8 Week Old Puppy: Bringing Home a New Puppy – What To Expect


Your new puppy will be feeling a little lost at first. Your puppy may want to stay very close to you, and may cry if you leave them alone, even for a minute. I’ll show you how to reassure your puppy, and help them settle in to family life as fast as possible

This guide to bringing home a puppy is perfect for a first time dog owner. Or any pet parent that has forgotten what a brand new puppy gets up to!

I’ll explain what to expect of your new puppy, and help you with sleeping, feeding, and potty training during those special first few days and weeks.

Your 8 week old puppy is homesick, and a little bit scared. So I’ll also show you how to build their confidence, and create that all important bond between you.


Crate training, potty training, and learning to settle at night and will all begin in earnest at 8 weeks. You’ll find more new puppy information in those links.

Is your 8 week old puppy driving you crazy?

Puppies, like babies, can be hard work. Not to mention annoying, and frustrating! But hang on in there. Chances are, you are sleep deprived, and your life has been turned upside down too. So now isn’t the best time to make major decisions.

Many of the problems that arise with a new baby puppy, are easily resolved with just a little help. With the resources you’ll find on this website, peace will soon be restored, and life will feel more normal again

We’ll look at some of the areas where puppies and new puppy parents may come into conflict in a moment. But first let’s deal with some common new puppy parent worries.

Diet and Nutrition – Feeding An 8 Week Old Puppy

Your 8 week old puppy needs feeding much more frequently than older dogs. Not because they can’t eat a whole day’s food in one go, but because if they do, it upsets their tummies. And looking after your puppy with diarrhea is no fun.

So, don’t be tempted to let your puppy keep eating just because he seems hungry. Which he will, because Labrador puppies are always hungry! You have to ration out his food for him. You need to know how much your puppy needs to eat in a 24 hour period, and then divide that amount between at least 4 meals.

The principles are the same for any medium to large breed of dog, though of course you’ll need to adjust quantities.

First night with puppy

Your 8 week old puppy should not sleep in or on your bed. Bed sharing with new puppies is too dangerous. He might fall off, and is likely to leave little puddles on your mattress and carpet. He’ll also spend time getting stuck behind the wardrobe and chewing through the cables to your bedside lamp.

Later on you can bed share with your dog  if you want to, but not right now, at least not unless you puppy proof the room and sleep on the floor. Your 8 week old puppy should not be free to roam the house at night. There is so much potential for harm. Even if you only sleep for six hours or so, there is a great deal of mischief your puppy can get up to in that time. So, the three main options that work well for 8 week old puppies are described next

First night options for an 8 week old puppy

Here are those three alternative sleeping arrangement for the first few nights

  • Safe sleeping area
  • Puppy crate
  • Sturdy box (or crate) next to your bed

#1 The puppy safe sleeping area

Just before you go to bed and after taking your outside to empty himself, you can put the puppy to bed in a puppy proof room with a washable floor. Or you can put his bed inside a large puppy playpen.

Put plenty of newspaper or puppy pads down to cover most of the floor. He’ll pee and poop on this during the night and you’ll need to clean up promptly in the morning to avoid him jumping in it.

#2 A puppy crate

Alternatively you can shut your puppy in a small enough crate and set an alarm to remind you to take him out during the night. If you get this right, your puppy will be clean and dry from the start and you won’t have the jumping in poop problem that those using option 2 often struggle with.

On the other hand you WILL have to get up in the night. Possibly for two weeks or so because many 8 week old puppies can’t last all night without a pee

#3 A box next to your bed

Placing your puppy in a cosy nest in a tall strong cardboard box next to your bed gives your puppy a great start to his new life.

You will probably still need to get up in the night, but you won’t need to set an alarm (or possibly wake up the puppy that would have slept through) because you’ll hear your puppy stir and whimper when he needs to go out to pee. If he is just a little worried, you’ll be able to stroke and comfort him without getting out of bed.

Which option is best?

