How to Train Your Dog to Not Cry at Night

Medium
2-4 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Ever looked at a litter of puppies with their mom, sleeping in a giant pile, all together? So cute, right? Now you take your new puppy home and put him a bed or crate by himself, expecting him to sleep alone, through the night, quietly. Not going to happen!  

Sometimes having a puppy is just like bringing home a human baby--a lot of sleepless nights while everyone adjusts to the new environment. Because dogs are pack animals, their natural inclination is to sleep with others, in close contact, for safety and comfort. A young dog or puppy is especially geared to sleep closely in a group for safety, and a rescue dog or an anxious or insecure dog that has come from an abusive situation or a situation where they were deprived, may be nervous and anxious and more apt to cry when separated from their caregivers, such as at night when everyone is sleeping. 

Having a dog cry at night and keep you awake is not going to work in the long term, so owners need to find ways to train their dogs to sleep quietly at night in their own space, and for the dog to be comfortable with the arrangement, allowing dog owners to get a good night sleep.

Defining Tasks

There are several methods you can use to help your dog learn not to cry at night and to be comfortable sleeping by himself, quietly. However, before working on stopping your dog from crying at night you will need to take some basic steps to ensure his needs are met and he is not crying for a genuine reason. 

Make sure your dog is well fed, has water, is well exercised, and has had lots of attention throughout the day, including affection and play. A dog that has had lots of activity and had his needs met is more likely to have a restful night than one that is full of energy or bored. Ensure your dog has had a chance to go outside to do his business before bed. And remember, a puppy may cry in the middle of the night when they wake because they legitimately have to go to the bathroom. Puppies do not have large bladders, and it is not uncommon to have to let a young dog out in the middle of the night for a pee break. You should work this into your plans if necessary.

Getting Started

Most owners that want their dogs to sleep separately from them provide their dogs with a bed or crate to sleep in. The crate should be comfortable, with good, clean bedding, and a favorite blanket or toy for comfort. Your dog's bed/crate should be in a warm location so your dog does not wake up from cold. Crates or beds should be the appropriate size for the dog, too big and the dog will not feel secure, too small and they will not be comfortable. You may need to be prepared for a few sleepless nights at first, as you will need to ignore and not respond to your dog's crying. If you do, you will only reinforce the behavior. This might call for a set of ear plugs! 

There are several methods you can use to help your dog become comfortable and learn to sleep by himself without crying for attention at night. These methods may be used in combination to help your dog assimilate to their nighttime routine quicker.

The Ignore Crying Method

ribbon-method-2
Most Recommended
6 Votes
Step
1
Prepare
If you respond in any way to your dog's crying, even negatively, it will only reinforce his bid for attention. Be prepared to ignore your dog's crying at night. You may need to move your dog and his crate to another part of the house where you cannot hear him or use earplugs.
Step
2
Meet needs
Teach your dog to be comfortable a crate. After letting your dog out for a bathroom break, have him go to his crate for bed. Do not carry him or drag him to his crate, which creates a negative association. Instead, reward him for going to his crate with a treat or a chew toy, and provide him praise and affection in his crate.
Step
3
Ignore crying
Leave your dog in his crate and go to bed. When your dog cries, do not yell at him or respond in any way to his crying. Ensure that the entire household is on board.
Step
4
Respond to quiet
If you need to let a puppy out in the middle of the night for a bathroom break, choose a time when he is quiet, not when he is crying, to let him out for a pee. After he has relieved himself, go back to his crate and provide another reward, attention, and praise. Return to bed.
Step
5
Repeat
In the morning, do not let your dog out of his crate until he is quiet. If he is crying, wait until he stops for a moment before releasing him. Repeat this procedure for several nights. Eventually, your dog will learn that crying does not result in your attention or release from the crate.
Recommend training method?

