Sometimes having a puppy is just like bringing home a human baby--a lot of sleepless nights while everyone adjusts to the new environment. Because dogs are pack animals, their natural inclination is to sleep with others, in close contact, for safety and comfort. A young dog or puppy is especially geared to sleep closely in a group for safety, and a rescue dog or an anxious or insecure dog that has come from an abusive situation or a situation where they were deprived, may be nervous and anxious and more apt to cry when separated from their caregivers, such as at night when everyone is sleeping.
Having a dog cry at night and keep you awake is not going to work in the long term, so owners need to find ways to train their dogs to sleep quietly at night in their own space, and for the dog to be comfortable with the arrangement, allowing dog owners to get a good night sleep.
There are several methods you can use to help your dog learn not to cry at night and to be comfortable sleeping by himself, quietly. However, before working on stopping your dog from crying at night you will need to take some basic steps to ensure his needs are met and he is not crying for a genuine reason.
Make sure your dog is well fed, has water, is well exercised, and has had lots of attention throughout the day, including affection and play. A dog that has had lots of activity and had his needs met is more likely to have a restful night than one that is full of energy or bored. Ensure your dog has had a chance to go outside to do his business before bed. And remember, a puppy may cry in the middle of the night when they wake because they legitimately have to go to the bathroom. Puppies do not have large bladders, and it is not uncommon to have to let a young dog out in the middle of the night for a pee break. You should work this into your plans if necessary.
Most owners that want their dogs to sleep separately from them provide their dogs with a bed or crate to sleep in. The crate should be comfortable, with good, clean bedding, and a favorite blanket or toy for comfort. Your dog's bed/crate should be in a warm location so your dog does not wake up from cold. Crates or beds should be the appropriate size for the dog, too big and the dog will not feel secure, too small and they will not be comfortable. You may need to be prepared for a few sleepless nights at first, as you will need to ignore and not respond to your dog's crying. If you do, you will only reinforce the behavior. This might call for a set of ear plugs!
There are several methods you can use to help your dog become comfortable and learn to sleep by himself without crying for attention at night. These methods may be used in combination to help your dog assimilate to their nighttime routine quicker.
She keeps crying at our door in the middle of the night or when I get home, she more screams lol she is very vocal
Hello Daniela, For the screaming when you get home, it sounds like pup is overly aroused about your arrive. I recommend teaching the Quiet command and also desensitizing pup to your arrival. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Desensitization: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpzvqN9JNUA For the barking outside your door, I recommend practicing leaving her outside that door during the day (spy on her with a camera if she tends to destroy things when left alone. With pup outside the door and everyone else behind doors, when pup barks, I would briefly open the door just enough to get your hand through, tell pup "Ah Ah" while doing so, and interrupt the barking with something like an unscented air canister - pet convincer, then close the door again; spraying a brief puff of air toward pup's side, not at pup's face though. Only use unscented air. Don't use citronella. When pup is quiet for a minute, open the door again just enough for your hand to go through, calmly praise pup and sprinkle a couple treats on the ground, then close the door again Repeat corrections when pup barks, or if pup scratches at the door, and the rewards when pup stays quiet. As pup improves with regular consistent practice of the training, wait until pup has stayed quiet for longer and longer before you open that door to reward - so pup isn't just being rewarded for stopping the barking, but for not barking in the first place, and remaining quiet. At night, correct or ignore the barking only. Don't give any food at night because you don't want pup to stay awake waiting for that. If pup has a tendency to destroy things when not at the door barking, I would also crate pup at this age, repeating the same general training for rewarding quietness in the crate and interrupting the barking. Some puppies do fine unsupervised at night by this age, but some are still in the destructive chewing phase for a bit longer. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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He bites and nips quite hard when playing ( always stop ) when holding him, patting him or just walking
