I can’t count the sleepless nights I had when we first got our little dog Ponyo. He was just a pup at 6 weeks old and could fit his tiny body in our hand. We were so excited to have a new member to our family and he really is a family member. But, geeesh thinking back to those first few weeks. (*insert thinking music*).
We were prepared though. We had bout a little soft house for him to feel comfy in. We made a little pen for him to be safe in (and do his business in). It was all set up in the lounge room, water, bit of extra food, blankets everything. We did expect him to cry at night as we had researched a little about it, so we knew what was coming (Errr….). We did many hours of research getting prepared, and now we have the experience of having done it all.
Why is my puppy crying and not sleeping?
- New environment
Why did he cry? Well for a puppy, new to the house, new to the environment, not really that surprising. People cry when move to a strange new location so why not little puppies? He was a scared little pup who didn’t know what was happening. He had been snuggling up to his brothers and sisters and mum and dad and now he wasn’t. Laying in between a warm breathing, heart beating (furry) body would make most of us fall asleep. That was taken away and replaced with a blanket? It’s a big change for a little pup.
Of course they are. As said above they’ve just gone from being in a nice snuggle to not being in a nice snuggle. Even if you cover them in soft fluffy blankets it still doesn’t replace the feel of their mum.
Ponyo cried for the first 15 minutes of the car trip back home. Of course he was scared he didn’t know what was happening. Strangers picking him
That’s right I said it, you have ghosts. This is the reason your little puppy isn’t falling asleep and crying all night long. Your puppy has super hearing which most likely you do not have. So they can hear things you can’t, and that might cause them to be startled and wake up wondering ‘What’s that noise?’. You can’t hear these noises but they can, in other words pests, insects, cats, you farting or ghosts (yes clearly a joke don’t panic).
So did we do, and what else could we have done.
Here are some things that we have done to make him sleep better and able to sleep alone (when needed)
- Move closer
- Tough love
Well, first thing we did was put a bell around him so we knew where he was (not completely unrelated, bare with me). Ponyo (our little dog) was supposed to sleep downstairs in the lounge room where everything was set up. After a few nights of crying and whimpering (and me coming downstairs to sleep on the couch) we moved everything upstairs. Made his pen a lot smaller, still had his house, toys, water and toilet mat there. The pen was right next to our bed where he could see us. For us, in our situation this was super important for us and Ponyo. He wanted to know we were nearby. He wanted to be with his new family. And the first thing we mistakenly did was put him downstairs alone, away from his new family because we had read somewhere that was the best thing for him, tough love they called it. Moving him to our room, next to our bed didn’t solve all the crying problems. But it did help, a lot! Occasionally he would wake up and have a little sook and cry, but we would tell him to go back to bed. Which another thing we started to introduce. If ever we want Ponyo to go to his bed we only have to say “go to bed” and off he runs to his bed to have a rest. Using a treat (that he really liked) we would say this phrase while leading him in. It takes practice and patience like all things with puppies but well worth it.
We still leave the TV on when we leave the house so Ponyo can listen to something rather than just silence. It’s become part of the routine when we go out shopping. When he sees the stair gate close and the TV being turned on automatically he goes to his bed to wait. He probably doesn’t need it now but it’s become routine for us as well. With new puppies as well something soothing playing in the background or just the TV helps their nerves and calms them down. As a bonus it also drowns out a little of the outside noises which might agitate or scare some the puppies. I have read a lot of people recommending a ticking clock to put in their bed. This is supposed to represent the mother’s heart beat to calm them down. I must admit I have never needed this but this might be something worth a try if other avenues are exhausted.
This one was easy for us as we just loved playing with our little dog. Getting your little one active both physically and mentally certainly will help them sleep more peacefully at night. If you have a puppy of course you’re going to be keeping them inside for a while. Especially before vaccination. More than likely it will be around the 12 week mark before you start taking them on walks. And they will be short walks at 12 weeks old. That just leaves inside play for a while. Which is perfect time to start training games with your puppy. You’re pup will be so worn out by the end of the day they’ll just snooze right off to sleep just like you.
When I think of toys to help them sleep, I’m thinking more along the lines of soft plushie toys or soft blankets. Ponyo still sleeps with his crocodile plushie. This is all about making him comfortable in his bed or if you have a new puppy, comfortable in their new environment. We still go a bit overboard with his comfort by putting super soft, furry blankets and making sure they cover him, but we want to do that.
It can be quite hard to give your puppy routines when you yourself don’t have a set routine. Repeating the same process we have found reinforces the task or desired behavior. I said earlier when we go to the supermarket (monthly) Ponyo knows what to do. We lock the stair gate, turn the TV on and he knows he needs to go to his bed. Keep in mind this is not something we practice daily, this was done repeatedly over months. But, because it was the same sequence he eventually understood.
Well this one gets preached a lot. We were first going to follow this idea of tough love, but then…. Essentially you let your dog get used to the isolation ie sleeping downstairs alone in their new bed. Eventually the will get used to it and stop crying and be able to sleep. Our puppy school trainer said the same thing. Its sounds mean but they will get used to it. Wether you keep then in a laundry, downstairs or wherever. Personally as you read we did try to put him downstairs but it just didn’t work for us. Or maybe we didn’t persist enough with it. We certainly felt for a puppy having him close by was the best choice. And we wanted that. We preferred to have him close by it was our choice so it may not be yours.
Well when we started to do all this our aim was to bring him next to us and slowly have him move away. First we had Ponyo right next to our bed, over a few days, and weeks we gradually moved his bed a little further back. For the most part this worked. He was sleeping, sometimes waking up but far better than before. We could have continued this process, but we didn’t. When it came right down to it we wanted to have our dog sleep next to us or on our bed. Not every night but mostly that’s what we wanted.
Our dog, Ponyo is a small dog, he’s a maltess / shitsu / poddle. So now most nights when we go to bed he jumps up with us and sleeps on top of the bed. Every now and then I will wake up with this human being dog laying next to me using half of my pillow and all my blanket. But that’s our choice, and we wouldn’t change that.