The Crate Training Method

ribbon-method-1
Effective
7 Votes
Step
1
Set up crate
Set up a crate with comfortable bedding, and a toy or chew bone. You can introduce your dog to the crate at first by feeding him in the crate, to create a positive association.
Step
2
Introduce crate
Put your dog in the crate for a short period of time, 10-15 minutes. Have the dog approach the crate himself to get a reward, do not carry or lead him there. Stay with your dog while he is in the crate, sit outside the crate or remain in the room. If he is quiet, let him out. If he starts crying, wait until there is a pause in crying, then let him out.
Step
3
Practice quiet in crate
Repeat the procedure several times a day, until your dog happily goes into his crate for short periods of time with you present.
Step
4
Increase time and distance
Gradually increase the length of time your dog remains in the crate, and the distance you are from the crate, moving farther away, leaving the room, then leaving the house, for short periods of time. Gradually increase to longer periods of time.
Step
5
Reinforce quiet
Only let your dog out of the crate when he is quiet and calm. If your dog starts crying, sit near the crate and talk to him, but do not let him out until he stops crying. This teaches your dog to gradually become used to being alone, in a safe place, and that calm quiet behavior with no crying will result in the opportunity to be with you.
Recommend training method?

The Alternative Comfort Method

ribbon-method-3
Least Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
Prepare sleeping place
You can make your dog learn to accept sleeping in his crate or designated sleep area without crying by making it more attractive to him, much like when he was with his mom and litter mates.
Step
2
Provide warmth
You can provide a heat source, like a heated water bottle, but ensure it is not too hot and that it is not something your dog can chew on and puncture.
Step
3
Provide company
You can provide the company of another pet--another older dog or even a cat--or consider adopting two puppies at a time. Letting your dog sleep with the company of another pet may settle him and ease him into sleeping without his caregiver at night. Another option is to provide similar sized stuffed animals that resemble litter mates, but be careful they do not have loose buttons or parts that your young dog can chew off and choke on.
Step
4
Provide sound
Use an old fashioned clock that ticks wrapped in a blanket in your puppy's bed. Some dogs are lulled to sleep by the rhythmic sound of a clock that resembles their mom's heartbeat. Be sure the dog can not chew on the clock and injure himself.
Step
5
Provide activity
Provide a rawhide chew bone, or puzzle feeder with food to keep your dog entertained while he goes off to sleep.
Step
6
Getting comfortable
All of these steps can help your dog to become acclimated to their sleeping place, feel safe, and teach them there is no need to cry at night.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Laurie Haggart

Published: 11/06/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Chase
Pomsky
7 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Chase
Pomsky
7 Months

How to get home to stop crying at night? How to get him to potty outside?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alice, For potty training, I recommend following the Crate Training method and Tethering method from the article I have linked below. Since pup is older I would adjust the times to take pup outside every 3 hours, taking pup back outside every 1-1.5 hours if pup doesn't go potty the first time. When you are away at work, at pup's age they should be able to hold it for 5-7 hours, less at first, as long as pup is in a properly set up crate and not having accidents in the crate. Crate Training method and Tethering method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside For most puppies I would start by working on the Surprise method from the article I have linked below during the day, and ignore the barking at night. If pup is really persistent and not improving at all by a week (expect 2-4 weeks until no barking at all but you should see decrease after a week), then I would also correct. If corrections are needed, start by working on teaching the Quiet command during the day using the Quiet method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, during the day practice the Surprise method from the article linked below. Whenever pup stays quiet in the crate for 5 minutes, sprinkle some treats into the crate without opening it, then leave the room again. As he improves, only give the treats every 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 1.5 hour, 2, hour, 3 hour. Practice crating him during the day for 1-3 hours each day that you can. If you are home during the day, have lots of 30 minute - 1 hour long sessions with breaks between to practice this, to help pup learn sooner. Whenever he cries in the crate, tell him "Quiet". If he gets quiet - Great! Sprinkle treats in after five minutes if he stays quiet. If he continues barking or stops and starts again, spray a quick puff of air from a pet convincer at his side through the crate while calmly saying "Ah Ah", then leave again. Only use unscented air canisters, DON'T use citronella! And avoid spraying in the face. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Repeat the rewards when quiet and the corrections whenever he cries. Practice for a few days until he is doing well during the day. You can either continue what you are currently doing at night during this process or go ahead and jump into what I explain below for night time training - waiting until the day is good before starting the night or starting the night and day both at the same time. When he cries at night (in the crate - where he needs to be sleeping for now) before it has been 7 hours (so you know it's not a potty issue), tell him Quiet, and correct with the pet convincer if he doesn't become quiet and stay quiet. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Poli
French Mastiff
2 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Poli
French Mastiff
2 Months