Hello Melissa, Check out the article linked below. Starting today, use the "Bite Inhibition" method. BUT at the same time, begin teaching "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method. As soon as pup is good as the Leave It game, start telling pup to "Leave It" when he attempts to bite or is tempted to bite. Reward pup if he makes a good choice. If he disobeys your leave it command, use the Pressure method to gently discipline pup for biting when you told him not to. The order or all of this is very important - the Bite Inhibition method can be used for the next couple of weeks while pup is learning leave it, but leave it will teach pup to stop the biting entirely. The pressure method teaches pup that you mean what you say without being overly harsh - but because you have taught pup to leave it first, pup clearly understands that you are not just roughhousing (which is what pup probably thinks most of the time right now), so it is more effective. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite I would also work on teaching the Out command, and then use the section from the article on How to Use Out to Deal with Pushiness, to enforce it when pup doesn't listen, especially around other animals or kids. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Another important part of this is puppy learning bite inhibition. Puppies have to learn while young how to control the pressure of their mouths - this is typically done through play with other puppies. See if there is a puppy class in your area that comes well recommended and has time for moderated off-leash puppy play. If you can't join a class, look for a free puppy play group, or recruit some friends with puppies to come over if you can and create your own group. You are looking for puppies under 6 months of age - since young puppies play differently than adult dogs. Moderate the puppies' play and whenever one pup seems overwhelmed or they are all getting too excited, interrupt their play, let everyone calm down, then let the most timid pup go first to see if they still want to play - if they do, then you can let the other puppies go too when they are waiting for permission. Finding a good puppy class - no class will be ideal but here's what to shoot for: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/puppy-classes-when-to-start/ When pup gets especially wound up, he probably needs a nap too. At this age puppies will sometimes get really hyper when they are overtired or haven't had any mental stimulation through something like training. When you spot that and think pup could be tired, place pup in their crate or an exercise pen with a food stuffed Kong for a bit to help him calm down and rest. I would also practice touching pup gently and giving a treat each time you touch pup and they don't mouth your hand, to help pup learn to receive and love touch tolerantly. Finally, check out the PDF e-book downloads found on this website, written by one of the founders of the association of professional dog trainers, and a pioneer in starting puppy kindergarten classes in the USA. Click on the pictures of the puppies to download the PDF books: https://www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads/ Know that mouthiness at this age is completely normal. It's not fun but it is normal for it to take some time for a puppy to learn self-control well enough to stop. Try not to get discouraged if you don't see instant progress, any progress and moving in the right direction in this area is good, so keep working at it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hi, we’ve recently gotten this lovely cockapoo called buddy. We’ve previously had puppy’s and they used to cry for the first few nights when being introduced to our home as they are missing littermate mom etc. this little guy hasn’t stopped for 2 weeks. We’ve tried everything like crating him but that was very traumatic for him he hated it and got urine all over himself as he relieved him self in the cage. He also doesn’t pee on the wee mats. Is there any advice you would recommend?
