Can I Ignore Them?
The traditional advice for crying puppies has been to ignore them until they stop. And even today whether this advice is sensible or not is hotly debated, with arguments made both for and against. Let’s discuss these now.
As we’ve discussed in previous articles, puppies learn by reinforcement and association. If a puppy cries and you go to give them attention, they learn to associate crying with receiving attention; potentially increasing the frequency of crying. It makes sense in theory, and certainly ignoring some puppies may encourage independence.
The biggest that we want to emphasise is that it may lead to owners missing the reasons for a puppy crying, such as pain or needing to toilet. If you elect to ignore your crying puppy, at the very least you must always check them for problems before putting it down to just wanting attention. This is particularly true in the first few days in a new home. Never ignore a puppy during these first few days, as their crying is more likely to be caused by stress or fear which shouldn’t be neglected.
Ignoring a puppy may also teach the puppy that you aren’t there to help them when they are distressed, causing further fear and distress. It can even lead to a puppy that has separation anxiety and becomes difficult to leave alone. These kinds of behaviours can lead to destruction, self-trauma and even illness, so should be prevented if possible.
If your puppy is restless at night and doesn’t seem to want to sleep, are they getting enough exercise? Puppies have a lot of energy, so a big play session just before bedtime can tire them out and get them to sleep throughout the night. Sometimes, sleeping during the day means they have more energy later on. So try and keep them reasonably active during the daylight. Similarly, a last-minute snack and toilet break can also reduce crying late at night.
There are also pheromone diffusers and sprays on the market which are designed to calm down nervous puppies. Some dogs find them very effective, and others not so much. They are quick and cheap method to try, but aren’t a replacement for proper interaction.
And don’t forget how puppies learn and to praise them when they are good. This means if they get in their crate quietly to sleep, praise them for it with a fuss or a bedtime treat.
Should I leave my puppy to cry at night?
Whilst there are different schools of thought about whether to respond to or leave a puppy to cry at night, the advice from dog experts is that they shouldn’t be left to cry. Leaving a puppy to cry at night is likely to increase your puppy’s anxiety and may lead to other behaviour problems developing, such as separation-related problems.