When it comes to leaving a new puppy alone at night, you must understand the reason they are crying.
You should not ignore your puppy crying at night because they are not doing it to be naughty, its because they are scared as they:
- Miss their mum and siblings
- Are alone in a strange place
- Can’t snuggle with their siblings
- Are in a strange, unfamiliar place
- Have never been alone before
Comfort Your Puppy As It Misses Its Mom
Yesterday your puppy’s world was full of mum and their siblings. They were constantly being cared for, kept warm, and food was delivered as they required it by mum. But suddenly all that has gone, without any warning, and they are alone and fearful.
The darkness and quiet of the night only increase that realization of being alone. There are no distractions to overcome the increasing loneliness your puppy is feeling.
In short, your little puppy is petrified, full of fear, and is crying out for its mum to come and save it. And the longer you leave it to cry, the more upset it will become and the louder your puppy will cry.
It is unfair to not respond to their fear and to give them a little reassurance. A puppy is a baby, it only responds to what it feels.
Leaving a puppy alone at night to cry their little heart out is both unfair and unwarranted when careful planning for their first few nights in their new home would make the whole experience a lot easier on everyone.
Without resorting to any tough-love tactics, a puppy can be trained to settle at night, on their own, and to welcome the rest.
It does take a little effort, and it usually costs a bit of lost sleep on the first night or two, but it is well worth it.
Have Your Puppy Sleep Nearby, So It Is Reassured
In the first few nights at their new home, you need to make a few allowances by allowing them to nest close to you in the bedroom, but in a bed of their own.
So maybe you don’t want them in your bedroom with you forever, but it will help to get them started, so they can gain confidence in their new home and with their situation.
At this stage, nothing about your home is familiar to the puppy, it is all scary and different. They need time to adjust and adapt. You are their new mom, so it is up to you to bond with this little creature and provide the security it craves.
- Small puppies in the wild are very vulnerable.
- For them to survive, they are never left unattended unless it is within the safety of their den.
- A puppy will cry instinctively if they find themselves alone outside their den which will bring its mother to the rescue. It is nature’s way of ensuring their safety, and this instinct lives on in your new puppy. They cry when they are scared and need mums reassurance.
- Well, your new puppy is feeling alone, they feel outside of the ‘den’, and are begging to be rescued. That is why they are crying.
- If you can give them that ‘den’ feeling, your puppy will soon be sleeping happily throughout the night.
You can provide a crate for your puppy in your bedroom, filled with soft toys, blankets and other things they may like. They are kept safe and cannot wander around or hurt themselves, but they can hear and smell that you are close.
Having you near – hearing you, smelling you, and your occasional reassuring touch will help.
There is even a suggestion that the sound of a clock will relax a puppy. Anything is worth a try.
If they can hear and smell you, they won’t feel so alone. If they whimper, you can reassure them by reaching out and touching them. In this way, they know you are near and feel they are protected and safe.
Not Ignoring Them Means They Feel Part of a Pack
- Leaving a puppy to cry at night can increase your puppy’s anxiety and fear. While some puppies soon settle after a few nights, many do not, and nighttime becomes a battleground until they become older.
- Dogs are pack animals, meaning that they thrive when in a group setting. They gain confidence being within a group. And that is what your puppy craves – they want the protection of the pack and it is causing them anxiety to be without it.
- You can try and convince yourself that they will get over it and start to sleep through the night, but remember that your neighbors will no doubt hear the cries of your young pup as well, and will not be impressed with sleepless nights. You can alienate your neighbors very quickly as no one likes to listen to a crying puppy – it pulls on the heartstrings and keeps everyone awake.
- Rather than just leave the pup to fend for themselves, you need to make your puppy feel protected and to feel that they are not alone.
- Other behavioral problems can result from leaving a puppy to cry at night. They can suffer from separation anxiety. It becomes a problem to leave them even for a few minutes without them fretting or destroying something because of their anxiety, or they will cry and bark until you return. You will soon outlive your welcome when your neighbors have to endure a howling barking dog for hours on end.
- So having them beside your bed at night becomes a good option. This doesn’t have to become a permanent arrangement, you can prepare your pup for the transition to their new bedroom at a later time, once they have become used to your home and they have gained a bit of confidence.
Be With Them at the Start of Crate Training
To restrain a young dog safely, you can use a dog crate. This will keep them confined to an area where no harm can come to them while they get used to things. They can see out of it easily, sleep in it, and they are safe from hurting themselves.
- You can create a den feeling by partially covering the crate to make it more cave-like.
- Sit by their side while they explore the open crate. Having you there will give them the confidence to explore this new thing. Your goal is to overcome your puppy’s fear and get them to accept that being alone is not such a bad thing. Start introducing them to it the moment you get them home so that by their first evening, they are used to the crate.
- Seed the crate with kibble or their favorite treat so that the puppy thinks this is the best place ever.
- When they are in the crate, give them lots of praise and encouragement. Give them their favorite toy to play with. You can even get a plush toy dog with a pulsating heartbeat and a heat source, so your puppy doesn’t feel alone.
- Make sure you get one of those super-plush comfort beds they have for a puppy to snuggle deeply into. It provides the warmth and comfort of the sibling snuggle they had with their siblings.
- Once they get used to the open crate, try closing the door yet sit there with them and pat them to let them know it’s ok.
- As the training continues, you will eventually be able to increase the time the pup is left alone. At first, leave them alone but in the same room with you so they have visual sight of you, so they know you are there.
- Once they get their confidence, then you can leave them in the crate in another room, and they will be quite happy.
The crate will become their spot, their little den where they can go to sleep or when they want to be on their own. The beauty of the crate is that they can see what’s going on, but they can rest peacefully in the corner of a room.
Overcoming their fear of their new life is the sure-fire way to overcoming puppy tears and tantrums at night.
Some Tricks to Overcome the First Few Days
- Try to pick up your puppy early in the day, so they have a whole day to get used to your home.
- Ask the previous owner or breeder for a towel or cloth that has the scent of their mum and siblings on it, the familiar scent reassures your puppy.
- Keep your puppy busy all day. Allow for lots of sleep, but make the evening longer with less sleep, so when bedtime looms, they will be tired.
- Allow an hour or two of quiet activities before bed. Don’t hype them up, then expect them to sleep, as your puppy will be wide awake with sleep far from its mind.
- Allow them time to explore their new home. Don’t overly fuss over them, let them have a bit of independence and explore the home themselves.
- Show them the toilet area as soon as you get home. Little puppies have notorious bladders, and they can pee just from excitement. They haven’t learned to control their bladders yet, so offer them the toilet option often.
- Your puppy will probably have to get up and pee during the night, keep this time low key and don’t give them too much attention, or they will think it’s playtime.
- The softest, deepest, snuggle bed for your puppy is an anxiety killer, so the investment is well worth it.
- Having them next to you will provide that sense of security your puppy seeks. It doesn’t have to be forever, but it will give you both a good night’s sleep and keep your neighbors happy too.
Looking Into The Future.
As your puppy grows, you can change the bedtime arrangements to suit. Your home has become your puppy’s home, and they are used to being one of your pack.
The training of a young pup to become confident and outgoing is an effort well spent. A dog that you can rely on is a valuable family member.
A puppy is like a young child, you have to guide them, correct them, and teach them time and time again until they remember and get it right.
But the secret is to use love, praise, and reward to get them to do what you want them to do.
Building confidence and overcoming the fear of the unknown is one of the toughest lessons any creature can learn. But it must be learned to move forward in life … to move forward with confidence and assurance.
Writer: Jean Brewer