Where should your puppy sleep?

January 26, 2018

Most people, when they bring their new puppy home, are still under the impression (because it is what they have read, or been advised) that they should shut puppy in a crate or in the kitchen straight away on the first night, and if they cry then we should ignore the puppy so that they don’t learn crying works and gets attention. But why are we putting the puppy in a situation which is causing them to feel anxiety, fear and stress in the first place…because that is why the puppy is crying. He/she is not crying to “get attention”…they are crying because they are terrified.

It’s scary for your puppy

When puppy comes home, it is the first time they have been away from everything they have ever known during their short life, and it is a really scary time for them. All of a sudden they are plucked away from their mum and siblings and the only environment they have ever known, and they are expected to just deal with it. And if they cry at night we tend to moan because they are preventing us sleeping. Now when we bring a newborn baby home, that baby is not expected to sleep in a room on their own…..that baby is not expected to sleep through the night….that baby is expected to cry a lot, wake up a lot, need feeding a lot, and need a lot of nappy changes. So why is it that when a baby puppy comes home, we dont have the same views? Why is it we see puppies crying as a behaviour that needs punishing, or that that puppy needs to learn a lesson? Because a puppy is a baby and as such we need to extend them the same courtesy and patience that we would be a human baby.

Minimise the stress – have puppy sleeping with you

So I would always have a puppy sleeping in your room with you, at least to begin with, as it is vital we minimise the stress that they are put under. If your puppy is anxious when he is left alone, and he cries, it is quite possible that over time he is going to actually develop an aversion to being left alone, because being left alone causes him to feel anxious and scared. So why take that risk? My dog can choose where he wants to sleep – he has a choice of beds upstairs and downstairs but he chooses to sleep somewhere upstairs. If you decide you dont want your puppy sleeping upstairs long term, that is fine, and once he/she has settled in you will then be able to move their bed out of the room. To begin with you I would carry your puppy to your bedroom and have them sleeping in a crate or box next to the bed ( if they are not crate trained and comfortable in a crate, I would not shut them in the crate yet, but instead you can keep the door open and have a puppy pen around the front of the crate to keep them secure…please contact me if you would like help building a positive association to a crate). You will then be able to stroke puppy as he falls asleep if you need to, but puppy will gain confidence from being close to you, and he will fall asleep much faster and easier. You can also try sleeping downstairs with your puppy if your bedroom is not large enough.

Having your puppy next to you also means that you will hear them when they wake up or stir and they will need to go to the toilet…….you can then gently pick puppy up and carry them outside to go to the toilet. Then you can carry puppy back up to bed and you can both get some more sleep!

As mentioned previously, having your puppy in the bedroom with you initially does not mean your dog will not ever be able to sleep apart from you. In fact you will find that most dogs make the choice eventually to sleep elsewhere, when they no longer need to have the security of you nearby. But even after a week or 2 of your puppy sleeping with you, as long as they are settling well you will then be able to gradually move their bed or crate out of your room, and slowly move it towards where you would like their sleeping place to be. Please do not take advice that suggests you let your puppy “cry it out”…..if that puppy is crying, that puppy is stressed, and stress has long term health implications for your dog in the same way it does with us. So lets set our puppies up for success and to be confident and happy members of society!

If you would like help and advice with your new puppy please get in touch – angela@politepaws.co.uk

Polite Paws 2018

By Angela Doyle

I am a highly experienced and qualified reward based dog trainer and behaviour consultant based in Surrey, UK. I am a fully qualified CSAT (Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer) and specialise in helping dogs overcome Separation Anxiety.

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