The first few days that a puppy spends in a new home can be a stressful experience for both you and your new pet. It may be the first time they have spent the night away from their mother, brothers and sisters; dogs are natural pack animals, and their instinct tells them that being apart from their pack is dangerous. Crying and whining is his way of calling out to them. This can easily try your patience, but with a little forethought, things can be made much easier.
Preparation is the key to helping him settle in to his new surroundings. Spend an hour or so before his bedtime playing with him; tiring him out will help him get a good night’s sleep, and you want to avoid letting him nap in the few hours before his bedtime. You also want to avoid making toilet trips with him through the night, so you need to bring him food and water at around 6PM. Take him outside to his toilet area just before he goes to bed. Make sure you praise him for this, as it also helps with house training.
Where your puppy sleeps can affect his urge to cry at night. If it’s practical, let him sleep in your bedroom. Your constant presence will reassure him, and it will also help you establish yourself as the pack leader, which is vital to his training and behaviour. However tempted you may be, don’t let him sleep in your bed. If you do, he will come to expect it, and this can lead to behavioural problems further down the line.
If you have started to crate train your puppy, put the crate in your room and bed him down in it. If he isn’t used to a crate, tether him close to it; puppies rarely soil where they sleep, and it will stop him wandering around during the night. Be sure to put down an old blanket or sheet; the familiar smell will help reassure him.
If it’s not practical to let him sleep in your bedroom make sure you let him sleep with an old t-shirt or item of clothing that has your scent on it. A radio on at low volume can also help settle him down and therefore avoid crying, but you will still need to check in on him during the night to see if he needs to go to the toilet.
If your puppy starts to cry or whine after taking these measures, it may be because he wants some attention. There are two ways to go about dealing with this. You can try soothing your puppy by stroking him. It’s important not to dote too much on him, as this can reinforce his behaviour and he may cry even more. Alternatively, you can just ignore him. Tough love may be hard on both of you, but he will learn eventually that crying will not achieve anything. If you choose to do this, it is important to be consistent in your behaviour so as not to confuse your puppy.
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