Getting 9 week old to sleep alone

Discussion in 'Labrador Puppies' started by RoaringRiley, Oct 13, 2020.

  1. RoaringRiley

    RoaringRiley Registered Users

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    Hi everyone

    We're nearly a week into sleepless nights and getting a bit desperate, I'm wondering if anyone can help:

    We got Riley 6 days (5 nights) ago. I had built a crate with carpet lined base and carpet wrapped around the sides for some privacy. This then had a stack of towels on top for bedding. On the first night we got him to sleep then lifted him into the crate, shut the door and went upstairs. He woke up howling 3 times screaming the house down, initially we had planned to wait it out but it became clear that wouldnt work and the neighbours wouldnt tolerate it for long. So we came downstairs after 10 mins of howling each time, took him outside and sat with him till he went back to sleep.

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    Night 2 we took him upstairs in a carrier filled with towels, got him to sleep and put him in it but this was no better. We avoided howling simply by being faster to act but he woke up wimpering at least once an hour all night and only stopped after being allowed to cuddle up against us. We then put him back in the carrier and the process repeated 60 mins later.

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    From night 3 onwards I enlarged the crate downstairs to now include a pen with blankets on the floor for comfort (toys are removed at night) and one of us spends the entire night downstairs on the sofa to keep an eye on him and avoid any howling. He seems to prefer sleeping in the open pen area rather than the crate itself and there has been no howling with us downstairs but still the regular wimpering and wanting to come over and sleep on our feet before he'll settle down again. Last night he even only needed the toilet once which is great but still woke up every hour wanting cuddles.

    But now how do we walk this back? How do we stop sleeping on the sofa without going back to howling? And how do we convince him that the crate is where he should go when tired rather than cuddling our feet?
     
  2. sarah@forumHQ

    sarah@forumHQ Moderator

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    Hello and welcome to the forum!

    This article has lots of information about settling a new puppy at night and coping with crying. I hope it helps!
     
  3. RoaringRiley

    RoaringRiley Registered Users

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    Thanks Sarah, I've been following all the useful articles as best I can but wondered if anyone had any experience specific to what I'm dealing with. Is Riley wanting to sleep on our feet because he's scared? because it's warmer than the floor? or because we made the mistake of allowing it? Maybe if we could figure that out it would be easier to divert him to the crate.

    Any ideas how I could make the crate more attractive too? I've been feeding him inside the crate and during the day he sometimes bounces around inside it playing with toys but always comes back outside to go to sleep unless we physically put him into it while he's sleeping. I struggle with the concept of giving him treats for going in the crate as each time I do that it wakes him up and gets him going again and the residual smell on the blankets makes him then start digging and rummaging rather than sleeping.
     
  4. Jo Laurens

    Jo Laurens Registered Users

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    Because he is an immature animal which would die in the wild if abandoned. Because he has never been alone in his life, without his mother or siblings and now suddenly has no one familiar.

    Have the crate by your bed. (I say this over and over and over on this forum!) Would you expect an 8 week old human baby to be shut in another room all night? Then why expect it of a puppy?! Secure attachment and feeling comfortable alone, comes from associating a place (ie crate) with YOU.

    Put the crate by your bed. Use a smaller, different crate if the current one doesn't fit there. Put your hand on him through the bars or through the top. Have an Adaptil diffuser running in the room. Use a SnugglePuppy to simulate heat and heartbeat.

    Only move him to the other crate when he grows. And the carpet isn't safe, by the way - he will rip shreds of it off as he grows and it will be a liability, not to mention being uncleanable if he has an accident. Just put blankets in the base and throw a large blanket over the top, or get a crate cover.

    During the day, you need to sit right by the crate when he is in it. He needs to not be separated from you, when he is in the crate. Only move on from this when he is comfortable.

    And yes, you do need to give him treats for going in the crate because you shouldn't only be using it when you want him to sleep - you should be teaching him to go in it on cue, over and over, then get released, then go back in, then get released out - the crate needs to be thought of as an agility obstacle, a thing you have fun with and train with, if you want to make positive associations with it.
     
