How to stop a puppy crying at night

Updated 20 June 2024
Read time: 12 mins
article author
Written by Charlotte Niblett
article author
Reviewed by Elle Padgham

Running around after a brand-new puppy can be tiring enough, but at least it’s broken up by unbelievably cute puppy naps and plenty of playing! But when the sun goes down and it’s time for new puppy parents to get some well-deserved rest, your puppy can think otherwise…

Dealing with a whining puppy at bedtime is definitely one of the toughest parts of being a new puppy parent, and might have you wondering not only how such a loud sound can leave something so tiny, but also how on earth you’re going to get through it. The good news is, with dedication, patience and the right training, there’s a good night’s sleep at the end of the tunnel.

Read on to discover exactly why your pup decides to cry and whine at night and what you can do to tackle it. 


Why do puppies cry at night?

There are many reasons why your pup whines and cries at night, especially if you’re attempting crate training or trying to get them to sleep in their own bed. These include;

  • Separation anxiety. Despite showering them with as much love as possible, those first couple of nights sleeping alone away from their mum, brothers, sisters and their familiar surroundings is going to be hard! Plus, no matter their overall personality, puppies and dogs just love spending time with their humans. So, trying to sleep without you in sight can trigger separation anxiety. This is where your pup can become overly distressed and anxious due to being by themselves. This often causes changes in their behaviour like chewing and tearing up whatever they can get their paws on and of course, howling into the night.

  • They need the loo. Everything about your new pup is going to be tiny, including their bladder! Your puppy’s crying at night could be due to the fact they need to pee or poop, or that they’ve already accidentally done so in their crate/bed. If you’re looking to train your pup to sleep in their crate or on their own, for the first couple of weeks it’s important to let them out for regular potty breaks. 

  • They’re bored. You might know it’s time for sleep, but your puppy’s wondering why you’re wasting time not playing! Before settling into their routine, puppies may start to whine since they want to spend time with you or want to play. Both you and your pup need some rest so once they work out that nighttime is the time to sleep, they’ll be catching zs with you in no time.

  • They desperately want your attention. Resisting the cries of your new little pup is much easier said than done. But once they’ve worked out that crying at the top of their lungs gets your attention, they’ll do it again. This is why it’s important to enter sleep training from the get-go, and nip unwanted behaviour in the bud.

  • When do puppies stop crying at night?

    When puppies hit about 16 weeks (or 3 to 4 months old) is when they gain the ability to sleep throughout the night. However, to achieve a near-to-perfect night’s sleep, it needs to be paired with training and rewards to ensure your pup knows that before bed is the time to go to the toilet. They can then relax and recharge for a new day of playing (and causing other puppy carnage).


    Should you leave your puppy to cry at night?

    There are lots of opinions out there about whether you should leave your puppy to cry it out or comfort them. At the end of the day, as the puppy parent, it’s your judgment call, but it’s important to consider the effects.

    Tending to your puppy every time they cry might teach them that crying is how to get your attention, and they’ll never be able to settle. On the other hand, if you leave your puppy to cry it out, it may cause them stress and to associate their new sleeping quarters with something scary and negative. We don’t want this either!

    Instead, you should find a method that sits somewhere in the middle - gradually teaching your pup that it’s okay to be alone at night, that this is the time to sleep, and that their new pup parents haven’t gone far.

    Don’t be afraid to answer their whines, especially in the first few nights as they adjust to their new surroundings. Be sure not to make too much of a fuss - see if they need the toilet, give them some reassurance and then leave them be. Feeling like a yo-yo while trying to sleep is slightly unavoidable for the first few days, maybe weeks. But, with the right dedication to training, and a whole lot of patience, it’ll pass.

    Managing your puppy crying at night
    If you’re feeling ready to start helping your pup acclimatise to their new surroundings, stop the whining, and get a good night’s sleep, there are a few actions you can take to set yourself, and your pup, up for success! These include;

    Creating a safe, cosy sleeping space
    It’s completely up to you if you want to use a crate, a puppy pen or even just a comfy basket as your pup’s new sleeping quarters. Whatever you decide, it’s important that you create a calm, relaxed and comfy space that your pup will want to sleep in.

    Not only should this space be suitable for sleeping, but should also be a positive space of sanctuary for your puppy - a safe space that they know they can return to. This includes making sure there are no negative connotations to this space, like being somewhere that they’re left alone to cry, or sent to when they’re naughty. This will also assist in helping to tackle separation anxiety.

    To make your pup’s sleeping area a nice space, try the following;

    • Popping in any blankets or toys that have the scent of their first home, or even something that smells of you - as you’re their new pup parent.

    • Teddies to replicate the feeling of sleeping in a big litter. You can also shop teddies with breathing and heartbeat sounds to make your pup feel even more at home. Try not to put any chewy or playful toys in, as this won’t help to teach the pup that this is a place for sleeping.

    • If sleeping in a crate, cover it with blankets to block out light and distractions. Puppies and dogs love having a safe and secure space, and creating some privacy will make a nice environment for sleeping. Be sure to leave some cracks for light to peek in to assure them that they’re safe.


