There’s nothing more exciting than bringing home a sweet little puppy. There’s lots to learn, and one of the first things you will find yourself frantically searching for is advice on how to make a puppy stop crying at night! It sounds heartbreaking, but it’s completely normal, and here are seven tips to help you ensure your puppy settles in and starts sleeping – sooner, rather than later.
Once you understand why your pupper is making that sad, sad sound, it becomes a lot easier to help them. Think back to the day before you brought your new fluffy friend home. They were probably snuggled up with mum and all their brothers and sisters at night, in the only house they have ever known. Now, they have a nice big, soft bed all to themselves – but it’s quiet, it doesn’t smell the same and they are probably a bit confused.
It won’t last long, though, and if you follow these seven tips they’ll be snoozing quietly in no time!
1. Never underestimate the power of the potty!
Not a literal potty, of course, but potty training. Your pup can only hold its bladder for a wee while (see what we did there?), so make sure the very very last thing you do at night is take them outside for a toilet break. In the early days, if your furry friend can only hold its pee for a few hours you may have to make an early-hours trip to the garden each night (find out more in our article about toilet training). If you get woken up by Fido singing the song of his people (i.e. crying and whining), follow these steps to ensure that your pooch gets what he needs without getting the wrong idea.
- Don’t chatter too much with your pupper, as he may think it’s playtime! It is not playtime.
- Don’t give any praise, pets or treats at first, just collect him and take him to your chosen toilet spot. If he doesn’t go – wait! And do everything you can to resist those adorable “please pet me” eyes until he’s done his business.
- When he’s done, give him lots of praise so he knows that was the right thing to do.
- Return your pooch to his sleeping quarters and leave without any fuss.
That’s it, and it sounds a little harsh but it’s important to keep things brief so that your pupper doesn’t start yowling for fuss and cuddles in the middle of the night.
2. Crate train your puppy
And by this, we mean ‘decide if crate training is right for you and your pup’. You’ll need to do a little research, as crate training isn’t as simple as popping the pupper into a crate and leaving her there. It means building up a strong positive association with the crate, so that she feels safe in there. By properly crate training a puppy, crying soon turns into snoring! You do this by feeding her all meals in the crate, rewarding her for entering the crate, and ensuring that no one bothers her while she’s in there (particularly strangers, other pets or kids!).
When you combine this positivity with a little additional training, you’ll find she settles down in there much more easily and even takes herself off for naps in her crate, too! The additional training includes not opening the door to let her out of the crate unless she is quiet, for the same reason that you don’t pet a crying pupper at night. If she is crying and you need to take her out, get her to do something first; tell her to sit, or lie down, then reward and release!
3. Provide comfort, but not attention
It’s important to understand that while it sounds like the end of the world, the crying sounds more dramatic than it is! Comforting your canine companion will only ensure she tries the same tactic the next night, and the next, and the next…
So instead of cuddles and reassurance, you can start your pooch off by letting them sleep in a crate, pen or dog bed in your room, so they know you are nearby. Remember, for doggos even a quiet ‘Shh!’ can be interpreted as attention, so only allow your pooch to sleep in your room if you can trust yourself not to start chatting away with them in the night. As they get used to sleeping in their own bed, undisturbed, you can slowly move the crate out of your room and towards the location you want it to finally rest in.
You can also pop a t-shirt or other item of clothing that you have slept in and smells of you into their sleeping area, to help provide that little extra comfort.
4. Wear your pupper out – every day
A puppy that is nice and tired will have less energy for kicking up a fuss when they should be sleeping! Make sure you try lots of different ways to wear out your little one – including gentle, puppy-safe exercise, training and games. Here are 5 simple tricks you can teach your dog.
🐾Top tip: if you can’t play outside because of the weather, or you’re still waiting for your pup’s vaccines to be completed, training is a great way to wear out doggos! Working their brains takes up lots of energy, and food puzzles can help with this too.
5. Keep a routine
Try to ensure your puppy goes to sleep in the same place, at the same time every day. Make sure there aren’t any major changes to the lighting or the sounds they can hear by making sure you keep all of the curtains, doors and windows either open or closed from the start, rather than mixing things up, if you can. Make sure you’re up bright and early, too – preferably before the whining begins, although that may be easier said than done! But the reassurance that you will appear, like you always do, first thing in the morning will help them feel more settled.
6. Limit access to distractions
Your fluffy friend doesn’t need much to get a good night’s sleep – some soft bedding (slightly raised from the floor if you have draughts through your house) and a safe environment, such as a crate or playpen is all they need. Don’t leave treatos or toys in or near their sleeping area, as puppies can be very naughty when it comes to trying to make their own fun! They do not need food at night, and while they should always have access to fresh water, it’s not advisable to leave younger pups with a bowl in their sleeping quarters as they could either a) fall asleep in it or b) make a mess and end up getting wet and cold during the night. Food and water in the last hour before bedtime can also make them more likely to need a toilet trip in the night, too!
7. Check for other issues
If you have tried all of the above and you’re still having problems even after a few days, it might be worth exploring other reasons for your pup’s distress. Check again that they aren’t sleeping in a draft, they have enough warm bedding, there are no weird noises they are likely to be hearing at night. Check for any injuries or signs of illness, and remember that it can take a couple of days for a new approach to start working, so you may need to be patient! If it has been longer than that with no signs of relief, pop into see your vet to make sure there isn’t anything else keeping your furry best friend awake at night.
Now you know how to stop a puppy crying at night, you can get on with all the good stuff!