  5. Gertiegoo

    Gertiegoo Registered Users

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    Hi RoaringRiley!
    Just wondering how you have gone with settling pup in the crate?
    We have a 10 week old that has no problems sleeping in our travel crate next to our bed all night long but we are currently stuck with the day time crate training - she likes chewing on a kong with the door closed and us sitting next to her, but she’ll lose interest and sit up looking at us and then eventually will whine.
    Sometimes she chews happily for 15 minutes straight, other times 2-3minutes at a time.
    We’ve been stuck at this stage for a week and not sure what to do next. Just keep doing the same thing or move to the next stage (us I. The same room busying ourselves ignoring the whine)

    mhmm...would love to hear how you have gone! We won’t transition her to sleep in the living area at night until she is comfortable in the crate during the day.

    thanks for your help!

    cheers :)
     
  6. Gertiegoo

    Gertiegoo Registered Users

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    Hi Jo,

    this is great advice! We are doing everything you suggest here except for adaptil - but I’m thinking of using it when we transition out pup to sleep in the living room.

    our pup is 10 weeks old and we are training her to like the crate during the day. She sleeps all night long in her travel crate next to our bed with no issues. It’s just the day time crate - which will be her permanent bed eventually.

    we are stuck at stage 2 of the happy puppy crate training instructions. Feeling pretty discouraged as she sits up and looks at us when she loses interest in the kong. The longest she has lasted with the kong and not even looking our way was 15 minutes. The shortest 2 minutes. She’ll sit up looking at us and eventually whine. We treat her when she is calm and quiet. And then eventually let her out (calm) because we figure we’d be there all day with her staring at us!

    anyway, hoping you may have a little advice?

    cheers :)
     
  7. RoaringRiley

    RoaringRiley Registered Users

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    Hi Gertiegoo,

    I will tell you about my experience incase any of it can help you, I know that in our first month together with Riley I was desperate for some reassurance and help. I came to this forum in a particularly desperate state 6 months ago seeking help and support and found the attitude unhelpful and condescending, so take the advice with a grain of salt.

    After Jo's response above which I found particularly condescending I decided to stop using this website. If you are like me you are not a professional dog trainer and therefore may struggle to live up to the high standards espoused by this website and expected by some other members of these forums.

    Night time

    For me the advice on here actually set us back, we did move Riley upstairs next to the bed for 1 more night but he would not go to sleep at all and it felt as if we'd taken a step back. We quickly went back to sleeping on the sofa downstairs with Riley in the crate. After only a week of this he was sleeping through the night (2200 - 0600) and we were able to return to sleeping upstairs and leaving him downstairs in the crate.

    I cannot say the adaptil plugin made any difference, whether it was plugged in or not made no difference to Rileys behaviour.

    Snuggle Puppy turned out to be no better than a cheap stuffed toy. He did take it to bed with him but we also had a stuffed grumpy cat (for £7 vs Snuggle Pups £40) and he was just as happy with either.

    Day time

    The day time routine took longer to settle in, one of the things I found here was I was expecting too much too soon. In the first month we did indeed spend most of the day downstairs with him. We would play games with him inside his crate/play pen to get him used to playing with his toys in it. The most beneficial thing was to have a set routine every day which involved many naps, in the mid morning, mid afternoon and the evening. During these times we would sit with him (very often on the floor!) until he fell asleep in the crate, then sneak off to do something else, regularly popping back downstairs (quietly) to see if he woke up, if he woke up we would continue walking through the room or looking busy but so that he could see us and knew that we were around and would come back if he went to sleep. If he immediately fell back to sleep we would go back upstairs and check again 30 mins later, if he woke up it was out to the toilet and repeat.

    I think it was around 3 months we started enforcing the time alone downstairs, starting with half an hour. So at 10am we would get him settled in the crate/pen, asleep but with access to toys if he woke up, then go upstairs for half an hour, even if he woke up, he had to spend the full half hour alone before we came back down. To be sure (as much as you can be) that he wasnt fussing for the toilet he always went to the toilet before being put in the crate and the daily routine meant we knew at approximately which times he would need different toilet breaks. As he aged and became happy to be left by himself and better at holding his bladder the time alone downstairs was increased to 1 hour, then 90 mins, then 2 hours.

    We found the Kong largely useless, Riley wasn't interested in it without food and even with food in it would regularly give up before he'd got all the food. We found instead that the Nylabone Puppy Starter Kit was much better for him. Once teething really got underway we bought him some Nylabone 'Extreme Chew' bones and these worked great for keeping him occupied and stopping him chewing the furniture although that's getting a bit ahead of where you are now. Basically we experimented with lots of different types of toys, some stuffed toys, plastic bones, plastic rings, teething toys etc until we found ones he liked and that kept him occupied. The Kong featured very low down on his list. I've since spoken to other Labrador owners in the park who said they had the same problem.

