‘I love hearing my puppy crying all night’…said no one ever. And nor should you. But you’ll be surprised how long people will let their puppies cry before doing something about it.
It’s not a good idea for anyone quite frankly, it often causes all kinds of distress for everyone…and neither of you are getting much sleep either and that’s never preferable.
The truth is that at the start, puppies just need to be near us. If you think about it, they’ve come from their breeder where they spent all day and night nestled up close to their mother and on top or underneath their siblings. It’s a bit wild to expect them to sleep on their own in a room, isn’t it? It’s no wonder they become stressed and cry.
But no stress, the day will come where they’ll be able to. In this article we’ll be helping you figure out:
- Whether or not you should let your puppy cry at night
- How to stop your puppy from crying at night
No more tears. Let’s get started!
Should I leave my puppy to cry at night?
Umm, no. Research tells us that the ‘cry it out’ method doesn’t work in babies, and it doesn’t work in dogs either. In brief, it can just cause a huge amount of emotional damage.
Leaving your puppy crying at night presents a few problems we could do without. For example, stress levels rising until quite some peaks, or them eventually stopping crying, but only because they’ve given up from physical exhaustion after realising that vocalisation didn’t work. In the end, we haven’t really changed anything about how they feel about being alone.
This worry can start to manifest itself in other types of behaviour such as pacing, scratching, and even less fun ones like stress-urination, defecation or self-mutilation. Don’t want to ruin the mood even more, but your puppy will end up very anxious about there being no way of coping that doesn’t have a positive result. Yikes, let’s not go down that road.
Humans are no good at listening to a puppy crying (of course!) – it’s just heart-crushing. So eventually, when we can’t take it anymore, we start to go downstairs to the puppy when they are crying. Most of us have big hearts, right? But just you wait…your puppy will quickly learn that this strategy works, and that they just need to do it for longer each time. So in this case, you can see the opposite happening, instead of their vocalisations decreasing, your puppy learns that crying and barking is what they need to call us downstairs. Like a bell.
So as you can see, dealing with your puppy crying at night in the wrong way can undo a lot of the good work we do during the day. Not a great idea!
It is always better to prevent any crying happening in the first place from day one. But if your puppy crying at night is something you’re experiencing already, our advice is good to follow. Everyone will be getting a good amount of shut eye in no time.
How to stop puppy crying at night
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty….
Keep them close – let them sleep next to your bed.
We don’t mean they need to be in your bed, unless you really want them to be. We won’t judge. But besides your bed or at least in the same room as you for at least the first few weeks will be a great place for them to start their ‘sleeping in a new house’ journey.
Once they are happy in their new home and sleeping through the night, you can start to move their bed out inch by inch, that is if you want them to sleep somewhere else in the future. But there’s no need to rush it, all puppies are different when it comes to feeling comfortable, and that’s ok!
Make their crate or bed warm and snuggly
Let’s make your puppy feel extra warm and protected at night to help drive the tears away. Products like the Snuggle Safe are excellent, they’re microwavable heat pads which mimic their mother’s warm belly. There’s even some that replicate a heartbeat for your puppy to snuggle up next to.
Don’t forget to empty, and possible empty again overnight
Puppies are small, so they have small bladders. You can imagine their need to wee is prominent. Before bedtime, make sure they’ve been to the toilet and to take them out again when they wake up in the night. They won’t be able to hold it through the night for the first month or so, and you probably don’t want to wake up to wet floors. If getting up in the middle of the night is challenging for you, then getting a puppy pad or indoor toilet in a puppy pen might be your secret ingredient.
Let sleeping puppies lie!
Now, let’s get clear about something. Despite us saying they need to go out to the toilet a lot, there’s no need to wake them up to take them to the toilet if they’re asleep. Some puppies can sleep for a long time overnight, so no need to disturb them!
Your instincts are right – it’s ok to comfort your puppy
Puppies often need some reassurance. Some gentle love and care. If you hear your puppy crying at night, it might be a matter of them needing to be talked to gently and comforted. Let them have a sniff of your hand until they settle, that will make them feel better. Some puppies need more support than others, which is completely fine – they should know they can rely on us for emotional support, especially when they’re tiny. We rely on them for cuddles too, don’t we?
Make sure your puppy likes their crate in the daytime too.
Their crate should be a blissful sanctuary where all their troubles can be forgotten. Make sure they are happy to go in there in the daytime as this will help with them going in there at night too.
We have a good guide on how to crate train your puppy if you need to know more about how to help such a jail-looking box seem so lovely to your puppy. The secret ingredients are fluffy blankets and treats, just so you know.
We have lots of information in the Zigzag puppy training app all about sleep and other common paw-nic moments at night you might run into. You should honestly take a look, it will save you some sanity.
Oh, and did you know we also have a team of Puppy Training Experts ready to give you specialist advice? Yep, they live on the Zigzag puppy training app too. Why not give them a ring?