How to get a puppy to sleep through the night

shabosbabyDecember 20, 2006

My husband and I just got a new boxer puppy about 3 weeks ago and he is 6 weeks old. We also have a 4 year old boxer dog. Well I was single when I got Star (my other boxer) and I don't remember at all going through this with her. My husband has been awake so much through the night with our new puppy, Deuce. Its not like a normal, up a couple times to go potty either. I mean I know what its like to have a baby and this is crazy. Like last night, Deuce did not sleep one wink. My poor husband was up ALL night long with him. (he lets me sleep because I have to work in the early morning, he is laid off right now) Not like I really get any sleep with him crying all night but he tries. Deuce just cries and wines and my husband gets up, plays with him, feeds him, brings him out, whatever he can and Deuce still doesn't sleep. We thought maybe he was sleeping too much in the day, so we made a point to NOT let him sleep in the day. Well that was sooo hard but we did as best as we could and guess what?? It didn't help!! The only thing that I saw that helped him sleep was 1 time I gave him warm, soft puppy food. (like the one's in the pouches) He loved it and ate it all gone and slept pretty good that night, but he was sooo sick the next day he pooped all over my house. He couldn't even wait to go outside. So there went that idea. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE help us!! Give us ideas!!! OHHH I guess I should also tell you...we started potty training him with a huge crate. Well he ended up liking to sleep in the crate more then be punished in it so we made a bed in there and now that's where he sleeps. So when I tell you he was up all night, he was locked in the crate. (except when he woke us up then Shaun got up with him and did there thing) ANYBODY with some ideas would be greatly appreciated!!Merry Christmas Everybody!!


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A crate is not for punishment. It should be the place where your pup likes to sleep.

So your pup cries and whines, and then your husband takes him out of the crate, plays with him and feeds him... Can you see that scenario is rewarding or reinforcing the crying and whining. The crying and whining needs to be ignored.

I usually put a new pup in a crate or a laundry basket, right next to my bed. When he fusses during the night, I can talk softly to him, and pet him to calm him down. But I don't take him out of the crate or the basket, unless I think he has to go potty and only after he is quiet and calm.

If he whines or cries, he stays in the crate/basket. I like to use a basket for a small pup, so it has an open top and I can reach in there and pet him, without taking him out.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 1:38PM
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I agree, you're inadvertantly rewarding the whining/crying with attention.
There's nothing wrong with attention but the pup needs to learn that a certain time is "time for sleepy".
This is the exact phrase I use every night to tell the boys that it's time to settle down for the night.

If you're using a crate, then good. You have to make the crate like Walt Disney World to the dog. Introduce it slowly and let the puppy spend small amounts of time in there. Reward generously with treats every time the puppy goes inside. And also hide stuffed Kongs in there someplace so the crate becomes a magical place full of pleasant surprises. If the puppy refuses to go in the crate then try putting some food or treats in there then close the door. This should get the puppy to want in very bad although sometimes when puppies or dogs are in a new environment they won't be very food motivated.

Try not to feed or give water right before bed time and don't go nuts with affection right before bed. A quick 'nitey nite' is good. You might smear a little peanut butter inside the crate somewhere so the puppy is preoccupied with that while you disappear.

This takes time!

And about the pottying, you should get up to take your pup outside when they are crying but make it serious business only. No playing just a quick potty then back inside. No sniffing or petting. After some time the puppy will be able to hold it through the night. It took mine about a month. I know that sounds bad and I know the crying is awful but I assure you, it will go away after time. It always does! Hang in there!

You'll eventually be able to tell when the crying means potty and when it means he wants to play. Then there will come a point where you will ignore all crying and discover that after about 10 minutes the crying will stop and the next morning everything is fine and no accidents. This sets the new standard for sleeping through the night with no potty.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 3:14PM
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I adopted a 3 month old Shepard/Lab in March of this year and had to deal with a lot of these same issues.

I agree with joepyeweed that the crate should not be used for punishment. It should be the place for them to feel save and secure. You are only reinforcing the behavior when you pay attention to the dog. You need to reinforce good behavior.