Hello Katie, First, for the potty training I recommend switching from pee pads to disposable real grass pads. I would set up an exercise pen and cover the floor of it with the grass pads. Keep pup in the pen until pup goes potty, being ready to give several treats and lots of praise when you see pup do so, then letting pup out of the pen after they pee, when you can supervise pup in the home, so pup learns that the quickest way to get out is to go potty on the grass pad quickly. Once pup will immediately go potty on the pad when you take pup to the pen, I would gradually remove the additional grass pads, one at a time over the course of a couple of weeks, until pup is peeing on just the one remaining grass pad, continuing to reward pup for going potty in the right spot on the pad as you make this transition. From there, I would follow the rest of the steps for phasing out the exercise pen overtime, like the exercise pen method from the article I have linked below covers. That article mentions a doggie litter box but the method can be used with a pee pad or grass pad instead too. You can also try this same approach with pee pads, but I recommend the grass pad because pup appears to be a puppy who is more likely to confuse the pee pads, which are made of fabric, with other indoor surfaces, like your carpet and rugs. The grass pads tend to be less confusing for such dogs. Indoor potty training is also based on location, not just surface, so when setting up your exercise pen, choose an area where you plan to leave a pad long term, don't move the pad around a lot, because pup will be learning to go potty in that location, not just on that surface. Exercise pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy I am assuming you are planning to use an indoor potty with pup long term due to their size. If you are not, I would go straight to crate training to teach outdoor potty training instead of doing indoor first, if your schedule can accommodate that, because that will be easier in the long run for you and pup. I will address the crate crying below. For the nighttime crying I would crate pup, but pup needs to be worked through their issues with the crate, which in turn should also help with the nights. You may find you need to use these same steps to get pup used to the exercise pen you will be using for potty training. Will a pup who protests these things a lot, it often makes us want to just not confine pup at all, but pup will have to be confined at some point in their life for travel, injury, surgery, boarding, to address behavior issues like chewing, ect...Trying to introduce confinement like a crate or pen later is much harder on pup than working pup through it right now while in this developmental stage where pup is more open. With the above said, first, work on teaching the Quiet command during the day using the Quiet method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, during the day practice the Surprise method from the article linked below. Whenever pup stays quiet in the crate for 5 minutes, sprinkle some treats into the crate without opening it, then leave the room again. As he improves, only give the treats every 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 1.5 hour, 2, hour, 3 hour. Practice crating him during the day for 1-3 hours each day that you can. If you are home during the day, have lots of 30 minute - 1 hour long sessions with breaks between to practice this, to help pup learn sooner. For some pups waiting them out, then rewarding the quietness is all you need. For the occasional really persistent pup, who doesn't pause for even a couple of seconds in an hour, you will need an interrupter too. It's not fun to use a slightly firmer approach but in the end this is a lot easier on pup than their highly anxious behavior continuing, and provides the opportunity for you to reward the calm behavior so pup learns that instead. Whenever he cries in the crate, tell him "Quiet". If he gets quiet - Great! Sprinkle treats in after five minutes if he stays quiet. If he continues barking or stops and starts again, spray a quick puff of air from a pet convincer at his side through the crate while calmly saying "Ah Ah", then leave again. Only use unscented air canisters, DON'T use citronella! And avoid spraying in the face. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Repeat the rewards when quiet and the corrections whenever he cries. When pup is being patient and quiet in the crate, let pup out calmly. If pup tries to rush the door, close it again, making pup wait. Practice this until pup is waiting inside with the crate door open. At that point, happily tell pup "Okay" and let them come out calmly. You want to set that expectation of staying calm as they exit, so they don't get into the habit of getting anxious and excited in anticipation of being let out. At night I recommend only correcting, not giving treats because the treats will keep pup up. Take pup potty still when they cry when it's been at least three hours - and genuinely might need to go potty. To decrease the chance of pup having an accident in the crate make sure the crate is only big enough for pup to turn around, stand up, and lie down, and there is nothing absorbent in the crate like a towel or soft bed. You can use something like www.primopads.com or k9ballistics.com crate mats instead. The peeing in the crate is probably used to pup's uncertainty about the crate though, so working pup through that may mean accidents still at first, but if the accidents continue after several sessions, I would check back and adjust the training to help avoid that. I would actually practice the above protocol in the exercise pen first if pup also cries in the pen, while simultaneously doing the potty training there. If pup has accidents in the exercise pen that won't be an issue, and having pup get used to being quiet and calm in the exercise pen through your rewards and feedback, will also help pup adjust more quickly to the crate training once you do that. Because pup is protesting so strongly pup actually be a pup who needs to work on training like this, to build calmness and independence in the long run possibly even more than the average puppy to avoid other issues, like separation anxiety as an adult. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Dog is whining inconsistently throughout the night in the bedroom in a crate. She is a 2 year old rescue we have had for almost 4 weeks now. We do crate training things like meals in the crate and letting her out when she's quiet afterward. We are confident she is not afraid of the crate, she lays in it during the day. She loved the crate right off the bat. She progressively got worse with the crying to the point of never settling down the entire night, yes the entire night. We then moved the crate to the bedroom and gave her doggy melatonin chews. We had an acceptable first night where she stayed quiet after the initial whining period. Second night she got bolder and started barking but eventually settled down. Third night she whined intermittently throughout the night. We are pretty much out of ideas. Every article I've read, I've already done all the suggestions. She cannot be trusted outside of the crate since she has accidents 1 or 2 times a week. She also eats/licks trash a lot outside, quickly, so she vomits about once a week. She then likes to eat her vomit if we don't catch it quickly enough. We're home all day. Thanks for any insight. We obviously cannot continue to go sleepless.
