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A new puppy is an exciting addition to a family. The big brown eyes, the warm puppy belly, the constant crying at night. Wait—what? Puppies, although adorable and lovable little bundles of fur, will whine. It is inevitable. You settle down to sleep after putting your puppy in his crate and begin to drift off to dreamland when suddenly, it begins. He’s screaming, whining, crying. What did you do wrong?
The first thing people get wrong when they bring a new puppy home is that they set their expectations way too high. They expect a perfectly behaved little dog who will sleep through the night. While puppies do tend to sleep up to 18 to 20 hours a day, that may not always end up being when you want them to.
So, why do puppies cry so much once the night hour hits? Assuming you got your puppy at a very young age, say 6 to 8 weeks old, which is the average age period when puppies are taken from their litters, you can expect a little distress on their part. They are used to sleeping with their brothers, sisters, and mother. These family members provide safety, warmth, comfort, and a constant, reassuring heartbeat. These are instinctual calming factors that make puppies feel safe and sleep easily through the night. Could you imagine if you were just a baby and taken away from your mother all of a sudden? You would be scared and crying for her, wouldn’t you? The same logic applies to puppies!
You should NEVER medicate a puppy to get them to sleep or stop whining! The processes listed here to stop whining are completely SAFE and NATURAL. No matter how annoying you find it, if you cannot deal with nightly crying, DO NOT GET A PUPPY! Removing a puppy from his mother and litter is a traumatic experience for him and can cause him a lot of distress. Be empathetic with your puppy and understand that this will not last forever. If you can get through the first couple of nights, it will be so worth it to have this wonderful new family member!
Your Old T-Shirt
Your puppy will be spending A LOT of time with you from day one. Your smell will be one of the main fragrances he associates with safety from this point on. You become his protector and caretaker. He could be experiencing separation anxiety from being separated from his litter and from you when he is placed in his crate. To remedy this, place a well-worn t-shirt in the crate with him. Try to use one that you don't wear anymore, as it will get covered with puppy smell, hair, and possibly poop. This will make him feel that you are closer than you really are. Since he can’t sleep next to you, at least he will be able to smell you. Dogs really are that simple to please. They just want to be near their pack leader!
A Blanket that Smells Like Mom
If at all possible, get a blanket from your breeder that smells like the puppy’s mother. Her scent will be familiar and comforting to your new fur baby and he won't feel so far from home. This works the same as the T-shirt method, although I recommend this one more, as your puppy will feel close to his mother again.
Aromatherapy Pillows and Blankets
NOTE: Although lavender and chamomile are not toxic to dogs, your puppy could be allergic to these scents/oils/ ingredients. Get your pup allergy tested by his vet before exposing him to this method.
If you are open to dropping a little cash on something to help your puppy relax, aromatherapy is a great way to help a pup chill out. Consider investing in an aromatherapy pillow or blanket infused with lavender oil and chamomile.
In my experiences, lavender and chamomile have been the most effective natural ingredients in helping my dogs relax. You can also buy dog-safe aromatherapy sprays if you’d like to spritz it over their blankets or bed as a cheaper option.
If you opt for the pillows, be cautious and be sure to monitor your pups when they are using these pillows. Most of these pillows contain some kind of filler that is infused with the oils. Be sure to check routinely that your pup has not torn the pillow open and ingested any of the fillers. If he has, contact your veterinarian right away.
Buy a classic, non-electric clock and place it near your puppy’s crate or even under his bed. The ticking simulates the heartbeat of his mother and will give him something to focus on. Just as counting sheep helps us to sleep, the rhythmic ticking is soothing to a puppy and will help him focus on just that sound instead of all the ruckus around him. For added comfort, consider placing a dog-safe or low heat heating pad beneath a blanket for him to lay on. Every mammal loves a nice, warm bed.
Find a free, eight hour long track of soothing classical music to play for your pup. This doesn’t work on every dog, but it is worth a shot for those precious hours of sleep. There are even tracks on YouTube that are specifically targeted to be played for dogs with anxiety.
A Fluffy Friend
My mother-in-law swears by this one. Buy your puppy a stuffed animal, one without any choking hazards, and place it in his crate to sleep with. It helps if you can make the stuffed toy smell like his mother or like yourself for added comfort. This will help the puppy feel like he has a companion and will give him something to snuggle up to. We all love to share our bed with our loved ones and cuddle up to them. It’s mammalian instinct!
The 'Snuggle Puppy'
This one is quite interesting, as it has everything you need to comfort your puppy built in. This toy has a small insertable heart with a real-feel heartbeat that reminds your puppy of mommy’s heartbeat. There is also a microwave-safe heating pad insert that will warm your puppy safely and comfortably. Another great feature of The Snuggle Puppy is that there are no choking hazards, so it is completely safe for your pup to chew on when he’s feeling toothy.
This option is great because it eliminates the hassle of gathering a ton of supplies. It has four comforting methods all built into one cute little toy for only $40 USD!
Stuffed Kong or Bone
The smell of a nice meat-stuffed bone or chew toy is enough to get any puppy to be quiet—they’ll be too busy licking! Invest in a Kong or any other hollowed out puppy-proof chew toy and fill it with softened food or peanut butter. You can also use a hollow dog-safe bone and fill it with the same ingredients. This method will keep your puppy so busy licking and chewing that he will forget that he was upset in the first place.
There are also plenty of Kong toys to choose from and substitutes if you want to save some cash.
Use peanut butter, softened, and then frozen dog food or treats, or even cheese to fill your chew toy of choice. Don't bother with the pre-packaged Kong brand filler. That stuff is basically junk food for dogs and will fatten them up quick, which is a big health no-no for all dogs! It's overpriced anyway!
Your puppy may have reserves of energy that need to be expended. This is a common reason why they don’t want to settle down at night. Puppies are similar to human children in the way that they pull excess energy out of thin air. Make sure that you play with him, walk him, and rough house with him enough to get all that crazy puppy energy out during the day. Just don’t get him too riled up before bed, though.
Shortly before bed time, be sure to calm him down, rub him, and use the calming methods above to get him ready for bedtime.
Puppies are thinkers and players. They LOVE games. While much of their energy can be expended by going on walks, they also need mental stimulation to feel satisfied. Play games like hiding treats, doggy puzzles, and other simple mental exercises to prevent your pup from getting bored. Remember: a tired dog is a happy dog!
You're all set!
I hope you found this list helpful in helping you and your new pup find happiness and restfulness in his first week home!
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