Bringing home a new puppy is such a wonderful experience. They are so much fun to play with and they bring a sense of happiness to any home. That is until nighttime comes and it’s time to go to sleep. This is the time that people find their puppy crying in the crate.
New puppy parents may be at a loss as to why their puppy is crying or how to stop it. Here we will go over some of the reasons your puppy is crying in the crate at night and how you can help them stop.
The Puppy Blues – Dealing with a new puppy can be hard, especially if you are a first time puppy parent. It’s common to feel like you made a mistake. Let’s face it puppies generally come untrained, can’t understand you and don’t know the rules of the house. But it does get better. It’s important to understand that you are not alone. Check out my post on Puppy Blues: Dealing with Regret to see how I managed my own puppy blues.
The First Day in Their New Home
It’s very important that you start to bond with your puppy from the moment you pick them up from the breeder or rescue. Up until that point, your puppy has bonded with their canine family and possibly their human caretakers.
But now that they will live with you for the rest of their life, they need to become bonded to you. The quicker you bond with your puppy the less issues you will have with your puppy crying in the crate at night. Here are some tips to start the process off right.
Take Time Off
The best way to bond with your puppy quickly is to spend a lot of time with them. If possible, you should plan to spend most of the day with them for at least the first week. If you work, try to plan your vacation for the same time as your puppy’s homecoming.
Even if you work from home you should take time off so you can concentrate on your puppy. You not only need to be around them, you also need plenty of time to play with and train them.
Potty training your puppy is so much easier when you have the time to learn their potty clues and can take them out as soon as they need to go. That means in the beginning taking them outside every couple of hours. Our puppy was potty trained in less than two weeks because we were home to teach her what was expected right from the start. To learn more about potty training and the mistakes you want to avoid read our post: Potty Training Mistakes
Also it’s helpful to have a designated area for your dog to go potty. These not only keeps your yard clean but it also lets them know that when you are in this area they are supposed to take care of business.
Bonding with your Dog
There are many ways you can bond with your puppy. The most important part is to pay attention to them. Here are a few way to bond with your dog:
- Hand feed them their food
- Play with them
- Go for walks around the yard or other safe places
- Spend time training them
- Take them for short trips in the car
- Spend time cuddling with them
- Socialize your puppy to new sights and experiences
Spending time socializing your puppy is a great way to bond with them and also avoid fear issues in the future. To learn more about how to socialize your puppy please read our posts on How to Socialize a Puppy, Puppy Socialization Mistakes and 5 Safe and Easy Ways to Socialize Your Puppy
Preventing Separation Anxiety
Now even though I believe you should be with your puppy most of the time for the first week or two, you do need to start training them to be alone. Otherwise you could end up with a dog that has separation anxiety.
For more information on how to prevent separation anxiety in puppies please read our post: How to Prevent Separation Anxiety in Dogs
In addition to bonding with your puppy, you will want to familiarize your puppy with the crate if that is where you want them to sleep at night. To do this try to bring your puppy home as early in the day as possible. That way they will have the most time possible to get used to the crate.
Remember the first rule of crate training a puppy is to make sure your puppy’s crate is an inviting place to be. Line the crate with soft washable towels or a washable bed meant for a crate.
Keep a watch on your puppy to make sure they do not chew on the bedding. If they do start to chew on the bedding it is best that they don’t have it in their crate.
Try to place the crate in a quiet area that is still near where you are during the day. We placed our puppy’s crate in the corner of our living room. This location allowed her to watch us from her crate even when we were in the dining room or kitchen. Of course she had a clear view of the entire living room.
I also suggest using an exercise pen that attaches to the crate like the one shown below. This will give your pup the freedom to go in and out of their crate without feeling confined to the crate.
For more crate training tips check out our post on How to Crate Train a Puppy: 10 Mistakes to Avoid
As an Amazon affiliate I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.
Here is a Midwest Foldable Metal Exercise pen that can be connected to a Midwest crate. The combination of pen and crate creates a safe place for your puppy to stay when you can’t watch them. The Midwest Foldable Metal Exercise pen can be found at Amazon.com
Teaching your Puppy to Want to Be in the Crate
In addition to making your puppy’s crate inviting, you need to train your puppy that it is a good place to be. You can do this by giving your puppy a high value treat every time they go into the crate. Just make sure to only give that high value treat when they go in the crate. Use a different treat for other types of training.
