Bedtime

Let’s be realistic. You’re not going to get a ton of sleep over the next few weeks as your puppy will likely need to potty overnight or you might find that they are a bit fussy and worried. 

Remember, again, that puppies have been taken from their mum and littermates, so sleeping alone is new and positively terrifying for young puppies. It will need to be gradual. 

Just like with children, we no longer believe in self-soothing. There are studies now that show this can cause damage and it is better to simply tend to our young until they are old enough to be independent.

Sleeping near you will NOT cause separation anxiety later. There is no data that proves this…in fact, we do find that isolation when a puppy is young can contribute to separation anxiety and other panic disorders. Let’s make the process much easier on both of you.

Here are some things you CAN DO:

  • Be sure that you’ve done plenty of work with the crate before they are introduced to it at night.
  • Take your puppy out for one last potty break before going into the crate. 
  • Place the crate right beside your bed. If it is small enough, elevate it safely so that your puppy can see/hear/smell you and so that you can reach your fingers into the crate easily. Puppies need physical contact. 
  • Fill a hot water bottle with warm water (not hot!) and wrap it securely in a pillowcase or two. This can be placed in the crate so that your pup feels like there’s a littermate there with them. 
  • Some people have found that a soft stuffie that resembles the dog has also been shown to decrease nighttime anxiety, as well as a mirror, propped up against the outside of the crate. Worth a try! 
  • If you live in a place that is a little noisier than where the puppy grew up, consider using soft white noise to mute the environmental sounds and prevent noise sensitivities from developing. Not too loud or close to the crate! 
  • Leave one toy in the crate – something they can chew on but not destroy, like a durable rubber chew toy. 
  • At first, if your puppy fusses, give it 10-20 seconds and if they settle and go to sleep, great! If they sound upset or frantic, speak quietly in a soothing tone and stick your fingers inside the crate so that they can feel you. 
  • If they are still upset, take them out for a potty break immediately and be sure to bring one yummy treat to reinforce pottying outside. Back in the crate without fuss, and try again. 
  • In the middle of the night or early morning, any vocalisations should be responded to immediately by getting up and taking them out for a potty break. Carry them there because they WILL have an accident if you don’t! Reinforce with a yummy treat, and back into the crate until wakeup. 
  • If it’s close to wakeup time, you can also pop them in the LTCA for the last little bit if they seem wide awake and ready to start their day. Some people even opt to sleep on the couch nearby until their puppy learns to keep themselves busy for those early morning hours in the pen. This won’t last forever…you just have to get through the first few weeks. Over time you can push that time later and later until it’s your family’s wakeup time that your puppy is adjusting to. Don’t expect that right away.

Here are some things to AVOID:

  • Avoid letting the puppy sleep in a different room from yours, isolated from people.
  • Avoid letting the puppy sleep in the children’s rooms. 
  • Avoid letting the puppy “cry it out”.
  • Avoid leaving anything edible (bully stick, pigs ear, bone) in the crate at night or when unsupervised.
  • Avoid smacking the crate, shaking cans of pennies, yelling at the puppy, shushing them, or otherwise punishing them for fussing/vocalising. This will create a negative association with the crate, bedtime, and you. It will also teach your puppy not to notify you when they are upset and potentially cause longer-term anxiety. 

Over time, they will start sleeping through the night as they gain control of their bladder and bowels (closer to 16 weeks of age) and once they are sleeping through the night and are reliably potty trained, you can move the crate to the floor beside the bed (for 1-2 weeks), then move it a foot or so away from the bed (for 1-2 weeks) and then you can consider putting it the ideal location. I recommend doing this when the puppy is closer to 5mo or 6mo of age. The first few months are critical for bonding!! 

At the first sign of trouble beyond a few minutes (fussing/vocalisations) overnight, take a few steps back in the training plan and keep them successful a little longer. Get in touch with us if it’s not working. 

But shouldn’t I let my puppy cry it out? 

“Self Soothing” & “Cry It Out” are Neurologically Damaging. Click here to learn why: