Almost all babies cry, whether they're puppies or newborn people. Although they don't shed tears like we do, a puppy crying might sound like they are whining, whimpering, or even yelping loudly. It's distressing to hear your new pup make these sounds, and you probably want to know how to soothe them and quiet them down, particularly at night. You'll also need to identify why your puppy is crying. They might be excited, anxious, bored, hungry, or in pain, so you'll have to read the signs.
These Methods Will Help Settle a Crying Puppy
There are mixed opinions on whether it's ideal to let either a human baby or a puppy cry themselves out. Most experts agree it's best not to do this with dogs. You certainly don't want to reward their crying, but ignoring it, or worse, reprimanding it, can lead to behavioral problems.
If your puppy cries continuously, try to identify the "Why" behind it. Are they hungry? Thirsty? Cold? Hot? Ill? Scared? Bored? Or do they need to urinate? Providing your puppy with whatever basic needs they're crying for should stop the whining.
Unfortunately, it's usually not that easy. Most of the time, the puppy just wants your attention. If your puppy cries every time you leave the room, you'll need to work on training them to feel comfortable alone. Crate training is a great way to teach this. With this approach, your puppy will have a comfortable place where they feel comfortable, so time apart doesn't feel as intimidating.
The basic rule to keep in mind is, reward the good behavior you want, and redirect bad behavior with positive interactions until it turns into good behavior. Punishment almost never works, and it can even make your puppy feel even more alone and afraid. If you yell at or scold your pup, you're just reinforcing their negative behavior with your negative attention. Stay positive. It really does work.
- Attend to the problem: don't ignore your pup in the hope they'll stop on their own, or assume they'll eventually drop their crying habit as they mature. Spoiler alert: They probably won't.
- Remain calm and gentle: Your demeanor rubs off on your pup, so if you're tense and stressed, they'll probably sense it. Don't punish them or yell when they display this normal puppy behavior.
- Figure out the trigger: Once you know what is upsetting your pup, you can remove the stimulus, taking away their reason for whining. If something is actively bothering them, like a scary noise or unsettling shadows, try removing these first to see if it helps.
- Address their basic needs: Often, puppies cry because they need something. Like human babies, puppies usually yelp and complain when they want attention, so make sure they're fed, warm, safe, and taken care of.
- Show them love and affection: Don't reward negative, attention-seeking behavior like crying. Instead, when your puppy settles down, give them lots of love and attention to positively reinforce their calm state.
- Start them out crate training from the start: This is a valuable tool to help your pup learn when it's time to calm down. Just don't give in if they start complaining the moment you step away.
- Give them a way to release their energy: One of the best ways to help your puppy find calm and stop crying is to redirect their behavior through play, a quick walk, a fun toy, or other positive form of training.
Use These Tips to Address Nighttime Puppy Crying
Are you losing sleep because your new puppy won't stop crying at night? If so, you're not alone. Many pet owners encounter this problem. Luckily, you can address it successfully by creating the right environment and using correct training methods. Try these tips to help your puppy feel comfortable overnight so you can all catch some "Zs."
- Create a calm, safe space: Make your puppy's bed or crate as comfortable and inviting as possible. A stuffed toy with a pulsing heartbeat can also be beneficial for young puppies who were recently separated from their mother and littermates.
- Plan ahead with a potty break: Let your puppy out to pee right before bed. Then, wait five minutes, and let them out again. Trust us.
- Stick to a routine: Puppies thrive on consistency. A set evening and morning schedule lets your puppy know what to expect. If they understand you'll kiss them "Goodnight" then greet them every morning, it can help them feel more confident about being left alone.
- Get that puppy energy out: Make sure your puppy is tuckered out before bed. Schedule some play time or a long walk in the late afternoon, and try to prevent your puppy from taking too many naps in the evening so they'll sleep through the night.
- Keep them close, at least at first: If you're crate training, consider placing the crate in your room. Your pup will know you're close by, and your presence can help comfort them. You can then gradually move the crate out of the room to its desired location. Just be aware, this method can backfire, and you might end up with a permanent resident in your bedroom.
- Give them calming reminders and soothing sounds: Many dog owners swear by placing an unlaundered T-shirt or towel with their scent on it in the kennel to remind the puppy they are close by. This may or may not help, but it's worth a shot. Also, consider calming music (there are several dog-specific playlists available) or a white noise machine.
- Provide a distraction: Chewing is often a self-soothing technique. Consider giving your puppy a large, safe chew toy to help control any nighttime anxiety.
Find the "Why" That Makes Them Cry
Puppies rarely cry for the fun of it; there's always an underlying reason for their whines and whimpers. Avoid letting your puppy cry themselves out, and try to identify why they're crying. This way, you'll build trust and a bond that makes them feel secure. As your puppy grows into a confident dog, their crying will subside. If you need personalized help with your puppy, don't hesitate to reach out to a canine behaviorist for guidance.