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Welcoming your new puppy home is such an exciting time, and marks the beginning of a beautiful relationship. It's also a huge responsibility, and if this is your first puppy, you may understandably feel a little overwhelmed. He's so tiny and helpless and how you manage these first few months of his life gets him on track for growing up to be a great dog and cherished member of your family.
Like human babies, puppies thrive on love and attention, but setting your puppy up for success early also means establishing a solid routine, so your little canine pal quickly understands the house rules around good behavior, his puppy feeding schedule, where he goes potty, puppy bedtime, and where he sleeps.
Raising puppy questions and resources
From planning a puppy feeding schedule with the help of a puppy feeding chart by weight and age to developing everyday routines like an appropriate puppy bedtime, there's lots to learn. You may be wondering: Is there an ideal puppy bedtime standard, and should your puppy sleep in a bed or a crate? On the other hand, should you be letting your puppy sleep in bed with you?
Well, if you purchased your pup from a breeder, you should follow their sage advice about lots of things, including your puppy feeding schedule, and consult with your veterinarian, too. The American Kennel Club puppy guidance page is also a superb resource for giving your puppy a wonderful start in life and helps you make thoughtful, informed decisions about her needs. Don't worry, you'll be a puppy expert in no time at all!
Puppy bedtime tips
Fluffy whirligigs of energy, puppies seem to have two speeds: lightening fast and out like a light. It's not unusual to be enjoying the "show" as your pup clumsily navigates his indoor surroundings — jumping to catch invisible butterflies, prancing proudly then toppling over — to suddenly stop in his tracks, lay his head down, and fall fast asleep.
Puppies generally need about 19 to 20 hours of sleep a day, says the AKC, so between these "flash" daytime naps and "nighty night, sleep tight" slumber, ensuring your puppy gets his zzz's is crucial to his health and development. That means you should keep him in your bedroom and sync his bedtime with your own. But make sure you tire him out with some mentally challenging games and a little exercise beforehand, a final potty break, and then be prepared for those inevitable potty breaks during the night.
Crate or bed?
Calming, protective, and den-like, a crate, preferably placed in your bedroom, says Preventive Vet, is a perfect place for your puppy to sleep in for her first few months. A proper size crate is a handy tool that also helps in house-training your puppy. And if you crate-train correctly, the crate will become her "happy place" for life.
Your dog's crate doesn't need to be a cumbersome airline freight carrier that spoils your bedroom's restful ambiance, either. Train your pup with a metal crate and a well-fitting, chew-resistant cover. Explore Land Dog Crate Cover Durable - Polyester Pet Kennel Cover and Topeius Dog Crate Cover Cage Cover, for example, come in neutral colors like tan and gray. Both models have sides that roll up for ventilation and allow you to position the crate to use either (or both) of the two doors.
Once your pup is past the chewing stage, a furniture-style crate can pull double duty in your decor. New Age Pet ecoFLEX Single Door Furniture Style Dog Crate & End Table keeps your buddy happily snoozing by your side without being a bed hog. The crate is made from a nontoxic plastic-wood hybrid material with stainless steel tubing on the ventilation panels. The unit has a single door on the narrow end.
Merry Products Double Door Furniture Style Dog Crate & End Table can be used as a travel crate as well as a furniture-style crate, thanks to wooden pieces that snap on and off its powdered steel frame. The crate also has two doors so you can orient it in your bedroom space to suit your preference. The metal sides and removable tray make it suitable as a training crate, although you might want to wait until the pup is house-trained fully to put on the wooden sides if your dog tends to squirt outside its enclosure.
Should puppy sleep with you?
Puppies are unquestionably adorable and no more so than when they are cuddled up beside you on the sofa or snuggled into your lap. But if you've made your decision not to let your puppy sleep in bed with you, those big, imploring eyes can quickly melt your heart — and your resolve. Listening to her whimpering in her crate for another night can make it tempting to ditch the crate and give in. Why not just scoop her up and bring her into bed for a reassuring hug? After all, she's only a baby.
Well, as irresistible as your puppy is, you're at a crossroads. Even though she's small now, you need to see in your mind's eye your full-grown dog hogging your side of the bed because the habits you instill in your puppy will inevitably be etched in stone. Creatures of habit, dogs require consistency in all things. It's a lot tougher to change the game plan later than it is to set boundaries now when she's a puppy.
If you prefer your dog sleeps at your side or your feet in the bed, you should wait until your puppy is housebroken and sleeping soundly throughout the night before letting your puppy sleep in bed with you.
- AKC: How to Make Sure Your Puppy Gets Enough Sleep
- AKC: Crate Training
- The Housebreaking Bible: Surviving the Night with Your New Puppy
- The Housebreaking Bible: What to Do When Your Dog Barks in His Crate
- AKC: Puppies
- Preventive Vet: Everything You Need to Know About Crate Training Your Puppy or Adult Dog