    Sticking to a routine

    Puppies and dogs are a sucker for a good routine! The more you stick to one, the quicker your pup will settle into their new surroundings. When it comes to building a dynamite bedtime routine, you can consider the following;

    A day of playing and zoomies. Spending the day getting your puppy's wiggles out will ensure a sleepy puppy when it comes to bedtime. This will help them drift off to sleep, and recognise that nighttime is sleep time!

    Pre-bed toilet break. As you begin your puppy’s bedtime routine, try and start it with a potty break. This will get them into the habit of doing their business before a few hours of sleep, so they won’t have to hold it or have any accidents in their bed. For the first few weeks, always have puppy pads and cleaning supplies near their sleeping quarters - just in case they don’t quite make it.

    Young puppies, (8 weeks old) aren’t able to hold their bladder for very long, so regular potty breaks throughout the night are a given. However they’re able to hold it for longer as they get older, so your sleep won’t always be interrupted by midnight trips to the garden.  Although getting up for regular potty breaks with your young pup can’t be avoided, getting them into the habit of going before bed will set a precedent for the future.

    How long pups can go without a toilet break corresponds with their age, with it usually being 1 hour for every month of their age. So, if they’re 1 month old, they’ll probably need to visit a pee pad or the garden every hour.

    Winding down for bedtime. It’s very difficult to resist playing with your new pup and taking advantage of their hyperactivity whenever you get the chance. However, it's not as ideal when you’re trying to catch some sleep! If possible, try and wind down all the playing and excitement as bedtime rolls around, so your pup knows for the future that this is the time when playtime’s over, and it’s time to rest.

    Obviously, this is much easier said than done. You could try removing all exciting, chewy and enrichment toys around this time, and stick to the soft teddies and blankets they should have in their bed.

    Getting comfy. When it's time for your pup to retire to their bed, whether that’s a crate, basket or puppy pen, everything should be approached in a relaxed and zen manner. Try speaking in hush, soft tones, giving gentle cuddles and using body language to keep your pup calm. Avoid lots of bright light and loud noises, or distracting them with toys and playful gestures.

    Adopting these behaviours around bedtime will help your pup to recognise that this is time for sleeping, and that playtime can continue tomorrow.

    Morning toilet break. Just like that pre-bed toilet break, prioritising another toilet break first thing in the morning helps your pup avoid any accidents. It may only be a few hours since their last toilet break, but it's always good to start the habit off as early as possible.


    Rewarding good behaviour and positive reinforcement

    When your puppy is doing exactly what they should be doing, be sure to always reward this good behaviour in way one or another.

    If your pup lies down when asked, or settles quickly, be sure to use affirming language. When practising getting into their crate or bed, be sure to use treats to reward this good behaviour. This also attaches a positive experience to their sleeping quarters, which will help reduce the whining. 

    When treating your puppy, be sure to use treats that are not only puppy-safe but are in keeping with their simple yet nutrient-filled diet. Here at Pooch & Mutt, our puppy range includes tasty treats for pups 12 weeks and up, that aren’t only great for training but align with a healthy, nutritious diet to aid their development.

    Filling their day with fun and enrichment

    Both puppies and dogs need lots of sleep - not just at night but in the day too. But with so much learning and exploring to do, it’s especially important for puppies to get their shut-eye. We don’t have to tell you how to play with your pup, but there are a few ways you can use mental stimulation, as well as play, to tire out your puppy and get them ready for a good night’s sleep:

  • Chewing and enrichment toys - Anything they can have a good gnaw at or that will get them using their problem-solving skills (like treat stuffers or snuffle mats) are a great way to tire out your pup and help their development.

  • Zoomies galore. A little bit of cardio should do the trick! 

  • Treats and training. It’s never too early to start practising some training with your pup. They’re able to pick on the basics pretty quickly - especially when treats are involved. Always make sure you aren’t overfeeding your pup, and that their treats are puppy-safe, and okay for their sensitive tummies. To read up on how many treats you should be feeding your pup, check out our treat feeding guide.
  • In-house lead training. Young puppies won’t be able to venture out just yet, but that doesn’t mean the lead training can’t start early. Pop on a soft, loose collar and lead and take them for a little stroll around the house so they can prepare themselves for future walks.

  • Meeting new people. Gradually introducing your pup to some new people is another great way to mentally stimulate your pup, but also begin their socialisation.

  • Meeting new dogs. The same goes for meeting new dogs, but this should always be approached with caution and in a controlled manner. Be sure to opt for friendly and relaxed dogs for the first meeting to create a positive experience for your pup. To read a bit more about this, check out our article all about introducing your puppy to older dogs.

  • If you're about to bring your brand new puppy home, or are desperately searching for a solution to nighttime whines, always remember that patience is key! With a good bedtime routine and positive reassurance, your pup will be sleeping through the night in no time. To assist your training, be sure to shop our puppy range, including puppy-safe Calming Probiotic Meaty Treats to provide top-tier nutrients, whilst naturally calming more excitable or anxious pups.


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