Constant whining at night and has a lot of energy which is hard to calm him down

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Melissa, At 8 weeks of age I am guessing that you recently brought pup home? If that's the case, then know that what you are experiencing is completely normal. Pup is getting used to sleeping alone and that's an adjustment. Usually the first five days are the worst. It typically takes about two weeks for most pups to adjust completely; however, you can help that adjustment be as smooth as possible by doing the following. 1. When pup cries but doesn't have to go potty (like after you return them to the crate when they just went potty outside) be consistent about ignoring the crying until they go back to sleep. The more consistent you are the quicker the overall process tends to take even if it's hard to do for the first couple weeks. 2. When pup does truly need to go potty (when it's been at least 2 hours since pup last peed), take pup to go potty outside on a leash to keep pup focused and things calmer. Don't give treats, food, play, or much attention during these trips - boring and sleepy is the goal, then right back to bed after. This helps pup learn to only wake when they truly need to go potty and be able to put themselves back to sleep - helping them start sleeping longer stretches sooner and not ask to go out unless they actually need to potty. Pup will generally need 1-2 potty trips at night even after trained for a couple months though due to a small bladder. 3. Wait until pup asks to go potty by crying in the crate at night before you take them - opposed to setting an alarm clock, unless pup is having accidents in the crate and not asking to go out. This gives pup the chance to learn to start falling back to sleep when they wake in light sleep if they don't really need to go potty, instead of being woken up all the way when they could have held it a bit longer. 4. Practice the Surprise method from the article I have linked below to help pup get used to crate time during the day too - so that there is less crying at night due to pup adjusting to being alone. Surprise method - only give treats during daytime practice, not at night though: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Joy
Siberian Husky
1 Year
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Joy
Siberian Husky
1 Year

Its 2:30AM and he wont stop wailing. He does this very often, he is very very verbal. We very recently got him so it may just be the new environment. How do i get him to stop? Should i not give him attention or should i comfort him? He’s a very energetic and active dog, hes always exploring. He sleeps in a crate at night so he doesn't knock something over or get into trouble while we’re asleep. Could the crate be the issue? Im just not sure. Thank you for your time! have a wonderful day

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Vi Almonte, I do encourage the use of a crate - for a new young dog, the crate is a good way to keep pup safe. Pup has probably never been exposed to a crate before, so you will just need to crate train pup. This process can take a couple of weeks, and that's normal. The more consistent you can be with the training though the sooner pup should adjust to the crate. First, work on teaching the Quiet command during the day using the Quiet method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, during the day practice the Surprise method from the article linked below. Whenever pup stays quiet in the crate for 5 minutes, sprinkle some treats into the crate without opening it, then leave the room again. As he improves, only give the treats every 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 1.5 hour, 2, hour, 3 hour. Practice crating him during the day for 1-3 hours each day that you can. If you are home during the day, have lots of 30 minute - 1 hour long sessions with breaks between to practice this, to help pup learn sooner. For some dogs, the Surprise method and Quiet command and a couple of weeks of practice are all that's needed. If pup isn't improving at all after a week, or isn't stopping the crying long enough to be able to reward at some point, then I would also use an interrupter in combination with the Surprise method and rewards for quietness. Whenever he cries in the crate, tell him "Quiet". If he gets quiet - Great! Sprinkle treats in after five minutes if he stays quiet. If he continues barking or stops and starts again, spray a quick puff of air from a pet convincer at his side through the crate while calmly saying "Ah Ah", then leave again. Only use unscented air canisters, DON'T use citronella! And avoid spraying in the face. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Repeat the rewards when quiet and the corrections whenever he cries. At night you will only calmly interrupt the barking then go back to bed each time, or ignore the crying, as long as pup is healthy and it's been less than 7 hours since pup last went potty when they are crying. Don't comfort, let pup out, or give attention to pup if pup is otherwise safe and alright - pup needs the opportunity to learn to calm back down. The daytime practice with treats is extremely important, to help pup realize they are safe in the crate even if they want to be out. They can rest without being afraid of it, even if they would rather do something else out of the crate. Check out the video I have linked below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3j882MAYDU If pup also barks while crated when you leave the home, then once pup is doing well with you in the house in another room, use a camera to spy on pup from outside. Start going outside where pup can't see or hear you. When pup barks, return to quietly correct then go back outside again. When pup gets quiet and stays quiet, initially for a couple of minutes, gradually working up to longer periods, then return to sprinkle in treats then leave again. After 30 minutes of practice, gradually working up to three hours, return when pup is quiet, ignore pup in the crate for 10 minutes until they are waiting calmly while go about your business in the home (correct if pup gets really loud and isn't settling down on their own). When pup is being patient and quiet in the crate, let pup out calmly. If pup tries to rush the door, close it again, making pup wait. Practice this until pup is waiting inside with the crate door open. At that point, happily tell pup "Okay" and let them come out calmly. You want to set that expectation of staying calm as they exit, so they don't get into the habit of getting anxious and excited in anticipation of being let out. As pup improves when you are outside, work that time up until you have worked up to you being outside for three hours and pup staying quiet the whole time. At that point, you can give pup a dog food stuffed chew toy in the crate. They will probably enjoy it once they are calm enough to focus on that for entertainment. Reward pup for the behavior you want them to do more of, but not behavior you want to decrease. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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buddy
Morkie
4 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
buddy
Morkie
4 Months