Hi there. I know this is troublesome right now and you may not want to hear this, but it can take up to a month or longer for a dog to adjust to a new environment. So you're at that month mark now and hopefully with some more tips, Maggie can start to settle a bit. She may have some mild separation anxiety going on that manifests at night. I am going to send you info on separation anxiety. Because this behavior issue is complex, I have a lot of information to send you. With some time and practice, this is something that can be turned around over the next month or so. The first step in treating separation anxiety is to break the cycle of anxiety. Every time a dog with separation anxiety becomes anxious when their owner leaves, the distress they feel is reinforced until they become absolutely frantic any time they are left alone. Owners should give the dog an acceptable item to chew, such as a long lasting food treat when they go out. The goal is to have the dog associate this special treat with the owner’s departure. Treats might include hollow bones stuffed with peanut butter or soft cheese, drilled out nylon bones, or hollow rubber chew toys such as Kong toys with similar enhancements (place these in the freezer before giving them to your dog to make them last longer). Give the bone to your dog about 15 minutes before preparing to depart. The chew toy should be used only as a reward to offset the anxiety triggered by your departure. Hiding a variety of these delectable food treats throughout the house may occupy the dog so that the owner’s departure is less stressful. In an effort to prevent destructive behavior, many owners confine their dog in a crate or behind a gate. For dogs that display “barrier frustration,” the use of a crate in this way is counterproductive. Many dogs will physically injure themselves while attempting to escape such confinement. Careful efforts to desensitize and counter condition the dog to crate confinement before leaving them alone may be helpful in some cases. However, some dogs rebel against any form of restraint, including restricting barriers and, for them, crate training may never be a positive experience. Crate training and utilizing the crate while people are home can be a positive way to make the crate a safe place. If you utilize it when people are around, your dog won’t necessarily associate the crate with departure and being left alone. Creating nap time in the crate throughout the day can also be helpful. Building Independence Independence training can help fight separation anxiety and loneliness. Independence training can help build confidence and instill obedience. “Doggie Daycare” or hiring a pet sitter may be a better alternative for dogs that are initially resistant to treatment. It can be expensive, but prices vary. Independence training is one of the more important aspects of the program. It involves teaching your dog to “stand on their own four feet” when you are present, with the express intention that their newfound confidence will spill over into times when you are away. You need to make your dog more independent by reducing the bond between both of you to a more healthy level of involvement. Decreasing the bond is the hardest thing for owners to accept. Most people acquire dogs because they want a strong relationship with them. However, you have to accept that the anxiety your dog experiences in your absence is destructive. Essential components of the independence training program are as follows: Your dog can be with you, but the amount of interaction time should be reduced, especially where attention-seeking behaviors are concerned. You should initiate all interactions with your dog, and they shouldn’t be permitted to demand attention. If you give your dog attention every time they whine, it helps to foster the dog’s dependence on you and increases its anxiety in your absence. You should ignore your dog completely when they engage in attention-seeking behavior, and avoid catering to them when they appear to feel anxious. This means no eye contact, no pushing away, and no soothing talk or body language, all of which will reward their attention-seeking mission. Attention is encouraged only when your dog is sitting or lying calmly. The goal is not to ignore your dog, but to stop reinforcing attention-seeking behaviors so that your dog develops a sense of independence. Minimize the extent to which your dog follows you by teaching them to remain relaxed in one spot, such as their bed. To accomplish this, it is helpful if you train them to perform a sit-stay or down-stay while gradually increasing the time that they hold the command and remain at a distance from you. Providing a treat or toy and encouraging individual play time can be helpful. Once your dog has learned basic obedience commands, you can train them to hold long down-stays