A new puppy in the house can disrupt sleep and cause stress, which is why it’s important to help your pup sleep peacefully through the night. Whether in a bed or crate, sleep training a puppy helps prevent middle-of-the-night disturbances both during the puppy stage and into adulthood and ease him into life with his new family. Although the training can take up to several weeks, the reward of a well-adjusted dog and peaceful home is worth the effort.
A Bed of One’s Own
While experts disagree about whether it’s OK for a dog to sleep in her owner's bed, most concur that puppies should be confined to their own space, at least until they can hold their bladders through the night and have gained agility. If using a crate, choose one in which he can stand up and turn around. If using a dog bed, place it in a confined area to limit your puppy’s access to the house. Consider placing the bed or crate in the bedroom so she can see and smell her people, which will reduce “new surroundings” anxiety.
Your New Puppy and the Schedule
To help your puppy sleep comfortably through the night, set a food, water and play schedule that supports this goal. Give food about an hour before bedtime, which will trigger a bowel movement within the hour after eating. After this, your puppy should be fine for the rest of the night. A puppy younger than 12 weeks probably cannot hold his bladder overnight, so allow him to have water with his food but be aware that a middle-of-the-night potty trip will be necessary. Older puppies usually can make it through the night. Regardless of age, don’t leave a dish of water with the puppy. When taking the pup out before bedtime, avoid play so that he's not riled up before sleep. Give your pup appropriate playtime during the day so he feels tired at night, and beware of long naps immediately before bedtime.
The Contentment Tales
A new puppy’s bed or crate should be feel safe and comfortable, so add soft bedding and perhaps a towel or blanket with his mother’s smell. Never force your puppy into the bed or crate when he is upset. Instead, wait until he is calm, then entice him with a small treat. Practice during the day, and your puppy will be easier to put to bed in the evening. Be careful not to leave the puppy locked away longer than he can hold his bladder, and never use his sleeping area as an area of punishment.
Puppies often whine to express anxiety as they adjust to being away from their litter mates and mother. Ignore the crying. Do not respond positively or negatively, because this will teach him that whining or barking leads to attention. If your pup does not stop after several minutes, he may be whining because he needs to eliminate. Use the puppy’s bathroom phrase, take him outside, then put him immediately back into his sleeping area. Letting a puppy cry or not giving him attention can feel heart wrenching, but as the puppy adapts, the problem will stop.