Dog Training/Puppy barking at 5am
My 6 month old Shih-tzu is crate trained and has been so good about not barking before 8 or even 9am to get out to potty and for food.
We take him out to potty right before bedtime so he shouldn't need to go until we get up for work at 8am but for some reason in the last 3 weeks he has started barking at anytime between 5 and 6am.
I have read your previous posts about ignoring the puppy and only coming down when he has a break in barking. We bought ear plugs to block out the sound which helps. The only thing is, as soon as he hears one of us go to the bathroom or start to get ready for work, he starts to bark again. We are very conscious that we may be adding fuel to the fire by coming downstairs when he is doing this. Unfortunately we can't not be downstairs when it's time for my husband to go to work.
On a side note, we had him neutered a week ago and since then, he has also started to cry and bark at night when we put him in his crate but only for about 5 or 10 mins. This is new behavior as he never did this before.
We are very good about keeping him in a routine so we are at a loss as to why his behavior has changed.
Looking forward to hearing your advice.
Sarah, once puppies wake up after a full night's sleep, they have to empty their bladder (pretty much like humans!). Asking him to hold it for 2 hours after waking isn't reasonable. Perhaps as his bladder muscles mature, he'll be OK with waiting a bit, but even my adult dogs need to urinate almost immediately upon waking.
You might try a white noise machine to block the sounds from upstairs; or playing soothing music so he doesn't hear you moving about.
Is there a reason you don't want him in the bedroom with you? That might solve the crying/barking at night at bedtime. Most dogs like to be with their "pack" at night. That might even solve the morning issue as well. He might learn to sleep as long as you do and not wake and start crying for you.
As puppies mature, you'll find that routines will change. As he moves into adolescence in the next few months, you might not even see a resemblence to the puppy you've had so far! Physical changes, behavior changes, emotional changes are all normal.
Please let me know if you have further comments or questions. Good luck!