while you move progressively farther away. First, your dog should be trained to perform a “down-stay” on a mat or dog bed using a specific command, such as “lie down.” Your dog may have to be gently escorted to the designated spot the first few times. Initially, they should be rewarded every 10 seconds for remaining there, then every 20 seconds, 30 seconds, and so on. Once they have figured out what is wanted, you should switch to an intermittent schedule of reinforcement [reward], as this will strengthen the learned response. Each time your dog breaks their “stay,” issue a verbal correction, indicating that there will be no reward, and then escort them back to their bed. First, your dog can be made to “down-stay” while you are in the room. Next, they can be asked to stay when you are outside of the room, but nearby. The distance and time you are away from your dog can be increased progressively until your dog can remain in a down-stay for 20 to 30 minutes in your absence. Your dog should be warmly praised for compliance. Of course, they need to accept the praise without breaking the stay. Your dog should become accustomed to being separated from you when you are home for varying lengths of time and at different times of day. You can set up child gates to deny your dog access into the room you’re occupying (i.e. reading, watching television, or cooking). Instruct your dog to lie down and stay on a dog bed outside the room. As previously mentioned, you can provide an extended-release food treat or toy to keep your dog calm and distracted. Once they are able to tolerate being separated from you by a child gate, you can graduate to shutting the door to the room so your dog cannot see you. Allowing a dog to sleep in bed with the family can increase dependence. If you decide to prevent your dog from sleeping in your bed, there are some steps to take to establish this routine. First, you need to train your dog to sleep in their own bed on the floor in your bedroom. They may have to be taken to their bed several times before they get the message that you really want them to sleep in their own bed. Alternatively, you can train your dog to enjoy sleeping in a crate to prevent unwanted excursions. Do not use a crate if it causes more anxiety and distress for your dog. Once they tolerate sleeping in their own bed in your bedroom, you can move their bed outside of the bedroom and use a child gate or barrier to keep them out. Always remember to reward your dog with praise or a food treat for remaining in their bed. Develop Departure Techniques Many owners erroneously feel that if separation is so stressful, then they should spend more time with their dog before leaving. Unfortunately, this only exacerbates the condition. Everyone in the family should ignore your dog for 15 to 20 minutes before leaving the house and for at least 10 to 20 minutes after returning home. Alternatively, your leaving can be made a highlight of your dog’s day by making it a “happy time” and the time at which they are fed. Departures should be quick and quiet. When departures (and returns) generate less anxiety (and excitement), your dog will begin to feel less tension in your absence. Remember to reward calm behavior. Teach your dog that your departure and return are just normal parts of the day and are not times to be stressed. You should attempt to randomize the cues indicating that you are preparing to leave. Changing the cues may take some trial and error. Some cues mean nothing to a dog, while others trigger anxiety. Make a list of the things you normally do before leaving for the day (and anxiety occurs) and the things done before a short time out (and no anxiety occurs).Then mix up the cues. For example, if your dog is fine when you go downstairs to do the laundry, you can try taking the laundry basket with you when you leave for work. If your dog becomes anxious when you pick up your keys or put on a coat, you should practice these things when you are not really leaving. You can, for example, stand up, put on a coat or pick up your car keys during television commercials, and then sit down again. You can also open and shut doors while you are home when you do not intend to leave. Entering and exiting through various doors when leaving and returning can also mix up cues for your dog. When you are actually leaving, you should try not to give any cues to this effect. Leave your coat in the car and put your keys in the ignition well before leaving. It is important to randomize all the cues indicating departure (clothing, physical and vocal signals, interactions with family members, other pets, and so on). The planned departure technique can be very effective for some dogs. This program is recommended only under special circumstances because it requires that you never leave your dog alone during the entire retraining