Stop Your Puppy Crying – Great Tips For Settling New Puppies Day & Night

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Is your puppy crying at night? And is the crying getting worse? Is he whining in his crate too?

Are you wondering when the crying is going to stop? If so, the help you need is here.

You’ll find help with crying at night, crying during the day, whining in the crate, and much more.

We’ll look at why puppies cry, and what is normal for a new puppy and what is not.

You’ll discover when it is reasonable to expect puppies to stop crying.

And we’ll help you find the quickest way to stop your puppy crying and to help him settle in to his new home

What went wrong?

Most new puppy owners are prepared for a few bumps in the road.

They know to expect some potty training problems, and to have their ankles and fingers bitten. 

They’ve heard all about teething trouble and the risk of having their chair legs chewed.

And they even know there will be a few tears at bed time.

But what can be shocking is the extent to which some puppies scream.

Why do puppies cry?

Puppies cry to get their needs met, and to alert those who care for them that the puppy is in danger.

And while you know that your puppy isn’t in danger, he doesn’t!

All puppies cry, and some puppies cry a lot.

Listening to a crying puppy can be very distressing, and losing sleep can disrupt your life and make you prone to accidents.

So it is important to settle your puppy in as quickly as possible

We can divide puppy crying into two types

  • Natural crying
  • Learned crying

Learned crying is what puppies do because the sound they make has been rewarded in the past.

That comes later, but you need to be aware of it so that you don’t create problems for yourself. We’ll talk about learned crying in a moment

Why new puppies cry so much

During the first few days, your puppies crying will be natural or instinctive.

Not something that he is doing deliberately or that he can control. So there is no point punishing him.

Natural crying is a response to a strong physical or emotional need. Such as

  • Fear
  • Pain
  • Hunger
  • Full bladder/bowels

But by far the majority of new puppy crying, especially at night, is from fear of being alone.

Many newly adopted puppies do this

And this crying can be stopped by making the puppy feel safe.

A study published in 1977 look at separation distress in 24 young puppies and found that the most effective way to alleviate separation distress in puppies, was human company

Better than another dog, much better than toys and even better than food.

In other words, your puppy needs you.

This doesn’t mean your puppy has to have company all the time. On the contrary, he also needs to learn to be alone, but those first few days in your home are a special case. Let’s look at why that is

Why do puppies cry at night?

Small puppies in the wild are extremely vulnerable and it is vital for their survival that they are never left alone unless in the safety of their den.

To a puppy, a den is the place where the puppy was born and grew up, and it represents complete safety.

Your puppy won’t cry in his den, unless his other needs (toileting thirst etc) are not met.

That’s because he feels totally safe there. Even when his mother is away.

But when you bring a new puppy into your own home.

He is leaving his den, or place of safety, far away.

Even though you have provided him with a lovely cosy bed or basket, he doesn’t yet feel safe there.

If at any time your small Labrador puppy is left alone outside of his ‘den’, he will cry and if there is no response to that cry he will make a distinctive and piercing alarm call to alert his ‘grown ups’  to his predicament.

This alarm can be extremely loud and may seem as though he is screaming or howling in pain.

In the wild, this alarm could save a puppy’s life. In your home, it is pointless and annoying, but your new puppy doesn’t know that.

And of course what happens to many puppies on their first night in a new home, with no familiar den, is that as soon as night falls, they are to all intents and purposes abandoned.

Hence the howling and yelling. Your puppy is literally screaming for his life.

How to stop a puppy crying at night

The way to stop the puppy crying and switch off the alarm call is to make him feel safe again.

That usually means having the puppy sleep next to you.

If you put the puppy in a separate room so that he is isolated, this may cause the puppy stress, and a stressed puppy is going to yell.

There is some evidence that the use of Dog Appeasing Pheromones (DAP) may reduce this stress and we’ll look at that in a moment.

But the only way to stop a puppy yelling altogether is to let him see a friendly human face, or, to leave him in his “safe place” or ‘home den’. And there are problems with this.

