That First Night

You will be oh, so tempted to bring your puppy to bed with you. The adorable, vulnerable little ball of fluff is the perfect snuggler, and you want to reassure her and help her feel loved. It's a very strong temptation, and you may in fact spend many nights of your lives together sleeping side-by-side. But for the first night (and for at least a month), avoid this temptation. Your pup needs to know right from the start that your sleeping area and hers are separate.

Why can't my puppy sleep on my bed?

When a dog sleeps on your bed, right beside you, they consider you a peer, not truly a leader. They think you must be the same as them. A young puppy, especially, needs to know you are her leader, not her litter-mate. You can be close by her, but you are not to share the same bed.

This is where crate training comes in handy again. A crate (complete with super-comfy padding for a bed) makes a great cozy sleeping spot where distractions are minimized. Many crate-trained dogs sleep in their crates with the door open at night — like a bed with curtains around it; sounds nice, doesn't it?

If you don't have a crate for the bedroom, do have a dog bed positioned where you want it. The best place for the first few nights, at least, is just beside your bed. Your pup will crave another warm body beside her if she's been sleeping with littermates until now. Consider filling an old tube sock with with rice and warming it in the microwave for about a minute.

Wrap this warmed tube in a towel and secure it so it won't fall out — you don't want the pup to chew on the sock and cause the rice to spill, nor do you want the warm sock to burn her — and then put it beside your pup on the bed. Sit with your pup while she settles in and gets to sleep.

The Big Cry

Now, regardless of how wonderful you are, and how wonderful your family and home are, your puppy is going to be miserable on the first night. It will dawn on your little puppy at the end of the day that his brothers and sisters and mother and former owner are not with him. She is alone with strange people in strange surroundings. At some point during the night, she will most likely awaken and begin to cry.

How you handle the crying will make a difference for the pup in the days, weeks, and months to come, and will establish a pattern of what she can expect from you when she is upset. This is a difficult situation to deal with, because you have other family members whose sleep may be disturbed if you can't quiet the pup. You don't want her to cry inconsolably, yet if you pamper her too much she'll come to expect that any time she whimpers she will get your attention.

The other consideration is that your puppy needs to go to the bathroom. If that's the case, you certainly want to get her outside. Very matter-of-factly, take her out on a leash so you can monitor her, give her a minute to get to it, and then bring her back inside. Reheat and rewrap the rice warmer if you think that will help, then bring her back to her bed and get her settled in. What you want to do is take care of her physical needs without indulging her social needs. She has to learn that sleeping through the night is what you expect of her.

Some experts suggest a different cure for crying: For the first week or two, let your puppy stay downstairs until she's worked out this whole crying thing. She'll eventually settle down and go to sleep. When she's learned that the morning comes and brings you with it, she'll feel secure in sleeping through the night. Then you can bring her upstairs.

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