Helpful Tips to Stop Your Puppy's Night Crying Problem

Author: K. Marie Altoby K Marie Alto Updated 9 min read

Helpful Tips to Stop Your Puppy's Night Crying Problem

Puppies are adorable bundles of joy and energy, but they can also be needy, clingy, and whiny. It's sensible, right? As young pups, they're still learning their way around the world, and to do that properly, they need guidance. Normally, they'll get that from their parents and siblings as part of a pack. When you adopt a puppy, though, they probably don't have the same kind of social support.

A lot of the time, this won't be an issue. After all, you're there, and you're keeping them safe and secure, training them to come when called, sit and stay, or seek out specific objects (all of which are part of the 20 essential puppy commands.)

Other times, though, your puppy will feel the loneliness and isolation that comes with not being part of a pack. Even if you have other dogs, they may not take on a parental role, and your new pup might spend their evenings anxious and crying.

"Night crying" is a common problem with young dogs, and it's honestly heartbreaking. Few of us can go to sleep and rest peacefully when our new puppies are crying and whining and begging for attention and comfort in the dead of night from their crate in another room, where they can't see you. And all of that is just the tip of the iceberg; an anxious puppy is more likely to have a night accident or hurt themselves pawing or chewing at their crate.

How can you help your puppy make it through the night and deal with night crying? Fortunately, there are several things you can try.

Night Crying vs. Night Barking

In the past, I covered night barking in dogs. Night barking and night crying are similar! Puppies whine more than they bark, while older dogs are more likely to bark because they know it's louder and gets more attention. Some of the same causes are behind the issue, too, though it's not entirely the same.

A Puppy Night Crying Image by Toe Beans

In adult dogs, night barking can be caused by:

  • Separation Anxiety
  • Fear or Alarm
  • Boredom
  • Pain or Hunger
  • Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome
  • Responding to Other Dogs

When you're thinking of a new puppy specifically, several of these aren't going to apply. CCDS, for example, is primarily a disease affecting elderly dogs, so it's not something your puppy is likely to experience. Others, though, like separation anxiety, can be primary drivers.

It's important that you recognize the difference between night crying in puppies and night barking in dogs because the same techniques aren't going to work between the two.

What Causes Night Crying in Puppies?

A new puppy crying at night is going to be, primarily, whining, grunting, and maybe some growling. In certain breeds, you may get some barking, yipping, and baby howling, but whining is the most common vocalization.

The biggest question is, why is your puppy crying at night? You can't treat the issue without first knowing the cause.

A Puppy Seeking Comfort Image by Toe Beans

Fortunately, there aren't many reasons, so it's fairly easy to diagnose:

  • They need to go potty. New puppies don't have a lot of control over their bowels and bladder, so they're more likely to need to go in the middle of the night, where an adult dog will be able to hold it longer.
  • They're seeking comfort. Being isolated and contained in a crate is anxiety-inducing for a new puppy. They're probably used to sleeping with a parent and a pile of littermates, so being kept alone in a cold, dark box isn't comfortable for them.
  • They have too much energy. When you're stuck indoors with a bunch of energy on a rainy day, you can go a little stir-crazy; your puppy is the same way. They have energy, they took their nap, and now they want to do something, but you're trying to sleep, and it's dark out, and they're stuck in that crate, and HELP!
  • They're uncomfortable. Your puppy doesn't have a lot of ways to problem-solve and may not even be able to recognize why they're feeling uncomfortable. Even something as simple as a draft chilling them out in a colder house in the evening can be enough to make them whine all night.

There are always a few other possible issues, like something scaring them, an illness or injury causing them pain, or something distracting them all night, but these are less common.

Priority #1: Don't Give In!

Alright, before we get into the nitty-gritty, we need to discuss the biggest point of contention: do you suffer through it and ignore the problem, or do you provide comfort and aid to your puppy? There are arguments in both directions.

For one thing, the "cry it out" method has been used throughout history for both animals and people. Studies have shown that it doesn't really work for human babies and can lead to emotional trauma and anxiety as they get older.

It's similar in dogs; when they're seeking comfort and reassurance in the evening, and they don't get it, they fail to build trust in you, and that can mean they keep crying all night, every night.

On the other hand, training is training. If your puppy cries at night and it gets you to get up and give them comfort, play with them a little, or otherwise engage with them and make them feel happy and loved… you're effectively rewarding them for their crying, and that just further encourages them to cry at night.

A Crying Puppy Image by Toe Beans

So which is it?

Truthfully, it's both. It comes down to whyyour puppy is crying. If they're having toilet issues and need to go, ignoring them all night is going to be miserable for everyone involved. On the other hand, if they just have some anxiety and they're trying to fish for comfort, providing that comfort reinforces the fact that it works.

Here are some of the things I'm going to cover:

Technique Description Effectiveness
Crate Training Training your puppy to find comfort and safety in their crate. High
Consistent Routine Set a predictable nightly routine that helps set expectations. High
Potty Schedule Make sure your puppy goes to the bathroom right before bedtime so they're not uncomfortable. High
Comfort Items Adding a worn shirt or a comfort toy in the crate gives a sense of security. Medium
Proper Exercise Give them plenty of physical and mental activity during the day. High
Heartbeat Toy Try a toy that emits a heartbeat sound to mimic the presence of a littermate. Medium
Adjusting Crate Location Placing the crate in your bedroom or slowly moving it to improve their comfort. Medium
Ignore the Crying Only responding to cries that are from genuine needs, not just for attention. Low
Check for Health Issues Consulting a vet to rule out any underlying health problems that could be causing them any distress. High

Fortunately, a couple of the solutions will help you address both points at once without conflicting signals.