  • You don’t want to be traipsing around the house to show a puppy your friendly human face at 3am. (In any case, it probably isn’t very friendly face at this hour)
  • You can’t put your puppy in his den when you go to bed because as far as he is concerned it’s miles away in another person’s house
  • You can’t respond too often to a puppy crying at night through isolation because it teaches the puppy that crying is a useful tool (see learned crying).
  • Responding to night crying also means tramping about during the night and losing sleep

You can try ignoring the puppy, but be warned that he will probably get so upset that he soils himself, and if he is in a crate he will probably cover himself in poop by jumping around in it.

I can tell you from experience, that shampooing a puppy in the wee small hours of the morning is no fun!

In a few days, your puppy will have readjusted his concept of the home den – a place where he feels safe.

At that point his own bed, basket or crate in your home will have become a place of safety.

The problem is – what to do in the meantime.

One solution of course is to just leave the puppy to cry it out.

When do puppies stop crying at night

If you leave a puppy alone and don’t respond to him at night at all, most puppies will eventually stop crying.

For some puppies this can happen within a day or so. There are the puppies that sleep peacefully from the first night – but they usually belong to someone else.

Most puppies take three or four days to adjust.

I have had a puppy that cried every night for over a week, but at some point within the first week, the vast majority of puppies will stop crying at night.

That is provided that the puppy hasn’t ‘learned’ to cry. I’ll explain how you can avoid that in a minute.

It’s also important to recognize that leaving a puppy to cry alone won’t make him tougher.

On the contrary, studies suggest that higher levels of maternal care (and in this case you are now the substitute carer) makes puppies braver and more confident.

This is one of the reasons that I no longer use the ‘crying it out’ option with my pups

Much the best option it to avoid the night crying (and the distress to the puppy) altogether in that first week.  And this is the method I now recommend

How to avoid night crying in puppies

The answer is to pre-empt the fear screaming that some puppies (not all) do during their first few nights away from home by keeping them next to you at night.

That means having the puppy in your room while you sleep.

From the very first night, until the puppy has stopped feeling homesick.

During that time, the best solution is usually to have the puppy in a crate or sturdy box, next to your bed.

Fortunately puppies don’t need to see your face with the light on in order to feel safe.

They are happy to be able to smell your presence and hear your voice and even your breathing

The vast majority of new puppies will settle happily at night in this situation.

And after a few nights, you can then move the puppy downstairs to his crate or puppy proof room.

He may still cry a little, but it won’t be because he is afraid.

And he’ll get over it more quickly and be far less distressed than a puppy who is effectively abandoned on the first night in a strange home.

How to stop puppies crying during the day

Daytime crying is often learned crying, but there are some other reasons puppies may cry during the day

Some puppies will cry if they are very hungry, but many will not, so don’t be tempted to use crying as a puppy feeding guide.

Nor should you assume a puppy is well if he isn’t crying. Sick puppies don’t alway make a noise.

Some puppies will also cry if they need to empty their bladder or bowels and cannot get away from their ‘den’ in order to do this.

Puppies are naturally clean animals and will try not to wet or soil their beds

Whining in the crate

Whining in the crate tends to be because the puppy has learned to whine in order to get the door open.

Or because the puppy needs to relieve himself.

It isn’t always possible to tell one reason from the other.

It is essential if you crate your puppy during the day or at night, that you give him chance to leave the crate often enough to keep himself clean.

And avoid teaching him to cry in order to get you to let him out.
We have two in-depth guides to help you

Learned Crying In Puppies

Puppies learn through the consequences of their behavior.  And they learn very quickly indeed.

If a good thing happens when the puppy cries, his crying will be reinforced (ie more likely to occur again in the future).

He will learn to use the crying in order to fulfil his wish for more food, cuddles, attention, company and so on.

Even when he does not feel threatened or anxious.

One of the most common reasons for puppies to cry in those first few days, as we have seen, is loneliness – or fear of being abandoned.

Once the puppy has settled in and accepted your home as his den (this takes just a few days) he needs to learn to be alone from time to time.

Teaching Puppies To Be Alone

It is nice to see that some vet puppy packs are including information on teaching puppies to be alone.

If you go out to work, then your puppy will probably be spending some time alone from an early age.

But not all puppies learn this valuable skill

One of the things that my own vet’s leaflets stress is that puppies that do not learn to be left alone before they are thirteen weeks old, are more likely to suffer from separation anxiety later on.

In other words, the experience of being ‘alone’  sometimes, is one that puppies need to get used to at an early age.