Another way to help your pup associate her crate with good things is to feed them in the crate. This works best if you have a dog that is food oriented. Our pup is not food oriented so her regular food did not motivate her to enter her crate. In fact we found ourselves hand feeding her for the first week or so before she would eat on her own.
To find more tips on crate training please read our post: Crate Training A Puppy – Made Easy
Why is My Puppy Crying in the Crate at Night?
Ok, so it’s the first day of your puppy being home and you followed all the crate training advice you found. But now that it’s night tim, your puppy is crying in the crate and you don’t know why.
We will go over a few reasons why your puppy is crying in their crate below, but a common reason is that this is all new. Think about it. During the day your puppy was happy to have all your attention. He didn’t mind that his canine family was not there. He was too busy exploring his new home, playing games and learning the rules of the house. But now that it is nighttime he is starting to miss the comforts of his prior home and family. On top of that he is expected to sleep in a crate all by himself. There is a good chance that this is the first time in his young life that he needs to sleep alone or in a crate.
Here are some of the other reasons why your puppy is crying in the crate at night:
Afraid to be alone
Dogs are pack animals. When dogs lived in the wild they would stay with their families until they were fully grown to keep them safe. So it’s only natural that they would want to stay with their families now. But that does not work in today’s society. Traditionally, puppies are placed with their forever homes between 7 and 8 weeks so they can bond with their new family before the fear period starts.
Understanding this will go a long way to help you have the patience you need while they go through the transition from one home to another.
Not enough exercise during the day
Puppies need about 18 to 20 hours of sleep a day. But when they sleep will depend on you. You should monitor how much sleep your pup gets during the day. If he is sleeping all day, chances are he will want to play at night.
Although you don’t want your puppy to sleep all day, they do need naps throughout the day. Otherwise you could end up with an overtired, stressed puppy.
Puppy needs to go to the bathroom
If your puppy has been sleeping, but is now crying in the middle of the night, they most likely need to go to the bathroom. Take them outside and give them time to go. Once they have gone bring them back to the crate with little or no talking.
Too much time in the crate
If your puppy has spent a lot of time in the crate during the day, they are not going to want to be there at night. Limit the amount of time your puppy is locked in the crate. Using an exercise pen like the one pictured above is a great way to keep your puppy safe without locking them in their crate.
Crate is not inviting
As I mentioned above it is important that your puppy finds the crate a nice place to be. Make sure it is not too warm or too cold and that they have enough space to move around some. There should be enough space for them to spread out their legs or curl up. Most crate training advice tells you that the crate should just be big enough to lie down in.
However, we always gave our pups more space than that. If the space is too small they will not want to be stuck in it for any length of time.
If you are using towels or blankets in the crate it might not be comfortable enough for your pup. Try adding a crate pad to make it more comfortable.
But keep watch for signs of your puppy possibly chewing on the towels, blanket or bed. Although many puppies will appreciate the softness and not destroy it, some puppies will chew on anything. Ingesting the fabric can be fatal.
If you think your puppy will chew on their bedding make sure to give them a firm bed with a fitted cover that is chew proof. Though for some puppies this may still be an issue. You will need to keep them close so you can watch them.
Also do not leave your puppy in the crate alone for any length of time if they have soft bedding.
We prefer to use only USA made dog beds due to concerns over toxic chemicals found in many imported pet beds. If you feel the same way, Big Barker makes a 4″ thick Dog Crate Pad. The heavy duty, waterproof, tear resistant and washable crate pad is made in the USA with Certi-PUR US® certified foam. It is available at Amazon.com
Another option is the MidWest Super Plush Pet Bed. These beds are not made in the USA but they are well rated and made to fit into the Midwest crates. The beds are completely machine washable and a good option if you have a Midwest LifeStages crate. But may not be a good option for puppies that will chew on it. You can find the Midwest Deluxe Pet Beds at Amazon.com
Not enough time to get use to crate
Although we all dream of having a puppy that loves their crate right from the start, it is not a reality for most people. It is going to take a few days of playing games and training your dog to be comfortable in the crate before they will go in willingly and not cry.
Tips to Stop a Puppy Crying in the Crate at Night
The solutions to stop a puppy crying in the crate will depend on the reason they are crying. Here is a list of reasons and the recommended solutions:
Need to go out
To make sure your puppy is not crying in the crate because they need to go to the bathroom, take them out 1 hour before bedtime and again right before you place them in the crate. Do not rush their potty time. You want to make sure they are done.
