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Crate Training Your New Puppy

Would you leave a new born baby on its own crying at night? Puppies are no different.

So you have got your new puppy and everything is going great then you put them in their bed or crate at night and they cry?

A quick look on the internet or a chat with other dog owners can give lots of different advice with one very common outdated idea being... leave them to cry it out, people may say if you go to them you will reinforce the crying or they will learn they can control you. 

Let’s look at it from your pups point of view, it’s in a brand new home, new smells, in a strange crate thing, it’s been taken from it’s mom and siblings and all it knows, everything is scary and your pup feels worried. At 8 weeks old they have zero interest in controlling you and dictating your life. They just want to feel safe themselves. 


Leaving your puppy to cry it out has actually been shown to be neurologically damaging.


So why is it bad?


When your puppy cries it gets stressed, stress can inhibit your puppies ability to learn. Think about it if you’re stressed, your daily tasks seem a lot harder. 


If a lot of stress is experienced it can actually damage the neurones in the brain long term which has implications for  developing the brain causing damage similar to PTSD in humans. Studies have shown that leaving puppies to cry can actually increase the chance of separation anxiety and seperation related problems when they are older, ironically usually the very thing people are trying to prevent from occurring. 


And if your puppy is upset then it creates negative associations from the start with nighttime, bedtime and the crate which then take time to undo.


So what should you do?


When you start placing your pup in a crate offer a reward, treat or their favorite toy. Be there for your puppy, sleep downstairs with them, or bring them in the bedroom with you, reassurance is key. When they are crying reach down and put your fingers in the crate and reassure them you are right there by their side. You can slowly move them to the room where you want to keep their crate as they become more comfortable with the crate. Also, remember in the middle of the night if they are crying to do bathroom duty, take them out to do their job and then place them back in the crate for sleeping. Start your crate training during the day with short periods of time, move the crate to the room you are in.  Remember to reward them when they are being quiet ... that is the time to take them back out of the crate.


Once the puppy is comfortable with the crate is the time to start introducing your puppy to separation, start going from one room to the next room and let your puppy follow you, ignore them while they do this. As your puppy starts to settle in go to the next room again. When your puppy is not choosing to follow you, give them a tasty chew or kong and then go to the other room again. Repeat. If you do want your puppy to follow you then invite them to.


Or if they are happy pop them in a playpen or behind a stair gate with a tasty kong or chew (make sure you have introduced these to your puppy before) while again you pop out the room and back in again. If your pup is struggling and you have to pop out ask a sitter to come and see them or a friend and get help from a professional. It’s far easier to work on this at a young age.  Also remember that it is normal for a young puppy to not like being left alone.

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