Also known as “Oh no, what have we done…?!”
Well, what have you done? You’ve brought into your house a furry alien who knows NOTHING about living with you.
You have also just taken the little bundle of fur away from everything that is familiar in life: mum, siblings, humans, the smell of their house. It is highly likely that your little pupster is feeling quite anxious and disturbed by this. So, what can you do to help?
1. Adaptil. This product is amazing – it replicates the pheromones given off by the mum when she is feeding the pups and thereby soothes your little one. Plug in a diffuser before you go to collect your new addition, close to where your pup will be spending time.
2. Nest. Set up a cosy sleeping area. I prefer a crate, with a comfy (washable) bed inside, a couple of chewable toys (to discourage chewing of said bed). Don’t shut the pup inside the crate at the start or he / she might become frightened; instead, you might want to consider putting up a puppy-pen (x-pen) around the crate, to limit how far the pup can stray (and maintain your sanity!). Put some more toys, cardboard (boxes, tubes), water, food and your designated pee-zone (well away from the food and bed areas) in here too. (This makes a great “safe zone” for daytime too – your pup should be in here whenever your eyes might be elsewhere!) Make sure the room is warm enough as a cold pup will wake up more.
3. Bedtime. Not too early, not too late! Your pup is likely to be quite tired from having such an unexpected day. Have a fun game, a short cuddle, and then when he / she shows signs of wanting to nod off, pop the pup into the nest and wait for sleep to come. As with babies, if you always let your puppy fall asleep on you, he / she will never learn to self-settle so start as you mean to go on!
4. Company. Ignore anything you ever heard about letting your pup “cry it out” on the first (or subsequent) nights. The pup is going to cry. In time, when this gets louder, your neighbours are going to complain. Already you have a problem. So, sleep next to your pup’s nest (on the couch, an airbed, the floor!) and, when your pup whimpers you can pop your hand into the crate for reassurance. Don’t, however, start chatting, picking up your pup or having middle-of-the-night cuddles or you will set a precedent you don’t want to continue. As the pup learns to self-settle, you can gradually put distance between you, until you end up back in your own bed!
5. Coffee. Don’t even think of attempting the first week without a plentiful supply! Bringing an 8-week old pup into your home is, frankly, only slightly less tiring than bringing home a new baby. Thankfully, your pup should learn to sleep through the night much faster! But be prepared to be very tired and living in chaos at first and you won’t be shocked. It will all pass…
Oh, and good luck! Next week: what your pup’s first week should look like.