Nighttime crying really puts a damper on the joy of a new puppy.
During the first few weeks, you’re trying to get a head-start on potty training, crate training, obedience and bonding all at once. If you have a job and need 8 hours of sleep to stay sane, it’s even harder to make sure your puppy adjusts smoothly.
You need to get your puppy to stop crying in the crate. Not just so you can get some sleep or go to work, but also because the more your puppy cries in their crate, the more it becomes a “crying room.” If your puppy develops a habit of crying in their crate, it’ll get harder and harder to break that habit.
This post is sponsored by Carlson Pet. I was compensated and received the pictured crate in exchange for a feature – though I only collaborate with brands that I love and recommend! Thanks for your support.
Before You Crate Your Puppy
Ideally, your puppy will have spent some time in the crate during the day. You can leave the door open when you’re home. Leave her food, treats and toys inside to encourage her to spend time inside of her own free will.
You can also use the crate to speed up potty training.
Sometimes, though, our schedules do not allow for us to introduce our puppies to the crate gradually. This is especially true if your puppy is a barking tornado, pooping and peeing and chewing on everything in sight every moment she’s not crated.
It’s important that you put your puppy in the crate when she’s in a restful state of mind.
Spend a few minutes playing with your puppy before you crate her. But don’t put them inside just yet.
Hold her in your lap. Pet her slowly, and talk to her softly. As she starts to relax, place her in the crate with the door open.
Keep petting her. Encourage her to lay down, relax and fall asleep.
Even if she’s drowsy, she’ll probably pop up, wide awake, the moment you start to walk away. By staying close to the crate, you can show her that’s safe for her to fall asleep, and that she won’t wake up alone.
Location, Location, Location
When the crying doesn’t stop, you might be tempted to move her crate as far away from your bedroom as possible.
It’s as though to say, “if a puppy cries in the living room, and nobody is around to hear her, does she make a sound?”
Yes, yes she does.
Dog training isn’t just about stopping behaviors or removing their inconvenience. It’s incredibly important to deal with the reasons, feelings and motivations behind those annoying behaviors. Alienating your puppy does not remove their fears or put them at ease.
Being far away from you multiplies your pup’s fears and will make it incredibly difficult to convince her that her crate is a safe-haven – not solitary confinement.
Place the puppy’s crate close to your bed. If there’s room, you can actually put the crate on your bed and sleep alongside it. Your puppy should be able to see you and know you’re there.
During the day, move the crate to the kitchen, the living room – wherever your puppy will be surrounded by their family.
Create Ambiance To Soothe Your Puppy To Sleep
Whether you live in the heart of New York City or out in the country, you can create a peaceful atmosphere in your home that will lull your stressed puppy to sleep.
Research shows that classical music has a relaxing effect on dogs. The same study showed that dogs exposed to heavy metal began to tremble out of nervousness; you may want to switch from Metallica to Mozart for your pup’s first few weeks.
Calming essential oils can also soothe your puppy. Too much can irritate your dog’s sensitive nose; there’s no need to place it directly in the crate. Use a small amount of lavender oil in a diffuser, or lightly mist an essential oil based room spray.
How NOT To Quiet Your Crying Puppy
This is probably not the first puppy-related literature you’ve encountered while preparing for your new puppy. You may have read some terrible advice; I know I did in the past.
No, you don’t need to whap the side of the crate with a rolled-up t-shirt.
No, you don’t need shake a can of pennies.
And no, you don’t need to let your puppy cry it out for 20 minutes or more.
A crying puppy is not being a brat any more than a crying newborn baby would be.
Punishments might shut your puppy up for a few moments. But your puppy might be compelled to cry even more because they’d rather get negative attention than none at all. Your puppy will also be more likely to cry in the crate when you’re not home to do anything about it.
Teach your puppy to be calm in the crate, and they won’t feel the need to cry, even when you’re not home.
Can It Really Be Done?
It’s been a while since I’ve had a new puppy.
Matilda generally doesn’t mind being in a crate, though she has never spent a whole night in one. She has always been able to sleep in bed with me without having an accident, but this is not typical of all puppies.
So, I decided to see if she’d fall asleep in a locked crate.
I dribbled the lavender oil on a comforter draped over her Carlson crate.
I put on some classical music on YouTube.
I stroked her back and she started to yawn. Her legs buckled, and within ten minutes she was in Cinnabon mode. In another 6 minutes, I felt her have a possible Hypnic Jerk. I stopped stroking and rested my hand on her butt and she struggled to keep her eyes open.
I quietly locked the crate, and now she’s been sleeping for 30 minutes as I’ve been writing this post.
She was wide awake minutes ago, and now she’s fast asleep. Amazing.
When (And When Not To) Let Out Your Crying Puppy
If your puppy is crying in the crate, she’s trying to tell you one of 4 things:
- She has to potty
- She wants to play
- She’s scared
- She’s cold
If your puppy has been crying for more than five minutes, just take her out and let her go potty, or play with her for a while. It doesn’t take very long to tire out a puppy. It’s better to spend five sleepy minutes letting your puppy run around than to lose 30 minutes of sleep, laying in bed as your puppy cries their lungs out.
You should also let your puppy out if they were sleeping quietly for a while, then woke up and started crying. This usually means they have to go potties.
Many puppy books tell you to never let your puppy out if they have been crying, or while they’re too excited, because this will just teach them to cry every time they want to be let out.
This doesn’t make any sense. Your puppy should be able to cry when they need to get out. So, don’t worry too much about waiting for your puppy to be quiet before opening the crate.
Worry about your puppy’s sense of safety. Give them fewer reasons to cry. When you do that, everything else will fall into place.