period, which can be weeks or months. Timing is everything when implementing this program. If your dog shows signs of anxiety (pacing, panting, barking excessively) the instant you walk out of the door, you should stand outside the door and wait until your dog is quiet for three seconds. Then go back inside quickly and reward your dog for being calm. If you return WHEN your dog is anxious, this reinforces your dog’s tendency to display the behavior, because it has the desired effect of reuniting the “pack” members. The goal is for your dog to connect being calm and relaxed with your return. Gradually work up to slightly longer departures 5 to 10 minutes as long as your dog remains quiet, and continue in this fashion. Eventually, you should be able to leave for the day without your dog becoming anxious when you depart. When performed correctly, this program can be very helpful in resolving separation anxiety. Other Treatment Options Obedience Training Obedience training helps to instill confidence and independence in your dog. You should spend 5 to 10 minutes daily training your dog to obey one-word commands. It may be helpful to have training sessions occur in the room where your dog will be left when you are gone. All positive experiences (food, toys, sleep, training, and attention) should be associated with this area of the home. Exercise Your dog should receive 15 to 20 minutes of sustained aerobic exercise once, preferably twice, per day. It is often helpful to exercise your dog before you leave for the day. Exercise helps to dissipate anxiety and provides constructive interaction between you and your dog. It is best to allow your dog 15 to 20 minutes to calm down before you depart. Fetching a ball is good exercise, as is going for a brisk walk or run with your dog on a leash. Even if your dog has a large yard to run in all day, the aerobic exercise will be beneficial since most dogs will not tire themselves if left to their own devices. This is incredibly helpful in dogs that are working breeds that need a job to expend energy and work their brains. Supplements Recently, supplements have been released to the public that can help dogs with anxiety. Purina created a probiotic that has been shown to reduce anxiety and provide a calming effect on some dogs. Your veterinarian may recommend this product for treating anxiety, or other products that contain L-Theanine or L-tryptophan.
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He screams bloody murder for hours on end during the night.
Hello Carla, How long have you been crate training? If you are on night one or two, know that this can be normal the first week. Pup will probably genuinely have to go potty every 4-5 hours once awake during the night, so take pup potty if it's been that long, but do it on leash and keep the trip super boring, returning pup to the crate and ignoring the protesting that follows, knowing pup doesn't have to go potty. If you are past the first few days, then you can also correct. First work on the Surprise method from the article I have linked below, during the day. I also recommend teaching the Quiet command at the same time. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Whenever pup stays quiet in the crate for 5 minutes, sprinkle some treats into the crate without opening it, then leave the room again. As he improves, only give the treats every 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 1.5 hour, 2, hour, 3 hour. Practice crating him during the day for 1-3 hours each day that you can. If you are home during the day, have lots of 30 minute - 1 hour long sessions with breaks between to practice this, to help pup learn sooner. Whenever he cries in the crate, tell him "Quiet". If he gets quiet - Great! Sprinkle treats in after five minutes if he stays quiet. If he continues barking or stops and starts again, spray a quick puff of air from a pet convincer at his side through the crate while calmly saying "Ah Ah", then leave again. Only use unscented air canisters, DON'T use citronella! And avoid spraying in the face. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate At night, have pup sleep in the crate, taking pup potty when they cry if it's been at least 4 hours since they last went potty, and tell pup Quiet whenever they cry when it's not been long enough to need that nightly potty trip yet. If pup doesn't get quiet, then calmly correct at their side through the crate with the pet convincer each time pup protests the crate, until they go to sleep. I would go to bed two hours early the first couple of nights you do this. Knowing that there will probably be a lot of protests and getting up to calmly correct a the beginning of bedtime this first week, and especially first three days. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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