Anyone who has brought a brand-new puppy home will probably remember their pup crying and whining during the first night. Hot water bottles, comfy blankets, stuffed toys, and ticking clocks are some of the many remedies that people use to comfort their pups and help them get through the night.
The assumption is that their new puppy is lonely and missing her Mom and littermates. But how long will your new puppy continue to miss them? Fortunately, in most cases, puppies can adjust amazingly fast, often in just a few days to their new environment. But a lot depends on their age when separated and how they are handled and nurtured by their new human Mom or Dad. Keep reading to learn more.
How Many Nights Will My New Puppy Miss Her Mom?
The hardest thing about bringing home a new puppy is hearing them whine or cry at night! We feel bad for our new pooch whom we presume is lonely and missing her Mom and siblings. We also wonder how long this may go on and what we can do to help with the transition.
The good news is that puppies can adapt pretty quickly and there are a lot of things you can do to help. In fact, some animal experts believe that the pup is not necessarily carrying a memory of her Mom and longing to return. Dogs tend to live much more in the moment than humans, and their memories work a little differently than ours. Therefore, your pup may not be longing for her Mom, brothers, and sisters so much as wanting a similar warm environment of sleeping with all of them. After all, this is all she has known in the first several weeks of her short life.
Puppies tend to sleep close to their Mom and pile up on top of one another. This brings them a sense of warmth, peace, and security. So, the best thing new dog owners can do is to try to replicate this as much as possible. When this is done new puppies can adjust within one to four or five nights. Be sure to see my post, “Your Rescue Dog’s First Night–Where Should She Sleep?” for more information.
How Dog Owners ComfortTheir New Puppies at Night
1. Keep Your Puppy Near You at Night
When my partner and I adopted a really sweet Golden Retriever puppy, we bought him a comfy bed with lots of blankets. We put the bed inside of a large playpen in the bedroom next to us and plenty of papers all around in case he had to pee. But the poor pup whimpered and cried all night. We realized that he was probably lonely and afraid since this was such a big change for him.
So, we moved his bed into our bedroom right next to our bed with a fresh supply of papers surrounding him. He immediately started to settle down and whimpered much less. As soon as he woke up or moved around one of us ran him outside to pee. Being close to us and receiving attention throughout the night seemed to help a lot, and he adjusted pretty well within a few days.
My current next-door neighbors live in a townhouse next to mine. When they recently brought home an adorable German Short-Haired Pointer, Rico, they devised a great plan to help him get through the first few nights. They purchased a roomy crate for him with a cushy pad and blankets and placed it next to the patio slider. His new Dad caringly slept on the couch next to him for the first 4-5 nights. This helped him to feel less alone and also allowed for quick exits to the backyard when nature called!
My sister did a similar thing with her new Golden Retriever puppy. She slept on the couch next to him for a few nights and it seemed to help a lot. After about a week, they allowed her to sleep in a crate upstairs in their bedroom. She adjusted within 5 days and seemed quite happy in her new home.
2. Make Sure Your New Pup is Warm Enough
Some dogs with thin coats and very small dogs can get cold at night and may need extra blankets. I used to worry about my two adult rescue dogs getting cold when I first adopted them. But they both have an undercoat and a very thick top coat. Every time I tried to wrap or cover them with blankets at night, they would just throw them off or jump out of bed.
So, not all dogs get cold. But those who do will appreciate extra blankets. A friend of mine told me that her Dachsund would always wait to be covered up with her favorite blanket and for the lights to be turned out before she would go to sleep!
Another way to help keep your puppy warm is by placing a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel next to her. Sometimes a large pillow or stuffed animal can also help to provide extra warmth.
My next-door neighbor’s soon discovered that Rico was quite the cuddler. After a few nights when he could hold his bladder better, they let him sleep upstairs in their beds and he loved it! He had found his new pack! And he appreciated snuggling under the covers with them since his thin coat of hair did not provide a lot of warmth.
3. Provide Your Puppy with Something that Has His Mom’s Scent So He will Miss Her Less
Breeders often suggest sending you home with a blanket or towel that has the scent of your puppy’s Mom and littermates. This may help comfort him because of its familiar smell and can also be an additional source of warmth and cushy comfort.
Rico’s breeders suggested this and so my neighbor placed a rather dirty, but usefully smelly towel in his crate each night. My sister received the same recommendation and was given a small blanket by her breeder. To this day Sadie still carries it around with her even after several months.
4. Try to Replicate Your Pup’s Litter Environment
Since puppies are used to sleeping with their Mom and siblings, do the best you can to provide a similar situation. Placing stuffed animals and warm blankets around your pup can help. Hot water bottles can help keep him warm but also remind him of sleeping next to his Mom and littermates. Breeders often suggest placing a ticking clock nearby which may remind your pup of his mother’s heartbeat.
A really great stuffed toy that does all of this is called the Snuggle Puppy which you can find at Amazon. The snuggle puppy is soft and cuddly and comes equipped with a battery-operated heartbeat pack that feels and sounds like a real heartbeat. It also comes with a heat pack to provide warmth. My sister used this with her Golden Retriever and felt that it helped a lot with the adjustment. Some dogs get really attached to the Snuggle Puppy and carry them around all day.
Getting a round overstuffed bed lined with a furry-like covering can also be very comforting. Best Friends by Sheri has great beds which are highly recommended for puppies and rescue dogs. I got a large one for my two rescue dogs and they love it! It mimics the same kind of dog fur that puppies encounter when sleeping with their littermates. (See Amazon affiliate links below.)
Best Time to Separate Puppies from Their Litter
Most breeders agree that between 8 and 12 weeks is the best time to wean a puppy and place him in his new human home. Eight weeks is about the time that puppies begin to feel some timid curiosity about the outside world. But it is also the time when they seek out new adventures. This is an ideal time for them to explore the world beyond their immediate dog family. See this great article at JennaLeeDoodles.com for more information about weaning puppies.
Prior to 8 weeks is too soon as puppies are still learning how to socialize with their siblings and getting guidance from their mother. 12 weeks is about the maximum time to leave a puppy with his litter as he may become too dependent. Between 8 and 12 is the ideal time for a puppy to be curious about a new place to live and to also be able to bond with his new human family.
Breeders recommend taking one pup at a time from the litter for adoption so as not to distress their mother. Otherwise, she may suddenly worry about finding them all missing. Additionally, breeders usually remove the pups from the litter for short periods of time. This gets the Mom and puppies used to separation before they are weaned and adopted out one at a time.
After 12 weeks, puppies become much more independent. As the mother’s bonding hormones begin to subside, she will worry about them less and eventually may be relieved when she does not have to care for them anymore.
It is a natural process for puppies to leave their litter and venture out on their own. It would be a huge burden on the mother and father if they did not become independent. But just as human children eventually leave home for college, marriage, or jobs, so must a puppy learn to become independent and find a new home.
The important thing with puppies is to make the transition as warm, reassuring, and comfortable as possible so they can adapt with minimal discomfort. Let them know they are now in their home and with their new “pack” family. They will soon be joyful and eager to seek new adventures!