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


This is a complete guide to bringing home a new puppy for the very first time. It’s perfect for a first time dog owner. Or anyone that has forgotten what an 8 week old puppy gets up to!

This article will help you to get to grips with what to expect of your new puppy, during those first few days and weeks.

What to expect from a new puppy

It goes without saying that new puppies are completely adorable! Nature has the design of baby animals down to perfection.

Puppies smell delicious

They are irresistible.

And when we hold an 8 week old Labrador puppy in our arms we are overwhelmed with the need to protect him.

Despite this, there will probably be times during the next few days when you question the sanity of your decision to get a puppy at all.

Is your 8 week old puppy driving you crazy?

No matter how cute and adorable he is, there may be times in the weeks to come when you tempted to take your pup right back where he came from!

Because puppies, like babies, can be hard work.

Not to mention annoying, and frustrating!

But hang on in there.

When you are sleep deprived and your life has just been turned upside down it isn’t the best time to make major decisions.

With the help of this guide and the resources you’ll find on this website, peace will soon be restored. There are some handy links in the green menu if you want to skip ahead!

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.

Let’s start by talking about feeding an 8 week old puppy and getting through that first night with your tiny new friend.

Feeding an 8 week old puppy

Puppies need 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 a puppy with diahorrea 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.

All this information and much more, is contained in our detailed guide to feeding a Labrador puppy. Just click on that link and you’ll be there!

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

Once you have the whole food thing under control, if you haven’t already decided, you’ll need to think about what you are going to do with your puppy when you go to bed tonight

First night with puppy

We’ll look at some options and give you some tips on things to avoid.

It’s best not to expect your puppy to sleep in or on your bed.

He’ll fall off, possibly hurt himself, and certainly wander around your bedroom leaving little puddles. 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 Lab LINK but not right now, at least not unless you puppy proof the room and sleep on the floor.

It’s also best not to leave a puppy 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 a 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

The first two options enable you to sleep separately from your puppy. This isn’t always a good idea to begin with. I’ll explain why in a moment.

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

  • A puppy safe sleeping area
  • A puppy crate
  • A 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 a 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 a 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.

It’s a good solution to begin with because puppies subjected to solutions 1 or 2 can become extremely distressed, resulting in vomiting and diarhea for your pup, and a lot of clearing up for you.

8 week old puppy at night – sleeping and crying

Remember that most 8 week old puppies have never slept alone. If asked to sleep alone on the first night in their new home, they usually cry.

And a small puppy can make a surprisingly loud noise.

Unless you live in a mansion, you will be able to hear him. And so will your neighbours.

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.

Check out this article for information on coping with crying.

It is important to be aware that new puppies learn very quickly. Whilst initial crying may be the result of fear or loneliness, puppies they soon discover that crying gets them attention.

If you have already got into a cycle of crying for attention with your new puppy, find out here, how to teach your puppy to be quiet.

How much do puppies sleep

An 8 week old puppy can be expected to 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 and 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.

Check out our Big Guide To Potty Training for lots more tips and information.

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 an 8 week old 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 behaviour. 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.

You’ll find lots of help and advice for puppy parent who work in this article: Raising a Puppy When You Work Full Time

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.

Most new puppy owners are shocked by biting, and by the noise which accompanies it. But fierce growling during play biting, is completely normal for small puppies!

Being aware of this doesn’t make it any less painful, but it does help you cope, and prevents family members resenting the puppy or worrying that he is abnormal in some way.

You can find out a lot more about biting in this article: How to cope with a biting puppy and this one Is my puppy aggressive?

Destructive puppy behaviour

Again, most people know that small puppies chew things. However, 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.

Expect this to continue well past his first birthday. In fact many young Labradors become particularly destructive towards the end of the first year. Some even chew the skirting boards, rip plaster from the walls, and tear up carpets in their homes.

There is no need to get into this kind of conflict with any dog, and as it is so common in Labradors, I recommend that young Labs are crated when left alone in the house, until well past their first birthday.