Embark on Proper Crate Training

Proper crate training requires a lot of work, effort, and setup. You can't just put a crate in a corner, put your puppy in it, and close it up. How would you feel being closed in a room with no bed, no carpet, and nothing to keep you entertained?

I have a whole guide to proper crate training, which you can read over here. It goes through all of the major elements of crate training, including routines and more. Give it a look!

Puppy Crate Training Image by Toe Beans

Beyond that, it's important to make sure the crate is a comfortable, safe place for your pooch. You want them to feel at ease, safe, and happy in that space, and you want it to be a place just for them.

A blanket, a favorite comfort toy, and even using treats to encourage them to enjoy their time in the crate are all good ideas. Of course, you can't exactly give them treats to stop them from whining unless you want to be whined at any time they want a treat.

Also, one of the biggest issues with being stuck in a crate all night is temperature. We people tend to like our houses a little cooler in the evening than during the day, but that can lead to a drafty, cold, and uncomfortable space in a crate, and since it's closed up, your puppy can't simply find a nicer place to be. This is why the bed and blankets are a good idea, and you might also consider a cover or a blanket to drape over the crate for more insulation.

Make Sure They're Potty Trained

Young puppies need potty training, and the younger they are, the more frequently you'll need to escort them to the yard where they can do their business. For very young puppies, expect to have to do this every couple of hours.

A Potty-Trained Puppy Image by Toe Beans

Part of the key here is to make sure that, when you get up and give them attention for potty purposes in the middle of the night, that's allyou do. Don't talk at or coo at them, don't play with them, don't praise them unless they go, don't pet and engage with them. Give them praise and rewards when they go, then return them to their crate and leave them until the next time it needs to happen.

You want this to be brief and entirely potty-focused because otherwise, you're encouraging them to act like they need to go so they can get rewards. That's why it's critical to make sure they're actually doing their business before rewarding them and why you can't play or otherwise engage with them.

Consider the Crate's Location

If the main reason your puppy is crying is because they want to know you're nearby and have the reassurance that they're safe and cared-for, you have a few options.

Puppies in a Crate Image by Toe Beans

One of the easiest is to put the crate in your room with you. Sometimes, your pooch doesn't need to be right there with you, in your lap or in your bed; they just need to be able to see, hear, and smell you. Putting the crate in your room gives them the opportunity to know you're nearby, and they'll likely be able to sleep better.

If you don't want their crate to be in your bedroom, for allergy, odor, or noise reasons, you can gradually move it further from your bed every night, eventually moving it outside of your bedroom and towards its final space. They'll be more used to knowing you're there, and can handle greater distances.

Give Them a Piece of You

Dogs are very scent-driven, and your new puppy might not be as comfortable as you'd want them to be without some element of you nearby. One of the easiest options you have is to put a shirt or other item you've worn in their crate with them so they have a nearby scent source to snuggle with and feel comforted by.

A Puppy With a Scent Source Image by Toe Beans

There are also training aids you can use. One of the more effective options is a heartbeat toy. These are plush dog toys that include a small device that puts out a nearly inaudible heartbeat noise.

They can also have a way for you to stuff a shirt or something into them for the scent and even a heat pack for warmth. All of this tells your puppy they aren't alone and gives them that added comforting presence when you're not there with them.

Wear Them Out

A big part of crate training is making sure your pupper is all tuckered out at the end of the day. The more exhausted they are when they go to their crate for bed, the more likely they are to sleep without issue and sleep through the night. That means plenty of play and activity throughout the day, especially a little while before bed.

Wearing Out a Dog Image by Toe Beans

Just make sure you don't work them too hard right before sleep because they'll want to drink to recover, and then they'll need to go. That's not terrible, but if you want to avoid nighttime interruptions, it's a reasonable concern.

Make Sure They're Healthy

Everything above assumes that your pooch is in good health and is just crying for attention, bathroom needs, or out of anxiety and discomfort. Once you solve those issues through training and habits, you're good to go.

If you address those concerns and your puppy still won't sleep through the night without whining, you may need to look for underlying causes. Young puppies aren't immune to health issues, so if they're sick or uncomfortable from some kind of internal pain (be it teething, an injury, or an illness), they'll have a hard time at night. If you suspect anything strange, talk to your vet.

Making Sure a Puppy is Healthy Image by Toe Beans

With luck, consistent training, and good behaviors, you can help make sure your fur baby sleeps through the night in their crate without issue. Ideally, it will only take a couple of weeks at the most to get them trained for their bedtime. Just make sure everyone is on the same page with the training and you're good to go.

Have you ever had to help your puppy with their night crying problem? If so, what did you do in your particular situation? I'd love to hear all your stories, so be sure to leave those in the comments section!

K Marie Alto
K Marie Alto

K. Marie is an animal lover, wife, kitty mom, dog auntie, writer, and co-founder of Toe Beans, a proud American family-owned online boutique pet supplies store focused on the improvement of the life of furry family members via pet parent education, better products, and advocacy. She has over 20 years of experience as a pet momma. She loves sharing her personal journey and experience as a pet parent via her blog and Facebook page where she currently has more than 50K followers (@furrytoebeans) and counting :-). Read more

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