This is a part of the socialization ‘package’ that we need to work through with our puppies.

This isn’t an excuse to leave a puppy for long periods of time, or in unfamiliar places.

But within a very few days of bringing your puppy home, he should be capable of being left on his own for ten minutes without screaming the house down.

One study showed that the majority of puppies left home alone for up to 60 minutes did not exhibit stress related behaviors, and those that were stressed improved with practice at being alone.

Note that this was a maximum of one hour. Long periods of isolation are not appropriate for young pups.

I suggest you start leaving your puppy alone for short periods (a few minutes) during the day from the end of his first week.

Check out the important information below to avoid teaching him to cry!

How To Avoid Learned Crying

It is really important that you do not ‘reinforce’ crying.

This means not doing anything that the puppy might perceive as rewarding whilst he is crying.

Including picking him up, entering the room he is in if you are not there already, feeding him,  talking to him,  letting him catch sight of you if he cannot see you already.

And so on, because all these things are rewarding to a puppy

Many people find this quite difficult.

But if you can stick to this rule,  and make sure your family stick to it too, the amount of crying in your house will soon be very minimal indeed.

Try to pre-empt potential episodes of crying by ensuring that your puppy gets regular periods of company, plenty of opportunity to use the outdoor toilet area, plenty of safe toys to chew and a safe, familiar place to sleep

At the same time, it is important to reinforce any periods of silence, so that the puppy learns that being quiet is a better way to get his needs met in our illogical and modern world.

We can ‘reinforce’ silence by rewarding it.

How To Reward Puppy’s Silence

If your puppy has got himself in a state with yelping and crying,  any periods of silence may be quite short.

By the time you have got to the puppy with a reward,  he will probably have started howling again,  and you will end up rewarding the noise instead of the quiet.

So you need a ‘reward marker

You can use a word like ‘good’  or a clicker.

I have a clicker on a lanyard around my neck for the first few days with a puppy in our home.

When the puppy is being quiet, I press the clicker and  reward the puppy with a treat or a cuddle.

This is especially useful if a puppy has started yelling when you leave the room. Wait for a pause in the crying, then click for quiet, and return.

You can give the puppy a treat or a cuddle as a reward.

The use of dog appeasing pheromone for new puppies

Mother dogs give off a pheromone when they suckle their puppies that helps the puppies relax.

It’s called Dog Appeasing Pheromone or DAP for short, and in recent years it has been possible to purchase DAP for use in the home.

Being removed from Mom and siblings is undoubtedly a stressful experience for a young puppy and this is a factor in crying, whining and barking in pups left alone for even short periods of time.

A study published in 2008 found that DAP reduced the vocalizations of newly adopted puppies, and if you want to give DAP a try, you can purchase it online or in pet stores

It comes as a spray or a diffuser. Reviews are mixed but it might be worth a try if you have a very homesick puppy.

Building Up Time Alone

With a puppy that cries when left, over the space of a few days I ask for longer periods of quiet before I press the click.

Two or three seconds,  then five,  then ten,  and so on.

Working my way up to a minute or so.

Puppies learn really fast (within a day or  two) that ‘quiet’ is rewarding

If you get this right,  by the time you get up to waiting one minute,  most crying will have stopped and the puppy will be silent most of the time.

One final approach to reducing the amount your puppy cries in those early days is restricting his space a little to encourage the development of a ‘den’ area.

Crate Training Your Puppy

Many people give the puppy the run of the whole house when he arrives and I feel this can delay the establishment of the ‘home den‘.

Restricting puppies to one or two rooms initially helps them feel safe and secure,  as well as giving other family members a refuge away from biting teeth!

The sooner your puppy feels safe in his ‘new den’,  the sooner he will be happy to be left there,  and the sooner he is happy,  the sooner he will stop crying.

How to keep crying to a minimum, and help your puppy settle in happily
Remember, when your home begins to feel like home,  your Labrador puppy will stop crying provided he has not learned to cry in order to get a reward.

Giving a puppy the freedom and access that you would to a human guest might seem only fair,  but puppies don’t need freedom.

Puppies need to feel safe.  If you get this right, the crying will stop.

