Stop Your Dog Crying at Night in a New House with These Tips

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Ah, the sweet sound of a new house—new beginnings, fresh paint, and the undeniable charm of hearing your dog cry at night. 

Yes, you read that right. 

As much as we love settling into a new abode, our canine companions can feel quite the opposite. 

Before you reach for the earplugs, let’s dig into the whys and hows of your dog crying at night in a new house and learn how to help your pup adjust to their new environment.

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Dear Dog Owner

Understanding Why Dogs Cry at Night in a New House

Understanding Why Dogs Cry at Night in a New House

Why should you care about your dog’s nocturnal vocalizations? 

Well, not only does it disrupt your beauty sleep, but it’s also a sign that your furball is struggling to adapt to its new surroundings. 

In the sections that follow, let us explore the reasons behind their nighttime cries, and I’ll share my top tips and tricks to help ease their transition, backed by my experience as a former vet tech.

First things first: Why do dogs cry at night in a new house? 

To answer that, let’s put ourselves in their paws for a moment. 

Imagine being whisked away from everything you know and love, only to be placed in a completely unfamiliar environment. 

That’s a bit like your dog’s experience when they move to a new home. 

There are two main factors that contribute to their nighttime distress: anxiety and stress, and unfamiliar sounds and smells.

Anxiety and stress

Let me share a little story with you. 

When I first brought my dog, Bella, to her new home, she spent the entire night pacing and whining. 

It was heartbreaking, but it was also a reminder that her world had just been turned upside down. Moving to a new house can cause anxiety and stress for your dog, mainly due to:

  • Change in the environment: New rooms, new yard, and new smells can be overwhelming for your dog. It’s like being dropped into a foreign country without a map or a phrasebook.
  • Separation from previous home or family: If you’ve recently adopted a dog or if they’ve lived in their previous home for a long time, moving to a new house can trigger feelings of loss and confusion.
  • Need to go potty: Your dog might need to go outside to relieve themselves, especially if they are used to going out at a certain time or have a regular routine.
  • Sensing owner’s stress: Dogs are incredibly perceptive creatures, and they can pick up on your emotions. If you’re stressed about the move, your dog might mirror your anxiety, adding to their own.
  • Fear of the dark: Your dog may not be used to the new surroundings and may feel scared or insecure in the dark.

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Unfamiliar sounds and smells

As much as we adore our dogs, they don’t exactly speak human.

However, they know how to communicate with us through their superpowered senses of hearing and smell. 

In a new house, these senses are bombarded with unfamiliar stimuli, which can cause distress, especially at night when everything is quieter and darker. 

Here’s what might be troubling your pooch:

  • New house sounds: From creaking floorboards to the hum of the heating system, your new home has a unique soundtrack that your dog needs time to adjust to.
  • New neighborhood noises: Whether it’s the neighbor’s dog barking or the early morning garbage truck, every neighborhood has its own symphony of sounds, which can be disconcerting to a dog trying to settle in.
  • Different scents in the new home: Dogs have an extraordinary sense of smell, and a new house is a potpourri of unfamiliar scents. It might not bother us, but it can be disorienting for your dog, especially at night when their sense of smell is heightened.

Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: Why is my Shiba Inu whining?

Creating a Comfortable Environment for Your Dog

Creating a Comfortable Environment for Your Dog

Moving on from the whys, it’s time to wag our tails at the hows! 

Helping your dog feel comfortable in their new home is key to reducing their nighttime crying. 

I’ve gathered some tried-and-true strategies to make your pup feel more at ease.

Establishing a routine

Dogs thrive on predictability, and establishing a routine can be their life jacket in the sea of change. 

Here’s how I introduced a routine to my dear Bella when she first moved in:

  • Consistent feeding times: Like clockwork, I fed Bella at the same times every day. Not only did this help her know when to expect food, but it also helped her internal clock adjust to her new surroundings.
  • Regular walking schedule: Morning and evening walks became the bookends of our days, providing her with much-needed exercise and mental stimulation.
  • Designated playtime and bedtime: I introduced specific times for play and sleep, ensuring she had a healthy balance of activity and rest.

Providing a safe space

A dog’s safe space is like our cozy bedroom at the end of a long day—a sanctuary where they can relax and recharge. 

Here’s what I did:

  • Introduce a crate or bed: I provided Bella with a comfortable crate, which became her go-to spot for naps and alone time. If your dog prefers a bed, that works too! The goal is to create a space that’s just for them.
  • Familiar scents and toys: To make Bella’s crate feel more like home, I added her favorite toys and a blanket that smelled like her previous home. Familiar scents can provide a sense of security in an otherwise unfamiliar environment.
  • Location considerations: I placed Bella’s crate in a quiet corner of the living room, where she could still see and hear us but also retreat when she needed some peace and quiet.

Gradual exposure to new home

Just like we don’t expect ourselves to feel instantly at home in a new place, we shouldn’t expect our dogs to either. 

Gradual exposure to their new environment can help them adjust at their own pace. Here’s how:

  • Slowly introduce new rooms: I started by letting Bella explore the living room and kitchen, then gradually allowed her access to other rooms in the house. This helped prevent her from feeling overwhelmed by too much change at once.
  • Encourage exploration with treats: I hid small treats around the house for Bella to find as she explored. This turned the daunting task of discovering her new environment into a fun and rewarding game.
  • Use positive reinforcement: Whenever Bella approached something new or showed signs of relaxation in her new home, I showered her with praise and pats. This helped her associate her new surroundings with positive experiences.