I suggest you move the crate into your bedroom. Put a basket or something inside it the pup can't destroy. Puppies love the feeling of being secure. If you have a large crate (I did) the pup has to much room to move around and get into mischief. Put an old sheet or blanket over the crate. Puppies love this. When your pup starts to whine, GENTLY tap on the top of the crate and say STOP in a firm voice. You dont want to scare the pup into next year. Just one or two taps should do it. Repeat if necessary.

You are in the prime time of the pups life for potty training. Puppies drink large amounts of water and have small bladders. Shortly after they drink, they will need to go out. The theory for how long a pup can hold it is about one hour for each dog month. I discovered itÂs about 10-15 minutes in the beginning. You need to commit yourself to lots of work on this issue. Have an old leash attached to the dogÂs collar at all times when not crated, so you can easily get it out.

Take the pup outside often when not crated, perhaps every 30 minutes to start, and gradually increase the time between going out. When you take the dog out of the crate, take it outside. Usually, they will not soil their sleeping area. When you take it out, get it used to the command "go pee" or "go poop" or what ever you want, jut to get the dog used to going when you give the command. When it goes, instantly give it a treat. Boiled chicken liver is best when training, dogs crave it and they always remember that you have something yummie for them when they are good. Your dog is not considered house trained until it has no accidents for 6 months.

Reinforcing good behavior is so important at this age. I also discovered that I forgot what it was like having a young creature in the house, even though I had two other older dogs.

The Monks of New Skete have an excellent puppy book I highly recommend.

The most important thing I learned. Patience, patience, patience. Plus, if you donÂt catch your pup in the act of doing something bad, the pup does not know why you are scolding. When you catch it, distract it. I had a chewer. I spent a lot of time watching and distracting my pup so she would only chew on bones, not my couch, coffee table etc. etc. If you canÂt watch the pup every second until itÂs about 6 months old, make a house rule that the dog needs to be crated. Gradually wean it away when it is about 6 months, until you can trust it not to get into mischief.

Also, there is a huge difference between a dog that is 5 months old and one that is 9-10 months old. They have grown inside and out.

Dig in. You have a lot of work, but it's worth it. You may have to repeat your one word
commands about a thousand times before the pup will get it.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 3:17PM
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Oh one more thing...
Dont discourage sleeping during the day! The puppies need to sleep a lot and they need to learn that sleeping while youre gone or busy doing other things is what is the thing to do.
They are like eat-sleep-&-poop machines.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 3:19PM
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Oh and I should add that its not uncommon for a pup to cry the first few nights he is away from his mom and litter mates. So losing sleep a few nights is pretty much standard procedure with a new pup.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 4:30PM
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How true,,,I forgot that they are miniature poop/pee machines....I bought a gallon of the enzyme stuff because it was cheaper.

The other thing I forgot to mention, concerns the STOP command. It is great when you need to stop the pup from doing something, quick. It relates to the sound of the crate.


    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 5:40PM
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Shabosbaby -

You said you got a new boxer puppy 3 weeks ago and he is 6 weeks old. Did you get him at 3 weeks and is he now 6 weeks old? If so, he was and still is way to young to be away from his littermates or mom. The age for puppies to leave the nest is 8 weeks. Some breeders hold them until 10 or 12 weeks. All the advice given is great but if you got him so young, the reason he is not sleeping through the night and crying alot is his age.


    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 5:54PM
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Walk your puppy and have a good 30 minute play time before you go to bed. Have your husband STOP getting up to comfort the puppy, your puppy is training your husband good. Also where is the crate? I suspect it is too far from where you all are and your pup is suffering from seperation anxiety. You can try and use the clock and a blanket, but I suspect your puppy is smart as a whip and has a bit more energy than your average bear. More walking before bed, walking outside on a leash and not just putting the pup out in the backyard is going to help. Also where is your other dog sleeping?

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 7:07PM
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I've always used a wind up ticking clock wrapped up in a towel in a box with towels for new puppies. its supposed to sound like their mamas heart beating. Have never had any problems but i always started using it the first night. Good Luck.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 1:40AM
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OK, my advice is going to be a bit different than some of the others, but you have to figure out what works for you and your dog. When our dog was a pup we put her crate downstairs in the main living area. Our bedrooms are upstairs. I did this so that we would not wake up and be tempted to positively reinforce crying or whining unless it was loud enough to really mean something. I have a pug, and they have small bladders, so in the beginning I set my alarm for 2:00 am and got up to let her out to potty ONLY. No play, no cuddling, etc. Just potty, back to crate with a small treat.