No. 3 is the best option to begin with because puppies subjected to options 1 or 2 can become extremely distressed. Being terrified for the first few nights is not a good start for your puppy and won’t help his confidence in you. It may also result in vomiting and diarrhea for your pup, and a lot of clearing up for you.

It might seem irrational to you, but there are good reasons for your puppy to be scared.

8 week old puppy at night – sleeping and crying

Your 8 week old puppy has never slept alone before. If asked to sleep alone on the first night in their new home, they usually cry. That’s something of an understatement because a small puppy can make a surprisingly loud noise. For a surprisingly long time.

Unless you live in a mansion, you will be able to hear him. And so will your neighbors. The best way around this, is to have the puppy sleep next to you for the first few nights as described in Option 3 above.

It doesn’t have to be permanent. Once the puppy has settled in and isn’t so homesick, you’ll be able to move him to his own room if you want to.

New puppies learn very quickly. Whilst initial crying is the result of fear or loneliness, puppies they soon discover that crying gets them attention.

How much do puppies sleep?

Your 8 week old puppy will spend around 18 to 20 hours asleep out of every 24. The phase where puppies fall asleep easily on your lap or in your arms doesn’t last long. But dogs continue to sleep for long periods throughout their lives.

Sleeping often and deeply is normal for an 8 week old puppy. This is nothing to worry about if your puppy is energetic and playful when awake, eating and growing well, and seems healthy in every other respect

Potty training your 8 week old puppy.

Over the next few weeks you’ll want your puppy to become clean and dry in the house. Potty training your 8 week old Labrador puppy can start on the very first day. But it’s important that you are aware of his limitations.

A few new puppies can last six or seven hours at night without a wee. But many cannot do this until they are around ten weeks old. If you crate your puppy at night, expect to get up in the middle night and take your puppy outside for a wee, for up to two weeks.

If you opt to leave your puppy at night with puppy pads or newspaper, expect it to take a little longer than this before you come down to a nice clean floor each morning. Getting up earlier for a while is a given with an 8 week old puppy . And it’s best to expect no more ‘lay-ins’ for at least the next four months.

During the day, you’ll need to take your puppy outside very frequently or provide him with an a toileting area with puppy pads. Puppies pee much more frequently often the day. Some new puppies can last an hour or so between wees, but again, many cannot.

Crate training your 8 week old puppy

If you are intending to crate train your new puppy, you’ll find comprehensive instructions, including crate training schedules and maximum recommended crate times in our crate training guide.

If you are going back to work, or want to leave your puppy for three to four hours before he is five or six months old, and you want to crate train, you need to arrange for someone else to take care of him during the day. Even for this short period of time. An 8 week old puppy should not be left in a crate for hours at a time during the day.

The secret to success in crate training a new puppy lies in getting good habits established from the start. And this means getting that puppy outside to his toilet area, whenever his little bladder is getting full.

Leaving him in a large pen with newspaper down, will give him the opportunity to relieve himself, but you need to consider that 8 week old puppies left alone for long periods of time may become distressed and/or destructive

Leaving your puppy home alone

Puppies do need to learn to cope with being alone for short periods, right from the very start. Your puppy will quickly become comfortable with you disappearing for a few minutes if you reliably return. But too much isolation is a common cause of noisy or destructive behavior. Puppies need company.

Older puppies may cope happily with being left for up to four hours, but even an adult Labrador may become distressed or destructive if left alone for a full working day on a regular basis. Labradors are very sociable dogs and they need to have people around them.

Essentially it isn’t appropriate to leave a Labrador home alone throughout the entire working week. No matter how many walks he gets at the weekend. If you intend to return to work full-time, you’ll need to arrange a dog walker or creche place for your friend.

Puppies biting

Most people know that puppies nip when teething. What many people don’t know is just how hard they bite, and how much it hurts. Despite learning early bite inhibition from their mother and littermates, puppies continue this spikey behavior when you bring them home. 8 week old puppy biting is accompanied by loud noises, growling and often occurs during play.

Destructive puppy behavior

Your 8 week old puppy will chew, gnaw and dig around the home. It can be quite a shock to discover just how destructive a Labrador can be, both indoors and out, especially if left unsupervised for long periods of time.

