How to Train a Puppy to Stop Barking at Night

How to Train a Puppy to Stop Barking at Night
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon2-6 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

You’re curled up in your bed, peacefully dreaming of the great times you’ll have with your puppy, when suddenly she starts barking her head off. You hurry to her side, thinking she must be hurt or sick. As soon as you get near her, she stops barking and wags happily at you. Your puppy got exactly what she wanted: your attention. Many puppies bark at night because they feel scared or lonely in their crate. By training your puppy to stop barking during the night, you can get a good night’s sleep and stop the worry.

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Defining Tasks

It’s important to remember that very young puppies are rarely able to sleep through the night. They have little bladders and are used to having their mother and litter mates nearby for company. It can take several weeks for your puppy to become accustomed to the new environment and secure enough to sleep through the night. Keep in mind that a new puppy is just like a new baby. You’ll need to be patient with her and expect a few sleepless nights.

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Getting Started

Be prepared to ignore some of your puppy’s barking. Get used to her noises and learn to recognize when she is distressed and when she just wants some attention. Invest in a crate that suits your puppy’s size so she can stretch and turn around, but still be comforted by a space her size. Keeping the crate in your bedroom is a good way to provide your puppy with a comforting environment as well.

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The Schedule Method

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1

Set up a schedule for your pup

If your puppy gets used to doing certain things at certain times, she will be expecting bedtime and be less likely to fuss. In the beginning, try to keep the schedule as consistent as possible for your puppy until she becomes familiar with the routine.

2

Keep your puppy busy in the evening

Puppies love to sleep, but if you let your little one nap the evening away, she'll be awake and ready to play at bedtime. Play with your puppy in the evening, take her for a walk, or give her a stimulating toy to tire her out before bed.

3

Choose designated dinner and bed times

Decide what time you want your puppy to go to bed and then select a dinner time that is a few hours before bedtime. You should also pick up her water after she finishes eating. The last thing before bed should be a trip outside so she can relieve herself.

4

Bed means bed

At bedtime, confine your puppy to her crate. She will likely be most comfortable in your bedroom. However, if you don't want your puppy in the room with you, crate her elsewhere but provide something that makes noise, such as a fan or a white noise machine. Keep in mind that if your puppy is in another room, you will need to be more alert for signals that your puppy needs to go out to the bathroom.

5

Make nighttime trips as calm as possible

Most young puppies can't make it through the night without a trip to the potty. Keep trips outside as calm as possible. The less stimulation your puppy gets, the better the chance she'll go back to sleep without barking or howling. Try not to talk to her or give her attention. As soon as she is back in bed, go back to bed yourself.

6

Be strong and ignore false signals

When you know your puppy doesn't need to go outside to the bathroom, ignore her noises. If you pay attention to her, you will only encourage her to keep barking or howling. It can be incredibly difficult to ignore a little puppy's cries, but be strong and you will teach her to calm herself down and sleep quietly through the night.

The Alarm Clock Method

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Effective

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1

Early morning is still night

Some puppies are able to sleep through most of the night, until the first rays of sun hit their crate. If your puppy is an early riser, you can teach her that early morning is still technically nighttime with the use of an alarm clock.

2

Wake up before your puppy

Set an alarm clock to go off about half an hour before your puppy typically wakes up. It should be loud enough so it wakes both you and your pup.

3

Keep things calm

Stay very quiet as you greet your puppy. Reward her for staying quiet, if she does, and calmly go through your morning routine with her. Let her outside to do her business, get her breakfast, follow a typical routine, just without any excitement.

4

Make her wait

Set the alarm for the same time the next day, but wait for a few seconds before greeting your puppy and letting her out of the crate. Reward her if she stays quiet until you let her out.

5

Sleep in a little longer

On the third day, bring the alarm forward a couple of minutes and make your puppy sleep a little bit longer before waking her up and calmly going about the morning routine.

6

Alternate the changes

Repeat the process every day, either bringing the time forward or making your puppy wait a few additional seconds before letting her out, until you reach an acceptable wake-up time. Through this process, you are teaching your puppy that she doesn't need to make noise to wake you up and that mornings aren't all that exciting anyway. The combination should train her to sleep nicely into the morning.

The Crate Training Method

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1

Make her crate a soothing environment

You want your puppy to feel comfortable and calm when she is in her crate. Put soft, cozy bedding on the bottom of the crate. You can also use scents, like pheromones or objects from her previous home to make her feel more content.

2

Pick a cozy spot

The location of your puppy's crate will have a lot to do with how comfortable she feels in it. Place her crate in your bedroom. If your nighttime movements disturb her, you can try draping a thin blanket over the top of the crate.

3

Get your puppy used to the crate

In the beginning, your puppy may react to the crate like you are putting her in puppy jail and abandoning her to sleep or leave the house. Choose small portions of the day to put your puppy into the crate while you are still in the house, so she doesn't associate the crate with being abandoned.

