Our puppies, like babies, can't speak to us to share their feelings. Instead, they whine and cry to communicate their needs and feelings, which can be a little wearing. Uncover the reasons behind your puppy's cries so that you can get through that difficult first night with puppy.
A new puppy is softly cuddly, accidentally hilarious, and razor-sharp toothed - ample servings of both sweet and sassy wrapped into one lovable furball.
One less-than-fun aspect of new puppy ownership is the often excessive noise of your puppy whining at night, especially for the first few days and weeks.
We can't exactly blame the puppy for being upset - they're ripped from the family they've known for the first twelve weeks of their life and put into the arms of a complete stranger.
They'll grow to love you more than life itself, but they don't know it yet.
You'll hear puppies whimpering for a slew of reasons with one common thread - they're telling you they need something.
Uncover the reasons why your puppy is crying and learn precisely how much to expect.
The first night at home will be a little bumpy, but you can use our game-changing tips to prepare for your puppy's first night to keep them as comfortable as possible as they make this huge adjustment.
Is it Normal For Puppies to Cry?
Puppies are baby mammals. They share a similarly helpful, evolutionary trait with other baby mammals - they make sad, distressing noises to get their caretakers to meet their needs and alert them when they're in danger.
So yes, it's absolutely normal for puppies to cry, and if a puppy doesn't make any noise at all, it may be a signal of an underlying issue.
Why Do Puppies Cry?
Puppies are freshly-born and haven't learned how to navigate the world yet - they're looking through brand-new eyes, which is an exciting but often scary experience.
Puppies need to cry more often when they're young out of fear. And that's totally normal.
A well-adjusted dog will cry less as they grow older and begin to understand what's happening around them.
With dogs, much like us, things don't feel as distressing when you understand them.
Here are a few essential and non-essential reasons your puppy may be looking at you with "those eyes" and whimpering:
- Fear of new situations and experiences
- Mourning the loss of their mother and littermates
- Hunger, bathroom needs, and thirst
*Important Note: If a dog's fears don't subside and instead grow stronger as they age, your dog may have an anxiety or unhealthy attachment issue that you can address with the help of a professional trainer.
Should I Ignore My Puppy Crying?
A sad-looking puppy can be pretty hard to resist. There are certain basic puppy needs that any good dog owner must meet - food, shelter, food, water, and connection.
That said, for the most part, it's perfectly okay to ignore your puppy's crying. Let's take a look at the two types of crying your new puppy may exhibit.
For the first few days, treat your pup with a little extra care and err toward giving them more attention rather than less.
As a new owner, this dog thinks you're an absolute stranger - you can give some support and love without coddling so that your pup feels safe in this new, strange place.
After a few days, you can slowly teach your dog to self-soothe and "cry it out" as your bond grows.
Natural crying occurs when a puppy is legitimately frightened, upset, or needs food, water, or a bathroom break. When a dog lives in its pack, it doesn't have unmet needs - its mother is always accessible for feeding, they can pee and poop whenever and wherever they need, and they can go to their littermates and mother for comfort at all times.
When we adopt a puppy to live with us, they'll inevitably feel that some of these needs aren't being met with this new and unfamiliar lifestyle.
Learned crying is a behavioral change a pup exhibits to manipulate its owners. Puppies quickly realize that with an overly-responsive owner, they'll get the attention they crave the minute they call.
The positive results they get from crying encourage them to cry, even more, creating a stressful situation for you very quickly.
How to Deal with Natural and Learned Crying
These tools work to help your puppy outgrow their whiny ways - which will naturally happen as they age and mature, too.
- Ignoring the crying. To prevent learned crying, ignore your puppy until it calms down. If you think the pup has a fundamental need for crying, wait until it stops crying. Then, feed it, give it water, and take it out for a bathroom break. The pup will quickly realize that its needs get met when they are well-behaved, not whiny.
- Pay attention. Pay attention and watch for patterns in the tone of your pup's whines and behaviors; you'll learn to distinguish between real needs and learned crying behaviors. Practice paying attention while pretending to ignore the cries to avoid encouraging learned crying behaviors.
- Look into fears. If your puppy seems unreasonably afraid of something, consider working on specific training techniques at home, or head to a professional dog trainer to learn how to dismantle these fears.
- Give them lots of stimulation. Provide them with toys, a comfortable bed, and ample exercise. If a dog is understimulated, their extra energy often comes out in other forms, like anxiety and stress. Keep your dog happy and tired for less whining throughout the day and night.
Puppy’s First Night At Home: How to Make Puppies Stop Whining
Your puppy's first night is bound to be a little bumpy for both of you.
Don't be surprised if your doggo cries a lot in the first few evenings. This behavior is entirely natural and normal, as your dog cries out for its pack to find him.
This behavior will let up eventually; we promise. Meanwhile, do a few things to keep the whining, crying, and whimpering to a minimum. It's the only way that you, your pup, and your neighbors can all get a bit of shut-eye.
Keep Them Up Late
Puppies love to sleep the day away, broken up by big but short-lived bursts of energy.
While puppy naps are regular and natural behavior, try to wake up your dog in the evening so that they aren't wide awake and wound up once bedtime rolls around.
Cut Off Their Water
Puppies have small and unreliable bladders and tummies. You can't leave them for more than 5 to 6 hours without the need to urinate.
Extend your sleep time and avoid any nighttime accidents by taking away your dog's water and food dish 2 hours before bedtime and taking your puppy out to pee right before you head to bed.
Let Them Into Your Room
Some trainers completely disagree with co-sleeping, but it’s possible that they're wrong.
Puppies instinctually cry out when they're left alone through the night as an essential survival tactic. You can calm your pup by being a little closer to them at night, without considering it coddling.
Crate training your dog is still essential - your pup can use their crate to comfort themselves, learn to enjoy their own space, and create healthy boundaries.
Co-sleeping doesn't create the dog-monsters of popular warning. In fact, most dogs that co-sleep will naturally start to sleep on their own at about 16-20 weeks, as they begin to learn and crave independence.
Getting a dog ramp for bed is an entirely appropriate way your little pup can get onto the bed without your help for a little extra comfort. It also gives them the freedom to leave the bed as they please and build independence on their own terms.
If you're not into the idea of co-sleeping, build a combination of the two - bring your pup's crate into your room, so you can provide comforting words and touch as needed in the night without sharing your bed. Your scent and close proximity will keep the pup a little more comforted and relaxed from the get-go.
Play Soft Music or a Meditation Track
Play soft, gentle music, or a guided meditation track to calm your puppy into sleep.
Okay, so your dog isn't going to understand how to align their chakras, but it's not about the content - the soft, soothing voices will make your pup feel less alone.
Final Notes: Growing a Well-Adjusted Pup
There's an essential balance that dog owners should strike to raise well-adjusted dogs that aren't over-coddled or emotionally neglected.
Pay attention to the cues for your pup - the sounds of their whines and their body language can help to cue you into whether your dog has a real need or is developing some needy behaviors.
In the first few months, and especially the first few nights, give your sweet pup a little extra love and attention so they feel comfortable and form a secure bond with you.
Your puppy will slowly grow a bit more independent and naturally learn to whine less as they fulfill their own needs. Don't worry - they'll still turn to you when the time is right.