Summary

  • Try to avoid triggering the puppy’s fear response or teaching him to cry for attention
  • Have the puppy by your bed at night for the first four or five nights
  • Teach your puppy to be alone during the day for short periods from the second week
  • Build up alone time duration gradually
  • Provide the puppy with plenty of company, and interaction

References and further reading

 

117 COMMENTS

  1. This is absolutely spot on! Early hours of the morning and our puppy (a 9 week old English bully) is crying downstairs, after a read of this article i went down and offered comfort, both pup and box came up to bed and within minutes he settled and is snoring happily against our bed.

    A thousand thank-yous as this was so distressing for us all. 🐾

  2. This made me laugh since our 3 year old sweet boy still cries from time to time. If he is tired or has to poop, he will cry. His sister rings the bells to go out, but Wilbur just cries. He’s an 89 pound baby.

  3. Hi, we have a 10 week old Goldendoodle. The first few nights she slept in crate but the last several nights she cries and screams until I can no longer take it! I am 65 and my husband and I are drop dead tired and can’t take much more! I end up sleeping on the couch and she sleeps on the floor at the end of the couch and sleeps all night. How can I get her to sleep all night in her crate?

  4. I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT he barks and whines A LOT. . So, leaving home is always a challenge for us.
    My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!

  5. My first night with my new puppy was tonight and although she slept by me for short periods she still would quiety barking then laterr on was full on barking. I took her toliet about four times. In the end I took her out to the kitchen in her crate and see ge confined barking… Is this normal?

  6. That’s good to know that learned crying exists. It’s hard to know how to train that behavior when they do it because it works. I’ve been thinking about surprising my wife with a puppy, so I’ll have to read more about this.

  7. Hello.i have a pomeranian 5 months.she cries after me in thr night,even if somebody is home.i have a 2 years old and I can’t deal with her crying.help

  8. Hi I have a rescue 7 month old bision frise who sleeps well in a crate at night it just as soon as soon I get up in let her and my cavachon out for a wee I put them back in crate while I take my daughter to scholl but when I come back she whines for hours I can’t let her out crate because obs she will think she whines and she gets let out .. she whines all day to get out crate yet she fine in crate at night .. she in kitchen right in next room with other dog crated so she’s not alone just wants to get out this is 5 weeks now and still whitning..!

  9. Just to add- she is fine at first at night. for the first few hours but when she ‘cries to get out for the toilet’ and I fall for that- then she cries and cries when she is put back in.

  10. I have a 3 month old Lab. she was doing great at first with her den and sleeping at night but she has gradually started getting up earlier and earlier to be closer. I don’t mind but I worry about her because she seems anxious all the time about where I am. at first she was running into her crate no problem, and now its like she can’t settle or focus on it unless I’m settled down too!! And from 4/5am if I don’t take her out of the crate, she howls and shakes the crate. I realise this is learned behaviour as I was taking her out for the toilet/ giving her attention whenever she barked, rattled the crate etc. But now she definitely doesn’t need the toilet when she yowels. So I am going back to the begining and trying to re train her- during the day- to engage with the den area. But I am really worried that she is beginning to develop negative connotations with the crate! I really want to get it right for her at this age so things can ease of and be nice for her when she is a bit older. Can anyone help??

  11. We’ve had our new arrival 2 days and her crying at night has gone on for a good couple of hours per night. Thinking about bringing her up tonight in her crate, do I shut her in as she can’t last the night without toilet?

  12. Hi, my name is Abby. I have a 7 week year old puppy who has got some crying issues. She doesn’t like her crate much and I have been trying to teach her that the crate is a happy place based on your article but now I am having trouble with the crying. Before bed and during the night. I don’t want her in my bed per say. I need her to learn that crate time means bed time for the most part . Most of the time when she cries this means she has to go out but a few times she has cried after being put back in her kennal in the middle of the night. What am I supposed to do? I don’t want to wake up the rest of my family with her crying but I also don’t want to ignore her. Please any advice would be appreciated.