I did not de-crate my youngest lab Rachael, until she was 18 months old. You can read more in this article: Destructive behaviour

Boisterous puppy behaviour

Between 8 and 18 months of age, many young Labradors are extremely boisterous.

Expect that your young Labrador will knock people over if you don’t teach him some manners.

Expect that he will jump up and scratch the paintwork on your car if you don’t teach him to sit next to it.

Expect that he will drag you around on the end of his lead if you don’t train him to walk to heel. Expect that he may even pull you off your feet and into the path of an oncoming vehicle. The solution is to teach your new friend to walk alongside you, on and off the lead. Preferably from a very early age. See Walking your Labrador on a loose lead

Puppies running off

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 lead.

Labradors are gun 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. See the about turn walk for more information, and check out our Recall Training Centre

Naughty puppies

“He doesn’t listen!” People say. Or, “my puppy was sitting, coming, giving paw, and everything a few weeks ago, but now he just ignores us. Why is he so naughty

He also does all kinds of ‘naughty’ things such as taking food he can reach, begging at the table, and tripping people up! What can be done?

The answer is, he is not naughty, he is completely normal. He is also completely untrained. Puppies bite, steal, jump, lick, whine, dig, and much more. All this is normal.

Check out The Three Rs of Labrador Puppy Education to get yourself off to a good start with avoiding a real naughtiness problem

Training is a long process. Getting a dog to respond to a cue such as ‘sit’ or ‘shake hands’ is the easy part. A dog that will do this in your kitchen is not trained. He has just learned to respond to a cue in your kitchen. Nothing more.

Proofing that cue against all the distraction in our daily lives is what comprises the bulk of dog training , and you desperately need the right information in order to do this effectively. You can find this information in our training section and on our sister site Totally Dog Training

We expect an awful lot from our puppies. Both when they are still very small, and especially as they grow bigger.

What to expect from your new Labrador puppyWe expect that puppies will enjoy being cuddled.

We expect that our children will be able to play with them, that the efforts we put in to housetraining will be rewarded, that the puppy will listen to what we say.

We expect that our puppies will be happy to be stroked, and to join us for walks and games.

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

What to expect from a new puppy

The reality of life with a new Labrador puppy, 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 neighbours about barking and whining whenever we leave the house either.

And we certainly didn’t expect to be dragged off our feet every time we took the dog for a walk.

Or to have to wait two hours for our new friend to come home when he is done chasing rabbits.

These things probably won’t all happen to you.

But they are common reasons for people to become disenchanted with their furry companion.

Working towards your perfect puppy expectations

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.

There are two way to close this gap. The first is to move the expectations of the new puppy owner closer to reality, and we do this by providing information. By letting people know what to expect from life with a new puppy.

The second way is to improve on the reality of life with a new puppy by preparing puppy owners in advance. This helps them to make decisions, and to provide for their puppy in a way that avoids problems arising in the future.

8 week old puppy – summary

Raising a 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 with the right information!

You can do this if you are ready.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson(paid link)

Do think about restricting your puppy’s access to certain parts of your home for a few weeks.

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 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.

Most puppy problems arise because of the gap that lies between our expectations, and reality. The better prepared you are for 8 week old puppy behavior, the happier your new puppy experience is likely to be

Your tiny baby will soon grow into the sensible loving dog of your dreams, but for now, there’s some work to do.

Do check out our article: are you ready for a Labrador, before you take the plunge.

And if you find your new puppy much harder than you expected and are feeling out of your depth or struggling to cope, dont suffer in silence. check out our guide to the New Puppy Blues https://www.thelabradorsite.com/how-to-beat-the-labrador-puppy-blues/ And join our wonderful forum for help and support

More information on puppies

Happy-Puppy-jacket-image1-195x300(paid link)For a complete guide to raising a healthy and happy puppy don’t miss The Happy Puppy Handbook.

The Happy Puppy Handbook covers every aspect of life with a small puppy.

The book will help you prepare your home for the new arrival, and get your puppy off to a great start with potty training, socialisation and early obedience.

The Happy Puppy Handbook is available(paid link) worldwide.


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!