Puppies experience separation anxiety during their first couple weeks in a new home. The best time to add structure is while they’re still young and impressionable. Once their schedule and routine is set, your new family member will find comfort in his surroundings and sleep through the night.
Your pup’s crate should be large enough so he can stand, stretch out and turn around. Bigger isn’t better. Your pup needs proper space, but not enough to run around. The crate will feel most comfortable and cozy with blanket, towel, or bed on the floor. Nuzzle his favorite stuffed animal in there so he has a snuggle buddy.
Resist the temptation to place him in the crate for a time-out. Your puppy needs to associate the crate with feelings of warmth and comfort. As an owner, you want this to be your pups safe place where his mind can be at ease.
Setting a Ritual
Set an evening ritual and try to be disciplined about sticking to it. Feed your pup approximately two or three hours before bedtime. Be sure to take him out for a potty break and playtime about an hour before bed. Once you’re ready to call it a night, place your pup in the crate with a small treat and toy, then gently place a blanket or towel on top of the crate. This will create a quiet, dark, and private space for your pup to get a great night of rest.
So you’re all set, right? Unfortunately it’s not that simple because this is Chicago. There will be street noises and rowdy neighbors that will cause your little pup to wake up. Be ready for restless nights. Puppy’s cannot go for eight hours without a break, so let him out when you hear your pup whimpering. You’ll learn which sounds are for attention and which are more urgent. After your pup relieves himself, place him in the crate and say goodnight. Do not play or cuddle with him (this is hard to resist!).
As your puppy gets older and more mature, he will start going to Chicago’s dog parks and get to sleep quicker and sleep for longer stretches of time. As a general rule, the number of hours a puppy can “hold it” is equal to their age in months. This means the first few months can be a challenge… but by sticking to a routine, you’re on the fast track to a normal sleep schedule!