When Eric and I first got Max, he was only 8 weeks old. He was a cute little puppy, but he was scared to be away from his mother for the first time. He cried a lot through the night for the first few weeks that we had him. Max, Eric, and I didn’t get much sleep.
It was especially tough for me, because I’m a notoriously light sleeper. Just a few months before we got Max, I made Eric buy Good Morning Snore Solution for himself, because his snoring was keeping me awake at night. And Eric was sleeping right next to me! Max wasn’t even in the same room as us, but we could hear him whimpering all across the house.
The truth is that there aren’t any fool-proof methods for getting your puppy to sleep. Puppies don’t know that they’re supposed to go to sleep at night. However, there are a few things that can help.
The most important thing is to get your puppy a space where he can sleep and be comfortable. Eric and I got Max a large plastic cage, which we reused when we got Charlie as a puppy. But you want your puppy to feel comfortable there, so it’s best to put some blankets and toys in his sleeping area with him. That way, if he does wake up he might be content to just play by himself, rather than make a lot of noise.
I also think it’s a good idea not to force your puppy to go into his cage, if at all possible. We wanted Max to associate his cage with his toys, rather than any unpleasant experience. So when it was his bed time, we always tried to get him to go into his cage on his own, rather than picking him up and putting him in it. Sometimes it was unavoidable when Max was being stubborn, but generally we avoided it. I think this worked well. Sometimes Max went into his cage to go to sleep on his own, even when it wasn’t night and we weren’t trying to coax him.
The next most important thing is to minimize the chance of accidents. Even if your puppy isn’t housebroken yet, most dogs don’t want to pee where they’re sleeping. They’ll start barking when they need to go. When Max was a puppy, we always took his water bowl away by about 8:00 PM, so that he couldn’t drink anymore in the late evening. Also, it’s a good idea to let your puppy go outside to pee just before you put him to bed for the night.
Puppies usually can’t hold it in throughout the night no matter what you do, so you probably need to just resign yourself to getting up at least once during the night and putting him outside. But if you take the precautions above, it shouldn’t be more than once.
Finally, you want to make sure that you aren’t reinforcing your puppy’s bad behavior. If your puppy starts crying at night, put him outside to go to the bathroom, but don’t play with him or pet him. And after he’s been out, if he keeps crying when you put him back in his cage, it’s usually a good idea to ignore him. This will teach him that he can’t just summon you whenever he’s bored.
I hope this helps. Hopefully these tips will help both you and your puppy get a better night’s sleep!