Dog Training/Puppy cries all night
QUESTION: I just got a Shih Tzu puppy. It's a female that is now 10 weeks old. I got her 1 week ago. Night time is terrible. Before bed I take her out to do her business and she does. I take up food and water 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. The problem is that she cries and whines all night long. The first night I got her I put her crate in my bedroom and half way thru the night I moved her crate to another room because of the crying, whining and barking. I put chew toys in with her and a shirt that smells like me. Same problem the second night. The third night she did really good. Didn't cry or anything for about 2 to 3 hours when she cried I took her outside to potty. Now all she does is cry and whine all night. I don't go to her everytime she cries because I don't want her to think that if she cries I will come to her. I do take her out every 2 to 3 hours during the night. What can I do so that she is not up all night having fits? I do play with her when I get home and all evening, so she should be tired. She is in a crate all day because I work.
ANSWER: Jennifer, thanks for your question. I have a couple of thoughts and suggestions for you. Consider that your new baby has moved from the security of having her mother and litter mates for constant company to being completely alone all day confined in a box and again at night. Dogs are social animals and will not be happy being alone for that long.
A puppy this age should not be crated during the day for more than 3.5 hours. No young dog should be crated for more than 5-6 hours. The result will be a dog who doesn't get enough mental stimulation or physical exercise and keeps you up all night.
Let's think about daytime alternatives to continual crating. Check your local area for dog sitters (or friends or family) who can come and let the dog out at least once during the day while you're gone. Is there a day care in your area that takes puppies? Instead of crating, I recommend using an exercise pen where the dog can have more room to stretch her legs and play with toys. Leave food dispensing toys in the ex-pen so she can work to get her food out.
Nightime: Puppies at this age will wake up 1-2 times during the night, but not for much longer. If the pup is getting enough mental and physical stimulation during the day, nighttime waking will decrease. Put the crate back in your bedroom and put it up on a nightstand or dresser at eye level on the side of the bed where you sleep. Ignore any crying at first, but if she wakes in a few hours, take her out to potty. The key here is to NOT interact with the dog any more than you absolutely have to when you take her out in the middle of the night. Don't talk to her, don't make eye contact, don't interact with her outside, don't tell her 'good girl' or give any rewards for pottying. You need to remain as neutral as possible so waking in the middle of the night doesn't become "fun time with mommy".
Please let me know if you have any follow-up questions or need clarification on anything I've recommended. Having a new puppy is like having a baby, really. You will need to adjust your life for a while to deal with her needs, but most dogs will adapt as they mature.
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QUESTION: Last night was much better. I played and played with her all evening and would not let her take a nap. She slept 5.5 hours! Now she cries and cries when I put her back in her crate after her middle of the night potty trip. I didn't talk to her when she did potty and tried to make the outside trip quick. However, she cried and cried for about 30 minutes when I put her back in crate. I finally got up with her and put her on the couch with me to go back to sleep. (I know this was probablty a bad idea) Will she eventually grow out of this or do you have any other suggestions?
Great job, Jennifer. Keeping her occupied and interacting with her while you're home will definitely help. She will get better with sleeping as she gets older and gains more control of her bladder. If you want her to sleep in the crate at night, you will have to ignore the crying. You could try covering the crate with a blanket to help her settle. If you're a light sleeper and don't mind having the dog in bed with you, you should consider just letting her sleep with you. Be careful, though, that she doesn't wake up to potty and you don't hear her. Let me know if you have other comments or questions.