By day, your puppy is probably a wonderful source of enjoyment. Brimming with natural curiosity and high levels of playful energy, puppies have universal appeal. But at nighttime, when your puppy begins howling, whining or barking when the rest of the house is ready for slumber, some of the amusement of dog ownership can wear thin. Not only is persistent nighttime barking annoying, it's also hard to see your new pup in such obvious distress. With a little time and a few training tips, you can ease your puppy's transition and stop nighttime barking.
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Things you need
- Crate or kennel
- Nylon bone
- Dog treats
- Blanket or old clothing
Understand the instincts that cause this behaviour. Dogs are pack animals by nature. A puppy, in particular, is poorly equipped to survive in the wild alone. Hence, puppies bark to summon help and to alert the pack to their presence. Whenever a pup is separated from others--such as at night--instinct kicks in, and often a puppy will begin barking. Knowing this, you can begin formulating ways to make nighttime separation feel less threatening.
Make bedtime pleasurable. Most experts suggest crating canines at nighttime, as this will create a sense of comfort to most dogs. In the wild, dogs chose dens for safety. Crates offer similar den-like feelings of security. When you bring your new puppy home, work to make his crate a place of safety and enjoyment. He'll feel less apt to bark if he's happy. Provide nylon bones or other high-quality chew toys to occupy your pup when he's crated at bedtime. Introduce a treat when he enters his containment area, and praise him. Putting a blanket or an old piece of clothing with your scent in his crate will also pacify him.
Keep his crate in your bedroom initially. This way, he'll feel less alone and be more likely to calmly adjust to his sleeping quarters. When your pup starts to make noise, according to author and canine expert Kathy Diamond Davis, it's very important to be consistent in your approach. Davis recommends waiting until the puppy is quiet to respond to him. If you were to rush to his aid at the first howl, you would reinforce his conduct. To quell nighttime barking, let him learn to soothe himself in the security of his crate.
If you've had your puppy for a while and usually respond right away to his bedtime barking, be extremely patient as he unlearns this behaviour. It will take time for the puppy to realise his barking, which used to bring aid and comfort, will no longer produce the same effects.
Never force your puppy into his crate. Leave the door open during the day so he can explore or retreat for naps. You can also try laying down at eye level for a few minutes when you crate your puppy at night.
Tips and warnings
- Make sure to take your puppy outside to relieve himself before bedtime. Don't give him food or water right before bed so that he'll be more likely to sleep through the night.
- If your puppy seems to be in obvious physical distress or pain, contact your veterinarian promptly.
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