No matter how many times you’ve cared for an adult dog, no one can prepare you for what the first few nights with your puppy are like. While puppies bring happiness and fun to your life, the nighttime can be difficult. Not all puppies will cry at night, but a good majority of them will.
Of course, this isn’t going to last the entirety of your time with your new pup, but don’t be surprised when the first few nights are spent listening to your pup whine from the crate. Puppies crying during the night is to be expected (for a while). It can be a stressful transition for a new pup, so we must show them lots of grace and patience.
Keep reading to learn more about the common reasons why your puppy might be crying and ways you can help them.
Why Do Puppies Cry at Night?
When you bring your pup home, most experts recommend beginning crate training overnight. This is so you can help build up your pup’s confidence and create a safe space within their crate. The goal is to get your puppy to enjoy crate time, but that can be quite the challenge.
We love our dogs — so much. Sometimes, hearing your pup cry through the night can feel more distressing for you than for the puppy. In many ways, your pup crying is their way of trying to communicate with you. It’s difficult to know what your puppy needs, but there are a few common causes for your puppy to cry at night.
1. They Need To Use the Bathroom
Puppies have small bladders and often need to use the bathroom every few hours. This means that we will need to wake up in the middle of the night to take our pups outside — sometimes, their cries signify to you that they need to use the bathroom.
In general, dogs try to avoid peeing in their crate. As such, puppies tend to cry out so that we can help escort them outside for a midnight bathroom break. If they know they have to go but don’t want to use their crate, they will try to vocalize their need to you, no matter what time it is.
2. They Are Hungry or Thirsty
Another reason that your puppy is crying is that they are hungry or need water. Puppies might have a unique feeding schedule that isn’t as cut-and-dry as their adult canine peers’ twice-a-day dining arrangements.
Meal schedules tend to depend on the breed size in question. For example, until three months old, young toy breeds will need more meals (around four to six) than large breed puppies (who eat three to four meals).
Younger puppies might nibble on their food continuously throughout the day whenever their energy fluctuates, which means a late-night snack is quite possible. Even the slightest drink of water before bed could result in the need to pee only a few hours later.
3. They Might Be Scared or Nervous
Especially during the first few nights of having your puppy at home with you, they might cry due to nerves. It’s the first time they have been away from their mom and littermates, which can result in some loneliness. Plus, if they know you are nearby, they might think that crying will bring your attention to them (which we all know to be true).
Up until now, your puppy has always had a littermate nearby to play with or snuggle up with. And you could let your puppy sleep in your bed with you if you so choose to, but crate training really does help to build up their confidence! If you ever want to have a night to yourself in bed, crate training will come in clutch.
4. They May Not Be Feeling Well
Another reason for a crying pup could be that they are not feeling well. Puppies can get sick or have upset stomachs, especially if they are nervous or changing foods and routines. It might not be more serious than an upset stomach, but if your puppy is in pain or discomfort, it might be something worth bringing up with their vet.
Puppies are prone to getting sick, especially before they are able to complete all of their vaccinations. They are susceptible to intestinal worms, viruses, vomiting and diarrhea, and growing pains, all of which might keep your pup up at night in pain. In this case, it’s best to contact their veterinarian as soon as their office is open.
If you are worried in the middle of the night and seeking answers, you can also sign-up with AskVet and consult with one of our Certified Pet Lifestyle Coaches (CPLC)™.
Is Ignoring My Pup Recommended?
You might have heard that ignoring your puppy’s cries is the best way to help them get over whatever issue they are having. But that’s not always the case. What if your pup needs to use the bathroom? Or could they use a little bit of water? You want to build up their confidence, not teach them that you aren’t there to be helpful.
Of course, once you make sure all of their needs are met, closing your eyes and attempting to sleep might be the best course of action. It is true that they will tire themselves out, but ensuring they aren’t in distress before moving on can strengthen your bond and communication with each other.
How Can You Help a Crying Puppy
Finding ways to help comfort your dog in the crate and through the night will reduce the crying. Many methods could be used to crate train, and help soothe your puppy through the night, but not all will work for your dog. Every dog is unique, and you have to learn what brings them comfort so that you can help build their confidence.
You might realize your dog thrives when laying on blankets and pillows, so you add in some extra comfy cushioning to help make a little nest. Whatever your pup needs, you will likely be on top of it. You’re a pet parent now, and that means anything goes for your baby!
Take Them Outside for a Potty Break
The first thing to try if your puppy is crying in the middle of the night is to take them outside for a bathroom break. It’s very likely that your pup needs to use the bathroom. They can only hold so much in their bladders, so a few trips every night is to be expected.
Offer Them a Comfort Toy
Some puppies really bond with a soft plush toy. Whether it’s because it simulates having one of their littermates with them or if it’s comfortable, having a comfort toy can soothe your pup at bedtime.
Over time, this toy will pick up your dog’s smell which can bring an additional level of comfort to your dog. You can try bringing this toy around when your pup settles for naps throughout the day and have the toy snuggle up against them.
Put a Piece of Your Clothing in the Crate
Your puppy will bond with you almost immediately. As soon as they recognize that you are the one providing food, water, love, play, and snuggles, you will become a source of comfort. If they can’t have you every night to be with, the next best thing is a piece of clothing that has your scent on it: Extra points if it’s fluffy and soft!
Your scent in their crate can bring a sense of peace to your pup and encourage them to fall asleep. Sometimes their cries signify that they want your attention, but in the middle of the night, that’s not always what you are willing to give. But a piece of clothing from your closet or something you’ve recently worn will do the trick!
Answers for the Whole Family
If you are looking for answers or suggestions on how to help this issue, consider signing up with AskVet so you can ask any question you might have.
AskVet’s Certified Pet Lifestyle Coaches™ are here to help guide you through puppyhood, coming up with behavior goals and helping to monitor any health changes in your pup. Being a new puppy parent is hard work, and not everyone gets that. Once you have a puppy, your whole life becomes dedicated to giving them whatever it is they need, and hearing them cry can hurt your heart.
When you sign up for AskVet, you can chat with a veterinarian or CPLC™ 24/7 — no wait time needed. Whether you have a question about your puppy’s first tooth falling out or your goldfish looking a tad tired, AskVet has the experts with the answers.