Don’t tear your hair out — have a plan instead. Here are some suggestions to help.
On a scale of 0 to 10, how hard is raising a new puppy? Honestly — when 10 is “What have we done?” there are times when most people will score their new puppy at an 11.
My heart goes out to Petful member Jenny, who recently left a message on our community forum about this topic. The good news is that things do get easier, and hard work early pays off later. As so many clients say to me, “It’s like having a new baby” — and they’re right.
So for all those people out there with a new puppy who are waking up (or not getting to sleep in the first place) to the reality of the patter of tiny paws, here are my thoughts on what to do when things go wrong at night.
Crying for Attention
Jenny’s cry for help concerned her 10-week-old Labrador, Stanley. He’d go to bed at 10 p.m. and sleep till 5 a.m., when he’d scream — and wouldn’t stop. Even after a toilet break, he refused to settle and would cry…and cry and cry.
Jenny was using a crate and doing the right thing by ignoring him and not opening the door while he was crying. But he cried for 4 hours straight (with a brief comfort break). Now, she feels he can’t be left, and having a puppy is no longer a joy.
Let’s see what we can do to help.
Stanley’s mom is crate training correctly, but let’s whizz through a few basics:
Place the crate where the dog can see what’s going on but rest peacefully, such as the corner of a living room.
In the crate have a comfy bed, chew toy and bowl of water.
Partially cover the crate to make it cave-like.
Seed the crate with kibble or treats so the pup thinks it’s an ace place.
Never use the crate for punishment.
Be Aware of “Extinction Burst” Behavior
You must ignore a crying puppy — or you end up rewarding the bad behavior. Then he learns:
Crying + Mom gives me attention = Crying works to get Mom’s attention
Then, when you start to correct his crying by ignoring him, he’ll think you haven’t heard and cries harder.
When a puppy cries and the problem gets worse, this is an “extinction burst.” Unfortunately for you, the puppy will put a lot of effort in and will (a) cry very loudly or (b) keep the performance up for several days.
Message: Don’t be discouraged, and keep going.
It’s this puppy’s first night in his new home — and he won’t let anyone sleep until hesleeps.
6 Tips for Teaching a Puppy to Settle
Sweet dreams, everyone!
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