By taking these steps, you can create a comfortable environment for your dog in their new home, making it easier for them to adjust and, hopefully, reducing their nighttime crying. 

But remember, every dog is different, and it may take time for them to settle in completely. 

Patience is key, and soon enough, you’ll both be sleeping soundly through the night.

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Training Techniques to Reduce Crying at Night

As we journey further into the world of helping our dogs adjust to a new home, let’s discuss training techniques that can make your nights more about counting sheep than deciphering doggy distress calls. 

From desensitization to enlisting professional help, I’ve got you covered with my top training tips and personal anecdotes.

Desensitization and counter-conditioning

These two techniques are like the dynamic duo of dog training, helping your pup overcome their fear of the new environment.

Desensitization involves gradually introducing your dog to the source of their anxiety (like a scary new room) in small, manageable doses. 

Counter-conditioning involves changing your dog’s emotional response to the anxiety-provoking situation, typically by pairing it with something positive (like treats).

Here’s how I applied these methods with Bella:

  • I played a recording of the new house sounds at a low volume during the day, gradually increasing the volume over time.
  • I rewarded Bella with treats and praise when she remained calm as the volume increased.
  • A tip for success: take baby steps! Don’t rush the process—be patient and consistent.

Reward-based training

Doing this is like playing a game of “hot and cold” with your dog. 

By reinforcing quiet behavior and ignoring the crying, you can teach your dog that being quiet is the way to win your attention (and maybe a treat or two).

With Bella, I used the following approach:

  • Whenever she was quiet, I rewarded her with treats and praise.
  • I gradually increased the duration of quiet behavior required to earn a reward.
  • If she cried, I ignored her (as difficult as it was) until she quieted down again.
  • Remember: consistency is key! Stick to your training plan and avoid giving in to the crying.

Professional help

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we may need the assistance of a professional. 

If your dog’s nighttime crying persists or worsens, it’s time to call in the big guns.

In my experience, there are two main types of professionals to consider:

  • Dog trainers can teach you and your dog new skills and help modify problem behaviors.
  • Certified animal behaviorists have specialized training in animal behavior and can help address more complex issues.

To find a reputable professional, ask for recommendations from friends, family, or your veterinarian. 

Make sure to check their credentials, and don’t be afraid to ask for references.

3 Tips for Helping Your Dog Adjust to the New House

Now that we’ve discussed training techniques, let’s wrap up with some practical tips for helping your dog adjust to their new home. 

No matter the case, I can assure you that patience, socialization, and a watchful eye on their health will go a long way in helping your furry friend settle in.

1. Patience and understanding

Moving is a marathon, not a sprint, and adjusting to a new home takes time for both you and your dog. 

Here’s how I practiced patience and understanding with my Bella:

  • Adjusting to a new home takes time: I reminded myself that Bella’s transition wouldn’t happen overnight, and I needed to give her time to adapt.
  • Recognize your dog’s stress signals: I paid close attention to Bella’s body language and learned to recognize when she needed extra comfort or space.
  • Offer emotional support: When Bella seemed stressed, I’d offer a soothing voice, gentle pets, or even just my presence to help her feel more secure.

2. Provide socialization opportunities

Dogs are truly social creatures, and meeting new friends can help them feel more at home in their new environment. 

Here are some of the ways I introduced Bella to her new community:

  • Meeting new neighbors and their dogs: I took Bella on walks around the neighborhood, allowing her to meet new human and canine neighbors while respecting their boundaries.
  • Dog parks and playgroups: After a few weeks, I introduced Bella to the local dog park and found some friendly playgroups to help her socialize and make new friends.
  • Ongoing socialization efforts: I continued to expose Bella to new experiences and social situations to ensure she remained well-rounded and adaptable.

3. Monitoring and addressing health issues

Sometimes, a dog’s nighttime crying may be rooted in a health issue. 

To ensure Bella’s well-being, I took the following steps:

  • Rule out medical problems: I brought Bella to the vet for a check-up to ensure there were no underlying health issues contributing to her distress.
  • Regular veterinary check-ups: I scheduled regular check-ups with the vet to monitor Bella’s health as she adjusted to her new home.
  • Addressing anxiety with medication, if necessary: If Bella’s anxiety had persisted, I would have discussed medication options with my vet. However, the previously mentioned techniques proved to be effective in her case.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When should I consider seeking professional help for my dog’s nighttime crying in a new home?

If your dog’s nighttime crying persists or worsens despite your best efforts, consider seeking professional help from a dog trainer or certified animal behaviorist. These experts can provide guidance and assistance in addressing your dog’s anxiety and helping them adjust to their new surroundings.

How long does it typically take for a dog to adjust to a new house?

The time it takes for a dog to adjust to a new house varies based on individual temperament and past experiences. Generally, it can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks or even months for a dog to fully acclimate to their new surroundings.

Is it normal for my dog’s appetite to change when we move into a new house?

Yes, it’s normal for some dogs to experience a change in appetite when moving to a new house. Stress and anxiety can temporarily affect a dog’s eating habits. To help them adjust, maintain a consistent feeding schedule, and offer their favorite food to encourage eating.

In Conclusion: Dog Crying at Night in a New House

The journey of helping your dog adjust to a new home may be a rollercoaster ride, but it’s also an invaluable bonding experience. 

By facing this adventure paw-in-hand, you’ll not only create a happy home for your furry friend but also build a lifelong relationship. 

So, embrace the challenge with a wagging tail and a smile, because together, you and your dog can conquer any obstacle. 

And that’s a thought worth fetching!

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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