Perhaps one of the most worrisome times for the new puppy owner is night-time There it is, a little bundle of adorable fur, howling and crying all night and sleep seems out of the question for the foreseeable future.
Your instinct (and maybe your childrens pleas!) tell you to go and pick puppy up and take it to bed with you, but you have all these rules laid down don't you - not going upstairs, not going on furniture, going to be treated like a dog....... yes, most of us have been there!
So how do you deal with this?
First thing, relax a bit. There is no right or wrong way, there is just the best way for you, your family and, of course, your dog. For some that will be having the dog sleep downstairs, for some in the bedroom while others are happy to have the dog curl up on their bed. All are fine, but for people who are struggling with a crying puppy here are some suggestions.
First of all remember what you are dealing with. You may have just picked up your puppy from its breeder, so for the first time it is away from Mum, brothers and sisters and the only humans it has known. It may have had a car trip to its new home, be surrounded by strangers and wondering what the heck is going on!
Hardly surprising when it is put in a strange room on its own it cries is it, and allowing it to be upset achieves nothing. We do not believe that there is anything to be gained by letting a pup be distressed and crying all night. It is better to teach a dog that it is safe, secure, and ok to be alone at night by initially giving comfort and building its confidence.
There are several ways to help your little pup settle -
- Be prepared for a few sleepless nights but stay calm - it will pass and things will improve even if those long lie ins may be a thing of the past for a while.
- Make sure your pup has had a chance to go to the toilet before being put in its crate, and stop all exciting play and activities for a while before putting it to bed - it is not going to want to go asleep if you have been having loads of fun just a few minutes before.
- A warm hot water bottle in its crate and a ticking clock may help puppy to settle.
- Some people will sleep downstairs with their pooch for the first couple of nights or so, with the pup in its crate, just to be able to reassure it during the night and take it out for a wee when needed.
- Others recommend having the crate by the side of their bed, so a little stroke and reassurance can be given during the night.
- This is the method we would recommend -
- Make the crate comfy with a bed, a t-shirt or similar of yours, with your scent on.
- Start crate training each day, as described HERE
- At night, get a Kong, and fill with tasty food (small pieces of chicken, kibble, cottage cheese, peanut butter, rice pudding or whatever your pup really likes.
- Keep a small amount of the food in a separate bowl for use later.
- Put your pup in the crate by the side of your bed, and give it the Kong to eat. Use the command 'Bedtime' or whichever command word you have decided on.
- If your pup settles, just leave it in peace to sleep
- If your pup shows signs of crying, talk gently and quietly to it. When it quietens, feed it a very small amount of the standby food from the bowl, through the side of the crate.
- If you do need to take the dog out for a toilet break, dont fuss or get it excited, just pop it back in its crate afterwards and let it settle back down to sleep.
- When your puppy has become used to its bedtime routine you can then move its crate a little away from your bed (or return to your own bed if you have been sleeping downstairs) and gradually get it used to its permanent sleeping place.