Should you ignore your puppy when she cries?

Owning a puppy is often likened to having a newborn baby, and it is easy to see why. Requiring a lot of time and attention, puppies can be a demanding pet. Puppies are also known to cry and whine – a lot – which can be distressing and frustrating for their owner. Like a newborn, crying is the only method a pup has of communicating that something is wrong, and trying to figure out the cause of their unhappiness can be a serious challenge. While human babies are often left to ‘cry it out’ when there is nothing more than can be done to comfort them, many pet owners also wonder, should or can they ignore their puppy when she cries?

Why do puppies cry?

The answer to whether or not you should ignore your puppy when she cries will often depend on the cause of her distress – if you can pinpoint it! As the first method of communication that they learn, in their early days, puppies will cry for just about anything. Unfortunately, most owners are left with the dilemma, do they leave their pup crying and ignore them, or do they cave in to their demands and reinforce that if their puppies cries she will get attention!

Common reasons for your puppy to be crying include:

- Hunger

- Thirst

- Pain

- Fear

- Separation anxiety

- Boredom

- For attention!

One of the best ways to get your puppy to stop crying is to eliminate any causes for the behavior.

Creating the right environment for your puppy to be happy

If you create the right environment for your puppy then it will help you to eliminate some of the potential causes for their crying. As a responsible dog owner, you will probably already have a lot of the following already in place:

- A warm, dry and comfortable area for your pup to rest.

- Access to fresh water at all times.

- Regular meal times in a consistent location, such as the kitchen. This will help your puppy know where and when to expect food.

- Regular toilet breaks.

- Toys to stimulate her and allow her to chew.

- Consistent walks and play time to burn off excess energy. Training is also important to help teach your pup what behaviors are or aren’t acceptable in your home.

Some pet owners also choose to leave an item of their clothing with their scent where their puppy spends most of her time. This often helps to relieve separation anxiety.

My puppy has everything she could need in place, why is she still crying?

If you are certain that your pup has everything that she needs to be comfortable, and you aren’t leaving too long too quickly, then there is a good chance that she is crying for attention and it may be time to consider controlled crying techniques to see if she can settle herself.

Many pet owners find it hard to leave their puppy crying, but it is important not to just up and check on her at the slightest whimper. If you do, she will soon expect your attention the moment she starts to cry! Instead, give her at least five minutes of solid crying before you intervene. If she is simply trying to get your attention she should start to get bored. It also gives her time to process that she is safe, warm and comfortable and there is no need to whine!

If she is still crying persistently after 15 to 30 minutes, you may need to check on her. Most pups that are crying for attention have managed to tire themselves our and settle down during this time. Check that she doesn’t need to go to the toilet, and that she isn’t hurt or unwell. Assuming all is ok, resettle her and start the process again. Never reward the crying with treats! Instead, reward her if she is left for a period of time and doesn’t cry.

It may be a slow process, but eventually your puppy will learn that not crying when she is left has for more desirable rewards, and you will be able to leave her without feeling guilty or neglectful.