It can be heartbreaking to hear a new puppy crying out into the darkness. Many new dog owners give in to their instincts to comfort and soothe a crying puppy.
If you do, it could lead to an even bigger nightmare, though. So keep reading to find out how to stop your puppy crying at night, the right way.
In this article, we will discuss:
- Why do puppies cry at night?
- Should you comfort a crying puppy at night?
- How to crate train a puppy
- Why is it important to ignore a crying puppy at night?
- How to set your puppy up for success at bedtime
- Should you let a puppy sleep in your bed?
Related Topic: Should you allow your puppy to sleep with you?
Why Do Puppies Cry At Night?
Most new puppy owners assume that a new puppy is crying at night because they are scared.
This may well be true on the first few nights, they are in a very new environment after all, and they are all alone in their new bed.
But puppies cry at night for many different reasons, and often more than one.
Here are some of the potential reasons your new puppy is crying at night:
- They feel anxious about being left alone
- They don’t know where they are
- They miss the warmth and comfort of their litter mates and mother
- They are cold and uncomfortable
- They are hungry or need to go to the toilet
- They are bored and want to play
- They are calling for attention
- They have learned that crying makes you appear
- They have learned that crying gets them into your bed
- They don’t know what else to do
The big question is, what do you do when a puppy is crying at night? There are different opinions on this topic, and we are going to look at these in this article.
Should You Comfort A Crying Puppy At Night?
Let us start with the most common debate – should you comfort a puppy when it cries at night?
Some dog owners wouldn’t dream of leaving a puppy to cry. They may think of it as cruel and feel that all the puppy needs are love.
Then, of course, there is the other train of thought, suggesting that by providing the puppy with what it wants, which is essentially attention, the dog owner is reinforcing behavior that they don’t want.
But is there any middle ground?
The first thing you can do is to make sure that your puppy likes his bed. Keep reading to find out how to crate train your puppy.
How To Crate Train A Puppy
Some people are not keen on the idea of putting a dog in a crate because it looks a bit like the dog is being caged. But when trained correctly, your puppy will not feel like it has been trapped in a cage.
The key is to teach your puppy from the start that the crate is his little den. It is a comforting hideaway, and a safe space where your pup can retreat to anytime the world outside gets a bit much, or he wants some me-time.
You can help your new puppy to feel at home in his new crate by making it warm and cozy. Try covering it partially with a blanket to make it feel like a cave.
Fill the crate with a few of your pup’s favorite toys, and let him spend time in their alone during the day with yummy treats and tasty chews, as these will help to build positive experiences around being inside the crate, and also being alone inside the crate.
The crate should be positioned somewhere in the house that is peaceful, but also in a space where your puppy can observe and enjoy any activity that is happening. A great place could be in the corner of the living room.
The crate will become a place to settle down for a nap, rest and enjoy a favorite chew, or hang out when everyone is too busy to play.
It is essential never to use the crate as a form of punishment. You never want your pup to think that bedtime is not something to look forward to and enjoy.
Why Is It Important To Ignore A Crying Puppy At Night?
Ignoring your puppy when it cries at night isn’t an option; you have to do it unless you want to make the problem bigger.
When a puppy cries and you give attention, the puppy learns that when it wants attention, all it needs to do is cry, because it works.
This is called positive reinforcement. It happens when dogs associate behaviors with perceived rewards. In this case, the behavior is crying, and the reward is that you come running. What a result!
Once you have made the mistake of giving in to your puppy’s cries, even if it was only on the one occasion, you will find that it is challenging to change your mind and start ignoring the puppy suddenly.
This is because your puppy thinks you can’t hear him crying, so he cries louder and for longer. It can take days for a pup to finally clock on that his method isn’t working anymore and rethink his strategy.
How To Set Your Puppy Up For Success At Bedtime
If you have begun to crate train your puppy, then you have already started to set your pup up for success at bedtime. Your puppy is learning that his crate is a great place to be. But there are more things that you can do to make bedtime easier for your puppy.
- Teach your pup to love his own company – It can be tempting to fuss over a new puppy all day long, but if you don’t allow them to get used to being by themselves, then it will be harder when they have no choice. Set your puppy up for success by leaving them alone at intervals throughout the day. You can leave him with something to keep him busy like a treat-dispensing toy, a chew toy, or a stuffed Kong toy.
- Set up a routine – Children need structure and routine, and puppies are no different. If you design a bedtime routine for your puppy, it will be able to accept what is coming more quickly. An enjoyable evening routine includes the last meal of the day, a toilet break, a bit of training or playtime to tire your pup out, one more toilet break, and then into the crate for bedtime.
- Give midnight toilet breaks instead of attention – When your pup wakes up in the middle of the night, it might be a good idea to consider the fact that puppies do have small bowels and bladders. If crying has woken you up, take your puppy out into the garden for a toilet break and then put them back to bed. Beware, though; this is not a time for fuss, love, or playtime. Any attention unrelated to going to the toilet will distract your puppy, and he will learn that crying leads to attention and not that crying leads to being let out to do a wee. Don’t even out the light on if possible, and no talking. Puppies can be surprisingly manipulative, and they are experts at training their humans, so be careful.
- Help your puppy to self-soothe – Sometimes puppies cry because they don’t know what else to do. You can help your puppy to calm itself down by providing them with something in the crate like a chew toy.
Related Topic: Why Does my Dog Lick me at Bedtime?
Should You Let A Puppy Sleep In Your Bed?
This is a matter of personal preference, but you should be aware that once you let a dog sleep in your bed, there is no going back.
You should, therefore, make sure that this is a long-term decision and that you have thought it through properly.
Here are some considerations to help you make the decision:
- Are you prepared to share your bed with an animal, probably for the rest of its life?
- Are both you and your partner on board with the decision? Have you considered how it might affect your intimacy with each other?
- Are you making the decision based on convenience because you can’t deal with any more sleepless nights?
- Have you considered how big your dog is going to get and how much space in the bed he is going to take up?
- Are you prepared to sleep on the edge of your bed, even though you have a queen-sized bed? Trust me; dogs like to stretch out.
- Are you prepared to be kicked in the back in the middle of the night when your dog decides to stretch and not get cross?
- Are you prepared to accept that your dog might end up being an annoyingly restless sleeper, or even worse, a snorer?
- Have you considered that your dog isn’t always going to be 100% clean fresh out of the bath and that you are likely to find clumps of dried mud in your bed on occasion? Especially in the winter, if you don’t wipe your dog’s paws after every walk.
- And then there is the farting.
See Also: Best Memory Foam Bed for Dogs
Puppies are bundles of fun, but that cuteness quickly dissipates when you start losing sleep because they have kept you up all night.
Just remember that it doesn’t last forever, and it’s up to you to instill good habits for the future.
Hopefully, you have found some useful tips and insights in this article, and now you feel more confident that you can get your puppy’s nighttime crying under control. Good luck!