Introducing a new puppy to your household requires your new four-legged friend to go through some adjustment phases and this includes getting used to a bed-time routine. In many aspects, opening your heart and home to a puppy is similar to bringing a baby home from the hospital. Just like babies, puppies may whine and have trouble sleeping through the night. If you are wondering if you’re the only pet parent with dark circles around the eyes from many sleep-less nights, rest assured, you are not alone. The good news though is that there are many strategies you can resort to so you and your puppy can enjoy more hours of sleep.
Surviving the First Nights
When you first bring your puppy home, he will be going through a lot of changes. He is no longer around his mother dog and siblings and he is in a totally new place surrounded by unfamiliar people. On top of that, his routines are likely disrupted so he doesn’t know what to expect. The first few nights can therefore be tough as your puppy is likely overwhelmed and feels lonely in a new place away from familiar surroundings.
To make the transition less stressful, you can ask your breeder to provide you with a blanket or toy to give comfort during the first few nights. As your puppy settles in his new home, the smell of his mother and siblings will provide some comfort. Some breeders and dog trainers recommend using DAP diffusers, special plug-ins that release the synthetic version of dog appeasing pheromones which are known for calming dogs. During the first few nights, you may also want to keep your puppy sleeping nearby so, should he whine, you can reassure him as needed.
Making a Bed Time Routine
Puppies and dogs like routines as they feel reassured knowing what’s happening next. If you set up a routine and stick to it, your puppy will have a better time adjusting. Make it a habit to feed your puppy the last meal of the day at least three hours prior to bedtime. When puppies are young, they tend to eliminate after meal time, so this will give your puppy ample of time to empty his bowels prior to sleeping. Also, the Humane Society suggests to remove the water bowl about two and a half hours prior bedtime for the same reason. Make it a habit to send your puppy one last time to potty outside right before bedtime. With his bowels and bladder empty, you up the chances for less night-time trips.
Playing with your puppy can also help promote sleeping. Encourage your puppy to play fetch, go for an evening walk or let him play with an interactive toy that stimulates him mentally. Draining his energy is a great way to promote sleeping, but don’t do it too close to bedtime, or you may produce the opposite effect: too much excitement! When bedtime is near, if your puppy whines and won’t settle, try giving him a safe, puppy-approved toy to chew on. Many pups relax and fall soundly asleep after chewing on a toy.
Ignoring Attention- Seeking Behavior
If prior to bedtime, your puppy was fed, given an opportunity to drink, offered ample of opportunities for play and social interaction, and then, right before bedtime, he was allowed to eliminate, you know you most likely have met most of your pup’s needs. This means that once in the crate, unless your puppy is too hot or cold, chances are the whining occurs mostly because the puppy feels lonely or wants attention. It’s very easy to encourage attention-seeking behaviors in puppies when they’re confined. All you need to do is to give attention to the puppy every time he whines, and that often includes negative attention too! Indeed, according to Animal Humane Society, most attempts at punishing the whining behavior inadvertently end up actually reinforcing it because your puppy is getting attention. While it’s OK to cater to the puppy’s whining the very first nights, at some point, as the days go by, you’ll have to start ignoring the whining so the puppy gets to learn to settle on his own. The good news is that after a few minutes of whining, most puppies will settle once they start understanding that whining for attention no longer works.
Make his Sleeping Area Appealing
Last but not least, make sure the area your puppy sleeps is a happy and comfy place to be. If you are using a crate or play pen, consider creating positive associations by feeding your puppy treats inside it or placing a favorite toy. Keep the door to the crate or playpen open during the day so your puppy can go in and out as he pleases. Always praise your puppy for visiting the crate or playpen. Most importantly, make sure the sleeping area is never used for punishing the puppy or isolating him for extended periods of time. This causes the puppy’s sleeping area to assume negative connotations which will significantly shift his sleeping routine from being a looked forward to event, to one the puppy dreads.