nights when you aren’t awake to watch your new furry family member. Aspen Pet has a wonderful training crate that is the perfect size for your average puppy. It’s secure and its lock system eliminates any problematic gaps in the top and sides. There’s no assembly required (always a plus if you ask me!), and it folds nice and flat for easy transport and storage.
While your puppy’s crate is useful for training and security, at some point, your puppy will feel comfortable enough in his new home to find his very own comfy spot. Puppies sleep about 15–20 hours a day, so a comfy and durable pet bed is a necessity! There are many options out there, but I suggest opting for a bed that is machine washable. One like the SnooZZy bed by Precision Pet is ideal for your new puppy’s first bed.
Puppy Toys, Treats, and Entertainment
Playtime with your new puppy is almost as important as sleepy time and feeding time! However, not all toys are appropriate for new puppies. Here are a few that I recommend as your puppy’s first new toys.
Kong Dog toys are great for playtime, and they come in sizes for each stage of a dog’s life. The puppy version is made for their specific dental and activity needs. In addition, you can also put a bit of peanut butter inside of it, giving them some mental and physical exercise, which is great for your puppy’s development. This can also serve as a good distraction when keeping your puppy in their dog crate.
Since puppies love to get into everything, it’s a good idea to have multiple things for them to play with to keep their attention on toys rather than household items that aren’t for play. Playmats like this one from HoundGames are great because they have several toys built into one.
As much as I know you’d love to stay home and play with your new puppy 24/7, at some point, you’ll have to leave him home alone. Even when he gets to the point where he can stay home alone without a crate, it’s still a good idea to check in on him during the day. For that, I love the Furbo Dog Camera.
You can place one in the same room your pup is staying in to keep an eye on him. This camera also has two-way audio, so not only will you hear your puppy crying or having fun with his toys, but you’ll also have the opportunity to talk to him, either to soothe him when he’s upset or encourage him as he plays.
Puppy brains are still learning and are very active. If you don’t provide enough stimulation for them, bad behaviors can easily creep in.
DOGTV is one of my favorite tools to keep Tulip’s mind engaged and help alleviate anxiety when I’m gone. It works by helping dogs become accustomed to sounds that might normally induce bad behaviors, like doorbells or barking from other dogs. It also has segments, like the one below, designed to alleviate anxiety.
Safety Checklist for Your New Puppy
First and foremost, make sure your home is safe for you and your pup’s first night together. It’s certainly better if you’re able to do so before bringing your puppy home. The last place you want to spend time with your new puppy is at the veterinarian’s office. Here are my top safety tips, especially for the few first nights with your pup:
- Small items can be a choking hazard. Make sure everything is tidy, even in those hard-to-reach places. Remember, puppies can often fit under and behind furniture.
- Place shoes and bags out of your new furry addition’s eyesight. Not only do you not want your items to be chewed on but, quite often, we carry around items in our bags, such as gum or candy, that could be toxic to our pups.
- Keep all food and medications safely hidden away in your cabinets.
- Make sure that none of your houseplants are poisonous to dogs. If you’re unsure, the ASPCA website has a list of toxic and non-toxic plants.
- Puppies may have little legs, but they’re fast! Make sure all doors, including screen doors, are able to latch tightly so your puppy can’t escape.
- Keep a close eye on them while they explore. Dogs love to scope out every nook and cranny in their new home, and because they’re so small, it’s easy for them to get wedged in hard-to-reach spots.
- Now is the time to research pet insurance! Here’s a great place to start. I can’t tell you how highly I recommend this as having it will not only give you peace of mind that you can afford any accidents or illnesses you encounter with your puppy, but it will save you money over the course of your dog’s life. There are many great pet insurance companies. One of my faves is Embrace — you can get a free quote here.
Doing a quick check around your house can prevent potential problems for yourself and for your sweet new furry addition on that first night.
Save the new puppy checklist below and then scroll down to learn which supplies you’ll need for your new puppy.
Puppy Training Guides
As every new puppy parent will tell you, it’s not all cuddles and fun! It’s a lot of work to train your new puppy, and even after the first night or even the first few weeks, some new parents will still feel a bit lost. Never fear! My favorite training guides and products are here.
I encourage everyone to do research on how to train their dog properly. Dog training helps a pup learn how to act around humans, other animals, and helps them know how to act appropriately in different situations.
Andrea Arden’s Book Dog-Friendly Dog Training is an excellent go-to book for all your training concerns. If you have kids around the house who’ll be participating in the training, Dog Training for Kids is another great book to dig into.
Puppy Potty Training Tips
One of the biggest training challenges is potty training. Aside from the typical potty routine, especially for the first few nights, many pet parents find that one simple trick can quickly eliminate indoor accidents. Try putting your pet’s food bowl right next to the spot where they had their last toilet break. Most pets will instinctively keep their feeding and potty spots separate. So you’re effectively telling your puppy, “This is not a potty spot.”
Being patient is key, though! For your puppy’s first few weeks in your home, he’ll need to be taken out for potty breaks every two hours or so. If you’re not vigilant about this when your puppy is young, it can lead to developing bad habits that are hard to break.
Of course, you’re not likely to take your puppy out at all hours of the night, so these Training Puppy Pads from Simple Solution are perfect to line your dog’s crate with and minimize the mess from both potty accidents and water bowl spills. They’re highly absorbable and have built-in technology to attract dogs to use them.
Products for (Inevitable) Puppy Accident Cleanup
Accidents in the house will happen, even with the most well-behaved pups. When they do, there are a few tools and products that can make cleanup easier and help prevent repeat offenses.
Bissell’s SpotBot does all the work for you. All you have to do is fill the machine with the solution and warm water, place the SpotBot on the stain, and then you’re free to walk away to spend time with your new puppy while the stain disappears.
Simple Solutions Hard Floor Cleaner works wonders on hard surfaces. I especially love it for how well it removes odors. Plus, it works on new accidents and older ones that might have gone unnoticed for a while. No matter what, it’ll still work its magic! If you have carpeted floors or accidents that happen on rugs, this carpet cleaning solution is a great choice.
Here’s where you can find some more of my favorite products to clean and detect urine.
The Final Woof
Taking the puppy-plunge is a big decision, but such a rewarding one. Remember, all of your puppy’s first experiences will now be with you! After searching on Google “what to do on first night with puppy,” I hope you find these suggestions fruitful and will help you have a fantastic first night with your new pup. I wish you and your dog a lifetime of happiness together!
*Check out my full list of Irresistible New Puppy Products on my Amazon Storefront page!