The First Nights
How to get your new puppy to sleep at night4 minute read
What Should I Do With My New Puppy At Night?
The first hours and days with a new puppy can be intimidating. There's so much to accomplish! But it's important to keep first things first.
All training and play starts with a healthy, thriving pup. So we start with the basics. We start with getting them to go to sleep at night.
We're going to walk you through how to get a brand new puppy to sleep during their very first nights in their new home.
As a bonus, it's also a great start to preventing accidents in the house and introducing them to their own space for the first time.
You'll need a crate
If you don't have one already, seriously consider buying a crate or kennel for your dog.
It's a tremendous way to give them their own private den and a sense of security. It's like a child being able to retreat to their own bedroom. It will keep them out of trouble. It's the best way to housetrain them. And it's the best way we've found to set them up for success with your absence.
During the day, make the crate awesome
Whether you've had a crate or just bought one, we need to show our pups that it's a great, safe place for them to be.
Using positive reinforcement training, we can make the crate a place where your pup will go to feel confident, safe, and rewarded.
Throw a bunch of treats around the opening of the crate. Throw some in the crate. Calming praise them for venturing near the crate. Feed them their next few meals around the crate. You can even drop a chew toy in there (but don't shut the door on them yet).
Don't rush anything. Just make it clear how awesome the crate is.
How to Get Your New Puppy to Sleep
Start the process early
Start this process 30 minutes before bed time. If you have a chance, try playing the Harper game “Love Yo Crate” first. Put your pup into the crate. Leave the door open and unlatched. If they try to leave the crate, shut the door but don’t latch it.
Open, close, open, close
Once your pup sits still, you can open the crate door. If they try to leave, gently close it again. Keep doing this opening and shutting until they decide to stay in the crate instead of trying to leave. Remember, your puppy is learning that their decisions are what determine their outcomes.
Be a calm presence
Sit with them until they lay down, are quiet, and act bored. Don’t talk to them. Try not to make eye contact. You want to reinforce that this is bedtime, not play time. Your goal is to be present to ease any anxiety they might have about their new surroundings.
Then, you ghost on them
Once your puppy is asleep, you can go to bed. Don’t say goodbye or make any mention of your leaving. If they wake up and crying out, just repeat the process. When you take them out for their middle of the night potty break, repeat the process.
Trust your intuition
Your dog will eventually accept the crate at night. Once they do, don't respond to their crying by showing up at their crate. At that point, you’ll be reinforcing that crying gets them attention—which means they'll continue to do it. What gets rewarded gets repeated.
When do you know if you’re just helping your puppy be calm and when you’re reinforcing a behavior you don’t want? It’s a judgment call.
If you think they understand the crate is a safe place where they're supposed to sleep, then you don't want to continue getting up every time they whine. Don't worry. For most dog parents, this understanding is developed after just a couple nights.