4

Make the crate a place where good things happen

Supply your puppy with things she likes while she is in the crate. Give her attention, treats, or toys to play with. You can even make the crate part of her routine by feeding her meals while she is inside.

5

Reinforce the crate as the sleeping spot

If your puppy falls asleep somewhere, gently carry her to her crate and shut the door with her inside. This process will make her associate the crate with sleeping.

6

Reward your puppy for using the crate

If your puppy goes into the crate on her own, give her big rewards, such as extra special training treats or gentle affection. You want to stay calm though, so she doesn't connect her crate to play time.

7

Be patient

Over time, crate training will make your puppy feel comforted by her crate, rather than punished. After a couple of weeks, she will associate the crate with pleasant feelings and stop crying for your attention during the night.

By Christina Gunning

Published: 03/01/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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maple

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Australian Shepherd

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Three Months

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Question

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She bites and is very mouthy with me the owner and my little boys. I yell ouch loudly and walk away and say no bite and walk into the other room but at times she follows me and continues to bite my clothing or skin

July 17, 2023

maple's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello, Check out the article linked below. You can continue using the "Bite Inhibition" method, which is what it sounds like you are currently doing, BUT at the same time, begin teaching "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method, so that you can ultimately use that to teach pup to stop. As soon as pup is good at the Leave It game, start telling pup to "Leave It" when she attempts to bite or is tempted to bite you. Reward pup if she makes a good choice. If she disobeys your leave it command, use the Out command from the second article linked below to make her leave the area as a consequence for not obeying Out. 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 Out 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 playing (which is what pup probably thinks most of the time right now), so it is more effective. I would also keep a drag leash on pup while you are home (to ensure it doesn't get caught on anything, don't leave it on when pup is unattended). The drag leash helps you quickly and calmly get a hold of pup and enforce your commands without as much of a battle. A drag leash is simply a regular six foot light weight leash pup wears while inside that drags behind her, so you can step on it and pick up the end of it to get control when needed. You can purchase chew proof ones, like vir-chew-ly online off amazon if pup chews through leashes. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the area, is also a good command for you to use if pup bites the kids. Check out the section on Using Out to Deal with Pushy Behavior for how to calmly enforce that command once it's taught. 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. Right now, an outside class may be best in a fenced area, or letting friends' pups play in someone's fence outside. 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, she 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 her calm down and rest. Practicing regular obedience commands or having pup earn what they get by performing commands like Sit and Down before feeding, petting, tossing a toy, opening the door for a walk, ect... can also help stimulate pup mentally to increase calmness and wear them out. Commands that practice focus, self-control, and learning something a bit new or harder than before can all tire out puppies. 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. The primary goal for stopping chewing is to stop the biting by five months of age - because five months is when jaws get stronger and bites can get harder. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Aug. 2, 2023

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Timmy

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dachund/ weiner dog

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about 8-9 weeks old

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Ever since we got our puppy he will not sleep in his crate at night he barks and whines the whole night while in his cage. He has a comfy bed, toys and goes out for regular potty brakes as well gets food at scheduled times. We do not know what to do to make him stop whining in the middle of the night. He was sleeping in our room, but it got too loud for us that he now sleeps in a separate room. We woke just like him to feel safe and sleep through the night whithout whining. Please help!

July 6, 2023

Timmy's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello, At 8 weeks of age I am guessing that you recently brought pup home? If that's the case, then know that what you are experiencing is completely normal. Pup is getting used to sleeping alone and that's an adjustment. Usually the first five days are the worst. It typically takes about two weeks for most pups to adjust completely; however, you can help that adjustment be as smooth as possible by doing the following. 1. When pup cries but doesn't have to go potty (like after you return them to the crate when they just went potty outside) be consistent about ignoring the crying until they go back to sleep. The more consistent you are the quicker the overall process tends to take even if it's hard to do for the first couple weeks. 2. When pup does truly need to go potty (when it's been at least 2 hours since pup last peed), take pup to go potty outside on a leash to keep pup focused and things calmer. Don't give treats, food, play, or much attention during these trips - boring and sleepy is the goal, then right back to bed after. This helps pup learn to only wake when they truly need to go potty and be able to put themselves back to sleep - helping them start sleeping longer stretches sooner and not ask to go out unless they actually need to potty. Pup will generally need 1-2 potty trips at night even after trained for a couple months though due to a small bladder. 3. Wait until pup asks to go potty by crying in the crate at night before you take them - opposed to setting an alarm clock, unless pup is having accidents in the crate and not asking to go out. This gives pup the chance to learn to start falling back to sleep when they wake in light sleep if they don't really need to go potty, instead of being woken up all the way when they could have held it a bit longer. 4. Practice the Surprise method from the article I have linked below to help pup get used to crate time during the day too - so that there is less crying at night due to pup adjusting to being alone. Surprise method - only give treats during daytime practice, not at night though: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

July 10, 2023


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