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.
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!
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.
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.
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.