This method worked wonders. She only cried a bit for two nights. After that, she learned to cry only when she had to go and we were able to move the crate into DS's room at night. Now that she is trained she sleeps in DS's bed.

I think if you put the crate in your room and speak to the puppy or pet him when he cries, that is still reinforcing the behavior and you are likely to have to deal with it longer.

And quirkyquerces is, of course, right about making the crate Disneyland. We taught our dog the "crate" command by tossing her a treat every time she went in. Being a food-driven pug, she learned to zoom for that crate pretty quick. She still does it and it cracks up our friends. Just don't put lots of gooey treats in at night or you may find a mess in the morning. Perhaps a safe, tasty chewy of some kind, like a nylabone, to keep her occupied?

Also, it sounds like your crate is a too big for a pup. They feel more secure in a smaller space and they are less likely to soil a smaller crate as well. A rule of thumb is that it should only be large enough for them to stand up, lie down and turn around fully. You can decrease the size temporarily by putting a wooden box in the back of the crate to take up some of the space.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 8:02AM
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I was wondering about the age of the puppy as well - unless it was orphaned, it certainly shouldn't have been adopted out at 3 weeks old. Even 6 weeks is too young, in my .02

I do have to disagree with taking the puppy for a walk at this young age - perhaps around your yard, but I wouldn't go anywhere else until he has all his vaccinations. Parvo virus is alive and well in too many places.


    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 8:58AM
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One suggestion which really helped us - when we brought our two pups home, we brought a towel for each that had the mom's smell on it. It really seemed to calm them down. Then we moved to a towel that had our scent on it after a few days. Pretty soon, we didn't need anything. If you can't get to the Mom, try your scent on the towel.
A ticking clock in a thick sock also helped with our first puppy many years ago.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 9:09AM
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I missed the "weeks" part. I'd bet money the poster meant "months"

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 9:14AM
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OP, please clarify the age....

I would seriously hope a breeder did not sell you a puppy at the age of 3 weeks, let alone 6 weeks.

Puppies are not fully trained by their mothers until at least 8 weeks old. Taking them away unnecessarily prior to that can be the base cause of a myriad of behavioral and independence issues. Mother teaches them respect, independence, how to control their agression toward their siblings (other dogs), how to play nice with others, how to not be food agressive, etc.... She does all of this within the last two weeks prior to weaning (starting at 6 weeks of age)....sometimes longer than that. She is the only one who can instill these boundries properly...

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 9:39AM
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Thank you everybody for you advise and fun loving tales with your story's. YES, Deuce was very young when we got him. His mommy didn't want to take care of him or any other one's of his brother's and sis's. So because of this the breeders gave us a choice to either take him home with us or they would keep in and do their best with all 12 puppies!! Well I said it would better for him if we took him now. Not only do I have my other boxer who helps take care of him but I have other family member's (5 to be exact) that have 1 or more of his brothers and sisters also for him to see and play with everyday.

We tried a couple of things last night that people told us too, like pulling the crate up to out bed and make it was DisnyLand for them. We put a sheet over the crate when it was time to go to sleep and that worked pretty good. He only woke up 3 times and 2 of them Shaun did bring him outside but Deuce really have to go those times. Shaun could tell by his cry. The last time he could tell it was just to get out so we ignored him and talked softly and lightly to him and eventually the yelping and whinning turned into quieter and quieter and then sleeping. IT WORKED!!!!! Thanks for all the advice everybody!!!

Elycia & Shaun & Deuce & StarLite

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 12:53PM
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I'm glad you found a solution to your pups problem.

I found lightly tapping on the crate and saying "stop" to be a valuable thing. When the pup gets older, it always associates your voice with the word and the sound of the crate, and instantly stops doing what you may not want it to do.

Personally, I think all puppies have more energy than a full grown bear. They are in a world of their own, and are a divine force to be reckoned with.

Keep us posted!


    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 4:06PM
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Hi my puppy is 6 months old he wakes me up so I let him o a hour later he cries. Let him out but don't. Want Anyth i ng go the end I just sleep on. The settee. He is asleep on. Thefloor by me

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 3:31AM
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