    A.M.R

    • Your puppy is very young Abby, most pups don’t leave their mother until they are eight weeks old. It is common for puppies to be upset for the first few nights. As long as you don’t go back in to her, she will soon give up crying after being put back in the crate during the night. Another alternative you might want to consider is having her next to your bed for a couple of nights until she is feeling less homesick. You can put her in a deep cardboard box or small portable crate. Join the forum to get some help in deciding which approach you want to take, and support in coping for the next few weeks http://thelabradorforum.com

  13. Hi have a now 10 week old pup. Got at almost 9 week. First few nights were muddled – playpen had not arrived. Since pen arrived pup been shut in. Been clean and dry but waking at 5/5.30. However he really needs toilet. Initially I made mistake of feeding him at that time, but checked your site and realised mistake. Been letting him to toilet at that time and giving access to living room but no play and no curtains open etc until 7. He has a little romp but will fall asleep at my feet. At 7 I open up curtains etc and feed him. Will his waking time change as bladder & bowels grow or have I created a routine for him? I know it’s early days but – still early enough to rectify any errors I am making.

  14. Hi my sister has a labrador pup 2 months old.when we move him out of his breeder yesterday he is so much afraid outside,and now he still make some noises and eat a little food ,its hard for me and my sister to take care of him because it is our first time to take care a labrador dog.But everytime he wokes up we make him feel comfortable and by giving him a cuddle,can you give us some piece of advice how to response to his stress from moving out.

  15. Hi Pippa,
    Our 14 week old Lab barks continually from whenever she wakes up (between 5 and 5.30am) this is too early for our household and we have spent the last week ignoring her until 6.30am but she still barks every morning disturbing our neighbours. Assuming we stick to our guns and ignore her will she eventually learn? She is worse than a baby who normally figure it out much quicker 🙂
    Any advice would be appreciated.
    Thanks

    • A baby learns more quickly??? A baby wakes up when he’s hungry, behave badly to sleep and can be stubborn as a donkey!!!!

  16. Hi first I want to say thank you for all the advice from your website, it’s helped a lot. I have a 10 week old pup we just got and at night we put him in a crate and he’s quiet but like at 4 am he started barking and whimpering. Another problem I’ve been having is that sometimes during the day he’ll be playing and he’ll start barking and howling, any advice? Thank you.

  17. Hi,
    Thanks for this article, it’s helped calm me knowing the crying happens to others too. (my first pup was an angle and made a few whimpers the first night and had done with it) my new pup in 9 weeks old, we’ve had him for a week now, some nights he is quiet all the way through and others he cries at several points for 30-40 minutes? Is there any reason for this?

  18. Hi,
    I have a lab which is about 40days and she constantly keeps whining thorough out the whole night. No matter what I do she just doesn’t stop.

  19. I desperately need help. I have a 9 week old lab and he was doing so well just urinating either on the pads inside or waiting until he was outside but yesterday he started going wherever he was in the house. Seems like he’s gone back a step. Also whenever we are outside he is more interested in eating grass and what’s going on that he won’t poop but as soon as we get inside he will go in the kitchen! I know he’s young but need to stop this. We constantly say poop to him outside so he knows to go but he ignores it. Also, we are both shift workers so when my partner goes to work at 6 he will take the pup out to wee. As soon as he’s back in the crate he will howl, cry and bark for over an hour straight. He doesn’t let up to treat him and doesn’t stop with a firm telling off. It’s driving me mental. Help!!

    • Hi Jen….he is young.Give him time.. Our boy was 8 weeks old when he came into our home. He did the same thing. We set him up in the laundry with his bed instead of a crate. Laundrys are good because if he did poo or wee it was on tiled floor..easy to clean up. We put wee/poo mats for him to use.. I don’t like crates personally. After a period of time- about 4-5 weeks – I found that he would wait until the morning to do his business. We then let him sleep without being confined to the laundry and he would give a little woof at the front door in the morning telling us wanted go out to do his thing…. he simply may not like being confined in a crate …find an alternative space if you can.

  20. I had a crying Labrador puppy, the obvious thing I thought was pick him up, take him to bed with me, to the shops with me to work with me. Guess what I got a totally velcro dog. His is nearly 12 years old now and sat at my feet as I type. I am now retired so not really a problem, also I love him to bits. But it is what happens and only do it if you it is what you want.

    • HI Elizabeth…I’m with you. If he is happier being with you then so be it…So what if he does a few accidents when he is a pup…they grow out of it.
      If I could take my dog to work i would…lucky thing.:) If it right for you and your dog is a happy animal as result..then just do it.

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