How To Crate Train a Puppy At Night
First nights in a new forever home can be scary for your puppy, make your puppy cry and cause you sleepless nights. Our Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Stippy certainly kept us awake during his first few nights home with us. Here is my advice on how to crate train your puppy at night and how to stop your puppy from crying at night.
Every puppy is different when it comes to crate training and first nights. Some cry and whine long and loud, some whimper a bit and some are relatively silent. You’ll never know upfront how your puppy will be the first few nights at home. Here are some things you can do which can help to calm your puppy and give you your good night’s sleep again.
- Put The Crate in Your Bedroom The First Nights
- Never React To Your Puppy’s Crying
- Make Sure Your Puppy is Empty Before Bed
- Make Sure Your Puppy is Tired Before Bed
Our Toller Retriever Stippy cried the first few nights at home with us. Here is what we learned from our experience and I’m sure if you’ll follow these steps, you and your puppy will be sleeping like (fur) babies very soon.
Put Your Puppy’s Crate in Your Bedroom the First Few Nights
If you’d place your puppy in a crate and leave the room it will feel like abandonment to your puppy so he or she will most likely start crying. In my experience, it is best to keep your puppy in his or her crate next to your bed for the first couple of nights so your pup can see, smell, hear you and knows you are there. This will be a big comfort to your puppy.
Try to imagine how your puppy must be feeling. Suddenly taken away from his or her mother, brother, and sisters. Away from familiar smells, surroundings, and sounds. Everything, including you, is new to your puppy and that’s scary. I know I’d be scared too!
So putting your puppy’s crate next to your bed or in your bedroom will comfort your puppy and he or she will know that they’re not alone and abandoned.
What also worked great on our Toller Retriever puppy Stippy, was the Snuggle Puppy with Heartbeat and Heat Pack. It was a good comfort to him so I recommend this toy for every puppy.
After the first couple of nights, move your puppy’s crate further away from your bed or bedroom. Build this up slowly and a little bit further each night. So for example, first move the crate near the bedroom door. The night after that move it to the hallway but make sure your pup is still able to see you and then further away from your bedroom until the crate is where you finally want it to be (living room, kitchen, etc.).
Doing this step by step will help your puppy get used to being without his or her mother, brothers and sisters and will allow your pup to feel safe and secure being in his or her new home with you. Puppies need time to adjust, to get to know you and new surroundings.
I recommend having your puppy sleep in your bedroom for a maximum of 3 to 5 nights before starting to slowly move the crate further away. If you let your pup sleep in your bedroom near you too long, he or she will get used to this and it will eventually be even more difficult to move your furbaby to another room.
Never React To Your Puppy’s Crying or Whining
The most common mistake many people make is to react to their puppy when he or she is crying in the middle of the night by stroking, re-assuring their puppy or maybe even let the puppy out of the crate at night. I know it’s very difficult but it’s best to ignore your puppy when he or she is crying.
Your first instinct is to comfort your puppy when he or she is so sad the first few nights but trust me, you’ll be worse off in the end if you react to that. Your comfort will be a reward to that crying and your puppy will figure out very quickly that crying, whining, screaming will mean attention and your pup will keep on crying during the night.
Even if your puppy cries for hours, don’t react to it. Don’t reward that behavior. It’s very difficult to go through that but in the end, it’s definitely worth it. This also applies to crate training during the day. You can read more about crate training in my blog How To Crate Train a Puppy in 9 Easy Steps.
It’s also very important that you never punish your puppy for crying. Don’t yell at or get mad at your puppy. First of all, your pup won’t understand why you are mad when he or she is feeling sad because your pup misses his or her mother and secondly, even negative attention is attention. It’s better than nothing to your puppy. It’s rewarding the crying behavior and it will encourage your puppy to keep crying in the future.
So keep ignoring your puppy when he or she is crying. Only go to your puppy during the night when it’s time for a potty break.
Puppy Potty Break During The Night
There are always exceptions of course but most young puppies will need a potty break during the night because their bladder is not developed enough yet to hold on for 6 hours or more at the time. Our Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Stippy needed nightly potty breaks until he was about 12 weeks old.
