Your Shih Tzu Puppy's First Night with You

by Janice Jones     |Last updated 07-08-2021

Your puppy’s first night at home with you may not be as much fun as you had dreamed it might be.  After the long wait and anticipation, you find yourself up at 2AM with a whining puppy.  What could possibly have gone wrong?

When you pick up your puppy for the first time, she is thrilled to see you.  As soon as she understands that you are going to take care of her, she will want to be around you constantly.  But bear in mind, the puppy has gone from living with her mom and siblings to living with its new human family.  She will need a couple of days to transition to your home and routine.

During puppy’s first night there is likely to be some distress. The puppy will miss her familiar surroundings the only place she has known since the day she was born until you picked her up.  That is expected.  It will take a while for everyone to get to know each other.  It will take a while for the puppy to become acclimated to its new surroundings.  During your puppy's first night, she will be confused and a little scared. 

Spend Time with Puppy

When you get a dog at home spend as much time with the puppy as you can.  It will do two things that will help you through the night.  First, it is a welcome to new surroundings and some assurance that this is a place where puppy will be safe and taken care of.

Also, it doesn’t hurt that a lot of attention from her new friends will tire the puppy out.  That does not mean that the entire neighborhood should come out to greet the new arrival.  There will be time for that later on as the puppy adjusted to her new home. 

This first day is a family affair and all your attention will be sufficient to produce a sleepy puppy.  She will be ready to sleep when you are ready to go to bed. 

Introduce Puppy to her New Bed

Shih Tzu Puppy in his Dog Bed

Before puppy's first night, prepare a place for the puppy to sleep.  It should be someplace that will not allow your new best friend to wander. 

A crate or cage or even a doggie bed within the confines of an exercise pen will keep the dog in one place.  Remember you should define the puppy’s “safe place” yourself.  Puppy could pick any number of places that could be inconvenient to you or unsafe for Puppy.

The choice of a safe place could be made the first night home, preferably sooner than that.  It will be an early imprint on the puppy that here is where it is safe; here is where my place is. 

All dogs instinctively find some place that is theirs.   The sooner you let the puppy know where it is, the sooner puppy, will settle into a routine comfortable for the both of you.  Confining a puppy is not cruel, it is for her safety and housebreaking will be much easier.

To Survive Puppy's First Night, Prepare Puppy's special bed with soft blankets, soft toys and an added source of heat such, unless the room is warm. A large stuffed animal works well to give the feeling that the puppy is snuggling near his litter mates.  A Mama's scented blanket works well--ask your breeder for one.

In the beginning, their safe place will have to be tailored to a little one’s needs.  It needs to be soft, warm and have some things in it that can distract its attention from being uncertain about its new surroundings; specifically toys or familiar things.

A heating pad set at the lowest setting would be O.K. as long as the puppy cannot get to the cord.  They have just gotten their teeth and will chew on practically everything.  Chewing on an electrical cord is extraordinarily dangerous.  A warm water bottle may be the best choice. Naturally, if the room is already warm, adding extra warmth may not be necessary.  You want to place it so that the puppy can move away from the heat if she becomes overheated.

If you have a blanket or something else with the puppy’s mother or litter mates smell on it, it would be a great help.  The dog will have a familiar smell to help them through the night.

Puppies are accustomed to sleeping in a heap, sometimes on top and sometimes below.  As they get older, they still prefer to sleep close to litter mates.  To simulate that environment for your puppy's first night, roll up a small soft blanket or towel and place close to the puppy.  A stuffed toy works just as well.

A young puppy is yawning, but the yarn could mean a sign of stressA Big Yawn may not necessarily mean a puppy is sleepy

Before Bedtime

Before bedtime, offer a small snack and a long walk if possible.  Sometimes just a small amount of kibble soaked in some warm water is a comforting mini-meal. 

The idea is to make sure her body is tired and her tummy is full. Puppy's first night will be difficult for her so make her as comfortable as possible.

Food and Water Dilemma? 

Many people wonder if leaving food and water overnight for the puppy will help.  In my opinion, unless the puppy is super tiny (less than 2 pounds) they do not need water and food all night long.  To help with housebreaking, I recommend that the food and water bowls be removed while your puppy sleeps.  If you do have a tiny baby, there is always the risk of hypoglycemia so take that into consideration when making the decision to add water or food.  If you do decide to allow the puppy to have water or food during the night, be sure that you are only providing a very small amount.

Surviving Puppy's First Night

The first night the puppy will cry and whine.  Expect this.  This is new, and although exciting, it is also a little scary.  The little one will need to be comforted from time to time.  The first night will be the most difficult.  It is all right to comfort the puppy.

But after the first night, you should do so increasingly less each night afterward.  If one is not careful to do so, the little one will learn that whining brings hers favorite person to them.  The more they get their human to come to them, the more they will whine.  That isn’t good for the puppy and certainly isn’t good for you.  It must tail off gradually over time.

Many people will pick up the puppy and bring her to their bed.  I would not recommend that.  First it will telegraph to the dog that sleeping on your bed is something you approve.  That means that later, if you don’t want the dog on your bed, you will need to modify the behavior.  It is not easy to do. 

Also bear in mind, this puppy is still learning to be housebroken.  Accidents, particularly early in  life with you, are going to be frequently.  You may end up having to change sheets and blankets in the middle of the night.

Remember, a puppy’s first night doesn't last forever.  Within a week your puppy will have adjusted to her surroundings and daily routine.  She will look forward to bedtime and the comfort of her special place.  Patience does pay off!

Products That May Help

Products that help soothe and calm dogs may help with your puppy if he is having a difficult time settling down for the night.

Snuggle Puppy Behavioral Aid Toy

This is a clever little stuffed animal that has a "heart beat" and warming device to give the puppy the sensation of sleeping with litter mates. It's machine washable and can also be used for dogs with separation anxiety.

Check Amazon For Current Price

About Janice

Janice is the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu. Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, she served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu.

When not writing, reading, or researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, her husband, and her family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Small Dog Place and Smart-Knit-Crocheting.

If you are purchasing a Puppy from Miracle Shih Tzu, you will receive a Mama scented blanket and a list of "instructions."  If you would like a PDF version of our Puppy Hacks Cheat Sheet, click here.