    As for getting him to stay in the crate when we're in the same room, sat on the sofa eating/watching TV, that's been much more difficult! I'm not sure I have a good answer, we put a non-slip mat on the floor next to the sofa some time after 3 months and directed him to sit on that and play with his toys if he wanted to come and sit with us. With some persistence this worked about 75% of the time. He would rarely stay in his crate if we were sat on the sofa, he always wants to come over and be with us but then tbh that's not a problem, we wanted a friendly dog. All I would say is suddenly at just past 6 months he started choosing to go into his crate and lie down while we were in the room. No training, just randomly happens now when he decides he's tired.

    Apologies the reply is so long. I really hope at least some part of it helps you, at 10 weeks all I wanted was help and if I'm able to help somebody else in the same situation that would be great. Riley is 8 months old now and seems perfectly happy and healthy. I'm quite sure we didn't do everything perfectly getting to this point but we figured out the important stuff and got lucky with others - he's never destroyed any furniture, enjoys meeting other people and (especially) dogs, walks off the lead and doesn't bark at neighbourhood dogs/the mail man. The first month was horrendous but you look back and it all happened so fast!
    [​IMG]
     
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  8. Deboragh

    Deboragh Registered Users

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    Sorry you felt unsupported. I know I wasn't prepared for how challenging the first few weeks were with a young puppy. Guess that's why some people prefer bypassing this stage and getting a you g adult dog.
    Also all.dogs are different, some puppies are more needy it seems l. But it seems like it's all worth it in the end as the months fly by they mature into wonderful companions
     
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  9. Gertiegoo

    Gertiegoo Registered Users

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    Roaring Riley - I’ve only just come across your reply just now and can I say I am so so grateful for your words of wisdom.

    I am pulling out my hair regarding crate training as I only have about 8 days before we kick back into the school term and I have to do school drop off/pick up everyday and also go to work for 2 days a week.

    I am booking her in to puppy day care for the two days a week - just until we can leave her at home with regular home pop ins.

    But I really need to leave her for the school drop offs. Morning drop is only around 15-20mins but arvo pick up can stretch to 30-40mins, sometimes longer.

    I’ve been trying to follow the happy puppy crate training instructions, but she seems stuck in stage 2 (11 weeks old tomorrow). And she seems to rely on treats to stay relaxed or interested in her kong and similar stuffed food toys that we have.

    I am feeling the pressure to be the “perfect trainer” like the article and many of the information shared expects you to be. But I am struggling so much and my mental health is suffering as all I do is worry about whether we are doing it right and if I will ever be able to lead a semi normal life again (showering, dressing, eating, working to make the money to support having the dog - let alone kids and a home to live in!)

    We don’t have family that are willing to help - their general view is to just leave her alone and she’ll get used to it. So we can’t feel that we can trust them. Also, they don’t really have the physical fitness to be able to look after her.

    Needless to say I feel trapped and depressed. I also work from home and need to keep this up - and I can’t even see how this will ever balance out for me.

    We look after our pup really well, we don’t neglect her and she is very happy with us. And we certainly don’t appreciate condescending comments like you have also mentioned - comments from professionals need to be supportive and not about their ego.

    We might try purchasing a nylabone - we are in Australia so I’m not sure if we can find them here?

    I will read over your comment again to see if any other points may help us.

    Overall pup seems to be slowly becoming more happy to be on her own in the pen with her toys, it’s just the crate that she seems to really like but not relax in completely yet.

    We think we might just start leaving her while we go to another room or outside for little bits and increase the time as we go. We just have to I’m afraid as we don’t have time to go through the happy puppy steps to the letter. It’s either that or we have to re-home her. And of course we would be devastated if we had to do that.
     
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  10. Deboragh

    Deboragh Registered Users

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    Sounds like you're doing a great job. I don't think many of us meet the standards of a perfect trainer! Your plan sounds very sensible and I think you can make it work.
    Another good online forum for help and support is the Labrador Forum UK. They've some very experienced members and tho they have strong opinions I don't find them to be judgemental.
    Good luck!
     
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  11. Gertiegoo

    Gertiegoo Registered Users

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    Thanks Deboragh!
    We will check that forum out too.
    I have a friend whose family had Labradors when she was young and she has had dogs most of her adult life too. She keeps telling me to stop reading and just go by feel because we are loving and caring people and we can’t really get it wrong.
    I agree with her (but like to have some reassurance that we are on track or that we can expect “problematic” behaviours/stages to pass)
    :)
     
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