How to help your puppy stop crying in its crate at night
In this article
How to help your puppy stop crying in its crate
Puppies are quick to let you know when they’re unhappy or upset, and more often than not, that tends to be when you’re trying to get some sleep at night! A puppy who has never been crate trained or spent time alone is likely to cry when they’re in a new situation as it’s scary and overwhelming.
It’s equal to a small child crying when they’re in an unfamiliar environment and can’t find their mum or dad.
However, a constantly whining puppy isn’t practical or exactly pleasant, both for you and your neighbours. If you’re struggling with a noisy pup who has an aversion to their crate at bedtime, here’s how to help your puppy stop crying in its crate at night.
We’ll be going over all the tricks and tips you need to know to put a halt to your puppy’s whining once and for all!
Why do puppies cry in their crates?
Puppies tend to cry in their crates because they are not used to being alone or confined to a small space. Dogs, especially when they are young, are social animals and enjoy the company of others in their ‘pack’.
It’s normal for puppies to whine when they feel alone as they’re trying to grab your attention in hope that you’ll offer them some comfort and reassurance. While most puppies cry in their crates due to fear of abandonment, some may be bored or frustrated.
That’s why you should offer your pup plenty of activities to do during the day to help them expel energy and keep them entertained. Additionally, make sure you take care of your puppy’s basic needs before they go inside their crate so you know their crying isn’t hunger, thirst, or toilet related
Why do new puppies cry so much?
New puppies cry a lot because they are still getting used to being away from their mother, siblings, and previous owners. It can take time for puppies to grow accustomed to their new surroundings and ‘pack’.
Additionally, puppies cry as a way to communicate that they need or want something, whether that’s attention, food, water, warmth, or the toilet. You should never leave a puppy to cry unless you’re certain their basic needs have been met.
It’s important to note that if your puppy’s mother or father was anxious and fearful, their personality is also more likely to be on the nervous, timid side. A recent study on Great Danes concluded that fearfulness and anxiety are hereditary traits in dogs.
When do puppies stop crying at night?
Puppies stop crying at night once they have had time to get used to their new environment and their crate. This can take a few days, several weeks, or sometimes longer depending on the puppy.
Some pups may only cry for the first night or two, while others may cry for a few weeks. It’s important not to scold your puppy if they are crying as this will only increase their anxiety and stress levels.
Your puppy should view their crate as a comfortable, safe, and secure area. Never use a crate as a form of punishment, otherwise, your pup will see it as a negative and somewhere they go when they’re in trouble.
What makes new puppies scared?
Being alone, unfamiliar noises and surroundings, strangers, and new situations can often make new puppies scared or cause them to feel overwhelmed. You should introduce your puppy to new things to build up their trust and confidence, but make sure you go at your pup’s own pace.
For instance, your puppy is likely to be frightened the first time they have their nails clipped or teeth brushed, so take it slow to ensure you don’t add to their anxiety.
How long to let a puppy cry in a crate?
If your puppy starts crying in their crate, you should wait a minute or two to see if they settle down. If the crying persists, double-check that they don’t need to relieve themselves and are comfortable.
New puppies will not be used to being alone or confined to a crate, so leaving them to cry, especially at night, can be counterproductive by increasing their fear and anxiety.
Once your pup has had a few days or weeks to settle in, it’s simply a case of persistence and patience. Be calm and quiet so your puppy doesn’t think it’s time to get up and play!
If your puppy whines, make sure their basic needs have been met, resettle them, then leave them alone. If your puppy is crying in their crate during the day, let them out as soon as they have quieted down.
You should reward calm behaviour so your puppy begins to learn that being quiet will get them attention, whereas being loud won’t. If your pup is crying in their crate as soon as you leave the room, you may have gone a little fast with their training.
Additionally, try to avoid leaving your puppy in their crate for more than 2 or 3 hours at a time if they are under 12 weeks old. A good rule of thumb is to take your puppy’s age in months and use it as a guideline for estimating the number of hours they can stay in their crate.
For instance, a 5-month old pup can be left in their crate for 4 to 5 hours if you need to run errands or leave the house.
However, no dog should be confined to a crate for more than 6 to 8 hours. If you need to leave your dog for longer than this in a crate, ask a friend or family member to stop by to check on them. You might want to consider a doggy daycare or dog walker if you regularly need to leave your dog for long periods of time.
How to get a puppy to stop crying in their crate
Listening to a puppy cry can be both upsetting and frustrating as an owner. On the one hand, it’s hard to witness your puppy being so distressed, and on the other, it’s nice to have some peace and quiet!
If your puppy is constantly crying in their crate, here are some tips on how to get to them to stop.
The first night
The first few nights are always the most challenging for a new puppy as moving home is a huge change. Being in a different environment with unfamiliar people can be overwhelming, especially once it’s dark and all the lights are off.
While it’s important not to offer your puppy any attention while they are crying in their crate at night, you shouldn’t ignore them completely. Take them straight outside to use the bathroom on a leash, then immediately put them back into their crate.
It’s fine to offer a bit of reassurance to your pup to help settle them back into their crate, but be careful not to overdo it as they may start crying again to try and get you to come back.
Additionally, if you give your puppy attention every time they whine in their crate, it will teach them that crying gets them what they want (i.e, you!).