Each dog is different. Some puppies can hold their bladder for a whole night when they are 8 or 9 weeks, some need more time and can hold their bladder for the night when they are 12 weeks or more so it’s difficult to say when exactly your puppy will be able to hold his or her bladder during the night.
Of course, for potty training reasons, you don’t want your puppy to pee and/or poo inside his or her crate or in your home so it’s important to take your pup out for a potty break during the night. We did the following with our Toller puppy Stippy.
Up To 10 + Weeks Old:
The first few nights we set the alarm twice every night for a potty break with 2.5 to 3-hour intervals. We’d go to bed a bit later than usual, around 11.30 PM and set the alarm at 2 AM for the first potty break and the second one at 4.30 AM.
After a few nights you can begin to stretch the intervals by for example going to bed a bit earlier, let say 30 minutes earlier, and setting the alarm a bit later. Slowly build this up, depending on how your puppy is doing of course. If your pup still needs a potty break every 2 or 2.5 hours that’s OK. Slowly stretch the time by 15 minutes every interval. You’ll get there.
Up to 12+ Weeks Old:
Physically, your puppy should be able to hold his or her bladder for at least 4 hours so you can begin to stretch the potty break time intervals until your puppy can last the night fully at 12 weeks or older.
Again, each puppy is different. The above mentioned is a general guideline.
Important Tip: Make sure you remain silent and calm when you take your puppy out for his or her nightly potty break.
Take your puppy out of the crate calm and silently and take your pup to spot you want him or her to pee or poo. Only encourage your puppy to do his or her business and reward your pup with a calm and quiet voice saying “good potty” or “good girl/ boy” when your pup is peeing or pooing at the right spot.
When your pup is done, take your pup back to his or her crate very calmly and quietly, close the crate door and go back to bed again.
If you’d give your pup attention or make a fuss you’d be teaching your puppy that these breaks during the night are fun, a time for playing and attention so don’t do that. Keep silent and calm. Your pup needs to learn that these nightly potty breaks are for a quick bathroom break and nothing more.
Make Sure Your Puppy is Empty Before Bed
Generally, when puppies are 12 weeks or younger they need regular potty breaks during the night as explained earlier. For good potty training during the night and having your puppy sleep through the night as soon as possible you must make sure your puppy is empty before bed.
- Don’t feed your puppy a meal or treats 3 hours before bedtime.
- Prevent your puppy from drinking water 2 hours before bedtime.
Right before you go to bed, take your pup for a bathroom break.
This way, instead of getting out of bed for even more potty breaks, you should be able to keep to your potty break schedule during the night. If your puppy starts crying you will know for sure that’s only for attention and you can ignore that crying.
Make Sure Your Puppy is Tired Before Bed
You don’t want a high-energy, wide awake puppy right before bedtime. He or she won’t go to sleep if your pup is ready for playing and not for sleeping so make sure your pup is nice and tired in the evening before bedtime.
Avoid your puppy to sleep or rest in the evening. Make sure he or she is tired and ready to sleep around the time it’s bedtime.
Of course, don’t exhaust your pup in the evening. Make sure he or she gets enough playtime and exercise during the day, especially in the hour before bedtime.
Puppies also need their rest so during the day they need to take their naps as well as play, learn and socialize. In the evening though, make sure your puppy doesn’t take a nap in the hour before it’s time to go to bed or your pup will have too much energy at bedtime.
If you catch your pup falling asleep in the evening, keep him or her awake by giving your pup attention, cuddles, playing with your pup. This way, when you put your puppy in the crate to sleep it won’t take very long your little furbaby will fall asleep peacefully.
Don’t over-excite your puppy in the evening, that can keep your pup awake as well the first hour(s) of bedtime.
Our Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Puppy Stippy used to cry at night and needed nightly potty breaks. We kept ignoring the crying and we’d only go to him when it was time for is nightly scheduled potty break. And eventually, after about 5 nights it worked!
He stopped crying and we could slowly move his crate to the living room where his sleeping place was and still is. We slowly stretched our nightly potty breaks and Stippy could sleep through the night without any potty breaks when he was about 12 weeks. He was also fully house trained at 12 weeks.
From my experience, if you follow the above advice you should have your puppy, yourself and your family, sleeping peacefully again within a couple of weeks.
Good Luck and Sweet Dreams!