Puppy not tired
Plan out your bedtime routine starting two hours before you want to go to bed. During this time make sure your puppy gets plenty of time out of their crate. Also spend time training them and playing with them. You want your puppy to be ready to go to sleep when the time comes.
Puppy is overtired
After you spend time training and playing with them, spend about 15 to 20 minutes of quiet time with them before putting them into the crate. Sit beside them while softly petting them. The idea is that you want your puppy to feel relaxed before putting them in the crate. You can also play some soft music to calm your puppy at night.
Afraid of being alone
As I mentioned above, not wanting to be alone at night is a common issue with puppies during their first few nights in their new home. Although the issue is common there is no one single solution that will work for every dog. Pick the solution from the list below that you think will work best for you and give it a try. If that doesn’t work, move on to the next one until you find something that works for the whole family.
Solutions for puppy crying
- Have them sleep in their crate next to your bed. You will need to go to bed when they do.
- Place the crate on an elevated surface next to your bed so it is even with your bed. This allows your puppy to feel like they are next to you. Of course you need to be careful that the crate does not fall.
- An alternative to the elevated crate is to sleep on the floor next to the crate. Again the idea is to be as close as possible to your puppy.
- If your puppy does not like the crate door closed you can try sleeping in front of the crate with the door open. Use your body to block the opening. Make sure they cannot get out when everyone is asleep.
- Use a nightlight so your puppy can see you.
- Ask for a blanket or toy with your puppy’s mom’s scent on it to comfort them the first few nights.
- Place a sheet over the crate to make it more den like. This might help your puppy feel safe in the crate.
- If you don’t want to sleep next to them you can sit by the crate talking to them until they fall asleep.
- Try playing soft music to claim your puppy at night.
- Using a ticking clock to simulate the sound of a heart beat can help to make your puppy feel like they are not alone. Also giving them a safe hot water bottle wrapped in a blanket can help soothe them. Just make sure they don’t chew on it.
- A modern version of the ticking clock and hot water bottle is a heated toy puppy like the Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy. This toy uses a mechanical pulsing heartbeat and heat pack to make your puppy feel like they are sleeping with another puppy. Although we did not know about this toy at the time we got our puppy, I have heard great reviews from people who have used it.
The Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy
The Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy was created to simulate sleeping with other puppies. The Snuggle Puppy has a heartbeat and disposable heating pad making the soft plush toy feel life-like. You can find the Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy at Amazon.com
How we stopped our puppy from crying in the crate at night
On her first night home we tried the common “Let Her Cry” method of getting her to stop crying. It didn’t work. She cried throughout the night in between periods of sleep. The second night we tried again but gave up after a half an hour. Instead my husband decided to sleep in the kitchen with her. We had the kitchen puppy proofed and gated the doorways so she couldn’t go anywhere. She slept through the night on her bed next to my husband. She only woke up once during the night to go out. My husband slept in the kitchen for the next week. He started out sleeping on the floor right next to her but moved to the kitchen bench after the first two nights. She remained on the floor in her bed near him.
During the day we worked on her getting used to the crate. We would place her in the crate for quiet time. After a week we tried to get her to sleep in the crate again. This time she cried a little but went to sleep in less than 5 minutes. She was still waking us up at night to go out but would go back to the crate without crying.
In the end our solution was giving her the time she needed to become comfortable with us and the crate.
How Long Should I leave my Puppy Crying in the Crate at Night?
The first puppy we crate trained took to the crate quickly and only cried a little the first night. Our current puppy wanted nothing to do with sleeping in the crate at night.
The first night we tried to let her “cry it out” which resulted in her crying on and off throughout the night. If I could do it over again I would not let her cry for more than 10 minutes. Some puppies are just not ready to sleep by themselves the first few nights in a new place.
Allowing her to sleep next to my husband the first week and then transition to her crate worked better for all of us. It is just not worth the stress you put on a new puppy when you force them to sleep in a crate before they are comfortable with it.
I highly recommend that you use the first couple of weeks to bond with your puppy. You will be rewarded with a dog that wants to please you all the time.
First Time Puppy Parent?
Let us help you. Check out these posts on what you need to know before to make life easy with your new puppy.