Expect your puppy to destroy anything he can get in his mouth. Indoors and out. Some even chew the skirting boards, rip plaster from the walls, and tear up carpets in their homes. Supervision, playpens and puppy crates will help keep your home in tact during the destructive phase.

Puppies running off

8 week old puppies need time off leash. Tiny puppies have an automatic response with means that they follow people around. This response disappears by the time the puppy is around four or five months old. Don’t wait until then to let your puppy off the leash.

Labradors are retrieving dogs. They love to hunt and follow scent trails. Expect that an older puppy will want to explore away from you and get that off lead recall established well before he is six months old.

Expect that an older puppy will stray further and further away on walks if you are too predictable and just traipse along behind him. Teach him to follow you and not the other way around.

What we expect from an 8 week old puppy

We expect an awful lot from our tiny puppies. Both when they are still very small, and then as they grow bigger. Some of our expectations are simply not in line with the way puppies think and behave.

What to expect from your new Labrador puppyCuddles

We expect that puppies will enjoy being cuddled. Sometimes they do, mostly they are just being polite. Many puppies don’t like being hugged at all and wriggle wildly to escape.

TIP: Wait for your puppy to stop wriggling before you place him on the floor or he will wriggle harder next time!

A fun friend for children

We expect that our children will be able to play with a new puppy, but small puppies often bite and wriggle too much for little ones to enjoy them. Those pleasures tend to come later

TIP: Use baby gates to give toddlers and puppies space apart from one another

Success and quick results

We expect that the efforts we put in to housetraining will be rewarded, that the puppy will listen to what we say. But potty training and obedience training take time. Your 8 week old puppy will have accidents in the house to begin with and needs your help to understand what you want him to do next.

As he grows, we expect our puppy to return our love and affection, to respect us, be loyal, and obedient. And he will be, in time.

8 week old puppy – the reality

8 week old puppy life can be a bit of a shock. Many of us do not expect weeks of broken sleep, and tearful children that can’t play with, or even stroke the puppy, because he bites so hard.

Nor had we anticipated just how depressing it would be to clear up puppy pee and poop every time we get up in the morning, or return home from a quick shopping trip. We hadn’t planned on the angry complaints from the neighbors about barking and whining whenever we leave the house either.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

These things probably won’t all be issues for you. But they are common reasons for people to become disenchanted with their furry companion. And you’ll cope better if you are prepared. One of our aims here on The Labrador Site is to help close this gap between expectations and reality. So that puppies go into their new homes, and stay there for the rest of their lives.

8 week old puppy - Bringing home a new puppy, what to expect

8 week old puppy care

Raising your puppy can be a challenge, but if you are ready for the challenge, it is also tremendously enjoyable and satisfying. And most of the problems described above can be avoided or passed through without too much pain, if you have the right information! And a little preparation. You can do this if you are ready.

Much puppy naughtiness is linked to over-excitement. Focus on being calm around your puppy, and read up on how to train your puppy effectively.

The considered and appropriate use of a crate and baby gates, is a great way to prevent conflict between puppies and their families.

Confinement is not a substitute for companionship and training though, and of course it is very important to be sure you have enough time in your life for a Labrador, before going ahead and getting that lovely puppy.

And if you find your new puppy much harder than you expected and are feeling out of your depth or struggling to cope, don’t suffer in silence.

The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program 

Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website


  1. Thank you for the information and the extra links to helping train and being prepared for a new puppy at home. I’m finding your site to be a helpful resource for getting ready and plan on using it more as we learn and start training.

  2. Pippa,
    I just want you, and everyone associated with your site, to know how much we appreciate all the information you provide. This Website and the Happy Puppy Handbook were invaluable while raising our now 2-year-old Lab. Now we’re back because we are going to make an addition to the family and it feels like I’ve forgotten everything! Thankfully, your Website is bringing the memories back, the dos and dont’s, the expectations versus reality. And this time we’re going to be also looking for information on the dynamics of introducing a puppy to a household with an adult dog. Cheers and thank you again for a job well done!