hi, so the problem is that my dog buddy doesn't sleep the whole night, he sleeps in my room, but he's wakes me up around 4-5 times every night.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Laura, First, if pup isn't sleeping in a crate, that's the first thing that needs to happen here. Crating at night and when you are gone off until pup is an adult can lead to years of pup not needing the confinement later because of the good habits you have taught and bad ones the crate has prevented used properly. 1. When pup cries but doesn't have to go potty (like after you return them to the crate when they just went potty outside) be consistent about ignoring the crying until they go back to sleep. The more consistent you are the quicker the overall process tends to take even if it's hard to do for the first couple weeks. At this age pup will need to go potty as often as every 4-5 hours at night, but if pup is asking before it's been that long you can often ignore the crying as long as pup is crated, to help teach pup to go back to sleep and not wake you for attention or play. 2. When pup does truly need to go potty (when it's been at least 3-4 hours since pup last peed), take pup to go potty outside on a leash to keep pup focused and things calmer. Don't give treats, food, play, or much attention during these trips - boring and sleepy is the goal, then right back to bed after. This helps pup learn to only wake when they truly need to go potty and be able to put themselves back to sleep - helping them start sleeping longer stretches sooner and not ask to go out unless they actually need to potty. Pup will generally need 1-2 potty trips at night even after trained for a couple months though due to a small bladder. By this age pup shouldn't need 5 potty trips at night though - that sounds like pup wanting attention at night. If not crated, pup will likely still have an accident though, the crate will help pup be motivated to hold it longer and learn to settle back to sleep when they wake if their bladder isn't full yet. 3. Wait until pup asks to go potty by crying in the crate at night before you take them - opposed to setting an alarm clock, unless pup is having accidents in the crate and not asking to go out. This gives pup the chance to learn to start falling back to sleep when they wake in light sleep if they don't really need to go potty, instead of being woken up all the way when they could have held it a bit longer. 4. Practice the Surprise method from the article I have linked below to help pup get used to crate time during the day too - so that there is less crying at night due to pup adjusting to being alone. Surprise method - only give treats during daytime practice, not at night though: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Piku
Pug
3 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Piku
Pug
3 Months