Where to put the crate
For the first couple of weeks, until your puppy has had time to get used to their new home, you should put your puppy’s crate in your bedroom or just outside the door. That way, you’ll be able to hear if your puppy cries because they need the toilet.
Young puppies are still getting used to being away from their mother and siblings, so your presence will also help comfort and soothe your puppy.
Once your puppy is a bit older, you can gradually move their crate into a different room. During the day, move the crate to your living room and keep training your puppy to associate their crate with something positive.
Keep a routine
Establishing a daytime and bedtime schedule is important for puppies as dogs thrive on routine. It helps them know what to expect each day, such as meals, walks, play sessions, etc.
You should set up a bedtime routine for your puppy as soon as possible to help them settle when it’s finally time to sleep. For instance, your puppy’s evening schedule could be an hour of quiet time on the sofa, then a quick bathroom break before bedtime.
This will help your puppy understand when it’s time to sleep, making them less likely to cry while inside their crate. You should also close the windows and curtains just before your puppy’s bedtime to help them associate quietness and darkness with sleep
Wear your puppy out every day
Puppies have a lot of energy and love nothing more than to play and explore, but if your pup isn’t given enough time to let off steam each day, it can cause behavioural issues.
Not only will your puppy be more destructive and naughty, but they’ll be less likely to sleep during the night due to pent up energy. You can help tire your puppy by playing with them frequently during the day and, if they’ve completed their vaccinations, taking them for a quick walk.
Giving your puppy a good workout each day will wear them out so they (and you) get a good night’s sleep.
Provide comfort but not attention
As mentioned earlier, although you shouldn’t give attention to a crying puppy at night, you should still check on them as they could be in pain or be in need of a potty break.
Once you’ve taken your puppy outside to relieve themselves and have made sure they don’t need anything else, pop them back into their crate. If they start crying again after you’ve walked away, don’t be tempted to return.
At this point, you’ll know your puppy’s care needs have been attended to, so they’re only crying because they want attention
Don’t rush crate training
Crate training a puppy can be a lengthy process and isn’t something that should be rushed. In fact, doing so can cause more harm than good. You need to teach your puppy that their crate is somewhere safe and positive, not something to fear or stress over.
Gradually build up your puppy’s confidence around the crate by offering treats and praise if they sniff, investigate, or step inside it. Make sure you keep the crate door open so they can enter or exit it on their own terms.
Once your pup is beginning to get used to the crate, you can start to close the door for a couple of minutes while you’re in the room, gradually increasing the duration until your puppy is happy being inside the crate alone.
Limit access to distractions
During the evening and when your puppy is inside their crate at night, you should keep distractions to a minimum so your pooch doesn’t get riled up. Close windows/curtains and dim the lights.
Don’t make any loud noises and put the TV at the lowest volume. If there’s a lot of activity going on in your house, your puppy will want to join in on the action and sleep will be the last thing on their mind!
Teaching a puppy to be alone without crying
Teaching your puppy how to be independent is crucial as they need to understand that they can’t be with you 24/7. However, you can’t expect them to suddenly be alone for an 8-hour workday without some training and guidance.
When training your puppy to be alone without crying, start off slow. Choose a safe confinement area like a playpen or crate and start feeding your puppy inside it. You can also put some toys or activities that your puppy only has access to when they’re inside the crate/pen.
Once your pooch is happily entering their crate/pen, you can begin closing the door and leaving the room. Make sure you offer your puppy a chew toy or an activity to keep them occupied while you’re away.
Come back immediately and reward your pup with a treat and some praise. You can begin to lengthen the time you’re away and decrease the amount of praise/treats you give your puppy when you return.
If your puppy cries when you leave the room, you may have rushed their training. Shorten your puppy’s alone time to a number they’re comfortable with, then slowly build it up again
How to reward puppy’s silence
During your puppy’s crate training, you should reward quiet and calm behaviour to encourage your pup to be silent when they are inside the crate. Dogs learn best through positive reinforcement, so by praising or feeding your pooch a treat when they are quiet, they are more likely to repeat the behaviour.
The importance of a puppy crate
Using a crate is beneficial for a puppy as it teaches them independence, helps strengthen their bladder and bowel muscles, and provides you with a secure area to keep your puppy in when you’re busy.
Many dogs view their crates as a safe space that they can retreat to when they feel threatened or scared. This is especially helpful in thunderstorms or during firework season, as your pooch will have somewhere comforting to relax in.
Additionally, crates are useful for keeping your dog out of harm’s way during recovery from a surgical procedure or an illness. Crate training your puppy from a young age will help them feel more at ease if they ever need to be in confinement for safety reasons.
Dog car crates make travelling with your dog much easier and safer. Your dog can take a nap or play with a chew toy while you can focus on getting to your destination. There’s also no risk of your dog jumping into the front seats of the car and distracting the driver.
Alternatively, if you’re on the train, putting your dog in a crate keeps them secure so they don’t bother other passengers.
Should I leave my puppy to cry at night?
You should avoid letting your new puppy cry at night, especially if they have not been with you for very long. It’s best to build your puppy’s alone time gradually so they feel overly stressed or anxious at bedtime.
For the first few nights or weeks, place your puppy’s bed or crate in your bedroom or just outside the door. Once your puppy has had time to get used to their new family, you can begin to move their crate to another room.