How to stop a puppy from crying

It’s normal for your new puppy to cry when left alone, especially the first night or the first few times you leave for work.

If you’re in this situation, or if you’re planning to get a puppy soon, here are some tips to stop a puppy from crying when left alone.

How to stop a puppy from crying

1. Ignore the puppy.

I know it’s hard, but you don’t want to reward the puppy for crying. It’s best not to give any attention at all. Don’t talk to her. Don’t look at her. Don’t even scold her. Just ignore her. Wear earplugs at night if you have to. You do not want to go to your puppy every time she cries or pretty soon you will have an adult dog crying all the time.

How to stop a puppy from crying

2. Use a kennel (crate).

A kennel is a valuable tool for teaching a puppy to remain calm in a consistent, safe place. A kennel also helps with potty training a puppy and keeping her out of trouble. I recommend you train your puppy to sleep in her kennel at night (for now) and to stay in her kennel while you are not home (for now).

It might work well to keep your puppy’s kennel in your bedroom, but I prefer to keep the kennel in a separate room. I sleep better without dogs in the room!

Sammi the cutest pitbull mix and Ace the black lab mix
3. Give the puppy attention for being quiet.

When the puppy is quiet for a few seconds during the day, that is a good time to go to her and give her attention. You don’t have to wait for her to be quiet for several minutes. A few seconds is OK at first.

If your puppy needs a bathroom break in the middle of the night, try to go to her and let her out at a time when she is quiet. Don’t wait until she cries. You don’t want her to learn that crying equals attention.

4. Don’t feel guilty.

Let go of any guilt right now. Your puppy is going to have an amazing life with you. She is going to be one spoiled, happy dog! She has a loving owner, a warm place to sleep and plenty of food and toys. Our dogs pick up on our emotions and act accordingly. If you feel bad about putting your puppy in her kennel, she will be more likely to feel bad about it too!

5. Give her adequate attention and exercise throughout the day.

Make sure the puppy’s needs are being met as far as attention, companionship and exercise. I’m sure you’ve had no trouble with the attention part, but how about exercise? Make sure your puppy gets time to run around the yard every day or to go for walks. People really underestimate how much exercise a puppy needs.

6. Use Kongs and puzzle-type toys.

A Kong is a brand of dog toy designed to be stuffed with treats and other goodies. The puppy or dog has to work to get the treats out. Get a couple of these toys and stuff them with tempting goodies like peanut butter, liver treats, real meat or canned dog food. It helps to use something freezable such as peanut butter, and make sure to leave a tempting biscuit sticking out of the end to attract the puppy.

These toys are perfect for keeping puppies occupied and quiet in their kennels. They’re also great for helping a puppy associate the kennel with something positive (treats!). You can put your puppy’s actual meals in the Kongs if you prefer. Feel free to stuff two or three Kongs for extra entertainment.

7. Start obedience training right away.

It’s never too early to start teaching your puppy basic obedience skills – sit, down, stay, heel, come. This will give her some much needed mental exercise, which will help tire her out. A tired dog has less energy for barking. Obedience training will also help you establish yourself as a consistent leader, which will help your dog feel calm and safe.

It’s also important to start enforcing your house rules right away. Dogs are much calmer when they have structure. Some examples of rules could be sitting before eating, not barging through doors, not barking at the door, not climbing on furniture, etc.

Sophie the English springer spaniel puppy
8. Apologize to neighbors.

No one wants to listen to a crying dog. If you’re worried your puppy is disrupting the neighbors, I would wait a few days to give her time to adjust. If she’s still barking quite a bit after a few days and you think she could be bothering your neighbors, then go over and apologize. Most people are understanding as long as they know you just got the puppy and you’re working on the issue.

9. Use a dog daycare or dog walking service.

Dog owners should not depend on daycare, because it’s important for dogs to learn to be alone. However, dog daycare is a nice option once or twice a week to socialize and tire out your puppy. If it’s stressful for you to worry about whether she’s barking at home during the day, then daycare might help give you some peace of mind.

Another option is to hire a dog walker to visit your puppy midday. This is a good option if you aren’t able to let your puppy out during your lunch break or if you’re having difficulty providing her with enough exercise. If you can’t find a dog walker, try contacting a professional pet sitting business about midday dog walks.

10. Leave music or TV on for her.

Sometimes some “white noise” prevents a dog crying all the time. I recommend classical music because some studies have shown it has a calming effect on dogs just as it does with people. You could also try the TV or a fan.

Zeus the English bulldog puppy

11. Stick to a consistent routine.

A structured routine will help your puppy feel at ease. Feed her at the same times. Walk her at the same times. Put her in her kennel at the same times. Let her out at the same times.