1. She keeps bitting , very sharp teeth as she is just teething:

2. She wont sleep until and unless u put her on the bed . She keeps crying .

3. Not familiarising with pee and potty area

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Priyanka, Check out the article linked below. Starting today, use the "Bite Inhibition" method. BUT at the same time, begin teaching "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method. As soon as pup is good as the Leave It game, start telling pup to "Leave It" when she attempts to bite or is tempted to bite. Reward pup if she makes a good choice. If she disobeys your leave it command, use the Out command from the second article linked below to make her leave the area as a consequence. The order or all of this is very important - the Bite Inhibition method can be used for the next couple of weeks while pup is learning leave it, but leave it will teach pup to stop the biting entirely. The Out method teaches pup that you mean what you say without being overly harsh - but because you have taught pup to leave it first, pup clearly understands that you are not just playing (which is what pup probably thinks most of the time right now), so it is more effective. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the area, is also a good command for you to use if pup bites the kids. Check out the section on Using Out to Deal with Pushy Behavior for how to calmly enforce that command once it's taught. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Another important part of this is puppy learning bite inhibition. Puppies have to learn while young how to control the pressure of their mouths - this is typically done through play with other puppies. See if there is a puppy class in your area that comes well recommended and has time for moderated off-leash puppy play. If you can't join a class, look for a free puppy play group, or recruit some friends with puppies to come over if you can and create your own group. You are looking for puppies under 6 months of age - since young puppies play differently than adult dogs. Right now, an outside class may be best in a fenced area, or letting friends' pups play in someone's fence outside. Moderate the puppies' play and whenever one pup seems overwhelmed or they are all getting too excited, interrupt their play, let everyone calm down, then let the most timid pup go first to see if they still want to play - if they do, then you can let the other puppies go too when they are waiting for permission. Finding a good puppy class - no class will be ideal but here's what to shoot for: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/puppy-classes-when-to-start/ When pup gets especially wound up, she probably needs a nap too. At this age puppies will sometimes get really hyper when they are overtired or haven't had any mental stimulation through something like training. When you spot that and think pup could be tired, place pup in their crate or an exercise pen with a food stuffed Kong for a bit to help her calm down and rest. Practicing regular obedience commands or having pup earn what they get by performing commands like Sit and Down before feeding, petting, tossing a toy, opening the door for a walk, ect... can also help stimulate pup mentally to increase calmness and wear them out. Commands that practice focus, self-control, and learning something a bit new or harder than before can all tire out puppies. Finally, check out the PDF e-book downloads found on this website, written by one of the founders of the association of professional dog trainers, and a pioneer in starting puppy kindergarten classes in the USA. Click on the pictures of the puppies to download the PDF books: https://www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads/ Know that mouthiness at this age is completely normal. It's not fun but it is normal for it to take some time for a puppy to learn self-control well enough to stop. Try not to get discouraged if you don't see instant progress, any progress and moving in the right direction in this area is good, so keep working at it. 1. When pup cries but doesn't have to go potty (like after you return them to the crate when they just went potty outside) be consistent about ignoring the crying until they go back to sleep. The more consistent you are the quicker the overall process tends to take even if it's hard to do for the first couple weeks. 2. When pup does truly need to go potty (when it's been at least 2 hours since pup last peed), take pup to go potty outside on a leash to keep pup focused and things calmer. Don't give treats, food, play, or much attention during these trips - boring and sleepy is the goal, then right back to bed after. This helps pup learn to only wake when they truly need to go potty and be able to put themselves back to sleep - helping them start sleeping longer stretches sooner and not ask to go out unless they actually need to potty. Pup will generally need 1-2 potty trips at night even after trained for a couple months though due to a small bladder. 3. Wait until pup asks to go potty by crying in the crate at night before you take them - opposed to setting an alarm clock, unless pup is having accidents in the crate and not asking to go out. This gives pup the chance to learn to start falling back to sleep when they wake in light sleep if they don't really need to go potty, instead of being woken up all the way when they could have held it a bit longer. 4. Practice the Surprise method from the article I have linked below to help pup get used to crate time during the day too - so that there is less crying at night due to pup adjusting to being alone. Surprise method - only give treats during daytime practice, not at night though: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate For potty training, check out the crate training method or a combination of the crate training method and tethering method from the article I have linked below. Spending time just sitting outside playing or reading a book quietly with pup for an hour as many days as you can, can also help pup get used to the outside world too, if pup is struggling to go potty out there due to nervousness. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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