How to stop a puppy crying so that everyone gets a good night’s sleep

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  • Trying to work out how to stop a puppy crying at night is something that many dog owners find both difficult and distressing. There are a number of ways to help a new puppy settle in, and what works well for one dog may not necessarily be right for another. I wouldn’t recommend leaving a puppy to cry at night for long periods as it’s likely to increase anxiety and lead to further behavioural issues. If left, some puppies can become so distressed that they urinate and have diarrhoea, which they then walk in and it gets in their fur. In the long term, this can then manifest itself into separation anxiety.

    There is also variation between breeds. Some breeds are more prone to separation anxiety than others and it’s worth checking the parents’ temperament when it comes to separation, too. Bear in mind that when you bring an eight-week-old puppy home, they are leaving everything they’ve ever known since birth, including their mother and litter siblings (it’s rare to be an only pup). They are also at the beginning of their very first fear period. Most breeders will send you home with their favourite toy and a piece of their bedding that smells familiar to them to help with the transition.

    Why do puppies cry at night?

    So why do puppies cry? In short, they’ve been removed from the only environment they’ve ever known, and you’re now the new and only thing that is familiar and consistent. Imagine being that small and, all of a sudden, the lights go out, it smells and sounds different, your brothers and sisters aren’t there to snuggle down with, and you don’t know where you are – you’d be feeling pretty worried. The only way a puppy can communicate that worry and fear is by vocalising.

    Puppies may also cry out when they need the toilet – remember that their bladder and stomach are small – as they won’t want to soil their own bed area. If they have a crate with a playpen around it, try puppy training pads (like these on Amazon).

    How to settle a puppy

    I believe there is no hard-and-fast, right or wrong way to settle a pup in, but establishing a routine is key to creating security and trust. One way of doing this is crate training. Again, how well this works will very much depend on your dog’s personality. Some dogs are very happy in one of the best dog crates – they are denning animals by nature, so having that safe space can be comforting for them. If you then add a blanket thrown over the top, an item of clothing that smells of you and their favourite toy, suddenly you have a much calmer and relaxed pup.

    Leaving a radio or the TV on low and having a little night light (like this one on Amazon) also helps settle a puppy as it’s a lot less scary than silence. You can also take the crate into your bedroom as this helps the puppy know that you are nearby and you can take it to the toilet more easily.

    For some dog owners, crating is not something they wish to consider. However, the more space a puppy has the more it can become anxious and the harder it is to toilet train, as it is very easy for them to walk over the other side of the room and away from their bed area to go to the toilet and then walk back again. It’s best to give your pup a smaller area, either by sectioning off part of the room you wish to keep them in, or by putting them in a smaller room with a baby gate (like this one on Amazon) across the door, rather than shutting it. You can use the same tricks to aid settling, such as leaving an item of your clothing and their favourite toy, and having a radio or TV left on low.

    Amazon Basics Puppy Training Pads | Amazon.co.uk
    Available in a wide range of sizes, these pads are available in scented and unscented options and are eligible for Prime delivery.

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    Slamos LED Night Light | Amazon.co.uk
    This plug-in soft light has a dusk-to-dawn sensor, so it will automatically turn on at dusk, night or when the surrounding light is low, and turn off at dawn or when the surroundings become brighter.

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    Safety 1st Gate | Amazon.co.uk
    This gate is 73cm tall and can be used to puppyproof widths from 73–80cm, and can be extended up to 136cm by combining two gate extensions.

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    Should you let your puppy sleep in your bed?

    Some owners take their puppy to bed with them, but the majority see this as unacceptable and it’s against all advice given in the best dog training books. However, our newest addition, Gladys the Irish Terrier, came to bed with us from the first day we brought her home – she is much smaller than my three English Mastiffs, so I didn’t want her getting squashed, among other reasons. She slept through, rarely woke us for the toilet and eight weeks later, she either takes herself off to her own bed beside us or will happily sleep downstairs with the others. She is happy to be left alone and is a very happy, balanced and confident young dog because I implemented the routine from the outset while she was at her most vulnerable stage.

    However, this is something that you must decide for yourself – I have clients who have done exactly as I have and now the dog cannot be left alone at all. I ensured Gladys learned to have periods of time when she was separate from me and the other dogs in another part of the house. I usually did this after I had done some exercise and a bit of training with her, and I would leave her with an enrichment toy or lick mat (like this one on Amazon) to keep her busy, and her puppy bed.

    When it comes to settling a puppy and working out how to stop them crying at night, there is no right or wrong – only what works for you, your household and your puppy. Don’t forget that dogs are living, thinking, breathing beings and have emotions as we do. You’re right in thinking we need to be sure it’s not attention seeking behaviour, and that we need to be sure they don’t start to habit wake to go to the toilet just to engage you, but it’s also important to be aware that we’re not creating a scared and anxious dog at the same time. It’s all about balance and having a puppy – like a newborn – is exhausting for the first few weeks, but stick to your routine and you will reap the benefits in the long term.

    Joejoy Puppy Bed | Amazon.co.uk
    This washable bed is available in a range of sizes. It has a hooded blanket design to create a cozy, protective atmosphere, and the supportive edge acts as a headrest, offering additional orthopaedic support.

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    Amazon Basics Carrot Toy | Amazon.co.uk
    This soft carrot toy contains four soft rabbits. It’s designed for hide and seek, retrieving and other games that engage a dog’s natural hunting instincts.

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    Paw Slow Pad | Amazon.co.uk
    This lick pad keeps your puppy entertained and the licking helps reduce anxiety by releasing endorphins giving a feeling of comfort.

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    Tips to prevent your puppy crying at night

    These are some of my tried and tested tips and tricks that you may find useful to help your puppy settle and solve the problem of how to stop a puppy crying at night.

    • Calming sprays – I’ve used the Adaptil spray (available on Amazon), which is an appeasing pheromone that only the dog can smell. It’s supposed to replicate a lactating mother and the ears of an adult dog, and these pheromones provide a strong signal of comfort and security.
    • Puppy snuggle toy with heartbeat (like this one on Amazon) – these are usually soft with a heated core and pulsing mechanical heartbeat that is designed to replicate the snuggling with the mother and littermates.
    • Clothing that smells of you – leaving items of your clothing in the crate or sleeping area gives the puppy that bond and sense of closeness and security that you provide.
    • Leave a radio playing on low volume.
    • Use a small night light (like this one on Amazon) in the early days if necessary.
    • If you use a crate, put a cover or blanket over the top – I find this helps dog settle better and switch off if they can’t scan the room.
    • Leave a puppy chew toy in with them but make sure its suitable, one that doesn’t splinter, or they can choke on. Kongs and lick pads can help but they may hinder the toilet training in a young dog.

    Above all, be kind, consistent and create a routine – and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re doing it wrong. You know your puppy better than anyone else ever will, so choose with a routine and a practice that makes you both happy and you’ll soon find how to stop a puppy crying at night.

    Adaptil Calming Spray | Amazon.co.uk
    This spray contains a synthetic copy of the “dog appeasing pheromone”, which a mother naturally releases to calm and reassure her litter.

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    All For Paws Little Buddy Heartbeat Toys | Amazon.co.uk
    This toy recreates intimacy with physical warmth, which eases crying, loneliness and separation anxiety in pets. Also has a beating heart for anxiety relief.

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    Nylabone Teething Toy | Amazon.co.uk
    Soak and freeze the whole bone and cloth of this interactive dog toy for a cool texture with added teething relief. It is flavoured and the flavour won’t wear off.

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