When your dog barks, cries or whines during the night it is usually a cry for attention, especially during the first few nights in a new home. Being in an unfamiliar environment for the first time can be a bit distressing, confusing and lonely for your newly adopted dog but it’s important to ensure you don’t reinforce these behaviours.
Ensuring that your dog has a warm and comfortable place to sleep, such as a bed in the laundry or bathroom, is a good starting point.
If you scold your dog every time they bark at night, you are rewarding this behaviour by giving them attention. The unpleasantness of the scolding will also increase the puppy’s anxiety and distress. On the other hand, you should also avoid comforting the dog, as this can teach them that they will receive attention when they bark.
Although initially you may experience plenty of sleepless nights, it is better to ignore any barking or whining at night from the get go. As long as your dog is comfortable, it will come to no harm and this attention seeking behaviour should only last for a short time.
If the barking or whining is persistent, quietly make your way down to the closed door and give a firm command of quiet through the door. Do not open the door until your dog has calmed down and is being quiet. When this occurs, open the door and give them lots of praise and cuddles.
Do not reward them for barking; instead your dog should be rewarded for settling down after your command of quiet. Your dog will associate a reward with whatever they have just been doing so ensure that you wait until they are completely calm and quiet before giving them any attention.
Very soon your dog will learn to sleep through the night without making a peep. If the behaviour continues then contact your vet or dog behaviour specialist for advice.
Read our article on challenging behaviour in dogs: Separation anxiety, barking, destructive behaviours