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Your dilemma is a common one for new puppy parents. A small degree of vocalization is normal, especially for puppies adjusting to change. Puppies use whines, yips, barks and howls to communicate needs or let out emotions. Ignoring the barking may mean missing what she's trying to tell you — fortunately, there are some simple strategies that can help her learn to sleep quietly through the night.
If you’ve just brought your puppy home, you need to be absolutely sure that she isn't barking because she needs to go potty because many young pups simply can't hold it through the night. She may also be getting used to sleeping in her crate or sleeping alone. She may cry because she feels isolated or lonely. In this case, her cries may be relieved with experience as she learns that time alone is okay. But it is also possible that your puppy may be distressed and crying out in panic.
The first step in addressing your puppy’s nighttime barking is to talk with your veterinarian. Underlying issues like urinary tract infections and pain have exacerbated problems for some of the puppies I’ve worked with, and treating these medical issues helped to resolve the dog’s behavior issues. It is also possible that your puppy is displaying early signs of separation anxiety, a condition best treated early with professional help. Your vet can help with this, too.
Once you have the all clear from the vet, there are several things you can do to increase your pup’s confidence and security in her sleeping space.
Teach your puppy to love her crate. Many puppies will initially react to a crate as if it’s puppy jail, because, in your dog’s eyes, the crate is a hindrance to reaching the fun things she enjoys, like people, toys, play and freedom. It is important to introduce the crate to your puppy as a happening place where she gets good things like attention, play, treats or meals. Teach your puppy to love her crate by making it part of her daily routine. Offer treats or indestructible toys in the crate; while your puppy is inside, close the door for short periods. Do this regularly throughout the day to get her used to being in the crate.
Make your puppy’s crate a peaceful, soothing place to be. Pheromone spray can help to keep your puppy calmer when she's in her crate. Items with the scent of the puppy’s previous home or with your scent may also help — toys like Scents of Security have pouches to hold scented items. For many pups, soft classical music or dog-formulated music, like Through a Dog's Ear, can also be comforting. A lightweight blanket draped over the top of the crate can help reduce the distraction of people moving around outside the crate and may help your puppy relax.
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