I recommend putting her in her kennel with a Kong toy 20 minutes before you leave for work. Completely ignore her during that time. Don’t even say goodbye as you head out the door. When you return, ignore her again for five minutes or so. Don’t throw a small party every time you get home or she will sit and anticipate your return. Instead, help her associate something positive when you leave (A peanut butter treat!). Your return should be uneventful.

Additional ideas to stop a puppy from crying:

I asked for additional ideas on That Mutt’s Facebook page, and some of you had some great tips!

  • Place a light blanket over the kennel.
  • Place a blanket in the kennel that was used by the puppy’s mom and litter mates.
  • Place a ticking clock in the kennel wrapped in a towel to mimic the sound of the mom’s heartbeat.
  • Place one of your t-shirts in the kennel with the puppy.
  • Use a citronella spray collar to correct the barking.
  • Use the DVD “Crate Games” by trainer Susan Garrett as a resource.

What additional ideas do you have to stop a puppy from crying?

For more information, see my posts on how to train a puppy.

11 thoughts on “How to stop a puppy from crying”

  1. Very thorough. I can’t think of anything else. I especially like your idea of apologizing to the neighbors. I used to live in an apartment complex so when I got Maya, I made sure my neighbors knew about it and asked them to let me know if she cried when I wasn’t home. Everyone was so nice, I did not get a single complaint.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I think it helps to explain the situation. My dog barked when I kenneled him for the first two weeks as well in an apartment setting. Thank goodness he never bothered anyone and he adjusted very quickly.

  2. My family will put the dog or puppy to bed before leaving the house when training. After a run or walk,one person will sit with the dog next to the dog bed. In 20 minutes or an hour…depending on the pup or dog, once he or she is calm and sleepy, we all quietly leave the house. The dog knows we leave because he or she wakes up when the human gets up, but it is all quiet and calm. The dogs watch the ‘sitter’ leave and then just go back to sleep. (we use a webcam just in case and time departures for prime nap and sleep times 🙂 ) . The routine takes time, but it seems to work.

  3. This worked perfectly for my first dog years ago. He only cried a little the first night I had him, and seemed to enjoy his crate time after that. I am really struggling with the dog I got last week, though.

    I found a terrier mix abandoned in a grocery store with a broken leg. He’s a wonderful, submissive, responsive dog and we’re keeping him. However, he is on crate rest and he won’t stop crying when we leave the room or house! We gave him dental chews, squeak toys, and a kong, but he isn’t interested, especially with the Cone of Shame on. He is the only dog I have ever met who does not like peanut butter. I’ve tried playing games like Find the Treat but he isn’t very food-motivated. He can go for short potty breaks because he manages to not put weight on the broken leg, but after a bit his other leg gets tired and he tries putting weight on it. We take him somewhere stimulating almost every day, such as restaurants with a patio, a pet store, a picnic, etc. He’s already getting good at being calm and behaved in public.

    I’m not sure what else I can do to keep him occupied and quiet. He’s barely a year old (says the vet) and he must be bored out of his mind! When I leave, he cries like he’s being murdered. I have never given him any attention when he cries. I have never even LOOKED at him. It’s gotten to the point where if he’s crying, I won’t even enter the room; I know that’s what he wants because he usually stops once I come back, even if I don’t look at him once. If I come in and he whimpers for attention, I walk right back out of the room. This begins another, louder tantrum and I come back when he’s quiet. He only leaves his crate if he is not only quiet but completely relaxed and calm.

    Does anyone have other ideas for keeping him quiet and less bored?

  4. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a puppy. From what I can recall, all of these ideas are great and they do work… most of the time. 🙂

  5. Please don’t get a puppy if you are going to leave it alone for longer than 3 hours…dogs are pack animals and need company, especially puppies… It is very cruel to leave them crying.. If you sleep better without dogs in the room that’s easy, don’t get a dog… Even the rotten puppy farms they have company.., it’s 100% selfish to get dog and leave it alone…it’s actually very cruel and I’m shocked and a spray collar.. I give up!!! Get a teddy bear, walk someone else’s dog…

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh gosh, there are plenty of homeless dogs who would appreciate to go to homes where they would be loved but have to spend a bit of time alone. Dogs are wonderful at adapting! That is good for us because most people have jobs even if they might much prefer to be home with their dogs.

  6. Sandy Weinstein

    funny none of my dogs have ever cried. i have only had 4 puppies but none cried at all. great resolutions for crying babies. i did not get a dog unless i could be home with it. when i worked i was gone for so long b/c of commuting and work. i did not think it was fair to have a dog. i hate it when i hear people leave their dogs crated all day. why even have a dog.

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