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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.
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.
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.
The Schedule Method
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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